eBay Australia seeks ACCC talks over unco-operative suppliers

eBay Australia is to approach the government and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission over suppliers’ reluctance to have their products sold online, the company’s CEO has revealed.


Speaking to Business Spectator, eBay Australia’s Deborah Sharkey said more than 70% of eBay-based businesses had experienced problems in convincing manufacturers and suppliers to release their products for sale online.


The figure, taken from a survey of 2,000 business, follows a similar result taken from eBay’s Online Business Index, which was released in March.


Sharkey said it is “very strong evidence to indicate that not only are retailers not embracing the opportunity, but the industry is actively seeking to prevent consumers from accessing sales online”.


“We are putting out a call to action to consumers, to let the retail industry know that this is how they want to shop.


“We are inviting government, the ACCC and also the industry to help us take a serious look at restrictive trade practices.”


The threat of government or ACCC intervention was backed by Phil Leahy, head of the Professional eBay Sellers Alliance.


“I’d absolutely welcome a discussion on the issue,” he says. “I’m not sure what the ACCC could do, but the issue needs to be out there. We don’t want any more government regulation, but if a company was made an example of, we’d welcome that.


“Australia is four or five years behind America when it comes to selling online. Some businesses are resisting change and the GST campaign [led by retailers such as Myer and Harvey Norman] is a symptom of that.


“The reality is that we’ve got to embrace online selling. As a country, we’ve got to get our head out of our arse.


“Some retailers don’t want their prices cannibalised by having products sold via eBay. But some sellers are forcing their hand by making themselves indispensible through their sales and then going back six months later and getting a more favourable response.”


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