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This article is about the online auction center. For the "Weird Al" Yankovic song, see eBay (song). eBay Inc. TypePublic(NASDAQEBAY) Founded San Jose, California, USA(September 3, 1995) Headquarters San Jose, California, United States Key people John Donahoe, CEO
Rajiv Dutta, President of eBay Marketplaces
Meg Whitman, former CEO and board member
Pierre Omidyar, Founder and Chairman
IndustryAuctionsProductsOnline auction hosting, Electronic commerce, Shopping mall
PayPal, Skype, Gumtree, KijijiRevenue▲$7.67 billion USD(2007) Employees15,500 (Q1 2008) SloganWhat ever it is, you can get it on eBay., and Shop victoriously!
List of domain namesType of site online auctionRegistration required to buy and sell Available inMultilingualLaunched September 3, 1995Screenshot
The eBay homepage.
eBay headquarters in San Jose eBay North First Street satellite office campus (home to PayPal) Countries for which eBay is localized.

eBay Inc. is an American Internet company that manages, an online auction and shopping Web site in which people and businesses buy and sell goods and services worldwide. In addition to its original U.S. Web site, eBay has established localized Web sites in thirty other countries. eBay Inc also owns PayPal, Skype,[1] StubHub, and other businesses.


Origins and early history

The online auction Web site was founded in San Jose, California, on September 3, 1995, by French-born Iranian computer programmer Pierre Omidyar as AuctionWeb,[2] part of a larger personal site that included, among other things, Omidyar's own tongue-in-cheek tribute to the Ebola virus.[3]

The very first item sold on eBay was a broken laser pointer for $14.83. Astonished, Omidyar contacted the winning bidder to ask if he understood that the laser pointer was broken. In his responding email, the buyer explained: "I'm a collector of broken laser pointers."[4] The frequently-repeated story that eBay was founded to help Omidyar's fiancée trade PEZ Candy dispensers was fabricated by a public relations manager in 1997 to interest the media. This was revealed in Adam Cohen's 2002 book[3] and confirmed by eBay.

Chris Agarpao was hired as eBay's first employee and Jeffrey Skoll was hired as the first president of the company in early 1996. In November 1996, eBay entered into its first third-party licensing deal, with a company called Electronic Travel Auction to use SmartMarket Technology to sell plane tickets and other travel products. The company officially changed the name of its service from AuctionWeb to eBay in September 1997. Originally, the site belonged to Echo Bay Technology Group, Omidyar's consulting firm. Omidyar had tried to register the domain name (the domain has recently been put up for sale) but found it already taken by the Echo Bay Mines, a gold mining company, so he shortened it to his second choice,[5]

eBay went public on September 21[6], 1998, and both Omidyar and Skoll became instant billionaires.[4] The company purchased PayPal on October 14, 2002.

The domain attracted at least 902 million visitors annually by 2008 according to a study. This was thrice the numbers of[7]


In addition to its original U.S. Web site, eBay has established localized Web sites in several other countries:

Country/region Website Language Launch date  Argentina August1999 Australia October1999[8] Austria 18 December2000[9] Belgium, French?  Brazil  Canada, French02000-04 April2000[10] China  France 5 October2000[11][12] Germany June1999 Hong Kong, English02003-12-21 21 December2003[13] India  Ireland 29 March2001[14] Israel  Italy 15 January2001[15] Malaysia 1 December2004[16] Mexico  Netherlands  New Zealand 29 March2001[14] Philippines 16 November2004[17] Poland 22 April2005[18] Singapore 24 October2001[19] South Africa  South Korea 15 February2001[20] Spain 8 January2002[21] Sweden  Switzerland, French02001-03-29 29 March2001[14] Taiwan  Turkey 3 May2007 United Arab Emirates  United Kingdom October1999[22] United States 3 September1995 Vietnam, English02007-06-27 27 June2007[23]

Items and services

Millions of collectibles, decor, appliances, computers, furniture, equipment, vehicles, and other miscellaneous items are listed, bought, and sold daily. In 2005, eBay launched its Business & Industrial category, breaking into the industrial surplus business. Some items are rare and valuable, while many others are dusty gizmos that would have been discarded if not for the thousands of eager bidders worldwide. Anything can be sold as long as it is not illegal and does not violate the eBay Prohibited and Restricted Items policy.[24] Services and intangibles can be sold, too. Large international companies, such as IBM, sell their newest products and offer services on eBay using competitive auctions and fixed-priced storefronts. Regional searches of the database make shipping slightly faster and cheaper. Separate eBay sites such as eBay US and eBay UK allow the users to trade using the local currency as an additional option to PayPal. Software developers can create applications that integrate with eBay through the eBay API by joining the eBay Developers Program.[25] As of June of 2005, there were over 15,000 members in the eBay Developers Program, comprising a broad range of companies creating software applications to support eBay buyers and sellers as well as eBay Affiliates.

Controversy has arisen over certain items put up for bid. For instance, in late 1999, a man offered one of his kidneys for auction on eBay, attempting to profit from the potentially lucrative (and, in the United States, illegal) market for transplantable human organs. On other occasions, people and even entire towns have been listed, often as a joke or to garner free publicity. In general, the company removes auctions that violate its terms of service agreement within a short time after hearing of the auction from an outsider; the company's policy is to not pre-approve transactions. eBay is also an easy place for unscrupulous sellers to market counterfeit merchandise, which can be difficult for novice buyers to distinguish without careful study of the auction description.

PayPal-only categories

Beginning in August of 2007, eBay required listing in "Video Games" and "Health & Beauty" to accept its payment system PayPal and sellers could only accept PayPal for payments in the category "Video Games: Consoles".[26] Starting January 10, 2007, eBay says sellers can only accept PayPal as payment for the categories "Computing > Software", "Consumer Electronics > MP3 Players", "Wholesale & Job Lots > Mobile & Home Phones", and "Business, Office & Industrial > Industrial Supply / MRO".[27] eBay announced that starting in March 2008, eBay had added to this requirement that all sellers with less than 100 feedbacks must offer PayPal and no merchant account may be used as an alternative.[28][29] This is in addition to the requirement that all sellers from the United Kingdom have to offer PayPal.[30]

Further, and as noted below, it is a requirement to offer Paypal on all listings in Australia and the UK.

eBay Express

In April of 2006, eBay opened its new eBay Express site, which is designed to work like a standard Internet shopping site to consumers with United States addresses (eBay Express). Selected eBay items are mirrored on eBay Express where buyers shop using a shopping cart to purchase from multiple sellers. The UK version was launched to eBay members in mid October 2006 but on 29 January 2008 eBay announced their intention to close the site[31]. The German version was also opened in 2006 and closed in 2008 (eBay Express Germany).

eBay Specialty Sites

In June 2006, eBay added an eBay Community Wiki and eBay Blogs to its Community Content which also includes the Discussion Boards, Groups, Answer Center, Chat Rooms, and Reviews & Guides. eBay has a robust mobile offering, including SMS alerts, a WAP site, and J2ME clients, available in certain markets.

Best of eBay is a new specialty site for finding the most-unusual items on the eBay site. Users can also vote on and nominate listings that they find.

eBay Pulse provides information about popular search terms, trends, and most-watched items.

Auction types

eBay offers several types of auctions.

  • Auction-style listings allow the seller to offer one or more items for sale for a specified number of days. The seller can establish a reserve price.
  • Fixed Price format allows the seller to offer one or more items for sale at a Buy It Now price. Buyers who agree to pay that price win the auction immediately without submitting a bid.
  • Dutch Auctions allow the seller to offer two or more identical items in the same auction. Bidders can bid for any number from one item up to the total number offered.


For auction-style listings, the first bid must be at least the amount of the minimum bid set by the seller. Regardless of the amount the first bidder actually bids, until a second bid is made, eBay will then display the auction's minimum bid as the current high bid. After the first bid is made, each subsequent bid must be equal to at least the current highest bid displayed plus one bidding increment. The bidding increment is established by eBay based on the size of the current highest displayed bid. For example, when the current highest bid is less than or equal to $0.99, the bidding increment is $0.05; when the current highest bid is at least $1.00 but less than or equal to $4.99, the bidding increment is $0.25. Regardless of the amount each subsequent bidder bids, eBay will display the lesser of the bidder's actual bid and the amount equal to the previous highest bidder's actual bid plus one bidding increment. For example, suppose the current second-highest bid is $2.05 and the highest bid is $2.40. eBay will display the highest bid as $2.30, which equals the second-highest bid ($2.05) plus the bidding increment ($0.25). In this case, eBay will require the next bid to be at least $2.55, which equals the highest displayed bid ($2.30) plus one bidding increment ($0.25). The next bid will display as the actual amount bid or $2.65, whichever is less. The figure of $2.65 in this case comes from the then-second-highest actual bid of $2.40 plus the bidding increment of $0.25. The winning bidder pays the bid that eBay displays, not the amount actually bid. Following this example, if the next bidder is the final bidder, and bids $2.55, the winner pays $2.55, even though it is less than the second-highest bid ($2.40) plus one bidding increment ($0.25). However, if the next bidder is the final bidder and bids an arbitrarily large amount, for example $10.00 or even more, the winner pays $2.65, which equals the second-highest bid plus one bidding increment.

For Dutch Auctions, which are auctions of two or more identical items sold in one auction, each bidder enters both a bid and the number of items desired. Until the total number of items desired by all bidders equals the total number of items offered, bidders can bid any amount greater than or equal to the minimum bid. Once the total numbers of items desired by all bidders is greater than or equal to the total number offered, each bidder is required to bid one full bidding increment above the currently-displayed winning bid. All winning bidders pay the same lowest winning bid.

eBay has established detailed rules about bidding, retraction of bids, shill bidding (collusion to drive up the price), and other aspects of bidding. These rules can be viewed on the help pages.

In 2007, eBay began using detailed seller ratings of one to five stars on feedback. eBay labels the detailed seller ratings when filling out feedback as 5 being very reasonable and 4 being reasonable, however sellers with any detailed ratings of 4.3 and below are penalized and less visible in its search listings and having all 4.5 DSR rating is required to be a power seller, making the rating of 4 as unreasonable.[32][33][34][35][36]

Profit and transactions

This section may contain original researchor unverified claims.
Please improve the articleby adding references. See the talk pagefor details. (November 2007)

eBay generates revenue from a number of fees. The eBay fee system is quite complex; there are fees to list a product and fees when the product sells, plus several optional fees, all based on various factors and scales. The U.S.-based takes $0.20 to $80 per listing and 5.25% or less of the final price (as of 2007). The Mexican eBay "mercado libre" takes 1% (price of the article × number of articles to be sold), and 4.99% of the final price if there is a successful trade. The UK based ( offices) takes from GBP £0.15 to a maximum rate of GBP £3 per £100 for an ordinary listing and from 0.75% to 5.25% of the final price. In addition, eBay now owns the PayPal payment system which has fees of its own.

Under current U.S. law, a state cannot require sellers located outside the state to collect a sales tax, making deals more attractive to buyers. Although state laws require purchasers to pay sales tax to their own states on out-of-state purchases, most non-professional sellers ignore this requirement. However, most sellers that operate as a full time business do follow state tax regulations on their eBay transactions.[citation needed] However for the tax called Value added tax (VAT), eBay requires sellers to include the VAT fees in their listing price and not as an add-on and thus eBay profits by collecting fees based on what governments tax for VAT.[37]

The company's current business strategy includes increasing revenue by increasing international trade within the eBay system.[citation needed] eBay has already expanded to over two dozen countries including China and India. The only places where expansion failed were Taiwan and Japan, where Yahoo! had a head start, and New Zealand where TradeMe, owned by the Fairfax media group is the dominant online auction website.


Main article: List of acquisitions by eBay

Controversy and criticisms

eBay has its share of controversy, ranging from its privacy policy (eBay typically turns over user information to law enforcement without a subpoena)[citation needed] to well-publicized seller fraud. eBay claims that their data shows that less than .01% of all transactions result in a confirmed case of fraud. However, eBay states that their stated fraud statistic both undercounts and overcounts fraud.[38]

Ebay requires sellers to use Paypal


Shortly after Australian Today Tonight released a TV news report saying PayPal was unsafe for both buyers and sellers,[39] in April 2008 eBay announced an introduction of a 'pay-pal only' policy in Australia.[40] The new policy will mean that sellers will only be able to offer Paypal or cash payment on pick-up as payment methods. eBay claims that Paypal is the most secure method of payment, but that has not been proven one way or another[citation needed]. The ACCC (Australian Competition & Consumer Commission) is currently calling for submissions from interested parties,[41] and a petition has also been started with currently more than 12,000 signatures calling for eBay to reverse this decision[citation needed]. Under the Trade Practices Act 1974 Amended, it is unlawful for a company to require the use of a third party's products or services in order for a person to deal with the company. It is called Third Line Forcing.[42] eBay applied for an exemption, and as is the ACCC's policy to automatically grant said exemption, they were successful.[43] The exemption was disputed once the users were made aware of eBay's plans.[44][45]

The new policy has been implemented because, according to eBay Australia's Trust & Safety Director Alastair MacGibbon, "eBay is no longer willing to stand aside and allow payment methods on the site that are proven to be less safe for consumers". He then claims that fraud only makes up 1/100th of 1%. Alastair MacGibbon has also stated that the new "Paypal only" policy was being tested in Australia, and the results would determine what happens with eBay on a global scale.[46]

United Kingdom

A similar policy was also introduced in the United Kingdom, though in stages. The first stage, which was adopted on March 25, 2008, was aimed at sellers with feedback scores under 100 and in certain high risk categories. However, the requirement will extend to all sellers from June 3, 2008.[47]


One mechanism eBay uses to combat fraud is its feedback system. Before eBay's January 29th, 2008, policy-change announcement, at the end of every transaction, both the buyer and seller had the option of rating each other. Both parties had the ability to rate each other and the experience as a "positive", "negative", or "neutral" rating and leave a comment no longer than 80 characters. As of incoming CEO's John Donahoe's announcement however, the option for sellers to leave anything other than positive feedback to buyers was removed.[48][49][50]

Weaknesses of the feedback system include:[51][52]

  • Small and large transactions carry the same weight in the feedback summary. It is therefore easy for a dishonest user to initially build up a deceptive positive rating by buying or selling a number of very low value items, such as e-books, recipes, etc., then subsequently switching to fraud. eBay has since restricted digitally-delivered items to classified listings, which do not involve feedback.
  • A user may be reluctant to leave honest feedback out of fear of negative retaliatory feedback (including "negative" in retaliation for "neutral").
  • Users and generators of feedback may have different ideas about what it means. eBay offers virtually no guidelines.
  • Feedback and responses to feedback are allotted only 80 characters each. This can prevent users from being able to fully list valid complaints.
  • Although eBay protects sellers from getting a negative feedback from a deadbeat buyer when the deadbeat buyer/bidder did not respond to Unpaid Item dispute, they do not offer the same protection for a buyer who gets a deadbeat seller.

eBay acknowledges weaknesses in its feedback system on its own policy pages, noting several of the above points.[53]

When a user feels that a seller or buyer has been dishonest, a dispute can be filed with eBay. An eBay account (whether seller, buyer or both) may be suspended if there are too many complaints against the account holder.

Originally, feedback could be left for a seller or buyer whether or not it involved a transaction and could be left multiple times by the same person. While one upside is that it allowed people to offset feedback in case of fortune reversals (as feedback can never be edited or retracted once it is left) and has even allowed people to leave feedback for a seller or buyer simply for answering a question, the downside of this more than offset it as it allowed people to flame others or try to ruin credibility (as every feedback also counted towards one's rating, no matter what). Eventually, one could only leave feedback if they won an auction, and only one feedback message could be left per transaction.

eBay allows Mystery Box and Mystery Envelope auctions; however, these are almost all fraudulent auctions because the seller can manipulate the box contents to make sure it is never a good deal for the buyer.[54] Mystery Envelope auctions offer cash prizes of an undisclosed amount to auction winners. The auction winner usually receives from 10% to 30% of the money he/she paid for the auction back in 'winnings'.[55] Mystery Envelope auctions are considered by many to be illegal lotteries.[citation needed] This was also the case with auctions for "repackaging" of collectible card game cards (such as Magic: The Gathering or Pokemon) with the promise that one of the repackages has an expensive rare card.[citation needed]

Professional scammers target new members to take advantage of their unfamiliarity with how eBay or PayPal work.[56] New members can be easily tricked into thinking there is a special Web site they should make payments through (which is in fact a fake site setup by a scammer) or they may be tricked more easily into using a fake escrow company.

Many complaints have been made about eBay's system of dealing with fraud, leading to its being featured on the British consumer rights television program Watchdog. It is also regularly featured in The Daily Mirror's Consumer Awareness page. The complaints are generally that eBay sometimes fails to respond when a claim is made. Since eBay makes its money on commissions from listings and sales, it may not be in eBay's interest to take action against large sellers.[citation needed]

Frauds that can be committed by sellers include:

  • receiving payment and not shipping merchandise;
  • shipping items other than those described;
  • giving a deliberately misleading description;
  • knowingly and deliberately shipping faulty merchandise;
  • selling counterfeit or bootleg merchandise;
  • knowingly selling stolen goods;
  • inflating total bid amounts by bidding on their own auction with "shill" account(s), either the seller under an alternate account or another person in collusion with the seller (Shill bidding is prohibited by eBay and, in at least one high-profile case involving Kenneth Walton and his accomplices Kenneth Fetterman and Scott Beach has been prosecuted by the federal government as criminal fraud.);
  • misrepresenting the cost of shipping; and
  • shipping at a slower service than that paid for.[57]

Frauds committed by buyers include:

  • PayPal fraud, namely filing false shipping damage claim with the shipping company and with PayPal;
  • credit card fraud, in the form of both stolen credit cards and fraudulent chargebacks;
  • receiving merchandise and claiming otherwise;
  • returning items other than received; and
  • the buyer sending a forged payment-service e-mail that states that the buyer has made a payment to the seller's account (an unsuspecting seller may ship the item before realizing that the e-mail was forged).

Fraud is combatted by:

  • third-party businesses, such as CheckMEND, compiling lists of stolen goods from local authorities and businesses so eBay consumers can check to see whether the goods they are buying are stolen; and
  • third-party software that could potentially eliminate eBay account hijacking by alerting users if they are being tricked into going to a bogus, or "spoof", Web site (see anti-phishing).

Other controversial practices of users

  • Sellers of inexpensive items may benefit from inflating the shipping cost while lowering the starting price for their auctions,[58] because some buyers overlook the shipping cost when calculating the amount they are willing to spend. Since eBay charges their fees based on final sales price without including shipping, this allows sellers to reduce the amount they pay eBay in fees (and also allows buyers to reduce or avoid import fees and sales taxes). This is called "fee avoidance", and is prohibited by eBay policy,[59] as are excessive shipping and handling charges.[60] A danger to the buyer in such cases is that in the event of defective merchandise, the seller may claim to have met his refund obligations by returning only the minimal purchase price and not the shipping costs.
  • Sellers sometimes charge fees for use of PayPal as well to cover the fees that PayPal charges them. Although this is officially banned by eBay and PayPal (except in the UK[citation needed]) and is against some local laws as well as violating merchant agreements with Visa, MasterCard, and Discover (again, except in the UK), eBay does sometimes police for this and will suspend auctions where the seller requests an additional fee for taking PayPal. This could lead inexperienced users to pay these illegal and unenforceable fees.

Stealing eBay accounts

According to Ofer Elzam from Aladdin Knowledge Systems Ltd., there is a botnet which steals eBay accounts.[61] The attacks use such techniques as compromising genuine websites with SQL injection, inserting IFrame code which redirects visitors to other sites which host a Trojan. Trojan-infected computers are used to provide a brute search for login/password pairs, using XML-formatted code to communicate with eBay servers directly.


It is estimated that about a quarter of all ancient coins and about two-thirds of all antiquities sold on eBay are modern forgeries.[62] In court papers introduced by attorney for Tiffany & Co., it was claimed that researchers for Tiffany had determined that over 70% of the Tiffany silver jewelry offered for sale on eBay was fake.[63] In March 2008, Professional Coin Grading Service issued an alert noting counterfeit PCGS slabs and various United States and Chinese coins originating from China being sold on eBay.[64]

Intellectual property in auctions

Holders of intellectual property rights, have claimed that eBay profits from the infringement of intellectual property rights. eBay has responded by creating the Verified Rights Owner (VeRO) program, which provides to rightsholders expedited auction takedowns and private information on eBay users, but has likewise been criticized.

  • In June 2004, the jeweler Tiffany & Co. sued eBay claiming that eBay profits from the sale of counterfeit Tiffany products.[65] As of July 2006, a trial date has not been set.[66]
  • In September 2005, eBay's privacy practices relating to its VeRO program came under scrutiny when WNDU-TV reported that the Embroidery Software Protection Coalition was accusing United States buyers, identified by eBay, of copyright infringement, and demanding monetary settlements. eBay's privacy policy warns that eBay may disclose personal information on the request of any VeRO rightsholder investigating illegal activity;.[67] Although, according to a University of Notre Dame law professor, there is no legal basis, in the United States, for copyright infringement claims against buyers,[68] eBay's VeRO program may have allowed the ESPC to obtain private information without judicial oversight.
  • Some manufacturers have abused eBay's VeRo program, through which copyright and trademark owners can quickly protect their rights, by seeking to prevent all sales of their products on eBay.[citation needed]
  • In November 2006, a U.K. High Court ruled that a VeRO rightsholder's takedown request to eBay constituted a legal threat under design patent law. Since groundless legal threats under design patent law are unlawful, the ruling holds that groundless VeRO takedown requests based on design patents are also unlawful. Further, the text of the ruling appears critical of the VeRO program in general: "It is entirely wrong for owners of intellectual property rights to attempt to assert them without litigation, or without the threat of litigation, in reply."[69]

Romanian hacker "Vladuz" & website security

Beginning sometime in early 2007, a hacker reportedly in Romania going by the screen name "Vladuz" repeatedly breached eBay's security. As of April 17th, 2008, eBay and Romanian authorities have claimed to have caught "Vladuz".[70][71][72][73]

Other eBay controversies

Other notable controversies involving eBay include:

  • In May 2000, eBay seller Kenneth Walton auctioned an oil painting on eBay for $135,805, due to speculation that it might be the work of California modernist Richard Diebenkorn. Walton pretended to know nothing about art and claimed to be surprised by the price the painting fetched, and the auction attracted international media attention. In several investigative reports by The New York Times, it was revealed that Walton was in fact an experienced eBay art dealer with several unhappy customers, and that he had colluded with two other eBay sellers to bid up each other's auctions. The Times described this as a "shill bidding ring".[74] Walton and his cohorts were banned from eBay and subsequently pleaded guilty to fraud after a threat by the federal government of the first ever prosecution for shill bidding on eBay.
  • On May 28, 2003, a U.S. District Court jury found eBay guilty of willful patent infringement and ordered the company to pay $35 million in damages. The plaintiff was MercExchange, which had accused eBay in 2000 of infringing on three patents (one of which is used in eBay's "Buy It Now" feature for fixed-price sales, 30 percent of eBay's business and growing). The decision was appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). The CAFC affirmed the judgment of willful infringement, and reversed the lower court and granted a permanent injunction. eBay appealed the permanent injunction to the U.S. Supreme Court, which on May 15, 2006 found an injunction is not required nor automatic in this or any patent case where guilt has been established. The case was sent back to the Virginia district court for consideration of the injunction and a trial on another MercExchange patent the inventor claims covers the remaining 70 percent of eBay's business model (see eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, L.L.C. [75]). This case has been particularly controversial since the patents involved are considered to be business method patents (see Software patent debate).
  • On July 28, 2003, eBay and its subsidiary PayPal agreed to pay a $10 million fine to settle allegations that they aided illegal offshore and online gambling. According to the settlement, between mid-2000 and November 2002, PayPal transmitted money in violation of various U.S. federal and state online gambling laws.[76] eBay's announcement of its acquisition of PayPal in early July said that PayPal would begin the process of exiting this market, and was already doing so when the ruling occurred.[77] These offenses occurred prior to eBay's purchase of PayPal.
  • In late 2006, eBay effected a policy change which showed less information about bidders once auctions reached a certain value. This policy has been criticized for making shill bidding much harder to detect, to the potential disadvantage of buyers and significant advantage to unethical sellers who may artificially inflate the price of an auction. An investigation by The Sunday Times in January 2007 uncovered substantial evidence of shill bidding on eBay.[78]
  • April 2007 lawsuit in California over monopoly practices.[79]
  • An August 2007 class-action lawsuit in which attorney John Fabry stated, "eBay has been deceiving millions of consumers over the years by claiming their auctions start when submitted, when in reality they do not begin for at least several hours, and up to 24 hours. However, the clock starts running on your selected auction time even though eBay hasn't posted it yet." [80]
  • On January 29, 2008, a series of new policy changes were announced including an increase in the final value fee and a decrease in the listing fee (when averaged out, the fees actually cost sellers more).[81] Among the more controversial moves was the announcement that sellers would soon only be able to leave positive feedback for buyers, and would no longer have the ability to provide negative or neutral ratings regardless of the experience.[82] The policies also give greater benefits to higher volume sellers. eBay now explicitly gives higher volume "Powersellers" a 5% to 15% discount on the final value fees. These sellers can also receive better terms on shipping costs and preferential positioning in search results.[83]
  • On February 18, 2008, sellers and buyers who felt the new fees and feedback structure were unfair commenced a one-week strike against eBay.
  • In April 2008, eBay announced it was suing Craigslist to "safeguard its four-year financial investment". eBay claimed that in January 2008, Craigslist executives took actions that "unfairly diluted eBay's economic interest by more than 10%".[84] In response, Craigslist filed a countersuit against eBay in May 2008 "to remedy the substantial and ongoing harm to fair competition" that Craigslist claims is constituted by eBay's actions as Craigslist shareholders.[85]

Prohibited or restricted Items

In its earliest days, eBay was essentially unregulated. However, as the site grew, it became necessary to restrict or forbid auctions for various items. Note that some of the restrictions relate to (the US site), while other restrictions apply to specific European sites (such as Nazi paraphernalia). Regional laws and regulations may apply to the seller or the buyer. Among the hundred or so banned or restricted categories:

  • Tobacco (tobacco-related items and collectibles are accepted.)[86]
  • Alcohol (alcohol-related collectibles, including sealed containers, as well as some wine sales by licensed sellers are allowed)[87]
  • Drugs and drug paraphernalia[88]
  • Nazi paraphernalia[89]
  • Bootleg recordings[90]
  • Firearms and ammunition,[91] including any parts that could be used to assemble a firearm as well as (as of July 30, 2007) any firearm part that is required for the firing of a gun, including bullet tips, brass casings and shells, barrels, slides, cylinders, magazines, firing pins, trigger assemblies, etc. Crossbows and various types of knives are also forbidden
  • Used underwear (see Panty fetishism) and dirty used clothing[92]
  • Teachers' editions of textbooks including homeschool teacher's editions.[93][94]
  • Human parts and remains (with an exception for skeletons and skulls for scientific study, provided they are not Native American in origin)[95]
  • Live animals (with certain exceptions)[96]
  • Certain copyrighted works or trademarked items.[97]
  • Lock-picking tools, accessories, and practice locks fall into the category of burglar tools.[dubiousdiscuss]
  • Lottery tickets, sweepstakes tickets, or any other gambling items.
  • Military hardware such as working weapons or explosives.
  • Virtual items from massively multiplayer online games, restrictions which vary by country[98][99]
  • Many other items are either wholly prohibited or restricted in some manner.[100]
  • Non-physical items no longer can be sold through eBay. They can only be advertised through classified ads on eBay and do not get feedback.[101]

Unusual sale items

  • In February 2004, a scrapped F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet was listed on eBay by Mike Landa, of Landa and Associates, with a starting bid of $1,000,000. He was the legal owner of the plane after purchasing it from a scrap yard and also offered to have the plane restored for flying condition for a Buy It Now price of $9,000,000. Landa also told potential buyers that maintenance of the plane would cost roughly $40,000 a month for just 2 to 3 hours of flying time. The FBI told Landa that he can only sell the plane to an American citizen residing in the United States and that the plane must not leave US airspace. The auction ended without a sale because nobody could come up with the money.[102][103]
  • In January of 2006, a British man named Leigh Knight, sold an unwanted Brussels sprout left over from his Christmas dinner for £1550 in aid of cancer research.[104][105]
  • In May of 2006, a Chinese businessman named Zhang Cheng bought a former Czech Air Force MIG-21 fighter jet from a seller in the United States for $24,730. It is not known whether the Chinese government will allow the plane to be delivered.[106]
  • In June of 2005, the wife of Tim Shaw, a British radio DJ on Kerrang! 105.2, sold Tim's Lotus Esprit sports car with a Buy It Now price of 50 pence after she heard him flirting with model Jodie Marsh on air. The car was sold within 5 minutes, and it was requested that the buyer pick it up the same day.[107]
  • In May of 2005, a Volkswagen Golf that had previously been registered to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (who had been made Pope Benedict XVI) was sold on eBay's German site for €188,938.88 ($277,171.12 USD). The winning bid was made by the online casino, known for their outrageous eBay purchases.[108]
  • A seaworthy 16,000-ton aircraft carrier, formerly the British HMS Vengeance, was listed early in 2004. The auction was removed when eBay determined that the vessel qualified as ordnance, even though all weapons systems had been removed.[109]
  • Water that was said to have been left in a cup Elvis Presley once drank from was sold for $455. The few tablespoons came from a plastic cup Presley sipped at a concert in North Carolina in 1977.[110]
  • A Coventry University student got £1.20 for a single cornflake.[111]
  • A man from Brisbane, Australia, attempted to sell New Zealand at a starting price of $.01AUD. The price had risen to $3,000 before eBay closed the auction.[112]
  • An Australian newspaper reported in December of 2004 that a single piece of the Kellogg's breakfast cereal Nutri-Grain sold on eBay for AUD$1,035 because it happened to bear a slight resemblance to the character E.T. from the Steven Spielberg movie. Apparently the seller went on to make even more money in relation to the sale for his appearance on a nationally televised current affairs program.[113]
  • One of the tunnel boring machines involved in the construction of the Channel Tunnel was auctioned on eBay in 2004.[114]
  • A group of four men from Australia auctioned themselves to spend the weekend with the promise of "beers, snacks, good conversation and a hell of a lot of laughs" for AU$1,300[115]
  • Disney sold a retired Monorail Red (Mark IV Monorail) for $20,000[116]
  • The German Language Association sold the German language to call attention for the growing influence of Pidgin-English in modern German.[117]
  • In late November 2005, the original Hollywood Sign was sold on eBay for $450,400.[118][119]
  • In January of 2007, a cooked but uneaten Brussel Sprout was sold on eBay, finishing at over £15,000 ($29,000)[120] .
  • In February of 2007, after Britney Spears shaved all of her hair off in a Los Angeles salon, it was listed on eBay for $1million USD before it was taken down.[121]
  • Bridgeville, California (pop. 25) was the first town to be sold on eBay in 2002, and has been up for sale 3 times since.[122]
  • Boston Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramírez attempted to sell his neighbor's JENN-AIR Gas Grill on eBay. The auction started at $3,000 and the price escalated to an astounding $99,999,999, the maximum amount allowed by eBay. The auction was later closed by eBay because of the promise of an autographed baseball going to the winner as well as the grill; it is a violation of eBay policy to include items other than those advertised.[123]
  • In April of 2005, American entrepreneur Matt Rouse sold the right to choose a new middle name for him. After receiving an $8,000 "Buy It Now" bid, the Utah courts refused to allow the name change. He currently still has his original middle name "Jean".[124]
  • In 2004, a partially-eaten, 10-year-old grilled cheese sandwich said to bear the image of the Virgin Mary sold on eBay for $28,000.[125]
  • In January of 2008, four golf balls were auctioned on eBay after being surgically removed from the carpet python which had inadvertently swallowed them whilst raiding eggs in a chicken enclosure. The story attracted considerable international attention and the balls eventually sold for more AUD$1,400. The python recovered and was released.[126]
  • In May of 2008, Paul Osborn of UK puts his wife Sharon for sale in eBay alleging that she had an affair with a coworker.[127]

Charity auctions

This section does not citeany references or sources. (February 2008)
Please help improve this sectionby adding citations to reliable sources. Unverifiablematerial may be challenged and removed.

Using MissionFish as an arbiter, eBay allows sellers to donate a portion of their auction proceeds to a charity of the seller's choice. Some high-profile charity auctions have been advertised on the eBay home page, and have raised large amounts of money in a short time. For example, a furniture manufacturer raised over $35,000 for Ronald McDonald House by auctioning off beds that had been signed by celebrities.[citation needed]

To date, the highest successful bid for a single item for charity was a letter sent to the owner of Clear Channel by United States Senator Harry Reid and forty other Democratic senators to have a talk with conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh.[citation needed] The winning bid was $2,100,100, with 100% of the proceeds going to the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, benefiting the education of children of men and women who have died serving in the armed forces. The winning bid was matched by Limbaugh in his largest charity donation to date.

Customer support

eBay offers various online help features, including a library of self-help resources, e-mail contact forms and "Live Help," which lets users chat with customer service representatives via instant messaging. Although this is not available to users on international sites such as, members of international eBay Web sites are welcome to utilize's Live Help service. eBay does offer some phone support to its customers although this is limited to sellers of the rank "Bronze PowerSeller" and above, the company's term for members who sell at least an average of $1,000 worth of goods per month on the site, as well as to eBay Store owners.

Environmental record

On May 8th, 2008, eBay announced the opening of its newest building on the company's North Campus in San Jose, which is the first structure in the city to be built from the ground up to LEED Gold Standards.[128] The building, the first the company has built new in its 13-year existence, utilizes a solar panel array comprised of 3,248 solar panels, spanning 60,000 square feet, and providing 650 kilowatts of power to eBay's campus.[129][130] All told the array can supply the company with 15-18 percent of its total energy requirements, reducing the amount of greenhouse gases that would be produced to create that energy by other means.[131] SolarCity, the company responsible for designing the array, estimates that the solar panels installed on eBay's campus will prevent 37 million pounds of carbon dioxide from being released into the environment as a result of replaced power production over the next three decades.[132] Creating an equivalent impact to remove the same amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere would require planting 322 acres of trees.[133] The design of the building also incorporates other elements to reduce its impact on the environment. The building is equipped with a lighting system that detects natural ambient light sources and automatically dims artificial lighting to save 39 percent of the power usually required to light an office building.[134] eBay's newest building also reduces demand on local water supplies by incorporating an eco-friendly irrigation system, low-flow shower heads, and low-flow faucets.[135] Even during construction, more than 75 percent of the waste from construction was recycled.[136] eBay also runs buses between San Francisco and the San Jose campus to reduce the number of commuting employees.[137]

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Suciu, Peter (2008-04-18). Skype and PayPal – A Different Set of Rules. All Business. Retrieved on 2008-04-23.
  2. ^ post about Auctionweb
  3. ^ a b Cohen, Adam. The Perfect Store. ISBN 0-316-16493-3
  4. ^ a b How did eBay start?, Retrieved on 2007-01-26.
  5. ^ The history of ebay
  6. ^ eBay Inc. - MSN Fact Sheet
  7. ^ Ebay attracts 902m visitors online
  8. ^ eBay Fact Sheet (PDF). eBay. eBay Inc. (2006-03-31). Retrieved on 2007-11-09.
  9. ^ eBay Launches Service for Austria. eBay Inc. - Investor Relations. eBay Inc. (2000-12-18). Retrieved on 2007-11-09.
  10. ^ Gary Briggs Appointed Vice President and Country Manager of eBay Canada. eBay Canada. eBay Inc. (2004-04-28). Retrieved on 2007-11-09.
  12. ^ (French) eBay France, lancement officiel du site d'enchères
  13. ^ eBay Launches Service For Hong Kong. eBay Inc. - Investor Relations. eBay Inc. (2003-12-21). Retrieved on 2007-11-09.
  14. ^ a b c eBay Launches Service For Ireland, New Zealand And Switzerland. eBay Inc. - Investor Relations. eBay Inc. (2001-03-29). Retrieved on 2007-11-09.
  15. ^ eBay Launches in Italy. eBay Inc. - Investor Relations. eBay Inc. (2001-01-15). Retrieved on 2007-11-09.
  16. ^ eBay Launches Service for Malaysia. eBay Inc. - Investor Relations. eBay Inc. (2004-12-01). Retrieved on 2007-11-09.
  17. ^ eBay Launches Service for the Philippines. eBay Inc. - Investor Relations. eBay Inc. (2004-11-16). Retrieved on 2007-11-09.
  18. ^ eBay Launches Service for Poland. eBay Inc. - Investor Relations. eBay Inc. (2005-04-22). Retrieved on 2007-11-09.
  19. ^ eBay Launches Service for Singapore. eBay Inc. - Investor Relations. eBay Inc. (2001-10-24). Retrieved on 2007-11-09.
  20. ^ [Internet Auction] Auction "eBay will start Korean service next month". Hangyore News (Yonhab News). (2001-01-08). Retrieved on 2007-11-29.
  21. ^ Dossier de Prensa (PDF). eBay Inc. (January 2001). Retrieved on 2007-11-09.
  22. ^ eBay Worldwide. eBay Inc.. Retrieved on 2007-11-09.
  23. ^ Nhịp sống số.
  24. ^ Prohibited and Restricted Items - Overview. eBay. Retrieved on 2006-06-28.
  25. ^ eBay Developers Program. eBay. Retrieved on 2006-06-28.
  26. ^ August 10, 2007, 10:38AM BST post to eBay annoucement board by eBay's staff
  27. ^ 21 December, 2007 12:10PM GMT General announcement by eBay
  28. ^ Announcement posted in a section on ebay called Changes in 2008
  29. ^ eBay February 2008 announcement board posted on 28 February, 2008 02:49PM GMT
  30. ^ eBay announcement 24 March, 2008 09:00AM GMT
  31. ^ January 2008
  32. ^ February 2008
  33. ^ January 2008
  34. ^ Upcoming Changes to Feedback
  35. ^ Fees 2008 Overview
  36. ^ January 2008
  37. ^ eBay January 2008 announcement board. Posted on 30 January, 2008 06:20PM GMT
  38. ^ Chat with Rob Chesnut, Vice President of eBay's Trust & Safety Department
  39. ^
  40. ^ PayPal mandatory, says eBay Australia (html). News Limited. Australian IT (2008-04-10). Retrieved on 2008-04-23.
  41. ^ ACCC puts eBay's PayPal plans under scrutiny |
  42. ^ Trade Practices Act PDF
  43. ^ ACCC Ebay Notice
  44. ^ PayPal only option for eBay trading | The Australian
  45. ^ PayPal only option for eBay trading | The Australian
  46. ^ Technology
  47. ^ - Business Centre - Changes to Payment Methods
  48. ^, Home > Community > Feedback Forum > Upcoming Changes to Feedback.
  49. ^ BBC, 5-Feb-2008, eBay to ban negative seller views.
  50. ^, 29-Jan-2008, Upcoming Changes to Feedback on eBay.
  51. ^ eBay Feedback: Fatally Flawed?.
  52. ^ San Francisco Bay Guardian - Bias on eBay.
  53. ^ Feedback Policies - Overview.
  54. ^ Scams And Scoundrels Book ISBN-13: 978-0-9774760-2-2
  55. ^ Scams And Scoundrels Book ISBN-13: 978-0-9774760-2-2 Chapter 8
  56. ^
  57. ^ "The safe eBay Scam!", Daniel Rutter, retrieved 3rd December 2007.
  58. ^ ...Plus Shipping and Handling: Revenue (Non) Equivalence in Field Experiments on eBay. Berkeley Electronic Press. Retrieved on 2006-06-26.
  59. ^ Circumventing Fees. eBay. Retrieved on 2006-06-11.
  60. ^ Excessive Shipping & Handling. eBay. Retrieved on 2006-06-11.
  61. ^ Custom-built botnet steals eBay accounts..
  62. ^ Counterfeit Coin Detection. Retrieved on 2008-01-21.
  63. ^ Tiffany and eBay in Fight Over Fakes by Katie Hafner, The New York Times, November 27, 2007.
  64. ^ COUNTERFEIT PCGS HOLDERS. Retrieved on 2008-04-13.
  65. ^ "Tiffany sues eBay, says fake items sold on Web site", USA Today, March 22, 2004. 
  66. ^ "Sure you bagged a bargain?", Courier Mail, News Limited, May 24, 2006. 
  67. ^ eBay Privacy Policy. Retrieved on 2007-01-10.
  68. ^ "Contact 16: Embroidery software buyer under investigation", WNDU-TV, 2005-09-07
  69. ^ "Design right threat fails to stop eBay sales", 2006-11-14
  70. ^ eBay Brags Hacker 'Vladuz' Arrested
  71. ^ Justice Dept. Sees Surge In Global Crime Networks -
  72. ^ eBay Has Its Romanian Hacker
  73. ^ News and Press release service TransWorldNews
  74. ^ "F.B.I. Opens Investigation Of EBay Bids", The New York Times, June 7, 2000. Accessed April 6, 2008.
  75. ^ EBAY INC. ET AL. v. MERCEXCHANGE, L. L. C. (PDF). US Supreme Court. Retrieved on 2006-06-17.
  76. ^ - PayPal to pay $10 million to settle online gambling charge
  77. ^ eBay picks up PayPal for $1.5 billion - CNET
  78. ^
  79. ^
  80. ^ EBay 'deceiving millions of users' - Internet - iTnews Australia
  81. ^ eBay Lowers Insertion Fees, Raises Commission Fees
  82. ^ Sellers Give Negative Feedback on eBay Changes - Bits - Technology - New York Times Blog
  83. ^ Fees 2008 Overview
  84. ^ BBC NEWS | Business | EBay sues Craigslist ad website
  85. ^ Craigslist strikes back at eBay. BBC (2008-05-13). Retrieved on 2008-05-13.
  86. ^
  87. ^
  88. ^
  89. ^
  90. ^
  91. ^
  92. ^
  93. ^
  94. ^
  95. ^
  96. ^
  97. ^
  98. ^
  99. ^
  100. ^
  101. ^ eBay announcement March 24, 2008 01:00PM PST/PT
  102. ^ Landa also told potential bidders and buyers that maintenance of the plane would cost $40,000 a month for just 2 to 3 hours flying time.
  103. ^ U.S. navy jet fighter F18 is for sale on eBay
  104. ^ Charity sprout craze sweeps the nation as £1,550 bid on eBay
  105. ^ The NIBS: Unwanted brussel sprout on sale for charity
  106. ^ Chinese man buys fighter jet on eBay - Breaking - Technology -
  107. ^ "£25,000 revenge of DJ's wife", This Is London, June 21, 2005. 
  108. ^ Golf IV von Josef Kardinal Ratzinger. Golden Palace. Retrieved on 2006-06-28.
  109. ^ For internet sale: aircraft carrier, only three owners. Retrieved on 2007-07-28.
  110. ^
  111. ^
  112. ^
  113. ^ Nutri-Grain that looks like ET.
  114. ^ "Eurotunnel drill bids reach £5m", BBC, April 5, 2004. 
  115. ^ Hearn, Louisa (2006-01-17). Blokes pull in the bids on eBay.
  116. ^
  117. ^ 10 Millionen Euro für die deutsche Sprache (German).
  118. ^ Hollywood Sign Sold For $450K.
  119. ^ Buy a piece of HOLLYWOOD.
  120. ^ eBay offers Nick Leeson's trading jacket.
  121. ^ Britney Spears' Shaved Hair on Sale on Ebay!.
  122. ^
  123. ^ Manny Ramirez's Grill Auction Taken Off eBay.
  124. ^ Matthew Sells The Middle.
  125. ^ ABC News: Hungry for Miracles?.
  126. ^ Snake's golf balls fetch $1400.
  127. ^ Jealous husband puts wife on eBay.
  128. ^ eBay Inc. Opens New "Green" Building and Unveils Largest Commercial Solar Installation in San Jose
  129. ^
  130. ^ SolarCity Helps eBay Campus, Employees Switch to Clean Power With Largest Commercial Solar Installation in San Jose
  131. ^
  132. ^ SolarCity Helps eBay Campus, Employees Switch to Clean Power With Largest Commercial Solar Installation in San Jose
  133. ^ SolarCity Helps eBay Campus, Employees Switch to Clean Power With Largest Commercial Solar Installation in San Jose
  134. ^ eBay Inc. Opens New "Green" Building and Unveils Largest Commercial Solar Installation in San Jose
  135. ^ eBay Inc. Opens New "Green" Building and Unveils Largest Commercial Solar Installation in San Jose
  136. ^ eBay Inc. Opens New "Green" Building and Unveils Largest Commercial Solar Installation in San Jose
  137. ^ eBay Inc. Opens New "Green" Building and Unveils Largest Commercial Solar Installation in San Jose

Further reading

  • Cihlar, Christopher (2006). The Grilled Cheese Madonna and 99 Other of the Weirdest, Wackiest, Most Famous eBay Auctions Ever. Random House. ISBN 0-7679-2374-X
  • Cohen, Adam (2002). The Perfect Store: Inside eBay. Little, Brown & Company. ISBN 0-316-15048-7
  • Collier, Marsha (2004). eBay For Dummies. John Wiley. ISBN 0-7645-5654-1
  • Hillis, Ken and Michael Petit with Nathan Epley (2006). Everyday eBay: Culture, Collecting and Desire. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-97436-4
  • Jackson, Eric M. (2004). The PayPal Wars: Battles with eBay, the Media, the Mafia, and the Rest of Planet Earth. World Ahead Publishing. ISBN 0-9746701-0-3
  • Kent, Peter & Finlayson, Jill (2005). Fundraising on eBay. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-226248-6
  • Klink, Edward & Klink, Stephen (2005). Dawn of the eBay Deadbeats: True Tales of Treachery, Lies, and Fraud from the Dark Recesses of the World's Largest Online Auction Marketplace. Mooncusser Media. ISBN 0-9768372-1-8
  • Nissanoff, Daniel (2006). FutureShop: How the New Auction Culture Will Revolutionize the Way We Buy, Sell and Get the Things We Really Want. The Penguin Press. ISBN 1-59420-077-7
  • Spencer, Christopher Matthew (2006). The eBay Entrepreneur. Kaplan Publishing. ISBN 1-4195-8328-X
  • Walton, Kenneth (2006). FAKE: Forgery, Lies, & eBay. Simon Spotlight Entertainment. ISBN 1-4169-0711-4
  • Ford, Michael (2007). Scams & Scoundrels: Protect yourself from the dark side of eBay. Elite Minds Inc. ISBN 978-0-9774760-2-2
  • Ford, Michael (2007). Dont Bid On It: Until I Tell You How eBay Really Works. Elite Minds Inc. ISBN 978-0-9774760-1-5

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