Pennsylvania Sues Woman For Selling Goods On eBay Without A License

from the if-we-don't-understand-it,-it's-probably-illegal dept

A few years back we wrote about states that were passing inexplicable laws requiring anyone selling goods on eBay for others to get an auctioneer's license, something that can be quite costly and sometimes requires a long-term apprenticeship. It appears just such a law is being used in Pennsylvania to go after a very successful eBay seller (via the Agitator). The story in that case is even more ridiculous, since the woman in question only began selling goods on eBay in order to be able to stay at home with her young daughter who was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Even though the woman stopped (and got a job outside the home) as soon as the state notified her that she was illegally selling goods, the state is still moving forward prosecuting her. While the state told the reporter that the maximum fine the woman faced is only $2,000, her lawyer read the charges in a way that suggested she could be on the hook for up to $10 million. The whole thing seems pretty pointless. Selling on eBay is quite different from running an auction house. If anything, laws like these seem designed to limit competition in an effort to protect an incumbent industry. As another eBay seller facing similar charges notes in the article: "It's like the buggy-whip manufacturer's deciding whether these newfangled automobile manufacturers can do it without a buggy-whip license."

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  1. identicon
    JoeHark, 2 Feb 2008 @ 2:17am

    eBay is not a "real" auction

    In a real auction the seller must complete the sale once bidding starts. Not on eBay.

    I recall one "auction" in which I tried to participate for a high-end Sony ultra-lightweight laptop. The seller had put up six of them, each scheduled to close on the same day and none had a reserve price.

    The result, he flooded his own little market. There were too few bids and weak, as well. Bidding stalled at $1,500 for units that retail list for $2,300. None of the items had more than three bidders and two had none.

    They were all pulled from sale less than 24 hours before bid closing. That was a so-called Power Seller. Guess who eBay supported when bidders demanded that the sale be completed? So much for eBay's rules that say a bid is a contract.

    I'm amazed anyone will buy there.

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