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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 1779 - April 29, 2008 - ISSN 1539-5065    1 of 3

eBay Boycott Scheduled for May 1st

By Ina Steiner
April 29, 2008

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Soon, eBay sellers will no longer be able to leave buyers negative or neutral feedback. The most radical change to the feedback system since eBay founder Pierre Omidyar launched it, the change is scheduled to start rolling out the week of May 19th. Many sellers don't like it, and a small but vocal group is calling for a second boycott on May 1st to protest the change.

A February boycott garnered much media attention, but eBay, boycotters and analysts were left divided on whether the boycott was successful. It was impossible for anyone but eBay to accurately analyze the impact on listings, and boycotters believed a listing promotion and glitch helped mask the effect, claims eBay has denied. (eBay UK has announced a 5-pence listing promotion scheduled for May 1st.)

When eBay users boycotted the site in years past, former CEO Meg Whitman said it demonstrated the community was "passionate," spinning it as a positive. New CEO John Donahoe has referred to seller complaints as "noise," angering some users. A video playing on YouTube urges sellers to "make some noise" to spread the word about the planned protest in a play on Donahoe's words (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24X-SlDmqKI).

eBay has been rolling out major changes to the site since early 2007, and on January 29, 2008, the company announced more radical changes. Users say they are protesting new fees, the PayPal 21-day hold policy, and eBay's new Best Match search algorithm in addition to the policy barring sellers from leaving anything but positive feedback for buyers.

On this eBay Store discussion thread, many storeowners said they would not participate in the boycott, not because they necessarily liked the changes to feedback, but because their business depended on being up and running (http://forums.ebay.com/db2/thread.jspa?threadID=1000689525&tstart=0&mod=1209349606604).

Boycotters have set up sites to help promote their cause, including on MySpace (http://www.myspace.com/boycottebay).

The Guardian newspaper in England reported on the planned May 1st boycott, saying that while it's not gloom and doom on eBay, "there is no doubt that some sellers are jumping ship and going to a dozen or so alternative sites" (http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/apr/25/ebay.boycott)

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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