EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 119 - May 23, 2004 - ISSN 1528-6703     3 of 7

The Advantages of eBay's ID Verify

By Mark O'Neill

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When Wile E. Coyote wants to ambush Road Runner with several sticks of dynamite attached to a detonator, the cartoon character would probably turn to eBay for the best possible choice in luxury explosives. But with the vast proliferation of sellers on eBay, Wile E. is probably often not sure who to buy from. Should he buy his stash of defective dynamite from the well-known trustworthy ACME Corporation? Or should he take a discount and buy from you? You can make his choice easier by verifying your identity with eBay.

Called "ID Verify" in the U.S. and "Geprueftes Mitglied" in Germany, this eBay procedure allows you to prove your identity beyond a shadow of a doubt. You must supply personal information to eBay such as your name, date of birth and details of certain credit accounts. But ID Verify is not a credit check, so failing the eBay ID Verify procedure will not adversely affect your credit rating. It's important for bidders to know that anyone with a bad credit rating will have the same chance of passing eBay's verification process as anyone else.

For anyone concerned with privacy, eBay claims that all information sent to them is sent through an encrypted 128-bit SSL connection and none of the information is stored on their computers after the verification process has been completed.

In the U.S., ID Verify costs $5, and in Germany, EURO 6.65. This cost is added to your eBay bill. You won't be charged if you do not complete the process or if you do not successfully pass the ID Verify process.

Once approved, you get a special logo that goes next to your user ID and feedback total. At a glance, potential customers will see that eBay has gone the extra mile in proving your identity, and this will make people more comfortable in handing their nice crisp banknotes to you. Riches, Powerseller status and breakfast invitations from Meg Whitman may soon follow!

In the U.S., the whole procedure can be done online through VeriSign, but here in Germany it has to be done through the postal system. You can download a form (in Adobe PDF format), which you must complete. You then take the completed form and some ID (such as a passport or a German ausweis) to the post office, which will verify everything and then send it all on to eBay. The difference between the U.S. system and the German system is staggering. The U.S. system takes a few minutes, whereas the German system can take a few weeks - I'm still waiting. (Why can't eBay have one streamlined system for all?)

If you are ID-Verified, you can also place bids above $15,000 and can sell in the Mature Audiences category. But the main benefit of being ID-Verified is that you give the impression of someone who can be trusted and someone who is serious about buying and selling on eBay. As experienced eBayers will testify, on eBay, image is everything.

People may not be so keen to pay $5, but I would say that it is a small investment that will enhance your reputation and trustworthiness to others. When you start stealing orders away from your competitor, "Fly-By-Night-Cowboys Incorporated," that $5 will quickly pay itself back with dividends. Now that Wile E. Coyote knows to trust you for all of his defective dynamite needs, you now only have to persuade Road Runner that you're the person to come to for running shoes.

Beep! Beep!

The help page for ID Verify

The eBay Germany help page for "Geprueftes Mitglied"

About the author:

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

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