eBay – profiteeringly insipid

I have used eBay for a very long time, and I’ve seen the features and interface of the site slowly evolve during that time. As it has become increasingly popular and one of only a couple of major portals on the internet where it’s possible to sell items to a large market, the blatant abuse of its position has become apparent even to casual users.

This hit home fiercely for me tonight when I tried to make a listing and found that I could not turn off Paypal as an accepted payment option. Historically you’ve been able to disable it by unchecking the appropriate box, but that box no longer exists. I searched and hunted for a way to turn it off, and couldn’t find one. I searched on Google and eBay’s help centre but found nothing except outdated articles that referred me to account options that seemingly no longer exist.

Eventually I realised, as I tried for the 5th time to submit my listing, that the following error was appearing:

To ensure security on the eBay marketplace, it is now mandatory for all listings to offer PayPal as a payment method. Enter a valid email address in order to receive payments.

Let’s examine this for a minute. Since eBay acquired Paypal some years ago, it has become forcefully more integrated with eBay’s main site. This worked out great for eBay, as they make a fee + percentage for item listings, and then another fee + percentage for accepting payments via Paypal.

Sellers who didn’t like this double-profit practice could simply decide not to accept Paypal, and instead demand cheques, or point buyers to one of the now barely seen alternative online payment providers, like Nochex or Bidpay, the latter of which is now defunct.

But consider the gravity of the statement above, eBay now won’t let you not accept Paypal. If you list on eBay, buyers have to be able to use Paypal to pay, and since the site is cunningly constructed to funnel you into instantly paying via Paypal, this will mean that a whole load of sellers will unwillingly have an automatic ‘transaction fee’ cut from their payments, and go straight into eBay’s pocket. The guise of doing it for ‘security’ is just fucking laughable. eBay and Paypal are so exploitable for scammers that it can be a real misery for both legitimate buyers and sellers who meet their scamming counterparts. I could vent a good couple of spleens on an article about the unchecked and well practiced scams that are possible on eBay, but it would just be another cherry on the giant turd pie.


  1. Mike Landers says:

    And it could have been so different. It still amazes me that banks made no effort to create a simple system for payments over the internet. Perhaps they took their lead from the music industry, sticking their heads in the sand and hoped it would all go away.

    The banks could have made an absolute fortune. After all, even their shitty customer service is light years ahead of Paypal.