EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 266 - July 11, 2010 - ISSN 1528-6703     8 of 8

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.)

Visit the Letters to the Editor Blog, here are links to letters published from June 21 to present:

Sellers Report eBay Sales Are Flat-Lining (July 8, 2010) - Link to letter

eBay Puts Fashion Vault Link in CSA Product Listings (July 7, 2010) - Link to letter

eBay Should Not Follow Amazon in Offering Fulfillment Service (July 6, 2010) - Link to letter

Two Sellers Write about Problems with eBay PayPal Claims (July 2, 2010) - Link to letter

eBay Deadbeats Allowed to Leave Feedback (July 1, 2010) - Link to letter

Buyer Left $16 Short Due to eBay Currency Exchange (June 30, 2010) - Link to letter

Longtime Seller Says Goodbye to eBay (June 28, 2010) - Link to letter

eBay Seller Loses TRS Status Due to Vacation (June 26, 2010) - Link to letter

eBay Not Acting on Abusive Buyers (June 24, 2010) - Link to letter

eBay Watchers and Hit Counts Are Down (June 24, 2010) - Link to letter

Barriers to New Merchants Selling on Amazon.com (June 22, 2010) - Link to letter

Number of eBay Buyers Leaving Feedback Is Falling (June 21, 2010) - Link to letter

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Hi Ina,
I just ran into a new problem tonight with ebay/paypal. There used to say paypal only when that was the only acceptable payment for the seller. If not you could pay another way, just wasn't visible on the auction.

No longer the case. Now you have to click through to another page to find that out. A total waste of time for me. I do not use paypal and will not ever use it. Didn't have a problem until ebay blocked my bid. Pop up said the bid would not go through because I didn't have a paypal account.

For the possibly twice a year I might find something I cant be bothered hunting to see if another form of payment is available to me. The seller will have to do with making less money. I was willing to pay over $100.00 for the item, it sold for $15.50.

Insisting on paypal is losing money for the sellers. There are lots of us that wont use it EVER. I just bought two items with money orders in the past month. I was surprised to find them. This is not a glitch, its deliberate. I am not sure that the sellers understand they CAN take other types of payments if asked by the buyer. It seems ebay has brainwashed a lot of sellers and they are losing money. Ebay is bad enough with out simply losing sales you should have had.

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Hi Ina,
I thought maybe your readers would be interested in the insider trading info for eBay if you check out

You can see a summary on the top that shows for the last yr (since Jul 2009) that eBay insiders have sold 1,084,622,746 worth of eBay stock and have bought 3,732,180, for a net unloading by insiders of over 1 billion dollars of eBay stock.

Now if that isn't a vote of confidence I don't know what is (ironic symbol).
Cheers!
Dave

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Re: Retailers Frustrated with Google Checkout Outage on Thursday (Link)

Bull pucky about Google Checkout being down a few hours last Thursday. It was 12 hours for me. I sent an email to Google support and got back an email to clear my cache. Geez, I thought I was writing to Google and not ebay! Ebayers will understand the previous statement. And no I did not clear my cache.

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I've been selling on eBay since Oct. 1997. It used to be so fun and exciting. I had 100% positive feedback until the rules were changed. Then I got my first (and only, knock on wood), when I refused to refund for an item I had sold a month before. I have been so disappointed by the changes that have happened since and was way less than thrilled with the new "ebay buyer protection" which I knew was bad news. But the recent listing of a camera for sale on eBay showed me just how bad it has become.

I listed an old but still highly desirable digital camera for sale at the best price on ebay (around $100) and then lowered the price $10 hoping for a quick sale. I had one inquiry about the camera, someone in Russia wanted a shipping price. I looked at feedback he left for others and saw a neutral where he stated item was not received, but refund was. I told him I could not ship to Russia.

Then, last night, I wondered if same camera was in the Amazon catalog. It was, and I posted it for $50 more than I had on eBay, but still $25.00 less than the next cheapest. It sold within 10 hours. I think this says a whole lot about the current state of eBay!
Best Regards.
Peter Rabbit

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To The Editor:
I wrote to you on May the 31st in regard to how present eBay management had destroyed eBay's original value proposition.

At that time, I decided that I would no longer list anything unless it was a desired collectible that had a very good chance of selling. EBay still appeared to support the sale of auction items that were very difficult to come by even if they did not attain the same historical price level. With that resolution in mind, I proceeded to list items that would have sold two years ago with absolute certainty.

EBay has sunk so low that items with almost a 100% certainty of selling two years ago attained a sell through rate of 20%. I'm unsure if this is due to reduced visibility or simply because buyers of interesting antiques, collectibles and the unique have given up buying on the site. Most likely it is a combination of the two.

It is disheartening to search on eBay now, only to find repetitive junky new items, not related to your search terms, appearing one after another with the same gallery photo. It is almost nauseating to see what eBay has become, morphing from one of the most interesting websites to browse to the absolute most mundane place to browse.

Ebay has become so greedy that instead of allowing access to sellers to research past auction results as it did in the past, it licenses the results to Terapeak, who in turn licenses data to Worthpoint, which in turn charges an exorbitant amount to users to view past auction results. It's too bad for Worthpoint that eBay's past auction results are becoming irrelevant due to a lack of participation by the buying public.

Fortunately, my sales at Ruby Lane are now starting to gain some momentum. I thought that a multi-channel approach to selling would yield the best results, but I am now tiring of handing over money to eBay for services that really aren't worth it.

It appears that Mr. Donahoe has now achieved his wish, ridding the site of 12 year veteran sellers such as myself with perfect service records in exchange for "Diamond" sellers that won't even be there in two years time. As the old saying goes "Be careful of what you wish for, because you just might get it".

I am sorry to say that I was one of the most dedicated eBay sellers out there. And now I am so done.
Ron

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To the Editor:
A customer bought 4 items from me on Ebay over the weekend and to my dismay, Ebay suspended her ID and sent emails to me stating that the purchases were not authorized. I noticed that they did not remove the sale from my list, nor did they put any holds on her paypal payment.

She did immediately pay. I took the time to email this customer and ask what her story is. I told her I did not trust Ebay and inquired as to what was going on. Her response to me was Why is Ebay doing this to me? There is no evidence that someone is using my ID illegally. Turns out she had to send her passport, bank statement and payment of utility to Ebay to prove her identity.

She thanked me for my concern and kindness. Two days later, Ebay lifted the suspension on her ID. Is this an improvement of the "Buyer experience"?

This was not caused by ANY seller. This harassment was from Ebay Administration. So it seems that we sellers are not the only folks suffering harassment at the hands of the headless turkey.

The customers now need to provide information that you wouldn't want to share with anyone in order to buy a few things... Can't wait to get back in touch with this customer. I will be sure to invite her to a better Buyer experience at Ecrater, Bonanzle, Etsy and Ruby Lane. You can be sure this is her last purchase on Ebay!

Happy to say I have reduced inventory at Ebay by 70% and I am just leaving enough to encourage customers to shop at my other locations. I realize that Ebay has enormous fraud issues but just looking at her glowing feedback should have been enough to not put her through this bad experience.
Best regards,
Barbara

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The following is a letter submitted to the IACC (International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition) and Harper's Bazaar (fakes are never in fashion) in an effort to expose ebay's lack of positive action being taken against sellers of counterfeit goods. I'm hopeful that exposing ebay might cause them (ebay) to make some much-needed changes before ebay becomes another clone of iOffer and other sites that are known for peddling fakes.

If you deem this information to be noteworthy, you have my permission to post it.

Dear Sir or Madam,
This email is being forwarded to both the IACC and to Harper's Bazaar (Fakes are never in fashion) in the hopes that bringing attention to ebay's lack of action on counterfeit goods might cause them (ebay) to rethink their stance.

Thank you for your articles regarding fakes and the MSNBC video clip: http://www.iacc.org/

Please investigate ebay and its lack of action on counterfeit goods, specifically shoes, purses and fashion accessories. Ebay claims to fight illegal activity on its site yet its recent actions indicate otherwise.

Although ebay (and any other website) has always had its share of dishonest sellers, the last 6 months have seen ebay's numbers of fakes increase 10-fold.

Since my experience is mainly in the shoes, purses and fashion accessories categories, that's the specific area I am discussing.

Approximately 6 months ago, the shoes, purses and fashion accessories discussion forum was rendered virtually useless when a disgruntled seller who was caught listing fakes (Coach and Dooney & Bourke handbags) rattled enough cages at ebay that they changed the policy for posting authenticity questions.

In the past, potential buyers and sellers could go to the ebay boards and verify authenticity of an item either before they purchased (as a buyer) or before they listed it (as a seller). They would get helpful advice regarding authenticity, quality of the pictures in the listing, seller reputation and history and educational information to help them know what details to look for in determining authenticity.

In fact, many of those giving advice were the very people to whom ebay would turn in the event of a dispute. Additionally, many are also authenticators whose opinions are accepted by eBay, Paypal and credit card companies as the final word on whether an item is authentic or not.

The changes implemented have made it almost impossible to ask questions about listings. Buyers cannot post watermarked pictures belonging to a seller. They cannot post item numbers. They cannot post titles of listings. What buyers must do is save pictures from a listing to their computers, upload them to a photo-hosting website and then post the pictures on the boards. To someone unfamiliar with discussion boards, posting is intimidating enough. Figuring out how to ask a question in accordance with their rules is often more trouble than it's worth. Thus, questions aren't being asked, fakes are posted and sold, buyers are getting ripped off and ebay and the dishonest sellers are getting rich.

Another change eBay made within the last several months is to its EMR (enhanced member reporting) program. Ebay has/had members who ebay referred to as "trusted reporters." These are/were people who had proven expertise in their brands of specialty. "Trusted reporters" used a special form that allowed them to report fakes and get accelerated and increased attention to those listings that were reported and the listings would be removed, usually within the hour of having been reported.

However since January, even many the trusted reporters' reports have been ignored. In the past, nearly all listings that were reported by trusted reporters on the "enhanced member reporting" form were removed. Today, perhaps 25% of them are removed.

Additionally, Ebay has publicly acknowledged that if a seller doesn't have a history of selling fakes, has high feedback, and there weren't many reports for that particular item, often the listing won't be removed, even if it is a proven counterfeit item.

Ebay can be a wonderful resource for obtaining all types of hard to find items but ebay really needs attention brought to its "turning a blind eye" and ignoring and covering up the truth.

I am hoping that the IACC and/or Harper's Bazaar can give them this much needed attention.
Thank you.

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Dear Ina,
First, thanks so much for all the information you provide through the newsletter and website. I find it very helpful in keeping up with changes!

My question for you is, can you find out / tell us what happened in the UK when ebay changed the search format to include store in core? Did those sellers experience the same drop in sales? Did they recover - and how long did it take to recover?

If you have already shared this, please let me know what issue, I try to read the newsletter as soon as I receive it so I don't miss anything but I can't recall seeing this covered.

We have been selling contemporary collectibles on ebay for four years. Our selling effort is my full-time job. Ever since ebay made the change the end of March our sales have decreased dramatically. I know the economy is having an impact, and the oil spill is definitely not helping matters, but at least for us the change was so dramatic at the point of the search change that it's hard to believe that it isn't the primary factor. Our sales were up about 3% 2009 over 2008, now we're off 50% since the change. We have always sold all our items as fixed price in our ebay store. The change seems to have really confused buyers. Are they unable to find the stores that they usually shop in? (I think to some extent buyers looked at store owners as being more committed to the process. Now most everyone has a store.) I looked at competitors sales and they aren't doing any better then we are.

We are in the process of expanding to Bonanzle and Amazon as well as developing our own store, but as you know that is a slow process. It would be really helpful to know if, based on the UK experience, is there hope for recovery on ebay? Or we looking at a long slow haul?
Thanks so much for "listening."
If you choose to use any of my comments, please just sign me,
A Collectibles Seller


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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