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eBay Ramblings

Posted Saturday, April 3, 2010, at 10:57 AM

I am afraid I am guilty of reading much of the news about eBay and presuming others know, so I don't pass it along locally. While there will be some who eat, drink, breathe and even sleep eBay, there are probably many more who might be interested, but don't follow it religiously.

As an Education Specialist trained by eBay, I try to stay more positive than negative, but don't hesitate (I doubt that you will) to express your opinions, even if they are less than flattering. Some of eBay's actions have raised eyebrows on many of our ES's faces, but eBay is STILL the marketplace that has the most momentum and exposure.

I have listed on several other sales venues and eBay outperforms them BY FAR. In two tears, one site has sold about 10 items and the other has sold nothing. They are free, but you can see what that is worth. At times eBay seems to be shooting themselves in the foot and certainly alienating a certain percentage of sellers, but they also still have the marketplace to beat, so....

March 31st started the next wave of changes in pricing and policies. While spun as a price savings, there are some that will see actual price increases. Yours truly is one of them. However, we are moving forward with new marketing techniques and taking a two month period to appraise the bottom line effect on us.

One nice change for the occasional or light seller is being able to list 100 auctions free of listing fees each month. eBay in the UK had a similar program but is now scaling it back to 100 free listings at any one time, so the U.S. might change slightly.

The one catch is that you do not get that rate if you have a Store. I have opinions on that, but as a representative of the ES program, I will withhold that for personal conversations.

Here is a link to the changes in effect. http://announcements.ebay.com/2010/03/ne... I can discuss them in more depth, but for now I will stop here on the changes. April 20th will bring new changes to the feedback and DSR program.

One other development is the renaming of Kijiji, their competitive answer to Craigslist. It will now be eBayclassifieds. http://www.ebayclassifieds.com/ I believe this was started in another country and became an eBay acquisition. Kijiji seems to mean "Village" in Swahili but it is anyone's guess why that was originally used.

It is nowhere close to Craigslist, but time will tell if the new name helps improve awareness and use.

Showing comments in chronological order
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"Tiffany & Co and eBay Continue to Battle Over Infringement"


"EBay argued to the court that it has spent as much as $20 million annually to rid the site of fraud, including buyer protection programs and employees whose sole job is to monitor infringement issues."

And is not that the nub of the problem? eBay is spending (only) $20 million annually to rid the site of "fraud, including buyer protection programs and employees whose sole job is to monitor infringement issues".

On his way to virtually bringing the eBay marketplace to its knees, one person--the eBafia Don himself--was effectively taking home $20 million annually, and still we can't get rid of him either ...

For those with a longer attention span, an evening's entertainment of details and facts on eBay's deliberate facilitating of wire fraud on its consumers world wide and a list of links to a number of PayPal horror stories is contained in my post at:


eBay/PayPal: Dead Men Walking

-- Posted by PhilipCohen on Sat, Apr 3, 2010, at 11:31 PM

I am glad you did not hold back Philip. Having read this before, I agree that it is for those with a longer attention span. By far! I missed your personal bad experiences with eBay, but there must be some. The fervor with which you write is certainly fueled by something.

Whenever I am inclined to criticize eBay I think of the enormity of the platform and try to envision what it is like to manage it. I do not like the Detail Seller Ratings (DSR) program or how it is administered, but the original intent was to motivate the sellers to improve their business dealings and service.

I have no problem with that, BUT I believe it is confusing to the buyer, being mismanaged by administrators and because of its' anonymity does not help the seller truly improve. If I have served 20 customers in a day, treated them all the same with great customer service etc., get good Feedback but get dinged on a DSR, how do I improve if I do not know what transaction caused the issue?

Since I think it had the right purpose in the first place, I would not scrap it, but I do have some suggestions for improving it. Reduce the gray area choices or at least the way sellers are penalized by eBay for anything less than Excellent. Do the buyers realize that anything less than Excellent cause the eBay seller to lose discounts and search engine ranking?

When a buyer receives an item with Free Shipping, but rates the seller as neither good nor bad (neutral) because they figured they did not pay shipping so how can they rate it, they are actually stabbing the seller with a non-lethal, but none-the-less crippling wound. For those who "just don't give anyone an excellent" consider that you are actually hurting the seller.

-- Posted by stevemills on Sun, Apr 4, 2010, at 10:27 AM

Hi Steve,

My "criticism" has grown somewhat since we communicated last, and yes, I started on this journey when I experienced a most obvious case of attempted shill bidding and when I reported it, eBay could not see any problem (the matter is documented somewhere in one of the sub links). I then realized that indeed eBay had no effective system for the detection and control of shill bidding and unless the shiller and seller used the same IP address, eBay would not see it even if it was right under their nose.

And then later, in 2008, they introduced the anonymous masking of bidder IDs, a mechanism that I have no doubt was, on the balance of probability, introduced to deliberately obscure and thereby actually encourage shill bidding wire fraud for the purpose of maximizing their FVFs.

Frankly, I don't think there is any "management". So many thing are broken, many of them broken in recent times; it's getting worse, not better.

And, my criticisms are primarily from a buyer's point of view. To do the same exercise properly from the sellers' point of view would take more time than I probably have left in my life.

I have no doubt that eBay is interested in doing nothing that does not immediately benefit their revenue in the shortest possible term. And, their claim that they are doing so much to combat fraud by spending (only) $20 million annually on such matters, surely establishes just the opposite: that they actually care nothing about any form of fraud that does not affect them directly.

Frankly, I suspect that eBay are now so desperate to make everything seem OK that they can't think about anything but literally what they are going to do the following day to try to pull the wool over the eyes of the stock market.

The mob currently in control have no concept of the long term; clearly, the only thing they learnt at business school was how to "pump and dump" in the short term.

Surely, the first quarter results have to be looming as another disaster for the eBafia Don, and frankly I can't understand how he has managed to survive so long. I only hope they have all issued themselves with scuba gear; then I have

-- Posted by PhilipCohen on Tue, Apr 6, 2010, at 7:28 AM

Have you found a marketplace that shows promise? Some are very friendly, but I do not see any real sales.

-- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Apr 6, 2010, at 8:21 PM

No, eBay is still the place to go for sellers, although apparently less and less so as time goes on: "death by a thousand cuts" at the hands of the "eBafia Don". As an addicted eBay buyer, I can't be bothered looking elsewhere. But that does not mean that I cannot criticize eBay when criticism is so obviously due; indeed an eBay user surely has an obligation to so criticize.

I have observed that one of my areas of interest (flat art) in Australia appears to have been devastated. At least some of the sellers that I watched are no longer using the $1-start mechanism, so I now see the same items being relisted time and time again, at probably what is a reasonable price, but with few sales.

eBay even did away with a category "Australian Masters": now such artists are lumped in with every other form of crappy flat art.

The people now in control don't have a clue, and even if it was possible to stop the slide they appear not to have any idea of how to do so.

-- Posted by PhilipCohen on Tue, Apr 6, 2010, at 10:28 PM

At one time they toyed with the idea of smaller marketplaces with different emphasis. Separate new from used product, etc. Might have made it easier to manage and therefore a better job.

We hope that common sense will resurface within the ranks, and do the best we can until then. Also watch upcoming venues, but nothing has much to offer beside free services and nice people.

Etsy might be a decent one for artisans. Maybe they will expand to Australia.

-- Posted by stevemills on Wed, Apr 7, 2010, at 10:25 PM

Donahoe's ongoing and fatal mistake was to assume that eBay's brand was so strong that he could do whatever he liked with it. He clearly was not smart enough, or simply too arrogant, to realize that eBay was not so much a "brand" as a "community"; he then set about thoughtlessly destroying that community and in the process effectively dispossessed himself and his fellow executives of (at least) their above-the-counter performance bonuses as well. Sad. But seriously, how much longer can this headless turkey and his band of sycophantic gobblers last?

-- Posted by PhilipCohen on Thu, Apr 8, 2010, at 2:09 AM

They can last exactly as long as the ebay buyers continue to spend their money there. I think most small (community) sellers would have left a long time ago, when large retailers gained advantage and buyer rights and responsibilities took a different shape. There was/is just no other place to go and sell as effectively.

-- Posted by memyselfi on Fri, Apr 9, 2010, at 3:32 AM

That is the reality I am finding memyselfi. I have been watching other venues for years and as I mentioend tried some. So far, it has not been worth the effort.

I have found the most success on a venue that I rarely see mentioned, Atomic Mall, but that success would not pay for one nice dinner in a restaurant. It does keep our business name pout there though, so we keep it active with 100+ items.

-- Posted by stevemills on Fri, Apr 9, 2010, at 8:22 AM

The best alternatives I've discovered from personal experience are ioffer.com and Amazon.com (an Amazon store). Etsy used to rank in there but recently dwindled due to the tens of thousands of listings that swamp through on a daily basis, making it difficult for your products to be seen by potential buyers.

Don't even get me started on my issues with Paypal and their 'freeze your funds" scam!

-- Posted by shawna.jones on Sat, Apr 24, 2010, at 3:37 AM

Have you sold or bought on IOffer?

We registered with Etsy and have been tempted several times, but Debbi's craft items have picked up so much on eBay, that we are not sure she can handle another craft site.

-- Posted by stevemills on Sat, Apr 24, 2010, at 7:41 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.