October 5th, 2012, 21:52 PM
Watchdog calls eBay's user policy 'underhanded'
A consumer rights group accused eBay of making it tough for users to pursue litigation against the company and said the auction site operator's new user policy goes against the company's "commitment to openness."
Public Citizen, which called eBay's new user agreement "underhanded," takes issue with a section in eBay's policy that details how eBay and users' will handle legal disputes. In the agreement (scroll down to the section about legal disputes), eBay says that all claims that arise against eBay should be "resolved exclusively through final and binding arbitration," rather than in court. Some users may be able to argue their dispute in small claims court if the claims qualify, the agreement says.
Public Citizen, which sent a letter to eBay, says the terms prevent people from banding together in class action lawsuits and also forces users to give up their right to go to court. And it says the terms "disproportionately favor the company in disputes." It's starting an online petition to garner support for its requested changes.
"Most eBay users accept the take-it-or-leave-it contract language without reviewing it, and most don't understand that the forced arbitration clause means they will be shut out of court if they are harmed by company misconduct, particularly when large numbers of users each suffer small-dollar losses," Public Citizen said.