back to article eBay calls for end to grey import laws

eBay is calling on the European Union to change trading laws which it describes as being "digital protectionism". Although it might be facing criticism from some quarters for protecting compulsory use of PayPal , eBay is asking European regulators to update online trading laws to give customers more choice of where they buy …


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  1. Magnus

    Well, that's one thing I agree with eBay on.

    Real free trade for once. Not free trade unless inconvenient for farmers/content companies/politicians/distributors etc...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Unusually, ebay is right.

    Ebay's new search is almost certainly the world's most user-hostile web page -- but at least it has got this one HALF right.

    I say half right, because grey import laws should be abolished throughout the WORLD, not just throughout Europe.

  3. Nano nano

    Sauce for goose ...

    How about letting them keep the restrictions - as long as the item is made in the EU.

    If they can make the goods where they want on cost grounds, then we should have reciprocal rights ...

  4. Torben Mogensen

    For once, I agree with them.

    Though eBay's statement is made for self-serving purposes, I tend to agree. We now live in a global market, and various attempts to prevent this seems like commanding the tide to stop coming in.

    One of my favourite dislikes is region codes on DVDs. They are not copy protection (in fact, they arguable encourage copying to get rid of the region encoding) -- their sole purpose is to allow distributors to charge different prices for the same product in different markets and to stagger releases for different regions.

    The latter was IIRC a major reason for region codes -- film producers wanted to reuse the same film copies for releases first in the US and then in Europe and they didn't want DVDs to be available to Europeans before the film had been running for a while in cinemas. But now most films premiere at the same time in the US and Europe, so this reason is no longer valid.

    I have family in the US and I would like to send them DVDs of Danish films as presents, but they can't play these on standard equipment. And it is not as if they can buy these films in US shops, so there is no local market to protect.

  5. Lupus

    Hang on...

    So, eBay, purveyors of cheap tat the world over, want to make it easier for punters to purchase brand-new cheap tat from places that aren't eBay?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Sort your own country out first eBay

    Go whinge to the USA first. They are even more draconian in grey imports. If you get them to force companies to service and maintain goods brought from elsewhere then I'm sure the EU will see things more positively.

    Paris, in America. Who services her ?

  7. Jack Harrer
    Thumb Up

    Jolly good idea!

    Maybe ebay will be useful for something once again.

    With some great goods from Nigeria... Maybe not!

    Law should be changed but ebay will have nothing from it. That law mostly stops electronics and higher priced goods - which nobody sane would buy from ebay anyway. Especially from abroad.

    Anyway that law is ridiculous: it stops you from selling what you legally bought only because some company (Sony we're looking at you!) decided they want to milk the market. That creates some moronic rules (iTunes in EU) where borders that hardly exist (Schengen in EU) are enforced on Internet (where are no borders).

  8. Jamie

    Would love to see it done World Wide.

    Not across the EU but around the world. Stop this stupid idea put forward by the Multi-National Conglomerates that certian games are only available in certain areas, or some movies are not available over there. What is wrong with letting the actual person decide what is acceptable.

    Brong back common sense.

  9. The Mighty Quin

    Two faced...

    And they can't see the irony of forcing all sellers to use PayPal...

  10. Dazed and Confused

    @Seeing it World Wide

    Europe could introduce an anti restrictive trade practices law than forbid any form of trade restriction. They could just declare than any company with a European presence could be prosecuted for breaching this law if they supplied any goods anywhere that were in anyway restricted from sale in the EU. That way things like region encoded DVD sold in the US at a lower price than Europe could result in punitive fines on the company for continuing to rip of EU citizens. Companies would in effect have the choice of pulling out of Europe entirely or complying. Can't see many of them turning their back on that larger market.

  11. Anonymous Coward
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    Next, can we attack Cisco and HP and all the other American Vendors that like to rip the Europeans off .. and Sony which just down-right hate any non-jap or non-yank.

    If a server is $2,000 then why is it not £1,000 in the UK?

    The answer you usually get is that you cannot do a dollar/pound conversion because of things like import duty, local taxes etc... but still it should be cheaper.. not more expensive.

    Right on e-bay, now just get rid of all the fake jeans.

  12. Killian

    ahh, so this is where we've been going wrong...

    After all these years of corporations and governments talking about 'consumer choice' and 'free markets' while blatantly manipulating the markets with trade laws, region coding, price fixing, etc ad nauseum... do we really think they're going to give it up now?

    Maybe they are! All this messing around with democracy and public opinion and in fact and all we needed to do was open an online tat bazaar and throw a fucking cocktail party in Brussels!

    Who'd a thunk it?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Couldn't agree more.

    This grey importing issue is nothing more than an excuse for manufacturers to rip off their customers. That it's legally protected is a total disgrace and it does need scrapping.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I hear a storm brewing in Redmond

    So Charlie 'software patents' McCreevy is going to let UK Vista users upgrade to XP at US or Chinese prices? Wait until his boss hears about that!

  15. Jamie
    Thumb Up

    :) x

    agreed. This is one of their better ideas

  16. Joe M

    What grey imports do to prices

    In my part of the world grey imports were made legal about fifteen years ago. There was a huge boost in the trade and then it just disappeared with only small pockets for special goods reamining.'

    What happened was that the brand importers cut their prices to match the grey imports. In other words the market, which they mercilessly manipulated, did its job. And lo-and-behold, despite all predictions of doom and damnation the importers are still around and still making plenty of profits.

  17. Neoc

    Real eye opener...

    Weird... you mean there *still* are region-coded DVD players? A quick check of the adverts here in Oz - I'd have a difficult time finding one that *is* region-coded down here... and this includes the big-name brands, not just the asian cheapies.

    PC-DVD readers, on the other hand, are a different kettle of fish (damn it).

  18. night troll


    ...Ebay ARE you friends. They are sticking up for the consumer and fighting all these restrictive practices the world gov'ments are opressing us with. They are fighting for OUR freedom (as long as you pay by paypal).

  19. A J Stiles

    Thought this had already been done?

    I thought this had already been done ..... wasn't that the point of 1992, or 1993, or whenever it was that all trade barriers were supposed to have been removed within the EU?

    Where I believe there damn well *should* be import restrictions, is that goods which were manufactured under conditions which would not be acceptable in the EU (child labour, unsafe working practices, lack of workers' rights, poor environmental practices &c.) should not be allowed to be imported into the EU.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    AJ Stiles

    I'd vote for a levy on goods from countries with poor human rights, corruption and working conditions legislation and enforcement. Said levy to be earmarked for investing in countries that improve their working and political environment.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    You can kinda cheat already

    It's a real pain when the pound is so strong against the dollar and most US sites won't ship internationally... You can kinda cheat though, just sign up for a postal forwarding service (Google it and you'll find loads). They give you a US postal address which you use to send the goods to, and then they'll give you a range of options for sending the goods on. Some even allow you to group packages, so you only ship one big box instead of lots of smaller ones, and save some extra money that way.

    I use mine to get my subscription of Playboy, hehe. A year only costs the Yanks about $20 (about a tenner), compared to £5 odd an issue over here! It's great for clothes, PS3 games, blu-ray discs and electrical goods too!

    Paris as she loves Playboy too!

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