|Wed July 9 2014 08:18:58|
Seller: eBay Contributes to Decline of Native American Jewelry
Re: Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms
Our company sells Native American jewelry which is protected under the Indians Arts and Crafts Act of 1990. Among other things, selling foreign made or non Native American made jewelry or artifacts as Native American is a federal crime with substantial fines if caught.
For many years, eBay has allowed sellers to illegally list foreign made items made in China, The Philippines, other Pacific Rim countries, and Mexico as Native American. Their price points were and remain significantly lower, and the damage done to the industry and Native American artists has been enormous. EBay was and probably still is the largest single venue for the sale of Native American jewelry and artifacts, and they bear much of the responsibility for the industry's decline.
Many concerned sellers and buyers have complained to eBay and to independent organizations interested in the preservation of these Native arts. EBay's predictable lackluster response was to begin including caveats every time anything was listed in any of the Native American categories as well as items being listed whose titles or descriptions contain certain words or phrases whether the warning was relevant to the listing or not.
Unfortunately, eBay has done nothing else to protect this indigenous art form and comply with federal law, and yet another agency of the federal government seems distinctly disinterested in enforcing the law with eBay.
EBay's jewelry managers refuse to learn much if anything about this jewelry sub genre and won't listen to sellers like us who sell only authentic items. The counterfeit problem continues, consequently, but unfortunately the majority buyers lack the expertise to distinguish between authentic and counterfeit or foreign made.
Further, most Native American silversmiths lack the resources or the will to file VeRo complaints when applicable, and many of the foreign made counterfeits, when signed at all, are signed or hallmarked by nonexistent people or fabricated names. In some cases hallmarks are being copied or even removed not only by foreign silversmiths but a few unscrupulous businesses in the southwest.
The second major problem in the Native American jewelry categories is new items made to look old using a variety of creative techniques that are being sold as pawn, estate, and vintage jewelry which buyers view as desirable when, in fact, not only are most of what's being sold using these descriptors are new items, and most of them have little or no value collector value regardless of their age. In some instances this so-called "vintage" jewelry isn't even sterling silver and some stones are sometimes low grade stones, plastic, or glass. Most buyers will never discover what they've actually bought.
In our opinion, eBay is the principal reason why the once thriving southwest Native American jewelry industry has declined at least 40% in the last ten years. EBay's attitude across their venue is that committing fraud is acceptable unless the victims can file a VeRo or the buyer files a case. Profit before ethics. Profits before the law. Profit before integrity.
To compound these problems, eBay has intentionally made it far too easy for buyers to make false accusations of misrepresentation in order to extort free merchandise and refunds, and sellers have no recourse whatsoever.
There are so few products made in the USA, but Native American jewelry and artifacts are two of them. The scope of eBay sanctioned fraud over the years drove many really good buyers away for good and their encouragement and facilitation of buyer fraud has driven away many honest sellers with many more who'll be leaving by choice in August.
Ironically, one of the worst misrepresentation offenders on eBay now primarily sells on their web site and on Amazon while Amazon rejected us three years ago with our perfect feedback and perfect stars. With Amazon's alleged high standards, we laughed at the irony of Amazon selecting a likely less than forthcoming with the facts seller and not even knowing it.
Sadly most Amazon buyers (or eBay for that matter) will never know they bought a counterfeit or foreign made item because the country of origin tags and labels have been illegally removed and because far too many buyers don't understand that you get what you pay for in most cases.
Is any of this surprising? Hardly. EBay and the mad men who run it are digging eBay's grave one shovel at a time. They're a major force in another economic maltreatment of Native Americans and those honest eBay businesses that comply with the law.
Mssrs. Donahoe and Wenig no doubt high five one another each time a niche or small seller leaves eBay. What they clearly fail to understand is when they ruin a non big box seller with a following, that following also leaves eBay.