From Reuters:

eBay Inc spokeswoman Kari Ramirez said the company “does not allow listings that graphically portray, glorify or attempt to profit from human tragedy or suffering,” and that the company was “deeply saddened by the Boston tragedy.”

ebaY search, by newly listed for 2013 Boston Marathon Medal, fresh as I compose this post

2013 Boston Marathon medal_ebay_eBay_newly_listed_20130418_460

Does it appear that once again ebaY says one thing, and does quite another?

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I’m having a hard time digesting  this.

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You are not in Kansas anymore. If you’re just now tuning into this, before you get started, you should see how this entire sordid affair began. Sorry for the long read, but this is a lengthy and scandalous saga, with more chapters likely to be written. For the primers, start here, and see this collection of all the pertinent links, read and absorb them all to fully comprehend the background and enormity of this situation.

Shill Bidding is a Crime
Starting with what is regarded as the very first ever case of ebay shill bidding prosecution, which involved author Kenneth Walton, of FAKE: Forgery, Lies, & eBay fame, shill bidding on ebaY has been a crime. A federal crime. Mr Walton was convicted, sentenced, and served his time. He then went on the write his blockbuster.

With the very most recent cases in the news, we see that shill bidding is a Federal Offense:

Online and live auctions of sports memorabilia and other collectibles conducted during the 2000s by the former Mastro Auctions, which was based in suburban Chicago, routinely defrauded customers, according to a federal indictment unsealed today. William Mastro, who owned the former business that once billed itself as the “world’s leading sports and Americana auction house,” together with Doug Allen and Mark Theotikos, both former executives of Mastro Auctions, were indicted on fraud charges for allegedly rigging auctions through a series of deceptive practices, including so-called “shill-bidding,” designed to inflate prices paid by bidders and to protect the interests of consignors and sellers at the expense of unwitting bidders.

There has also been similar cases and convictions in the United Kingdom recently.

The Past

Indeed, shill bidding (as well as across the gamut of issues) has been an area marked by failure, complacency, complicity, and willful ignorance on the part of ebaY since the earliest days of my ebay/paypal centricritical activities. This from the outrageous ebaY fail episode of bidancient AKA Eftis Paraskevaides Affair:

“He claimed eBay would never follow up a complaint against him for shill bidding because he generated about £15,000 a month in commission for the company. “Are they going to ban somebody who’s making them the best part of 15 grand a month? No,” he said.”

I made three points back then and I was spot on.

1.) The problem of shill bidding on ebay was, is and will become even more rampant.

2.) Ebay does not have/has not had, a system in place to deal with the problem of shill bidding, even when the community could police IT.

3.) The new SMI policy is a farce.

Shortly thereafter, ebay enacted the Shilling Made Invisible aka masked bidder IDs policy.

As history, and Philip Cohen will tell you, the policy did more to enable shill bidding to prosper than it ever helped protect anyone from phishing, account take-overs  or fake second chance offers

sneakybay special powers secret midnight policy changes The Present:

With a secret, fly-by-night policy change, ebaY defied common sense, tradition, widely accepted belief,  common law of every civilized nation on earth, (that we know of) and also superseded and shizzledropped on federal law by making shill bidding legal in the United States, (and only the USA – LoLz!). They seem to have given special consideration to consignment shops and businesses with employees. They also seemed to have helped certain TV reality fashion show star types and cable networks to possibly avoid scandal as well. Ahem!

The changes, which encompassed both the ebay shill bidding policy and tutorial, were very sloppily executed within the ebaY site, leaving huge contradictions scattered about the site, and had very conspicuous timing, relative to the current events of the time. If you read the primer postings you’ll understand completely. Even Helen Keller could have detected shill bidding, except I believe she would have been afraid to tell anyone, lest her hands be cut off.

They didn’t ‘relax’ the policy;  They disemboweled it.  It’s nothing but a hollowed out carcass now. I can still smell the rotting cyber-entrails they tossed aside and quickly ran away from.

While I see that the issue has finally gotten some much needed attention at both ecommercebytes and the consumerist, I feel the bigger picture isn’t sinking in. Consumerist, who ran a poll with their post, missed the mark somewhat, omitting any mention of the secret, unannounced nature and scandalous circumstances surrounding: eg; no mentions of consignment shops, employees, dubious timing of the change, and the complete secrecy/lack of any announcement.

A monkey could wreck this train!Ecommercebytes requested comment from ebaY as to the very unusual nature of the changes. To date, I don’t see any update posted there or statement to the community on ebay’s all too often unused announcement boards.

Give careful consideration to this Blekko search screencap image from this post. It more-less cuts to the quick. Note that date which it was captured on (June 6, 2012). That search was for the exact (partial) verbiage of the shill bidding policy before it was altered.

However, when you clicked through you went to the new policy page. (also evident by the date) That policy /page was changed within one blekko crawl/cache cycle, since it showed the former language. Ebay can tell us exactly when it was changed though, if they so desire. And why wouldn’t they? They believe that an open and honest environment blah blah zzzzzzzz…

I’m left wondering if the current ebay spokesperson will give a statement as to how it is that suddenly shill bidding is legal and acceptable on their site? Has there been some unannounced change in the law? Or is this yet another fine example of ebay’s special powers? How is it suddenly acceptable under ebaY rules whereas a crime in the rest of the known universe?

Am I the only one curious for answers to big glaring questions as to *when* (exactly) and *why* (specifically) the policy was changed?

Was it the result of some super-secret ‘project”? A “glitch”? A user survey? A study? For safety of members? In order to keep up with “Industry Standards”? Or by some committee? Or by managerial/executive order? Was Ophiuchus rising in conjunction with the 13th House of Uranus?

If this was a planned change, why all the mismatched, conflicting pages? Even after all this time has gone by? Is that really how a “World Class” multi-billion dollar corporation on the cutting edge of IT operates?

Surely there must be some explanation which neither conflicts with the laws of the land,  all common reason, as well as ebaY’s hitherto repeated, staunch, and widespread  adherence to the notion that “Shill bidding is a crime.”?

Even to this day we find highly contradictory statements regarding the legality of shill bidding Vs stated policies upon the site. All over the site in places other than the readily apparent, poorly and haphazardly hacked policy and tutorial pages, such as the Rules for Sellers Overview, and Shill Bidding community workshops.

Does that really look like it was a planned change? Does that look like a major change which was done completely impromptu?   Was it “fixed on the fly”?

Of course there is still the burning question of why there was no announcement? That is another thing people deserve to hear explanation of.

This is no small change. Major policy changes call for major explanations presented in a timely and highly visible fashion.

 

Why is the policy change bad?
First off, and most obviously, it fully disregards every definition found for shill bidding, including those found within their very own site. Second and just as obvious, buyers/bidders will get cheated. Besides the obviously sleazy circumstances surrounding and most likely precipitating the change, quite simply, ebaY does not have a system to deal with any such change. That would require software and/or other methods of gauging or judging human nature and intent, where it intersects with Murphy’s Laws and any (infinite) number of other unknown variables. If they can’t even get the various policy /tutorial pages all straight, how can they ever make a super-duper “sophisticated proactive system” shill bidding mind reading bot?

Furthermore, they have other policies in place which would aid the shill bidding. ei; the ability to have as many accounts as one pleases, lack of any real identity verification at the gate, and of course the “Shilling Made Invisible” policy. These factors are joined by outside forces or situations which are already a great hazard on the site such as the rapidly expanding underground market in fake or stealth accounts.

The Future

Those whom cannot remember the past… The site is now hacked in irrepairable ways. Trustworthy nevermore. No magic Balm of Gilead can cure the festered boils covering the body of ebay

This change will harm the entire community/website. Ebay has done more hacking than thy realize. With one fell swoop they’ve destroyed trust in a way which cannot ever be restored.

Ebay members are notorious for gaming the system. They will game this in ways which are not foreseeable, and  some which are. When ebay sponsors free listing days, users will be able to fill the listings with purely fake merchandise to drive up prices artificially with fake bidders and winners, thereby skewing and artificially inflating prices of the markets for widgets x, y and z Super Shady Shill Bidding tools coming soon to a crooked venue near you!

There is now a niche created for commercial shill bidding services. Which were, not surprisingly, called illegal by an attorney and ebaY expert when interviewed, as well as  advised against using by an ebaY PR spokesperson when uncovered.

People will also need to get busy updating their “get rich quick with ebay”, how to make money in your pajamas on ebay, ebay dropshipping ebooks, sniper bidding tutorials, education specialist courses or ebaY University courses to make sure they stay on the cutting edge of ebaY’s finely tuned and exciting new dynamic ecosystem.

I’m sure I’m overlooking lots of ways this will be harmful. The detriments are only limited by the ingenuity of the scammers, and whatever else ebaY management may come up with to enhance this further.

Solutions:
Now, the sad reality is that ebay/paypal feels and acts as if they’re above all laws. Not just legally, they would even seem to believe they’re above the laws of physics, math, and even gravity as this and other cockamamie policy changes illustrate.

If you’ve been following along with ebaY issues you know that ebaY and paypal have been busy spackling the chinks in their armor by writing civil rights depriving arbitration clauses with insane opt out procedures into their terms of use. Clearly they fear legal challenge to their many misdeeds. But I’m not sure that there is any (civil) legal recourse for this. I doubt there is any entity on the planet who will tangle with the 900 lb gorilla, who would only wear them to a frazzle.

Just the same, if you seek to force meaningful change upon them, use whatever resources are available. Don’t overlook the FTC as a place to file complaints over this major, shady policy transmogrification. Recently I’ve even seen advice to contact your elected legislators and other officials since the misbehavior is so far out of control. Certainly the States Atty Generals of any state may be interested in this development as well.

Likewise, be sure to spread word-of-mouth where ever and however you can.

I also wonder if ebaY competitors will have a field day with this news? There’s no telling what sort of creative exploitation of this development could have negative impact upon the online auction Ogre.

Best thing to do perhaps, as I have called for since the very beginning of my involvement into ebaY criticism, is simply never, ever use ebaY or paypal. After all, how can you really trust these people?

sleazebay and paypal are troubled, delinquent teenagers blessed with an extra chromosome, the one chocked full of fraud genes I believe.

Well now… isn’t this the most touching ad you’ve ever seen?

Oh yes, innocent babes, along with gangster slang derived phrases like “PayPal has your back this holiday season”.

It’s  reminiscent of last Holiday season, and the Regretsy Kids scandal, one of the more revealing and ugly Paypal episodes. Paypal tried to steal from needy children and got caught in lie after blatant lie.

How short does Paypal think the public’s memory is?

Please do not use Paypal or parent company ebaY this Holiday season or ever again for that matter.  No matter what the special deal is, it’s not right to support their thuggish behavior.

There are too many good reasons not to go near them aside from their hideous, unprofessional customer service and shapeshifting  policies.

That would include things like at major trust and safety issues, and of course their very latest unconscionable Terms of Use changes, complete with preposterous  opt-out procedure.

For more reasons why to never use Paypal. Peruse this blog, or just search the web.

“There’s a massive culture change happening at PayPal right now,” Marcus said. “If we suck at something, we now face it, and we do something about it.”

PayPal President David Marcus

It seems Paypal has had their mammalian protuberances stuck in the proverbial wringer once more.

Apparently Paypal tried it’s usual stunts again, this time sparking a blazing Good Riddance blog from small business owner Elliot Jay Stocks. The post also appeared on Hacker News. The negative comments flowed freely at both.

It seems PayPal responded  from the highest office, when their ridiculous and abusive policies were succinctly brought to light and attracted much (arguably well-deserved) negative sentiment.

After some rigamarole  the issue was resolved favorably for the client who’s money was seized, but only, and only because he had inside employee contact, outside the normal channels, and there was noise in the twitterverse which they could not otherwise silence.

At the end of it all Mr. Elliot Jay Stocks decided to close his account anyway.

Well played Sir. ;p

The blog post reads like so many other complaints or rants you’ve already seen if you follow Paypal blunders at all or have been involved with ebay. This type of thing (and worse)  happens each and every day to folks without big blogs and bazillions of followers.

So is Paypal having some sort of change of heart? No. We know they’re not. We know that because we know them.

The best thing to do is to close your account before they screw you too. Close your ebaY account too!

Let’s review what we know about our “Pals”.

Paypal are consummate liars! There is no lie too big or too outrageous for them.

They are thieves. They will literally steal from children, or at least give it a good try. Here’s a great one to remember on this day, 9/11

They are sleazoids! They will support the worst of any cause, no matter what the social impacts, no matter what the risk to the health of our Nation,  no matter how contradictory to their very own stated policies, so long as it’s money in their pockets.

They’ve been freezing accounts via admittedly faulty software. The account freezes/money holds are contrary to States’ Money License Transfer terms in every last state where checked. (Paypal is not a bank,  they only try to act like one, they are a money transfer service,.)

Let’s not forget they are not secure.

There is an epidemic of fake accounts.

They have a further history of kneejerk,  nonsensical or even childish reactions to bad news/PR reports. This is just another one.

Don’t be fooled. They have billion$ of reasons to lie. There is no massive culture change at Paypal. There is only the readily apparent devolution of the same ol’ Preypal. Sleazier  by the day!

Word to PayPal: Don’t forget about the “then” as well as the “now” if you expect to make folks believe you truly intend to clean up your act. Millions of your past or former victims are not going to quit criticizing you or convincing others to not use you.

Frankly, I don’t think that anyone believes Paypal or it’s president’s PR blabber. Then there are those who just plain know better.

There’s a fact they need to face. ;p

What do you know about Paypal? Comments are open.

I see that fakebook is having it’s big IPO today.

Does everyone realize how much pure fraud fakebook seems to be? They use the same shady “moderation” company full of paid undercover liars that ebay uses to sanitize it’s sleazy forums.

I’m sure none of the crooked-azz wallstreet investors care, they’re only in it for the money.

Uploaded by on Aug 9, 2011

So here’s a boycott you can do… upload this video to your FB page… say goodbye to your “friends” there…and get the hell off it!!

 

Then and Now.

It’s hard to tell which one is the comedy!

Interview w/ eBay CEO John Donahoe. EBayers demand Strike! 2

Uploaded by machinegunkelly111 on Feb 10, 2008

(auctionbytes interview, this has some of the ‘noise’ comments BTW)

Now fast forward a little over 3 years…

ebaY CEO John Donahoe Interview April 2011

Uploaded by yours truly,
April 20, 2011