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Good Surprise or Not, eBay Changes Fee Structure in UK

eBay abruptly announced a new fee structure for private (casual) sellers in the UK. While it titled its announcement, “A good surprise for private sellers on eBay.co.uk,” it depends on what type of seller you are as to whether it’s good news or not-so good news.

eBay played up the fact it is giving private sellers 20 extra free listings per month, but it downplayed the fact it is taking away the 100 free auction listings it had given them for items with a starting price of under a pound. In the forums, sellers had a mixed reaction – one wrote, “eBay, truly the only company on the planet that tries to make negative announcements look positive lol.”

Why a mixed reaction? For auction sellers who list many items with super-low prices, it’s a net loss of 80 free listings a month. But for sellers who don’t list auctions or who list auctions at prices of a pound or higher, they gain 20 free listings a month.

In addition, eBay UK is changing the insertion fees for listing items after the first 20 free listings – to 35 pence per listing. And again, this can be higher or lower than what sellers were paying depending on the category in which they sell and the average selling price of the items the sell.

This is part of eBay’s move toward a simplified fee structure, but sellers have noted that simple isn’t always cheaper. One seller said he believed that was a big mistake on eBay UK’s part, writing, “who will want to list something for 99p when you have to pay 35p to list it, doesn’t make sense.” Another seller called it a disaster: “as someone who sells mainly books, the listing fee will be rising from 10p to 35p.”

But one seller said they could not understand why anyone would list 99p start prices, and another wrote on the boards, “Frankly, if any private seller is getting het up about losing 100 free 99p listings per month, I would question whether they are a genuine private seller and not really a business.”

“I think it is a good thing,” said yet another seller. “It means that I won’t have to wait for a free listing weekend and then, if I don’t feel too good, not be able to list. I can list up to 20 items at the start price I want, using the format I want over the course of a month and I think that is really generous all things considered.”

“A private seller is someone who is offloading their own stuff,” the continued, “not selling to make a profit, to buy more to sell – that’s a business seller and hopefully, this will go some way to giving the heave-ho to many of those unregistered business sellers who have been taking advantage of eBay and consumers for too long.”

Another gripe centered around sellers who listed 99-pence auctions but didn’t follow through: “The increase in complaints from buyers about sellers refusing to sell an item for 99p which only had the buyer’s one bid on it has been steadily increasing on these boards for well over a year now.”

In contrast, another seller wrote, “I sell on the collectables category and I can tell you that everyone in that category is probably in shock right now.”

The Final Value Fees for item and postage costs will remain at 10% across every category except Motors and Property for private sellers with a cap of 75 pounds. eBay UK is giving private sellers the ability to schedule their 20 free listings at no additional charge.

The fees take effect on May 13, 2014, see more information on the eBay UK announcement board.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
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). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.