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by Mike Zazaian October 16, 2006 - 11:43am, 4 Comments

 Ebay Pulls Pre-Order PS3 Auctions

eBay removed all auctions for pre-ordered Playstation 3 units from its site today, leaving thousands of profiteering Playstation pushers without a place to peddle their wares, for now.

According to a post in the eBay Trust & Safety forum, any auctions for Playstation 3 consoles have been removed from the site. While a cursory search of eBay brings up a few of the auctions in question, clicking through the auctions brings up only a “This listing is no longer available” notice. Upon contacting eBay over the matter I received the following response:

Due to the high demand and limited supply of this item we are taking stronger measures to protect both buyers and sellers in the eBay community. Currently, eBay is not permitting ‘Pre-Sale’ of this item, and sellers who list it on eBay must have physical possession of the products at time of listing.

While it remains to be seen exactly why ebay has taken such steps to prevent pre-order Playstation 3 sales, it’s unlikely that eBay is doing this out of genuine concern for the would-be ripped-off consumer. eBay’s entire business model is derived from the erratic supply and demand that comes with having one of the world’s largest user bases. In the mind of eBay, if consumers are paying upwards of $2,000 for a single PS3 it’s not a rip-off, it’s market value.

More likely is the fact that Playstation 3 and other next-gen console auctions are a serious target for illegitimate product listings. It would be relatively easy for somebody with no Playstation 3 or pre-order to list an auction, planning to say that the console didn’t arrive when the acutal pre-order date rolls around. With some nefarious wording in the auction’s fine print, the user could be left to the mercy of the irrevocably inefficient (and unreliable) PayPal system, at which point it basically becomes a crap shoot whether the buyer will receive his/her $2,000 back.

In preparation for when the consoles actually do arrive, however, eBay is taking unprecedented action to ensure the legitimacy of all future next-gen console listings. Prior to listing an auction for a Playstation 3, sellers must 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 orpossession” of the consoles, and written acknowledgment of agreement with eBay’s policies.

Frankly the whole matter exposes the flaw in the very core of eBay. Logically eBay would have to take the above steps to ensure true legitimacy for each and every auction that passes through their site. But with the enormous amount of manpower that such efforts would require, eBay would likely crumble or undergo some serious reconfiguration. eBay seems to accept that there are thousands of buyers who are taken advantage of and ripped off every day, this being first instance in which they’re doing anything about it. Is it better, then, to have eBay and fraud, or no eBay at all? In light of the fact that eBay doesn’t seem to be taking any steps to find a middle ground, I’m not sure there’s solid evidence either way.

[via ars technica]