Retail Chains Ask Congress To Regulate Online Auction Sites

from the competition-is-evil dept

We've seen so many industries freak out as the market changed around them thanks to the internet, that it really shouldn't be surprising when those "old school" players pull out the bag of sneaky tricks. However, in the case of retail stores, the tricks seem especially bad. Specifically, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, a lobbying group that represent the biggest retail chains in the US is asking Congress to start regulating what can be sold on online auction sites. The sneaky part is in how this is positioned. Since just complaining about the competition isn't likely to win over many politicians, these retail stores are claiming that online auction sites are creating a huge crime wave, as organized groups of individuals rob stores and sell off the results online. Of course, if that were the case, rather than blaming the internet, why not focus on better theft prevention techniques?

However, the really sneaky part of this push to get Congress involved is that the reasoning isn't even accurate. I'm sure there may be some groups of shoplifters out there who have been going around stealing goods out of stores and reselling them on eBay, but the details suggest it's barely a blip on the radar. A study by the National Retail Federation (who also represents large retailers) found that most store theft comes from employees or vendors. Only 1/3 comes from shoplifting. Stores themselves are partly to blame, as they've cut back on prosecuting shoplifters. And, most importantly, retail theft appears to be dropping rather consistently over the past few years.

So, basically, retailers get to push for the idea that they need to ban online auctions from selling certain products -- when it turns out what they really want is to get rid of the competition. There's no real evidence of an epidemic of thefts due to online auctions, and even if there were, the problem should be dealt with via the retailers' own loss management efforts.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    GeneralEmergency (profile), Jun 19th, 2008 @ 10:11am

    The AP might want to take notes...

    If this works out for the retailers, maybe the AP can get congress to make it illegal for bloggers to use selected words "shoplifted" from AP's site!

    oooPs. I forgot that I have forgotten about the AP.

    AP who?

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Ima Fish, Jun 19th, 2008 @ 10:24am

    Wait a minute, I thought corporations wanted a free unregulated market!? Are you implying that corporations want government handouts in the form of laws regulating away competition? I find this hard to believe.

    P.S. And yes, this is sarcasm.

     

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  3.  
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    kip, Jun 19th, 2008 @ 10:28am

    What about Gamestop?

    So what about Gamestop? They sell used games, which just encourages people to steal them from Best Buy. By the same logic, Gamestop should be restricted from selling the same things, right?...

     

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  4.  
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    Overcast, Jun 19th, 2008 @ 10:39am

    Well - couldn't they rob stores and sell the stuff on a table on the street?

     

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  5.  
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    A nony mouse, Jun 19th, 2008 @ 10:40am

    Scylla and Charybdis

    "why not focus on better theft prevention techniques?"

    Yes, because that's worked so well before (DRM). Criticise them if they do, criticise them if they don't. Glad I'm not a retailer - it seems like a thankless business to be in.

     

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  6.  
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    Formerly Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2008 @ 10:44am

    Re: Scylla and Charybdis

    Umm this is talking about physical property not intellectual property, better theft prevention in this case is usually in the form of security guards and cameras. Or those little stands that detect if the product you are carrying out the door has been paid for. Not making the purchased product less valuable (DRM) there are differences here, please try to keep up.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2008 @ 10:47am

    Re: Scylla and Charybdis

    DRM is very different to physical theft prevention. Off the top of my head, DRM only has to be broken once for infinite copying to be possible, whereas physical security has to be beaten for each theft; DRM for non-interactive media is an intractable problem; DRM is generally only detrimental to legitimate consumers rather than infringers. There are probably plenty other differences too.

     

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  8.  
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    anonymous coward, Jun 19th, 2008 @ 10:56am

    Buggy whips

    I'm sure that the buggy whip manufacturers fought tooth and nail to prevent the horseless carriage from gaining a foothold. They ultimately lost. As with every paradigm shift, you have to adapt, or you'll go under. The RIAA hasn't yet learned this, nor have the retailers. But, they will have to change.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2008 @ 11:12am

    I wonder if auctioneers should press Congress to ban retailers from selling certain goods because the retailers are depressing market prices by not securing their stock?

     

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  10.  
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    Octothorpe, Jun 19th, 2008 @ 11:13am

    RE: Stolen stuff on online auctions

    I can't speak for the rest of internet users, but I have noticed that most of the items (around 66%) I have purchased through online auction sites are stolen (I researched them after receiving the item). One was stolen during shipping, the rest who knows, maybe robbery (from a house), maybe shoplifting, maybe some other for of theft. The point stands though that there is far too much stolen merchandise offered through online auction sites.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2008 @ 11:40am

    Re: RE: Stolen stuff on online auctions

    I can't speak for the rest of internet users, but I have noticed that most of the items (around 66%) I have purchased through online auction sites are stolen (I researched them after receiving the item).
    And being someone who is concerned enough about such things to do that kind of investigating, I imagine you promptly report the stolen property to the police and returned it to its rightful owners. And by following the money trail, the police should have been able to easily track the crooks down and arrest them. You did turn them in, didn't you?

     

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  12.  
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    Bob, Jun 19th, 2008 @ 11:51am

    Re: Buggy whips

    Funny story: The buggy whip manufacturing business did change and keep up with the times. They bought a company called Coachmen and the same process they used for making buggy whips and seats turned into a sub contractor for Chevrolet. General Motors eventually bought them. The actual whip was stiffened and used as the steering wheel for many early models.

     

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  13.  
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    another mike, Jun 19th, 2008 @ 11:53am

    just add internet

    they used to just fence the stuff at the pawn shop down the street. but now, ooh scary, add the internet to make it a new crime.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2008 @ 12:22pm

    Re: Re: RE: Stolen stuff on online auctions

    Wouldn't it be better if dumb crooks sold stolen goods on auction sites? Talk about leaving a paper trail right to your door. This is right up there with banning dipsticks from posting films of themselves committing crimes. Why make it harder for the police and prosecution?

     

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  15.  
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    Octothorpe, Jun 19th, 2008 @ 12:24pm

    Re: Re: RE: Stolen stuff on online auctions

    Actually I do several things, first report it to the site, second report it to the my financial institution, and third, report it to the appropriate authorities and take their recommended actions.

     

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  16.  
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    SisterofDot, Jun 19th, 2008 @ 12:40pm

    Crooks

    Yeah... I call this corporate greed. They need to move on. They want to regulate Amazon out of competition.

    What a crock of SH#T!

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2008 @ 12:48pm

    Re: Scylla and Charybdis

    retail is terrible

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2008 @ 1:56pm

    octothorpe

    So, Octothorpe, by shopping at place where you know (to a 2/3 chance) that you are buying stolen merchandise, why do you keep shopping there? In fact aren't you the reason people continue to steal? They know you will buy the stolen products because you want it cheaper than you would pay at retail.
    In fact, why do you shop on auction sites?
    and by the way, just how DO you check to see whether the items are stolen?

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2008 @ 2:41pm

    Re: Buggy whips

    Exactly.

    Spend your time figuring out how to re-tool your factory to make leather seats and steering wheel covers. Don't waste it trying to regulate cars out of existence.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2008 @ 2:41pm

    Flea markets, classified ads in newspapers and on the web, and any place that resells anything might as well be regulated or banned too!

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Jason, Jun 19th, 2008 @ 3:29pm

    Re:

    It's true, and it's epidemic. We should outlaw kiosks.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Jason, Jun 19th, 2008 @ 3:41pm

    Re: Re: Buggy whips

    Unfortunately, the buggy service itself began shipping their buggies by rail and so helped to build the industry that replaced them.

    On an upnote, the original bank that started the buggy service was able to later cash in on the railroad themselves.

    That is, until the big war came and the government seized control of the operation. But they'd learned their lesson at least and shifted gears once again to focus more on commercial finance.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2008 @ 4:18pm

    Re: Scylla and Charybdis

    Go away shill.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2008 @ 12:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: RE: Stolen stuff on online auctions

    Actually I do several things, first report it to the site, second report it to the my financial institution, and third, report it to the appropriate authorities and take their recommended actions.
    And so, what did the authorities do and what happened to the crooks?

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    M, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 10:32am

    My plan

    I think that if this passes I'll start a company manufacturing oil lamps and try and get congress to regulate the light bulb industry out of business. I mean, they take money out of my pocket, isn't that theft?

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Free Online Auctions, Aug 30th, 2008 @ 4:11pm

    Auction Regulations

    I think we should be able to sell anything we want at auction. May it be livestock or an old set of basball cards ... we should be able to list what we want.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    online auction, Mar 23rd, 2009 @ 8:41pm

    Bad for the consumers?

    Since when did we as consumers like less competition? I don't remember capitalism being about protecting open market.

     

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