eBay Changing Membership Agreement: Two Issues You Should Be Aware Of
by , 9:10 AM EDT, April 3rd, 2001
We got a letter from eBay that many of you will also have received. It lets you know of upcoming changes in their membership agreements that will go into effect on May 15th of this year. One of those changes could be considered troublesome to some people. The eBay letter directed us to a FAQ on their site:
Frequently Asked Questions about the User Agreement Revision
What are the revisions?
A. The major revisions are described below. Please be aware that while we have summarized the major changes below, there are additional changes that are not summarized and therefore, you are encouraged to read the User Agreement at http://pages.ebay.com/help/community/png-user.html to see the full text of the revisions to the User Agreement.
Generally we made a number of small text changes to make sure the User Agreement applies to auction-style as well as fixed price selling. We also fixed some of the typos such as "who's" to "whose."
Membership Eligibility. We have made it more clear that users may not transfer their accounts or their feedback to other persons. The main concern is that your feedback is left for you based on your actions and that it would not accurately reflect the reputation and trustworthiness of someone else.
eBay is Only a Venue. We have clarified what an "Online Auction" is by adding a definition. We have not changed our stance, we are still just a venue.
Bidding and Buying. We made it more clear that you must be able to actually sell the item you are listing on our site whether you list in a fixed price or an auction-style format.
Arbitration. From time to time we have disputes that are filed in court rather than through arbitration as is required by the User Agreement. This is very costly to eBay and potentially to the user involved and we therefore added a cost provision.
General. We added an assignment provision, which means we could assign this relationship to another party.
Disclosures. We updated our address because we moved and also added some language clarifying where to report disputes.
That second to the last one could be an issue of contention with some people. Under "General," they are saying that if the company is bought by, or merges with, another company, your information will then become the property of the new company. We tracked down the specific information two layers deeper in the agreement:
Also note that this agreement forces members to settle their disputes with eBay through arbitration instead of the courts. This is becoming a common occurrence with many employee/membership contracts. Just last week, the Supreme Court ruled that such agreements were constitutional between employees and employers (something we thought would be a violation of First Amendment rights). This likely means that eBay's own clause will stand up to challenge.
There has also been some speculation that eBay is making this change in preparation for selling or merging the company. The company has reportedly, of course, denied this.
Members not wishing to agree to the new agreement can opt out by writing eBay at [email protected].
eBay Membership FAQ