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EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 244 - August 09, 2009 - ISSN 1528-6703     8 of 8

AuctionBytes Soundoff: Letters from Readers


By Ina Steiner
EcommerceBytes.com

August 09, 2009
 



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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.)

And be sure and follow the AuctionBytes Letters to the Editor blog

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Ina,
FYI: When I looked up sold handbag auction 320392977074 I noticed that all sponsored links above listing were for Zappos.com handbags. Since it has been announced that Amazon.com has bought Zappos.com I'm curious as to why Ebay would have links to their competition on sold auction pages. Why drive traffic to your competitor? Another reason why sales are non-existent?
Sincerely,
SJ

Comment on this letter in the Letters to the Editor blog

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Hi, Ina!
Following is an e-mail I just received from a returning customer:

"This is just a fyi, I have purchased from you before, and I was going to purchase this fom you, when Ebay's advertisement popped up that B**** had this for much cheaper, I was shocked because I too sell on Ebay and I would hate to have that happen to my auction."

eBay is now taking sales from their sellers and directing their customers to other sites that don't even list on eBay? Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse!
Thanks,
Darla

Comment on this letter in the Letters to the Editor blog

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To the Editor:
I have just written the following from my own experience; not sure what the feeling of sellers is in the States, but more and more of their peers "down under" are mad as hell (and I am beginning to join them). I have just had a couple of very disturbing experiences with the eBay/PayPal monolith, as detailed below and fellow AUB readers may be interested to share them.

I'd be happy to provide more information if required - and you're free to publish the information below (or an edited version thereof) but not my name or eBay ID please.
Warm regards.

PayPal/eBay continue to stack the cards against sellers in favour of buyers

As if it hadn't gone far enough in emasculating eBay sellers in favour of buyers with its feedback processes (where buyer feedback has more value than seller feedback) among other questionable initiatives, PayPal and eBay have continued to rally against sellers with disturbing new policies implemented, but not widely known "down under" in Australia.

A Sydney-based seller has reported a bizarre case where a non-paying bidder in the United States failed to participate in the complaint process, yet eventually paid by PayPal and a little over one day later (25 hours and 27 minutes to be precise) after that payment, lodged an Item Not Received claim!

This despite the fact that the payment was made no less than 26 days after purchase, and the buyer was informed, via PayPal's tracking number system of the item's despatch and tracking number within hours of making the payment.

An enquiry lodged with PayPal by the seller was met with the usual barrel of stock answers and a commendation to comply with the dispute process.

Whilst sellers cannot claim against buyers for non payment for seven days after purchase, it would appear that ill-meaning eBay buyers are, theoretically, able to make a payment via PayPal and IMMEDIATELY thereafter, to submit a claim for Non Receipt.

Further, as has been happening regularly to sellers "down under", the funds associated with the transaction in the seller's PayPal account were immediately frozen.

In another twist relating to a separate Non Receipt claim, the seller refunded the full payment by PayPal two weeks ago, yet the so-called "Case" remains open - and could be so for up to 30 days according to PayPal/eBay, "whilst the case is being investigated".

In this case, the customer opted not to pay for a trackable service; the product (and shipping fee) has been claimed "lost" (at the seller's expense) and not only has the seller refunded the buyer via PayPal (with irrefutable proof having been submitted tio PayPal), but PayPal continues to withold to freeze the funds of the seller. That's a triple loss for the hapless eBay seller!

eBay's/PayPal's policies having been stacked heavily in favour of buyers are being abused by some, to the cost and detriment of honest eBay sellers; it also appears that the Claim procedure is being used as a means of first communication in the event of problems with transactions, rather than the good old-fashioned exchange of emails that used to take place between eBay sellers and buyers. And it seems eBay may well benefit by encouraging this course of action as it can freeze seller funds at will and presumably earn short-term interest on such funds.

When I was growing up, my mom was careful to explain to me the meaning of Caveat emptor - Latin for "Let the buyer beware" - as I went out shopping in the big, wide world; these days however, especially where eBay and PayPal are involved, there is an equally applicable Latin saying: Caveat venditor or "let the seller beware".

Comment on this letter in the Letters to the Editor blog

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To the Editor:
I am a buyer on Ebay. I would like to share a recent "best match" search I did on Ebay with you. It was both hilarious and at the same time frustrating.

I collect Katrina vintage jewelry. They are gaudy large pieces from the 1980's. Recently I typed in the words, "katrina signed - new - orleans" into the Ebay search under vintage jewelry. What came up was a page full of listings from a vintage jewelry seller who used the words "Cat Rescue" in her jewelry titles. Best match apparently was to change Katrina to Cat as best match. None of the jewelry listing were for Katrina signed jewelry items. What can I say... I am off to other vintage jewelry sites as I can no longer find what I want on Ebay!

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To the Editor:
My sales, which have consistently averaged around $16-18K/month, have recently plummeted. There are now days at a time with no sales or ASQ's...the drop was too sudden to be organic. It's like I've fallen off the map.

Omniture is showing an 80% reduction in traffic, & my Top Seller Account Manager of course has no clue about what is happening & why the bottom suddenly fell out. My best guess is an unannounced change to the search algorithm that is not in my favor at all.

Not to whine, as this is the gamble that an ebay seller takes, but I'm hoping if you hear about this from enough shocked & upset sellers wondering where their paychecks have gone, there might be a chance that some light may be shed on the situation through your excellent reporting.

Many thanks,
J

Comment on this letter in the Letters to the Editor blog

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To the Editor:
Thanks for your unbiased reporting. I have a serious question for eBay but they don't listen to "noise" from "small sellers" like me.

I used to be a huge eBay cheerleader with only a few gripes whenever the fees went up (but at least it was a level playing field (seller vs. seller and seller vs. buyer), until Donahoe took over and then I realized Meg Whitman wasn't so bad after all in comparison. At least she knew how to run a business successfully and keep it mostly a venue. I attended eBay Live in 2006 in Las Vegas because I was still excited about my business and all the possibilities eBay offered the regular person back then, both as a buyer and a seller. The sky was the limit. That was then...

I have been selling on eBay for 11 years. I make my living from eBay as a stay-at-home mom. I am a Silver PowerSeller and have been for several years. I have several thousand feedback (red star) and hundreds of repeat customers. No earned negatives and the only one I do have was from a customer with a "bad hair day" who took something completely unrelated to the transaction out on me. Customer service is a big priority with me. I bend over backwards for my customers.

My 30 day DSRs are 5, 5, 5, and 4.96. My 12 month DSRs are 4.9, 4.9, 4.9 and 4.8, all of which (according to eBay themselves and DSRWatch.com from Channel Advisor) put me in the top 10% of ALL eBay sellers worldwide. According to Sellerdome, I am in the top 75,000 active sellers in the entire USA. I'd probably be higher on that list if my volume were more, but hey, there's only so many hours in the day and I'm not willing to sacrifice my family to list more.

I tell you all this because I would REALLY like to know, if I'm as good as all these statistics suggest (and honestly I consider myself a pretty average representative of most good small eBay sellers) then WHY do I not qualify for the new TOP Seller designation (according to the blip at the top of my Seller Dashboard)? And if I don't qualify with these types of statistics, who does? Diamond sellers only whose statistics are tweaked by eBay upper management? Or brand new sellers who pay to get "Fashion Deal" top of every page visibility and home page advertising and direct email advertising from eBay with only 21 feedback and negatives removed with new positive feedback popping up within minutes of sales raving about how fast their purses were shipped to them?
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And to your readers: Please no comments from the peanut gallery about how I should go elsewhere (Been on Amazon for several years with a couple dozen sales, Bonanzle for a year with only 3 sales, Overstock and several other sites with NONE!) Bottom line, if I want to stay in business, I stay where the buyers are, 800 lb gorilla Donahoe pushing me around or not. My eBay sales pay the bills. If you don't have something constructive to say in your comments, go elsewhere. Thanks!
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To Ina, (Please don't reveal my identity on your site. All my statistics are real and verifiable as quoted but I'd rather stay anonymous as I don't want the harassment from either eBay or other readers. Thank you!)

Comment on this letter in the Letters to the Editor blog

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To the Editor:
Can you seriously explain why Ebay has made changes that have virtually driven off so many small sellers and/or sellers of collectibles and antiques. Is it because they make more money with "Diamond Sellers"? Is it because of staff time tied up dealing with small sellers?

It seems that Ebay has hurt their company in lost revenue and bad PR by making the changes they have made. I am very serious... I don't understand why Ebay has felt this was a good move. Can anyone explain it to me?
From: Confused

Comment on this letter in the Letters to the Editor blog

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To the Editor:
I read the blurb today about the changes to uploads in Google Base.

I have not been able to upload to Base for a few months, single, or in bulk...the Store Connector has been down for a very long time. Manual uploads worked for a little while, but now no items are being inserted. I used a message board suggestion for a find and replace in the xml file and actually got a few items uploaded a few weeks ago, but it was still largely a failure. Is everyone having these problems, or just a select few of us?

Comment on this letter in the Letters to the Editor blog

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To the Editor:
I see that Ebay will now not allow us to offer shipping insurance as an optional thing. If we want to have the buyer purchase insurance, we are supposed to include it in the shipping cost. That will be hard to do for auctions since we sellers don't have crystal balls to see in advance how much an auction item will sell for so we know what the USPS will charge us for package insurance because it is based on the value of the item being shipped. Kind of makes you wonder who at Ebay is setting these stupid policies!!
Love your Newsletter!!
Sherry

Comment on this letter in the Letters to the Editor blog

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To the Editor:
I'm happy I found your site. It's about the DSR, which is a disaster.

Examples:
1. A buyer asked to sell to him directly, I refused (nicely), after next purchase he left LOW DSR with a GREAT FEEDBACK.

  1. A buyer asked for a 50% discount, I refused the offer, next time he left low DSR.
  2. Our competition buys from us from time to time, our rates go down each time (they all love to be anonymous!!).
  3. A bitter bidder, who lost a bid, sent us an angry email, asking if we might have another item like the one he did not win. We did not. Sure enough next time we got a surprise on our DSR.

You just can't be good enough. And while our feedback record is 100%, and the buyers write us poems(!), there is always a stab in the back, which means Ebay can take away the Power seller status and, of course, the discount. Advice?
Thank you,
RV

Comment on this letter in the Letters to the Editor blog

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To the Editor:
This is response to the story about sellers experiencing a drop in "hits" and sales. We have been selling on UK eBay for over five years and like other sellers have seen the ups and downs of eBay but what we have not seen anything like this before. From the 21st June to the 23rd of June our Page Views dropped by 76% and have not recovered since.

I have seen the announcement from eBay saying this is a glitch in reporting, eBay may believe this to be the case but our experience shows this not to be true. Our sales since then have been dire, despite an increase in sales on our own website and many return customers we have experienced a 30% drop in sales based on our previous average monthly sales.

The difference in questions has also been dramatic, there have been days when we have received no questions via eBay at all and most days there are at best a handful, this is very unusual for us.

If the drop in page views was a glitch why would we experience a drop in sales and questions ? It doesn't make sense.

A previous letter said that they felt that "this is the gamble that an ebay seller takes" I have to say I disagree, when we sell on eBay we are paying for a service, to have our items shown to as many people as possible so we can hopefully sell them. It is up to individual sellers to provide the right product and service but it is down to eBay to provide the "hits" and for us we have lost 76% of this service while paying 100% of our fees.
Regards
D

Comment on this letter in the Letters to the Editor blog

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I would like to see you people go against ebays new and current policy's? What are you afraid of, the truth? Small sellers are being squeezed. Ebay changes things daily. Their is no trust with ebay. Everything is one side towards the buyer.

Why don't you people at Auctionbytes get tough against ebay!! How about promoting other user friendly auction sites and listing them. I am really sick of ebays frustrating tactics.

Can you believe a non paying bidder can leave negative feedback on an auction they won. Then he tells you how to ship the item for a lessor amount instead of agreeing to your terms. This isn't right and ebay allows this and won't remove the negative feedback.

Also their is another site you should look at. PayPalsucks.com

Common auctionbytes get tough tell your story. You are hearing nothing but complaints about ebay. Let's make the rest of the year Ban Ebay! No buying or selling.
Best regards,
Christopher

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Ina
You should allow comments on this story. "Bonanzle Launches Affiliate Program, Will Include Bing Cashback" (link).

It is the start of real competition for ebay, and reader comments should help Bonazle refine their affiliate program.

Their big mistake in the affiliate program is having sellers pay the cost, instead of sharing the fee collected. Affiliates would have a hard time searching and promoting products from Bonanzle as your story describes it. A combination of both Seller and Bonanzle paying affiliates Plus Bing would skyrocket sales on Bonanzle.
Thanks
Joe

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Forget the Turbo Lister Problem. If thats the big glitch you have then you have not been one of those hits with what EBay is caling the "Redirect Virus". Upon logging in you are taken to a screen that asks for all sensitive information and if you dont fill it in you cannot move forward.

We have over 100 new listings that cannot go up and the Virus can only be eliminated working thru Ebay's tech people as even Mc Caffee cant repair. S far it has taken 6 hours to get the instructions on how to remove in two parts and part A does not work and we are on a "call back" list for one on one help.

Needless to say it has been a fun day. Obviosly EBay has bever seen Risky Business: "In times of economic uncertainty, never ever "mess" with another man's livelihood"
G

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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