|Thu Apr 8 2010 00:19:57|
Austrian Judge Orders eBay to Pay Damages
By: Ina Steiner
German watchdog group Falle-Internet.de said eBay was found negligent and will have to pay damages to an Austrian buyer who purchased gold bars from a German PowerSeller on eBay in September 2007. The case highlights the line eBay straddles between being "just a venue" in legal disputes, and as a safe marketplace when enticing consumers to shop there, a line that the court seemed to recognize has become blurred.
Cases like this are also why eBay has shifted much of the risk to sellers, with 21-day holds and rolling reserves.
Users have accused eBay of banishing any discussion in which users point out fraud on its site. In this case, even as eBay argued in court that the victim should have read its discussion forums to research the seller, it deleted some posts in a discussion thread about the trial.
The wrangling carried over to Twitter, where eBay Germany tweeted in defense of removing posts on a discussion board thread about the trial (see @falle_internet and @eBayDE). eBay Germany tweeted that documents were related to the court file and were not public. (Note, you can use Google Language Tools to translate from German to English.)
eBay users are good at spotting shady behavior, and it was quite common years ago for them to make an effort to clear the site of fraudsters and abusers But eBay has made it increasingly difficult for sellers to identify and to discuss such behavior on the boards.
The Austrian case is described in more detail in Thursday's AuctionBytes Newsflash and makes for an interesting read.