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EBay Abandons Plans For PayPal Monopoly

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the single-source-is-always-risky dept.

The Almighty Buck 277

An anonymous reader writes "eBay's has lost its fight to ban all payment methods except PayPal. When Paypal originally announced the scheme it was to be global, but they began with a dry run in Australia to test the reaction of government and consumer authorities. In the public slanging match that followed between eBay and the regulatory ACCC, eBay spammed users claiming it was fighting for 'safety benefits for consumers.' Fortunately the consumers won. Conceded eBay vice president Simon Smith, 'While we disagree with the ACCC's draft notice, we have decided to withdraw the notification to stop any further confusion and disruption among the eBay community.' Nevertheless eBay insists PayPal is now always offered as a payment option. Have big corporations finally learned that they can go too far? More chillingly, if eBay had launched the scheme in America would they have gotten away with it?"

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277 comments

Paypal only (3, Interesting)

Mycroft_514 (701676) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054229)

Then I would leave e-bay, after being there since 1996

Paypal ? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24054243)

Isn't that for parents ? Like AOL.

Since '96 (-1, Offtopic)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054339)

Damn, you beat me by a couple of months...

I do have my first name as my eBay user ID though.

Re:Since '96 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24054713)

With a first name like "joce" that's not all that impressive. Btw, member since 98' and only 1 feedback?: http://myworld.ebay.com/joce [ebay.com]

Re:Paypal only (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24054885)

I'm sorry, but that is what it would take to make you leave eBay? I jumped ship years ago and they've only gotten worse since.

Re:Paypal only (5, Informative)

AmigaMMC (1103025) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054927)

I was there since 1997, but I stopped selling on ebay several months ago. Their new policies, higher prices and impossibility for sellers to leave any negative or neutral feedback has driven many people away. Just read the ebay forums, the Front Porch, and you will see hundreds of angry people. What's even worse, go to Seller Central forum and browse the last pages... ebay had moved to the back of the list some important threads where people were complaining about the new policies. Last Feb. when sellers called for a boycott and stopped selling for a determined amount of time ebay posted hundreds of thousands of fake listings to show that their numbers were not down (it's all documented in the forums). Nowadays, me and many other ex ebayers moved to iOffer.com and it's like heaven compared to ebay. No listing fees, lower final value fees, proper feedback (and you can transfer your rating from ebay), free pics and free store. As of this week there are over 4 million listings on iOffer.com

Re:Paypal only (1)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 5 years ago | (#24055103)

Can you explain the use of negative feedback against buyers? What situations would you give negative feedback? It seems that if they didn't pay that would be an issue you would take to Ebay, not something you'd complain about on their feedback page. Serious question.

Interesting points though, I'll have to check out iOffer.

Re:Paypal only (5, Interesting)

Pseudonym (62607) | more than 5 years ago | (#24055225)

Well, the purpose of negative feedback is to stop being getting screwed over by bad actors.

There are several ways that a buyer can scam a seller. They can, for example, claim that the item is not as described, and then return something else (e.g. buying a new diamond ring and returning a cheap cubic zirconia, or buying a new laptop and returning an old one). eBay and PayPal will honour proof of postage as "proof" that the correct item was returned, even if it wasn't.

In those situations, negative feedback was the only recourse that a scammed seller had.

Re:Paypal only (2, Insightful)

van da man (1319543) | more than 5 years ago | (#24055189)

just visited this site hadn't heard of it til I saw your post. this sounds like a good site in general, but the large amount of bootleg computer software that I've already seen on the site such as the Microsoft Office 2007 blue edition found here http://www.ioffer.com/i/MS-Microsoft-Office-2007-Blue-Edition-Very-Rare-36496701 [ioffer.com] and the windows xp black edition found here http://www.ioffer.com/i/Windows-Xp-Pro-SP3-Black-Edition-2008--56542416 [ioffer.com] or even the Windows Vista Ultimate SP1 Preactivated http://www.ioffer.com/i/Windows-Vista-Ultimate-SP1-Preactivated-FREE-SHIP-43585521 [ioffer.com] sorry to break it to ya folks but all of these are hack jobs and not legitimate product from microsoft. I wonder how long until microsoft lowers the boom on ioffer for allowing these kinds of auctions to remain listed.

Re:Paypal only (5, Informative)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054991)

Then I would leave e-bay, after being there since 1996

Amen. I personally have experienced the famous Paypal shaft. Froze my account for no reason and blackholed all my communications, just like so many other people. When I finally did get access to my money again after many months of frustration and runaround, I closed the account I was stupid enough to give them access to and left Paypal for good.

Paypal is an unregulated scam.

Re:Paypal only (1)

tchiseen (1315299) | more than 5 years ago | (#24055269)

I got one of the spam emails from eBay saying that you had to use PayPal and if you didn't your listing would be removed. I sent them a reply telling them where to go.

I'm currently looking for an alternative to eBay in Australia. Any ideas?

A dumb end to a dumb arguement. (2, Insightful)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054249)

More chillingly, if eBay had launched the scheme in America would they have got away with it?"

EBay is a medium to connect buyers and sellers, nothing more. They can't regulate the actual terms of a transaction. All the parties have to do is accept "cash/check" as the method of payment and then go to Google/Western Union/whathaveyou and send the payment that way. Seller gets money via "unapproved" method. What's eBay going to do? Stop him from shipping the item?

This was a non-issue from the start.

fp?

Re:A dumb end to a dumb arguement. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24054309)

That doesn't work when the only option presented to users is paypal, the eBay system wont let you finalise auctions until PayPal processing has occurred and eBay start removing listings that don't conform.

And no, you didn't get first post you idiot.

Re:A dumb end to a dumb arguement. (1, Insightful)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054403)

That doesn't work when the only option presented to users is paypal, the eBay system wont let you finalise auctions until PayPal processing has occurred and eBay start removing listings that don't conform.

And do you think sellers would put up with a website telling them what methods of payment they're allowed to accept? They don't need eBay to artificially limit their customer base.

And no, you didn't get first post you idiot.

There were no replies when I started typing mine, and the story was not on the front page yet (saw it in the Firehose). It was worth a try. At least I actually formulate a response relevant to the article, instead of posting "frosty piss" or some other type of one line nonsense. I would have gotten first post if I had done that.

Re:A dumb end to a dumb arguement. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24054809)

I would have gotten first post if I had done that.

That must make you feel pretty special. I know I'd feel special if I had a shot at getting first post: I'd feel complete.

Re:A dumb end to a dumb arguement. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24054401)

you fail to understand how bad the laws are written in the US.

The hacking statute covers "exceeding authorized access" and "damage" (generally defined as $5000 in loss to a "protected computer" another term of art) is not always applicable. Obtaining information is enough.

So if the Ebay TOS were to state that only paypal is allowed, and you went around that though any means, that could result in a jail sentence. Absurd yes, court tested, again yes (and a new case is using that same argument, the myspace suicide one).

In 1998 was the first case that established a TOS violation is "exceeding authorized access" in an AOL case against a harvester of emails.

It does not matter how insane the TOS is, in fact if slashdot changed their TOS secretly to say no one can access ever under any circumstances, then anyone who went there, even to read the TOS would wind up a criminal - would that get prosecuted? probably not, but the fact is it could.

So what is ebay going to do if they had tried? They probably would lobby hard for the support of the DOJ in bringing all these "criminals" to justice.

Re:A dumb end to a dumb arguement. (5, Insightful)

Stanislav_J (947290) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054635)

EBay is a medium to connect buyers and sellers, nothing more.

That's the mantra eBay has often chanted (usually in the context of somebody wanting to hold them responsible for some fraud that has been perpetrated), but the fact is that they have gradually done everything they can over the years to insert themselves between buyer and seller, and to be directly involved in every phase of the transaction. They have already previously tried to ban or at least discourage other forms of payment -- this is nothing new. They tried several years ago to force all sellers to complete transactions through eBay's own "Checkout" system, and only backed down after mass bitching by some very high volume sellers. They try to intimidate you into using only eBay's own on-site message system to contact bidders instead of e-mailing them directly.

The problem with these measures is, while still technically "optional," eBay does nothing to encourage such "rogue" behavior, and many (maybe most) users, both sellers and bidders, who have come aboard after these "options" were implemented are under the impression that they are mandatory because eBay pushes them constantly while burying the more seller-centric options in obscurity. Consequently, many bidders no longer understand the "eBay is only a venue" schtick, and believe that they are dealing directly with eBay. After all, when your messages all come through the eBay site, and you pay by clicking on buttons on the eBay site, you lose track of the fact that there are thousands of individual sellers who are the actual merchants. I've had problems with more than a few bidders who refuse to answer my e-mails or to pay me directly instead of through eBay's Checkout because they think it's not "official" otherwise, and that I am trying to pull some sort of scam on them.

Re:A dumb end to a dumb arguement. (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 5 years ago | (#24055175)

They try to intimidate you into using only eBay's own on-site message system to contact bidders instead of e-mailing them directly. [...] I've had problems with more than a few bidders who refuse to answer my e-mails or to pay me directly instead of through eBay's Checkout because they think it's not "official" otherwise, and that I am trying to pull some sort of scam on them.
I have to sympathize at least a little with those users. I recently bought something on ebay, and I have no less than 7 emails about it in my in-box, from 5 different addresses. This seems to be the norm these days for ebay transactions, and it's just plain confusing. Actually, ebay in general is just insanely baroque and confusing for the inexperienced user. There are a gazillion different little widgets, and the whole design of the web site looks like something from somebody's 1997 geocities site.

Re:A dumb end to a dumb arguement. (3, Insightful)

no-body (127863) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054827)

A - EBay is a medium to connect buyers and sellers, nothing more.

B - This was a non-issue from the start.

Dream on...

A - Ebay is a money making machine and de-facto monopoly on online auctions.

B - Ebay owns PayPal - their auction interfaces are strongly interlinked and incentives in PayPal "Buyer protection" are predominanty shown on every(?) auction.

Look at 10 auctions and count non-PayPal (quick - CC) payments accepted - I found NONE!

They can easily effort dropping enforcement of PayPal - they get it anyway.
Maybe it was dumb to try it in that manner.

Duh, Yea! (3, Insightful)

WarlockD (623872) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054255)

More chillingly, if eBay had launched the scheme in America would they have got away with it?

Yes:P There aren't any wildly accepted payment processors you can go with with ebay. While I don't like the arbitrary way Paypal handles accounts, its hard for me to go back to mailing a check or money order with its convenience. I doubt enough Americans would care one way or the other sadly.

Just cancel your eBay account (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24054267)

I quit eBay (Canada) the day that they forced Canadian sellers to accept Paypal. Also, the fact that they'll withhold payments to me for 21 days without paying interest didn't go over so well either.

Shame to let all that good feedback go but I won't bend over for corporate raping.

Re:Just cancel your eBay account (3, Interesting)

InlawBiker (1124825) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054491)

I have sold a lot of stuff on Ebay too, but I quit in favor of Craigslist. This Ebay maneuver was just a calculated way for them to muscle sellers into giving Ebay a bigger piece of the pie. It's the 'ol "gain monopoly then exploit" plan. There needs to be a name for it. There probably is but I can't think of it...

Also here's the obligatory grammar gripe. "Have big corporations finally learned that they can go to far." Where is this "far" place and how do I get there?

Re:Just cancel your eBay account (3, Funny)

mfnickster (182520) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054593)

> Also here's the obligatory grammar gripe. "Have big corporations finally learned that they can go to far." Where is this "far" place and how do I get there?

"A. You can NEVER go to far."

"B. If I'm gonna get busted, it is NOT going to be by a company like eBay!"

(see also: "Goto-far Statement Considered Harmful")

Re:Just cancel your eBay account (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24054749)

It's called the microshit strategy.

Re:Just cancel your eBay account (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054805)

In all the complain threads I've seen, I've never heard of Paypal withholding payments for 21 days in any country. The same goes for requiring sellers to accept PayPal payments other than the announced one for Australia. I would have a problem with the 21 day thing if that was put on me, but requiring PayPal payments, without the 21 day thing, wouldn't put me off. The proportion of problematic transactions on PayPal vs. cash/check/MO that I get were such that transactions involving PayPal are a lot more pleasant from a buyer's and seller's side. It's the cash/check/MO purchases that gave me the worst trouble and more often.

Re:Just cancel your eBay account (1)

squidinkcalligraphy (558677) | more than 5 years ago | (#24055101)

I suspect this was all covering fire. By creating a big fuss over paypal-only, they can make must-include-paypal-as-an-option seem a reasonable compromise. A bit like an ambit claim, if you will. A cunning move on their part, but they're still bastards.

As an Australian (5, Interesting)

renegadesx (977007) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054277)

I applaude the ACCC on this move but I wish somebody would have told me this was going to happen sooner. I requested them to shut down my eBay account in protest a month ago. eBay rationalized this by saying they were acting in the interests of consumers despite consumers said very clear they were against this.

This was about monopoly and eBay getting paid twice per transaction (more money for them). They spammed me MANY times trying to say "this is for your own good". I had customer representatives hassling me all the time when I requested my account be closed and they were going "you can sign up to paypal" and I said "I dont want a paypal account" and after 5 repeated attempts, they still havent shut it down but say "its in the process of being shut down"

Re:As an Australian (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24054473)

Too bad you still have to have a Paypal account. Now the problem is, if sellers *must* list Paypal, how many buyers will just use it? Given that it's the sellers who must absorb the fee and for the buyer it usually means that their payment goes through faster (compared with a direct bank deposit, which takes 3-5 business days). Even if other companies can offer methods that are just as quick though with lower fees, it seems that Paypal wins by stealth. As long as Paypal is compulsory in any form, consumers have lost.

As a buyer, I've used Paypal in the past knowing that the seller has chosen to make it an option. Now I think I may just use another auction site such as OZtion.

Re:As an Australian (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24054609)

oztion is so cool...xxxxx....xxxxxxx.......xxxxxxx......xxxxxx...........NOT! Great Success!

Re:As an Australian (1)

CoolGopher (142933) | more than 5 years ago | (#24055081)

It took me almost a week of emails back and forth to get my eBay account closed down (also in protest), and unless you find the one correct link on a page littered with links, it's impossible to get it closed. Even if they don't insist on PayPal, I'm not sure if I'll come back again.

For the Record: Here is eBay's SPAM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24055287)

They spammed this to all Australian users. They must think we're really stupid to swallow this corporate propaganda:

(attached)
--

WHY ARE THESE CHANGES HAPPENING?

The decision to delay these changes was made by eBay following the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's (ACCC) draft notice issued on Thursday 12 June 2008.

eBay released a media statement on Friday 13 June regarding the ACCC's draft notice.

The statement reads as follows:

ACCC draft notice undermines online consumer protection

eBay will continue to fight for safety benefits for consumers

13 June 2008: eBay challenges yesterday's Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's (ACCC) draft notice and is disappointed that the ACCC's current view delays the opportunity to provide consumers a more secure way to shop on eBay.com.au with confidence.

eBay intends to work with the ACCC and hopes to achieve a final outcome which has the safety and security of eBay's members as its paramount objective. eBay will delay the removal of other payment methods from the site until Tuesday 15 July.

PayPal offers consumers a range of payment choices, including bank transfer and credit cards. It's a safer and easier online payment system that significantly enhances protection for eBay buyers and sellers.

eBay is pleased to confirm that PayPal buyer protection will jump to $20,000 on eBay.com.au for purchases paid for using PayPal from Tuesday 17 June.

eBay believes the consumer benefits of this initiative are worth fighting for on behalf of its buyers which will ultimately benefit sellers.

Regards
The eBay team

This email was sent from eBay International AG in accordance with the eBay user agreement.

--

BTW The $20,000 PayPal protection sounds nice but I was once a victim of an eBay scam (reputable seller turned rogue, took the money and ran). This hit all his customers but despite paying by PayPal and thinking this was safe, turned out the protection didn't apply.

A few questions (3, Insightful)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054285)

I understand that the real aversion to this plan comes from the "mandatory" part, but why is PayPal a bad thing? Personally, I like having a middleman shield my credit card information from the seller, and I like some of the other protections that using PayPal can afford.

And, frankly, what's so wrong about having a specific method of payment used throughout a website? If eBay had their own internal payment system identical in every way to PayPal, would there be as much fervor?

Re:A few questions (4, Funny)

EsonLinji (723693) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054373)

eBay already has their own internal payment system identical to PayPal in every way. It's called PayPal.

Re:A few questions (5, Informative)

FSWKU (551325) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054385)

And, frankly, what's so wrong about having a specific method of payment used throughout a website? If eBay had their own internal payment system identical in every way to PayPal, would there be as much fervor?

A specific method of payment is not the issue here. The issue is that eBay owns PayPal, making the whole "we're doing this to protect YOU" argument rather spurious at best.

eBay takes a commission on each item sold through their site. Paypal takes a chunk of every transaction that goes through. So it works like this. Person A puts up an item for sale. Person B is the winning bidder. Person A now owes eBay X amount of money based on the final price of the item. This comes out of what they receive in payment from Person B. Person B sends the money through PayPal, which takes a percentage of the transaction, Y. If the item sold for Z dollars, person A will only ever see Z-(X+Y). Essentially, eBay gets paid twice for the same auction. THAT is where people are getting (rightfully) peeved.

Re:A few questions (1)

maglor_83 (856254) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054515)

A specific method of payment is not the issue here.

Essentially, eBay gets paid twice for the same auction. THAT is where people are getting (rightfully) peeved.

Well I obviously can't speak for everyone, but I'm more worried about the former rather than the latter. It hinders competition, resulting in higher prices.

Re:A few questions (4, Informative)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054573)

PayPal has a long history of closing accounts, dipping into bank accounts that are associated with accounts, freezing assets without recourse and generally being really shitty corporate citizens [somethingawful.com]. Their status as an effective middleman is middling at best.

Re:A few questions (3, Interesting)

nolife (233813) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054585)

I have a separate bank account with "totally free checking" at a local bank and only use it for Paypal. Nothing else. When I need to use Paypal, I deposit money in that account by check from my other bank or using their ATM out front and walk in and deposit it. If some of the horror stories I hear about Palpal freezing accounts or people being scammed happen to me, I will only loose access to a couple of dollars.

Re:A few questions (5, Insightful)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054709)

You do all that to avoid being stolen from, and you still do business with paypal? If your fruit vendor threw a nasty one at you every fifth visit would you just start wearing a raincoat?

Re:A few questions (1)

nolife (233813) | more than 5 years ago | (#24055247)

I'd rather take precautions than do nothing. Opening an account with a local back takes about 10 minutes and depositing cash or a check at that physical bank is not hard. This bank is in the same parking lot as the nearest grocery store and I pass by it every day so it is not out of the way either.
You're right though, I do not like Paypal either and I should have to do nothing to protect myself and maybe I'm a little paranoid but the little effort I go through seems worth it to me.
What is your method of dealing with a money transaction with people far away from you that you do not know? Go to the USPS and get a postal money order every time, send a personal check and wait for it to clear, send cash? Use one of those mentioned and also a third party escrow service? I do not see how any of those methods are more convenient, safer, or cheaper.

Re:A few questions (1)

Wild Wizard (309461) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054965)

Personally, I like having a middleman shield my credit card information from the seller,

Except in Australia there are other more preferred methods for transactions that don't require credit cards or paypal.

Number one is bank direct deposit, which doesn't involve any extra parties (though the buyer may have to pay their own bank a few for the transaction)

Number two is a Money Order with a flat fee of $4.00, but limited to $1000 total value

Now considering that using a paypal account requires the bank account that can be used in option one, and will also attract fees and charges, why would you even bother with the extra hassle of paypal.

If PayPal is best, why force it on people? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24055329)

This EFA (similar to the EFF) quote from the article (RTFA!) summed it up nicely:

However, eBay has refused to roll back the first stage of its proposed changes, which required all sellers to at least offer PayPal as one of the payment options.

"Forcing sellers to accept PayPal payments will harm competition by making it more difficult for PayPal's competitors to compete," said Dale Clapperton, chair of the online users lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia.

"eBay should allow sellers the choice of whether or not to deal with PayPal. Many sellers choose not to use PayPal because of higher fees or past bad experiences. "If PayPal is truly the best payment option, why does eBay need to force people to do business with them?"

Paypal monopoly in America (2, Interesting)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054323)

I wish they did do it, so that Google could finally put up Google Auctions and we finally got rid of eBay.

Re:Paypal monopoly in America (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24054865)

You can already post items using Google Base that support payment via Google Checkout and they'll show up in Google Product Search.

Ebay auctions are not a necessity of life (4, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054327)

> More chillingly, if eBay had launched the scheme in America would they have got away
> with it?

Probably, because while people like you would have whined and moaned about the evil of it all you would have kept right on doing business with them. You recite high-sounding phrases about your rights, but you value convenience more.

Try to get a grip. There are lots of other ways to buy and sell things. If Ebay management wants to act like a pack of fools it's between them and their shareholders. They need customers more than the customers need them.

I don't get it... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24054329)

Why is there no competing online fleamarket to eBay? We all know eBay sucks ass! I want my competition!

Yes, yes, I know, build it and they will come...

Re:I don't get it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24054623)

Yahoo Auctions tried to compete but it sucked nobody used it.

eBay isn't even trying to be itself any more. All the recent changes are so eBay can become Amazon Lite.

The only real alternative to eBay will be Google Auctions, whenever it starts.

Re:I don't get it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24054803)

Why is there no competing online fleamarket to eBay?

There is Oztion (http://www.oztion.com.au/) which is an Australia-only alternative auction site, that functionally very similar to eBay, but without all the payment restrictions.
As mentioned there is also the trading post (print and online).

Re:I don't get it... (1)

bcg (322392) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054919)

I would agree with you if my partner didn't make her money selling art online (obligatory self serving link: emmakirsopp.com [emmakirsopp.com] - may be NSFW as it contains life drawings).

We have tried a lot of competing sites. Some local ones (we're australian) such as oztion. Art specific ones like Dwanda, Etsy. Online shops like bigcartel (which is very good - but...). Very little traffic.

eBay has such a large following its the only place that auctions work by having enough people that might actually be interested in buying what you're selling.

I can tell you that this eBay kurfuffle has had a big impact on the number of sales and amount of which they have gone for. Interest rate rises here have also been a factor. But what interesting with the eBay/paypal thing is that its the first time in years that we have seen a lot of watchers on an item, but still no sale. This has been unique over the last couple of months as this thing has caused uncertainty.

It would be interesting to know if the data at eBay supports this in the australian market.

In the US... (5, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054343)

The outright banning was perhaps a red-herring, i.e. an "It can be worse" program to distract people from other anti-competitive measures they were taking at the same time.

People will remember only that they were considering to ban the competitors outright, they have withdrawn that. Hence, they have succeeded. The public (the news media) will now ignore the more important changes -- the new requirement that paypal be offered on all listings.

Think of the auction bidding strategy that involves conspiracy: the highest bidder will confer with a third party to "accidentally" make an obvious bidding error, like bidding 100000 on a $100 item. The high-bidding conspirator will withdraw their bid (based on it being an obvious error), with the second-highest bidder getting the item for a ridiculously low price.

Banning non-paypal services outright is the distracting (erroneous bid). Making it mandatory to offer a Paypal option on all listings is the lower bid that still gets the item (eBay merchants' payment processing business).

They've also basically gotten away with it by banning their potential biggest competitor (Google) early.

Justifications are only to save face. The real reason they want to ban new non-Paypal services should be obvious.

By having pay-by-PayPal-through-eBay's-site required to be an option for all actions, the other payment methods will begin to be marginalized.

Because they will be less convenient.

By "not banning them" eBay will pretend to be placating them and allowing competition, where in fact, it will be harder for competitors to compete than before.

Now by withdrawing their "ban on alternate payment services", many people have by now forgotten or won't notice other changes...

They'll think eBay learned their lesson and will play nice, when it couldn't be farther from the truth.

Re:In the US... (1)

VoltageX (845249) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054599)

Luckily the ACCC aren't that stupid, and if eBay try another stunt like that in Australia, they'll have even bigger problems. Pity eBay could probably drop the Australian market without an issue...

in america only? it depends... (1)

rpax9000 (916267) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054355)

do they know the appropriate congressman to make a contribution to?

if so, it would have sailed through with no objections from the ftc.

if not? it would have been questioned (but would have passed as soon as congress realized that ebay is a business and their management/shareholders have money available to give to re-election campaigns).

Australia is a good common ground. (5, Insightful)

catwh0re (540371) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054367)

Australia is a good test bed for consumer goods. Australia is relatively isolated with a limited population of first world consumers. The Australian consumer is typically a spoilt one (with no offense intended, it's just a marketing term for the consumer-climate) This means bad ideas sink very quickly and only the very best ideas will gather the momentum & critical mass for financial survival.

Australian law lays between the consumer-driven EU laws and the company driven-US laws.

The ACCC is an independent government body specifically designed to prevent US-style corporate bastardisation. It's significantly resistant to US-style lobbying and has the power to stop company mergers, monitor and investigate pricing, regulate telecommunications companies, make unfair company policies illegal to enforce and works via a complaint system. (Meaning that individuals have the power to enact a government body to look into unreasonable practices.)

The ACCC is the reason why the iPhone is available on all competent Australian telecoms, why banks had to pass on savings to consumers and why ebay couldn't impose their paypal policy.

The smaller nature of the Australian population allows for this kind of organisation to exist, so I'm not confident this would scale without corruption to larger countries.(There is also an organisation which deals specifically with corruption.)

As with any system, there is an appeals process, many companies don't take this route (such as ebay) as the ACCC are usually just enforcing the existing fair trading & trade practices laws.

Re:Australia is a good common ground. (1)

kaos07 (1113443) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054481)

Actually the iPhone is only available on three networks, albeit the three biggest networks - Telstra, Optus and Vodafone.

Ironically it's not available on the "3" network".

Re:Australia is a good common ground. (3, Informative)

RodgerDodger (575834) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054551)

Technically, not correct. It is true that only three networks are offering the iPhone. However, as per ACCC policy, they have to offer a way to buy the iPhone by itself, unlocked and able to be used on any network. For example, Optus is selling the iPhone on the prepaid plans and offers an unlocking service (at a cost - just factor that into the price if you don't want to use Optus).

The ACCC could not force Apple to offer the iPhone to multiple networks; they could have just approached, say, Telstra. However, the ACCC could force Telstra to offer it unlocked, even if they were the only reseller.

My guess is that the terms & conditions offered by Apple to sell the iPhone weren't attractive enough for the 2nd tier providers (the ones who don't actually have their own networks fully in place; 3 [three.com.au] is sort of in-between; they have their own network covering major urban areas, but fallback to the Telstra network elsewhere). Of course, these terms & conditions are secret, so unless you're a major telco executive, there's no way to know.

Re:Australia is a good common ground. (1)

Spikeles (972972) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054559)

But, it is available to be bought outright from one of those 3 unlocked from the network allowing you to use it on any other network you want.

Re:Australia is a good common ground. (1)

catwh0re (540371) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054653)

I don't think anyone noted that I said "on all competent Australian telecoms", this is where I get a bit controversial, as I don't consider three a competent telecom - it's overly reliant on other networks merely to maintain voice coverage outside of their comparatively small 3G zone. Additionally it's a widely reported issue(particularly on whirlpool) that three have not fully implemented "soft transitions" when switching from a 3G call on the three network to a GSM call on the telstra network. I.E. the call is dropped and a redial is necessary.

With that in mind, you can still use just about any 3G handset on three.

Also to clarify: the ACCC didn't pass judgement on the iPhone, it's mere existence was the necessary scare-crow for multiple vendors to happen. (The ACCC doesn't need to bear hard judgement to enact changes, for example the ACCC only posted a draft complaint to ebay over the palpay issue for example.)

Re:Australia is a good common ground. (1)

duckInferno (1275100) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054757)

There's a better "test bed" for consumer goods: New Zealand. The only reason NZ wasn't used is because we have a well-established competant online auction site (trademe.co.nz), which kind of leaves EBay dead in the water.

Re:Australia is a good common ground. (1)

catwh0re (540371) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054829)

It seems that ebay is just doing it all wrong these days. Spending too much time enforcing silly little policies which nickel+dime their true customers, while seemingly ignoring the endless scams. I put a laptop for auction on ebay, the only replies I got were scammers. (They constantly abuse the buy-it-now function, meaning that you need to go through reposting the auction and contacting ebay to refund the auctioning-fee.)
No, I won't send my laptop to your religious grandmother in Nigeria.

Re:Australia is a good common ground. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24054987)

The size of NZ makes it less than ideal as a testbed. Not so much because of the market or people there, but because of its size many larger companies have little more than a token sales office there and in some cases not even that. I work for a large US multi national, we have a total of 5 NZ employees (4 of which are sales 1 is technical), we have 700 Australian.

Re:Australia is a good common ground. (1)

duckInferno (1275100) | more than 5 years ago | (#24055075)

I work for a large US multi national, we have 2500~ employees in NZ. We're routinely used as a test bed for all sorts of consumer products and technologies. I should know... I live here :P

Re:Australia is a good common ground. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24055207)

No, Australia's dick is bigger.

Wait...what were we talking about.

Re:Australia is a good common ground. (1)

quarrel (194077) | more than 5 years ago | (#24055249)

While I broadly agree with the thrust of your argument, you're mistaking the ACCC for many other regulatory agencies.

To get your list of "protections" you'd need to include:

* ACCC
* ACMA
* Reserve Bank
* ASIC
* FIRB

At the least.

And that is ignoring that the ACCC doesn't at all enforce fair trading laws, which are the perogative of the states (in NSW that means the Dept of Fair Trading, it probably has a similar name in the other states).

You're misattributing most of your argument.

--Q

But it couldn't save you from.. (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#24055317)

But it didn't save you from price gouging ISP's giving you crap for service, then metering it on top of that.

All I can say is... (4, Insightful)

Zouden (232738) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054407)

It feels great to be an Australian.

Re:All I can say is... (1)

Jacques Chester (151652) | more than 5 years ago | (#24055013)

It definitely makes a nice change from being the internet retards of the anglosphere.

Most of the stories about Australia reaching the front page are of the "what new order-the-tide-to-go-out law are they passing now?" genre.

Re:All I can say is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24055077)

Fuckin' oath mate!

A reason to avoid PayPal (1)

bitrex (859228) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054415)

I stopped using Paypal after an error the part of their site caused a payment to a seller to be issued twice. While they are heavily tied in to eBay (the auction numbers each payment is linked to are available in one's payment history) they apparently have no mechanism to prevent double-payments. Both payments were deducted from my credit card immediately, but the seller was kind enough to quickly refund the duplicate payment. However, I learned via a PayPal email that "Refunds to credit cards may take up to 30 days for processing", or something to that effect. I was finally issued the refund on July 2. I assume the reason that refunds are not issued in a timely manner has nothing to do with processing, but has more to do with keeping your money, whether gained legitimately or not, in their accounts earning interest until the month rolls over.

Gotten away with what? (2, Insightful)

bigdaddy25fb (1166129) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054425)

Here in the good 'ole capitalist USA (not to say that's a bad thing) we don't punish Corps. for actions like this anymore. If that is what you have to do to make a buck then go for it. I think the best example to date is AT&T's immunity from any and all lawsuits during the wireprobing debacle. Free Market was a bad idea...it should have been Fair Market (in the sense that you should be fair to your consumers).

Obvious (2, Insightful)

BCW2 (168187) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054429)

"More chillingly, if eBay had launched the scheme in America would they have got away with it?"

Depends on whether they bribed enough of the right people or not. Simple and obvious to anyone with knowledge of our system.

Why is this a victory? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24054461)

What's the bid deal if they won?

They only accept Paypal, I stop buying at Ebay, other companies that don't limit me get big.

Why can't we just let a bad idea kill a company?

Re:Why is this a victory? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24055073)

Exactly. When did a simple business decision by a company about payment methods - whether a good or a bad decision - become "chilling".

Who would have been physically harmed or threatened here? In what way could this have ever impacted anyone's human rights (does the UN promote the right to use eBay unfettered by PayPal)?

Don't people have more useful things to do than over-dramatize a rather uneventful story.

Oh, sorry...this is Slashdot.

Where is this magical place? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24054475)

- Have big corporations finally learned that they can go to far?

Where is this place called 'far'? I would like to get two tickets if its not too expensive.

To Answer Your Questions.... (1)

PhyrricVictory (773671) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054497)

Have big corporations finally learned that they can go to far?

No. They are regrouping and working on purchasing corrupt officials as we speak. Their war against consumer-citizens continues on.

More chillingly, if eBay had launched the scheme in America would they have got away with it?

GWB. Iraq. Healthcare..... Most assuredly.

Umm.. it's not a freaking charity people ... (4, Insightful)

dnadig (414126) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054611)

If I run a grocery store, I'm allowed to say what kinds of checks I'll take.

If I run a coffee shop, I get to decide who'se posters stay on the bulletin board.

If I run an actual, physical auction house, I'm allowed to say "all payments run through the house." In fact that's what all physical auction houses DO say.

There's nothing "free as in speech" about a service like eBay. It's a commercial enterprise. They could demand payment in chickens and the ONLY right anyone has is to simply say no and not use them.

Re:Umm.. it's not a freaking charity people ... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24054737)

Legal Tender...
While it's legal(in some places[in the U.S]) to not accept legal tender, it is required you accept any form of legal tender where debt exists.

Auction on something, you win, you now owe x dollars. Hello debt.

Re:Umm.. it's not a freaking charity people ... (1)

sasha328 (203458) | more than 5 years ago | (#24055235)

If I run a grocery store, I'm allowed to say what kinds of checks I'll take.

This would only be a problem if you're the only, or largest by a very very large margin (an almost monopoly).
But that's only the half of it. Like another poster has said, the analogy is more akin to you saying that people who buy groceries will have to pay by cheque, and then implement a system where if people pay by cheque then there is a cheque processing fee. This is essentially what eBay was trying to do.

Re:Umm.. it's not a freaking charity people ... (2, Informative)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | more than 5 years ago | (#24055327)

Australia doesn't have free speech anyway, except that hinted at in the Magna Carta and common law. Still, there is a freedom at work, it's free as free market, in consumers expectation that a competitive, free and open market exists. We have a Trade Practices act that defines most of the behaviour required, play by the rules or face stiff penalties.

The ACCC acts in the interest of this competitive free market by protecting the consumer from abusive monopolies and similar extortion. Restricting ebays ability to force a monopoly on payments enables freedom of competition in that sector. Nothing charitable about it, severe abuses of monopoly and anticompetitive behaviour are unacceptable in our version of a free market.

We need another system (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24054699)

You know, all jokes aside about certain politicans who think the unemployment stats aren't that bad because those people are just making a living selling comic books online . . . the online swap meet is just too big a part of the economy to be trusted to people as incompetent as Ebay.

If you are a general jack-of-all-trades "computer guy" for a small company, like I am, then you know there are numerous projects that you could just have not done if you had not been able to obtain something rare or cheap on ebay. If you are in any sort of small industry, from light manufacturing to agricultural to construction, then you know that the ability to dispose of un-needed equipment at decent price on ebay gives you key financial flexibility. Probably the only areas were ebay has competition are in chemical supply from ChemNet and in automobiles on craigslist.

I think there is little chance that someone can design a distributed, gnutella like auction system. You need a third party, the auctioneer, to verify when bids came in, and check for shill bidding.

I think we need to form a consortium, kind of like a farmer's coop or a credit union. You would buy a membership that would be one share; big sellers would not be able to dominate by buying more than one share, it would be one share per person. You would need a share to buy as well as sell. The co-op would operate the web site, and spend some of the fees to randomly buy products and check the sellers for fraud, and then randomly re-sell those products and check the sellers for fraud. The buy-in fee would have to be kind of steep to deter people from getting multiple accounts, but we could let those without financial resources work it off by volunteering on the hunt-down/beat-down commitee for fraudsters.

Because, when you buy a share you would sign away your right not to have the shit beaten out of you for stealing money, kind of how someone who cannot afford their own bail signs away their right not to be kidnapped to a bondsman, who can re-sell that priviledge to a bounty hunter. In fact, I would nominate that Dog dude in Hawaii as one of our first hires.

What do you guys think ? I think if we could get 1,000 people to sign up for an initial share for 100 dollars, that would be 100,000 dollars, and you can launch any business on the internet for that much money. We could adjust the signup fee later.

Ebay killed me (2, Insightful)

Marty Yinzer (1319513) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054719)

I have earned my entire (significant) income selling IT infrastructure and biopharma research equipment on ebay for years. All the changes they have made in the past 6 months have utterly killed my business. I went from supporting my family and many people that worked for me to ruin. They have completely killed ability of small people to compete (in my arena, at least.) I'm a lucky one because I just landed a kick-ass job doing what I actually like to do (consulting and IT) - but I know several others who are not so lucky. People that are about to lose everything, and who didn't have a high-paying skill to fall back on. This might be a bit off-topic so far, so I'll add in something that is on topic: this paypal only thing really probably wouldn't have made much more for paypal. Speaking from my focus (IT and Scientific equipment) virtually all transactions are paid by paypal anyway. We accept credit cards, wire, checks, Hell- on many items I;d take *anything* as payment (I'd even take an old HP-3000 or Vax!) The thing is, everyone has any payment choice they desire with us, and out of every $100 well over $99 comes through paypal. In fact, if we were rounding properly to integer values, $100 our of $100 comes through Paypal. So, if my focus holds true for other types of sales on ebay, the security thing might actually have been true in this case. Now, all that said, "Ebay, I hope you die a quick but painful death...the same you inflicted on me and so many others who worked our guts out to build a business on your platform. Die, you bastards."

Re:Ebay killed me (1)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054817)

The recent changes have moved business to large business. Coincidence? Allow me to proclaim Ebay to be the next Wal-mart, except not as lubricated.

Re:Ebay killed me (1)

skelly33 (891182) | more than 5 years ago | (#24055201)

Marty,

With all due respect, while you didn't come looking for advice and I'm sorry to read that you were so impacted by what's going on, but...

you need to take responsibility for your own failures and stop blaming others (eBay). Your story is no different than that of any other business who failed because they wed themselves to a single vendor who let them down.

In the future, take care not to paint yourself into a corner; the welfare of you and your family is not the responsibility eBay or anyone else but you.

Re:Ebay killed me (1)

Skippy_kangaroo (850507) | more than 5 years ago | (#24055211)

Yours seems to be a US experience. In Australia the number one payment method is direct bank deposit through banks' internet banking applications (I think it was about 60% direct deposit to 40% PayPal on eBay in Australia). In Australia, direct bank deposit works quickly (overnight) and cheaply (generally free). I imagine this may be unlike the US where sending money between banks could be a mess. (I know it was a mess in 2000 when I last had dealings with the US banking system - maybe it has improved since then.)

So the policy change in Australia had real bite - people didn't really like PayPal because it provided inferior service to direct bank deposit.

I only use PayPal (2, Informative)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054733)

I only use PayPal and will not deal with any seller/buyer that does not accept PayPal. I don't trust 'the check is in the mail', or 'I will wire the money to you tomorrow'. I am especially wary of sellers that offer me a discount if I pay them direct to avoid additional fees. By using PayPal, every step of the transaction is recorded and logged for reference.

The one time I was warned that a seller had been removed from eBay due to suspicious sales -- and I had already completed the sale -- I filed with eBay and PayPal. I got nearly all of my money back. The seller had gotten to his bank account and removed some of the money first.

Don't like the fees? Then charge more for your auction or go to another auction site.

Paypal Doesn't Protect You From Scammers. (2, Insightful)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054909)

I only use PayPal and will not deal with any seller/buyer that does not accept PayPal. I don't trust 'the check is in the mail', or 'I will wire the money to you tomorrow'. I am especially wary of sellers that offer me a discount if I pay them direct to avoid additional fees. By using PayPal, every step of the transaction is recorded and logged for reference.

The one time I was warned that a seller had been removed from eBay due to suspicious sales -- and I had already completed the sale -- I filed with eBay and PayPal. I got nearly all of my money back. The seller had gotten to his bank account and removed some of the money first.

Don't like the fees? Then charge more for your auction or go to another auction site.

I'm sorry to say paypal doesn't protect you from scammers. Read the fine print. Trust me, i was defrauded for 500 bucks by a seller who had 1000 positive feedback ratio (all VERY well astroturfed).

The truth is any service which allows you to use a major credit card will allow you to recover defrauded funds by disputing the charge. Don't make the mistake of thinking PayPal or some other service of its sort actually gives a damn, use your credit card's dispute service like I have since that time (recovering a further 1500).

This said, Ebay is on its last legs, at least when it comes to electronics. At least 30% of its listings are hong kong or nigerian scammers running hijacked accounts saying "e-mail me for 'buy it now' price!".

I really do feel for the legit sellers who are left. I honestly think Ebay drove off enough of their peers to make the online auction scene incredibly seedy.

Re:I only use PayPal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24055019)

you realy need to read paypalsucks.com to see the error of your ways.

Re:I only use PayPal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24055381)

amen

Using paypal means you are insured (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24054799)

This will make people safer, and those who are getting scammed if using paypal will get their money back. This does make people safer.

*Depends (0, Offtopic)

ebvwfbw (864834) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054845)

Wanna give that bug to someone that likes to screw with your computer? Don't do anything. Let 'em get infected! Some bugs can live on your keyboard for over a week. Depends on what it was and what is on your keys.

OTOH if you allow others to use your machine, please do periodically wipe it with clorox wipes or one of the many other disinfecting wipes. They also help get that crap off the keys too. Get a screw driver to wedge it down in between and remember keys do pop off as well. Just be firm but gentle. They pop right back on again.

While I haven't done it myself, I understand you can even put them in the dish washer. Just make sure it is dry before plugging it in again. I do know this won't work with the SUN capacitive keyboards. This also won't fix a keyboard that Coke has been spilled into. At least with the keyboards around 20+ years ago.

Nothing to do with Government (2, Interesting)

duncan bayne (544299) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054847)

Why the hell has the Government got to anything do with this? If eBay customers don't want to use eBay because they're mandating PayPal, they have the right to go elsewhere.

It's a sad day for liberty when the customers of a company get to use force to determine the policies of that company.

Re:Nothing to do with Government (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#24055335)

Please google "vertical monopoly".

Name any competing auction site of similar stature to Ebay.

I believe the last one was shuttered in mid 2k7

PayPal is a sucky middle man (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#24054967)

a friend of mine had all the money she was paid for a web design pulled from her account because the customer complained to paypal that he hadn't recieved the service requested. she had no recourse even though the customer was (and still is) using the designs on their website.

and no i can't give out the website address because she won't tell me (she knows i'd do something like post it on /. muahaha)

Re:PayPal is a sucky middle man (2, Interesting)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#24055345)

And I had all the money I paid for a second hand laptop stolen from me because paypal's dispute service took so damn long, and the perp was allowed to close the account.

I had no recourse. Looks like paypal protects nobody then.

No they haven't (1)

CoolGopher (142933) | more than 5 years ago | (#24055127)

According to the paper [theage.com.au] today they're still insisting on PayPal, despite what they've publicly said to the contrary.

Yes they have! (1)

Hackerlish (1308763) | more than 5 years ago | (#24055379)

RTFA. They were going to ban other payment methods *except* PayPal. They got as far as demanding sellers accept PayPal payments, but the backdown means everyone still has the option of paying by other means.

BTW Someone above suggested maybe this was eBays idea all along? They back down, but they get a really nice runners-up prize... :-/

I prefer PayPal (2, Interesting)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 5 years ago | (#24055377)

I am a European eBay buyer. From the posts in this thread, this seems to put me in a firm minority on Slahsdot. Anyway; I much prefer PayPal to bank transfer because in case of fraudolent, forged or non working product (or simply if the item was never sent), I have an avenue for recourse. With wire transfers I have no way to recover my money.

Also, in case of overseas payments, PayPal is _way_ cheaper than wire transfer.

Just my 2 cents (or a Euro). Resume your cheering.

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