Published: June 30, 2007

eBay moves to improve safety of listings

eBay, the online auction service that is a popular site for pipers and drummers to buy and sell piping-related goods, but which has been criticized for inaccurate listings of Highland pipes by sellers of questionable repute, is working to provide a safer and more reliable experience.

Started in 1995, eBay has previously left trust and safety checks almost entirely to users themselves, with a strong “buyer beware” message. eBay’s “feedback” system, in which registered users gain positive and negative points depending on how well their transaction went, has been the foundation of the company’s hands-off caveat emptor approach.

The company recently introduced new features and systems, and has banished “tens of thousands” of nefarious users from eBay, and reported today from its annual eBay Live! conference in Boston that it has seen a 60 per cent decline in the number of complaints pertaining to high-end merchandise.

Examples of Highland pipes described as vintage Hendersons or Lawries, only to be discovered to be made in Pakistan from cheap sheeshum wood, have given eBay a dubious reputation with some pipers and drummers. Others see eBay as a potential gold mine for great finds.

While eBay has not made its “Musical Instruments > Woodwind > Bagpipes” category part of the company’s crackdown on counterfeiters, it is now banning sellers with persistently bad feedback ratings. New sellers must also successfully register with PayPal, the secure online payment system that eBay owns, and which insures transactions against fraudulent activity. pipes|drums uses PayPal for its subscription payment system and so far has had no complaints from any of the more than 2,000 paid subscribers to the site.

eBay also expanded its feedback system allowing users to expand multiple ratings in several categories, rather than just once with only three options: Positive, Negative, or Neutral.

Earlier this month eBay announced that it is banning the international sale of products made from or that use elephant ivory. The move was in response to pressure from CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Some pipers have wondered how the move will impact the frequency of vintage pipes being sold on eBay.

[Disclosure: the editor of pipes|drums has previously provided consulting services to eBay.]

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