“We can confirm that we have uncovered an unlawful and troubling scheme on the part of Amazon to solicit eBay sellers to move to Amazon’s platform,” an eBay spokesperson said in a statement, according to The Wall Street Journal. “We have demanded that Amazon end its unlawful activity and will take the appropriate steps, as needed, to protect eBay.”
As a result, eBay sent a cease and desist order to Amazon on Monday (Oct. 1) after the company said it found evidence that the alleged scheme has been going on for years.
Although eBay’s user agreement prohibits using its messaging platform for trading, spamming and promoting sales outside its platform, the letter details how messages sent by Amazon sales reps frequently used hyphens or periods between letters to describe the rival company, including a-m-a-z-o-n or A.M.Z.N. They also spelled out email addresses and phone numbers to avoid detection.
An Amazon spokesperson said in a statement: “We are conducting a thorough investigation of these allegations.”
And while it might look like the two retailers are fierce rivals, eBay’s CEO Devin Wenig simply doesn’t see it that way. At the GeekWire Summit, Wenig said the market is big enough for both companies, and that he doesn’t even view Amazon as a direct competitor.
“I don’t want to compete with Amazon; I want to get as far away from Amazon as I can,” Wenig said. “I want us to stand for something fundamentally different. I want eBay to be a winner in discovery-based shopping. I want it to be a place where people think of first for the things they love, not just the things they need.”
“Sure, we compete,” he added. “We compete for buyers and sellers. Saying that I don’t want to compete doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen in the real world. I don’t want to compete because Amazon is a great company, and I want to build a great company, too. This isn’t about a ‘mano-a-mano’ competition. It’s about serving customers. I want to build a differentiated proposition for buyers and sellers. I don’t want us to be analogs of each other; I want eBay to be something different.