People pining for the sleek PlayStation 3 gaming console might find shortages on eBay as well.
The unfettered online marketplace for such items as Elvis memorabilia and Ferraris is imposing restrictions on the PS3, which is expected to become one of the hottest holiday gifts when it hits stores Friday.
Only established eBay Inc. vendors — those who have racked up comments from at least 50 previous customers and have positive ratings of at least 98 out of 100 points — can list PS3s before Friday. Each vendor can only list only one PS3 per eBay account.
The listing must include a photo of the pre-order receipt, and the seller must guarantee shipment within 30 days from the date of purchase. Before Friday, PS3s can be listed on eBay only in auction formats — not as "buy it now" items.
Potential buyers, trying to avoid long lines, rain checks and empty-handed sales clerks on Friday, have already bid up PS3s to $2,300. The suggested retail price is $500 for a basic PS3 with a 20-gigabyte drive and $600 for a version with 60 gigabytes, built-in wireless and a Blu-ray DVD player for high-definition video.
Sony Corp., which has already delayed the PS3 launch twice, expects to have 400,000 PS3s available for its U.S. launch. EBay listed 3,144 PS3s or related items by Wednesday morning.
The restrictions, part of eBay's standing policy for all "pre-sale" items, also apply to Nintendo Co.'s competing Wii console, which goes on sale Sunday. EBay had 2,354 listings for Wiis and related items.
Microsoft Corp. launched its Xbox 360 console last year.
"We've seen a history with highly anticipated game consoles in extremely short supply during their initial launch," eBay spokeswoman Catherine England said. "With the Xbox, we saw a high number of well-intentioned sellers unable to meet obligations due to restricted supply."