|Tue Aug 18 2009 14:37:23|
eBay Updates User Agreement to Cover Dispute Process
By: Ina Steiner
eBay updated its User Agreement in two areas to cover changes announced in its "SR2" changes on July 27th. One of the areas changing in the User Agreement covers eBay's decision to move dispute resolution from PayPal to eBay. The other main area covers eBay's new Photo/Product Catalog policy (see the Content section of the new User Agreement).
According to today's announcement, "The biggest change to the agreement supports the new on-eBay resolution process and accompanying policy. With this user agreement update, the policy and process will offer coverage for all buyers who purchase an item on eBay.com."
The website TOSBack.org published a visual way of tracking the changes by showing what has been deleted in the old User Agreement and what has been added to the new User Agreement. Some of the issues that jump out under the "Buyer Protection" section are the following:
If we resolve a dispute in the buyer's favor, we will refund the buyer for the cost of the item and the original shipping, and we will require the seller to reimburse us for the refund.
Sellers must have a reimbursement method on file with eBay.
If sellers do not provide eBay with a valid reimbursement method, we may collect amounts owed using other collection mechanisms, including retaining collection agencies. We may also suspend or restrict sellers from trading on our sites until payment is made.
Some of the changes in language had to do with two events:
1) eBay is moving the dispute resolution process from PayPal to eBay.
2) eBay is extending covering non-PayPal transactions, whereas before it had only covered PayPal transactions.
As eBay moves the dispute resolution process to eBay, it is moving PayPal's policies to eBay's UA as well, such as the point about retaining collection agencies in cases where the company was unable to collect owed funds from sellers.
So at first blush, it appears that for sellers who had accepted PayPal, much of the nitty-gritty is unchanged, with the exception of one key point. (And of course for non-PayPal transactions, these are major changes.)
We spoke to eBay about today's announcement. Spokesperson John Pluhowski said: "In the current case, PayPal can actually take accounts negative and latch on to the funds so that they can get the money back on any future transactions. In the new eBay process, if we're not able to reverse the funds with PayPal, we're going to be asking the seller to provide a credit card."
The new Buyer Protection section is "essentially the part we've ported over from PayPal, plus the new information about asking a sellers for an additional payment on file."
Mr. Pluhowski said, "In the eBay resolution process, in almost all cases, the buyer is instructed to return the item to the seller prior to getting any type of refund. The only case where the buyer might be asked to destroy an item is if the buyer has proof from the manufacturer that the item is counterfeit." (Only manufacturer proof would be accepted, experts or appraisers would not count, he said.*)
He emphasized that eBay's goal was to have buyers and sellers work together to resolve disputes. Referring to a post we made on this Blog in May about Best Practices, he said our point about consistency was critical. We wrote, "make sure your listing Title, Item Specifics, photos and descriptions are consistent," and he said this would protect sellers in many cases, using the following as an example of inconsistency: a seller who had "New in Box" in the title, but "I removed memory chip" in the description.
*Update - eBay's Mr. Pluhowski sent an update that expands on the statement regarding counterfeits, referring to eBay's policy:
What happens if a buyer believes an item is counterfeit?
Buyers are not obligated to provide third-party confirmation that an item is counterfeit to open a claim. However, in some cases, a buyer may have written confirmation that the item is counterfeit from a reliable third party (such as the manufacturer or law enforcement). In those cases, buyers agree to cooperate with eBay to ensure the proper disposal of the counterfeit item. For example, buyers may be asked to certify that the item has been destroyed or send the item to the rights owner or other appropriate third party for disposal. Any costs associated with this destruction or disposal may be paid by eBay, in our sole discretion.