EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 261 - April 18, 2010 - ISSN 1528-6703     6 of 6

AuctionBytes Soundoff: Letters to the Editor

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

Send your letter to the editor by emailing with "Letters to the Editor Blog" in the subject line. (Remember to include your name as you would like it to appear.)


Today I, asked 2 sellers for more information on their items. They write back and asked for the auction number and Title.

Seems ebay in its quest to fight fraud now is requiring the buyer to include in the question the listing number and title so the seller can respond.
Great job ebay


How about a story on the recent changes and how even the large powersellers are not making any sales the last ten days?

These are the sellers who make fun of the small sellers who cannot make ends meet under all the higher fees. They tell us we don't know how to sell. Well, now they have not had sales in over a week since the changes. Go read the boards they are rife with complaints about an overcrowded, dead and non working site. But hey, they keep charging!

Glad I closed my store - for at least a while- to see how bad it gets.
Love your articles! Thanks


Re: eBay Store Inventory Not Always Showing in Core

Hi Ina,
Thank you for posting your test/review of how Firefox and IExplorer browsers performed with different results in an ebay search. It is yet another another problematic condition of ebay's software management.

Also, I'll mention that awhile ago, I read a poster's comment in AuctionBytes, from an ebay seller, who said that based on a search test he had performed, ebay "sorts" its search results by geographic regions, i.e. certain items get posted to show in particular geographic regions. After thinking about the writer's blog content, I said yes...that must be true because I seem to only ever mail items to the same states...i.e. Texas, Florida, southeastern United States, and California. I can name about 30 states to which I've never mailed anything, in 5 years of selling.

Today I'm writing to ask if you would, at some point, consider writing about the issue of how ebay policy says that a seller is not supposed to list an item in ebay and on another site simultaneously. I cannot believe how ebay has turned into such a control freak definition of "managing its sellers." I also find it difficult to believe that that policy complies with federal commerce department regulations.

Here is the link to that particular ebay policy page. (It took me half an hour to find this information.) On that page, the Policy is under the Product Availability heading. (Seller Practices Here is the cut/paste of that policy from its page.

"What not to do
You're not allowed to:
List an item that may be out of stock at the time of purchase.
List an item that you're simultaneously selling outside of eBay."



I have spent two days on chat and calls to ebay regarding the DSR stars.

There is no way for a buyer to revise these ratings unless they posted a negative feedback to the seller, then they may revise the feedback and the stars.

I have more buyers tell me that they post the wrong stars then want to make a change and there is no way they can do this. Not to mention how hard the site is to get around any more, contact us buttons that do not work, etc.

Have you heard any of this from other users? Do you have any contacts at ebay that can look into this?


AuctionBytes is a superb publication masterfully covering the tremendous emerging field on online selling. Ebay, Amazon, Bonanzle, Alibris, Abebooks, Biblio are all on the crest of a wave, and some won't make it to shore. Look at the names of the great "digital" and "computer" companies of 1980 and look at where they are now. Many failed despite being on the crest of the biggest industrial wave in history.

Using all these platforms, I can say NONE of them are ready for the next 10 years. Amazon's marketing prowess is deserved. But the company has lost its roots entirely, turning into the worst of the corporate world, the one they were once so proud of challenging. Customer Service reps who can't give any customer service. Ridiculous automated responses to questions from sellers. And worst of all, they side with the buyer 100 percent of the time, which roving rogue buyers know. I have been threatened by phone by these people. But Amazon has only to be willing to do actual, rather than customer service to take the prize over time, or actually to keep it, since they are way out front now.

Ebay's recent changes follow a steady decline of what was once one of the most innovative companies ever. While there are exponentially more products on Ebay today, there are fewer genuine ecletic treasures than ever. Their policies encourage the absolute worst sellers, those who sell the absolute cheapest junk from China, cheaper than Wart-Mall, cheaper than the dollar store, Junk, rubbashio, thousands and thousands of them.

Feedback is great for these, because buyers get exactly the same thing over and over. But in my view, loss of the sellers over time who sold the unique is a death knell for Ebay. Unlike Amazon, the company seems way too fouled up to ever right itself. But who knows?

Bonanzle is beautiful, but only 3/4 developed right now. It has the ideas that can beat the giants, if it can find the funding, the follow through and worst of all the name recognition needed in today's marketplace. the oldest book seller, abebooks is still the best. I believe they were purchased by Amazon? Abebooks has happy customers on both ends and more unique books than anyone.

Biblio has what in my view is the best platform but struggles with the name recognition despite super high quality customer service on both ends. If the big guys correct their legion mistakes, players like Biblio and the aggressive and highly skilled medium sized Alibris will still compete. But they can beat the big guys if they keep working on marketing and keep from losing sight of their original innovations, as Amazon and Ebay have done.
David R., online seller since 1997


Hi Ina,
PayPal has a new glitch when it comes to issuing partial refunds.

Apparently if a buyer uses a coupon, gift certificate, eBay Bucks, etc...PayPal's system only allows a seller to issue a full refund through the Issue Refund link.

In the event that a seller needs to issue a partial refund such as returning excess shipping on a multiple item purchase, the seller needs to use the Send Money Tab and then the Personal Tab to issue anything other than a full refund when alternative payment credit is used. It is very important that sellers use the Personal tab so that PayPal does not hit the buyer with fees on the transaction.

The problem is that sellers have no way of knowing a buyer has used a credit or eBay Bucks as all or part of their payment, so when the seller clicks on the issue refund tab, they are presented with full refund as the only option, and have no idea why they are unable to issue a partial refund as usual.

Needless to say, sellers issuing partial refunds and are forced by the glitch to utilize the Send Money Tab must also take the additional step of calling PayPal in order to obtain the refund for fees on the partial refund. Sellers then need to monitor their account to assure the fees are refunded by PayPal as promised.

If only eBay and PayPal would take some time off from inventing new ways to aggravate buyers and sellers alike and instead attend to tying up and correcting all the various glitches, perhaps the public would have less of a tendency to distrust these frequent glitches that enhance the company's bottom line if not caught.


Among the many different things that I sell on ebay (ephemera, books, etc), I also sell a number of medical and veterinary items. About one month ago, I listed 4 different auctions for IV catheters, and ebay pulled all 4 within an hour of my listing them stating medical devices that are implanted are prohibited. This lowered my compliance to low which dropped me from Top Seller category, but not from power seller.

There were approximately 20 other auctions at that time on ebay for IV catheters, including some that stated that they were "permanent auctions" - just state which size catheter you wanted, from International sellers, Canadian, and US sellers. (One even has IV catheters as part of their ebay name!).

I wrote back to ebay pointing this out, and requesting that they reconsider since they were allowing all these other IV catheters. They gave me their typical answer that they can't possibly watch all the auctions all the time. I spoke with an ebay representative on the phone about this problem who also told me that they didn't allow auctions for anything that could be implanted. He looked at the other IV catheter auctions while we were talking and said that they'd look into them.

Those auctions are STILL on ebay - nothing has happened to them. I even went ahead and reported one to ebay, got a form letter back saying that they would look into it - that auction is still on. The ebay representative said that he'd have his supervisor call me back (that was over 10 days ago - no phone calls...). I would bet if I tried to put on another auction listing for IV catheters on, they'd pull it immediately along with their typical form letter, and cite me for non-compliance (the first time they said if my non-compliance continued, I would be forced to take some type of remedial class, and could even be removed from ebay - even though I'm a power seller with 8900 feedback-99.9% positive).

Any suggestions? I'd really like to be able to list my IV catheters.


Also visit the Letters to the Editor Blog, here are links to letters published from April 7 to present:

PayPal Holds Seller Funds from Fulfilled Orders (April 17, 2010) - Link to letter

An Expensive Lesson in Dropshipping (April 16, 2010) - Link to letter

Double PayPal Payments and eBay Feedback Glitch (April 15, 2010) - Link to letter

eBay Buyers Not Allowed to Fix Feedback Mistakes (April 13, 2010) - Link to letter

eBay Store Inventory Not Always Showing in Core (April 11, 2010) - Link to letter

Hidden Messaging System on eBay (April 8, 2010) - Link to letter

eBay Charging Me for Duplicate Listings (April 7, 2010) - Link to letter

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

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