French Watchdog Takes EBay to Court

The French regulatory authority, called the Council of Sales, said Monday that eBay's French site should be held to the same standards as other auction houses in France -- which must acquire a special permit from authorities that includes guarantees of consumer protection.

In a statement, eBay's French branch, eBay.fr, said the suit was "totally unjust."

"eBay has invented a new way of buying and selling, which has been adopted by 10 million French people, and which is not at all the same as that of auction houses," it said. The Council of Sales, whose members are state-appointed, said it was not trying to crack down on online auctions, and that it encouraged them. But it said it had been studying eBay.fr carefully since 2003 and had compiled a long list of problems.

In one case, it said, a buyer who expected to purchase an 18th century painting actually received a piece of wood with a photocopy pasted onto it. Fakes are a big problem on eBay.fr, it said, especially with African or Chinese art. In other cases, sellers never send the object to the buyer, it said.

Last month, the Council of Sales took similar action against an online car auction site called Carsat.

News source: Yahoo! Finance

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