Q: "I sell mostly golf clothes, most of them Nike. I have recently started more auctions than I used to, and I just received the following notice as I tried to list: 'Attention Seller: In order to maintain a safe trading environment, selling limits are occasionally placed on accounts listing items that are reportedly favored by counterfeiters. At this time, you are limited in the number of items you can list (or revise) in any 7 day period. If you have any additional questions about this subject, email us at Customer Support. We sincerely value you as a member of our trading community and look forward to a continued successful relationship.' What's this all about? I'm a seller in good standing, with a terrific feedback score and rating."

A: In an effort to reduce the marketing of counterfeit name-brand and designer items, eBay has established certain policies. Here are some links that may help explain what they have done and why they did it:

• auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y06/m11/i29/s01

• pages.ebay.com/help/announcement/25.html#question6

Q: "As part of an estate consignment, I received several brand-name apparel items. The estate was extremely well-to-do, and I can't imagine these people would have purchased knockoffs. Should I list these items as genuine and describe the circumstances under which I acquired them? If not, where can I get information that would tell me whether these items are genuine or not?"

A: Never underestimate the rich when it comes to saving a buck. Just because someone can afford to buy an original Gucci handbag doesn't mean they won't buy knockoffs from a street vendor if it will help them save their pennies for that original Monet in Sotheby's annual Impressionist sale. A few of my well-heeled clients tell me they often buy knockoff jewelry and accessories for everyday wear because "if it gets lost or stolen, I won't lose too much sleep about it."

Do not list anything as genuine on eBay if you have doubts about it or if you simply don't know whether it is genuine or not. This applies especially to trade-marked or branded items. Contact the manufacturer or the nearest authorized distributor, and have them look at the item to help you determine whether it's genuine.

If that's not practical (for example, because you have too many items from the consignment that you have to list on eBay), list the item as "a used [whatever]," describe the circumstances under which you acquired the item, take lots of detailed photos (including a close-up of any markings), and scrupulously avoid using the brand name or trademark in your listing title and description. Knowledgeable buyers who think your item is genuine will bid the item up without your having made any misrepresentations about its status. If they ask questions, answer them to the best of your ability and post your answers on the listing page, where other potential bidders will see them. And if even a single buyer e-mails you saying the item is "almost certainly" a fake or knockoff, take your listing down before eBay does.

Q: "We have genuine Prada and Carlo Mancini handbags that we want to sell on eBay. They are 100 percent authentic. They have original tags, and we have the receipts from the purchase. My concern is that someone might purchase one of the bags, then switch it for a knockoff and claim that we sent them a phony bag. Any suggestions as to how to protect against this happening?"

A: Once an item has been shipped, it's almost impossible to control what the buyer does with it. Nothing is absolutely foolproof, but here are some tips:

• Always take detailed photos of the items you sell on eBay before shipping them.

• Never sell items like these to buyers with low feedback scores or buyers in countries that are notorious for online fraud activities.

• Consider using an ultraviolet pen or other invisible marking device to tag the item before you ship, and make a notation of the tag so that if the buyer complains, you can describe it in your report to eBay.

Q: "While cleaning out my house, I found an empty Tiffany box from when I bought my ex-wife her engagement ring. I was going to throw it out, but then I thought, 'Hey, why don't I sell it on eBay?' There may be somebody out there who bought something from Tiffany's but lost the box." Will I get in trouble if I sell this on eBay?"

A: You almost certainly will. While there might be someone out there who needs a genuine Tiffany box for a legitimate reason, I'll bet there is more than one guy out there who bought a cheap engagement ring for his girlfriend and would just love an original Tiffany box to put it in, for reasons that should require no explanation.

The very explicit policy that eBay has established against "encouraging others to infringe trademarks, copyrights and other intellectual property" can be found at pages.ebay.com/help/policies/encouraging.html. Read it, then throw the box away.

If that doesn't scare you enough, think about what will happen to the buyer when his girlfriend finds out the engagement ring isn't really from Tiffany and the cops haul you in as an accessory to murder!

< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >