Online auctions contribute to hoarding, and they have the tools to identify and stop contributing to this. As hoarding has become a recognized disorder, and the source of a large number goods for hoarders is online auctions, do these auctions have the responsibility to identify and shut off these behaviors? There is software is available to spot this behavior and the responsible thing to do, is at least notify the hoarder, that their behavior is questionable.

I recently attended an auction held at a residence, that was full of items from mainly eBay. By full, I mean the residence had little paths, with all the space stacked to the ceilings –this included the garage and storage shed. The items were by the thousands, and a huge number of them had packing slips that they were from online auctions, and 98 percent were only opened, looked at and then stacked on the piles. There was no quality of life in this house, and most of it was totally unusable. The family who was handling the estate was so overwhelmed that they called in an auctioneer and he was so overwhelmed that he sold it off by rooms –I bought the garage.

That garage contained about 800 items, I kept about 40 and donated the rest. The cost to the original owner was thousands. From the enclosed packing slips it was obvious that the buyer had a couple of accounts and was buying multiple items weekly. This behavior is dangerous at the extreme, and this case it was. The resident had a health problem and was unable to either access the phone, or get out of the house, and it led to his death.

Online auction sites, like the one associated with this blog can easily run database queries and spot behavior that might be hoarding. Thousands of packages going to a residential address, and no sales from that buyer, should at least throw up a flag. It is an easy task to query the buyer, and ask them if they have a resale number for their purchases. If they respond that they have a permanent booth at the local flea market, or they are donating the items to operation shoe box for our soldiers, then remove the flag. If you get no response, it would be easy to suspend the account until a reasonable explanation comes from the buyer. This type of action is no different from a bartender stopping service to an inebriated bar patron.

Online auctions already attempt to control behavior  by restricting the types of listed items. They apparently have no desire to control behavior through the restrictions on obviously addictive behavior.  They should stop being automatic enablers and show that they are socially responsible, at restricting online shopping addictions.



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