EBay just announced a new "authenticity guarantee" program which has items of a certain selling point get sent directly to an authentication service before being delivered to the buyer. EBay actually pays the authentication fee and this will be a requirement. If it doesn't pass the buyer gets an automatic refund and the seller gets dinged.
Currently, this new policy only applies to watches that sell for $2,000 or more. Although this is just the initial step and I believe will eventually cover autographs as well. Here is the link to this new policy.
I suspect this is a process the seller can opt in to when they list an item that meets eligibility criteria. It makes sense for watches and other items that can objectively be proven authentic or fake/altered. As we know, with autographs authenticity is often a subjective judgement.
I certainly see your point, Steve. Although, I will say that eBay already is using some degree of subjective judgement when they remove a listing. No one knows who has the authority on what items are removed and clearly many other autographs should be removed.
I would, at least, applaud eBay if they would set a standard on why an autograph is removed and who has that authority to render that decision. In fact, I would applaud if they would require all autographs to be certified by an independent acceptable service before they can be listed. Or, at minimum, at a certain price point.
That would be more fair than the current system they are using. Yes, I know, collectors will argue that TPA services are not perfect but, at least, there would be more clarity on the guidelines.
All I know is the way the way they regulate it now is not entirely fair nor effective. To anyone.
I couldn't get behind TPA guidelines like that since 1) they'd inflate the prices of all autographs and eliminate lower priced items from the market and 2) it would boost the business for TPAs and most likely lead to an increase of poor practices and bad authentication simply because they have a huge free pass to do so.
Granted, this is at least partially a matter of preference, as high end items rarely interest me at all. But I think from a business standpoint even Ebay would recognize that they're taking a huge amount of money off the table.
Wouldn't the other issue with this be international sales? People in other countries likely wouldn't be too interested in sending all their items overseas for authentication.
Between Ebay, Paypal, and my credit card, Ive never lost money on a bad autograph that Im aware of. 3 months is a pretty gracious time period to dispute something, especially bc you usually have that burning feeling in your gut the second you pay for a questionable item (every time!) I have used Paypal a number of times when disputing authenticity and never been denied. Ive also never had an Ebay listing removed for any reason ever. Maybe Im lucky, but I think things work fine the way they are and Rich makes a number of valid points. Im happy with the devil I know for now, personally.
EBay has basically taken Paypal out of the process. Since the new payment policy for sellers has activated not one transaction has ran through Paypal on any of my sales. It now takes 3 - 5 days to get your money when you sell. EBay has total control.
I'm okay with a policing effort, if it is well-thought out and at least marginally effective. It just comes down to what that actually is, and I'd object to it being entirely in the hands of existing TPAs.
I've been fighting for this for a couple of years now. About time.
Good conversation so far. My final words are you heard this from me here first. I do not know how far this policy will evolve and I certainly see all sides of the points. But, I do know that eBay is slowly and methodically taking control of every step of the buying and selling process.
Protecting the consumer is only part of the reason why. As we all can understand, they are protecting their brand and as many possible financial risks in the process.
I wish I could share your optimism, Joe, but I don't see how this would work with autographs. If they re-instituted the program they had a few years ago, where fakes were immediately pulled, it would definitely be a positive step forward. But otherwise, I don't see much hope.
You read me a bit wrong, terrier. I am not that optimistic, just reading the tea leaves. I have my concerns no matter how it evolves. Although, I will say that the current methods there are unpredictable and erratic. I would prefer predictable and somewhat of a level playing field.
I always thought the "caveat emptor" beginning is what built eBay into the empire it is today. People should be responsible for the choices they make with only limited intervention.
As long as people collect autographs there will be fakes created. Someone will always be trying to game the system. And it's usually the honest people who suffer the most.
EBay could hire authenticators who would determine if an autograph should be sold or not. The listing would need to have an indication that the item is considered to be authentic. That will never happen because eBay is not an autograph site.
EBay probably would not hire their own staff. But, they are establishing a ever growing relationship with PSA. Currently, they are offer buyers a "quick opinion" link to PSA. I could see them hiring them to supply services on autographs that sell for XYZ amount. Or, they could add an autograph surcharge on sellers requiring them to pay for a quick opinion(if not already authenticated) and it will only become active once the autograph has been approved. There are many different scenario possibilities.
Would a seller surcharge decrease the number of listings? Yes, and that would help drive up final prices. I would bet they would make more on selling fees than they are making now. Sellers will pay if they have a decent sell rate and their stuff is genuine.
PSA, Bickett, and quick opinions are coming soon to JSA. Sellers can choose which company to use. Just a thought.