Israeli sues eBay for NIS 100,000 for defamation

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Adv. Paz Itzhaki-Weinberger wasn't allowed to sell unopened Chanel perfume, charging eBay receives payments from Chanel.

An Israeli has filed suit against eBay, claiming the US auction giant was guilty of libel and defamation. "eBay removed the ad from the site, without cause or explanation, simply because I am a 'private seller'. The company is colluding with a large number of conglomerates in return for kickbacks and practically creates a monopoly with price-fixing which prevents the sale of products through anyone other than the authorized resellers connected to these conglomerates, and actively denies trade in second-hand goods which belong to its 'closed list'," wrote Adv. Paz Itzhaki-Weinberger on the suit.

The plaintiff in the case wanted to surprise his wife with a present, the Mademoiselle perfume from Chanel. According to the suit, he purchased the expensive fragrance for NIS 800 from Mashbir Lazarchan department store in 2014.

Unfortunately, when he presented the gift to his wife, he discovered that she was not interested in the perfume because among other reasons the founder of the fashion powerhouse, "Coco Chanel, cooperated with the Nazis and worked for them while harboring a hatred of Jews and extreme anti-Semitism, and as such morality dictates (and it holds true certainly for Jews and Israelis who are descendants of families who lost many of their members in the Holocaust) that these products are boycotted."

Pricing low to sell fast

The plaintiff turned to eBay to try to recoup some of his outlay. Itzhaki-Weinberger said he is a frequent user of the company's services, which he has been using to buy and sell products for his family for over a decade. During the time he "gained 100% positive feedback from 391 users, meaning the plaintiff completed an average of 3 sales per month over the last 13 years."

He claimed that over that time he gained an "untarnished reputation, which allowed him to continue easily trading on eBay.com and offered him relative ease when selling his own products because of the credibility he had attained."

Itzhaki-Weinberger created the ad in January of 2015, at a cost of $5, "and received immediate approval to publish it."

He offered the original, "unopened" perfume at a price point he claims to be lower than the market price (in a public auction starting at $40) in an attempt to quickly offload it.

But to his surprise, the following day he received a "very strange" email in his inbox informing him that his account was placed under an "indefinite selling restriction" and his auction removed. "After review of your eBay account, we have concerns about your selling activity. As a result we've taken the following actions on your account. Selling privileges have been indefinitely restricted. You won't be able to list new items. You're not allowed to register a new account. Some or all of your listings may have been removed. We have credited any associated fees to your account."

The correspondence from the US firm further explained, "Our decision is based on evidence from our records and our goal to keep eBay a safer place for buyers and sellers. We are not comfortable with your selling practices or business model, and we feel that they don't help promote a positive buying and selling environment. Even though you can't sell on our website, you can still use your account to buy or bid on items. You can also send email, obtain shipping addresses, leave feedback, and perform other administrative tasks."

"Closed list"

Itzhaki-Weinberger claims that he tried to contact the company's representatives but did not receive an adequate response. He claimed that he was prevented from trying to trade his products because he is a "private" seller attempting to sell goods from the giant conglomerate Chanel, unlike the "closed sellers list" he claimed Chanel used. He claimed the French firm sells its products at a higher price only through its authorized resellers, denying private sellers from competing with lower prices.

Itzhaki-Weinberger said that eBay has a program called VeRO which "allegedly works to protect intellectual property rights owners from infringement and prevent the sale of faked or illegal products."

But, instead, he claimed the program "has been used as a cover for the creation of massive earnings for global eBay (which could potentially be criminal), and under which the defendants cooperate with numerous conglomerates (like Chanel and many others) in exchange for payments, and essentially creating a monopoly with 'price-fixing' which prevents the sale of goods through alternatives to the authorized resellers tied to those companies."

Itzhaki-Weinberger is suing for NIS 100,000; eBay did not comment on the suit.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on September 3, 2015

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2015

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