October 15, 2006
eBay cracks down on PlayStation 3 auctions
Online auction house eBay has decided to halt all PlayStation 3 auctions for the time being. According to a post in the eBay Trust & Safety forum, those listing PlayStation 3 systems for sale have had their listings pulled. In addition, eBay is putting very stringent requirements in place for any future listings of the next-gen consoles: sellers need to provide eBay with a copy of their drivers license or other ID, copy of a credit card statement or utility bill with their current address, an invoice or receipt showing “purchase or posession” of the consoles, and written acknowledgement of agreement with eBay’s policies.
Last week, preorders for both Sony’s and Nintendo’s consoles began. Allocations for the PS3 were very limited, and the GameStop/EB Games chain went through their entire preallocation of systems in a matter of hours. Wii preorders began on Friday, and once again, the retail outlets went through their anticipated stock very quickly—much more quickly than some gamers expected.
As was the case last year with the launch of the Xbox 360, a number of early adopters appear to be capitalists first and gamers second, hoping to flip their systems quickly on eBay for two or three times what they paid for them. As a result, within hours of the preorders starting, PS3s and Wiis began showing up on eBay.
In some cases, eBay allows users to sell items that they do not physically have in their possession. However, any item offered as a “presale” must be within the seller’s possession within 30 days of the auction ending. eBay’s subsidiary PayPal has an even more stringent policy, forbidding any sale where the seller cannot guarantee or “reasonably expect” the item to be shipped within 20 days of the purchase date.
A search of eBay’s listings found a handful of PS3s in the search results, but clicking on individual auction listings returned a message that the item had been removed or is no longer available. In contrast, auctions for preordered Nintendo Wiis are being allowed to proceed for the time being. That may change if eBay believes the Wii will be as difficult to come by as the PS3 is anticipated to be.
The PlayStation 3 launch expected to echo that of the Xbox 360 in terms of the supply of consoles available, with only 400,000 allocated for the North American launch next month. Last year, eBay was inundated with Xbox 360 listings, with many sellers who had preordered systems unable to deliver their consoles to auction winners in a timely fashion. It made eBay look bad, and the auction house appears eager this time around to avoid the kind of problems experienced last year.