An interesting piece showed up in AuctionBytes this past week (link here). Basically Pottery Barn has taken to ‘banning’ shoppers who are shopping for resale on eBay.
The obvious question here is how can Pottery Barn tell who is buying to resell on eBay? In reading the AuctionBytes blog discussion (link here), it looks like it’s one of those “we just kinda know” things. So what if Pottery Barn makes a mistake? What if they see some loyal customer buying a larger than usual quantity of something and then bans her thinking she’s an eBay seller?
I’ve talked about wholesale suppliers restricting resellers from selling on eBay in the past. But the differentiating factor here is that the people buying are buying at retail. They’re just retail walk-in customers who happen to be buying in larger quantities than other customers.
According to the AuctionBytes article, this is a policy that’s been in place for quite a while. It’s only now that they’re trying to enforce it. But it looks like a real slippery slope for Pottery Barn and I’m not sure how they’re going to enforce it except with the ‘seat of the pants’ method (which probably won’t hold up in court).
It seems to me, they would be far better off taking care of the problem on the eBay end using the VERO process. Doing it this way, they take the chance of making mistakes and creating a negative Public Relations problem.
What do you think? Is Pottery Barn stepping into muddy water here? Leave comments or send an email.