Tuesday, October 11, 2005

eBay: License Required?

The Associated Press reports that North Dakota is investigating whether people who sell consigned goods via eBay are required to hold auctioneer's licenses:

To get a North Dakota auctioneer's license, applicants must pay a $35 fee, obtain a $5,000 surety bond and undergo training at one of eight approved auction schools, where the curriculum includes talking really fast....

The closest auctioneer schools, in Mankato, Minn., and Billings, Mont., cost $795 to $1,625 for a week to 10 days of training.

The article also lists Maine as a state that has "considered extending auction rules to eBay sellers." I'll have to look into that. I don't want to run afoul of any Maine Auction Gestapo.

This is another example of the government trying to horn its way into something that's working just fine on its own, through privately and voluntarily initiated controls. eBay sellers and buyers treasure their online reputations. When the reputations sour, so do the sales (or the ability to bid). There are already several means of resolving disputes, and tho they may take a while to go through, they work quite well. My wife Rowan and I have both had to use them more than once. I can't imagine how having an escrow account for a five dollar transaction would be cost-effective protection. There are already third-party escrow services for large-ticket purchases, if the buyer and seller agree to their use.

Yes, there are many scams floating about on eBay (and other online sales sites), but they are getting easier and easier to spot. Hint: if they'll only take a Western Union payment for a $1,000 laptop for which you're paying $300, it's probably a scam.

It strikes me that the online world of commerce is the one in which libertarian methods of voluntary resolution have worked remarkably well.



Categories: , , ,

Technorati tags: ,