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 They are ten years out of date now and need to be made fit for the 21st century.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 Chris Leslie rules out raising National Insurance to pay for social care

    Chris Leslie rules out raising National Insurance to pay for social care

    The possibility of Labour pledging a specific tax to raise money for NHS spending resurfaced this weekend, with Ed Miliband apparently believing that the NHS is going to be a major issue in 2015. The supposed likely tax rise would be in National Insurance, and this has raised some debate on LabourList this summer, with MP Frank Field supporting the idea, while Andrew Harrop and Adebusuyi Adeyemi have both warned against it. In a revealing interview with Progress magazine, Shadow Chief […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Free School Meals: let’s avoid the sour grapes

    Free School Meals: let’s avoid the sour grapes

    This time last year, the government announced that it would introduce free school meals for all infant school children before the next election. The policy had been endorsed by the School Food Plan commissioned by Gove. It was being championed by the Lib Dems and brought forward so it could be implemented before the 2015 election in what appeared to be a pre-conference deal between the coalition partners. This week 1.5million children in infant schools in England, including my six year […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Weekly survey: Crime commissioners, Douglas Carswell and Labour defections

    Weekly survey: Crime commissioners, Douglas Carswell and Labour defections

    The role of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) has been in the news lately, with the low turnout at the recent West Midlands by-election and the Rotherham abuse scandal becoming focussed on the refusal to quit by the South Yorkshire PCC Shaun Wright. LabourList reported this weekend that Labour are planning to abolish PCCs after the election next year. Should the role be discontinued? Or is there just a better way of making them work? The defection of Douglas Carswell […]

    Read more →
  • Comment It shouldn’t cost so much to be a candidate

    It shouldn’t cost so much to be a candidate

    I love the Labour party. I enjoy canvassing, I pay my subs, go to the various fundraising dinners and vote in National Executive Committee (NEC) elections. I, like many, hate the constant barrage of ‘please donate’ emails and fear the dreaded fundraising call. And if I feel like that, imagine the dread felt by a candidate when they receive such a call. Don’t believe that happens? Hard to believe as it is, on more than one occasion now I have […]

    Read more →
  • News Jim Murphy resumes “100 streets” referendum tour after nationalist abuse

    Jim Murphy resumes “100 streets” referendum tour after nationalist abuse

    Jim Murphy is resuming his soapbox street meetings tour of Scotland tomorrow, after suspending it last week in the face of increasing co-ordinated abuse by supporters of independence. These protests at Murphy’s open-air meetings came to the attention of the media (and the police) when the Shadow Defence Secretary was hit with eggs last week. In a blog for the Spectator this weekend, Murphy explains how the organised groups go beyond the “normal cut and thrust” of politics that the meetings […]

    Read more →