Online auctions as popular as never before

Private auctions and small advertisements on the internet are as popular as never before. In the year 2006 there were 12 million Germans aged between 16 and 74 years who used the internet in order to sell goods or services. Thus, one in five people of this age bracket is an online-seller. Compared to previous years there was a strong increase in this context. In the year 2004 the number of online-sellers amounted to just 9 million (14%) in Germany. The German Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (BITKOM) forecasts at least 13 million private online sellers for 2007.

The enthusiasm for private online sales, however, is not yet that strong in the others EU member states. Germany was leading in Europe in this respect in the years 2002, 2004 and 2006. While in Germany 20% of people aged between 16 and 74 offered goods and services on the internet, the EU average amounts to just 9%. In second place are the Netherlands (18%), followed by Denmark (17%). In Greece and Rumania private online sales did not exist at all in 2006 with the percentage amounting to zero percent.

In general online sellers ought to know their rights. Therefore BITKOM have come up with three tips which are most important:

•Cancellation and return: private individuals do not have to grant neither the right of cancellation nor return to buyers. Only commercial sellers are obliged to take goods back within a certain period of time without any reasons given. However, it is possible for private online-sellers to grant such a right voluntarily.

•Implied warranty: furthermore private individuals may rule out implied warranty. In this context it would be sufficient to indicate »The article is sold to the exclusion of any kind of warranty«. Otherwise the seller would be liable to a statements such as a car consuming 8 litres of petrol per 100 kilometres. The exclusion of warranty is ineffective in the case of fraudulent non-disclosure of defects or false declarations.

•Copyright: when offering an article copyrights must not be infringed. If for instance a seller offers a car, no official pictures by the car manufacturer should be used, but self-made pictures by the seller. Otherwise the car manufacturer could claim compensation. GERMAN