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eBay Bans Auctions Of Digital Goods

Digital Downloadable Goods must be listed using the Classified Ad listing

     
9:38 am on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Brian Burke, eBay's Director in Trust & Safety who manages the Feedback system, recently announced that Digital Downloadable Goods must be listed using the Classified Ad listing format effective March 31st. This policy affects items like eBooks, MP3 files, content in PDF format, recipes, etc. -- anything that is "shipped" to a customer via email or download link. These items cannot be listed any longer as auction-style or fixed price listings.

[ebaychatter.com...]

3:24 pm on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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thats cool
8:47 pm on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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It is the death squad to a whole cottage industry of eBooks, MP3 files, content in PDF format, recipes… venders.

They will get next to zero traffic in the classified section.

I don’t think it is thought of as being “cool” by the single mother who was making ends meet by selling copies of her grandmothers pecan pie recipe.

6:29 pm on Apr 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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It’s about freaking time. Those categories were loaded with illegal items.
6:40 pm on Apr 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I don’t think it is thought of as being “cool” by the single mother who was making ends meet by selling copies of her grandmothers pecan pie recipe.

Print it on paper and then sell it as hard copy. Charge .41 cents to mail it. Voila

7:03 pm on Apr 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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What about the poor single mother who is trying to make ends meet who has her grandmother's pecan pie recipe stolen and sold on eBay?
8:13 pm on Apr 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Depends how you look at it :

I think this is the best thing that happened to professional digital stores (actual legal companies)

And it's probably a nightmare for college students/teenagers hoping to make a quick buck.

10:31 pm on Apr 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB®), in 2006, 1,192,809 motor vehicles were reported stolen

I guess ebay better stop allowing folks to auction cars to!

11:49 pm on Apr 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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No because the vast majority of cars sold on eBay are legitimate. In contrast to the vast majority of downloadable items sold on eBay are illegitimate.
12:03 am on Apr 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Sounds like reason for the change was people using these items to manipultate feedback. You can buy/sell this stuff for as low as a penny to pad your feedback.

Anyway someones already probably building a (download-bay) type site to pick up the slack.

12:47 am on Apr 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I guess, just by nature, I never noticed the dark side of it.
1:07 am on Apr 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Maybe they can go after counterfeit watches next. Its not your grandmothers Rolex.
2:31 am on Apr 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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vast majority of downloadable items sold on eBay are illegitimate.

Any numbers to back that up?

3:53 am on Apr 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Actually yes... at least in my downloadable product niche.
8:13 am on Apr 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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BOOM - did you hear that?

I sure did, I think 10 new ebay competitors just srpung up after than announcement.

Don't worry about pecan pie recipes, they'll sell just fine anyway, but ebay won't be getting a slice anymore. Thats the reality of it.

It would have been more prudent to beef up their feedback and monitoring capabilities instead of axing an entire segment imo.

8:55 am on Apr 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I think 10 new ebay competitors just srpung up after than announcement.

Yeah, me hunting for an opportunity here…

Digital download on demand in the legitimate world is huge.

However, the opportunities lost from the lack of an eBay exposure are hard to overcome; I would think anyhow that they are for most small outfits.

I can market anything with a demand and an audience, but remove my venue for an audience and all comes to a halt.

1:35 pm on Apr 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Actually yes... at least in my downloadable product niche.

So.. your products, legitimate or illegitimate? either way that’s 1 for its prospective side.

My personal opinion is that EBay has done this because of the inability to fight chargbacks (PayPal) NOT because of the sale of fraudulent items. Chargebacks have been a huge problem in the digital items industry, it's always been he said, she said, no way to prove delivery (yet) and the merchant usually ends up losing. I have to imagine that EBay (PayPal) has taken a pretty big hit in this area which led to this decision. Let’s face it, if EBay was truly concerned about the item being fraudulent, they wouldn’t allow classified ads either.

4:48 pm on Apr 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Does this apply to domain names as well?

There are already a 1000 ebay competitors, the difference is, eBay actually attracts buyers and is actually marketed as a shopping destination.

6:37 pm on Apr 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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"My personal opinion is that EBay has done this because of the inability to fight chargbacks (PayPal) NOT because of the sale of fraudulent items. Chargebacks have been a huge problem in the digital items industry, it's always been he said, she said, no way to prove delivery (yet) and the merchant usually ends up losing. I have to imagine that EBay (PayPal) has taken a pretty big hit in this area which led to this decision. Let’s face it, if EBay was truly concerned about the item being fraudulent, they wouldn’t allow classified ads either"

I sell digital products by email and had a problem with charge backs, claims of non receipt etc. So I started sending all emails "returned receipt" and sent copies to PayPal complete with full headers as "shipping information" to prove the item had been shipped and received.

In most cases where the customer didn't receive their purchase they had their anti spam/email filters set to "Kill" , or used someone else's PayPal account and didn't list a secondary contact email.

All Ebay/PayPal would have to do would be to set up a verification process for emailed/digital goods that shows proof of delivery

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7:03 pm on Apr 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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js_harris -
If that's the reason... Seems like they are tryuing to fix the effect of the problem and not the problem itself.
But I thought they were totally overhauling the feedback program? Why not just disallow feedback for all downloadable purchases? Allow the product, disallow feedback.
There must be more to it than just feedback manipulation. Perhaps it's both illegal stuff and feedback manipulation.
7:07 pm on Apr 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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However, the opportunities lost from the lack of an eBay exposure are hard to overcome;
- kamikaze Optimizer

I agree. A competitor could spring up and fill this niche, but it'd have to be someone big... like Amazon, Google or someone else with lots and lots of eyeballs. Preferably people looking for physical stuff. Often times people don't know they want a digital good until they see it. They'd never go searching for it (in digital format) in some cases.

I could see this being a opportunity for amazon.

7:09 pm on Apr 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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So.. your products, legitimate or illegitimate?

What type of moronic question is that? Do you think if I sold pirated digital goods I would be so glad to see eBay finally kick this crap off their website?

If eBay was smart, they would have taken care of the pirated software problem a long time ago. It hurts eBay’s reputation more than the fees that they collect are worth. Most people don’t want to buy something only to later find out that it was stolen merchandise. There are people who avoid eBay just because of that perception, even though in most categories the vast majority of items sold are completely legitimate.

Lovejoy, Something that will help is to put download links on the "Thank You for Shopping Here" page as well as emailing your customers the download links. Email just isn't dependable enough alone. We made this change a few years ago and have had lots fewer delivery headachs since.

11:12 pm on Apr 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Kanetrain - it's a move away from anything non-tangible. Though quality of "ebook" may be an issue it's my opinion that a proper feedback and monitoring system would keep quality high (feedback is one of the features that set eBay apart imo).

I suspect paypal chargebacks are a larger issue. Credit card companies "could" tank ebay by refusing to allow their use on paypal. I imagine that eBay causes credit card companies a lot of headaches (which means costs as well).

The move doesn't affect me personaly, I had a feeling it would eventually happen when eBay phased out virtual game items. Loads of alternatives sprung up for game items, I suspect the same will happen with ebooks.

1:06 am on Apr 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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"Since Classified Ad format listings are not transactional, no feedback is exchanged between buyers and sellers and no feedback manipulation can occur."

That solves the Feedback problem.

1:54 pm on May 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Unfortunately I was someone effected by this policy. I have over 8 years with eBay, spotless record 100% feedback. My customers loved what I provided. I had my store suspended no notice after attempting to follow their new guidelines. I changed from autodelivery of pdfs to selling a CD with my info on it. My mistake was also sending a emailed download link so they could access the information while they waited for the CD to arrive! So much for communicating with customers. eBay also makes it difficult to plead my case in that they don’t speak personally to their sellers, just via email which “will be responded to within 48-72 hours due to high volume” Imagine that!