eBay: pro-choice, but only when it suits

What’s the difference between letting people choose between who they buy handbags from and letting them choose how they pay for them? According to eBay the former is a cornerstone of consumer choice it is determined to keep fighting for but the latter merely leads to insecure shopping and it will battle on to restrict your rights in this area.

eBay getting whacked with a 40 million Euro (AUD$65million) fine for allowing the sale of faked luxury goods from French brands owned by Louis Vuitton has been all over Internet news sites. It would be hard to present the LVMH group of companies as being in favour of consumer choice in this area. Not only is LVMH opposed to counterfeits (which is fair enough) it’s also opposed to anyone other than its authorised representatives reselling even legitimate products. Viva le revolution!

eBay naturally doesn’t like this and is planning to appeal. The company’s press release describes the finding as an “overreach” and continues: “Today’s ruling is about an attempt by LVMH to protect uncompetitive commercial practices at the expense of consumer choice and the livelihood of law-abiding sellers that eBay empowers everyday.”

Yes the hollow laughter can be heard all the way from Perth to Prosperine. Choice apparently is a good idea when it comes to what you can buy but not when it comes to how you pay for it especially in Australia.

While eBay has reluctantly backed down from imposing its PayPal-and-nothing-else policy after a strict talking to from the ACCC it hasn’t officially abandoned the policy. A public meeting in Sydney to discuss issues with the ACCC doesn’t seem to have advanced the cause much and certainly hasn’t done much to neutralise the increasing toxicity of the eBay brand.

Let’s look to that statement again. “It is clear that eBay has become a focal point for certain brand owners’ desire to exact ever greater control over e-commerce . . . Overzealous enforcement of restrictive sales practices are anti-competitive and give consumers a bad deal.” Truly the pot and kettle joke writes itself.