|Thu May 22 2008 23:10:04|
eBay Considering PayPal-Only Policy in US?
By: Ina Steiner
As eBay prepares its response to the opposition of its PayPal-only policy in Australia, it appears the company is also considering a similar policy in the US. eBay must respond by tomorrow to the hundreds of submissions by users, companies and banks that told the Australia Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) they think the policy would be anti-competitive. The ACCC told eBay it would make a ruling in mid-June before the policy is scheduled to start. In the meantime, eBay appears to be gauging seller reaction to such a policy in the US.
A couple of sellers emailed me a question included in a survey they received from eBay outlining scenarios in which eBay would only allow PayPal, or would only allow PayPal and certain other methods of payments. Subsequent follow-up questions were designed to determine what incentives sellers would accept if they were forced into these situations in order to prevent them from ceasing to sell on eBay. Here's an excerpt from the survey:
For the next question, we'd like you to consider the following statement outlining a possible scenario regarding a new eBay policy. Please note that this is one of several options still under discussion, that may vary from country to country. We greatly value the opinions of select sellers like yourself and appreciate your taking the time to review it:
To make eBay a safer place to buy and sell, sellers would be limited to accepting only the following safer electronic payment methods for their eBay sales (Paper forms of payment such as personal checks, cashier's checks and money orders would no longer be allowed):
* Certain other electronic payment methods currently allowed on eBay, such as Xoom and Propay
* Credit Card or Debit Card payments made directly to the seller's Merchant Account (Sellers would need to acquire a Merchant Account from a bank or other provider)
* In person payment for local pickup items
Sellers would be able to accept any one of the above payment methods, or they could accept all of the above. Sellers would receive full protection from payment reversals for items sold on eBay and paid with PayPal when they ship to the address provided by PayPal. Buyers paying with PayPal would be fully covered, no coverage limit, if their item doesn't arrive or is different than described.
It's strange that eBay argues that a PayPal-only policy is imperative in Australia but not on other sites - more reason to think this is a test case to learn how to deal with a government regulators before moving on to other countries.
Update 5/23/08: eBay spokesperson Nichola Sharpe contacted me to say the survey was not asking about a PayPal-only policy.
Hmmm, in my initial reading of the sentence, "Sellers would be able to accept any one of the above payment methods, or they could accept all of the above," I took it to mean eBay would either limit sellers to one of those methods, or some combination. Now I see eBay was saying sellers could choose to accept all of those methods or pick one.
Regardless, the survey indicates eBay is moving toward a more restrictive payments policy than its current one, which already excludes competing services such as Google Checkout. Imagine excluding buyers who want to use checks: "Paper forms of payment such as personal checks, cashier's checks and money orders would no longer be allowed," the survey says.
Here is eBay's official reaction to this blog post:
"At eBay and PayPal, we regularly seek input from our customers about potential product and policy changes. We're simply asking customers to interact with/advise us on possible scenarios as we try to make the marketplace safer in various markets. And, as we have firmly stated before, in the US, we are not mulling, planning, or otherwise seriously considering a move to PayPal as the only payment method on eBay.com. There are US market-specific reasons why PayPal-only is something we simply cannot do in the US. "