eBay Tops for Trust Among Consumers

Already a valuable resource for small businesses, eBay has also proven to be the most trusted company, according to a study conducted by the Ponemon Institute and TRUSTe.

The survey asked 6,300 consumers to name up to five companies in 24 different industry sectors that they believed to be the most trusted for honoring their privacy commitments, and final assessments were based on three distinct criteria: the company’s overall reputation for product and service quality; the company’s limits on collection of its customers’ personal information; and the use of advertisements and solicitations that respect consumer privacy.

Most Trusted Companies
American Express
Procter & Gamble (all brands)
Hewlett Packard
U.S. Postal Service
Source: Ponemon Institute and TRUSTe

eBay’s community-based approach to e-commerce is likely a major factor in instilling trust among its users. The combination of feedback – comments that helps users build credibility and establish positive reputations – and an in-house customer support team create a safe environment whereby users feel protected.

While eBay, a verified TRUSTe licensee, aggregates user information and creates personal files on its users, the company’s privacy policy ensures that information is not used or disclosed without explicit consent.

Internet traffic is a reflection of eBay’s popularity among consumers. The auction company has consistently ranked among the top parent companies for those accessing the Internet from both home and work, Nielsen//NetRatings found, and eight of the top twenty auction sites that Hitwise monitored in May 2004 are eBay components.

Respondents assigned the highest levels of trust to Internet companies, banks and healthcare organizations, while companies in the hospitality and retail food store industries were not considered as trustworthy. Among the companies that ranked highest in their respective industries were: Harley Davidson (auto and transportation); Blue Cross/Blue Shield (healthcare); Weight Watchers (health and beauty); Air Alaska (airlines); Trader Joe’s (food service); Mattel (toys) Best Buy (retail); and Cingular (telecom).

More than three-quarters of the respondents ranked identity theft highest when asked what worries them most if their personal information were leaked to individuals or organizations that were not authorized to receive the information.

Notably, the annoyance of spam was reported as the second greatest concern, ranking higher than financial or legal issues. In fact, nearly twice as many respondents cited spam as a major issue in 2004 than they did the previous year. Spam’s high ranking on the list of concerns could be due to the fact that 63 percent of the survey respondents have never experienced a privacy breach, yet spam has affected nearly every Internet user.

Concerns about Misuse of
Personal Information
Identity theft 76%
Unwanted email activity (spam) 58%
Loss of civil liberties 48%
Unwanted junk mail 37%
Telemarketing Abuse 36%
Stolen assets 32%
Public embarrassment 22%
Stalking or spying activities 21%
Source: Ponemon Institute and TRUSTe

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