Caveat Emptor - Easier on than on when it comes to coins?

I've had a personal experience this past week with a relatively new policy on that was introduced to "minimize the opportunity for consumer fraud."

The new policy places a range of restrictions on sellers of coins & notes in the USA, primarily around how coins are described and represented - an excellent idea, about which the American Numismatic Association (ANA) stated:

“The ANA supports this effort to improve consumer protection for people buying and selling coins on eBay.  Although the ANA is not responsible for this policy, we support any effort to reduce the potential for fraud and to help safeguard the coin-collecting hobby.”

I seldom list US coins on, but this past week posted a few nice US coins that I'd picked up in a local collection. In my zeal to present them in the way our Seppo friends would appreciate most, I included my own interpretations of the Sheldon grade of each coin in the auction title. Little did I know that this simple action was against eBay's new policy - it turns out that it's OK to include a numerical grade of a "raw" (unslabbed) coin within the item description, but it's not OK to include a numerical grade in the auction title.

As a result of my error, the listings concerned were cancelled by eBay, and I'll need to relist them next week with the offending digits removed from the titles. Here's an example of one item that contravened the policy:

I've copped this penalty on the chin - I should've been aware of the policy (it's been published for a few months now), and there's nothing I can do about it now.

What perplexes me though is that we don't have the same level of consumer protection on eBay's Australian website. The US site not only has the policy I've mentioned here, but has a firm policy on the sale of counterfeit coins & currency, as well as a Code of Conduct regarding the sale of numismatic items.

Anyone that's been on looking for coins & notes for their collection will attest that it can often be a free-for-all. There are often numerous items that are misrepresented by novice (and not so novice) sellers not only for condition, rarity or investment merit, but also for authenticity. As the Secretary of the Australasian Numismatic Dealer's Association (ANDA), I've heard numerous, numerous sob stories about buyers being blatantly ripped off on eBay - fair enough, most of the time these people could've saved themselves a whole lot of grief if they'd used their brain before pressing the "Bid" button, but it certainly appears to me that if an active approach was taken by eBay in Australia to providing some protection to consumers, we'd see far less fraud being perpetrated, and activity in the rare coin market, both on and offline, would be a whole lot stronger.

ANDA has had some correspondence with eBay in the past about this topic, however little progress has been made, certainly not without many in the industry trying.


Category: eBay