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eBay Live - The first installment

Posted Monday, June 23, 2008, at 4:33 PM

Although I teach eBay, I do not necessarily agree with all the changes, but having worked with these folks for a while, and having talked to them directly at eBay Live, I DO believe they are working in the best interest of the trading platform and the eBay community.

Trying to watch out for the best interest is always a fine balancing act. Yes, they are concerned about profit, but a healthy site is likely to be more profitable, so they want to accomplish both.

The new feedback program is one of the more difficult changes to support because of the vulnerability it makes for the seller, short term. I am just as sensitive to it as an seller. Even writing these posts makes me nervous that someone will take it to an extreme and locate my eBay site to zing me.

Do I have ideas that I think are better? You can bet your lunch I do, but I have never tried to manage a 200+ million member marketplace, so I am probably missing some information when I form my opinions. I was partially placated when I heard some of the buyer satisfaction issues that eBay has observed.

eBay is trying to restore buyer confidence first, while offering incentives to sellers to improve the buying experience. During this transition period, there are going to be some bumps, but until another market platform reaches the mass of eBay, I will stay with them.

When it comes to the designer market, walk very carefully. Many are justified in being confused, frustrated and apprehensive in selling these products. The legal system has really made it difficult to operate and eBay is no exception. They have a BIG target painted on the backs and many are taking aim.

When I quizzed the Trust and Safety folks about it at eBay Live, they were just as frustrated in trying to explain their position. It is not a job I would want. The lawyers can take a simple statement and turn it into a major issue.

I would bet that they give canned answers because their lawyers have written the script and they dare not deviate. If they get into a personal e-mail conversation, I would not doubt that the lawyers have to review it before it goes out. What a sheet of thin ice they are on.

I have seen this in other aspects of business and I truly believe it is choking American business, health care and our personal lives. (OK lawyers, don't beat me up too bad)

There is PLENTY of negative out there about eBay. I don't need to add to it, so I prefer to find solutions and find the positives in the platform. There are plenty of these as well and they are not that hard to find.

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First question is yes, there was a fair amount of complaining (some that got very passionate) and the turnout was probably the smallest since it was started. Plenty of seats and few lines.

The dollar amounts are the same as before for Powerseller, starting at $1,000. The benefits are better with higher search results, and discounts.Right now we are at 15% but soon it will be 20%. This is because of Powerseller status and high DSR ratings. We are all 5's with one 4.9.

You can probably guess it is in the shipping category. Even folks who offer free shipping are getting 4.7 to 4.9! eBay does not make it clear that good is not good, and shipping time is the time it takes for the seller to put it in the mail, not the time it takes to get to the customer. They are working on that too.

Also, if you use PayPal to ship USPS, they do not scan individual packages. They are actually instructed by their management that they do not have to do it. PayPal says they should but the USPS management says no. ????

Anyway, I was told a work-around for that from a USPS guy manning their booth in Chicago last week. I will pass it along in a separate blog, although I will probably have someone go "postal" when I say it.

The buyer protection will be extended to all who use PayPal, so it is no longer a bennie to just Powersellers.

All in all, I would sign up for it. Some people may shy away from the idea of a Powerseller, but we have not had any negative comments about it.

-- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Jun 26, 2008, at 11:16 AM

Why do you think it was an eye opener for the management? Was there a lot of complaining, or poor turnout? I noticed the banner ads with discout pricing. Feedback withdrawl would have to be really changed. I do not see why a buyer would be motivated to change their minds without the incentive of changing their feedback as well.

What are the requirements for powerseller status now? I used to always be one, but stopped accepting when they made it a choice. They used to send out certificates and everything. I think I still have 2 of them. There was no incentive for me to be one in the recent past. That appears to have changed though. They not only offer better protection for powersellers now, they give discounts as well. I have always received a message withing a few months asking me to join, but I have not so far this year. I was wondering if they raised the limits, or had some other changes that I was unaware of?

-- Posted by memyselfi on Thu, Jun 26, 2008, at 1:11 AM

I have my legs crossed and a few fingers ( which may explain my typos ) but so far, no problems. While we were away, we had to defer shipping but everyone seemed amiable and none canceled their order.

We had a reversal a few years ago but it worked out and came back to us. At the current time we are Power Sellers but that fluctuates. The more we teach, the less we sell.

As a Power Seller we have protection from unconfirmed addresses, but I still write for a confirming address when we sell to unconfirmed addresses. Just an ounce of prevention, since I never know when I might drop from the Power Seller ranks.

I believe eBay will come back with a negotiated withdrawal of negative feedback system in the next few months. eBay Live was good, but it was also an eyeopener for eBay management.

I actually got more from the Education Specialist program and the Trade Show than any of the other presentations. Got a few "work-arounds" for different aspects of PayPal, the USPS and UPS, and found some new ideas for listing.

-- Posted by stevemills on Wed, Jun 25, 2008, at 8:48 AM

Well, feel like an ebay update? So far, I have yet to recieve a neutral or neg. feedback, but have given 2 refunds plus shipping (also said to keep the item to try to make up for their having to be whining complainers and save me the FB)and have had 3 reversals. The reversals are my fault as I do ship to unconfirmed addresses, but will stop that I think. So it has not been too bad yet. I do realize that I just havent been unfortunate to run into the 2% that are the problem and still do expect to find 2 or 3 soon, likely in the same week.

What about you so far? Any problems?

-- Posted by memyselfi on Wed, Jun 25, 2008, at 3:47 AM

Dude, they're gonna get ya. You said yourself that you are even afraid about posting this article. You shouldn't have to feel that way. Come on over and check this out. Thousands of us, KNOW what is happening and we have gotten out.

Just stop by and see, PLEASE:


-- Posted by Disgruntled Ebay Seller on Mon, Jun 23, 2008, at 7:39 PM

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Steve Mills and his wife have one daughter. They previously owned two coffee/ice cream shops, currently operate an internet sales company and teach classes, but his primary job involves the paper industry worldwide. Hobbies and interests lie in gardening, photography, recorded music and of course, their pets.