martes, 21 de diciembre de 2010

Antitrust Monopoly Suit Claims eBay Squeezes Out Small Sellers

A través de Kartellblog,
By BRIDGET FREELAND  La demanda esta aqui

SAN JOSE (CN) - An antitrust class action claims that eBay abuses its monopoly of online auctions to force out small sellers through new, discriminatory policies that favor eBay's larger sellers - and can subject small sellers to "feedback extortion." Because a few negative comments from buyers can get small sellers kicked out of eBay, "unscrupulous buyers are using this power of ... rating to force sellers to provide them items and services which are over and above what they have paid for," according to the federal complaint. …

It says eBay is abusing its monopoly power by implementing an unfair and discriminatory policy that is "destroying the business and livelihood of many well established, small eBay auction sellers." 

eBay recently has subjected sellers to strict rating regulations and unfairly suspended or closed their accounts without grounds… beginning in May 2008, eBay implemented a "Detailed Seller Ratings Policy" (DSR) allowing buyers to rate sellers' services "on a one to five star scale," based on the accuracy of the item description, communication with the buyer, shipping speed and charges. This year eBay modified its rating policy, adding requirements that "undermine the ability of small auction sellers to compete with larger sellers," according to the complaint… the new policy severely limits the number of low ratings that a seller can receive and stay active.

"Specifically, defendant eBay now mandates that starting October 2010, all eBay sellers will need to have 1s or 2s for item as described on no more than of 3.00 percent of transactions, and on no more than 4.00 percent for communication, 4.00 percent for shipping time, and 4.00 percent for shipping and handling charges," the complaint states. 

Many sellers who have feedback ratings of 90 to 100 percent "now have restrictions on their accounts or have had their accounts permanently disabled due to low DSR ratings," the class claims. 

It continues: "Just a few negative DSR ratings can destroy a seller's goodwill and impose severe limitations on the seller's account. Many unscrupulous buyers are using this power of DSR rating to force sellers to provide them items and services which are over and above what they have paid for."   The class claims that the "one to five stars" rating system is misleading, in that most consumers would consider "a rating of three as average, and a rating of four as good, with five being excellent."  A fully satisfied buyer might rate the seller's services as a four, which is actually low on eBay's standards, since a seller must "maintain a DSR average of 4.3 to freely operate on eBay," the class claims. It claims the ratings are anonymous and that eBay has no mechanism in place to keep competitors from "artificially lowering" a seller's rating. 

El caso se parece a los relacionados con la inclusión – indebida – en un registro de morosos. El problema para e-Bay es si ha diseñado un sistema de control de la “calidad” de los vendedores que es defectuoso y perjudica, en particular, a los pequeños vendedores.

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