|Fri Feb 12 2010 10:48:17|
eBay Restricts Shoppers' Ability to Solicit Advice on Fakes
By: Ina Steiner
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 firstname.lastname@example.org"
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?