(Boy, a ten-day-old story. I need to start reading kuro5hin more often.)
Anyway, I know from experience that my chances of getting through to a real eBay person are approximately nil, especially on Memorial Day, so I'm not even going to try. Here are the questions I'd like to ask, and if some eBay staffer would like to answer them, feel free.
1. Regarding "VeRO," the Verified Rights Owner Program. Comments from sellers who have had their auctions yanked include:
- "I own this software. It is mine to sell."
- "Ended my perfectly legit sale."
- "I was forced to buy it from Dell, I should be able to sell it. www.linux.org"
- "I have the right to sell the Windows 98 I BOUGHT.. this is BULL SHIT....."
- "ended 2 of my legit auctions. won't respond to emails."
- "Legit auction canceled."
- "MS & Ebay Cancelled my perfectly legit auction."
- "copyright violation - on unopened retail box!"
These are not spurious complaints; they come from over a hundred eBay sellers with positive feedback ratings like 40, 253, even 476! Clearly these people are not scammers, they are legitimate and frequent eBay sellers who know the rules and who feel angry that they've been ripped off.
It is already apparent that eBay is ending perfectly legal auctions of E-Meters based on illogical and unfounded claims of copyright violation from the Church of Scientology. So "Verified Rights" doesn't mean much.
Can anyone at eBay confirm that each and every software auction terminated by Microsoft was illegal? And if not, shouldn't VeRO be renamed the "Unverified Rights Owner Program"?
2. EBay claims that, upon receiving VeRO complaints, it "reviews the reported items and, unless there is an obvious error, ends the auction." Were any of Microsoft's reports so reviewed, or were the auctions just immediately terminated?
3. Where on Questionable Items: Software is it indicated that software, unopened in the box, purchased at retail, cannot be resold?
4. Has Microsoft invoked a particular law - UCITA would be an obvious guess - in terminating these auctions? Or has it pointed to its license agreements (which for many of these auctions, apparently, would not apply)?
5. EBay's page about removing feedback doesn't mention cancelling rating of feedback, which is obviously a very important part. Isn't that misleading?
6. What did Microsoft do to get this special favor done for them - neutralization of their negative feedback? Does eBay do this for all their VeRO program members, or just Microsoft?
Microsoft and eBay have initiated an aggressive program to stop auction sites that Microsoft believes may be distributing infringing product. Microsoft monitors all auction sites and conducts daily searches to identify auctions suspected of offering counterfeit or infringing software. The company notifies eBay of suspect auctions and asks them to terminate the auctions within 24 hours.
Phrases like "due process" and "guilty until proven innocent" are coming to mind.