|Sun Nov 21 2010 22:50:07|
The Game of eBay Monopoly
By: Ina Steiner
To the Editor:
Ebay, at one time, was a fun and profitable site for us to sell our items. We would pay Ebay a reasonable fee for listing our items, and they would run from 1 to 7 days - whatever we requested.
As soon as we would list an item, we would see it in ebay, in the order it was listed. Nearly everything we listed- sold. Nearly every item brought on bidding wars.
We hired Ebay for one thing, and one thing only - to advertise our items. We listed our item for up to 7 days - they would then be found among other like items that also had been listed for seven days - and in the order they were listed would determine where they were visible in the search.
Simple- Fun- Profitable.
We were making money hand over fist. I was paying Ebay $600 every month - and happy to do so! Soon, I attained Power-Seller status! THAT really made me proud to see that icon by my name. Being a Power-Seller didn't give me better visibility in search - nor did my 100% feedback.. but they were accomplishments to be proud of, and perhaps purchasing from a seller with those highly regarded statuses brought us more sales, and made a purchaser feel more secure. The sales rose even higher after that.
Of course Ebay had rules and policies, like any well-run company. There were certain items we were prohibited from selling, shill-bidding was against the rules, and many were suspended for this. Fees were occasionally hiked up - but these were all things that we expected, and could live with. The profits were still pouring in.
The profits were still pouring in because Ebay didn't mess with our search visibility- and THAT'S what sells our stuff - pure and simple.
Then... somewhere along the line (when Donohoe hit the scene, to be exact.) The "Brain-stormers" at Ebay decided to make Ebay a GAME.
New rules - sky-high fees. Bring in BEST MATCH - NOW your status and your feedback percentage decided the visibility of your items - Suddenly, our items were being swept on the back pages, below the items of the highest ranking Power-sellers. Now - as if that wasn't enough to put us in shock - They added they gave our buyers the right to anonymously score us on how well we describe items, how well we communicated with them, how FAST we shipped our items - and even (at that time) if they thought the shipping costs were fair?
Now.. those dsr scores also gave us better, or less visibility. Part of the GAME. Buyers could purposely and maliciously "ding" our scores - lowering our visibility - and there's nothing we can do about it. Ebay let us know that we COULD be suspended if we DARED to contacted a buyer, asking about the dsr score left. Buyers were leaving LOW SCORES in the shipping cost category - for sellers who had FREE SHIPPING! What does this prove? It PROVES that the buyers, indeed, could be malicious and unfair when rating the seller!
But the DSR system stayed.
Now, Ebay began pampering the buyers. NEW RULE! No longer could a seller leave a negative feedback for their dishonest, crooked buyer! They (the seller) was ONLY permitted to leave a buyer positive feedback! Keeping in line with the pampering...Ebay permitted the buyer to leave negative feedback for the seller - deserved or not! If the buyer was a non-payer... they were STILL permitted to leave the hapless seller a negative feedback! Lowering the seller's feedback percentage- as well as their visibility.
THEN - more NEW RULES in this game of Ebay. Sellers could no longer accept checks and money orders as payment, from their sellers. Ebay demanded Paypal payments only - We could no longer put in our descriptions, that we would accept checks and money orders. They DID give us a slightly grey area.. that IF the buyer actually EMAILED the seller, and ASKED if they would accept a check or money order, the seller could THEN tell the buyer "Yes, I will accept your check or money order" - but with our descriptions clearly stating "PAYPAL ONLY" - how many buyers - especially new buyers - would know this? This alone, took away 50% of my buyers.
Then, Ebay (or their Brain-stormers) took a look at ALL of the millions of dollars being paid in shipping fees. Apparently, they desperately wanted a percentage of THAT money too!
Suddenly, sellers were being encouraged to offer FREE SHIPPING! For this, Ebay would AWARD them with higher visibility !! Sellers began offering Free shipping - and of course, most were merely adding the shipping costs to the price of the item - Gaining Ebay even MORE MONEY in selling fees!
And now - not to leave ANY stone, with a dollar-sign on it, unturned - The Brain-stormers decided to jump in and grab a percentage of all that insurance money being spent on Ebay. NO LONGER could sellers offer the buyer the OPTION of paying for insurance! Now the seller had to fork it out of his own pocket or (you guessed it) tack that insurance fee onto the price of the item, along with the shipping fees.
WHAT'S NEXT? Will we be charged a fee for signing into Ebay? They're probably running out of OPTIONS, as far as things they can grab and make a profit on. Perhaps a dollar per minute to actually TALK to someone in customer service on the telephone? If we WANT it - and Ebay's GOT it - sooner or later...we'll be charged for it!
Ebay has beat the seller down - We're taking less and less for our items... our profits are disappearing, and it's nearly impossible to attain any search visibility - lowering our prices is all we have left... which, in turn, is what the pampered buyer is looking for in Ebay.
All of these rules, for the most part - won't affect the HONG-KONG seller, the huge drop-shipper, the DIAMOND Power-Sellers. or the Ebay sponsored large stores... But it's killing the smaller seller - you know- the ones who MADE EBAY?
No doubt.. Ebay is BIG! Their constantly changing ruled and policies have put BILLIONS upon BILLIONS into their pockets - but you know what they say... THE BIGGER THEY ARE - THE HARDER THEY FALL. I can't wait to see it.
Editor's Update 8:30am ET:
Thanks so VERY much Ina- but I would have liked to have had my name added to my letter- Any way to do this? Thanks again, Betty Johnson
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