EBay sellers pushed to get auctioneer licenses

In an absurd extension of state power, the Board of Auctioneer Examiners in the State Department is trying to shut down EBay sellers (those selling on behalf on others). See Patriot-News story. One case in point:

Pletz said her daughter, Julia, was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor when she was 6 months old. Pletz, a dental hygienist, quit her job to care for Julia. For at-home work, Pletz started selling other people’s furniture, clothing and antiques on eBay.

By last Christmas, she had sold 10,000 items. A few days after the holiday, she said, a representative from the Department of State came to her house and told her she was breaking the law.

Pletz has shut down her business and faces action by the auctioneer examiners board. She said she and her attorney have been unable to determine whether her potential fine is a flat $1,000, or $1,000 for each item she sold — meaning a fine of $10 million.

Related news story here.

For anyone who believes this is about protecting consumers from fraudulent auctioneers (even though none of the EBays sellers they are pursuing is accused of fraud) rather than simple rent-seeking, ask yourself this – what do you put more stock in, an “auctioneer’s license” or a high EBay rating.

For more on professional licensure, read Reason Foundation report on occupational licensing and Stephen Albert’s commentary on the burden of regulation.