Some of the highlights from the auction site’s UK life so far.
In October 2012, an investigation by the Sunday Times reported that eBay was paying a significantly lower tax rate than expected, with just £1.2m paid on over £800m of sales in the country in 2010. This revelation led to widespread outrage and protest against the company, especially as it came shortly after similar stories concerning Starbucks, Amazon and Facebook shirking their UK tax responsibilities.
Despite the site saying it complied fully with all applicable tax laws, public perception was hit hard, with all the businesses involved seeing both a drop-off of UK custom and a much higher amount of attention from the authorities.
As mentioned above, eBay has had to cope with some unusual, and in some cases, controversial, goods in its history. But alongside supposedly obvious items forbidden on the site such as radioactive material, human body parts and any goods from Cuba, Iran or North Korea, several other items stand out in its UK history.
The unusual items keep on coming, as in June, the site had to reject the listing of a Mercedes Benz, once owned by Nazi chief Hermann Goering, as part of its policy to prohibit the sale of "offensive materials and content", which includes listings that promote or glorify hatred, violence or racial, sexual or religious intolerance.
The site has also had to deal with its fair share of fraud, as sellers take advantage of the shortcomings (or naivety) of eBay’s customers – take for example the Nottinghamshire teenager who paid £450 for a picture of an Xbox One console last December, or the Worcester woman convicted of selling over 65,000 fake goods to shoppers in February.
2014 Database Hack
Both eBay and PayPal have been popular targets for hackers over the years, as criminals look to get their hands on the payment details of the millions of shoppers using the site every day. Despite the firm investing heavily in security, eBay suffered a damaging blow in May 2014 when the details of over 220m customer accounts were stolen in one of the biggest cybercriminal attacks of all time.
The company’s database, containing encrypted passwords as well as names, email addresses, physical addresses and phone numbers, was compromised in the attack, which took place sometime between late February and early March and was claimed by hacktivist group the Syrian Electronic Army.
The hack has long-ranging effects, as a YouGov poll carried out shortly after the attack found that half of adults said they would be less inclined to use eBay in the future, although only a third of users changed their passwords.