EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 137 - February 20, 2005 - ISSN 1528-6703     9 of 9

AuctionBytes Soundoff: Letters from Readers


In every issue, readers soundoff about issues important to them. From feedback to payment services, from increased fees to posting policies, AuctionBytes Soundoff gives you a chance to air your views.

Hi Ina,
I have been selling on eBay for over 6 years, am a powerseller. I, along with a lot of other sellers are getting very concerned about the number of online auction sites being developed on the internet. Every day, I receive more and more invites to join various sites and sell. I feel we may be getting too many of them and as a result, many will not thrive. I became aware of 3 new ones just this week - Runabay.com, Webidz.com, Auction.com and now a new classifieds site - classifiedsellers.com

Can you do a story about why so many of these are being developed and how they all plan to compete with eBay.

I feel Overstock.com truly holds promise to be a major competitor but the others are questionable. Also, it is interesting that on the powerseller discussion and seller discussion boards on eBay, any threads mentioning Overstock gets immediately pulled.

Keep up the good work!!!!!
sincerely,
Ruth Ann

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Re: eBay's fee decrease
http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y05/m02/i07/s01 and http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y05/m02/i07/s02

Ina,
Keep in mind, that the "special" fee reduction (30 cents to 25 cents) applies ONLY to items listed at 99 cents or less!!! BIG DEAL!

This certainly helps the power scammers who list one-cent CD's/videos with $15.00 shipping fees!
Caryl

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Dear Ina:
The promises from eBay are cosmetic, at best.

  1. Listing fee decrease - benefits those that start out listings at ridiculously low amounts and charge too much shipping. It is only on items starting at .99 or less. Everything else remains unchanged.
  2. A basic store subscription fee rebate for one month - as if eBay's billing department is going to be able to get it right? They still haven't credited a lot of sellers for the "free" trial month. I can see this working just as well.
  3. Telephone support for eBay store sellers - another way for somebody at eBay say: "Clear your cookies and your cache" while ignoring the question originally asked. eBay support quite often has no idea about the features of eBay. Unless eBay conducts major education of their customer service representatives, this will be as useless as the present system.

Thank you,
Mona

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Hi Ina,
Hope you are enjoying the nice weather we have had the past few days! I have.

If you want to see how the ebay Sellers have responded to ebay's attempt to stop the stock drop that has been going on, and hopefully fool those who don't follow all the news into thinking that ebay management has heard us, please see the below link: http://forums.ebay.com/db2/thread.jsp?forum=21&thread=410465303&modified=1107743307870 This is on the Ebay Stores Board and Michael Dearing even showed up to discuss everything, though he did a good job of avoiding answering any real questions!

Sellers are not fooled by this, and the constant condescension by ebay toward their customers has just exacerbated all of the issues.

I closed my store today. Now I just have to see if I can list enough on other venues to get rid of the piles of stuff in my house! LOL
Have a great night!
Karen

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Dear Ina,
Re: eBay's Generous .05 cent reduction!!
Maybe it's just me, but I just looked up eBay's fees on the site and the .05 reduction is for the price points between 0.01 - 0.99! BIG *&^%$#@!! deal. I can hardly stand it! I never list anything for .99 or less. A pox on them. Talk about getting shafted!! This should really set people off. Have a great day,
Maureen

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This is interesting. I can be very cynical when I allow myself to be, and this is one of those times. While eBay is trying to ingratiate itself with sellers by lowering the insertion fee a nickel, it's still making a nickel on every gallery fee, having raised that a dime. And fuhgeddaboudit if you have a store. Those fees are unjust and irrational. What part of 45% annual profit does ebay not understand?
Jon

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I'm sure you have already received the e-mail from the Prez of eBay (North America) addressing our concerns about the fee increase, customer support, and lowering listing fees for $0.99 auctions. This is a poor attempt at damage control. eBay is hoping for some positive press and trying to avoid the boycott scheduled for next week. Notice the timing of this announcement.

I for one, don't start my valuable items at $0.99 and the 5 cent savings won't do a thing for me. As far as giving me a free month in my store 2 months from now, they owe me that anyway for billing me early on next months subscription. I could care less about phone support since I have never called them and real person e-mail replies since I rarely utilize this either. They'll probably outsource this to India anyway. This attempt at damage control is insulting at best. I just though you should hear a response to this matter from a seller. Sabine

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Ina,
Personally, I think this is Media Hype and Damage Control! Knocking a nickel off the lowest price listing fee is not hardly anything. But it is a start.

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Why I Stopped Selling On eBay, and Now I'll Stop Buying Too!

eBay already ran me off as a seller. Last Spring I was thinking about expanding my eBay business in a big way. I sat down with a potential business partner and we started going over a plan for this expansion, which would consist of hiring several employees, moving into multiple new product lines, and changing the way I've successfully done things for over 8 years as a seller on eBay. Lagging sales and income brought about the need for change, and I thought ramping up my business to a new level might be the answer. Ultimately, we determined that eBay is not a dependable or trustworthy business associate, and that we could not depend on eBay to maintain a stable enough marketplace for our business to succeed.

It wasn't that we were afraid all the buyers would suddenly leave, but rather that eBay's "enhancements" and new fees and the rest would continue to change at a pace that could render our business irrelevant, at any time, and in a matter of days. I'm very happy we made that decision, because the new fees eBay is rolling out in few days would have done just that.

Instead of expanding on eBay, I finished up some sales in October, and for the most part stopped selling at eBay. I found that the vintage areas of eBay are a buyer's market, and that sufficient numbers of collectors have left eBay, due to fraud, seller misrepresentation of goods, and other issues. I knew that my long experience as a seller would serve me well as a buyer, and that I could assume the "risk" of buying online and then sell to local customers through brick and mortar outlets. This has been extremely successful for me, and it's put me on the other side of the transaction in a very big way. After leaving the ranks of the PowerSeller, I became a PowerBuyer, spending around $10,000 a month on eBay for the past few months.

Each day, I receive 2-20 eBay "scam" emails. These range from normal "phishing" emails, designed to obtain my credit card information and other personal data, to more elaborate "fake Second Chance" sales offers and even one that was so elaborate it involved a trojan virus being placed on a seller's computer, so that the scammer could intercept and reply to the seller's email.

Navigating these treacherous waters, to look for bargains among the sharks is not an easy thing. Beyond the outright thieves, there are many sellers who provide poor descriptions, leaving out important details which lead to disappointments, sellers who pack their items poorly and then fail to take responsibility for the resulting damage to the item, and folks who simply make other types of honest mistakes which wind up costing the buyer money. I can deal with all that. I don't like it, but I can deal with it. Of course, there are many wonderful and professional sellers as well, and they are always a pleasure.

Pages on eBay have been loading very slowly for some months now. I have a very fast cable broadband connection, and a new and powerful computer. Most of the internet loads very quickly, but eBay is often extremely slow. Some other eBay users at OTWA (www.otwa.com) mentioned that they have had success getting eBay to load faster by changing some settings and using Firefox. Firefox is indeed a much better way to surf eBay. I don't like the slow loading pages, but I've found a way to deal with them.

Having fought through all that... what could eBay possibly do to run me off as a buyer? Simple, they've raised the fees on the features that I use to find the deals I manage to find, and now sellers can't afford to use those features at the higher price.

eBay is raising the fee for Gallery by 71%, from 25¢ per listing to 35¢. Gallery is a little picture of the item next to the item title. As a buyer, I absolutely love gallery. I can scan through hundreds of listings, which sometimes do not correctly identify the item being sold, and knowing what it really is, I can buy it at a greatly reduced price. If those sellers don't use the Gallery feature, it will make finding those ganga deals more like finding the head of a pin in a haystack, than like finding a needle. As a buyer, I LOVE the BuyItNow (BIN) feature. Sometimes sellers price items to sell FAST, and I can peruse new BIN listings to find some great deals, but the BIN fee is going up from 5¢ per listing to as much as 25¢ per listing, and now that source will dry up as well. And finally eBay Stores.... with the high cost of listing items for auction on eBay, many sellers put items in their eBay Store, and at ready-to-move prices. But both the store subscription rate ($9.95/mo to $14.95/mo) and the FinalValueFee for items that sell (3% to 8%) are increasing, and sellers are closing their stores left and right. My favorite seller stores are going away or are gone already, and those great eBay Stores deals are going with them.

Why is eBay raising fees that negatively impact buyers? eBay is under pressure to perform, not from buyers and sellers, but from the stock market. Rather than focus on what will put more money in sellers' pockets, and more great items on buyers' shelves, eBay has been focused on how to fill its own coffers so it can hit its numbers for Wall Street. Rather than working to make eBay the best and easiest place to buy on the internet, eBay has focused on finding new ways to soak sellers.

In order to get sellers to pay for increasingly expensive "enhancements" on eBay, eBay has now moved to make it increasingly expensive to gain access to buyers through its marketplace, and in doing this, is removing buyer access to the broad and diverse offerings on eBay. That's probably not their intent, however it is the net effect.

On the positive side, I see new websites popping up all the time, and I've started finding some incredible buys away from eBay. Maybe the internet is starting to grow up. Maybe we don't need a "venue" anymore.
Bobby Beeman

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Hi Ina,
Love the newsletters! Tons of useful info and a wry wit to boot!

I would love to hear more on this eBay (feebay) fee increase. Maybe you could feature the opinions of people who are not going to be impacted by Bill's most recent "generous" offer.

I really believe this news deserves center stage attention. Literally tens of thousands of real people are impacted by this open display of Enron style greed. The depth of the disconnection between Bill, Meg and Omidyar to the average Jane and Joe who built and continue supporting eBay is shameful.

There is a movement afoot. A shift of the online auction paradigm is occuring. A history making revolution is occuring and deserves that kind of analysis and attention.

Perhaps you could profile; over the next several weeks many of the new and old auction sites that are now gaining in popularity. Some even advertise with you. Keep up the great work.
Thanks Ina and best wishes,
David & Laurra

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Ina,
They reduced the fee on items listed for 99 cents or less. Not helpful to most sellers these days unless you are running a reserve auction or are padding shipping charges to make a profit. IOW, eBay gave sellers virtually nothing in an orchestrated PR move.

I wonder if Bill has anything in his new office that he would list on eBay with a starting bid price of 99 cents and no reserve ?
J.

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Re last issue's article on eBay Vigilante http://auctionbytes.com/cab/abu/y205/m02/abu0136/s02

Dear Mr. Steiner:
After reading with considerable interest your story titled "Interview with an eBay Vigilante", it brought to mind another massive fraud going on within the confines of eBay. I prefer to call it "The Ghost User" for lack of a better term. This nick name refers to a group of fraudsters that somehow gain access to very old eBay user IDs that generally have zero feedback, and use these IDs to send bogus PayPal billings or emails to unsuspecting, long time sellers.

For example, a recent case in mind was that of an eBay user. The ID was originally registered July 04, 1999, and had zero feedback, and no transactions recorded for its entire history. Yet for the past several months, emails have been received by current sellers from this user, stating "your reciept for payment to (User ID) from PayPal". In addition, other emails from this so-called user were sent in an attempt to gain access to personal information from respectable eBay users, and each was disguised to cover its true purpose.

After sending numerous emails to eBay regarding potential fraud, spam, and violations of their user agreement (all received the standard automated responses), I recently noticed that the user name was "no longer a registered user". Thank goodness, one less fraudster to deal with.

Interestingly enough, I also notified PayPal several times as well, and forwarded many of the fraudulent emails to them, but never received a reply worth noting.

My point of this long winded email is simply that, there are literally hundreds (guessing) of defunct, or inactive eBay user IDs, similar to this one, that can easily be used by fraudsters?, yet eBay and PayPal seem oblivious to the potential for fraud, by allowing these innactive user IDs to remain intact indefinitely.

It would seem logical for eBay and PayPal to co-ordinate efforts to remove any user ID that is say inactive for a specified period with zero feedback or no transactions. Just some food for thought?
Best Regards
J.

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I wasn't sure if you only have storefronts linked to auction sites but our store is at a very small site geared toward work at home parents. It's called Wham Services.com and you can get a complete storefront (with shopping cart) for $7.00 a month. It's a really nice site. Here's their link: http://wahmshoppes.com
Gene

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Re: "ChannelAdvisor Says First to Support eBay's New API Enhancements" http://auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y05/m02/i03/s03

Hi Ina,
Thought you should know that is actually not 100% true. Make-a-Store supports the Pay Now button w/ PayPal. We capture the IPN data and automatically insert the order details into the MAS back office. The only reason ChannelAdvisor is claiming to be the "first" is because eBay is offering the Pay Now API in pilot mode only, to very few vendors (i.e. the big ones with deeper pockets). So we did the best we could with what eBay offers us. So MAS supports Pay Now checkouts w/ PayPal and also our own "Instant Checkout" and direct checkout via the merchant's web site. I think we cover all grounds.
Sincerely,
Neal (http://makeastore.com)

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Dear Ms. Steiner,
I loved Mark O'Neill's piece on Writing Talents on Ebay.

I recently posted something ridiculous on Ebay and it was referenced in the Washington Post. I thought you may want to take a look at it. I will include the hyperlink, but it may require you to register. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A63984-2005Feb4.html

If this is inconvenient, simple google "dead m&m" and look for the third link from the top, Internet Offers More Than XXXIX Ways to Enjoy Super Bowl ...

Look at the last paragraph of the article and click on "dead m&m." I hope you enjoy!

Thank you for your time and for auctionbytes.
Sincerely,
Holly



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