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Wed Aug 19 2009 23:58:27

eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members

By: Ina Steiner

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The new eBay team put into place last year after long-time CEO Meg Whitman retired has been slashing payroll and eliminating programs. Its latest target is the 10-year old Voices of the Community program, commonly referred to as "Voices."

eBay is ejecting the oldest members from the program, whose participants give eBay monthly input into programs during their development and pre-launch. There are 47 groups in Voices comprised of about 130 active members. Over 30 are being ejected from the program. Voices members are not paid, and some of them worked within the program for a decade to help eBay grow the site.

A source familiar with the decision to retire Voices founding members said eBay wants to focus on big sellers and buyers now as the site moves in that direction.

eBay has been giving perks to large retailers to entice them to the site, and it has moved away from investments in community by canceling its annual user conference and laying off its discussion board moderators, where both buyers and sellers gather to talk about everything from collecting and fashion to buying and selling tips.

In research for an article we published about the Voices program in 2004, some sellers explained that they stayed in Voices so they know what's coming down the road, and prefer to be in the loop on future developments.

In a 2003 eBay Chatter newsletter article, the Community Development Voices Coordinator at the time said of the program's creation, "CEO Meg Whitman decided that eBay should hear what members had to say face-to-face."

Update 8/20/09: Please see the update to the Newsflash story - I spoke with Garnor Morantes, Senior Manager of Seller Development for eBay Marketplaces, about the changes to the Voices program.

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by: Herb Rules

Thu Sep 3 14:10:23 2009


This topic was at the bottom on page 1 when I did my post, just like Ming. Thanks

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Thu Dec 10 13:40:49 2009



Why would eBay management be contracting costly outside marketing research firms to conduct numerous “focus groups” of eBay sellers and buyers when the eBay site itself is continuously providing the most dynamic and accurate “real-world” seller and consumer demographics and sales data available anywhere on earth?

My name is David Riddle. I have been an eBay seller and buyer since December of 1998 (eBay user name: DAVIDRIDDLE).  In this time, I have successfully completed more than thirty- thousand sales of scientific and technical equipment and thousands of like purchases on the eBay site. In addition, I have personally spoken via telephone with every one of these customers!

On November 16th 2009,  FCP Research in Pittsburgh contacted me by telephone and said I was selected to participate in a two-hour long focus group meeting that was seeking opinions from eBay sellers about how eBay might improve the buying and selling experience on eBay.  

The particular group that I attended along with eight other local eBay sellers was held in Santa Monica, California..  It was immediately apparent after the first few minutes that eBay did not want our opinion about our experience using the site,  only our opinion about their new plan to more accurately classify listings of consumer electronics with designations such as: “NEW WITH SEALED BOX”, “NEW OPENED BOX”, “USED EXCELLENT CONDITION”, “USED GOOD CONDITION” ETC..  

Any attempt by me or the other attendees to actually express our feelings and opinions about our experiences and accumulated “best practices” we utilize when selling and buying on the site were stifled by the moderator redirecting us to stick to the prepared materials and “keep on point”.  When I asked this moderator if she had any experience selling on eBay, she said no!

I suspect that eBay management decided to “get some numbers” this time before implementing this new plan because in my opinion, their previous parade of new ideas to improve the “eBay buying experience” were almost always ridiculously conceived and apparently offered no discernible efficacy.  Management can now claim; “well we did our due-diligence”.

The whole experience was extremely frustrating for me and clearly demonstrated (again) that eBay management apparently doesn’t have any understanding of their own site because they have never bought and sold products in any significant numbers on the site, and because of this, have never communicated directly with buyers and sellers to see what works and what doesn’t!  

With eleven years of hard work, I have enjoyed stellar success using the eBay site for all of my business activities. During this time I have closely observed, communicated with and suffered under eBay management decisions and can state with absolute certainty that the individuals in charge, do not know how or why eBay actually works at the buyer / seller transactional level.
            If eBay management really wanted to gather valid information on how to improve the buying experience, they simply could have taken the large sum of money they spent contracting outside market research firms and enlist a specific group of eBay personnel to purchase thousands of category specific items from eBay sellers and then critically document the quality of the individual transactions from bidding / ordering to receipt of goods.  

The next logical step in this process is to have the same eBay personnel list all of these same received items on the site for sale and again document the difficulty or ease of the entire process:  photography, listing, sale, payment, packaging, shipment and finally feedback.  

The information that management would receive in going through the buying and selling  process would be extraordinarily valuable and  highly accurate “real world information”.   But alas, this activity would require real hard work, the same work every eBay seller does everyday, apparently the kind of work that eBay management can’t or will not do.

            For the first time in history this amazing gathering of individual sellers and buyers provides an historic shift for market research; millions of daily listings and transactions with all of the associated metrics (product description, key-words, offer / sales price, buyer / seller demographics, listing category, page hits verses conversion to sales etc.) available to everyone on the internet.

In addition to the previously stated market data, eBay management has vastly greater varieties of consumer / seller data not available to the public. On a daily and long-term historical basis, eBay has at its fingertips, the most valuable marketing research information on earth and they appear to be ignorant to this fact, as proven by their contracting of outside market research firms!

Call me toll-free @ 800-544-3746, 9AM-6PM, M-F, PST. Tell me what you think, David Riddle. 11-30-09

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by: RM This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 8 23:45:36 2013

LOL, a four year old discussion about the voices program. Perfect. LOL, I was a Voices 1 member. It was fun, productive, entertaining and enlightening. I have good memories of the whole thing but I dropped out of the program two years later (2002). I could see the program was changing into a focus group mentality. The first few Voices groups actually accomplished a few things and eBay listened, after about the 5th or 6th group, the MBA's took over completely and that's about when I left. I can't believe eBay waited this long to dump the "old" Voices, LOL it's almost as unbelievable that the Voices program still exist at all. Or maybe it doesn't now......LOL. Anyway, bottom line, who cares?

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