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Beware eBay Coaching Services that Use High-Pressure Tactics

Beware companies that offer coaching services to would-be eBay sellers and promise easy money. An investigative piece in the Salt Lake Tribune by Matt Canham provides insight into the shady world of ecommerce training companies that use high-pressure tactics to bilk thousands and thousands of dollars from victims.

Canham says a new law in Utah makes consumer complaints against such companies more public – but the law is narrow – there have to be lots of complaints against a firm before Utah will release information.

“It applies only to telemarketers and sellers of business opportunities. The only company complaints subject to disclosure are in cases in which at least 50 complaints have been logged or a customer alleges that $3,500 or more was paid,” the reporter explained.

Complaints described companies that promised to help consumers set up an ecommerce site related to eBay, promising clients they would make as much as $5,000 a month with little effort, according to the newspaper.

“Once a consumer signs a contract, the firm sells that “lead” to other similar companies,” it wrote.

And, it said, “This scenario usually ends with the consumer thousands of dollars in debt, having never sold a thing through a website, if a website was ever created.”

The Salt Lake Tribune describes the difficulty in passing the law that made consumer complaints public. Industry players expressed concern that consumers with an ax to grind could harm reputable firms.

Other cases have made headlines, most notably when the FTC was able to get a court-ordered restraining order halting a deceptive work-from-home scheme that it said conned millions of dollars from consumers by falsely telling them they could easily earn thousands of dollars a month by purchasing bogus business coaching services and establishing their own Internet businesses.

There are legitimate ecommerce coaching services, but stories like these show you better do your homework upfront before handing over your credit card information.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.