AuctionBytes Blog
Covering auctions, collectibles and marketplace selling.

AuctionBytes Blog The AuctionBytes Blog has been giving a voice to online merchants since its launch in 2005. Named one of the world's top 30 blogs in 2008 by "Blogging Heroes." Weigh in with your thoughts on the joys and pitfalls of selling online.
Mon Nov 27 2017 22:15:48

Has eBay Reached Its Level of Incompetence?

By: Bob

Sponsored Link

Has eBay reached its Level of Incompetence? Online seller and AuctionBytes blogger Bob examines how a new policy and its detrimental effect on sellers is evidence of the Peter Principle at work.

In 1969 Dr. Laurence J. Peter wrote a wonderful book titled, The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong. This is classic study of corporate bureaucracy which he dubbed "Hierarchiology" (that word, alone, makes this book a must read!).

There were several important tendencies that this book exposed. Spoiler Alert! A main one was that in a corporate atmosphere, people tended to rise to their "Level of Incompetence." This means that as someone does good work in one position they are promoted until they attain a position they are no longer qualified for. This is their Level of Incompetence, where they will usually remain.

Another important aspect that Dr. Peter explained was what happens when a person, or even a company (Cough... Cough... eBay! Ahem...) reaches their Level of Incompetence. At this point they are no longer able to effectively deal with advancing the corporation's best interest in the outside consumer world. Instead, they become focused inward. The problems are no longer competitors or the mysterious, invisible hand of the marketplace. No, the problems become one's co-workers. Or that other department not pulling its weight. Or that cheap coffee the company supplies. 

Damnit! Give me a decent cup of joe and we'll create a monopoly!

I am not sure when eBay reached its own Level of Incompetence. But it has surely reached it. And it's grown downright comfortable in that spot. The proof is easy to find for, according to eBay, its problems are not caused by its own outdated programming, the revolving door too many competent employees march out through and, certainly, it couldn't be the big honchos with alphabet soup titles. Oh no! 

The problem is its sellers.

eBay is increasingly targeting its sellers, assuming that every one of them is a dishonest malcontent trying to steal from them. Recently, eBay announced that if they (or, better, their incompetent bots) were to suspect someone of selling items found on eBay, off eBay, they would charge fees anyway... even if the items don't actually sell!

From the user agreement: "If you are a seller, you are liable for transaction fees arising out of all sales made using some or all eBay Services, even if sales terms are finalized or payment is made outside of eBay... you may be liable to pay a final value fee applicable to that item, even if the item doesn't sell..." 

One seller was recently exposed to this when they attempted to write a buyer asking them to contact this seller if there were any problems with the sale. The seller was informed in BIG RED LETTERS that "Offers to buy or sell outside of eBay are not allowed. Please edit your message before you send it."

The seller had to reword the same, innocent message until the bots found it acceptable.

This isn't only insulting to sellers, it is a really bad strategy. I guarantee that the money eBay is putting into finding a handful of lost fees are costing more in employee time, subcontractor costs and in disgusted sellers leaving than anywhere near what it will save them.

But that kind of math doesn't matter when managers, companies, or even politicians, have reached their Level of Incompetence. 

About the Columnist
Bob has been buying and selling online for almost 20 years. Some experts claim that his limited budget was the major cause of the 2001 dot-com crash. He denies the charge.

Comments (31) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

Has eBay Reached Its Level of Incompetence?   Has eBay Reached Its Level of Incompetence?

by: Scott98 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 30 01:24:31 2017

Bob said: “eBay announced they would charge fees anyway..... even if the items don't actually sell!”

This is how this is going to work. They'll give a warning. After the warning, if you remove items for whatever reason such as items that aren't selling and haven't sold for months. They will then accuse you of selling outside and, they will suspend your account. You can never remove items. Once you list on eBay you are held hostage! What a joke eBay is.

Has eBay Reached Its Level of Incompetence?   Has eBay Reached Its Level of Incompetence?

This user has validated their user name. by: SalesBoy

Thu Nov 30 08:43:49 2017

Dear God!!!  When will a truly competitive and competent alternative to eBay ever appear??  Just because they are the big boy on the block for their category doesn't mean they can't fall - and fast.

If you don't believe that just think about the former great and huge chain of restaurants called Howard Johnson's! They were everywhere. They occupied a large percentage of the nation's highway rest stops.  There was at least one in every larger town and city.

Then came McDonald's - just a single hamburger stand in Nowhereville, U.S.A. In a matter of 5 - 10 years it began causing the closing of Howard Johnson restaurants from sea to shining sea. Why? They were hungry, aggressive and committed to consistency and customer satisfaction like HoJo's never was.  Oh, and the food was cheaper and, according to many, even better. Now there are ZERO HoJos.

Think of eBay as HoJo's. For the love of all that is holy, where is the next McDonald's!?

Has eBay Reached Its Level of Incompetence?   Has eBay Reached Its Level of Incompetence?

by: Whatever This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 30 09:16:38 2017

Exactly - where IS the next McDonalds? Ebay is so stupid - if I've been there for 18+ years - I stay - simple. What are they thinking running off seller and buyers alike. If I was the big "W" I'd be selling off all my shares - grabbing my 15 million and finding a spot to sit down and have a few beers.  How much money does one person need? Not that much. By the time you figure things out in life most are left with just an education. I'm beyond exasperation. First of all if I want to sell something off ebay I don't use paypal to do it. There are alot of other payment processors. AND paypal provides everyone an email address - dah. It's not brain surgery. A middle school student can figure it out.  I recently opened a 3rd store.  I was rearranging deck chairs as they say - because I ended several (many) items to move to the new store ebay has completely cut off my sales on store 2. Oh I go no warnings but my sales on that store went from $1500 consistently to now -0-  So store 3 with -0- feedback gets nothing either and the original store #1 which has sold over $250,000 also gets nothing because that rearranging deck chairs actually started their.  Here's a heads up folks - I have no clue how long ebay is going to punish me for expanding but I learned a valuable lesson - never end a listing - wait for it to end on it's own then move your product. The paranoid cracking smoking honchos have really blown it for me this xmas selling season. Compound that with all the glitches - way too many to count anymore and well christmas is yet again blown for me.

Has eBay Reached Its Level of Incompetence?   Has eBay Reached Its Level of Incompetence?

by: JohnGermaine This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 30 09:58:12 2017

They have lost their way. They have forgotten that they provide a platform where "I" can sell "My" goods.  They seem to think that "I" work for "them".  Well I don't.  And they are heading for the toilet quickly due to the ignorance at the top.

Has eBay Reached Its Level of Incompetence?   Has eBay Reached Its Level of Incompetence?

by: IFindBugs This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 30 11:09:10 2017

Well stated by the original writer, however one important aspect has been overlooked -- the situation is even worse.

The environment within eBay is such people are moved/promoted out of middle-management jobs fairly often. As each replacement is put into place, the new person thinks that to PROVE THEIR WORTH they must CHANGE SOMETHING. To them, in that environment, it does not matter what they change, they just have to change SOMETHING.  For this reason, many of the (now long gone) good aspects of eBay were changed, progressively made less and less useful, and more anti-seller (and even anti-buyer).

In this -- almost accidental way -- anything that worked well became broken.

In the process, the best sellers and the best buyers left. As a seller, I left and stopped sending $1300/month in FEES to eBay -- I now do much, MUCH better in sales with my own website, and with virtually zero problems with buyers.

The buyers that remained on eBay essentially became trained in bad practices.  Much has been written about that in other blog posts.  

The sellers that remained had to deal with the economic reality that with selling prices falling dramatically (in the area of interest to me), there was no economically feasible way for them to provide decent customer service -- and eBay has done everything it can to limit communication (thus customer service) between buyer and seller. Sometimes in order to get a refund for a product problem (more on that in a bit), after no response via the eBay message system, I have to open a case on PayPal (which of course causes the seller no end of problems).

So, I am now only on a buyer on eBay. Because of this toxic situation, prices have really declined on eBay (in the area that interests me).  As a result, five or more years ago, I would have to pay 60% of my retail (I am a full time merchant with a full-time staff of several people, in a collectibles area) to buy something on eBay.  That has now fallen to the point that I get about 70% of what I bid on, but I now for what I win, I only have to pay about 20-25% of my retail selling price. Last week, I placed bids on 46 items offered by a single seller; I won 40 of those items and only had to pay 40% of my total top bid/snipe amounts (which netted that I got the total of items for 20% of my total retail).  I can buy something on eBay for $25, turn around and put it on my own website for $100 and sell it within 2-5 days.

Even though that markup is huge, the situation is still sad because to me, as a buyer, the lot viewing and bidding process is so clumsy that it just takes too long -- I could bid on (and afford) several hundred items per day, but I just don't have time to mess with eBay all day.

This tells me that there are some extremely serious, now systemic, problems on eBay.

It is really too bad, but then eBay gets what it deserves.  

Has eBay Reached Its Level of Incompetence?   Has eBay Reached Its Level of Incompetence?

by: Jono77 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 30 11:26:11 2017

BRAVO Well said Bob!

Selling on eBay is like trying to tread water in a lake of lard.

Has eBay Reached Its Level of Incompetence?   Has eBay Reached Its Level of Incompetence?

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Thu Nov 30 11:40:37 2017

@Ifindbugs

"In the process, the best sellers and the best buyers left."

I find that to be very INSULTING to the GREAT sellers that are on eBay!

I've worked very hard over the past 20 years to make eBay a GREAT place to buy & sell. . .

My customers are also of HIGHER caliber then most so you are also INSULTING them as well. . .

Has eBay Reached Its Level of Incompetence?   Has eBay Reached Its Level of Incompetence?

by: Stargateman This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 30 11:43:58 2017

Thank you for all the info I have worked hard posting on Ebay for the last 8 years and to think it will all go down the
toilet gets to me. I am really liking Bonanza site.

Has eBay Reached Its Level of Incompetence?   Has eBay Reached Its Level of Incompetence?

by: fashionista This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 30 12:02:58 2017

the programmers seem very incompetent.......yesterday a buyer inquired if we would give a discount if he purchased two items,  they were expensive so I said if he purchased both we could offer a $50 discount off the total.  He wrote back, how much would the total be.
I answered $xxxxx and provided and broke it down in parentheses ($xxx + $xxx = $xxxx less discount -$xxx = $xxx plus s/h/i $xxx = $xxxx total)
well, I got a warning about selling off ebay.
I wish Ina could contact them .........

Has eBay Reached Its Level of Incompetence?   Has eBay Reached Its Level of Incompetence?

by: Studiolines This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 30 23:37:55 2017

@pace306
Yes, if they would just learn to work with there sellers.  

Has eBay Reached Its Level of Incompetence?   Has eBay Reached Its Level of Incompetence?

by: Scott98 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Dec 1 22:33:08 2017

@fashionista, Don't you know you're not supposed to talk that way! /s. My suspension for giving a buyer a freight shipping quote url ends tomorrow after noon. Ina needs to do another story on these bogus "offer to sell off ebay" warnings and suspensions.  

Click to view more comments
1 2 


Login is required to post comments.
To sign in to leave a comment using your AB Verify User Name, fill in the form below. If you have not yet signed up for AB Verify, or if you'd like more information, go to the Registration Page
.

Login for AB Verify
Be sure and use your email address and password to log in.

 
Email:
Password:
 
 Forgot Your Password?
 Even though you are signed in with the AuctionBytes Blog, you will have to sign in to the EcommerceBytes blog. But you can sign in with your existing AB Verify info.