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The trouble with eBay

Posted Tuesday, September 2, 2008, at 6:37 PM

As some of you know, I have refrained from jumping on the band wagon and criticizing eBay for their actions this past 8 months. I could see the reason for many of the changes and while I may not have always liked them, I believed they were trying their best.

I still believe that, but I am starting to question what that "best" is aiming to accomplish. Changes are coming so fast that it is hard to keep up with them, and I am an instructor trained by eBay!

For the time being, I am refraining from teaching any classes except for those already contracted, because the information I give my students is old within a few weeks. I fervently hope that it will be a better eBay when the dust settles, but I have started researching other sites in earnest.

Right now I have 27 sites that I have picked up from various blogs and news reports. Some look promising, but after I get involved in the site I get a bit disappointed in the traffic they seem to have, or NOT HAVE.

Some are developed by "eBay refugees", while others are just trying to capitalize on eBay's alienation of certain groups. Some have a great idea and reasonable structure but they lack the overall mass that eBay has.

I have heard it suggested that some of these sites might actually be financed by eBay to keep any one site from getting too much momentum. That tactic might have some strategic values to it, but I think it is more that everyone is trying to cash in.

Speaking of cashing in, some sites are advertising all their services free. From almost 40 years in business, nothing is free for long, or it will not exist. Also, you often get what it is worth, nothing.

So where does that leave me? Nowhere, just yet. eBay is still the best marketplace to sell and to find unique items. You can buy new things on numerous other sites, but to find collectibles, hard to find, vintage, weird, or antique items, it is still a huge market.

If you know of any that you think has momentum and particular merit, PLEASE let us know. I will be listing the ones I have on our website for your evaluation, but give me another week or so to find time to post them.

Showing comments in chronological order
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You sound as though its business as usual on Ebay - only confused and mixed up a bit - but sales thriving. That may be true for some sellers but other sellers report "no sales" and "no longer worth the trouble". I believe those are the ones trying to build other sites the way they built ebay 10 years ago. I know because I'm one of them. At first I thought my lack of sales was the economy, or the changes on ebay or a bit of both. The other day I sat down to analyze it. What I realized is that I sell mostly small original art pieces - most listings starting at under 10.00. The people who were buying my artwork were other sellers and they are no longer buying and selling on Ebay! You may find most of Ebay changes worthwhile but many of us find it appalling and we are sitting back helpless and hoping for the whole thing to blow up as it rightly should. I'm afraid a lot of us want Ebay to hurt just as much as they hurt us. I guess that's human nature but from selling just below powerseller status to selling nothing at all - that's the fate of many of us and the feeling of many of us. Ebay had better succeed because if they try to go back to the old ebay they will find their sellers long gone and the remaining ones full of distrust, disrespect and outright hate for this company! I wish I could be more upbeat but that's exactly where its at for many of us!

-- Posted by Patricia013 on Tue, Sep 2, 2008, at 8:18 PM

I am not surprised or offended by your post Patricia. I have read the numerous posts about sellers hurting. Our personal sales are maintaining but our frustration level is rising.

If I understood correctly, you are building a site? If it is operating, I would think all of us would like to take a look. Care to share?

-- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Sep 2, 2008, at 8:32 PM

FEEbay has abandoned the ones who made them long, long ago. Corporate greed has gotten in the way, and now its costing them dearly. They continue to raise rates, and continue to alienate their users to the point of no return. FEEbay? No thanks. I now do business on a number of alternative auction sites (www.alsoshop.com) that have carved out their own niche market, and have not looked back at the beast ever since.

-- Posted by miscdoc on Wed, Sep 3, 2008, at 12:31 AM

Well, I wish I had some alternatives, but I will be stuck having to adjust exactly what and how I sell to make it work. When I find an alternative, I will also try to make that work. I still do not fault ebay. They are just trying to increase their already enormous profit margins, as is the American way. I do wish they did not have to forget what and who made them so successful to begin with. My sales are still okay, but I am not locked into a single market. I have never been lucky enough to have one. I have always sold what I went out and found, so I can adapt some. For me, ebay still beats working at a menial job that pays less and takes away more. I truly have no alternatives.

Steve, I am going to stick to my original assertions regarding what their "best" is trying to accomplish. If you do not remember, go back and look at some of your past blogs. That is just too much to re-type. I do not blame you for suspending lessons. I expect a few more changes to come the first of the year or shortly thereafter, if the type of business they are anticipating grows as they expect.

-- Posted by memyselfi on Wed, Sep 3, 2008, at 1:11 AM

An outstanding, viable, new alternative venue to eBay exists. It's called the Atomic Mall. http://atomicmall.com



-- Posted by ScienceFare on Wed, Sep 3, 2008, at 2:55 AM

The panic eBay has comes a lot from Amazon. They are growing amazing fast with interesting opportunities. However, the voice from sellers and buyers in eBay are 180 degrees different than what eBay wants to build. Fees going down in the beginning, but on the end you pay more. Sellers will have losts when not selling their item. eBay shops are being promoted, which means that eBay soon will just a regular Online Shop.

3 former eBay executives building a site "how eBay once was" Key program; If you dont sell, we not making money as well! A complete fraud detection system, easy search and fantastic above and beyond customer service, simular as Zappos.

Sellers and buyers, keep your eyes open, as I believe that these guys really going to be succesfull. As I understood they will be open in October or November. They not invented the wheel, but they made it round.


-- Posted by zazzata on Wed, Sep 3, 2008, at 3:58 AM

Thank you for the sites to look at. By informing people of the sites, I hope we turn this into a positive post.

Some key aspects for me as a buyer would be a safe site, easy to navigate, with a huge volume of items listed. I like the ability to find off-beat or hard to find items at a good price, so I would want auctions as well as buy it now.

As a seller I want the same things, including the huge volume because it attracts buyers. I want good search engine exposure, many customers and reasonable fees. Speaking of fees, I don't mind fees because I want a healthy, robust marketplace and that takes money, but I don't like being nickel and dimed or complicated fee structures.

What are your thoughts?

Maria, can you give us any more info on the new site? You have peaked my interest.

-- Posted by stevemills on Wed, Sep 3, 2008, at 8:07 AM

There is not much to inform yet. (legal matters) However, the site is ready, they having tests now. The most important things are that Finding, Selection and Trust will function 100% without problems so bad seller/buyer experience will illimintated to a minimum risk.

A press release will be expected around early October. I guess some folks will get nervouse after that:)

For those who would like to be kept informed, send a message to maria@zazzata.com


-- Posted by zazzata on Mon, Sep 8, 2008, at 3:20 AM

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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.