EBay Bans Supernatural Goods And Services

Sep 6, 2012
Originally published on September 6, 2012 5:09 pm
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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel. Since eBay emerged back in 1995, countless small businesses have used the website to sell or auction off their wares. But now, there are new restrictions. As we hear from NPR's Mandalit del Barco, tarot card readers, spell casters and psychics will no longer be able to use eBay to peddle what are known as metaphysical services.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: Debra Haney has been making a living on eBay as a medium and an herbalist. She sells pagan ritual oils, such as her special voodoo flying ointment.

DEBRA HANEY: You apply it to the armpit area, and you go, and you meditate. And it is to do with astral traveling, which is outer body experiences.

BARCO: The 45-year-old Texan goes by the name Willow Witch.

HANEY: I'm a good witch, though.


BARCO: She says she and her customers are devastated and outraged by eBay's new policy to eliminate the metaphysical subcategory from its listings. So you're a diviner. You didn't see this coming?



HANEY: I didn't see this coming. I wish I had. It wouldn't have took my breath away so much.

BARCO: EBay would not give NPR an interview, but an official pronouncement from the online auction and shopping website says transactions often result in issues that can be difficult to resolve. Ina Steiner of ECommerceBytes says that could mean love spells that don't work or unwanted prophesies.

INA STEINER: They have to tell the buyer, oh, you didn't win the lottery because you bought this spell? Well, I'm sorry. There's nothing we can do about it, and the buyer will say but all over your website it says buyer protection.

BARCO: Steiner says eBay will no longer allow things like spells because they're intangible.

STEINER: They don't really know if you've gotten an intangible good. If it's an item that you send in the mail, they can look at the records and see, oh, well, the seller did ship out the item, and it was delivered.

BARCO: Lady Jessika Lynn, a psychic in Florida, will still be able to sell crystals, gems, pendulums, candles and goddess cards since these are more tangible goods that the website can track, but she'll no longer be able to channel spirit messages from the beyond via eBay.

LADY JESSIKA LYNN: I must have known somehow because I went ahead before it happened and started my own website. I was ready to go.


BARCO: And Lady Jessika has a vision of the future.

LYNN: I think, in about three years, eBay is going to reopen this channel. They're weeding out the ones - is what I'm seeing here - the ones that are not authentic, who claim they're psychic and they're not.

BARCO: But as for finding magic on eBay, it's now you see it, now you don't. Mandalit del Barco, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.