eBay has banned all online payment methods except PayPal, even though it pledged to the competition regulator it would delay the decision until mid-July.
Despite an "official" line that the mandatory adoption of PayPal has been pushed back to July 15th due to the ACCC essentially telling eBay it was, to borrow an oft-used Castle line, "dreaming" when it first decided to enforce compulsory PayPal use on eBay.com.au
, it looks like one side of eBay isn't talking to the other.
Specifically, if you log into eBay.com.au, the first thing you're likely to get hit with -- in this author's experience, irrespective of whether you've disabled messages from eBay or not -- is a quick notice noting the new July 15th date. All well and good and in line with the current stated company policy, you might think.
Go to actually sell something and the story is subtly different. You do still have options for direct deposit into a bank account on the initial selling page, but underneath the selling information for any auction, as the final step for reviewing your fee totals, you'll still hit the following text:Attention Sellers:
All items listed for sale on eBay.com.au on or after 17 June 2008 will be subject to the following changes:
A small number of exclusions will apply to these changes.
Which would seem to contradict eBay's stated July 15th date. We've grabbed the relevant screen area from a dummy auction as well, just to preserve it. Clicking through on the exceptions doesn't bring you to any page that lists the new July 15th date, either.
Certainly, you can still push ahead with a normal eBay auction with other sales options, but we can't help but think that this is eBay somewhat snubbing its nose at the ACCC's recent ruling. Well, either that, or they just don't talk to the people who do the system coding -- but surely that could never happen?
We contacted eBay regarding the issue of seemingly compulsory Paypal. eBay spokesperson Dan Feiler asserted that the issue with removing the compulsory text was limited to "only some pages
" but that eBay "apologised for the confusion.
""We regret any pages where there is inconsistent information, and we're doing everything we can to correct incorrect pages, but it's a complex matter, and we can't just flick a switch to change some of them."
But wait -- there's more! APC also discovered a way to get eBay to automatically cancel your auction... for suggesting people use PayPal.
Specifically, we discovered the issue with semi-compulsory PayPal while listing an item (#120275224793, if anyone wants some old, old collectible card games... yeah, didn't think so) with the following line:"Preference for direct deposit, then Paypal (Paypal cash only -- NO CREDIT CARD BASED PAYPAL PAYMENTS WILL BE ACCEPTED"
Which would seem to follow eBay's own guidelines -- we're not charging extra for Paypal, just not accepting PayPal payments funded by a credit card, due to the extra fees that eBay charges for CC-based PayPal payments. Critically, we've used this exact text in previous auctions (and, indeed, concurrent auctions) with no problem. Except this time, when about five minutes after the auction was listed, eBay pulled it. The problem?
According to the email we received, the use of the phrase "cash only" in the line above. Or, in real translation terms, eBay's search spider is incalculably stupid, and just cancelled an auction for suggesting people use PayPal, which would have made eBay money. Actually, eBay still doesn't lose out, as it's swallowed the auction fee in the meantime, and while we're waiting on the same automated system to get back to us after protesting this as ridiculous, our auction sits in an unsold pile with the line "Your listing does not qualify for an Insertion Fee credit based on our Relisting guidelines."
According to Feiler, not accepting credit cards (which attract an additional percentage cost on top of PayPal fees) as part of the PayPal package is, indeed, grounds for an auction to be pulled. "eBay discourages that, because it discourages buyers from using PayPal"
, he told us.