eBay is working on a program to help new sellers get up to speed, and it's expecting its existing sellers to consider volunteering their services for free. The idea was not well received by current sellers for a number of reasons.
Last week, an eBay moderator posted the following thread on the discussion boards:
We are piloting a free eBay Mentorship Program that matches new sellers to more experienced sellers that helps them through the selling process. This is a 1:1 relationship that will help new sellers ask questions, get tips and tricks for selling on the site.
Are you interested in becoming a mentor in this program? Yes/No
If interested, are weekends or weekdays better for you?
What time would you be available to mentor? 9 AM - 12 PM / 12PM - 5 PM / 5 PM - 8 PM
Sellers immediately asked how eBay would compensate them, while others pointed out that they were already helping sellers right there on the discussion board where eBay posted its request.
It's not clear if eBay had expected members to ask about compensation, and in response it wrote, "These are great suggestions, and we are still in the process of exploring how the incentives will work for both parties. Which of the incentives you've recommended would most likely get you to participate in the program?"
As posters pointed out, only the mentor would need an incentive since the program is designed for the benefit of the party being mentored.
"It's a rare person that would help a competitor cut into their own profit margins," one poster wrote.
But they noted that eBay had once had a vibrant community of users helping each other: "eBay hurt this type of program years ago by destroying the community spirit, these boards were one."
To get an idea of how connected online sellers can feel to marketplace forums where they seek advice, companionship, and comradery, take a look at a poem a seller posted over on eBay rival marketplace Etsy called "Ode to Etsy Forums
." While the marketplace is different, some of the sentiments echo those felt by eBay sellers - if not today, certainly in the past.
As far as the reaction to eBay's request for help on mentoring new sellers, one board participant summed it up as follows:
Even thinking about a mentorship program shows how out of touch eBay is with its users.
They are asking sellers to take designated time blocks out of their personal life to help out a new seller who will be in competition for the dwindling buyers out there.
They expect experienced sellers to offer to do this for free, or very little in compensation, but why should they? It only cuts into the experienced sellers already shrinking sales thanks to ebay not showing listings, and promoting Chinese & Big Box sellers over the smaller sellers, who BTW are usually also buyers.
They have ignored the best feedback they could possibly get, right here on the boards, as to the issues their users are facing. Instead the boardies who call the attention to problems are considered "noise".
And considering the boardies noise, has caused them to overlook a valuable resource both for eBay, and new sellers. The best of the best pop in and answer questions here, for FREE!
Many of the posters here know much more about how eBay policy works, and give more correct answers than eBay's paid CS does. Plus newbies can get answers from several informed people rather than 1 person.
As usual eBay is clueless when they have something good, instead they want to change it around until they ruin it. eBay's motto seems to be It ain't broke? Well we can fix that!
We wondered how eBay Education Specialists who make a living teaching people how to sell on eBay felt about the program.
What do you think of eBay's request? Would you be interested in helping new sellers, or is that something eBay should be doing?