EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 262 - May 02, 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 ina@auctionbytes.com with "Letters to the Editor Blog" in the subject line. (Remember to include your name as you would like it to appear.)

Hi,
My husband has finally decide to find out what all the fuss is about and has been doing a little eBay. He now has 67 stars and has worked hard to get them. He also understands statistics, how to read them, what they can predict etc. He has been selling very little so he can use the eBay DSR reporting system to check out the "anonymous" DSRs.

On 20th April he sells two coins to a guy for a very low buy it now price of 19.99 pounds plus postage of 1.99 pounds. Coins are posted on the 20th April - post costs husband 1.39 pounds. Seller gives DSR on the 21st; a positive and a 1 or 2 for Dispatch Time and a 1 or 2 for Post & Packing Charge, (he clearly thinks envelopes, packaging and petrol are free) also 3 or 4 for the other two categories.

The buyer left about 12 feedbacks that day so he may just have made an error or what? We will never know and eBay will never change it so please eBay how do you justify this?

If husband contacts eBay they will send a stock, computer generated, email telling him how to improve his business. The only thing he could have done better is drive the spoons 500 miles personally and got them there 12 hours earlier and also charged nothing for shipping!

No seller is safe so don't be smug you Top Rated Guys all it takes is a few idiots, a few liars and a few competitors giving you a couple off 1 or 2s and then watch your sales tumble fast!

How is this making eBay better? Buyers totally out of control are just going to get more and more greedy - where will this take the eBay business?

The only logical answer is without sellers, and as we all know without sellers there are no buyers. With no buyers there is no profit. It may take time but it is the only logical outcome of the current situation.

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Re: "Interview with eBay VP Reveals More on Summer Seller Update" - Link

Hello Ina,
I wish I had gotten to you before your interview as I have never seen any mention of the fact that a feedback score is a solid number (a pretend solid number) that is comprised of abitrary unstandardized opinions from buyers. What is slow to one may be fast to another or a bad hair day may influence everything a person does through that day including what kind of feedback they leave. So Ebay is enforcing policy, affecting the livlihood of hard working ethical people, according to unvalidated information that has no appeal process?

He mentions getting 100,000 responses from over 3,000,000 surveys. This tells me that ebay is like city, county, and federal Government. The rules are made according to the vocal minority as the silent majority would rather live and let live. The silent majority is a sleeping giant. They are the people that can only be pushed to a point. That point is a breaking point. The people your interviewee referred to are not the people that I talk to on a regular basis. I think that there will be a mass exodus, at least in the antique and collectible catagories.

Why didn't you ask him the question that you received? The one that basically said why don't you just tell us you dont want us rather than slowly starve us out? Thanks for all of your work.
Duane

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Do you know of an alternative to ebay or is ebay the best way to move a few items?

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Ina:
Do you think ebay will be a second runner one day? I sure am having trouble finding another selling platform and ebay seems to be calling all the shots right now. Do you know of another good place to sell my stuff.?

Thanks and enjoy your emails.
Jim

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Word is making the rounds that ebay plans to scrap the auction format and move it to a new, auction-only domain as yet unnnamed.

http://forums.ebay.com/thread.jspa?threadID=520198842

Be cool if it were true.

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Ina,
I know you guys don't really cover Zazzle, but I thought I would give you a heads up to something some users there are experiencing because it might bleed over to eBay sellers. A European company that owns a European trademark to "Route 66" has been getting Zazzle to takedown some Route 66 merchandise by claiming that it infringes on their trademark. I wrote about it on my site earlier today:

http://shoestringtheory.com/2010/04/21/who-owns-route-66/

If they are targeting online marketplaces for these takedown orders, they might try it on eBay users too (or might have already for all I know). Plenty of Route 66 merchandise is for sale right now, so I can't really tell from a search if they have tried or not.
Courtney

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Hi Dave,
I recently received a link to a survey offered by eBay. One part of the survey dealt with the question of sellers being able to leave negative feedback for buyers. The follow up questions asked me to state if I felt this was a favorable or unfavorable policy change being considered by eBay. ( I am paraphrasing. This was not the exact language used by the eBay survey).

Sorry in advance for not getting a screen shot. But it is nice to hear eBay is even considering revising their feedback policy.
Best,
Cameron

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Can you get a straight answer out of Ebay on how they calculate Best Match. Or at the least the top 6 or so indicators. It seems to me that it has changed recently and I can't seem to make heads or tails out of it anymore. For example, I just lowered pricing on a few of my items. All put one dropped in Best Match.

One would think I would have had higher placement, but Oh no, that might be too logical. I dropped, that doesn't make any sense. One thing that has certainly changed in the past couple of months is that if you recently had a sale on an item, your listing automatically popped to the top or very near the top of BM, but it does not do that any longer either. BM appears to be very random anymore. It just makes no sense at all and appears to be very inconsistent.

Also another matter that in my humble opinion that deserves some attention is the TRS program. While in theory it could be a great program, with the way Ebay applies it, it is very unfair. I've always taken issue with the .50 maximum on any DSR category to qualify for TRS. That percentage is extremely low and hard to achieve by most sellers, good sellers.

But what gets me the most about this program is that it allows 1 buyer to knock a seller out of TRS for up to 90 days. The TRS program as it stands does not promote a seller selling multiple items to the same buyer. It's quite the opposite. It encourages sellers to sell only one item to a customer. While in our FB a buyer is only counted once per transaction week no matter how many items they purchase, it is not the same for TRS calculations. All DSRs for all items purchase counts. So if you had a buyer come through and buy 6 items and that buyer left low DSRs for the seller in the communication category on all 6 FB left, then that one buyer can knock out a seller with over 1000 transactions in a 90 day period out of TRS for the next 90 days because they have gone over the ½ percent allowed by Ebay. No single buyer should have this power. It is ridiculous and makes absolutely no sense.

If this is of interest to you to pursue, I can explain more if you'd like. I'm pretty versed on the system and I may be able to assist.

I hope to hear from you.
Thank you,
Marie

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Hi Ina -
Thanks for your wonderful newsletter! A while back I emailed you about eBay blocking access to listings of l'Oreal cosmetics, but when you checked, you told me you could access these listings.

Since eBay lost a few rounds in court about name-brand cosmetics, I find more listings are blocked. Specifically, I have tried to search "Neutrogena Hand Cream" (which is an American company), "Boots No 7" and "ELF Brush" in addition to "L'Oreal Age Perfect." These searches reveal long lists of available items, but when I click on individual items, they are blocked.

I believe these may be rolling blocks, not always in effect, because from time to time I can get through to individual listings. I am located in New York City. I can not believe that I am the only person who encounters these blocks. Right now, at 11pm, I can access listings in these categories, but around 4pm this afternoon I could not.

I feel sellers in the affected categories (whatever they may be) should be aware of the limited exposure of their items, and I have never seen any discussion of this phenomenon on eBay discussion boards.

Perhaps you have interns or other trusted helpers who can check such listings over time, and verify my experience.
Tatyana

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Ina,
Ruby Lane's second site is not making much sense to me & I'm hoping you can help figure out what's going on. Ruby Lane's pre-launch announcement said that the two sites will be very different:

"Palmer Pekarek, Ruby Lane's Director of Communications and New Business Development, said Ruby Lane and Ruby Plaza fall into very different markets. "Ruby Plaza will showcase items like a handcrafted quilt, new quality jewelry items like a Rolex watch that is only two years old, and perhaps a new Ralph Lauren comforter set. Ruby Lane will continue to be the leading marketplace for antiques, vintage collectibles and jewelry, and fine art."

which implies they want the new Ruby Plaza to increase their volume by selling the new and hand-crafted goods that Ruby Lane does not currently accept.

But here's the catch: you can sell everything that Ruby Lane now offers on the new Ruby Plaza, and it's cheaper to sell it on Ruby Plaza. There are no per-item fees on Ruby Plaza, front- or back-end; it's a pure fixed fee "rent" of $40 to $80 per month. So why shouldn't all the larger Ruby Lane stores migrate to Ruby Plaza? As of pre-launch, Ruby Plaza has only Ruby Lane goods, chiefly antiques and collectibles, so the site looks like a duplicate Ruby Lane in miniature.

I asked Ruby Lane customer service what will prevent Ruby Plaza from cannibalizing Ruby Lane and got non-reply reply copied below. Ina, do they know what they're doing?

Ironically, maybe the ambiguity helps them. I signed up for Ruby Plaza figuring that I had better be open there if it did start to cannibalize Ruby Lane.
Nadine

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Ina,
I am wondering if you clear up a rumour I have heard for some time

Is it true that chinese sellers listing on eBay China but selling worldwide pay no listing fee only the FVF ?? Over recent times I have seen many of the categories I sell in flooded with what can only be described as cheap junk by chinese sellers, they list countless items using 3 day auctions which allows their products to dominate the first 2 - 3 pages of the search results using Best Match

As they are my competition I have study them closely and there is no way they could be making any money with the amount of listing compared to the number of sales they make unless they were not paying a listing fee

Hoping you can discover the truth
regards
peter

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This note will probably sound like whining in view of the many serious problems that sellers have recently had with PayPal, but I thought I would send it anyway.

I recently purchased stickers from Foxtrot Printing. These stickers were to remind buyers that they were only paying the postage that I was charged. By the way, this was a great buying experience. These folks are super. (And no, this isn't a paid compliment, nor am I a relative).

But guess what! For the past week, I have had the opportunity to use only ONE sticker. The PayPal charges have been off by as much as $.97 and as little as $.10. I have had to interrupt my usual way of doing labels, etc. to make these refunds. I could keep the excess, I suppose, but I truly pride myself on charging only the required postage.

I know that there is nothing that can be done and it's just the way things are, but it is aggravating, nonetheless.

Please feel free to completely edit this (or not to print it at all) but thanks for allowing me the chance to sound off.
Nancy

Also visit the Letters to the Editor Blog, here are links to letters published from April 19 to present:

eBay Opened Cases - Time for Organized Revolt (April 30, 2010) - Link

eBay Should Count Unleft Feedback as 5 Stars (April 29, 2010) - Link

eBay Policies Ruin Business for Used Parts (April 29, 2010) - Link

eBay's Elimination of "Featured First" Bad for All (April 28, 2010) - Link

PayPal Fails to Send Email Notifications (April 27, 2010) - Link

eBay Seller Outreach Consultation Was Positive (April 25, 2010) - Link

Problem with eBay Saved Searches and Newsletter (April 23, 2010) - Link

eBay Removes Interstitial When Buyer Leaves Negative Feedback (April 23, 2010) - Link

Is eBay Turning Blind Eye to Feedback Extortion? (April 21, 2010) - Link

eBay Seller Struggles with Turbo Lister (not alone) (April 20, 2010) - Link

eBay Demotes PowerSeller Despite Reassurances (April 19, 2010) - Link


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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