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Thu Oct 11 2007 22:38:59

Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay has put the final nail in the coffin of its supposed operating philosophy of a "level playing field." The nail came in the form of black ink on the pages of Friday's Wall Street Journal with a quote from John Donahoe, president of eBay's auction and marketplace business. "While sellers will be given the same opportunities, he says, "we're going to emphasize and reward our best sellers. The ones who aren't will deal with the consequences or (receive) less exposure.""



This news followed Thursday's announcement from eBay in which it told users it will begin using Detailed Seller Ratings to influence search results beginning next year. Detailed Seller Ratings are feedback ratings left for sellers anonymously by buyers.

Ironically, eBay's largest sellers view the site as an advertising platform in which to acquire customers to whom they can then market directly. eBay's small sellers have long held on to their view of the site as a storefront on which to build a business. But even small sellers are recognizing the need to expand beyond a one-marketplace business model.

In the end, eBay's increasingly "unlevel" playing field may smooth the way for others to entice sellers to their playgrounds.

Wall Street Journal article (paid subscription required).





Comments (64) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'   Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'

by: jsicolts

Fri Oct 12 06:55:15 2007

A LAWSUIT waiting to happen. This unlevel playing field not new, but now since evil eBay ADMITS and PROMOTES it, sellers should be charge the same price; higher exposure MUST cost more, sellers like us maybe 300-400 products a month should of course pay less in the outrageous eBay fees.
We are weening off eBay anyways and sell more items on better sites: Albris, Biblio, Gemmbooks, etc.

Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'   Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'

by: t_e_v

Fri Oct 12 07:41:41 2007

My son has been watching the kid nation programming and I have to admit I have been paying attention to it too. This ebay rep. saying  "While sellers will be given the same opportunities, he says, "we're going to emphasize and reward our best sellers. The ones who aren't will deal with the consequences or (receive) less exposure.""
Reminds me of ''the little beauty queen'' that is in charge of cooking for the other 30 some kids. She cooks when she wants, what she wants, and if the other kids don't like it, ''they can just deal with it'' I believe in the next episode they are going to deal with it, by ousting her from the town council. I think the ebay members need to learn from these kids. Some ousting needs to be done to keep the site available for all, the once-n-a-while seller and the PS'ers. TPTB may and are making BIG changes at the whim of a small percentage of the members. Granted this small group does produce a nice revenue source for ebay overall, ebay however would be better off without them.    

AND,

I believe they got one more nail left and the sellers will see it no later than March '08.
A new ''enhanced'' insertion fee structure that will further (lol) level the playing field.
Expect to see one something like ''More is less, less is MORE''
The More you list the less your fees. The less you list the MORE your fees.
TPTB have stated that they/she wants to get rid of the less productive sellers, and if your not a Power Seller, you prolly fit in this catagory, in ebay's mindset.
 

Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'   Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'

by: Alex

Fri Oct 12 08:25:31 2007

I have jokingly said for a long time: ''The playing field is level, but only in spots.''

I don't know why any of this would surprise anyone.

Fairness is not eBay's strong suite. Never has been..

Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'   Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'

by: Davud Steiner

Fri Oct 12 08:32:29 2007

For any of you who may have read George Orwell's "Animal Farm," it reminds me of this line:

"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."

Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'   Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'

by: Becki

Fri Oct 12 10:14:06 2007

I've long left Ebay as my major selling venue, and I make much more per month than I ever did on ebay. So the changes were a good thing for me. But i'm wondering how this Level playing field thing will help new sellers? how can they even break into selling on ebay if they have no past history? how will this be fair for them?  I thought Ebay was losing it when they took stores out of search. but...this is just way over the top.

Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'   Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'

by: Jennifer

Fri Oct 12 10:23:13 2007

As a seller, I think that my business may be impacted adversely by this because I'm being compared to the seller who sells only 4 or 5 things a month.  
But as a buyer, I hope that those ''occasional'' sellers would be pulled away.  Because I buy and sell glass and pottery primarily, I am disgusted when I get a piece in the mail that is in an old beat up dirty box, the piece wrapped in paper towels, and a few peanuts or newspaper.  I have just about quit buying from sellers who aren't dealers in glass and pottery because I'm so disgusted at their packing.  
So I guess I see it from both sides.  

Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'   Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'

by: Boycott Ebay

Fri Oct 12 10:38:34 2007

" But i'm wondering how this Level playing field thing will help new sellers?"

It won't. But most new sellers won't know that they are not going to get equal search exposure. Ebay knows that and they are counting on it.

Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'   Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'

by: Ryan

Fri Oct 12 10:52:37 2007

C'mon Google get out of the weeds and get an auction site up and running.

You already have your own payment set-up that is already implemented on other sites.

Even a small scale auction site would take a huge percentage of the sellers  from Ebay.

Something would be better then the nothing we are getting from Ebay.



Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'   Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'

by: concho

Fri Oct 12 10:53:00 2007

Ina, copy that "Final Nail" phrase to your clipboard. It won't be too long before you can use it again to describe the entire operation, not just the playing field.

Have you noticed that every utterance from eBay further alienates another segment of it's users? (the very users  whose support enabled the original success) Add the fact that, due mostly to hare-brained policies, a quickly increasing percentage of transactions result in disappointment and you have a huge and growing resentment of anything "eBay"

I spend at least an hour a day researching the company (eBay auctions, not the acquisitions) You seldom find a stock analyst who has anything bad to say about eBay, but the actual users of the site are universally critical!

Someone is not listening. Guess who I think it is.

Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'   Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'

by: GiovanniV666

Fri Oct 12 10:59:28 2007

Mr.Steiner,

Shhhhh!

Ignorance is Strength.

Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'   Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'

by: Boston ebay seller

Fri Oct 12 11:16:38 2007

Final Nail?  There's always another...

http://www.itworld.com/Tech/2403/071008ebayads/pfind
ex.html
Merchants
say eBay ad programs drive buyers away

Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'   Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'

by: Kim

Fri Oct 12 11:21:34 2007

No nail here. I've been selling on (and off) of eBay since 1998 (over 9 years) with 99.9% feedback. I can't WAIT to see this search policy take effect - customer service and attention to detail will be rewarded - bring it on!

Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'   Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'

by: raywhit

Fri Oct 12 11:27:02 2007

I closed my ebay store over a year ago.
The fees were becoming outrageous, even back then.  ebay is a poorly managed company that is way out of touch with most of it's ebay member/sellers feelings.  They continue to self-destruct. When sellers complain of other sellers breaking the rules (like listing 25 or more identical listings in their auctions, so as to crowd other sellers off of the webpages, ebay does nothing....They have turned me off in many ways.  I no longer list many items with them. (Former Powerseller)

Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'   Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'

by: indyattic

Fri Oct 12 11:27:47 2007

How sad for people like me who still broswse hoping to find small "yard sale" treasures, and also sell items once in a while too.  eBay ruined itself for me when it decided it didn't want to be an auction site any more. Yet, I'm still sad every time I see the new guard rip away even more remaining shreds of what we used to have.

Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'   Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'

by: Ryan

Fri Oct 12 11:28:28 2007

ARROGANCE...is BLISS....until the HAMMER drops!!

Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'   Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'

by: Kim

Fri Oct 12 11:36:31 2007

Good for buyers, OK for sellers. Doesn't this weed out the disreputable sellers? Bad service + repeated negative buyer experience = no visibility. Aren't disreputable sellers one of the dark clouds hanging over eBay's reputation for buyers? Why is this such a bad thing (for buyers) anyway? As a long-time power seller, I would welcome any change to the iffy online marketplace eBay continues to project for online buyers.

Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'   Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'

by: b

Fri Oct 12 12:22:16 2007

Sick and tired of eBay playing 'Big Brother' all the time.

Do bidders/buyers have no personal responsibility? Why must eBay feel it necessary to constantly protect fools from themselves?

I get tired of hearing buyers who never bothered to check on their sellers' rotten feedback then come and bellyache in discussion groups because they've lost money or received defective or misdescribed items. Had they taken a moment from their greed to go read the feedback that's right there and they'd not been blinded by their own greed, they would have seen that it was foolhearty to bid or buy from that poor seller.

Why doesn't eBay just send reps out to buyers homes to sit right next to them and teach them how to evaluate listings and sellers, for crying out loud. (For those who may not comprehend, that was a facetious remark.)

Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'   Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'

by: Breck Lundin

Fri Oct 12 12:23:10 2007

Kim:

I agree 100%.  Linking search results will indeed be another way to stop rewarding sellers in the marginal or worse category.  

I do not see anywhere that indicates volume is an issue to the point where only the larger higher volume sellers with good feedback performance numbers will have an advantage over smaller highly rated sellers.  My understanding is there simply will be a rating threshold when filtering search results.  Sellers below that threshold will be relegated to the back of the line.

Ask around, all you ever hear from people is how they were scammed on eBay.  So we lose customers every day.  That is due to the minority of sellers who are AWFUL.  At least this was such sellers are put over on the dirt lot across the bridge and through the mud puddles...

Time will tell and sadly I do feel eBay will indeed find a way to foobar this good idea.  It is in eBay's nature to screw up good ideas.  In this case I am just being optimistic or I might have my head explode!  ;)

Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'   Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'

by: Joyful Alternative

Fri Oct 12 12:48:57 2007

I'm with IndyAttic. Browsing on eBay is no longer enjoyable; more stuff I can buy at the mall 2 blocks over, and fewer unusual treasures. Bidding on eBay is no longer enjoyable; everytime I bid on something, I trigger somebody's "I raise you 25 cents" automatic program, and I don't want to play that game. Selling on eBay is worst of all; the fees keep going up, the steps one has to take keep increasing, and the buyers keep fleeing.

I wonder if there's a way to count eBay's "hits" (how many unique email addresses stop at eBay.com each day, for example). Then sellers could be charged more or less, depending on the traffic levels that day.

Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'   Final Nail in Coffin of eBay's 'Level Playing Field'

by: John

Fri Oct 12 13:10:06 2007

The "star" seller rating system works against the small seller and puts too much power in the hands of the buyer, no matter how ignorant that buyer might be.

Since I don't sell hundreds of items a month, my seller rating was destroyed by ONE "new" bidder who ignored clear, repeated payment terms. Yes, I acknowledged receipt of his check and reminded him of the "hold", as well as sending UPS tracking/delivery data.

Now I understand that, with 99.9% positive feedback, I'm in the "bottom 5% of eBay sellers" due to the "star system", and might have my account restricted.

I just haven't felt like selling on eBay as a result. Have not listed for weeks. Looking at alternatives I hadn't considered previously.

As a BUYER, I'm seeing the results; last night, once again, I noted that the variety of unique, pre-owned items that I was looking for has dried up, replaced by multiple listings of identical new items by the same handful of big retailers. Interestingly, everything I bid on was from sellers with bad "star ratings".

The question is really "who will become the new eBay, now that eBay has abandoned it's roots". Or is the "real" eBay concept dead?

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