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Customers need to pack PayPal, credit/debit cards

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Just when you think eBay is done infuriating longtime users across the world, the auction site keeps cranking out the hits.

You almost have to admire the steadfast dedication – that ability to bear 'mid now and ice, a banner with the strange device; Excelsior!

Or something to that Longfellowian effect. Point is, the bitter tears of eBay users must taste like candy to the company's board members.

This July, eBay Australia was forced to ditch its massively unpopular attempt to force virtually all payments through its subsidiary, PayPal. Not only did the policy change fuel outrage in its most established users, it even prompted Australian regulators to begin an anti-competition investigation.

Not a huge success, in other words. But eBay dutifully learned its lesson and will attempt to create a more open environ...

Just kidding. eBay now plans to ban checks and money orders as payment methods in the US. The news comes out of an FAQ update listing the change under "a more consistent buyer experience to drive more sales."

Beginning "late October 2008," checks and money orders will no longer be allowed as payment methods on eBay.com. Items can only be paid for using PayPal, Credit or debit, ProPay, or Payment upon pickup. The only exceptions to the policy change are vehicles, enterprise equipment, real estate, and "mature audiences" items.

ebay says the change will benefit sellers by providing a "consistent, more secure checkout experience." It reasons such a thing will increase buyer confidence, which will result in more sales.

The company is also now rather blunt about its policy towards third-party payment services. "Is eBay planning to eliminate third-party checkout?" the company asks itself. "Yes," it answers. "Ultimately it's eBay's goal to have buyers always pay for their purchases within the secure confines of eBay."

As for Google Checkout and Checkout by Amazon specifically:

"Google's and Amazon's products and services compete with eBay on a number of levels, so we are not going to allow them on eBay."

Although killing cash and check payments may eliminate some cases of fraud as eBay claims, it's undoubtedly no coincidence that thrusting PayPal upon users is good for the site's margins.

Not that it's a crime to make a buck – but restricting payment options is certainly an unusual way to improve a company's image. Or maybe it doesn't care.

For eBay's next act, it will drown cats. ®

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