|Sun Aug 12 2012 21:19:40|
Where Should Marketplaces Like eBay and Etsy Draw the Line?
By: Ina Steiner
Each online marketplace has its own rules about what sellers are prohibited from selling. Many products are regulated, and for items that are illegal to sell, such policies may protect not only the marketplaces, but sellers as well. And don't forget that under federal law, it is illegal to attempt to sell recalled products.
But many of the items that are banned on marketplaces such as eBay and Etsy are controversial, such as guns, Nazi items, murderabilia - and pets. One reader recently wrote about a policy in which antiques mall Ruby Lane banned ivory thanks to a California law.
Here are some links to some marketplace policies:
Etsy Prohibited Items
eBay Prohibited and Restricted Items
eBay Offensive Material Policy
Etsy has just updated its list of Prohibited items, as reported in Monday's EcommerceBytes Newsflash. And eBay has faced plenty of controversy over the years about items it has banned from its marketplace.
Sometimes it's not the particular item or category of product that's controversial, but the way a marketplace enforces their bans. I heard from a seller today who inadvertently listed a product on eBay that had been recalled, but found many other listings on eBay for the very same product. And Amazon, for example, prohibits sellers using its FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) from sending hazardous products to its warehouse, but many merchant have complained about inconsistent and over-reaching enforcement, as this Newsflash article from January reports.
What do you think? If it's not illegal to sell a particular item, should you be able to sell it on any online marketplace you choose? Where should marketplaces draw the line, and have you ever been effected by such policies?