In what is definitely a first on this blog, my coverage of the Auctiva scare this week generated a anonymous tipster who told me that I forgot to mention the biggest problem with Auctiva. To be completely honest, I have never heard of the point this tipster brought up so I cannot say for sure if it is a true assessment of the situation or an outlandish  conspiracy theory.

I can say that if it is true, it puts this whole virus scare this week into a new and interesting light.

Signed only, A Loyal Reader, here is the email I got:

I read your post on Auctiva today
(http://thewhineseller.com/2009/02/the-official-word-on-the-auctiva-virus-scare/)
and it seems like the most ironic and perhaps important point was omittedĀ¦ eBay has been giving Auctiva several million dollars per year in funds as Auctiva cheats the eBay affiliate program (EPN).

That’s eBay Partner Network, their affiliate program, for those of you just tuning in. The email continues:

eBay has been directly supporting and helping grow Auctiva which in turn has been infecting buyers and tarnishing the reputation of sellers. Also, as eBay has removed some of Auctiva’s illegal affiliate links (although many still remain), Auctiva becomes more desperate to find ways to subsidize their free offering. Where else does a desperate dog turned other than other illegal activities such as installing click-tracking software?

When I first read about eBay helping Auctiva get virus free, I thought to myself that was nice of eBay. But if there is already history between the two, was that nice or just nessecary?

How does this theory work, though? Sadly, the tipster didn’t give me a valid email to reply to so I couldn’t ask follow up questions. If I had to guess. I would assume that it has something to do with embedding affiliate links in the Auctiva storefronts so that when buyers click through, Auctiva gets a cut but I am not sure that qualifies as illegal. Frankly, that seems like a really good idea to me and explains how Auctiva makes money outside of insurance sales which is something I have always wondered about.

Now, let me put on my doubting Thomas hat. Far be it from me to assume any company is above anything. I am a fan of both eBay and Auctiva but, heck, I am a fan of the almighty dollar and I assume any company will do anything to get money. But if Auctiva’s business depends almost entirely on eBay, why would they bite the hand that feeds them? And why would eBay stand for it when they shut down so many other people cheating the system? Wouldn’t they take away their approved provider status?

To me, it just doesn’t add up.

But, like so many things, there may be a grain of truth that is exaggerated into the conspiracy so I am not ready to totally discount it out of hand.

I turn this over to you. Have you heard of this theory before? Seen any evidence of it? Even if its new to you, does it seem plausible?

I would love to hear what you think!