Kentucky Bill Targets Auctioneers

Officials say most eBay sellers won't be affected.

by staff writer
- Mar 18, 2009

A new Kentucky bill that aims to toughen auction license requirements is raising concerns among online sellers, but officials said Tuesday the majority of eBay users will not be affected.

Some eBay sellers fear the pending legislation—which is awaiting the signature of Gov. Steve Beshear—will force them to obtain an auctioneering license to continue selling their goods over the Internet. But officials say House Bill 193 is intended to protect consumers, not hinder online sales.

"In no way is it to impede eBay's ability to do anything," notes Rep. Danny Ford (R), co-sponsor of the bill and a licensed auctioneer.

Individuals using eBay will not be required to obtain an auctioneer license, adds Marilynn Kennedy, executive director of the Kentucky Board of Auctioneers, which asked to have the bill introduced into Congress. The board believes consumers are being harmed because a lot of auctioneers—many of whom have nothing to do with online sales—do not abide by current regulations.

The new bill would require auctioneers to complete a two-year apprenticeship and pass several mandatory tests. Those operating without a license would also face greater fines. Ford acknowledges that online sales are very important. In fact, some online sellers attend auctions to find new inventory for their auctions or online stores, he tells reporters.

Online seller Scott Edberg isn't convinced he won't be affected. Edberg, who says he sells a million dollars worth of merchandise a year online, is a licensed auctioneer in Indiana. But he worries he may be unable to fulfill the apprenticeship requirement to obtain a license in Kentucky if the law passes.

"With my education and expertise in the Internet, I would just purely be a competitor that [auctioneers] wouldn't want to enable," he tells a local television reporter.

Until Friday, the bill included an amendment excluding online sellers from the new regulations. But the exclusion was dropped before the bill was approved by both the House and the Senate.

Auctioneer licenses have posed a problem for eBayers in the past. Three years ago an eBay seller in Pennsylvania was arrested for not having an auctioneer's license, and a drop-off store chain found itself in hot water for the same reason in 2008.

Usher Lieberman, an eBay spokesman, says the auction site keeps a close eye on bills that may affect its customers, and the bill in Kentucky doesn't appear to apply to eBay. It would more likely affect drop-off stores or trading assistants, Lieberman notes.

Several states have looked at enacting laws that would make auctioneer licensing requirements apply to online sellers. Ohio already implemented this requirement and Tennessee is considering the idea.

About the Author

Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.

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