eBay calls for solid front vs fake items
As writer Rex Stout once said, "“There are two kinds of statistics: the kind you look up and the kind you make up”. So when eBay UK's Press Office announced Monday of a new global anti-counterfeit campaign, we know that statistics can be written with any slant you like:
“In 2008, eBay hosted 2.7 billion listings globally, with only 0.15% of them identified as potentially counterfeit.”
0.15%” of 2.7 billion (assuming a yank billion) equates to 405,000 potentially fake listings. Yes, almost half a million is a fair amount. And yes, I’m slanting it now.
But fair play to eBay who are pushing their Verified Rights Owner program (VeRO) into the limelight under the banner of a “Fighting Fakes with eBay” campaign. eBay established VeRO in 1997 to comply with the regulations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Under VeRO, legit owners use their own savvy wheeler-dealing instincts to identify and remove suspect items from the site before buyers get a chance to get fleeced by them. At the time of writing, the number of people in the VeRO program stands at 31,000 globally.
However, VeRo has had a reputation of pulling wrong items off the virtual shelves with false suspensions and intellectual copyright violations. This is because of eBay's pact with the DMCA, where provisions were set in place years ago to protect companies like eBay from accountability for fraudulent merchandise or copyright infringement, as long as eBay pulls any items claimed to be fraudulent.
This means that even if false claims are made out of abuse or malice, eBay is likely to pull the items to 'keep their noses clean'. If you have been a long time eBay seller, you've probably had to deal with this with potential loss of income, no matter how close you've kept your reputation to 100% as possible.
So what's eBay's counter-explanation to all this? Doug McCallum, Senior Vice President for eBay Europe, intoned: "Counterfeiters' sophistication keeps increasing, making it ever harder to differentiate a genuine item from a fake.... Clearly, as we do not have the expertise to assess the authenticity of every branded product, we are unable to tackle the problem alone.”
I like Mr. McCallum's speech that essentially shuffles around the issue, but in our quest to find bargain deals on an online marketplace at low prices, we have already taken responsibility to expect these kinks in the system. If lack of money and expertise is the problem on eBay's part, why not “outsource the solution to customers for free”, seeing as it’s in the customer’s interest to have the issue resolved?