EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 808 - July 19, 2004     1 of 5

Online Auction User Association Folds

By Mark O'Neill

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The recent demise of the Online Auction Users Association (OAUA) has left some eBay users worried that their personal eBay information may now be up for grabs by scammers.

But there's no need to worry, according to Debbie Lucero, former OAUA secretary. Lucero said the chances of a scammer obtaining the Web site to steal user information is zero. "I plan on personally making sure that the domain name is never released," she said in an email to AuctionBytes, "meaning that I will pay for the domain myself. I will also make the site closure very public so that no one will be able to resurrect the site. If I ever see anyone try, you can be sure that I will be a very loud voice to let everyone know that it's a fake."

In 1999, OAUA founders wanted to construct an organization and offer a free membership to online-auction users who were committed to sound business principles and a willingness to treat transactions fairly. Members' identities were verified, and they agreed to abide by a code of ethics. The OAUA provided forums to discuss dispute resolution, ways to identify items, mentoring, as well as the usual friendly chats. The OAUA was 100% volunteer-run, at one point published a monthly newsletter and offered discounts on auction-related services to its members.

But the OAUA, which boasted a membership of 3,000, shut down their Web site a few weeks ago amid insurmountable problems. According to Debbie, some of the problems included board members coming and going, lots of fights about how to do things, major technical problems with the mailing service, and 4-hour meetings in which nothing could be agreed upon. But, Debbie was keen to add, "it was not an overnight decision (to close down). We finally realized though, that without the support of our members, by participating in meetings, more board members, etc., that we were wasting our time."

Now the OAUA is gone, and some people are worried about any personal information lodged on the site. In response to this concern, Debbie wants to assure everyone that all OAUA staff who came into contact with sensitive information had to sign confidentiality agreements, and all documents were destroyed once the membership application had been approved. Debbie emphasized, "Let me be perfectly clear, there is NO personal information about any members left anywhere online."

Although the remaining board members were very sad about having to shut down the OAUA, they decided to do some good by donating remaining monies to the Disabled Online Users Association (DOUA).

"Marjie is an amazing woman who I recently had the privilege of meeting," said Debbie. "Her ideas and vision of "a hand up and not a hand out," is something that I have believed in for a long time. Our small part in helping them continue is something we can be proud of helping to accomplish before we had to shut down."

In response, Marjie Smith of the DOUA replied "We appreciate that the OAUA selected us for their donation, and we appreciate all the work they accomplished while they were in operation."


About the author:

Mark O'Neill is Managing Editor of the popular tech blog, MakeUseOf.com. He is a Scotsman, now living the ex-pat life in Wurzburg, Germany. You can also find him on MarkO'Neill.org.


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