From the Editor
By Ina Steiner
Fallout continues from eBay's announcement of fee changes that go into effect February 18. After last Sunday's editorial (http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abu/y205/m01/abu0135/s01), I got some interesting letters from readers. People took the time to explain exactly how the changes will impact their business, and I've included some of them in the "Letters from Readers" section (http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abu/y205/m02/abu0136/s07).
It's interesting that eBay chose to spin sellers' anger over the increases as seller "confusion" (http://auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y05/m02/i01/s03). And eBay CEO Meg Whitman said users were confused about the fee increase in a radio interview on February 4.
While I don't believe the anger stems from confusion over which fees are going up, I do think there's lots of confusion about what eBay was trying to accomplish by raising the final value fees on Store sales. Whitman explains in her radio interview by saying eBay Stores have been growing very, very rapidly, and "we wanted to make sure that we were managing the marketplace very effectively." She also said eBay's take rate (the percentage of gross merchandise volume) "has hovered in the 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 percent range for each of the last three years and in fact, the last couple of quarters actually decreased somewhat." You can listen to the full interview online (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4487091).
We'll all be watching to see how this plays out. In the meantime, there are plenty of people who've been nudged into activity; some are creating brand new auction sites or encouraging unhappy eBayers to go to already existing sites. There are Yahoo Groups forming, protest sites and online petitions, and a boycott scheduled for February 18.
I would warn readers to always use common sense when dealing with new or unfamiliar sites, for two reasons. First, scammers take advantage of the unrest and put up traps for unwary users to collect email addresses or credit card information. (And beware people looking for money first, promising something in return later.) And secondly, site operators need to know how to protect their user information from hackers. If they don't have the experience and resources to do so, your information could be at risk. Don't be afraid to try new things, just do your homework first!
As always, marketplaces and services are free to announce their sites in the special section of our Discussion forums set up for such announcements: http://www.auctionbytes.com/forum/phpBB/viewforum.php?f=29 If you offer storefront services or Web-hosting with ecommerce capabilities, please jump in too!
On another note, there's an update in the Verizon email situation. As users and Internet Service Providers battle unwanted emails, sometimes they eliminate legitimate emails in their zeal. Verizon users are up in arms over the ISP's apparent decision to block all emails from Europe. We wrote an article about it here http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y05/m01/i26/s02. One law firm is collecting names of users who may have been adversely affected (http://www.kohnswift.com/verizon.htm).
Be aware it can happen to any ISP, or to a service that promises to cut down on your unwanted email, so keep an eye out for this kind of problem. You can always read the current issues of AuctionBytes newsletters on our home page at http://www.auctionbytes.com.
It's February, so it's time for our annual, "What's the best day to end an auction?" survey! Every year we ask you what you think is the best time and day to end an auction. Please participate, it's four questions and should only take a minute. We'll publish the results in the next issue.
Thanks for reading.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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