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."

Filed Under: auction license, pennsylvania
Companies: ebay

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  1. identicon
    Frogpond, 3 Feb 2008 @ 6:40am


    I'm not a power seller but I have resold many items on eBay. Never ripped anyone off nor have I ever been ripped off on eBay. I have a sales tax certificate and DBA which is all that is necessary in my jurisdiction. Do I pay taxes on on income generated through eBay sales? Damn right I do!
    It is becoming very annoying to hear the so-called brick and mortar businesses decry the success of online market places. Most of my largest eBay purchases have been from B/M business who have joined the online sales community. As far as I know, there are no restrictions that prevent any retail establishment from selling online as well as face-to-face. With gasoline prices over 3 bucks per gallon, is it any wonder people shop online?
    Not saying that there are never any scams online b/c there are. Is eBay a great, caring institution? Of course not. It is a heartless corporation with profit as its bottom line. EBay did not invent this. It copied it from the oil companies and other corporate giants. Big government is equally heartless and corrupt. The online market model does work and its probably here to stay. Consumers, businesses and governments need to realize this and learn to deal with changes.

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