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
    Rose M. Welch, 3 Feb 2008 @ 12:36pm

    Re:

    Yes, in most states, you must have a permit to hold a garage sale. In Lawton, Oklahoma, it's 5 dollars for three days and it covers your three-day business liscense and the sales tax on the things that you sell. So you people that are arguing that it's like selling from home are correct and idiotic. Yes, it is like selling from home, but yes, you must have a liscense for selling from home.

    Part of your liscencing requirement covers knowing your legal responsibilities. Like not being able to sell a CZ ring as a diamond ring, which happens all the time on Ebay. People come in with thier Ebay receipts for gold and diamond jewelery and want insurance appraisals and we have to inform them that they got ripped.

    If the sellers held business liscenses, they would be subject to prosecution by the state, not just civil suit by the injured buyer, and, in some places, would have to have a bond covering their sales that would be forfeit to the cheated buyer in the event of a decietful or fradulent sale.

    In addition, state prosecution does not cost the injured buyer any additional money, whereas a civil suit would cost quite a bit of additional money, and in some places, the injured buyer would have to prove that the seller *knew* that the item was fake before selling it.

    So keep complaining about the greedy government, guys. Just keep on...

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