Auction site spells the end for tarot readings, fortune telling and spell-casting offers
Ebay is to ban listings for all fortune-telling and witchcraft-related services from the end of this month.
In September, all listings for services such as tarot card readings, spells, blessings or curses must be removed. The decision is not all hocus pocus as far as Ebay is concerned. The online auction site has told us that unsurprisingly it finds "transactions in these categories often result in issues that can be difficult to resolve."
Although Ebay would not be held liable, there are legal barriers to listing such services. The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 introduced tough new laws dealing with so-called psychics. This Act replaced the Fraudulent Mediums Act 1951, which in turn had repealed the Witchcraft Act of 1735.
This law states that people offering these services must use a disclaimer, such as "this service is only for entertainment purposes" or "this is a scientific experiment, the results of which cannot be guaranteed".
However, few disclaimers appear on any Ebay listings we have seen and Ebay said people who persistently list these services once the category has been removed would have their Ebay account suspended.
Michael Marshall of the Merseyside Skeptics Society told us: "This is a good thing for consumer protection. While there are many people who do see these services as just a bit of fun, there are also many who do genuinely believe what they are told.
"If they take drastic action based on spurious advice it can have a devastating effect on their life, as well as costing them hundreds of pounds."
However, the move isn't universally popular. A petition titled 'don't ban our psychics on Ebay' has been set up which several clients and sellers of these services have already signed. We asked a seller of these services on Ebay if he considered the ban unfair.
"I have a lot of clients who are not happy about this, but I actually think it's a good thing and will protect customers. There are a lot of sellers on here who are not genuine and just out to make money. I can see that they would have made life difficult for Ebay because of disputes," said the seller, who asked to remain anonymous.
"Psychics like me are here to help people. I don't make promises I can't keep, but if someone is really unhappy with their service I have given a refund in the past.
"There are also psychics selling spells and readings on here that make life difficult for those of us who are genuine and for people to find us. These sellers come to us for readings or to cast a spell but leave feedback that makes it look as if they haven't received a good service.
"They also get people to leave good feedback for them so they rank higher in terms of customer satisfaction, " he added.
And the current ban may only be upheld for a short spell. The seller we spoke to forwarded us an email he had recieved from Ebay showing these services may be allowed again at some point.
"I would like to advise you [the seller] that for the meantime there is no category yet to be replaced for those kind of listings, however our relevant team is still looking on it," Ebay wrote.Image: Shutterstock
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