Report 2: eBay's Policy on Slot Machines

Discuss our on-site auctions and other slot machine auctions.
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Report 2: eBay's Policy on Slot Machines

Post by woodpen161 »

This is one of three reports posted briefly on eBay UK in the Coin-Operated category before eBay removed them. Because they're relevant to us, I'm re-posting them here.

Report 2: eBay's policy on slot machines

Some of this is taken from eBay's web site, some from email from eBay, and some guesswork.
Report 1 explains the legal position. Daft but relatively simple. This report summarises what I have discovered about eBay.

The following is Ebay's policy in slot machines. You won't actually find it if you go looking through their help system. All other policies are there but not the slot machine one.
If you start to list an item on eBay and first click the link to check that it is allowed, 'Slot Machines' does not appear in any of the lists.
If you search for 'slot' in the help system nothing shows up at all.
There are only two ways of finding out the eBay policy on slot machines.
1) Get an item listed and then cancelled and follow the link they send you
2) From one of their pages, go right to the bottom and click the 'safe harbor' link. (Yes it is spelled like that)
3) The page you get to is called Rules and Safety. Follow 'Is my item allowed on eBay'.
4) Under 'questionable' select 'slot machines' and Hey Presto! This is what you get:Slot Machines

The sale or even ownership of coin-operated slot machines is regulated or forbidden in almost all circumstances, unless a certificate has been obtained from the Gaming Board of Great Britain
Therefore eBay will not generally permit the listing of coin-operated slot machines on its web site. There are three exceptions to this general prohibition:

Non-coin operated slot machines: Slot machines that do not accept or pay out coins or currency may be listed on eBay regardless of their age. However, slot machines that can be readily converted to use for coins or currency are treated as coin-operated machines.

Non-functional slot machines: Machines that were never functional but made solely for display may be listed on eBay. In addition, coin operated slot machines that have been permanently altered so that they will not accept any coin or slot and can not be converted into an operational slot machine may be listed without restriction.

The holder of a certificate or permit under the Gaming Act 1968: Any person listing a slot machine on eBay must hold the necessary certificate or permit to sell the slot machine under section 27 of the Gaming Act 1968 and must state this clearly in the listing. In addition, it is unlawful to sell or supply a gaming machine in circumstances where there is reasonable cause to suspect that it might be used unlawfully. Therefore any listing must make it clear to all potential bidders that they must ensure that they hold all necessary certificates or permits for the use or ownership of the slot machine.

Now the first sentence of this policy is about as wrong as you can get. The sale of gaming machines is regulated, and that covers all one armed bandit and almost all other 'penny slot machines'. However, there are no controls over ownership, and it is only 'Gaming machines used for gaming' that are controlled.

Of course, having fundamentally misunderstood the law, it is not surprising then to see that the rest of the policy is not only plain daft, but very few slot machine listings do comply.

Policy 1, if it's a slot machine it has a slot. (No rocket science there) If it has a slot it must have been originally designed to take coins or tokens. Well I've never seen or heard of a non coin operated slot machine.

Policy 2: If it don't work, and never has worked it ain't a machine. It is impossible to modify a machine not to take or payout coins, such that it cannot be converted back again and still have an item that anyone would want to buy.

Policy 3: Almost sensible here, but go down the listings today and see how many listings claim to be from licensed sellers. The only one I've seen recently was from someone selling a quiz machine. Which is not a gaming machine at all; it's a skill machine and doesn't need a license to sell it.

Yet, strangely, some items are cancelled, and others go through OK

Well guess what: eBay don't have the time, money or inclination to monitor all their auctions, they rely on 'the community'. The following is taken from an email I got from a real person at eBay (!!!!) We understand your concern. We do investigate every auction that is
reported to us. However, since we do not actively monitor our site for questionable or prohibited items, we rely on our members to report them to us.

Yes folks, if you've had a listing for one of your machines cancelled, it's another ebayer who has sent in a complaint. If someone complains, of course eBay have to investigate. The person who investigates doesn't know the law, they simply read the policy, and have little choice. They have to pull the auction.

I wonder who it might be who complained about your listing? Someone out there either doesn't like you personally, or doesn't want you selling your machines. It's either a lot of people with enemies, or someone who doesn't want you selling them through eBay!

I wonder why so many listings for modern machines sail through when they are outside the guidelines, the listing for 'machine wanted' sits there for 10 days, yet my listing offering information was cancelled within 10 hours. Maybe there's someone out there, hiding behind the anonymity the eBay gives to its squealers who doesn't want you selling your vintage machines through eBay

Unfortunately, once a listing is cancelled, you can't go back and see what it was for, or who had bid for it. All the evidence is effectively shredded.

Unfortunately also, it is IMPOSSIBLE to initiate a dialogue with any anyone at eBay with the authority to change their policy. Sure you can get a picture and a biography of the two top dogs.

President and CEO Meg Whitman, whose most treasured collectable is a Mr. Potato Head from Burger King has seen fit not to have any method of contacting the policy people at eBay. The only way you can get in touch with a person is to get your listing cancelled, and use the reply facility on your email. I wonder how long it will be before that gets stopped and their emails accept no replies? Actually it's happened since I originally wrote this.

My first listing for these information sheets was pulled after 10 hours. The first 'explanation' I got never actually said what was wrong, but implied that it was cancelled because it was an advertisement and was not selling anything. eBay forbids the listing of 'want adds'. They told me this just 10 hours before item 3235862142 came to the end of its 10day listing. This listing's title was 'Wanted 2p fruit machine', and included the words 'PLEASE DO NOT BID ON THIS! ANY BIDS WILL BE CANCELLED'

When I questioned this, I was then told, that on review, the cancellation was upheld because (wait for it), it contained 'personal opinion'. Apparently, another eBay policy does not allow you to put 'personal opinion' into your listings. So be very careful next time you say 'good condition', or 'I rate this as 8 out of 10', or use the word 'worth'.

Attempt number two was cancelled after three days. This time, I had written twice in big bold italics that I was not selling a slot machine, but an information pack. Again the listing was cancelled. This, I was told, fell foul of the slot machine policy. So, here I was NOT selling a slot machine and the listing was cancelled because I was selling a slot machine.
As you might imagine I questioned this, and by return got another email. This time it saidDo not reply to this email. And on review, they said it still contravened their slot machine policy.

At this point I wrote directly by real mail, to Meg Whitman. President and CEO of eBay Inc; collector of Mr. Potato Heads, and a previous employee of the Mr. Potato Head Company. I wrote to Meg in the USA because hers was the only Name and address I could find. There is a UK address, but no names, and head office for Europe is in Germany where following and not questioning orders from above is inbred and still a way of life 50 after Nuremberg.

I also tried a third time to get my information pack listed. This time I changed the title to include the word NOT, and began the listing with another bold italic statement that I was not selling a slot machine. Right in the middle in even bigger bolder italics I said it again, and once again right at the end. Even this time, one or two people couldn't quite grasp what was for sale, and my auction reached £26 before I cancelled it.

Now you have probably wondered why some listings get cancelled and some don't. Well as I said earlier, eBay don't police their listings. They only investigate when another eBayer complains. At this point they assure me that a thorough investigation is done before they cancel a listing. Well judging by cancellation number two, I reckon the noble Meg is employing Mr. Potato Head.

It's now August 28th, and listings for vintage machines have survived to maturity. Either whoever has been complaining has given up, or has been away on holiday. Can you think of a likely candidate who has been away? I can. If listings start disappearing again, it'll be an interesting pointer won't it?

To date, I have had complete failure in getting a dialogue with anyone at eBay involved in making policy. You guessed it, even though my letter to Margaret C Whitman was extremely polite, it has been 100% ignored.

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