PWCC Marketplace, one of the hobby’s largest online sellers of sports trading cards, was banned from selling on eBay selling on Tuesday over accusations of “shill bidding.”
eBay sent a message Tuesday to customers who have done business with PWCC Marketplace announcing that it had restricted the company’s eBay sales and business.
“Recently, it was determined that individuals associated with a trading card seller, PWCC, have engaged in ‘shill bidding,’ which is prohibited on eBay,” eBay’s message to customers states. “As a result, eBay has restricted PWCC’s selling privileges and listings, effective today. eBay’s policies and standards were designed to ensure a trusted marketplace where our community can transact with confidence. If we determine that a buyer or seller is not acting in good faith, eBay takes this seriously and takes action.”
The news sent shockwaves through the sports collectible industry as PWCC Marketplace is one of eBay’s largest sellers of sports cards, with more than $200 million in eBay sales last year, according to Action Network.
"I'm pretty pissed," one sports card collector said in an email to Sports Collectors Digest Tuesday night. "As a sports card collector, it's not fair for PWCC to bump up the prices!"
PWCC issued statement late Tuesday saying it was "shocked" by the allegations, had no knowledge of the alleged practices and was considering legal action.
eBay defines shill bidding as “when someone bids on an item to artificially increase its price, desirability, or search standing.”
“Shill bidding can happen regardless of whether the bidder knows the seller,” eBay states on its website. “However, when someone bidding on an item knows the seller, they might have information about the seller's item that other shoppers aren't aware of. This could create an unfair advantage or cause another bidder to pay more than they should."
eBay further explains that “shill bidding happens when anyone—including family, friends, roommates, employees, or online connections—bids on an item with the intent to artificially increase its price or desirability.”
"To PWCC's knowledge, its employees have never engaged in any behavior that violates eBay's agreements and policies," PWCC said in a statement. "PWCC goes to great lengths to ensure that its employees follow eBay's rules and PWCC employees do not have access to eBay's bidding records or information."
PWCC had more than 17,000 auction listings on eBay on Tuesday, but those auctions were taken down by Tuesday night.
PWCC said it was considering legal action in response to "eBay's defamatory press release and its bad-faith action to restrict PWCC's privileges on eBay."
"PWCC has only just learned of these allegations and eBay has refused to share any details supporting its allegations," PWCC's statement said. "Despite eBay's unwillingness to explain its claims, PWCC will continue to conduct its own internal review to ensure that its employees have not violated eBay's rules."
PWCC says it was already in the process of moving its business away from eBay because of "eBay's increasingly competing interests."
"Today's unilateral action by eBay simply hastens PWCC's move to its new platform," PWCC's statement said. PWCC said its new platform will be live on its website soon.
PWCC recently started a monthly Premier Auction on its own website and said Tuesday that auction will continue through its Aug. 21 closing date. A new auction will open on Sept. 1.
PWCC also owns the PWCC Vault, which stores millions of dollars worth of high-end sports cards for collectors and investors.
The company has also brokered sales of some of the highest-selling sports cards in the industry, including the 1952 Mickey Mantle card that set an all-time record at $5.2 million in January and the 2003-04 LeBron James rookie card that matched that mark.
It recently sold a 1/1 Patrick Mahomes rookie card for $4.3 million, a record for the highest-selling football card of all-time.