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.

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

Announcing the Code of Animal Welfare for Cats and Dogs

Nilla Cropped 2

Today we’re announcing the first in a range of measures to promote improved animal welfare when cats and dogs are listed on Trade Me. These measures will be introduced in stages over the coming weeks and months.

These measures recognise that unfortunately in amongst all the great breeders and sellers out there, there are also some who are less than responsible. Although it is not Trade Me's role to administer the Animal Welfare Act, we recognise that we have a role to play in promoting animal welfare and that we have needed to up our game in this area for some time... so here goes!

There are a few moving parts to this, but it will include a new code of animal welfare, a listing cap, category changes some changes to the listing process and the introduction of feedback on cat and dog listings.

A thank you to start

We have consulted widely on our policy changes over the past year, and have already made some incremental changes along the way. (This included things like better monitoring of animal listings and the development of the 7-point buyer checklist.)

We’d like to say thanks for the constructive contributions along the way from several organisations: The New Zealand Veterinary Association, the Ministry for Primary Industries, the RNZSPCA, Cat Fancy and SAFE.

What we do

We do heaps of work behind the scenes when it comes to animal welfare. We are animal lovers and if we find a breeder or animal carer has failed in their duty to care for their animals, we will take action. We’ve previously discussed how this works in practice and we’re not shy about taking action against Trade Me members who do not look after their animals properly.

We know that in real or suspected animal welfare cases, emotions tend to run high, and while our primary concern is to ensure that animals are not maltreated, we need to be fair and act on reliable evidence rather than unsubstantiated allegations or sweeping assumptions.

We see our fair share of inaccurate reports of animal abuse to Trade Me. For example, prime condition working dogs are often confused with undernourished dogs. That said, if you strongly suspect any maltreatment of animals, please let us know by using the Community Watch button on the bottom of every listing. 

The new policy

 1.      The Code of Animal Welfare

We’ve been working on this for a while, but we think it’s important to take time to work through the issues, consult the right people and do it thoroughly. We understand regulations being developed by the Government that directly address issues like irresponsible breeding are several years away, but that is no excuse for not acting now.

We also know many responsible breeders treat their animals with respect and provide the appropriate level of care. The Code of Animal Welfare we are introducing will allow those breeders to show this!

The code is voluntary for any breeder who lists cats or dogs on Trade Me. It’s fairly simple in practice, but it is significant. It is voluntary because such a code can not realistically cover all circumstances under which a sale or free rehoming of an animal may occur.

In a nutshell, the seller ticks a box in the listing process which confirms that the animal has been cared for in accordance with the Animal Welfare Code, has had a vet check, is wormed and de-flead as appropriate and is in good overall health. You can read the Code of Animal Welfare and the reasoning behind each part of it here.

Here’s how it will work:

  • Members who tick the box in the listing process are stating that they have taken clear steps to promote animal welfare. If that’s not the case, a misrepresentation has been made and they could be in breach of the Fair Trading Act and Trade Me's terms and conditions.
  • Members who say they have met the code but do not, may have their animal listing privileges removed, or could have their Trade Me memberships suspended.
  • If a Code-compliant listing is made, it will display appropriate wording in the listing body to reflect this. If the tick box is not selected, the listing will have wording which notes the Code has not been met.

Here's a more full discussion of how the Code and new policy changes work.

We believe this approach empowers buyers and means Trade Me members looking to purchase an animal are likely to look for listings where the animal has been raised in accordance with the Code. This should, in turn, raise the standard of animal welfare on Trade Me. Of course many animal sellers listing on Trade Me will currently comply with most or all of the Code, so they will have limited issues with this new policy. 

Trade Me's Code of Animal Welfare is being publicly released today so that sellers can familiarise themsleves with the requirements and make a decision about whether they want their listings to comply.

To give sellers the time to achieve compliance, the checkbox in the listing process will not be turned on for a few weeks.

 2.      Cap on number of litters and animals able to be listed

We are introducing a cap on the number of listings a membership can make in a 12 month period. Each membership will be able to list a maximum of five litters per year, or a total of 40 cats or dogs. This means a membership could list up to 40 dogs and 40 cats and no more than 5 litters of each type of animal per annum.

Combined with our new listing requirements (see below) including microchip number and vet documentation, we believe this will help ensure ‘bad egg’ breeders do not ply their trade on Trade Me.

Note that the cap will only apply where an animal is being sold. Animals that are being rehomed for free will not be subject to the cap (see below).

The cap will come into affect from 23 July 2015. Prior trading history will not be counted as part of the cap. 

 3.      New listing process

If you have ever listed a dog or cat on Trade Me you may have noticed that the listing process is pretty similar to what would happen if you were listing a heater, fridge or a plastic frog (rather than being specific to cats and dogs.) Obviously, there are some improvements we can make in the listing process to promote animal welfare and minimise the harm caused by irresponsible breeders.

Here are some of the things we are working on:

When listing a companion animal members will soon be offered three options:

  • Sell a single dog or cat; or
  • Sell a litter of puppies or kittens; or
  • Rehome puppies or kittens for free.

The listing process will require users to add additional information as follows:

  • birthdates for all animals listed;
  • microchip numbers (for dogs or the mother's number for puppies); and
  • the veterinary report (if the seller is Code compliant).

This will come into affect in a few weeks as soon as behind the scenes development is complete. 

Working dogs are not required to be subject to the Code.

Feedback on listings

Down the track, we also intend to do some work around whether a feedback mechanism for buyers and sellers of companion animals like cats and dogs can work.

At the moment, buyers are unable to place feedback on classified listings for companion animals. A classified listing is essentially an advertisement and the trade itself is completed outside of Trade Me. We only allow the sale of companion animals by classified so that the seller or the buyer can back out of the intended trade if they have concerns.

Making feedback available for animal trades is not as simple as it sounds. The trick is to find an efficient means of confirming that the person leaving the feedback is the person who bought the animal (an ‘open feedback’ system like we have for services listings will not work as it would be open to widespread abuse).

In the meantime, any concerns about sellers should be reported via the Community Watch button thats found at the bottom of every listing.

Promotional support for listing by approved animal welfare groups.

We recognise the fantastic effort that several animal welfare groups put into re-homing animals. These organisations can apply for free promotion of their listings for re-homed animals. All rehoming they do is fee-free and not subject to the cap. More detail will be announced in coming weeks on how to apply for this. 

-

If you're wondering who that lass in the photo is, she's Vanilla but better known as Nilla!

How the Code of Animal Welfare works in practice

Nilla Cropped

How the Code works in practice

On 11 June 2015 Trade Me announced a new approach to the sale of animals on the site. This saw the introduction of the Trade Me Code of Animal Welfare and changes to the listing process.  

On this page we’re giving you guidance on how the Code works in practice when you’re listing a dog or cat on Trade Me. For more on why the Code was introduced, check this page out.

Please note the Code will come into place in a few weeks. The Cap will be effective from 23 July 2014 and changes to the listing process will come when development work is finished. 

The listing process

The listing process has been revised to create the following distinctions to choose from:

  • sell your dog or cat
  • sell a litter of puppies or kittens
  • rehoming for free.

This will allow animals to be better categorised on the site.

For rehomed animals, no money should change hands. However, animal rehoming entities approved by Trade Me (such as the SPCA) may charge a cost recovery fee. This fee must not include a profit or donation component.

The Code of Animal Welfare tick box

The first point to note is that the Code of Animal Welfare is voluntary. While its aim is to help ensure positive animal welfare for animals traded through the site, it cannot cover every situation. For example, an animal which may have been rescued from a situation where it was being mistreated cannot be considered to have been raised and cared for in accordance with the Code of Animal Welfare.

This means that during the listing process, the member must tick the box to confirm whether the animal being listed meets the Code.

This is not a trivial decision and we expect sellers to ensure they are representing the truth. Misrepresenting compliance could breach the Fair Trading Act and will breach Trade Me's terms and conditions, meaning infringing sellers could lose the ability to list animals on Trade Me and could face enforcement action from the Commerce Commission for any misrepresentations.

Listing litters

If you’re listing a litter of puppies or kittens, the updated listing process requires you to enter the date of birth of the litter.

Animals may not be rehomed or sold before they are eight weeks old, but they may be listed on the site prior to that time under the strict requirement that they not be separated from their mother and released to their new owner before 8 weeks. The only exception is when puppies or kittens have been abandoned by the mother or she is otherwise unable to nourish her offspring. This should be clearly stated in the body of the listing.

The total number of puppies or kittens in the litter being listed must also be entered when creating your listing. We will provide the ability to do this in the listing process.

Microchip identification

Under New Zealand law, all dogs (excluding working dogs) must be microchipped. The microchip identification number must be disclosed in the listing. This helps to track animal numbers and determine whether animals are being overbred, as covered in the Code.

Where puppies are less than three months old and have not been microchipped, the microchip number of the mother must be provided. 

While cats and kittens may be microchipped and it is preferable to do so, it’s not mandatory by law and so it’s not required in the listing process.

Veterinarian Report

The Code requires animals to have a health check prior to being listed on the site by a registered vetenarian. A copy of this report must be added to the listing as a photograph. Take a picture of the report with your phone or camera and add it to your listing, like you would with a photo of the animal. You must be able to read the writing on the report in the photo.

Cap on animal numbers

To address the issue of overbreeding and to minimise the chance that animals from irresponsible breeders are sold on Trade Me, we have introduced a cap on the number of animals that may be listed in a 12 month period. An individual membership will be able to list a maximum of five litters per year, or a total of 40 cats and 40 dogs.

There is no cap for rehomed animals.

-

If you're wondering who that lass in photo is, she's Vanilla but better known as Nilla!

Baby slings and child safety

We're big on child safety at Trade Me which is why we have a few rules around the sale of baby slings on the site. Baby slings are widely available and designed to help with carrying babies by easing the pressure on the wearer’s arms and back – often coming as a welcome relief to a tired caregiver. 

There are many different designs and styles available on the market such as pouches, rings, wraps and kangaroo-style slings. With so much choice it's hard to know which is the most suitable for you and your baby, but one thing is for certain – some are safer to use than others.  

Our friends at the Ministry of Consumer Affairs have given us some great information on the sale of baby slings. Most are fine to use, but there are dangers associated with incorrect use of slings.

Bag-shaped slings in particular are unsafe, so we do not allow the sale of these on Trade Me. 

What are the dangers?

Most slings are perfectly safe when used correctly, but over the last few years there have been a handful babies who have suffocated while being carried in slings. When placed incorrectly, the sling limits the baby’s movement which means your bundle of joy can't move out of the dangerous positions blocking their airways. Babies who have a low birth weight, are born prematurely, or have breathing issues, like a cold, are most at risk.

Two positions present significant danger:

  • a curved back with the chin resting on the chest
  • having their face pressed against the fabric of the sling or on the wearer’s body.

If positioned incorrectly, the baby is at risk of suffocating, receiving low levels of oxygen or falling out and suffering injuries. Caregivers should exercise caution if using slings or pouches to carry babies under 4 months old or under 4 kg.

Buying a sling

While Hollywood may sometimes view babies as fashion accessories, a baby sling should never be in the shape of a bag. The design of the bag sling means the baby cannot be placed in a safe position, meaning they can suffocate. One brand (Infantino) has been recalled following three deaths of babies in the US, but any sling of this design is unsafe, regardless of the brand. 

Pro tips for sling buyers and wearers: 

  • Ensure any sling you buy comes with detailed instructions for use. If a listing doesn't mention an instruction sheet, use the Q&A to ask if the seller can provide one or use the internet to find instructions.
  • Choose products that stop the baby from moving into a position where they can suffocate.
  • Choose products that are appropriate for your baby’s stage of development. 
  • Don’t let anything block the baby’s face, such as the sling or your body. Keep in mind that small babies cannot turn their heads to get fresh air.
  • Don’t let the baby lie in a curved position with their chin resting on their chest. Any pressure on the chin can push the tongue back and close the airway.
  • Babies need to lie with a straight back and their head up. This helps ensure they have a clear airway so that the tummy muscles can pump old air out of the lungs and let new air in.

The most important piece of advice we recommend is do some research. You can also try to contact a baby-wearing group for advice if you’re unsure. 

Where to get more info: 

New Zealand support groups:

Australian support groups:

If you have concerns about a product listed on Trade Me, please be sure to loop in our Policing team via the Community Watch link at the bottom of every listing and they'll check it out. 

She sells sea shells… but she’s not allowed to

Paua -shell -abalone

Found a heart-shaped shell while strolling along the beach and thinking about popping it on Trade Me?

Unfortunately Cupid, you’d be breaking the law.

Here in New Zealand, we’re pretty lucky to be surrounded by such awesome beaches and sea life. In order to protect our beaches, the Ministry of Primary Industries has some laws in place which may apply if you’re thinking of selling shells on the site.

The Fisheries Act 1996, states that fish taken for the purposes of commercial trade cannot be sold without a permit. This means you’re not able to sell that sweet snapper you caught on the weekend without having a permit to do so. And unless you own a fishing boat, it’s unlikely you do.

This also applies to dead fish that may wash up (giant squids and seahorses included), as well as sea shells, meaning that unless you’ve got a permit, they can’t be sold.

If you’ve imported some funky shells from overseas, no worries, shells that you’ve purchased commercially are OK to be on-sold. This includes pieces of shells from NZ-based craft stores too.

What about whitebait?

Those slimy little critters slip through these regulations and can be sold by recreational fishers without permits. If you’re keen to know more, check out this blog about whitebait.

Creative Commons image used courtesy Sarah-Rose on Flickr. 

RSS