New "Dealing with eBay" FAQs are up

Robert Sanger rsanger at
Sun May 29 12:56:28 EDT 2005

Scott and friends,

Having surfaced from trial in Santa Maria momentarily (we are almost
done), I couldn't help add an observation or two.

There are some interesting ethical as well as legal concerns here:

Ethically, one is inclined to do the right thing.  That may be to warn
an uninformed, unsuspecting buyer.  This would be particularly true if
the seller's misrepresentations seemed to be not merely negligent but
actually fraudulent.  From an abstract deontological standpoint, one
ought to do what is right.

It would seem that the consequence of being suspended from e-Bay (or
banned from the book store) is the sort of thing one might bear as a
badge of honor if the action were indeed the right thing to do.  This
would be a personal decision.

On the other hand, e-Bay has made the corporate determination that it
would be inappropriate for people to contact bidders directly under
these circumstances.  I suppose that their countervailing consideration
is that this practice could be a means for unscrupulous competing
bidders to undermine the confidence of their competition.  From a
utilitarian standpoint, this might be a proper decision in this
community setting.

Legally (speaking in general terms since these matters could be
adjudicated in any number of jurisdictions throughout this country and
around the world), it is a tort to interfere with contractual relations
or prospective advantage.  There is a risk that even factually true
statements could give rise to litigation, if not an actual judgment.  Of
course, false statements could result in an action for trade libel.
These legal principles favor economic competition for advantage much as
the e-Bay rules do.

Having said all of this (and this is not legal advice, just a discussion
among book collectors), we should exercise caution before interfering in
someone else's financial transaction.  This is not to say that, if one
is right, the more noble approach might not be more rewarding in heaven
(or the non-sectarian or other equivalent thereof).

Anyway, Scott and everyone, keep up the good work!

Best regards to all,   

Robert Sanger
Certified Specialist, Criminal Law*
Attorneys at Law
233 East Carrillo Street, Suite C
Santa Barbara, California 93101
Tel: 805.962.4887  Fax: 805.963.7311
mailto:rsanger at
*[The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization]

The information in this transmission including all accompanying
documents is confidential and legally privileged under the
attorney/client privilege and the work product doctrine. The
transmission is intended solely for the use of the named recipient. If
you are not the intended recipient any disclosure or taking any action
in reliance or based on the contents of this transmission is strictly
prohibited. If you received this transmission in error please call
Sanger & Swysen at (805) 962-4887.
-----Original Message-----
From: owner-modlib at [mailto:owner-modlib at] On
Behalf Of Scot Kamins
Sent: Sunday, May 29, 2005 8:52 AM
To: modlib at
Subject: Re: New "Dealing with eBay" FAQs are up


Your comments could form their own FAQ: "Is eBay a good place to buy  

Having said that...:
> Re: "If I see an error in an eBay Modern Library book listing,
> should I notify the seller?"
> That section is fine, but it is important to note that
> you should NEVER contact a bidder regarding a potentially
> misleading auction they (he? she? heshe? shehe?) are bidding
> on - auction interference on eBay may get your account
> suspended.

You raise an interesting point here, which I'll start as a separate  
thread: Ethics and eBay Book Buying." Watch for it on a mail server  
near you!
> I do find the overall tone of the FAQ somewhat curious -
> not really taking into account that eBay is a global,
> chaotic yard sale - and that is OK!
> These are not professional book dealers for the most part,
> and any auction you win might end up being a disappointment,
> and if it does, it is probably not because the seller is a
> fraud and evil.

I'll emphasize these excellent points in the relevant FAQs. Thanks  
for bringing them up.

>  I have acquired hundreds of titles
> for well below what they should have sold for - primarily
> because of the lack of knowledge of the sellers and poor
> descriptions.

So you role the dice a lot? Are there factors you see in the listing  
that leads you to believe that you've found a bibliophilic diamond in  
the rough?

- Scot Kamins

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