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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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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members   eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members

by: former_Voice

Thu Aug 20 15:45:59 2009

I enjoyed my time in Voices.  There was true give-and-take, and eBay really was interested in what we had to say. That doesn't mean that everyone got what they wanted, and any Voices member who thought the group had any real power is just kidding themselves.  However, I can say that there were several instances of ''done deals'' not happening or being altered, due, in part, to the responses of Voices members.

eBay is a business.  It is not evil. I don't believe that JD is evil. Somehow someone got the idea that eBay would care more about the community than its own financial health.  That will never happen.

Grow up.  If it works for you, fine; if not, then shut up and move on.  Be responsible for your own situation and stop blaming someone else.  

Perminate Link for eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members   eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members

by: JoeS

Thu Aug 20 16:25:03 2009

Let them continue to foolishly focus on their big sellers. Since I haven't sold on ebay since January of last year (thousands of positive feedback, zero negatives), I refuse to buy from there as well.

I've taken my business elsewhere as I'm sure many sellers have who were once good buyers on ebay as well. This is so lost on ebay management but let them continue to destroy what once was a great thing.

I'm an avid sportscard collector and I refuse to buy any on ebay anymore. I now buy my sportscard singles from an online site called . It is a great concept as it is a fulfillment center for sportscards. All the sellers have to send their cards to COMC to list and put in the seller's accounts for a reasonable fee. Once they are listed in the seller's accounts, all the seller has to do is price them. COMC also keeps the current book value on the listing so the seller can quickly decide what he wants to price the cards at. The beauty of COMC having all the sportscards is they can combine shipping for a buyer as COMC does all the shipping as well. Think about that, you buy sportscards from 20 different sellers on there but since COMC's has all the inventory, they can combine shipping for all your purchases. There are no FVF's and you can use your store credits, which is same as cash, to purchase other cards or cash out (there is a cash-out fee but considering they do most of the work is well worth it). has been very innovative and is growing very fast. They are close to doubling the amount of single sportscards that ebay currently has and should be close to 1 million cards to choose from by the end of the year. The alternatives are becoming a reality.

Perminate Link for eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members   eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members

by: J

Thu Aug 20 16:53:29 2009

''If it works for you, fine; if not, then shut up and move on.''

The parrot anthem of the eBay apologists.

eBay still works for me for certain items just not as well as it did and should. My eBay sales are less than half of what they were before that wretched coward got hold of the reins and started the dismantling of what was once a great venue. Luckily I have had success on other venues. I used to buy items and immediately list them on eBay. Now I try other methods and eBay ends up with the dregs.

I don't know if the Ho is evil or not but I am certain he is a megalomaniac with delusions of grandeur. He remains too frightened to face the very customers he has hurt so much. His actions remind me of a little insecure dictator.

And no I won't be shutting up anytime soon.  

Perminate Link for eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members   eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members

by: Rich

Thu Aug 20 17:04:05 2009

I ALMOST listed a book on eBay (first item in 18 months now)but it seemed like too much work. So, I put it on eCrater instead. It was the only listing I had up and it sold the next day. I was as shocked as you must be. This is a true story. The names were changed to protect the innocent.

Perminate Link for eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members   eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members

by: EventHorizon1984

Thu Aug 20 17:04:52 2009

> by: former_Voice
> If it works for you, fine; if not, then shut up and move on.

In other words if you faced the situation below, your options would be ''works'' ''fine'' or ''shut up''.

''Two things displease me. The extra fifty feed above the five thousand is sloppy flying and there is too much light in the cockpit.''

It's a good thing the author above/below didn't follow that always terrible advice.

''Those fifty additional sloppy feed held only a few minutes previously -- so insignificant then -- are now revealed as the pinion of our lives. To have maintained those fifty feet one second more would have matched our altitude exactly with the stranger's.''

For those unfamiliar with the quotes, the ''stranger'' was another aircraft in a head on flight path.  The Pilot, Ernest Gann, took control of the aircraft and corrected the sloppy flying by descending 50 feet.

Children ignore problems.  Adults speak up about problems and try to fix them.  Because problems typically don't go away, and can have serious ramifications.

It's a pity that of the other Voices members who posted here and spoke eloquently, your's is the only one that stands out.


''To my personal God I mutter two words of gratitude. My thank you is given almost begrudgingly, for it is still extremely difficult to appreciate our salvation. I can only think that the moment was an evil one, and so long as the issues does not constitute a mere reprieve, I am content to believe it must be good.''
Ernest Gann, Fate Is The Hunter (Published 1961)

Perminate Link for eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members   eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members

by: Rich

Thu Aug 20 17:28:50 2009

...And with that I immediately went over to my new blog and changed the permissions'' to ''author only.''

Perminate Link for eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members   eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members

by: so what

Thu Aug 20 19:00:57 2009

@ still a voice

I wouldn't consider you a seller (less than 10 items in 6 months) a part time hobbyist at best.

So put don't pat yourself on the back with the input you might give on the part of sellers.

As a hobbyist you have no real knowledge of what it takes to sell on a daily basis.

Perminate Link for eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members   eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members

by: Still a Voice

Thu Aug 20 19:07:53 2009

"So What" are entitled to your opinion, but thankfully most people at eBay do not agree with you.  My CURRENT sales level is at the hobby level, but anyone who lists an item on eBay is a "seller", some full time, some part time, and some occasional, but ALL sellers are important.  With over 2500 feedback, mostly from selling, I DO consider myself to be a seller.

Perminate Link for eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members   eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members

by: going gone

Thu Aug 20 20:34:31 2009

HA HA 2500 feedback HA HA

Perminate Link for eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members   eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members

by: young & innocent age

Thu Aug 20 20:38:11 2009

Shoulda asked Garnor about this from an Ex voices member above:

"When the administrator of the program, Garnor Morantes, has to remind members to be positive about their comments and admit that he's hesitant about opening up the comments for all employees to view...they do not want to hear what they need to know...they want to hear what they want to hear..."

Perminate Link for eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members   eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Thu Aug 20 21:01:18 2009

"Thanks for proving my point."

That was the snappy TV talking head Republican comeback from, oh, at least a year ago. So passe to say nothing of utterly lacking in any substance.

J is right. Many of won't be shutting up anytime soon.

But unless the readers of this and other blogs file complaints with the appropriate state and federal agencies, it will probably be too late by this time next year.


Email Michael Moore from his website (Info below.) and suggest that if he thought GM was sleazy in "Roger and Me," ebay makes GM look angelic by comparison. Two birds with stone and all that!

1.  US Department of Justice (DoJ)
    Anti Trust Division
    950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC 20530

    How to submit a complaint:

2. Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
   Consumer Response Center
   600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
   Washington, DC 20580

    Mission: The Federal Trade Commission is the nation's consumer protection agency. The FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection works For The Consumer to prevent fraud, deception, and unfair business practices in the marketplace.

The Bureau:

Enhances consumer confidence by enforcing federal laws that protect consumers Empowers consumers with free information to help them exercise their rights and spot and avoid fraud and deception Wants to hear from consumers who want to get information or file a complaint about fraud or identity theft

    To report a company for a pattern and practice of suspected fraud:


    The FTC doe NOT resolve individual consumer complaints. Please confine your remarks whether verbal or written to ebay/PayPal policies you believe are illegal.

    Online fraud complaint form:

3. Securities and Exchange Commission
   SEC Complaint Center
   100 F Street NE
   Washington, D.C. 20549-0213
   (above link includes information about insider trading and sending tips and complaints

  1. Insider trading:
  2. Tips and Complaints:

  Online complaint forms:

  Hypthetically, if I were filing an SEC complaint, I'd strongly consider:

  --False or misleading statements about a company (including false or misleading SEC reports or financial statements)

-- Stock price manipulation to enrich executive with stock options? Note that ebay has had several cosnecutuve quarterly losses
yet their stock has more than doubled and they've been buying up their own stock.

5. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA)
   House Energy and Commerce Committee
   2204 Rayburn
   House Office Building
   Washington, D.C. 20515
   Telephone (202) 225-3976
   Fax (202) 225-4099

   8436 West Third Street, Ste 600
   Los Angeles, CA 90048
   Telephone 1 (310) 652-3095
   Telephone 2 (818) 878-7400
   Telephone 3 (323) 651-1040
   Fax (323) 655-0502

6. Attorney General’s Office
   California Department of Justice
   Attn: Consumer Protection Division
   P.O. Box 944255
   Sacramento, CA 94244-2550
   (916) 322-3360>
Attorney General's Office
   2115 State Capitol
   Lincoln, NE 68509
   Consumer Protection Division: 800) 727-6432

   Online complaint form:
consumer complaints to the Attorney Generals against ebay/PayPal should be directed to the California and Nebraska Attorney general's Office Divison of Consumer complaints. Complaints could include PayPal holds on seller funds, ebay billing
issues, PayPal confiscation of seller property, etc. PayPal complaints should be directed to both attorney generals' office, and ebay complaints should be sent to California.

General comments:

-- Emails and phone calls are fine, but SNAIL MAIL has more impact. PLEASE send all complaints with regular USPS mail.

-- When filing and mailing WRITTEN complaints, spring for an extra envelope and stamp and send a copy to the San Jose Better Bureau. Little will come of it, BUT ebay MUST file a written response.

-- Rep. Waxman has the ability to hold public hearings on the conduct of a business or industry. He has the power to subpoena executives past and present, past and present rank and file employees, and records. Consider the possibilities :-)

8. San Jose Better Business Bureau
   1112 S. Bascom Ave.
   San Jose, CA 95128
   Phone: (408) 278-7400

9. Ebay operates in all 50 states. Therefore sending copies of complaints or filing directly with your state's attorney general's office will make a difference if they receive enough complaints. Your can find your attorney general and consumer protection
information by using a search engine using these keywords (Your state) Attorney General Consumer Protection.

Please post this information on every relevant website and blog -- especially TV news, newspaper, financial, and business media blogs and websites. This information should be posted in hundreds of location on a daily basis for maximum and persistent exposure. Remember that certain corporations hire people to disrupt blogs and that includes spamming them to bury unwelcome messages.

10. Michael Moore


Michael can do for ebay what he did for GM.

You prove nothing except possibly an unfamiliarity with the reality of ebafia and propensity for ineffective ad hominem attacks.

Perminate Link for eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members   eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members

by: Fat Tony froma Long Island

Thu Aug 20 21:30:30 2009

Minga, you get them Dumbabells at Ebay so mad they canna no thinka! Isa like fighting a wiseguy with no bullets. They are many stupid there.

Perminate Link for eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members   eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members

by: cathy

Thu Aug 20 22:01:23 2009

Draconian. 'Polite' KGB.  There is Karma. Donahoe used up his long ago.

Perminate Link for eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members   eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members

by: Ebay No More

Thu Aug 20 22:16:16 2009

The Voices program was worthless for anything more than being ''yes'' people for Ebay management. Who will notice or care when they are gone? No one. Ebay's cheerleaders became obsolete like the Edsel. Ho hum! Next topic Ina and David.

Perminate Link for eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members   eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members

by: kw

Thu Aug 20 22:16:48 2009

Big YAWN.  Same ol' stuff about ebay all the time.  How about some news regarding the other selling sites?  They don't have as much intrigue and fighting to report but there's some exciting stuff happening outside of ebay for serious sellers.

Perminate Link for eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members   eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members

by: Kristoffer

Thu Aug 20 22:39:40 2009

"Scaling down the membership to roughly 100 members will allow eBay to most effectively manage Voices input."

If they can't even effectively manage over 100 people it's no wonder they can't manage ebay correctly!

I am sure they will kick people out and bring new people into the group until they find the 100 that agree with exactly what ebay wants.

Perminate Link for eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members   eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members

by: mindelec

Thu Aug 20 23:44:34 2009

love the picture ina, that was what being in voices often felt like.

@What Me Worry
you said it better than i could.  it really made them "uncomfortable" to hear negative comments or to see how some of their decisions actually affected people.  for example, raise store fees 200% and call it 20% and then wonder why a member wasn't "gee this is great!".

Perminate Link for eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members   eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members

by: SteveO

Fri Aug 21 00:55:13 2009

People like Morantes are what's wrong with most of our nation's businesses right now. They are about squelching any hint of dissent lest the unwelcome input upset their masters.  Sadly, the ones left behind after layoffs are usually are the ones who should have been shown the door.  They are cowards who will never excel at anything except kissing up. That's the eBay 2.0 model.  Voices died a long time ago.

Perminate Link for eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members   eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members

by: x_powerseller

Fri Aug 21 03:12:21 2009

I would have cheered this move, but only if the fat useless Griff was one of the 30 eliminated!

Perminate Link for eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members   eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members

by: brecklundin

Fri Aug 21 03:18:41 2009

For those who feel voices members were sycophants and yes men sorts you are the exact reason some of us left eBay.  I was an active member of the user boards helping 1000s of members at the drop of a hat in order to make smaller sellers find their way through eBay.  I was a member of what might have been the most influential and effective Voices group.  I know that is saying a lot but we were note even close to "yes men/women" and at that time eBay truly listened to us.  

We each gave up years of our time and advice I personally would have charged clients tens of thousands of dollars for...all to HELP my fellow sellers.  But we were met with petty jealously from the more unbalanced eBay'ers who always knew better yet accomplished nothing.  

I finally left when there was too much of a difference of opinion between myself and one individual who was running the program.  

I will tell you I gave them the Health Insurance thing for Power Sellers and argued that they were asking sellers to commit themselves full time to selling and eBay had the resources to help organize a group insurance program.  eBay LOVED the idea...unfortunately the INSURANCE INDUSTRY refused to come up with a real health insurance program.  Still the options which came the ashes of a well intentioned program, which eBay genuinely put a LOT of man hours into trying to develop, but what rose was at least a very decent Rx discount program that saves me over $400/mo on medications and even more if I was willing to take some of the more dangerous meds to help slow down the progression of my primary health issue...Meg overstated the scope of the program at eBay Live 1 but at the time she was unaware of the final denial from the insurance carriers...still there is value in the program.  I take pride in knowing I was a motivating voice behind something to potentially help millions of people save even more millions on many aspects of their health care needs.

Another personal feature of the site that was exclusively mine and I gave it to the lead programmer free because I was never going to be able to develop feature on a site as my serious programming days were behind me and I had a parent who needed me as her caregiver.  And that feature is the Best Offer, I designed it, talked to Mark about it and eBay made a few changes but developed one of the most used features on the site...and no I never was paid or asked for compensation.  But eBay added it after my disagreement with the then coordinator of Voices...and it was over something very stupid on my part but I am a stubborn bastard when I am in the mood...and boy was I in the mood...hehehe...

We came up with the idea of annual convention type events moved around the country...this because eBay Live.  It would have worked had eBay held the community together with real mods rather than farming it all out...big error on their part...

You also have no idea who many ideas we stopped cold in their tracks during conference calls.  You should have been a fly one the wall when we gave a top to bottom dressing-down to UPS VP's when they were trying to gain exclusive access to eBay sellers of all other carriers.  Sellers in antiques and collectibles can tell you that UPS might be the single worst carrier in terms of delivery, obtaining signatures as paid for (drives can just drop boxes even if a sig is required when the area is designated as a drop and go area...this would destroy the needed signature for PP Seller Protection.)  We pointed out that there was no such thing as a one size fits all.

We were strongly influential in getting sellers to be required in revealing all fees in their listings.  Shipping, handling and insurance.  Our compromise was in lieu of limits which are impractical because a seller in NY has higher staff overhead than one on small town USA.  So, our suggestion was a compromise (eBay was against revealing or limiting...) but we pushed and argued very cogently for simple declaration of any fees.  before us there was no rule and sellers often raised fees if items sold under value.

We fought with PayPal when they tried to take away the 1.5% cash back for using the PP Debit card...they wanted to eliminate ALL cashback programs...I for one told PayPal directly that should they remove that program I would not use their service...I am no large seller, but I had an ace in the hole as did every member of our group, we had the ear of the community on the eBay Boards, each of us in a different board.  While we alone might not have saved the program, we planted the seed of doubt that cutting the program would potentially wreck eBay's recently acquired PayPal.  Again earning millions of funds for millions of sellers...but we were "yes men/women".

I am sure there will be those who know exactly who I am from my comments...and those people will also know I honest to a fault...and I take crap from nobody, and every member of our group was the same way, each in their own way.  Two of us were more vocal but the others were just as resolute unwilling to compromise beyond a certain point where sellers and/or buyers would be harmed.

I have the utmost respect for my fellow members in our Voices group...we worked hard for everyone of us, we did nothing in a self serving fashion...but there were those out there who felt because we were legally bound to not disclose these things we were 'assimilated'.  I personally put my eBay account at risk in standing up for what I though was right...yet I say cowards with posting ID's bitching like 8yr old school girls about us, eBay and the lack of decent tinfoil for their hats.

I guess you can say I stopped caring.  I stopped caring about eBay as a company as well as my fellow eBay' a decade later, I care only for my buyers and give them the best of the best in service and respect.  Something the whiners have not clue about...

I have a personal list of eBay execs who I have the utmost respect for...the believed in the small community the level playing field and all the things which eBay was...but unfortunately, they lost the battle.  

I will point out two....Maynard Webb and Bill Cobb.  Yeah, many of the whiners thing those two were just horrible people...having actually looked them in the eye, spent hours in person with them and one the phones, they are honest and decent people.  There are easily 50-100 people at eBay I still remember that had the best intentions.  Sadly, the decisions from the very top, did some serious damage.  I also know the people who believed in the community, they either gave up hope to feed their families or left eBay.

After our eBay group basically the program was changed and significantly watered down.  Still that does not mean the members were in it just for themselves and to say they were part of eBay...those sorts were actually weeded out pretty early.

No matter what the antagonists say, I know what I did personally and what my group did as a whole...and we did GOOD.

The single regret I had was we were unable to convince eBay to move eBay Live Listings out of the core or at least into their own sub area in each category.  but eventually we were proven right because many remained vocal and kept pointing out the ethically questionable aspects of Live Auction format and their mixing in with regular listings.

I know this was not well written but I needed to express that in our early groups there were a couple special teams (we really became a team and ours was as cohesive a team as I have ever worked with, and we never knew each other before Voices, well I knew one member of my group and she was one of the stellar members who was in it for us ALL not herself...

I also have bent, but likely not broken my NDA but after a decade since I signed it, I feel things have changed enough to live with someone "peeing in the cheerios" a bit in order to set a few things straight.

I know the anger will come always does, but if you examine the eBay ID's of those people you will find proof of their lack of stability revealed in how they deal with customers.

Ina knows me and knows who I am...and I know w/o her watching eBay for us, we would be caught even more off guard...

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