EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 1668 - November 20, 2007     1 of 3

eBay Opposes Regulation while Pennsylvania Sellers Face Fines

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eBay consignment sellers in Pennsylvania are facing $1,000 fines if they do not comply with the state's auctioneering licensing requirements. A Pennsylvania newspaper article reports that at least two bills are awaiting committee action in the Legislature designed to deal with eBay consignment sellers.

AuctionBytes wrote in April about the plight of a Pennsylvania seller who is being forced to get an auctioneer's license to operate his eBay drop-off store ( eBay said it opposes attempts to extend state auction licensing requirements to eBay sellers, or to eBay itself.

eBay spokesperson Catherine England said Monday that while eBay transactions are commonly referred to as auctions, there are several fundamental differences between traditional regulated auctions and the transactions that occur over the eBay platform.

"Since eBay and eBay sellers perform functions distinct and non-equivalent to those of traditional auctioneers, they should not be subject to the same regulation and licensing requirements. Extending auctioneering regulations and requirements to eBay or eBay sellers makes even less sense when you consider that fixed-price formats accounted for 41 percent of Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) in the third quarter of 2007," she said. "There is no evidence that imposing new regulations and licensing requirements upon eBay or eBay sellers would provide any additional consumer protection. However, new regulations would impose unneeded costs and burdens upon both buyers and sellers, many of whom rely on their eBay transactions for their primary source of income."

Many charities and organizations use the online-auction consignment model for fundraising, including Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, whose campaign recommended supporters use a consignment service to sell goods on eBay to help raise money for his presidential bid (eBay CEO Meg Whitman is National Finance Chair for the Romney campaign).

A chart of laws affecting eBay consignment sellers is available on the AuctionBytes website (

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to

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