EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 155 - November 20, 2005 - ISSN 1528-6703     6 of 6

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.

Regarding Live Auctions
(http://www.ebayliveauctions.com)...I was just reading the Soapbox and this thread and it all really seems clear now. http://forums.ebay.com/db1/thread.jspa?threadID=1000113201&tstart=0&mod=1130253460838
(Editor's note: thread appears to have been deleted by eBay)

When I was active in Voices 10 I was adamantly against eBay including the eBay Live Auctions (LA's) in site search yet they would exclude store items for the main site search...my thinking was LA's followed far different rules from eBay auctions and the differences would cost us buyers. Little did I know how underhanded the LA's would be in practice. Everything from poor descriptions to not answering emails to buyer premiums (yeah, I know they are supposed to be disclosed, but bidders/users don't read...) to allowing the auction house to enter bids against their reserve as if they were floor bids...

The details in the above outlines the exact reason the auction houses are getting some of the prices they do...and that there is no auditing of observation of the auctions as they take place...

It will be interesting to see the fall out over this but I suspect this is going to hurt us all...

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Re: eBay Eliminates Third-Party Developer Fees
http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y05/m11/i14/s01

Hi Ina,
I just thought I'd point out a few facts that may not be well known about the eBay API program - certainly nothing that is obvious until you get into the details.

The first is that the API does not give access to historical data above the level of pulling up a specific closed auction. I.e. you can pull up the details on one of your closed auctions if you know the listing id. But you can't do any searches to get completed auctions that contain particular keywords.

And the second is that by joining the developer's program and using the API, you have to agree that you will stop using any scripts that access the eBay site outside the API - i.e. you can't have a script that pulls up completed listings using the standard completed search interface. (And technically the license you have to agree to says that once you join, you can't use such scripts even after you stop participating in the program.)

Historical data is available through the Market Data program, but there are licensing fees for that and the data provided ranges from very limited (i.e. limited listing information and 21 day delayed access to data) to somewhat limited (i.e. more complete listing information and only 2 day delay) depending on what pricing tier you pay for. (And I think they used to limit the data to particular categories - i.e. if you wanted data from just the Antiques category, you would pay less than you would if you wanted Antiques and Collectibles. I'm not sure if this is still the case or not.)

What this means is that if your business relies on analysis of completed auctions, you can't join the developers program whether or not it is free unless you are willing to pay to join the Market Data program to get your historical data. For us, that would be a significant blow to our ability to accurately gauge the value of items that clients bring us, and determine the best strategies for selling what we accept.

I don't think there is much public discussion about this because eBay in general frowns upon scripts that pull data off their site, and the are very restrictive about their historical data - even the two weeks worth available to everyone through their completed listings searches.

But to me, it is a major issue that hasn't seen much light. I'd love to be able to use the API to list and manage my own items, and as a life-long programmer, it'd be a snap to start using and would provide a lot of benefit to my business, but these "hidden" costs are still way too high for me.

  • Written by an eBay seller wanting anonymity.

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Note from editor: I thought these letters were interesting, because they show that companies listen to you. A reader wrote in about a service I had mentioned in the last issue. I forwarded her letter to the company, and they acted upon the reader's feedback.

Ina,
After reading your article on NewsFlash about eBid, I decided to sign up. I entered my email address as required, then was taken to the next page, which asked for all kinds of personal contact information. Right before beginning to enter it, I noticed that THIS IS NOT A SECURE SITE!!!!

Thought you should know before recommending it. I didn't get as far as the next page, which likely would have asked for bank or credit card info, so I don't know if that one is secure, but my policy is never to supply personal info on pages that do not display the lock and https.
Thanks,
Sheila

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Hi Ina,
The announcement on eBid US is going out tomorrow and I just wanted to let you know that the https server will be in place for the launch tomorrow.

Thanks for the feedback. It pushed up the delivery timeline. Also, if you hear anything else from your readers, please let me know. eBid is very good at listening to customers.
Gary

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Hi Ina,
I received an email stating that I had a question from an ebay member. Being the super-cautious skeptic that I am, I logged in to eBay independently, not through or via any links or buttons. Sure enough, there was the message in My eBays My Messages section, from a user with almost 300+ fb.

When I opened the message in My Messages in My eBay, it launched/triggered a script that created a phony eBay login page (like the kind you get when you have been idle too long). The font and layout was off just enough to make me look at the URL and see that it was a phish. However, this phish can THROUGH EBAYS INTERNAL MY MESSAGES, not email.

I've already sent this into Trust & Safety, and the hijacked account has been returned to its owner. But this exposes a great gaping hole in the supposed "security" of eBay's My Messages. If those messages allow scripts to execute, all kinds of things could be perpetuated via that arena. Since eBay users are told to trust My Messages, this exposes a huge vulnerability.

This is actually the 2nd issue I've had with My Messages. The first involved an email notice that I had won a gift certificate from eBay. The notice was not in My Messages, so I assumed it was a spoof-until I found the $100 in my Paypal account.

Obviously eBay's My Messages is not 100 percent ready for primetime, and in fact, could be taken advantage of by hackers if a malicious script was inserted into one. I was just lucky that it was only a phony login page - it could have been a virus, a keylogger or worse.
Marilyn

Note from Editor: eBay says that Member to Member emails, including Question from eBay Member, do not allow people to put either html or javascript into emails, and has not gotten back to us about this specific case.

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Dear Ina,
Just a short email to ask this - do you think Ebay sales in antiques and collectibles is slipping, we have noticed since two weeks after labor day that our sales are only 25% of items listed, yet we had a great summer, I usually do between 35-55% sometimes higher, but its been consistently 25% since then and others I have spoke to say the same. We have to put a lot of items on to really make money-like your spin on this.
Regards,
Shirley

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Hi Ina,
From everything I have been experiencing lately on ebay, it smells an awful lot like they are opening themselves up to a discrimination class action lawsuit... do you know that if your auction states that you use paypal and you use their logo, you have to take credit cards?? I have never taken credit cards because it will charge a fee on every transaction made through paypal (even if the buyer doesn't pay with a credit card)... I could be in violation of the seller policy for not accepting this... I just found your site and am bookmarking... They are making themselves a "Microsoft Monopoly" in web form.... I would love for you all to investigate and research further... Thanks for letting me vent!
Melissa

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Hi Ina,
Just wondered if you had seen the new thread on the eBay art and artists board. http://forums.ebay.com/db2/thread.jspa?threadID=1000122977&tstart=0&mod=1131111911658 (Here's a shortcut link: <"http://digbig.com/4fjcc":http://digbig.com/4fjcc> -I.S.) I don't know how much you know, but there's been massive dissent from original artists on eBay for about 18 months - 2 years now. Then out of the blue eBay come on all sweetness and light about how the art category is thriving (HA! - HOW many artists have they bankrupted over the last 2 years?) and asking for suggestions.

Trouble is, artists have come on in their droves and anyone not posting anything eBay likes to hear have been banned from posting from the boards - completely! Whatever happened to free speech? If you look on wet canvas; http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?p=4034408#post4034408 it gives you a bit more about what's happened.

PLEASE could you report this. eBay are CENSORING free speech on their boards. They are quite happy for the banned artists still to list though! (They will happily take their money no problems at all). As a fellow struggling artist I think this is absolutely despicable! Disgusting - evil! WHO do eBay think they are???

Please look into it and let ALL eBay sellers see just what a sick and despicable company eBay are!
ROLL ON GOOGLE AUCTIONS!!!
Sincerely,
Gail

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Hi,
I have been following your very useful column but I need some additional help. Outside of filing a non-paying bidder report, is there other legal options I can take against someone who "won" my piano for $12,100 and has decided not to pay? How do I report them to a credit bureau or take them to court to enforce the purchase?
Paul



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