Trust & Safety Blog

Trade Me announces Code of Animal Welfare for Cats and Dog

We’ve announced the first in a range of measures to promote improved animal welfare when cats and dogs are listed on Trade Me. There are a few moving parts to this, but it will include a new Code of Animal Welfare, a listing cap for sellers which will come into effect on 23 July 2015 as well as some changes to the listing process which will be introduced over the coming weeks and months.

Rehoming Cats and Dogs on Trade Me

Over the last wee while we have been making incremental improvements to the way cat and dog listings are created on Trade Me.

As part of these improvements we have made a change to the category structure in both the Cats and Dogs categories. Instead of one category for each type of animal, members now have a choice of browsing for cats or dogs to buy, or cats or dogs to adopt.

The category changes don’t affect the way search works, so if you search for a for a Chihuahua, you will get results from both categories if you want.

The cats or dogs to buy categories are pretty much the same as the previous categories. The cats and dogs to adopt categories are a bit different and it’s worth us running through some of the details.

Cats and dogs to adopt

Up until now, if you had a dog to rehome you could list the animal on Trade Me for free and we would leave it up there until you indicated the animal was happily with a new owner. This was not the same for cats, where there was a small listing fee.

This worked well for individual owners who may need to rehome an individual pet on a one-off basis, but wasn’t so great for heaps of the organisations out there doing great work in the community to rescue and rehome cats and dogs.

The result of the changes we are making mean that there will now be a specific category purposed for people who want to rehome their cat or dog. It will be free to list an animal in this category if you meet the either or both of the following criteria:

  1. You do not charge anything for rehoming the animal – eg: it is free to a good home; or
  2. You are an approved organisation and the fee you are charging is reasonably necessary to recover the cost associated with finding the animal a new home.

Please note that if you are not an approved organisation you will not be able to charge any fee in exchange for rehoming your cat or dog.

Why are we insisting on organisations being approved?

The changes that Trade Me is introducing in the cats and dogs categories are focussed first and foremost on the welfare of animals. While there are a lot of well-meaning people out there who love animals, they are not necessarily all capable, suitable or resourced to rescue and rehome animals in significant numbers.

We also want to guard against commercial breeders taking advantage of free listings to sell animals they have bred.

Many welfare organisations incur significant costs in rescuing animals. The requirement that animals in the dogs or cats to adopt categories need to be listed for free would not be sustainable for these organisations due to the quantity of animals they care for prior to adoption.  We wanted to change the way we approach adoption listings so that approved rescue organisations can charge a reasonable fee to cover their costs (these costs could include medical expenses for the animal, de-sexing and microchipping), but still allow these listings to be advertised in the Adoption category at no cost to the rescue organisation.

To that end, we have published a whitelist of approved organisations. If an organisation is not on this list, it can still list an animal for free in the adoption category, however it will not be able to charge a fee for that animal, either in the listing, or when the buyer turns up to collect it. Trade Me will be actively be monitoring compliance in this area.

Who is an approved organisation and how do I apply?

To become an approved organisation, you will need to get in touch with Trade Me and show us the following:

  • Your status as a registered charity or local Government agency (like a pound);
  • Provide some background on your organisation;
  • Indicate how you structure the price you charge for rehoming and what this covers.

If you are interested in applying, flick us an email through your membership or email us at charities@trademe.co.nz

To view a list of approved agencies click here.

Trade Me's 2015 Transparency Report

Like many NZ-based companies, we receive enquiries for information from NZ government agencies to assist them with their responsibilities to maintain the law.

We've put together our third 'Trade Me Transparency Report' to give insight into how we work with government agencies to help keep our website trusted and safe.

The Trade Me 2015 Transparency Report.

This transparency report details the number of enquiries from government agencies for information from us in the year from 1 July 2014 to 1 June 2015 as well as a whole lot of other detail we think you should know about.

You can also read our 2014 Transparency Report here and the 2013 Transpency report here if you're interested.

What to do if we ask you for a verification reference

Trade Me works hard to provide everyone with a safe and trusted marketplace – part of this is the fraud prevention service we run if you pay for something by credit card using the Pay Now feature.

If you’ve gone on a little spending spree with a credit card on the site, or bought something kind of expensive, you may get an email from us asking for a verification reference. This is a standard check we run to ensure that the credit card holder has authorised the transaction.

So how does it work, and what do you need to do?

Once a purchase has been made through Pay Now, the funds come off the card and into a holding account with Trade Me before we send it off to the seller. We’ll put a randomly generated, four-character, alphanumeric reference onto your credit card statement, followed by TRADE ME PAY NOW. It shows up in the purchase details for the transaction, like this: 

‘XXXX’ TRADE ME PAY NOW

Verificaton

Some banks may cut some of the characters off (like the example above), so we’ve put the most important information, the verification code, first.

How does this protect me?

Naturally we take credit card fraud very seriously, and if we don’t quite have enough information to be sure that a transaction is authorised – for example if you’re a brand new member, or your mate Kev is buying something on your account – we may pause the payment and request that you provide the reference from your credit card statement. Someone who has stolen or found your card is unlikely to have access to your credit card statement, so when you’re able to provide us with the reference, this tells us that you are you.

At the same time, the seller will also get an email asking them to kindly hold off on releasing the goods while we check it out.

While this does add an extra step in the process, we feel the benefits of these checks are worth it. Think about it this way – imagine your card gets stolen and is used to buy the latest iPhone, or even if someone buys your iPhone with a stolen card. It’s a pretty unpleasant outcome either way.

Having a process like this enables us to provide a number of assurances to both buyers and sellers, over and above what are generally offered online.

 How do I get the reference?

Most of the time it’s as simple as logging on to your internet banking and having a look at your credit card statement. However, with some banks there may be a day or two before this information is displayed on your statement. If that’s the case, it’s best to contact the bank directly.

What if the bank doesn't know what I'm talking about, or can't see the reference?

This rarely happens but we do have a backup plan if it does. Ask the bank for the authorisation code. This is bank-speak for a six-digit code that’s hidden on every credit card transaction which we’ll also be able to use to verify the payment. The banker will be able to provide this code in any case, and will be impressed you speak their language so well.

You've asked for the reference - where do I put it?

Give it to us! You can pop it to us in an email, but the best way to do this is to give us a quick call – just use the number we sent in our email. Our Policing team work 24/7, so any time is good to call. If you’re up at 3am for a late-night snack and some casual internet banking and happen to spot the reference, we’ll be here to take your call.

If the reference or authorisation code match up with what we have in our system, we’ll put the transaction through right away and let the seller know that the items are all good to send out.

If we’re not able to contact you after a few days, we’ll refund the money back to the card used for the transaction. So even if you’re having trouble finding the reference, let us know! We can hold the payment for another few days until you retrieve it.

Do I have to do this everytime a new iPhone comes out?

It’s highly unlikely we will ask for this reference multiple times. If you’ve supplied it once, we probably won’t ask for it again. That said, keep an eye on your emails after a purchase, just in case we do get in touch again.

As usual, please contact us if you have any problems, concerns or queries – we’re always happy to help.

Concerned about a member, listing or both? Let us know

Trade Me is a big place. On any given day, there are millions of live listings and part of our job is to help ensure our members stay safe.

With such a large amount of listings, we always appreciate it when members let us know they think something’s off. Perhaps you’ve spotted a non-NZ plug on an item, or can see that someone has placed their contact details in the Q&A, exposing themselves to risk from scammers. The best thing you can do is let us know through this link here:

Community Watch

On some pages that have had a refresh, it looks like this:

Community Watch 2

You’ll find this link at the bottom of any listing page, and your report will be directed straight to our site policing team who operate 24/7.

What do you need to know?

Although we try our best to be experts in everything, there is only so much we can know. Sometimes our community will be better informed than us in areas that relate to their interests or occupations. In all cases, please be specific. It’s often impossible to take the correct action on a complaint that is vague or can’t be backed up.

Specific things that are great for us:

Links to information about the safety standards, laws, regulations that you believe have been broken.

Specific wording that worries you. If you’re letting us know that you think a listing might be disingenuous or scammy, letting us know what led you to this conclusion helps us take effective action quicker.

Guides or examples from a third party. This is particularly helpful when it comes to copyright infringement or concerns that an animal might be protected from trade.

Be comprehensive. This isn’t as necessary when letting us know that contact details have been placed, but if you’re reporting something like shill bidding, it’s really helpful to let us know which member you think might be in cahoots, and why.

I reported a listing – what have you done?

Due to the Privacy Act, we cannot disclose the action taken on another member’s account – it would be breaching their privacy. However, that doesn’t mean we aren’t taking action. We send emails, update files, refer to specialists, edit listings and call members – we promise that each and every listing reported through the Community Watch function is read by an actual human being who researches matters and takes action in line with our site policies.

Why do you need my help?

It’s not unusual for 10 listings to go live on the site every second. Even if we had a fleet of battleships filled to the brink with staff on laptops looking at new listings, we wouldn’t be able to check each new listing before it went live on our site. Because of this, we really appreciate members who care about our community and get in touch to let us know when they think something might be wrong – it helps us, it helps others, and most of all, it helps Trade Me remain that great, safe place to buy and sell.

Sale of tickets on Trade Me and scalping

Tickets

We’ve been asked about the secondary ticket market or ticket scalping regularly over the years. We did a blog post about it back in 2012 too. We thought it’d be useful to set out the answers to the questions we often get asked about this issue.

Why does this sort of thing happen?

We think it is simply supply and demand. Sometimes there is high demand for event tickets which are limited in supply. It’s inevitable that this scarcity will give rise to a secondary market, and those willing to pay more will have the opportunity to get a ticket.

It’s worth noting that only a very small percentage of available tickets end up on Trade Me (well less than 1 per cent), so it is often a storm in a teacup – albeit a pretty emotional storm for some.

For us it’s a balancing act - we think it sucks if genuine fans aren't getting their mitts on tickets when they are made available, for whatever reason. However, on the flipside, Trade Me provides fans who missed out with an alternative avenue for getting along to an event in a pure and transparent market.

At the end of the day these are trades between a willing buyer and a willing seller and the prices are simply market forces at work.

 Is ticket scalping legal?

Usually, yes. For the vast majority of events people are allowed to on-sell legitimate tickets, so Trade Me’s position is that we allow them to be sold. It is impossible for us to enforce the terms and conditions of a third party like a ticketing agency for example, as we don’t have oversight of how the tickets were originally acquired. 

The only law preventing ticket selling in New Zealand is when an event falls under the Major Events Management Act. Most events are not one of the so called 'major events' under the Major Events Management Act so there is rarely a prohibition on stopping people selling tickets at prices higher than at face value.

Note too that if it became illegal to scalp tickets in NZ then these items would automatically breach our terms and would be removed as we don’t allow anything that is illegal to be sold on Trade Me.

Examples of MEMA events include Rugby World Cup 2011, Cricket World Cup 2015, U19 Cricket World Cup 2010, World Rowing Championships 2010, FIBA U19 World Championship 2009, FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup 2008, Triathlon World Championship Grand Final 2012.

Is ticket scalping moral and ethical?

In terms of the moral position, that is a really tricky one to navigate. It’s a subjective thing. The reasons for sale can vary from one person to another and we’re not into making moral judgements about members – it’s unworkable for us to try and navigate whether Person A’s reason for selling the ticket is OK (e.g. can’t get a flight, broke my leg, my mate and I doubled up, the ticketing website stuffed up) and Person B’s reason is not (e.g. opportunism).

What rules does Trade Me impose?

One thing we do seek is “proof of goods” - we only allow people to sell tickets they have in their possession so sellers are regularly asked to prove that they have the tickets. If a seller does not have the ticket, or is unable to provide us proof of that ticket, the listing will be removed and the seller cannot relist the ticket until they can provide us proof that they have it.

Also, where promoters or event organisers show they have cancelled specific tickets (or where personal ID may be required with the ticket itself to gain entry to the event), we will remove them from the site as we don’t want members purchasing tickets they can’t use – that ends up being a pretty crappy buying experience. We hate seeing innocent buyers caught up in disputes between ticket companies and sellers.

No personally identifiable details may be included on ticket listings. This includes seat numbers, full names and so on. A general indication of where the seats are is fine, but displaying full details of your ticket online can make you a target for scammers.

If a ticket is ‘restricted viewing’ in that the performance is obscured on some way, this must be stated in the body of the listing.

We don’t let sellers list tickets to events which are subject to the Major Events Management Act 2007.

Why can’t Trade Me make a rule that says a seller can’t charge more than the face value of the ticket?

That sounds great in principle, but the practicalities are tricky as we don’t know what each person paid for the ticket initially. There are also some meaty legal implications of imposing restrictions around price, and getting in the way of the market working.

It’d also be pretty hypocritical for us to step in to regulate the pricing around event tickets but not around everything else on site from toys to trains to trampolines to toilet brushes.

Does Trade Me make heaps of money from secondary tickets?

No, financially, second-hand tickets are a tiny money-spinner for Trade Me. Revenue is not a factor or part of the decision to allow tickets to be sold. It’s worth noting tickets to most events are often sold at bargain prices on Trade Me – there is a huge audience and sometimes people’s plans change and they are left with a ticket they can no longer use, so Trade Me is a great way for them to recover a little bit of money and ensure someone who wants to attend gets the ticket.

What can be done to stop it happening?

It’s almost inevitable that there will always be a secondary ticket market for popular events where demand for tickets outstrips the number of tickets that are available.

One alternative is for the onselling of tickets to be restricted by the Government, either under the Major Events Management Act or some other form of regulation.

It can also be minimised. Over the years, we’ve seen promoters do a range of things to control the distribution of tickets including priority allocations, requiring identification to be presented at the entrance to the event, official secondary markets, selling tickets onsite to counter the scalpers, restricting the number of tickets that can be sold to any one person and not distributing tickets until close to the start of the event. It is fair to say that some promoters and event organisers put more effort into this sort of thing than others!

What should I be aware of if I am a buyer?

If you’re a ticket buyer, we recommend taking all the normal precautions. Assess the seller’s feedback on the site and make sure they are address verified. And of course, hit the Community Watch badge to bring any listing that is of concern to the attention of our staff (who are available 24/7/365) so they can take a look and act as necessary.

If tickets are of a particularly high value, we’d also suggest members use SafeTrader.

If you have a concern about the integrity of a listing on the site, please use the Community Watch function to let us know. It’s found at the bottom of every listing.

Where can I read more about this?

There is some more information about tickets on the Ministry of Consumer Affairs website, the Consumer NZ website and our team’s 2012 blog post is here

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