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Fri Feb 12 2010 10:48:17

eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes

By: Ina Steiner

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The eBay Shoes, Purses and Fashion Accessories discussion board has been a goldmine of advice for buyers and sellers alike who seek help on identifying legitimate designer items on the marketplace. Members who are experts on Louis Vuitton handbags, for instance, may help shoppers determine if a particular listing is a fake or a real LV item. Likewise, they may help sellers make the same determination before listing an item on eBay.

On Thursday, eBay's Uncle Griff posted a clarification of discussion board rules that has some longtime posters and fashion experts upset. Griff said users are prohibited from posting an item number, title, seller eBay User ID or any text, object or image that identifies a current live eBay item listing - unless it is the seller herself posting her own listing information. Here's an excerpt of his post:

"If you are a buyer considering a purchase of an item on eBay, (If the item is listed on another marketplace, please refrain from mentioning that marketplace) and you wish to ask other posters for their advice, opinions or general information about the item, you may post a link to a non-watermarked photo, and only a photo of that item. Do not link to an item listing page or any other web page. (URLs for the photo must end with .jpg, or .gif. and not .htm or .html or any other file name extension). Never post an item number, link, seller User ID or item title or any other information that could direct a reader to the item listing page on eBay or to another online marketplace or website."

The crackdown on fashion authentication discussions comes as eBay lost a lawsuit filed by Louis Vuitton Malletier in Paris, and as it welcomes high-profile fashion designers such as Narciso Rodriguez and Norma Kamali, who have opened eBay Stores.

Many of the board participants are upset and believe the resulting crackdown on discussions of authentication will ultimately harm shoppers of designer items on eBay. One reader wrote in an email to AuctionBytes:

"I am a longtime buyer and seller of authentic designer goods on ebay, primarily handbags. One of ebay's most valuable resources in protecting buyers from purchasing fakes on ebay has been the Shoes, Purses and Accessories Board. Prospective buyers and sellers have been able to get opinions on the authenticity of designer items that they are considering buying or selling from the many experts who volunteer their time there. No more. Today Griff posted a "clarification" of the rules to the board. So much for ebay's war on counterfeit goods."

Another reader wrote in with links to multiple discussions taking place about the crackdown, and said that many of the authenticators have been suspended from the board.

Some of the comments from a discussion thread about Griff's post include the following excerpts:

- If I can't draw on the collective wisdom of this group on issues of purse authentication, I'm no longer buying them on ebay.

- I guess I am done then. I am not going to take a chance on buying any designer items without getting advice from the knowledgeable folks here. Thank you to all of you who were so very generous with your advice and guidance. I won't bother selling either, knowing I will be in competition with counterfeiters who have as good or better a chance on selling than I do with my authentic ones.

- There are thousands of counterfeit bags etc listed on EBay. If even a hundred buyers are prevented from buying them, isn't it a good idea? I am so confused. Also, without being able to confirm a fake, how many authentic items will be reported and removed because no one could post and ask questions first?

- I think anyone who lists an item on eBay should be able to withstand scrutiny of the item by the community regarding authenticity.

- So I can ask authenticity questions about my own listed items, which I an supposed to be positive they are authentic before I list them. Hence I can advertise my own listings all I want?

- I think Ebay is positioning itself more like TGT and QVC...designers who sell here themselves. Product will sell out fast..that turnover thing.

- This problem has needed attention for a long time. Had people followed a few ethical rules, this never would have been addressed. Thanks Griff.

- I am grateful that Griff posted yesterday. Otherwise I would not have known what was going on and where the very knowledgeable women went and why, in the future, I wouldn't be able to get items authenticated!

Griff responded to the comments, telling board participants that eBay appreciated their concern and efforts, but explained that using the discussion forums to report possible violations has been a violation of the Board Usage Policy for several years.

"Given the nature of discussions on this board regarding the items discussed here, posting item numbers or links to an eBay listing is the same as reporting possible violations.

"Listings that violate eBay policy can and should be reported by clicking the Report link on the listing page.

"Sellers who wish to ask others about the items posted in their listings, where they are the seller (and not a bidder or the winning bidder), may post a link to the listing or the item number in order to reference it when asking for input about the item.

"Anyone who wants opinions on a particular item, on or off eBay, may post a photo or photos of that item here as long as that photo does not identify an existing eBay listing where the person posting the photo is not the seller. (it is within eBay rules to embed a photo of an item that is listed on eBay.)

"Posters are also free to discuss eBay items off line.

If you have specific questions, feel free to email me at griff@ebay.com"

Aficionados of designer handbags also discussed the eBay brouhaha on the Purse Blog forums, where one poster wrote, "In the meantime, bring the "disputive element" over here. Where queries as to authenticity and reporters of fakes are still welcome."

What do AuctionBytes readers think? Is it fair for people to question the authenticity of a live listing?

Why single out this particular board?

Will it increase the sale of fakes in the CS&A category on eBay?




Comments (190) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes   eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes

by: dimes

Fri Feb 12 12:02:43 2010

Sounds to me as if the eBay purse board posters should be recommending that anyone with questions should ask them at the Purse Blog forum.

It seems eBay still fails to understand that when it promotes anti-consumer behavior on its own site, it results in people going elsewhere.

You'd think that by now they'd have bought a vowel and gotten a clue.  Apparently not.

eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes   eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes

by: Marvin

Fri Feb 12 12:46:58 2010

I still find it incredible that ebay has done its very best to destroy the community that built it. This latest "edict" is just further proof of that statement :(.

eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes   eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes

by:

Fri Feb 12 12:57:12 2010

Overall this is another ebay failure. They can't or won't do anything about all the fraud except TRY to hide it.
If they even tried 1/10th as hard to stop it, they could save a hundredfold on censorship, monitoring, PR and of course the dirty tools they have to try and stop people from speaking their minds.

So people can make blogs and video about the fakes and ripoffs. Fill the internet, in particular the toobs with complaints and warnings since fascist ebay won't allow free speech.

Don't stop there either. tell everyone in real life that ebay has a lot in common with Hitler, Stalin, Big Brother, and using it is anti-American.

Give them what they want until they never want it again!

eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes   eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes

by: buyernseller

Fri Feb 12 13:06:47 2010

Griff comments "Posters are also free to discuss eBay items off line. " however... ebay doesn't appreciate off-ebay transactions, isn't that contradictory?  He can BET on it that there will be a lot more off-line, and off-ebay communications because if we can't authenticate an item on ebay, and ebay can't ensure they remove the reported legitimate fakes quick enough to prevent their customers from buying them then it's going to be a short run.

eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes   eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes

by: crysus

Fri Feb 12 13:23:32 2010

Not only is this a very stupid corporate move, it places rules and restrictions on one board that isn't being applied to the other eBay boards, which also provide authentication help. In addition, Griff is recommending taking photos (cropping out the ID) and posting them for reference when doing so is a copyright infringement. And all this started when a seller of a counterfeit Coach was advised it was not real, started amassing fake IDs to get even,  reporting solid posts and complaining to Griff and his team she was being picked on!!  She posted names and photos of members on line and took this vendetta and psychotic behavior to many boards. Griff and his team decided in her favor and against the group who has been dedicated posters, sellers and respected members of the Purse community helping eBay with fakes for years.

The fakes have already multiplied in the last 6 weeks this mess has been developing.  Ebay has always had a bum reputation it has valiantly fought, but now it's over.  It's now going to be another selling site known for rip offs.  And if you look carefully, eBay still gets their money, fake or not.

eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes   eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes

by: A Former authenticator

Fri Feb 12 13:27:33 2010

Ina asks: ''Why single out this particular board? ''

As in ''indefinitely sanctioned'' boardie, I'd like to comment.

With so many fake handbags on ebay, many buyers and sellers are aware of the need to authenticate the items they either want to list for sale or want to bid/buy.

Unfortunately, we often have to give the sellers information that they don't want to hear, i.e., your bag is fake.

Or we tell buyers who have received fakes that their seller didn't comply with federal law and authenticate the item first because if they had done so, the fake wouldn't have been listed and sold.

Often, too, we'll suggest that the buyer direct the seller to the post so the seller can get clarification why their item is fake.

Thus, many of us have been targeted by posters and sellers who don't like what we have to say. While it's understandable that they're unhappy, that's not our problem; we didn't list or sell the fake.

Some sellers assume the ''experts'' are out to get them but that isn't so. We want to make ebay a safe marketplace. We want buyers to feel comfortable in knowing that their purchases are authentic and most honest sellers APPRECIATE an educated buyer.

Fortunately, there  are other forums where buyers can post to ask authenticity questions, seller reputation questions or other general buying and selling questions. And on those forums, those who know the line can even tell the buyer that the item is FAKE!!

(On the ebay boards, we couldn't use ''fake,'' ''counterfeit,'' etc. We had to use euphemisms like ''Foach, ''Fouis Fuitton,'' or ''XXXX company didn't make that item'' in order to get the message across.)

Isn't it sad when a company the size of ebay has to stoop so low in order to protect and pad its bottom line?

eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes   eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes

by: boardie

Fri Feb 12 13:41:05 2010

I'm so sad that is has come to this level. The board in question had provided me with so much knowledge and experties regarding fakes, that I wouldn't have gotten reading 100+ articles on the internet. Those ladies volunteered their free time to do whats right. They didn't ask to be compensated in any other way but to take down the counterfeit auctions... However, their compensation by eBay resulted in sanctions and plain idiocy with the new "Griff" guidelines. I am disgusted by the situation and will probably not buy from eBay anymore.

eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes   eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes

by: Patricia

Fri Feb 12 14:05:42 2010

Ebay:

First you say you do and then you don't.
Then you say you will and then you won't.
You're undecided now so what are you gonna do?

Old song lyrics - seem to fit them perfectly.  As my mom would have said "bunch of air heads".  :-)

eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes   eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes

by: Former trusted reporter

Fri Feb 12 14:32:26 2010

There are over 250,000 active handbag listings on eBay at this moment.  This is not an insignificant issue.  It begs the question of whether or not Griff was acting with the full support of eBay's management by selectively reinterpreting board policies, or if this is the action of an over-the-hill employee engaged in an internal power struggle with a department that relies on member assistance to reduce the number of fakes that are listed on the site.

I'm just sayin'

eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes   eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes

by: FlyinBish

Fri Feb 12 14:37:10 2010

Good Ole Griff has shown yet again how out of touch he is with the marketplace as well as the specific needs of discriminating buyers of high dollar designer goods.

Why?  It all started with one of Ebay's (cough cough) power sellers getting bent out of shape.  She was Flyin high posting on Ebay's purse board as a self-proclaimed expert on Coach bags.  She was consistently giving wrong information to potential buyers and when called on her posted misinformation she went postal.  Then she was found to have listed a fake Coach bag under one ID and to have listed a fake Dooney under another of her ID's.

The fit really hit the sham when she posted pictures of a Coach she owned and had a question about.  When comments were made about the year the bag was made she insisted no one could tell that from the pictures she'd posted.  She then stated she'd spent 2 hours checking the bag with a magnifying glass and had been unable to find anything indicating the year of manufacture.  The real experts had quite the chuckle that someone pretending to know Coach inside and out did not know you could determine the year of manufacture simply by reading the number at the bottom of the bag's creed.

She began emailing Ole Griff innumerable times with her sob story of being mistreated.  Of course she neglected to mention she'd been caught listing fakes and posting false information that was purported to help potential buyers determine authenticity.  

She also failed to mention that the Coach Guide she had written and posted on Ebay was actually created by stealing information from actual long-time Coach experts from Ebay's purse board.

She enlisted the aid of a few others and began reporting hundreds of posts on the Purse board, the majority of which were in no violation of any posting rules, knowing the moderators simply pull posts without reading them.  This continued until a number of long time respected posters were sanctioned, and the majority of those still able to post simply walked away from the boards in disgust.

Our hands have been tied and we are no longer able to effectively assist those looking for our help on the boards.  

The reporting of thousands of counterfeit purses and accessories we find listed on Ebay will not stop, but the reports will no longer be filed with Ebay to end up in their corporate cyber trash can.  The reports will now be directed straight to the legal divisions of Coach, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Chanel, etc.

eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes   eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes

by: Linda

Fri Feb 12 14:44:16 2010

It looks to me like ebay is just enforcing rules that have been in place for years. On the flip side of this coin, there were many legitamate sellers that were being harrassed by this board. There was a certain 'clique' that totally manipulated that board, and they clearly made any other handbag seller that tried to give advice or opinions very unwelcome. They used that board to promote their own sales and items, and didn't always provide accurate information. Their 'opinions' were biast and predjudice towards their own promoting of themselves. They very often posted other sellers items and actually made fun of them. Accused them falsely of every ebay violation possible, for the sole purpose of discrediting thousands of other sellers on ebay. They would say things like "I wouldn't buy from that seller, even if the bag is authentic, because their pictures are blurry, or they have one bad feedback, " or countless other rediculous reasons. Then they would recommend another seller (probably themselves in a different user id) Many sellers just got sick of being SLANDERED this way and did something about it. Yes there are sellers selling counterfiets. And yes, they should be reported. There is a report button in each aution to serve this purpose. If these boardies are truly on a mission to end the sale of counterfiet bags on ebay, they can continue to do so. They are just not allowed to SLANDER every other seller besides themselves, on the ebay purse forum anymore. Griff is just asking them to use more caution and be more considerate of others.This is not an unreasonable request. He even stated that ebay appreciates their help in eliminating counterfiet sellers. He is just asking them to do it accoring to the guidelines that have been set up and in place, for years.Their rebuttal and threats just prove that their mission isn't really about reporting counterfiets. It's about eliminating the competiotion to promote their own sales. Boo hoo, this is no longer allowed.Now they'll just have to find another venue to manipulate. Ebay has been, is and always will be, the number one auction site in the world. They can protest all they want. It won't change a thing. Very few buyers ever accepted their 'expertise' as valid anyway.Believe it or not, there are MANY intelligent buyers that can tell real from fake on their own and don't need or want these forums.Those that do need them can still ask for help. They jusst have to follow the rules and make sure they are not SLANDERING anyone in the process. It's called 'manners and etiquette'   What's wrong with that? Also, ebay and Pay Pal have a fabulous buyer protection format that allows buyers to return any questionable item. Most long timeebay buyers know this, and will continue to shop on ebay. This purse board is a flea on ebay's butt.If they think they can buy and sell else where for better deals??? go for it.

eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes   eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes

by: Fruity

Fri Feb 12 14:52:55 2010

It's because ebay benefits from the fraud, they want it so they can book it as revenue on their SEC filings. That's how ebay revenue recognition model is, anything that closes with a winner or a BIN & the corresponding Final Value Fee is recorded.

Maybe buyers and sellers should just start posting the counterfeits elsewhere, like right in front of the brand owners. If ebay doesn't want to let the community be a community, then the community goes elsewhere

eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes   eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes

by: Linda

Fri Feb 12 14:57:11 2010

Ina, how about opening up one of YOUR forums for discussion about fraud? I'll bet it would be PACKED!!

eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes   eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes

by: pp

Fri Feb 12 15:03:35 2010

hey, ebafia don't want to pull those listings, 'tis a nice little earner

seller>ebay>fake bought>paypal snad
>return to paypal texas>liquidation>fake bought by seller>ebay>fake bought>paypal snad
>return to paypal texas>liquidation>fake bought by seller>ebay>fake bought>paypal snad
>return to paypal texas>liquidation>fake bought by seller>ebay>fake bought>paypal snad
>return to paypal texas>liquidation>fake bought by seller>ebay>fake bought>paypal snad
>return to paypal texas>liquidation>fake bought by seller>ebay>fake bought>paypal snad

whatever happened to that merry-go-round?

eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes   eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes

by: Pam

Fri Feb 12 15:06:12 2010

I believe the post from Linda, is the poster referred to in previous posts.  Need I say more?  

This isn't the first time Ebay has sided with one of the bad eggs.  We had a situation similar to this on the clothing board about 4 years ago.  This type of bullying is nothing new to the long time posters of the Ebay boards.  I really don't know what ebay is affraid of, other than lost revenue from the fraudulant sellers.

eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes   eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes

by: snowmen_ck

Fri Feb 12 15:23:53 2010

i've posted on the shoes, purses, and fashion accessories board for years and know the majority of the old timers under their posting and selling names.  i've never seen any of them suggest themselves as a recommended seller.

the only time people giving advice were not accepted at face value is when they were giving lousy advice.

it's not slander when what you're writing is true.  it's only called that by those who have been caught and are angry.

considering there are tens of thousands of sellers of purses and only two or three dozen regulars giving their opinions on authenticity, imo it's beyond idiocy for anyone to state their purpose is to drive sales to themselves.  especially since many of them don't even sell on ebay.

eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes   eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes

by: buck efay

Fri Feb 12 15:38:31 2010

Fruity, since it's song quote day "You Sure GOT THAT RIGHT" Ebay is more interested in stifling dissenters and experts in a high profit category then in encouraging the kind of fair & balanced & clean marketplace. Isn't it obvious? Ebay makes way too much money from Chinese Fraud bags & wants to keep it that way. One can only hope the former experts will now open a free unmodded by feebay message board & really tell it like it is! Hey girls,
here ya go: http://www.forumotion.com/en/create-forum/
set up a Free board & tell it like it is at fraudbay!!!

eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes   eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Fri Feb 12 15:39:24 2010

Posters on other eBay boards are now being sanctioned for even discussing the measures taken by Griff against authenticators on the purse board.

eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes   eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes

by: lvprincess16

Fri Feb 12 15:43:54 2010

I agree that it was NOT slander.
Further, if anyone came on that board and accused a seller of selling fakes, they were asked what made them think their item was fake.
Also, boardies were encouraged NOT to report anything unless they were 100% sure an item was counterfeit.
I've read several posts where some thought the item was fake and some either didn't or were unsure.  Someone ALWAYS chimed in asking that noone reported until there was confirmation that the item was fake.

eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes   eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes

by: A Former authenticator

Fri Feb 12 15:57:08 2010

A thought occurred to me.

I bet that maybe Ebay is taking this action on the boards because they don't want the posters competing with the new service that Trust & Safety is offering it's purse sellers.

It comes as news to me that clearly Trust & Safety is now AUTHENTICATING with professional experts for sellers of designer items.

Check out this LV listing: Item 230435916105.

From the seller's description, she states that:

''this bag was double verified for us directly by the ebay trust and safety department as well as lv authenticators who work for us. it is guaranteed 100% authentic.''

Who knew???? T&S has become authenticators! No wonder we've lost our unpaid jobs!


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