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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 1329 - July 24, 2006 - ISSN 1539-5065    1 of 4

eBay Store Sellers Launch Auctions to Protest Fee Hikes

By Ina Steiner
July 24, 2006

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eBay sellers found a creative outlet to vent their frustration over Store fee increases that were announced last week. A search on eBay for the term "fee hike" yielded more than 100 auctions protesting the rate hike, many of them humorous.

A "protest" auction that cuts to the core of the issue

One listing stated that the auction for "eBay's ear" is the seller's contribution to restore the magic store sellers seem to have taken from eBay, referring to eBay CEO Meg Whitman's comments to analysts on Wednesday that, "The marketplace has been overwhelmed with identical, often poorly-priced items that have diluted the magic of the eBay experience."

Other items with "fee hike" in the listing title included: a Fog Machine, for "blowing smokeā€¦"; an eBay Stores Fee Hike Official Paddle" (because, "If you have an eBay store, you are UP SHEE-YUT CREEK WITHOUT A PADDLE!"; a scarf to cry in; and even an "eBay Store Burial Plot."

A listing for "eBay Stores FEE HIKE spirit bangles" had gotten 44 bids and was up to $160 on Sunday evening. eBayers from North America, the UK and Australia were posting messages of support for the seller in the questions section.

The seller protests actually demonstrate the unique nature of the eBay marketplace. With last week's announcement, eBay seemed to be assuming Store sellers would shift inventory from Stores to Auction format listings. It's not clear how much of a loss it would be to eBay if a portion of those sellers decide to leave eBay instead.

Store sellers are reacting to last week's news in other ways. Some are strategizing on how to make changes to be able to keep their stores open, and others deciding to close the stores before the rate hike takes effect. The rate increases are significant, and can easily translate to a 25 - 50 percent increase in costs for sellers, or much more, depending on the seller's average selling price.

Some sellers are posting on boards with plans to protest fee hikes with petitions and boycotts. One seller said she is going to file a complaint with her state's Department of Consumer Affairs because, in her opinion, "eBay used unfair trade practices to entice me into opening a store, the "place for serious sellers to showcase their products", promised support to help me sell those products, then failed to deliver."

Certainly it may feel that way to many Store sellers. It was in February eBay rolled out Stores in Search, a way to give more exposure to Store items. Just five months later, eBay told sellers that the volume of Store items have hurt the core marketplace.

The new fees for eBay Stores go into effect on August 22 (http://auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y06/m07/i20/s01).

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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