EBay is an online company that allows people to buy and sell goods online. It offers no restrictions on the kind of goods offered on its site. People can buy anything offered on the site. The lack of company restrictions on what is for available for sale raises an ethics question. Laws on what they can sell and to whom they can sell restrict traditional shops. The case is not similar for eBay. EBay’s services go beyond borders. The media through which it sells goods allows the company to bypass local regulations in respective countries on what is sellable.
Ethics demand that the business does what is morally acceptable irrespective of the existence laws to reinforce that. It is not proper for eBay to allow its users to sell items that are restricted in physical stores like the Nazi Memorabilia. The items are restricted in physical stores because their use is not for the overall betterment of the society.
EBay does not expect its competitors in the business to win by being immoral. It should be at the forefront of demonstrating a good example by restricting the sale of such items in its online store. Allowing the sale of restricted items online is an insult to lawmakers and the laws they make to protect the society against the harmful effects brought out by continuous use of the restricted items.
Other than disagreeing with the sale of restricted items, I see no problem with sale of fake items. However, the sale of such products is not acceptable to many people around the countries served by eBay. They expect that eBay has a quality assurance system to ensure that what customers obtain has passed the quality test. Quality assurance is not the covered by eBay. The company has explicitly mentioned in their end user agreement that they are not liable for compromised quality on the respective item.
Therefore, when it comes to quality issues of items bought at eBay, the buyer has to rely on trust and instincts. Fortunately there is a way around that buyers can rely on to verify that the item to be bought meets their expected quality standards. EBay has provided a forum service on its website that buyers and sellers can use to interact. On this forum, other buyers of a similar item offer reviews that provide novice buyer third party quality assurance judgments.
EBay may argue that its international presence raises it beyond individual country’s laws prohibiting sale of certain items. In addition, the global nature of the internet makes the company’s online store to be always open. It is impossible for eBay to restrict the window period when items considered non-appropriate for non-adults.
Although it is inappropriate in most countries like Germany and France for businesses to sell adult items like videos to minors under the legal age in those countries, such restrictions do not cover eBay. The lack of geographic boundaries separating sellers allows international sellers to offer the restricted items even if local ones decide to act morally and restrain from selling.
The lack of restrictions and regulations on the type of merchandise sold on eBay makes the company mode of operation unethical. The international presence of eBay exempts it from abiding by local laws in respective countries, but does not adjudicate the company from enforcing moral standards that ensure fair play for all who use the company’s online store.