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Thu May 18 2017 19:35:39

eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender

By: Bob

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Selling on eBay can be like taking a ride in an old jalopy, according to online seller and AuctionBytes blogger Bob, a columnist who isn't afraid to write what many sellers are thinking.

eBay has so many glitches and kinks that selling on it is like driving a jalopy.

You get in and wiggle the key, hoping the damn thing will start up. If not, you have to get out and hard-kick the fender a few times. When it eventually starts, you step on the gas and hope it moves instead of stalling out. The wipers don't work so you have to try and see through all the oil spraying on the windshield - which is hard to do because of all the steam coming out from under the hood. Drive half a mile down the road (downhill) and it suddenly sounds like there's a rabid dog being attacked by a hornets' nest in the trunk. 

Every site has glitches and everyone makes mistakes. Most people and institutions try to correct these things as quickly as possible because, face it, aside from affecting the bottom dollar (and the dollar seems on an endless bottoming), glitches are embarrassing. 

Yet, eBay, pretty much alone, seems to feel affection toward all of all the glitches - sort of like one might feel about a cute, little mole on a lover's behind. Except it isn't cute. It's annoying. And that damn thing should be removed and have a biopsy done on it just to be safe.

You want proof? Fine. Scroll through the eBay Seller discussion boards and you'll see dozens of examples of buyer and seller reporting on glitches. Most of which eBay does not reply to and obviously has little intention of fixing. It's almost like voluntary advice from the people who actually use the site isn't worth "free." 

I suspect this is evolutionary in nature. Evolution builds on the past - it doesn't start from scratch. We've lost our tails but still have our tailbones. eBay is an old site and we can assume that some of its code is a decade or two out of date. It hasn't been replaced so much as added onto, revised, edited and fender-kicked. It has a massive amount of data and tweaking one part can lead to unintended consequences in another. And, as eBay tries to constantly upgrade its site to keep abreast of the rapidly changing on-line marketplace, fixing many of these issues might only last until the next upgrade messes it all up again. This situation must drive their tech teams crazy.

The problems are understandable. Though they are not excusable. eBay makes billions every year off its users. It has about 24 billion in assets. It can afford to greatly expand its tech support and fix the glitches that make it look like it's kept together with duct tape, spit, and prayer. 

About the Columnist
Bob has been buying and selling online for almost 20 years. Some experts claim that his limited budget was the major cause of the 2001 dot-com crash. He denies the charge. Got a topic you'd like Bob to cover? Let us know.

Comments (22) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender   eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 18 23:24:09 2017

Since we are talking automobiles .... its called a RESTOMOD.

I guess Im post #1 and as far as I can tell ... there are NO glitches.

You mean issues? "problems"? nah ... eBay was designed that way (born that way if your a hipster doofus X gener).

%99.9 of all "said glitches" favor eBay. Those odds alone say - ON PURPOSE.

Cassini and all its evil was created (ala Dr Frankenstein) to hurt and reward at will. THAT is what happens 24/7 on eBay, so its no surprise.

eBay doesnt care if you cant list anything, if things dont print - those are MINOR issues that eBays HB-1 visa holders can fix if they want to. When they finish eating brunch in the eBay dinning room, after a vigorous work out in the company gym - then MAYBE they will get to it ... if the hot girl in accounting isnt in.

eBays stock stays the same, the logo is basically the same, the site looks the same - everythng is by design - crappy looking outside with just a covering of clear on the body, with a souped up engine underneath - all designed to suck as much money  out of the pockets of sellers and into eBays bank account.

eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender   eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Fri May 19 01:35:40 2017

The old classic model E

She's hard to start but once you get her going she'll take you where you want to go

A few backfires, a flat tire or 2 and the occasional "out of gas" but in the end she's all you got so you love her as she is.

honk honk

eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender   eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender

This user has validated their user name. by: eXtinctBay

Fri May 19 01:37:04 2017

They need to take a very close look at Sears.

Not too long ago, Sears Roebuck ruled retail. You could purchase most anything at one of their stores, and have your car serviced at the same time!

And they were complacent, and did not improve the corporate infrastructure to meet the needs of future growth. Or offer new and exciting products in their stores.

Take a look at what is happening now. Sears will be likely out of business by June 1st. None of their suppliers want to sell them any product to put on the shelves, because they know they will not eventually be paid back.

In eBay's case, their sellers fill their ''warehouse''. And they do not realize when a seller leaves for, or offers their merchandise on another site, they lose market share. And why not? It has been proven that listings are hidden and sales are throttled. They even admit it in their user agreement.


Also, many people who sell on eBay are afraid to offer high end goods due to the high fees and / or opportunity for scammers and con artists (who are aided and abetted by the site) to flourish.

Can eBay go the route of Sears (and J.C. Penney)? Absolutely!! They are not doing much to prove otherwise, and there are many parallels. All it will take is another big player to step their game up.

Amazon has already taken a great deal of their market share, and Wal-Mart is expanding their online presence daily. Not to mention Baba and Facebook, who are poised to take their piece of the ecommerce pie.

And may do so sooner than eBay imagines, and leave nothing but crumbs for this once great company.

eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender   eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender

by: Frank Abagnale This user has validated their user name.

Fri May 19 04:37:48 2017

I totally agree with Bob with everything he said but is Bob selling  on any other venue? The last time my car kept breaking down, I went to a different car company.  

eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender   eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender

by: Frank Abagnale This user has validated their user name.

Fri May 19 06:32:12 2017

I also like Bob's bio, ''AuctionBytes blogger Bob, a columnist who isn't afraid to write what many sellers are thinking.''

Yes, but apparently Bob is afraid of mentioning his last name.

eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender   eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Fri May 19 06:39:27 2017

Spending money on fixes?  C-level management bonuses are much more important than having a site that functions.

eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender   eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Fri May 19 06:40:22 2017

Frank Abagnale says "Yes, but apparently Bob is afraid of mentioning his last name."

Do you blame him?

eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender   eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender

by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Fri May 19 06:59:44 2017

Ebay doesn't care about the noise.

One never hears whining from the diamond sellers or the chinese.

eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender   eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender

by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Fri May 19 09:03:45 2017

On the plus side, every day there's a bit more leg room as more and more sellers bail out to seek alternate transportation.

eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender   eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Fri May 19 09:36:00 2017

Why are people scared?

Hi, my name is John Osborne
I live in Apple Valley Ca.
I worked at Boeing in Long Beach Ca. for 13 years before taking on eBay.
(if you try to contact me just be aware that there is another John Osborne in Apple Valley, he's older, owns an airport and a pipe company. I'm NOT him!

eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender   eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender

by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Fri May 19 10:40:21 2017

@ toolguy

People aren't scared they are PARANOID.

They think that they are going to miss something if they can't drive in the fast lane.

eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender   eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender

by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Fri May 19 10:42:00 2017

Ebay is doomed unless they fire their ceos and anyone that had to do with such an idiot..hire someone else who actually cares and makes real changes to win back the hearts of its users.

Also apologize publicly for everything Donahue has done.

eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender   eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Fri May 19 11:11:35 2017

I have to disagree with one statement Pace made, that eBay was designed to have glitches.

During the time I sold on eBay, I don't recall any major problems with the site until JD started to gain power and institute his policies. Once he became CEO, it seems the company lost all interest in keeping eBay a viable marketplace, and only wanted to use their revenue to fill the pockets of the executives. Thus, we have basically daily glitches as, apparently, no one in power wants to spend any money to fix and revive the site.

eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender   eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Fri May 19 12:37:49 2017

Sparrow :) since you arent a drug dealer - I more then welcome your comments on mine - pro OR con !

I think that my thoughts on it - are probably closer to what you said - but I guess after being here since 1998 - it seems that doesnt care has morphed into on purpose - only since as Ming and others have pointed out - they NEVER favor the seller.

Ive never come upon a glitch that didnt charge me for USPS labels, or gave me less FVFs (mistakes in category amounts) or things like that.

All the ones Ive ever heard or seen always favor eBay .. therefore they arent "glitches" (to me) but intentional "hey Mr Wenig, if we do X then issue Y may come up and effect users".

To which Mr Wenig (and JD) would reply "as long as it doesnt cost US any money - its all good, go right ahead.

I may be wrong - but its just my opinion :)

eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender   eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender

by: ignatz This user has validated their user name.

Fri May 19 13:04:57 2017

It's not just the code that's bad, although that's a large part of it.

Worse yet - eBay IT has clearly never created a "state model" of the system.  That's something that documents, for each entity in the system, all the valid "states" that entity can assume, and all the valid ACTIONS that can move that entity from one valid state to the next.

So for example, there would be a "transaction" entity, and there would be a detailed document listing the names of the valid states a transaction can assume, e.g. "initiated", "paid", "in transit", "returned", etc.  

This is off the top of my head, and probably isn't the best way to model the transaction. But that's why the creation and design of the state model is so important.

The state model serves as a "bridge" between the business requirements and the code that implements those requirements. It's invaluable during testing of the code.

What happens WITHOUT such a document is that when a developer makes a change in one place, there is virtually NO WAY to determine what impact that change will have on other parts of the system.

There's no incentive for anyone to create such a document because there's no glory in it.  Tech people are not rewarded for creating documentation, except in the most savvy of technical companies - and eBay is anything BUT savvy when it comes to technology.

eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender   eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Fri May 19 13:29:07 2017

With 26 billion likely stashed in off shore accounts beypnd the reach of the IRS, ebafia can also afford to pay for ads benefitting their favored enterprise and Chinese rather than punishing their best performing sellers.

Hardly a day passes without a glitch that eats away at my time trying to find a workaround.

Lately it's been a rash of ghost relistings -- they come in clusters -- of one of a kind items that ebafia magically relists without my knowledge resulting in major, major headaches with buyers.

If Brian Burke spent half as much of his time devising ways to actually improve the on site selling experience instead of making it as miserable and unprofitable as he can, we'd all be better off.

eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender   eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Fri May 19 21:47:38 2017

@pace306 - I'm sure that some glitches are intentional, such as sellers being opted into programs they do not want to participate in. But when an issue is reported, and then drags on for weeks or months, and the official eBay response is "we are aware of the problem," yet they don't make any progress to correct it, that seems more to me like eBay just doesn't want to absorb the cost of a programmer to correct what's wrong.

But you are certainly correct that whenever anything goes belly up at eBay, small sellers always seem to be the ones that end up paying for the glitch.  

eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender   eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender

by: Volvo351 This user has validated their user name.

Fri May 19 22:37:07 2017

@Sparrow

Yep, JD was the guy who believed ih 'disruptive innovation' - just one of the buzzwords he picked up at that overpriced MBA mill. Only, it wasn't disruptive innovation or innovative disruption; it was just plain disruptive disruption. And, it hasn't stopped; they just revamped all the selling pages.

eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender   eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender

by: steveylang This user has validated their user name.

Sat May 20 16:14:28 2017

This the unfortunate outcome when a company is driven by quarterly earnings. They can't decide to put some of those profits into revamping/improving code that will pay off in the long run, because the earnings per share will go down and everyone will freak out.

eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender   eBay Jalopy Needs a Kick in the Fender

by: Truk This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 22 08:42:00 2017

From message boards to phone support eBay has all but eliminated anyway meaningful way they could gather Intel about the working of this site

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