No Credit Card? No Problem — EBay Is Now Going After The Under 18 Crowd

Kids under 18 are all over the Internet — Facebooking, Twittering and generally being on top of all things technological — but one big thing they’re not allowed to do on the Word Wide Web? Shop. Teens without credit cards have prevented retailers from carving out a definite piece of the money pie in that market, but eBay is planning to change all of that soon.

The company will likely soon allow consumers under 18 to set up accounts and shop on sites for things like vintage T-shirts, jewelry, school supplies or other products, Devin Wenig, eBay’s president of global marketplaces told The Wall Street Journal.

Of course, parents are going to have to have a handle on things and give those teens permission to set up an account in the first place. There will also be some items deemed as strictly for adults, that younger users won’t be allowed to view or buy.

“We’re definitely looking at ways to legitimately bring younger people in,” Wenig. “We wouldn’t allow a 15-year-old unfettered access to the site. We would want a parent, an adult as a ride-along.”

The new accounts could arrive within the next nine months, as plenty of other companies are also throwing their weights into tapping into such a desirable demographic. Makes sense — kids spend a lot of time on the Internet and know better than their parents how to do just about anything tech related.

And that tech savvy means plenty of kids are probably already buying stuff on eBay while pretending they’re over 18, which eBay realizes. It just wants to get numbers on how old its consumers are, hence, the new accounts.

“We’d like to peel back some of the anonymity,” said Wenig.

EBay to Target Under-18 Set [Wall Street Journal]


Edit Your Comment

  1. anchorworm is really sick of Minnesota weather says:

    My first thought was “this can not end well.” After thinking about it a little bit, however, it seems like a pretty good idea. We know that teens are on there already, so I don’t see it as having much of an effect.

  2. DaveInBillsburg says:

    Don’t see this as any different than if the parents add their children to their credit cards. Since eBay is putting responsibility of setting up accounts on the parents it shouldn’t be an issue. As long as used Bucky Ball toys are tagged in the “adult” only section, we should be OK.

  3. Duffin (Ain't This Kitty Cute?) says:

    Um…is there a reason why a parent couldn’t just…you know…buy the item for the child? It’s not like the kid’s going to have money for whatever it is they want to get. And, if they do, it probably came from the parent to begin with.

    • digitlmusician07 says:

      Most highschool aged kids work part-time jobs for some extra money here and there. Not all of them want to spend it “social activities”.

  4. incident-man stole my avatar says:

    this will not end well for sellers after the kid buys 6 Ipads for his/her friends and the parents want their money back… Paypal will give the buyer back their money because the buyer was under 18 and not able to enter into a contract

    • 180CS says:

      The kids contract might be worth snot, but section 4096 paragraph 1024 line 3049 of the *parents* contract will undoubtedly hold them responsible for anything their child does on the account. Not much different from a parent cosigning a credit card for a minor.

  5. The Colonel says:

    I thought e-bay closed 6 years ago or something.

  6. consumerd says:

    I guess ebay is good for kids, I only shop them for parts to repair pc’s now.

  7. 180CS says:

    “We wouldn’t allow a 15-year-old unfettered access to the site.”

    You did when I (and my friends) where 15. You’re just actively going to advertise to parents now. It was as easy as ‘mistyping’ your birth year on an alcoholic/M-rated video game website.

    • Rexy does not like the new system says:

      This. I signed up for an eBay account when I was 13. My parents later shut the account down, but there’s just simply no age verification at all.

  8. legotech says:

    Of course they are going after the under 18 set, those are the only people left on the planet who haven’t been ripped off either as a buyer by a ripoff seller or as a seller by eBay and Paypal folding to a ripoff buyer

  9. Rick Sphinx says:

    Don’t believe for a minute when eBay says “It just wants to get numbers on how old its consumers are, hence, the new accounts”. Like in the past, they have ulterier motives.
    Since eBay now make sellers upload shipment tracking within 24 hours, they are encouraging users to use their FREE Postal software (as it’s easeir to use Ebay rather than a 3rd party and then have to upload or copy/paste tracking up to eBay)….lets see how long it takes for eBay to either buy, or put out of business; at that point, eBay will start to charge a fee for using the postal service via eBay. Mark my words! It will happen, and like I always say….”eBay sucks!”

    • incident-man stole my avatar says:

      a few years ago eBay’s postal software failed for 2 plus weeks and they suggested everybody use so I thought thet already owned it

  10. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    I believe I’d entrust my child to a Catholic church group run by Jerry Sandusky before I’d do so to eBay/PayPal.

  11. Lgal says:

    I think I was 11 when I first bought something on ebay – back when money orders were allowed. My dad made an account and it was basically a family account used by my brother and I for years – my dad really didn’t know what buying on ebay even entailed. I am wondering how they are going to let kids without their own bank accounts/credit cards buy things because they only allow paypal for payment. Using a parent’s payment account could be tricky because that could potentially give them access to unlimited buying power.

  12. XTREME TOW says:

    I have seen many teens (and possibly younger) using debit cards that can be used the same as credit cards, purchasing items at grocery stores and retailers. There is little to stop them from opening their own E-Bay accounts. Many will use the experience to grow up to be responsible adults; provided their parents are responsible enough to TEACH THEM to be responsible.
    Interesting article, for a “Non-Issue”.

  13. Lt. Coke says:

    I created my ebay account when I was 14 or 15. That was ~7 years ago, and yeah, I still use it.

  14. PhilipCohen says:

    eBay accounts for under-18s …

    This is simply another demonstration of eBay’s utter desperation for revenue; after all, they can’t keep “lowering” the fees payable by merchants; and that’s apart from the fact that any contract entered into directly with such minors is unenforceable …

    I suspect that even Wall Street will get a laugh out of this latest nonsense from the headless turkeys running around in circles, bumping into each other, in the eBay Dept of Spin; that is, when they aren’t furiously peddling the hot air machine …

    Regardless, best the under-18s be first taught how to recognise the unscrupulous shill bidding sellers that eBay has knowingly “kitted out” to prey on them …

    “Shill Bidding Fraud on eBay Auctions: Case Study #5”

    eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking

  15. sherrasama says:

    Or, you know, do like me when I was 13-18 and memorize your mother’s credit card info *shifty eyes*

    …on that note, 27 year old me says: sorry mom

  16. ancientone567 says:

    I think I remember a law that says under 18 cannot enter into a contract. Since a bid is a contract how do they get around that?

  17. RoguePisigit says:

    “We’re definitely looking at ways to legitimately bring younger people in,” Wenig. “We wouldn’t allow a 15-year-old unfettered access to the site. We would want a parent, an adult as a ride-along.”

    This made me laugh. When I was 15 (back when eBay didn’t require a PayPal account and sellers could accept mailed checks), I bought used CDs at Record Exchange when I saw a good deal and sold them for a profit on eBay (John Mayer’s debut album was my biggest win). My parents and I never would have thought about me needing a “ride-along.” And this was only 12 years ago, not entirely back in the dark ages.

  18. Press1forDialTone says:

    What could possibly go wrong with this thinly veiled
    example to corporate greed? And will children no less.
    The first thing the parents will need is a really good lawyer
    who has a knack with class-action suits….

  19. thomwithanh says:

    I opened my first eBay account back in 2002 when I was 16… dumped them both last year when PayPal started holding all my incoming payments for 30 days without any explanation.

    That said, I remember hearing through the grapevine a few months ago that either PayPal or eBay (can’t remember which) was going to start requiring 3rd party verification (i.e. a positive match on a credit check) for all new accounts, and then retroactively to current accounts as well. I’m assuming that never actually materialized?

  20. Rocket says:

    Step 1. Pretend to be 18, and make eBay account
    Step 2. Go to 7-11 (or similar store) and buy pre-paid debit card
    Step 3: ???
    Step 4. Buy stuff on eBay.

    This is what I did as a kid. It’s super easy for kids to buy stuff online. Pre-paid debit cards; problem solved.

  21. PhilipCohen says:

    Things are getting really desperate at eBay; but even more interesting will be the unenforceable contractual arrangements …

    And, if anyone wants a demonstration of the utter unscrupulousness, indeed criminality, of eBay …

    “Shill Bidding Fraud on eBay: Case Study #5”

    eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking