eBay and auction integrity

Following on from my previous post bidancient’s eBay account is showing as “no longer registered”.

Very right of eBay to do this. Granted, despite bidancient‘s “Titanium Power Seller” size, he only ever contributed an imperceptible fraction of a percentage to eBay’s revenue, and so eBay are hardly going to be crying about his loss. But given the enormity of the allegations (shill bidding and fake goods, as alleged by The Sunday Times, are little short of fraud) it was right for eBay to take the opportunity to stamp out dodgy behaviour when it came to their attention.

Cynics might say that this behaviour definitely happens with other sellers, who no doubt also have excellent feedback scores, so why make such a fuss over bidancient? But that is to miss the point. It’s like saying “Theft happens, so there’s no point in punishing it when it’s discovered”.

The point is that eBay works because if you want to sell something, it’s worth doing it on eBay. Why is that? Because that’s where the buyers are. And why are the buyers there? Because they have faith in the integrity of the auction. Challenge the integrity of the auction and the market eventually falls to pieces. “Eventually” might be a long time for a company with a $44bn market cap – but it is heartening to see eBay taking this issue seriously.

This applies similarly to procurement auctions (subtle differences in legal definition of a sales and a procurement auction notwithstanding) because procurement auctions rely on suppliers taking part and competing and smart suppliers are not above walking away from an auction that they perceive to be dodgy.


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