eBay is Suing Amazon for Allegedly Poaching Sellers

Lancaster PA USA - December 4 2017: An ebay package delivered at a front residential door.

Online marketplace eBay is suing three Amazon managers for allegedly trying to poach sellers. The lawsuit claims that Amazon employees were signing up for eBay accounts under false names and allegedly sending private messages to eBay sellers inviting them to join Amazon.

These alleged activities violate eBay’s rules and filters.

This isn’t the first time eBay has accused Amazon of poaching. The company sent Amazon a cease and desist letter last fall which alleged that 50 sales representatives sent more than a thousand messages to eBay sellers, including those who run some of the best clothing stores on eBay. At the time, Amazon promised to conduct a thorough investigation. But eBay filed a lawsuit that was eventually sent to arbitration.

The new lawsuit targets Amazon managers, and accuses them of fraud and racketeering over their alleged behavior.

According to the lawsuit, eBay claims that Amazon managers were incentivizing sales representatives to engage in racketeering by providing them with recruitment quotas. eBay claims that these quotas were expected to be largely satisfied by targeting eBay sellers.

Along with monetary damages, eBay is also seeking an injunction that would prohibit Amazon employees from soliciting sellers on eBay.

Users on eBay are prohibited from exchanging some information through their messaging platform before a sale is complete, such as private contact information. Users are also prohibited from offering to buy or sell off of the platform, or exchange personal information with the intent of making a sale off of eBay.

According to the lawsuit, Amazon employees allegedly used workarounds in an attempt to side-step these rules, such as using periods in a phone number, using variant spellings of the Amazon name, changing email address formats and encouraging sellers to move the conversation off of eBay as soon as possible.

“The Defendants and other Amazon managers trained sales representatives about eBay detection techniques and how to avoid them, and Amazon representatives were diligent students, observing that (in the words of one such representative) ‘eBay monitors their messages pretty well for contact info,’ that ‘eBay doesn’t allow phone numbers in these messages,’ and that ‘ebay will not allow the exchange of email addresses in these messages[,]’” the lawsuit states.

At the 2018 GeekWire Summit, eBay CEO Devin Wenig said that he has no interest in competing with Amazon directly. Wenig said that he wants eBay to stand for something “fundamentally different” and for the company to succeed at “discovery-based shopping.”