Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Ebay has again rewritten its policy on counterfeits in its Purchase Protection Policy. AuctionBytes.com interviewed John Pluhowski, an eBay spokesperson, to get clarity. The word "non-authentic" has been changed to "counterfeit" because it refers to illegal items prohibited on eBay (like fake Rolex watches, we assume). It does not include pieces described as "authentic Chippendale," evidently because Chippendale is not a trademarked brand. We are still confused. Are only modern brands with intellectual property rights, like Coca-Cola or Chanel, protected by the new policy? And are antique pieces described, for instance, as "Schimmel" folk carvings or "Ohr" pottery protected instead by eBay's "item not as described" policy? In the second case, if eBay has to settle the dispute, the seller could be in trouble.


Anonymous said...

Trust me, if a buyer makes a complaint about anything or even insinuates their item was misrepresented, eBay will hold the seller responsible. I am a longtime eBay seller with 100% positive feedback, and from my experiences, eBay NEVER backs up their sellers, even in the case of crazy, abusive buyers with horrible feedback.

James said...

Speaking as someone who has been around the Antiques trade most of my life, there is one easy solution to this dilemma: If a piece of furniture is described in sales particulars as Chippendale or Hepplewhite etc. the chances are that it is NOT an original. Even if it's a genuine piece of 18th Century furniture.
Pieces can be made following the Chippendale, Hepplewhite, Sheraton designs from the published design books, however the only cabinetmaker who ever produced his own designs was Chippendale. If an identifiable piece of Chippendale ever came onto eBay, it would only be that the seller didn't know what it was.
The correct description for say, an 18th century chair would be in the style of Chippendale, Hepplewhite etc. (and then an approximate date of manufacture).
Mostly genuine 18th century pieces of these designs will be either "London" pieces - made for the gentry (extremely valuable) or Provincial pieces (second rate), on occasion country pieces in cruder materials such as Oak, Ash or Elm, and overall quite rare.

There is also confusion around the term: "Georgian".
Strictly speaking, the Georgian (as described) period ends when George III's son becomes Prince Regent. Stylistically, there is a sudden leap from the Neo-Roman and slightly Baroque forms of the 1750s to strictly Neo-Classical forms which start appearing from 1770 onwards.
Minimalistic Neo-Classical forms are what characterise the Regency period.
Therefore, anything made after 1810 cannot be described as "Georgian" as it isn't.

Then we come to "Georgian revival" at the end of the 19th Century (eg "Adamesque" inlaid furniture manufactured from 1890s to 1930s.

Most of the so-called Georgian furniture available to buy on eBay is misdescribed.
It is also largely misdated. Most Sheraton or Hepplewhite "style" furniture which appears is late 19th century reproduction, or early 20th century repro.
Sometimes these misdescriptions can advantage the buyer who can accidentally purchase a good item cheaply.
Mostly, it is an irritant to the buyer as the items are rarely "as described" in sales particulars.
Occasionally, one can find the odd nice thing or 2 on eBay. But I prefer auction sales where an independent assessor can verify that items are genuinely antique and can accurately describe them.

Anonymous said...

eBay will shoot itself in the foot with all these "Big Brother" policies and DEMANDING the use of PayPal...it was easier and better before all of the "rules" to HELP everybody...try BONANZLE!

Anonymous said...

When I bought some plates on eBay and received several which were not in the pattern I had purchased, I tried to get reimbursement through PayPal and was told that their "protection" only covered merchandise "not received," not "not as described." The eBay complaints process flipped me back to PayPal as soon as I indicated that I had paid in that way. Fortunately I was eventually able to settle with the seller, but otherwise I would apparently have been out of luck.

Sandy said...

Since Coca-Cola "is" a trademark, what about vintage "coca-cola" items? There are old coke signs and clock faces....some repro and some very authentic. Same with Pepsi, Ford and many other brands that started their wonderful history in the late 1800's or early 1900's. How will those be judged if some buyer decides (right or wrong) that the item is "fake"? Will those be described as "Counterfeit" or "not as described"???

I sold a very authentic early Pepsi sign on eBay not long ago. The buyer was very happy with the purchase, but that buyer was a collector of Pepsi items and knew it was authentic.

What would have happened had I sold it to buyer who was not a collector and decided that he/she had paid too much for the sign?

It ought to be pretty clear that eBay is a bit "schitzo" in their handling of this and many policy issues. I suspect they will handle "complaints" in the same way.

I've had good buyers in my years of selling on eBay. My concern is that these ill-conceived and ill-defined policies will bring more bad buyers out of the wood work

I would recommend that sellers limit their eBay listings to items of low value and more common vintage items. List your valuable antiques and unique vintage items at sites like See Auction, Go Antiques, Tias or Rose Lane. The buyers who shop at those sites will be more knowledgeable for one thing, and the site management will not be "squirrely".

Anonymous said...

I second the view of #1 Anonymous. eBay is getting out of hand. They have never backed the seller even if the seller can prove the buyer complaint was a scam. I lost my item, all monies and shipping to a scam buyer helped along by paypal and eBay. eBay seems to forget that if they don't have sellers, they can't have buyers. Enough auction sites are becoming available and eBay isn't the only game in town anymore.

Sandy said...

The comments that James made are an excellent example of why eBay can never get this right. Obviously James knows antique furniture. Most of the antique dealers I know, don't have his level of knowledge.

That doesn't mean those dealers shouldn't be permitted to sell. It simply means that sellers/dealers have to be honest about the extent of their knowledge and not describe an item as "authentic whatever" if they don't know with absolute certainty that it is. Buyers also have to know what they are doing before they hit the "buy" or "bid" buttons.

Any attempt by websites like eBay to try and "micromanage" transactions between buyers and sellers will only create more problems that it will solve.

Anonymous said...

Ebay has systematically ruined the auction site for sellers. All rules are in favor of the buyer with no regard to seller rights. The feedback system is useless as sellers have NO RIGHT to leave anything less than POSITIVE FEEDBACK for the buyer even if the buyer deserves Negative Feedback. Sellers are dependant on the buyer for the Detailed Seller Ratings which is ridiculous. Ebay dangles a "discount" on fees if the seller has "good enough DSR's. The sellers are at the mercy of both the unfair ebay rules and the buyer who is not always truthful or honest.
I have been selling on ebay for over 10 years and find what was once enjoyable is now a frustrating experience due to ebay new rules. The mandatory use of paypal for listing items is also unfair. Ebay owns Paypal. Is this not much like a monopoly? It is a shame that what once was a great venue for both buyers and sellers has become a dictatorship ruled by THE INSTITUTION CALLED EBAY.
Sellers are never supported, often abused and all the while paying ebay fees. Sellers are treated like garbage.

Anonymous said...

As an ebay seller (and in my own regard a 30 yr. veteran antiques dealer, and licensed auctioneer)since 1998, I had a perfect feedback record the entire time until an issue with a buyer went south, and of course, ebay & paypal sided with the buyer, and refunded his money. Since the funds had already been transferred to my checking account, paypal demanded that I "restore my balance" which I did not do. The buyer left slanderous feedback on my untarnished record, and I could no longer do ebay because you have to offer an online payment service and paypal was the only one I had, and paypal not only overdrew my account, but would not let me even take paypal payments which would have restored my balance in short order, effectively cutting off their nose to spite their face. Long story short, three months later I log onto my ebay account and voila! the negative feedback posted by this buyer had vanished, my account was restored to it's former 100% feedback rating, and so I checked the buyers feedback profile and found that the positive feedback I had posted for him at the point of purchase had also disappeared! All I can guess is it took three months for ebay's attorneys to determine that I might just have a legitimate claim to file slander lawsuit against my buyer and they decided to back off. Unfortunately, none of this happened before my paypal account was sold to a collection agency, who now hounds me day and night for money paypal removed from my account by overdrawing it! Such fun I've had! Yes, the good old days with ebay are over, at least as far as I can tell.

sofyblu2 said...

Thank heavens for Bonanzle is all I can say.

Anonymous said...

I can only add "amen" to post #1. eBay has actually created a hostile trading arena where buyers are encouraged to complain about sellers and purchases.
I had a successful eBay store for years, and have left for other venues.

Anonymous said...

Ebay picks and chooses who will they will take action on, I have reported several items that were not what they were represented as, weeks before they were to end, nothing was done about them, yet when I included a word in mine that was to describe only, not represented as, I was shot down immediately. Ebay is a joke!
PS, I am a longtime seller with 100% feedback (for the entire time, not just the past 3 months)

Anonymous said...

I never got the feeling that they really cared about either. This is probably a legal-department initiated effort to protect their own interests for inadvertently conveying counterfeits of modern products. Modern products have easy-to-define intellectual property, and a case can more readily be constructed against them because they are profiting from this type of thingy need to prove that they are being diligent about trying to prevent it. I don't really think they are worried about antiques or semi-antiques. I have had two bad experiences as a buyer -- once with a counterfeit handbag, and another time with a misidentified collectible that was attributed to a famous manufacturer (which turned out to be an obviously poor imitation). They never responded to my complaints about the counterfeit handbag, and I gave up after several attempts. Based on that, I decided to forego complaining about the misidentification of the collectible because it was relatively inexpensive, and I had not gotten much satisfaction before.

Donald Plumb said...

I purchased an item that was signed Lalique. After paying, an e Bayer that is an expert on Lalique wrote me advising me the piece was fake. I immediately filed an action with PayPay, I did recover my money and left the seller a negative, three days later, the negative was removed from the seller and no one at eBay or PayPal could tell me why. She re listed the same piece and sold it again,

janimal said...

janimal4 said...
I sold on ebay for over ten years almost since its inception. I also was rather successful at it with a 100% feedback. I no longer sell on ebay because of their asinine policies. They do not protect the sellers from bad buyers and they won't allow the sellers to alert their fellow sellers against these type of buyers. That is just wrong, buyers can say what they want in the feedback forum but sellers are not allowed the same privilege. So this new policy of theirs doesn't suprise me.

Anonymous said...

Selling on Ebay is like ordering from the Soup Nazi....one small perceived infraction, real or not, "NO MORE AUCTION FOR YOU!" and you are summarily dismissed.
I cannot wait for the day there is a comparable alternative....

Anonymous said...

I too sell on ebay and that 5 star rating stuff is for the birds. We can't rate the buyers for taking 2 weeks to pay, yet they can rate us on shipping time & price. I listed a Griswold skillet and they took it off advising me it was a fake. I collect griswold skillets and know the difference. They refused to refund my eBay fees and would not answer my emails. Hey whats this Bonanzle? I'm ready to make a switch if anyone has a good auction site. Keep your chin up!

Anonymous said...

I like most of your other writers have been dealing with E-Bay for over 10 years. And back then it was a fun thing to be part of. But now since they changed the feedback laws, it's a nightmare. It has turned into a blackmail. Due to the fact that buyers are the only side that can complain.
Last month I sold a Grandfather Clock as not working. Now the buyer requires me to pay £100 to have it fixed? Now to read between the lines, if I dont he will have the power to give me a negative feedback. And I as the seller can do nothing?
Last year I had a person who never paid for an item for over two months, and when I closed the case with E-Bay and re-listed the item. As I new I was getting know where. He paid via PayPal. I of course refunded the money the same day. But by then he had given me a negative feedback, on an item that was no longer for sale?? E-Bay wake up. Without us sellers, there would be no e-bay.

No More Ebay said...

Ebay has become dispicable. They have made it easier for the scam buyers to defraud a seller. The seller has no recourse. Sure, the PayScam and Epay cheerleaders say there can be resolution, but I don't think so. Chalking up a loss to 'cost of doing business' is not an option. The high fees, manditory Pay Scam requirements have made me decide to stop selling. I had over 350 transactions, all 100%, using money order or personal check. Your feedback spoke for itself, but not anymore.
For the person who said to advertise a pseudo Chippendale piece by saying "in the style of Chippendale" would NOT be allowed. That falls under the keyword spamming rule. That's a shame though as at least you are trying to describe the item as precise as possible.
Would be nice if Epay was one of the companies going into forclosure, due to the drop in sellers. They figure that enough fools and suck ups will still use their service to keep the site running. I say good riddance to Epay.

Mishy said...

It is amazing how ignorant of antiques and collectibles ebay sellers have become. I guess everyone is now an "antique dealer" with no knowledge of what they are trying to sell and no desire to learn about them.

I no longer sell on the site due to it being such a pain with different "policies" for different sellers but I do get a kick out of browsing the items and seeing some of the new and repro items being passed off as "Victorian" or antique.

Unless ebay mandated education and has a qualified antique dealer on staff then how can they enforce this policy.

Victorian Caviare (sic) Crock anyone?

Anonymous said...

I have tried all the new sites from e-bid to Bonanzle and until they can reach the capacity that ebay has with search engines, all is a no go. Bonanzle was all hype and has become nothing more than Facebook where sellers tell eachother how great their stuff is. I think figs will fly before a real competitor comes along.

Holly said...

I have had some horrible experiences with eBay too. As a seller, I have had people who asked for their money back for non-receipt when delivery confirmation showed that they received their item and eBay never backed me up. Even with delivery confirmation, when the buyer said that they didn't receive the item, eBay made me refund their money. It's very frustrating.