Ebay collects 750,000 signatures to end unfair online price-fixing

September 18, 2009 10:29 am

By Mary Honeyball MEP

I wanted to tell Labour supporters about a campaign I am promoting to ensure that goods bought online are freely available at a fair price. Currently, European rules do not adequately support online retailers & customers.

I am very pleased to be part of E-Bay’s drive for greater fairness in online selling. Having gained three quarters of a million signatures on their petition, E-Bay held a breakfast meeting with me as the main speaker yesterday morning to launch their campaign to reduce over-pricing by designer branded goods.

Yesterday’s meeting, organised by myself and E-Bay, looked at getting fairer prices for everyone buying the everyday products they need. The way things stand at present just makes everyone poorer. It hurts consumers. It costs jobs and damages businesses.

High prices harm everyone. This is not just about expensive handbags and luxury products – it is about things bought by millions of consumers all over Europe. It’s also about new goods, not just second-hand – parents getting sporting goods, shoes, school bags and other equipment for their children and general consumers buying cycling helmets, ski equipment, mp3 players, computers and household appliances like washing machines. A particular problem is prams and baby goods where suppliers make on-line selling practically impossible by refusing to let online sellers have acces to their products.

Research has shown that prices of new products in online stores are on average 17% lower than those in high street stores. The average price saving on Telecoms for French, British and German customers is 48%. The average saving on clothes and accessories is 31%. For computers it is 32%. For books it is 25%. Figures like these cannot be overlooked.

I’m not going to name and shame individual companies who seek to keep their goods artificially high and prevent on-line selling. However, I assure you that it reads like a directory of some the biggest names that we are all familiar with.

The internet redistributes power to the consumer in ways we could not have envisaged only a few years ago. The presentation of this unprecedented petition should be a wake up call to the Commission to think again about its review of these regulations. They are ten years out of date now and need to be made fit for the 21st century. The manufacturers and traditional retailers will be lobbying the Commission work hard to protect themselves from having to compete with on fair basis with internet businesses. Those of us who want a fair deal for consumers must do the same, and we have made a racing start.

It was very good to see three sellers at the breakfast yesterday. Thank you for speaking up and for your bravery. I know it isn’t easy or without risk to your business. Many on-line sellers are small and medium sized enterprises who deserve our support. On-line selling also allows women to run businesses from home and thereby spend more time with their families.

One of the reasons, albeit not the most important one, I am so keen to support E-Bay and on-line selling is my own personal experience. E-Bay saved my bacon when I needed a fancy hat for a wedding. Not being prepared to spend lots of money on an item I would more than likely only wear once, I turned to E-Bay where I found the very thing which was subsequently delivered the next day. In fact, I liked the hat so much that it’s now had more than the expected one outing.

The E-Bay campaign has only just begun. We now need to lobby the European Commission to change the rules. I will continue to blog as the story unfolds.

Join the 750,000 – sign the petition here.

Comments are closed

Latest

  • News Video Broadcasters to Cameron: Tell us a date you can do for head-to-head debate

    Broadcasters to Cameron: Tell us a date you can do for head-to-head debate

    Broadcasters appear to be losing their patience with David Cameron’s attempts to get out of appearing the pre-election TV debates. It is widely understood that Cameron has been advised by strategist Lynton Crosby not to take part in the leaders’ debates and has been dragging his feet during negotiations, making more debates each time broadcasters make new proposals. Following the initial invitation of UKIP to appear, Cameron claimed that the Green Party should also take part. Now the Greens, SNP […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Tactical voting: unless we are an open tribe, we will die

    Tactical voting: unless we are an open tribe, we will die

    So Compass holds a debate about the relevance, or not, of tactical voting in the run up May and straight away John Spellar MP and then Luke Akehurst are on to us. John accused us of calling on people ‘not to vote Labour”, Luke says we are ‘naïve’. Well first lets be clear: we have set up the space on our website for a debate; we have one article for tactical voting and one against. We wanted to see what […]

    Read more →
  • News Cooper says “slippery” Farage’s immigration speech will increase division

    Cooper says “slippery” Farage’s immigration speech will increase division

    Yvette Cooper has accused Nigel Farage of attempting to exploit concerns about immigration rather than attempting to come up with practical policies. The Shadow Home Secretary also derided UKIP for getting themselves in a “ridiculous tangle” on the issue – last week a spokesperson for the party said they would introduce a net migration target of 50,000, while Farage today claims that it is not party policy. This follows Ed Miliband attacking David Cameron for missing his 2010 immigration promises […]

    Read more →
  • Featured PMQs Verdict: Nevermind what Cameron said – it’s what he wouldn’t say that matters

    PMQs Verdict: Nevermind what Cameron said – it’s what he wouldn’t say that matters

    There are only three PMQs left until the election. Three more of these turgid, unattractive, unedifying and borderline pointless sessions to sit through before May. If this is the highlight of the Parliamentary week then Parliament can’t prorogue quick enough, frankly. Evidently many MPs feel the same, judging by the wide open spaces on the green benches this lunchtime. After a few minutes MPs had all spaced themselves out a little bit to make the place look a bit less […]

    Read more →
  • News Burnham announces charities should be “preferred provider” for NHS services

    Burnham announces charities should be “preferred provider” for NHS services

    Andy Burnham, Shadow Health Secretary, has said that charities should be the “preferred provider” of NHS services. He has said that Labour would introduce legislation, to get rid of parts of the contentious 2012 Health and Social Care Act, that would mean not-for-profit organisations would be seen as the “preferred provider” for the NHS. Contracts would be five or ten year agreements. This is part of Labour’s plan for health and social care. Speaking at the Association of Chief Executives […]

    Read more →