eBay puts a hex on supernatural sales

Spells, curses, potions and psychics are being dropped by the online auction site.

Kai Ryssdal: You can buy pretty much anything on eBay. But its new fall sales update says that as of the end of this month, you won't be able to buy the following: spells, curses, conjuring, prayers, blessings, magic potions, tarot readings and a whole lot of other metaphysical readings and services.

Marketplace's Eve Troeh reports no one really saw this coming.


Eve Troeh: Cara Gubbins is pet psychic.

Cara Gubbins: My business is called "A Spiritual Tail."

She does 90 percent of her work over the phone. Until today, she didn't know people sold psychic readings on eBay. But she can see why it's problematic. Sometimes customers are let down, like if someone calls her about a lost dog.

Gubbins: The owner wants me to know where that pet is, what the street name is.

She may see a tree or color, but no exact address.

So how could eBay buyers know what they're getting?

Gubbins: I don't think they could qualify it as valuable or not valuable at all.

eBay has a buyer protection policy. But any service is hard to cover. If a tarot card reader says you'll meet a tall, handsome stranger...and you don't...is the "item received not as described?"

That's likely the reason eBay's getting out of this business, say stock analysts.

No sellers I pinged on eBay got back to me. But, would I hear back from eBay itself?

Jusstine Kenzer: By your deadline, it doesn't look like you're going to get a call back from them.

That's psychic Jusstine Kenzer. She gave me a short reading over the phone. She thinks most psychics on eBay are taking advantage of desperate people.

Kenzer: Buying a psychic reading on eBay just does not seem like the best place to go for answers and healing.

The thousands of metaphysical pracitioners on eBay can still use Craigslist.

Oh, and just before deadline I did get an email from eBay. It said: "Transactions in these categories can be difficult to verify and resolve." Not picking up much of a spiritual vibe from that.

I'm Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.

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