On Wednesday, eBay filed a lawsuit against Amazon alleging that the online giant infiltrated its messaging system to poach sellers. The lawsuit alleges that around 50 Amazon employees signed up for eBay accounts and messaged other retailers in an effort to get them to sell their products on Amazon instead.
According to the suit, Amazon employees would spell out their email addresses or ask eBay sellers to call on the phone in order to avoid detection. To make matters worse, Amazon representatives didn’t buy, sell or bid on anything with the accounts they created. One Amazon representative even wrote to a merchant saying “they don’t exactly like us poking around. Honestly, the easiest way to communicate about this would be on the phone.”
eBay is claiming that the “coordinated campaign” violated its user agreement policies. The user agreement strictly prohibits eBay members from using the messaging system to solicit merchants to sell on other platforms. It also bans members from exchanging personal information such as phone numbers, etc.
Because of this, eBay is demanding an end to the unlawful activity and an unspecified payment for damages
Apparently, the infiltration has been going on for years, but eBay only discovered it a few weeks ago. At that point, they issued a cease-and-desist letter to Amazon.
Third-party sellers make up 100% of eBays business, while Amazon has recently seen a huge boost from this sector. Last year, for the first time in the companies history, more than half of the items sold on Amazon were from third-party sellers. The question is, did Amazon see this boost in third-party business by crossing legal lines?
Amazon has yet to respond to the claims, only saying that they are investigating.