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Survey Shows Sellers Took Sales Hit from eBay Hack

After an eBay seller appeared on the Today Show television program on Saturday morning to say her sales were down over 70% after eBay revealed a security breach on May 21st, EcommerceBytes conducted a poll to see how readers felt the company handled the breach and if they were impacted in any way.

In just over a day, over 2000 eBay sellers responded, and the answer was a resounding yes – only 3% said they had not been impacted by news of the breach. Another 3% of sellers said news of the breach had actually had an overall positive impact on dollar sales, while 93% said it had had a negative impact on their dollar sales.

Readers were then asked, “Now, over one month after the news of the eBay security breach, do you see any change in the number of average orders you receive on eBay compared to before the breach (all other things being equal and keeping in mind seasonal patterns)?”

Ninety-one percent said sales were now lower than pre-breach announcement levels, 6% said sales were now the same, and 2% said sales were now higher than pre-breach announcement levels.

eBay sellers also had plenty to say about the breach and how eBay handled it. A number of respondents mentioned the fact that eBay knew about the breach several weeks before they announced it, and some noted they heard about the breach from the media before they heard from eBay. This resulted in trust issues, and some feared buyers felt the same mistrust.

“I had three buyers cancel and I think the resulting media about “where was eBay?” and “why did it take 2 months to go public?” left distrust,” said one respondent.

Other respondents said it wasn’t enough to simply ask buyers and sellers to change their passwords.

And it wasn’t just what eBay said and when it said it – it was how the company said it. Said one seller, “They “mentioned” it as casually as they would have told us they were taking a vacation, or painting their office a different color.”

Do readers think eBay is doing enough to reassure shoppers after the security breach on its site? Ninety-six percent said no, and only 4% said yes. Some of the comments on this point included:

eBay has made no effort through extensive advertising, or otherwise, to inform the public that they have taken care of the problem and it is safe to buy on eBay.

They are not addressing it in the media. They need a positive media campaign to assure potential customers that it is safe to shop on eBay.

Personally, I haven’t heard much at all other than the “reset your password” notices on eBay. No clear explanation or reassurances, which I think leaves buyers concerned… and afraid… to shop on the site.

I’m not sure they can do anything. It will take time to heal.

The CEO, and no one else in a senior management position, has come forth and publicly assured buyers (or sellers) that their information is secure and that it is safe to shop on eBay.

Ebay is playing the denial game on this. However, I am not sure what they can do. The more they talk about it, the worse it might make it.

They did not handle it well. Seems like they just want everyone to reset password and not fully address the issue and how long it took for them to announce the breach.

Target did enough. eBay is like “meh, whatever, change your password, ok, bye”.

When asked, “As a seller, do you feel eBay adequately compensated you for fallout from the breach, if any,” 94% said no. Some readers said they were unaware eBay had done anything to compensate sellers. “There was no compensation from eBay,” was a typical response.

Another pointed out that eBay sellers were still obligated to pay fees even while sales had decreased. “eBay has not given any compensation to me!! I am still renting a store but having very very few sales!”

Other comments included:

I’ve had no compensation. Just offers for free auction listings, which I don’t use because I list fixed price.

Giving extra seller promotions when no one is shopping does not help.

I feel that we should get some fee credit.

They should have offered free store subscription through the end of the year!!!

While eBay denied that the seller who appeared on the Today Show had been negatively impacted by the security breach, it did acknowledge that its requirement that all users change their passwords interrupted buying activity.

Five days after announcing the breach, eBay announced it would refund seller fees for certain auction listings and would allow sellers to cancel auction transactions for an 11-day period. Auctions account for under a third of eBay’s marketplace business.

eBay also offered coupons to some users as an incentive to buy and sell on the site.

Clearly survey respondents either didn’t know about these actions or felt they fell far short of what they considered adequate actions.

The survey results indicate a recovery, though an excruciatingly slow one, for readers who responded to the survey, and indicate eBay could do a far better job communicating with users about the breach.

Comment on the EcommerceBytes Blog.

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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/.