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Geta boss blasts back at Trade Me legal threat

LATEST: Can a challenger link to Trade Me feedback? Lawyer's verdict

Geta boss Gerard Peters has blasted back at Trade Me's implied legal threat, delivered this afternoon.

The threat centres on the new auction site's plan to import sellers' Trade Me feedback ratings.

"So yet again another bullying tactic by the giant monopoly. A trading platform should be a place where kiwis feel safe to trade freely, not a concentration camp," Mr Peters told NBR.

"Locking user's years of feedback and trading history within one platform is almost trapping users to use the platform even if they are unhappy with it.

"There seems to be no more freedom given to users anymore with this kind of behaviour. No matter where you trade, one must be able to show their viability and legitimacy as a trader. Restricting this from users is almost forcing them to stay within a marketplace is an unfair restraint of trade," the chairman says.

"We are still working towards this feature for Geta and will integrate it legally."

On social media and in NBR Comments (below), the mob has tended to see Trade Me's approach as overbearing.

But some have also suggested the various Trade Me rivals have further to go to get their houses in order.

"Geta boss can shut the **** up until he tidies up SQL injection attacks in his site," developer Ben Gracewood noted on Twitter.


Trade Me sounds legal warning as Geta seeks to snaffle its community ratings

New auction site contender Geta is looking to stand out from the pack with a range of unique features, including Facebook connectivity and the option to upload a video with your listing.

But there's one feature that could really raise eyebrows. Chairman Gerard Peters told NBR that Geta would offer the option to import a Trade Me 'feedback' score.

The ability to import a Trade Me reputation rating has frequently popped up on NBR readers' wishlists in Comments after auction site stories. People see it as a way to instantly judge a seller's authority. There's no doubt it would help jumpstart any Trade Me rival.

But it seems Trade Me won't stand idly by while a newcomer appropriates its community rankings.

While not speaking directly to Geta's move, the site did sound a general warning to the market.

"People work hard for their Trade Me feedback and there’s nothing to stop a person telling others what their Trade Me feedback rating is," head of marketplace Craig Jordon told NBR.

"However it is a violation of our terms and conditions to have other websites link to Trade Me feedback.

"We don’t want to get silly about it, but would remind other website operators that inducing people to breach a contract is a tort and probably not a great idea. We’d suggest any website considering this sort of thing takes good legal advice before proceeding."



Section 4d of Trade Me's terms and conditions reads:

Feedback is provided for the sole purpose of facilitating trading between members on the Trade Me Website. You must not market or export any feedback to any venue other than the Trade Me Website. Linking to your Trade Me feedback from other buying and selling websites will be considered a breach of our terms and conditions.

More by Chris Keall

Comments and questions

Easy way around it... just put a link to your TM profile into your auction on Geta manually...

Get stuffed TM, my feedback is mine and I'll do what I please with it.

careful John, you might find yourself in breach of the terms and conditions of your agreement. If this was an American company you might find yourself extradited for theft.. I know how vehement you are against stealing others property... On the bright side you could be a martyr like Kim. Brothers in arms...

AHHHH but there is a difference.
You see, KD is running and will not go back to face his accusers unless he is dragged back kicking and screaming.
Where as I say to TM, "wanna make something of it? Then go ahead and make my day! If not, then kiss my a...."

Ahhh.. the world as JM sees it. And If you weren't so paranoid with KD, you would have kown he's offered to go back to the USA and on perfectly reasonable terms.

Trade Me has no reason to feel threatened by any of its new "competitors". Bullying language is unbecoming

Trade Me is squarely in the right here.

However the larger story is that Trade Me is turning from the NZ site and company that everyone loves into the backyard bully. That's bad for business, for staff and for shareholders.

It's all driven from relentless price increases that have driven the auction take-rate beyond our perception of fairness. Please, please drop them back, perhaps to where they were last year, and keep the focus on new business innovation. Please don't do an eBay and forget the people that made you great - the members.

I agree 100% Lance. I'm a top seller on TM with a weekly t/o of several $ thousand which I can increase or, decrease at the click of mouse. I don't like their threatening tatics either, and their recent rate increases leave me sniffing the air elsewhere

Bring on competition. I am a huge seller on TradeMe and they are getting too greedy and the website too clumsy. TradeMe fees are now a huge percentage of my margins and I can't wait to ditch them for somewhere else. And I agree with #2, get stuffed TradeMe, my feedback is mine and I'll take it where I want

Ah sorry trademe, you claimed when you started the site that you only "bring people together" via the website to trade, thats why you didn't need an auctioneers licence and don't accept liabilty for dodgy trades. Therefore you don't own anything after bringing them together and that includes feedback after the trade. If you want to play by the internet rules then suck it up and let other websites use the members data. If you want to play by the real world rules and own the trades then get a licence and accept liability for dodgy trades. You cant have it both ways!

To all the Traders who are complaining - do you think TradeMe owe's you a living, that all the Server Resources, Staff costs, and other investments etc cost nothing? TradeMe provides a valuable and polished service and are allowed to charge for this service as they see fit. Running to the next "free" start up will solve nothing, as soon as they grow bigger they will start charging fees too and you will just get caught in a vicious cycle and run to the next "free" site.

As for your claim that "my feedback is mine and I will do what I want with it" - also wrong, you signed up to TradeMe with a specific set of terms and conditions, including that you can't export that feedback history. If you didn't like that condition, you shouldn't have signed up.

So says John the TradeMe staffer. Get real and read the feedback. People are clearly hating on TradeMe for the right reasons. The bigger you are the harder you fall. TradeMe can fall if the people who built it -- its members -- depart. It may not happen soon, but it will surely happen if their arrogance continues.

Actually WR I am not a TradeMe staffer, not have I ever worked for them It's never wise to assume things :) I am however a software developer and I can appreciate all the costs, time and complexity involved. A lot of effort goes into keeping such a massive operation going. I'm not sure how many people turely appreciate this.

As for feedback I am listening and what I mostly hear is what you typically do - people always complain at any online service having fees or trying to make money. Such services don't cost nothing to run and Trade Me is a business, not a charity. People complain about Google, Microsoft, FaceBook, Amazon, Apple and every other place for various reasons all the time - yet they still exist and keep doing what they are doing. You can't please everybody, TradeMe has invested in a polished and reliable platform that enables people to make money from trading who otherwise wouldn't be able too - they deserve to be able to get reward from that.

Of course people are free to change if they wish, that is the nature of the free market and thats a healthy thing. But people complaining at TradeMe is very very weak when all the rivals so far have security issues, usability issues and not much of a user base. Even more weak is complaining about not being able to break the rules that people agreed to when they signed up to TradeMe.

Hi Jimmy, just wondering, how can TM ever be an auctioneer, they are a platform for you, the vendor, to auction your goods in your name, this reads, you are the auctioneer, you write the listing and you dictate the terms which includes you taking legal responsibility for the accuracy of your lisings through to the accuracy of your tax returns. For TM to be the auctioneer you have to sign your goods into their care for them to auction the goods under their terms and they, TM, then pay you once the goods are successfully sold, this patently does not happen. You signed their agreement in order to hire their platform and that includes all terms and conditions. You can however refer to your TM name and feedback to your prospective customers in your future listings.

Trademe : Don't be Evil.

I suspect Tardme takes a good long hard look at what its customers are saying. There is a lot of dissention that could tranlsate into an exodus should the right set of situations come into play...

Hay no one in NZ heard of Gumtree - its FREEEE!!!!

Peters is in no position to do any blasting - his site is riddled with issues.
Folks like him tend to not understand just how incredibly competent, awesome even, Trade Me is at doing what they do. Best in the world

Starting a rival auction site had failed to pass the giggle test for years. What makes these new entrants think they can win now?

TM the best in the world? big call! TM may be NZ's own but it is still just a copy of THE most successful, global auction platform available to you. TM was a newbie and in relative terms, still is. Competition keeps things honest and helps to keep prices realistic, I say, bring it on and I wish them well.

No. It was my comment (16) above. Run the numbers and Trade Me wins hands down versus auction in other countries. eBay failed here as they were out-competed by Trade Me. Go ahead and try to use eBay, then switch back to the delightful simplicity of Trade Me.

Hi, the only reason it failed in NZ is due to the NZ Post Office's inability to come to the party regarding insured/registered parcels leaving the country. This is an absolute requirement if using paypal to receive payments from international customers due to the protection policy paypal offers as standard. If you want to buy and sell in NZ only, TM is quite adequate however the moment you want to tap the international market for US, UK, AUDs etc, it falls down monumentally. Many NZders use eBay to sell smaller items like stamps, postcards, ephemera etc as the postal issue is not so critical as most letter sized parcels reach their destination. Remember, TM is NZs own BUT it is still a copy of the most effective global auction trading platform YET available.

Trademe fell for the oldest attacker trick in the book.
They should have simply stayed silent and geta would have fallen away like every other attacker. Instead by threatening them they have given them legitimacy, credibility and risk turning public opinion against themselves.
Silly billy trademe.

it's hardly evil to protect what you've developed

They don't develop user feed back. That's ours.

Tech aside - the biggest thing ignored by pretenders is how much resource @TradeMe commits to a safe trading envinroment.

bold but stupid. And probably ultimately wrong. That said would be a great Copyright case to have decided

Hmmm.. Interesting alright. Regardless of the terms of the agrreement entered into by the seller, re ownership of feed back, me thinks a Court might rule otherwise, principly because feedback is all generated by, and paid for by the seller. TM only provides the platform

Proper question is what form that clause had when I signed up. Don't forget that these online tech companies love to change their terms and conditions at the drop of a hat.

That clause has been in place on Trade Me since at least August 2005 -- I quoted it in the first edition of TRADE ME SUCCESS SECRETS.

LOL Michael, nice plug. The clause can still easily be challenged in court, should TradeMe get even more stupid.

Trademe was great to start with and then they stuff it up with price hikes and stupid upgrades.

Right off the top of my head I can think of two ways to get feedback into a 3rd party site without breaching that section of the T's and C's by the Trade Me user.

Maybe I will flick Geta an email...

Guys, i'm in urgent. As a beginner like me, anyone would LOVE to have an Agent (a Trader), who's capable and reliable.
So, my question here is - does TM serious enough to rely my account in their hands ?
What would be the fees ?

Competition is good for the consumer. Look forward to some good competition to TradeMe.

It is not "feedback" that I transport, it is MY reputation as an online trader!!
And I'll take it any damn where I like.

Your "reputation" relates to your trades on TM, no where else, it gives an indication that you MAY be honest and reputable somewhere else and, to prove that you are as you claim (like many second hand car dealers) honest, you must build that reputation again should you decide to move on to somewhere else. Online, it is too easy to say, as a faceless trader, that I am so & so, so you must believe me. Sorry, but as a buyer (me) this does not cut it UNITIL your actions back up your assertions. My recommendation would be to open your own website with goods for sale, which you have total control over, and refer to your website in every paid advert in TM or whatever auction site you wish to use. Your reputation then will always be yours with a trackable history of online dealing. If your dodgy, your website wont last, if your genuine your business will blossom. My thoughts.

TradeMe know (well might know I'm not too convinced) about how valuable the "feedback" rating is. Those people who do well rely on that feedback to ensure future customers can trust them. Banks do the same thing and it's called your credit rating. If you move country you can’t take your CR with you when you start afresh, you have to convince the bank that you are good guy and eventually they will give you credit.

This is all about Trust and in today’s world who can we trust ? Banks (both John and the hight street), Investment managers ?? Real estate, Lawyers…. The list goes on. So the future of doing business will be done based on how much you Trust someone. Think about it in your own experiences…. So if you rely on doing business then feedback helps form that Trust value and the more you are valued the more business you should receive.. It’s the future currency and the way we’ll do business.

So the Owners of the trust should own the feedback and be able to do what they want with it. TradeMe and the likes should be paying the owners of the Trust and feedback ratings to encourage them to use there service/site…

Tables need to be turned….. Good Luck...

Here’s a great Ted talk about it ..

For Geta (or anyone else for that matter) to reach a 'take-off' point in their development and market-share, they will need the support and patronage of the very same people who originally signed up with Trade Me. I have used the Trade me site many times-and it works-or should I add it 'worked' because at that time fees were reasonable and justifiable. Now that the business has a large foreign investor the 'community' benefits which Trade Me extolled in its infancy are being replaced with straight out commercial interests. Personally I am very much in favour of competition and hope that there are sufficient numbers of us willing to give these new groups a "Fair Go" Talk of protecting IP and threats of legal action are unwarranted and unwelcome. I suggest all readers of these comments are perfectly well aware of the legal rights of all parties. What is most important is the ultimate users and customers of Trade Me and whether or not they see advantages in taking their business to a fresh up and coming competitor.

Looking at this really simply -

If my Trade Me account is closed by either me or Trade Me, all my feedback would be lost. It's not like I can close my account, and say" thanks for the business, oh and I'll be taking all this feedback I've accumulated with me" No it'd just be gone.

I think it's pretty clear who "owns" feedback

The feedback rating is TradeMe's property - just like the data collected by the TAB on horse performance. TradeMe has incurred costs in collecting and storing the data, so is entitled to some protection against its commercial use by other parties. Just as the TAB needed some protections against Centrebet taking its info to give better odds to its customers because it did not have to incur the costs of collecting and storing the data on NZ horse races that the TAB had to incur. Similar parallels occur in the health insurance industry - you cannot take your claim history with you when you change health insurers - thereby leading to 'stand down' periods where you cannot make claims - so as the insurer can get information about the insured individual's likely claiming behaviour. Or your trading history with any other firm - which is valuable for a competitor too.

There are also real problems about the integrity of Trademe's data if it is taken, altered and then passed off as TradeMe's data by another party. TradeMe is entitled to some protections against this sort of behaviour - another reason why they restrict its use.

The 'solution' to the problem in the event of many auction patforms establishing is to have a third party collect and market the data for all auction sites - something like Baycorp for online auctions. However, the costs of this must be covered from some other activities, unlike Trademe, which subsidies all of the feedback reputation from fees charged to sellers. With Baycorp, sellers pay to access credit info on buyers, but there is not an equivalent mechanism for buyers to assess sellers' info. However, if enough buyers and sellers wish to trade on both platforms, such a service may emerge. But as long as Trademe dominates the market, and its system is sufficient for most people, there will not be a good business case for it.

Spot on. Feedback is given on TM trades and should not be judged as equivalent or applicable for another site from a seller or buyer point of view. If you want to be the owner of your feedback, get all your traders to send you happy references by email/post/pigeon and it is then up to you to present these for new trades. Good luck with the pigeon.

So.. If i post a link on Facebook to my ratings page on Trade Me ... is that illegal ? hmm.....

No, it is not illegal, one, you are advertising TM for free and two, it is only a link that takes you directly to TM. (which is what they want.) The moment you take something away from TM (software, code etc,) then you may be in trouble.

Trade Me a Giant Monopoly? Get real at best not even a big fish in a small pond. NZ is almost a deserted island & Geta are just looking to cut Trade Me's modest lunch.