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The status of the seller in the age of eBay

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This article considers the phenomenon of the online auction sites such as eBay and the impact upon the contract for the sale of goods. The use of these sites is problematic with regards to the status of the seller, as often the only indication as to their status might be their seller history and customer feedback. It is submitted that it appears perverse that a buyer of a high priced item from a private seller will not have the same protection under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 as he or she would have from a buyer selling in the course of a business. It is submitted that where the seller is selling high priced goods, the law should interpret 'selling in the course of business' as widely as possible. This article will attempt to highlight just how little protection the Sale of Goods Act 1979 affords to buyers who purchase goods that are not fit for purpose or are not of satisfactory quality from a seller who is not selling in the course of a business. The article will consider the statutory framework for contracts for the sales of goods and the impact of ss.13-15 in providing the buyer with protection.

Keywords: consumer protection; eBay; online auctions; sale of goods; status of the seller

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13600834.2011.578926

Affiliations: School of Law, Anglia Ruskin University, UK

Publication date: June 1, 2011

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