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Fri Dec 21 2007 17:15:30

eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews

By: Ina Steiner

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Many readers have been following New York Times reporter Saul Hansell's recent blog posts about eBay. In the first post, he suggested Amazon.com acquire eBay. In subsequent posts, he revealed that his suggestion hit a nerve among readers and shares some of the reaction generated.

On Monday, he wrote his third post in the series where he discussed the problems he's hearing from sellers as well as from Scot Wingo and myself about the problems sellers are facing.

A slew of journalist-bloggers picked up on the theme. Henry Blodget has been handing out free advice for eBay on AlleyInsider.com. Rob Hof piped up on the BusinessWeek blog and said of the outpourings of anger from eBay users, it "just seems to be a perennial hobby of a lot of eBayers, who then come back to keep buying and selling on eBay." He calls eBay users a "Cantankerous Bunch."

Wired's Betsy Schiffman also picked up on Saul's posts as well as other recent news, calling things "pretty chaotic" at eBay: "eBay's CEO is out playing politics; one of the highest-ranking executives is publicly trashing the business; and customers are apparently planning a revolt." Schiffman was referring to John Donahoe (head of Ebay's marketplace division and another former Bain & Co consultant)'s remarks to the Financial Times that eBay's home page "still looks like a flea market" (a year ago).

While it may sound good, eBay's problems were not caused because it paid more attention to sellers versus buyers, nor are eBay's problems rooted in site design issues.

eBay's core problem is that it won't invest in making the site safe, reliable and glitch-free. eBay shrugs its corporate shoulders and says it's too hard to keep counterfeits and scammers off the site, and too expensive to provide adequate customer service.

eBay and Wall Street are looking for exotic problems to fix cheaply. But the problems are simple and require commitment and resources to fix.




Comments (29) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews   eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews

by: Charles

Fri Dec 21 22:41:47 2007

I politely disagree that ebay's problem does not stem from focusing on sellers.  I have sold on eBay for 5 years and have watched my fees go up, up and up while my profits went down, down...and down even further.

Listing items on eBay has become a long, difficult process for sellers.  eBay's new bells and whistles are very time consuming.

Finally eBay's LIVE HELP people must be Beavis & Butthead or have the equivalent I.Q.  The live help people know less about eBay than most of the sellers on eBay.  LIVE HELP advice is wrong 90% of the time and they send sellers running in circles to fix problems in eBay's listings.  I believe eBay's problem is pure GREED, pure and simple.

eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews   eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews

by: Steve

Fri Dec 21 23:02:21 2007

I'm beginning to wonder if this whole ebay scheme isn't run by some teenage nerd in his basement. I think he just goes out and takes a pic of a big office building and Photoshop's the ebay logo on it to make it look real. Every once in a while he'll wake up Grandma Meg and Uncle Bill and trot 'em out so people think there's a actual company.

How have I come to believe this? Just take a look at ebay's latest tricks...

Blogs, Wiki's (whatever that is, I bet the teenager knows)
My World (oh, puhleezze)
Regular Search broken for months. Nobody cares...they're makin' "Playgrounds" (there's that kid again) now.
"Hurry, open a store. No don't...too many listings."
The famous 6% store fee hike (apparently the kid skipped math class).
Ignorant TV commercials that can only appeal the "lowest 2%" (humm...where did I see that phrase) of viewers.
No phone number available unless you belong to the Secret Service.
No one to answer the phone that knows ANYTHING (must be his little brothers and sisters).
Suspend seller's for two weeks but don't tell 'em why or how to get back on the "good boy" list.

The list can go on and on.  It must be great to live in his world where you're never responsible for anything but the $$ just keep rollin' in!

eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews   eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews

by: lol

Fri Dec 21 23:48:56 2007

maybe Pierre is still involved in the organization after all!

eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews   eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews

by: Charles

Sat Dec 22 00:16:50 2007

Steve - You have a lot of good points about eBay that are more sophisticated than mine.  I admire your insightful points about the corruptness of eBay.  I wish there were some people like you in eBay's upper management.

eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews   eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews

by: Richard Chemel

Tue Dec 25 01:00:50 2007

Sellers have outgrown eBay. Plain and Simple. We have more and better alternative selling channels for our goods. eBay created the market, but no longer has that exclusive hold it had during its heyday - and it is very doubtful that lowering fees can help at this point. That would be like putting a band-aid on a broken leg.

Ina- I would love to see more Auctionbytes coverage of Amazon, Ubid, Overstock, and other alternative auction sites. I believe your readers are ready to move on and support sites that make them money and appear to care. How about a Jeff Bezos interview?

 

eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews   eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews

by: Chairman

Tue Dec 25 20:53:43 2007

Certainly eBay has lost alot of what appealed about it in the past. The core community was driven off by fee's mismanagement and a buggy site.

Its amazing eBay still performs in general considering the recent changes but to make real sales its lost its edge

there are better options now

eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews   eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews

by: Judy

Tue Dec 25 21:06:30 2007

It's not just sellers who have outgrown Ebay. Buyers have too. They don't want the 'excitement' of auctions, or the nerve-wracking wait to see if they actually get their purchase from a dodgy Ebay seller. They just want to buy, pay, receive and move on. Steve, you're so right in your post - what on earth is Ebay doing adding bells and whistles to a site that barely works for a basic search? Ebay needs to clean up the site, bring back the honest sellers which will bring back the buyers and stop making it all exciting. It's a website for heaven's sake, not an amusement park.

eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews   eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews

by: Shadow Fire Promotions, Inc.

Tue Dec 25 21:07:42 2007

It's not surprising that the mainstream media has finally picked up on ebay being the pits.  It IS surprising that anyone in the mainstream media would write anything negative after that huge puff piece on MSNBC a few years back "the ebay effect", which shows that mainstream journalism has gone to the dogs.  Anyone who has ever been screwed by ebay at any point should already know this, and ebay is more interested in growth overseas and being the largest than actually providing service, since a monopoly doesn't have to be good, they just need to insure they have no competition.  That is ebay's ultimate goal.

eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews   eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews

by: Patti

Tue Dec 25 21:11:15 2007

I love Steve's take on this.....right on every point.....hope someone from eBay has taken notes....

I've been finding myself going more and more to Amazon for great items, decent prices and free shipping on most of it.

eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews   eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews

by: Petter Leeflang (Leeflang Archives Corporation)

Tue Dec 25 21:25:05 2007

The problem is really a corporate culture one.

Ebay's corporate culture of club-mentality, amateurism and socialist ideas like 'level playing field', clash with the reality of a capitalist venue, which is what made Ebay such a success originally.

Its culture is totally the opposite of what the venue needs. It needs professionalism, highly skilled people,a bottom line attitude, accountability and a laissez-faire capitalist vision of its own venue, like it was at the start, when it did not interfere in transactions at all.

That kind of free market culture will make its venue safer than any other scheme, since accountability also means that buyers and sellers will again be responsible for their own decisions, their own judgment, just like in the real world.

eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews   eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews

by: David Rietter

Wed Dec 26 00:31:36 2007

I have been watching all the comments for awhile now & I have to say anyone who has been an eBay seller for the past 11 years like myself can share the changes for the better and recently for the worse. I read a comment about how we sellers complain only to go back to eBay and continue. At one point 95% of our comapanies income was through eBay sales. In the last two years that has been on the steady decline but we are located in a very rural area of Southern Iowa and theres not much of a local retail market so of course we continue to use ebay as the work horse. We have tried others like Overstock, Liquidations.com, Big Crumbs, Online Auctions, Amazon and IOffer only to see a less than 1% sell through of the products listed on each site. In the beginning on ebay our sell through rate was near 90% for first time listings now it is less than 10%, there are several reasons, competion is first and foremost, then the increased cost of goods due to the world economy, then the increase of cost to present the product (Ebay Fees) and lastly the slow but sure move by Ebay to become more of a retail outlet than an Auction Venue as it was in the beginning.
I spent 3 years working for a Concord, NH based auction company, convinced the owner who was then President of the NH Auctioneers Assc. that adding eBay to our sales opportunities for our clients would add to the profitability of the company and promoting eBay to our weekly buyers would increase the sales of our live auctions. Both proved true, We even spoke for eBay during its conflict with the State of New Hampshire and the Auctioneers Association. Now 10 years later I would have to say that eBay management has forgotten what and who made eBay grow, (The Auction Sellers & Buyers). Now the attitude is who needs them we have National Corporate Sellers, Advertisers, Links to outside Sales on a multitude of sites (Ebay rules only apply to the member sellers, so leading by example is not something they believe in.)
In the beginning our monthly fee's for 100 items listed were around $150 per month, now it cost us an average of 35% of our sales to pay the fees.
Ebay has missed the boat on some many opportunities to strengthen their sucess by listen to sellers ideas, needs and concerns only to implement the next Big Thing the in house staff dreamed up, usually this has resulted in disaster.
I have been saying for two years that eBay was on the decline and need to dig down to the roots that made in popular and a leader only to have people in the industry telling I was mad and that eBay can't fail. Well we continue to use it as our work horse because nothing else has come along to compete with at the level of being a household name world-wide to date nor do I see that there is one in the near future. The down side of Ebays slow destruction from with in is that it is going to damage the auction industry to a degree that it may not recover, Its like a bad food product, once the taste is there it is never forgotten and the buying public won't go back and try it again.
I feel that by the end of the first quarter 08, we will all see an internal implotion of eBay's management and by the end of the 3rd quarter bankruptcy or sell-off of most of its outside interest. An insider at Pay Pal told me that they have told to distance the company from the stigma of being Owned by Ebay, what ever that means? and that they should be ready for major changes in the first half of 08.
Ebay has been a nice ride for more than a decade but I feel its a ride at the end of its line, unfortunately for the world of buyers & sellers there is no new train at the station and a lot of people our going to be lost.
I wrote to a friend in New Hampshire in 2005, at The Gavel.com and told Kathy that ebay was going to fall apart with the next 5 years, I think its here and now!.
Just a note, I made the mistake of making comments like some of these and many that others have made here on my eBay blog and to Ebay personnel, with in thirty days our company was suspended from selling and to date no reason has been given, our Power Sellers status & Ebay Trading Post status were pulled again with no explanation. When confronted eBay personnel have declined to make any comment and have only stated that "We were told by someone higher up to do this". I guess that occasionally eBay checks out blogs and other postings only to see who's complaining or pointing out their short-comings so they know who to eliminate.
We have been loyal to eBay for a decade and invested nearly $300,000 in fees and even more with our advertising promoting Their name to make our business grow. It's ashame that eBay is an equal partner in its own existance at least not from the millions of sellers point of view, one partner is guarunteed a profit and the others are left with crumbs to fight over.

eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews   eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews

by: Vi

Wed Dec 26 14:09:30 2007

David Rietter is correct.  I haven't been selling for nearly as long, but I'm seeing the same changes he mentions.  I think eBay needs to decide what it wants to be when it grows up.  They either need to take more control over the sales process and become another Amazon, or they need to go back to their roots and let the sellers do what they do best.  The issue of fraud and scammers is a difficult one, but there are solutions, such as vetting all sellers before allowing them to sell on the site.  I'd be happy to go through a more stringent qualification process as a seller if it would eliminate the scam artists who give the rest of us a bad name.  

While it sounds great to do the same thing for buyers, it wouldn't do well from a competitive standpoint.  Buyers don't have to prequalify to shop on most major ecommerce sites, so eBay couldn't compete as well if they try to do that (as much as we sellers would like to see it).  Losses to bad buyers are an unfortunate part of the cost of business.  

Perhaps eBay should split into two parts:  One more commercial side that is much like Amazon, with much stricter selling requirements (better quality businesses, not necessarily larger ones);
and a second area that is like the old eBay.  A more flea-market like area for regular people to post collectibles and stuff from their homes.

They could tailor searches to look in either area or in both.  People would then have a choice of the type of sellers with whom they choose to do business.

None of this will likely occur, since eBay hasn't shown itself willing to listen to any sort of criticism or suggestions.  I'm sad to see eBay's downward spiral, since I hate to see a good idea go bad.  

There are no other good alternatives to those of us who sell antiques and collectibles yet, but I'd hope that someone will be there to offer a viable alternative when eBay does fall apart.  I'd still love to see Google step up with an auction site.  That would probably be the kick in the pants eBay needs to make some real changes.  

eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews   eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews

by: Start-Selling-Online.com

Wed Dec 26 20:20:52 2007

Given Ebay's abuse towards sellers in recent months, namely the Seller Non-Performance Policy, I wish bad things on them.  I hope the worst for Ebay and will do everything in my power to crush them every chance I get.  

eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews   eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews

by: Start-Selling-Online.com

Wed Dec 26 20:29:10 2007

David Rietter needs to get himself a website and let Ebay sink by themselves.  We used to do 100% of our business on ebay back in 1998.  Even though our ebay business has grown substantially from 1998, today it only accounts for 5% of our total sales.  The other 95% is on our website.
Seriously, if you want to whip the hell out of ebay the best thing you can do for yourself is get a website.

eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews   eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews

by: Fix

Thu Dec 27 12:08:58 2007

 Ebay is so amateur. It is a corporate vacuum, if you have a problem there is no one there! Reminds me of all big corps. these days, especially cell phones co.'s. No on gives a @!#$ about good service or positive change for the consumer. Ebay is dead, but they have a monopoly, like Microsoft.

eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews   eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews

by: Martin Codina

Thu Dec 27 12:42:16 2007

Charles - I agree, bells and whistles without any thing to celebrate...Never have I had such a hard time getting service from a company with whom I have spent so much money...

Steve - ''The list can go on and on.  It must be great to live in his world where you're never responsible for anything but the $$ just keeps rollin' in!'' And all without a phone...go figure...!

The Demise of eBay - ain't going to happen, but wouldn't it be interesting if a company with nerve gave them some real competition...?

Thanks for the article...

eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews   eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews

by: KEVIN

Thu Dec 27 15:38:41 2007

I TO AM IRRITATED BY EBAY, THERE ARE BAD GUYS ON BOTH SIDES, BUT RARELY IS THERE A GOOD SOLUTION TO A BAD PROBLEM ON EBAY. I REALLY REALLY HATE PAYPAL RIGHT NOW, I LIKE TO KEEP S&H COSTS DOWN BUT I LOVE MY PROFITS UP SO FOR A WHILE I DID NOT USE DELIVERY CONFIRMATION (WHICH THIS IS AMERICA LAND OF THE FREE AND BUISNESS SHOULDN'T HALF TO DO THAT IF THEY DON'T WANT TO) BUT I GOT SCREWED BY A COUPLE OF BUYERS FOR AROUND $2,000. AND THAT HURTS, I AM NOW GOING TO TRY UBID AND AMAZON

eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews   eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews

by: Bob H.

Thu Dec 27 23:09:39 2007

Kevin -- you dropped delivery confirmation (a mere 18 cents when using PayPal shipping) to keep your profits up?  So then  you lose $2,000  because you can't prove delivery?  WOW...

Initally, eBay worked great as an outlet people to have a ''business''.  But now, some people can't keep up with eBay's changes and they certainly don't know how to run a business.

Read the posts on these forums...the people without much upstairs are the ones complaining about eBay.  What they don't understand is that eBay is a BUSINESS too!  Their management is trying to make a profit for their shareholders. They try different things to increase their profit. Some things work, some don't. Can't fault them for trying.

If you don't like the way eBay operates, go somewhere else. It's your right to do so. If eBay starts feeling some pain from an exodus of sellers, they will eventally change -- or some other venue will take its place. If you choose to stay, evolve your business, ADAPT, and do a better job of appearing to be professional about your business.

And, no, I don't work for eBay. I'm just one of the sellers who happens to be doing great with eBay. Yes, I do have some complaints about their fees -- especially having to relist every 7-10 days with additional fees when I don't sell anything -- but I am still paying less to be on eBay than if I had a brick and mortar store.

eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews   eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews

by: Kimberlee Jandreau

Fri Dec 28 17:12:11 2007

I am a longtime eBayer - 10 years.  I have bought many, many items & been burned exactly 2 times.  I have sold tens of thousands of items and are burned on a consistent basis.  To address the ''if you complain & aren't happy, go somewhere else'' so-called solution, that's just plain teenage mentality.  A REAL business listens to its consumers (buyers AND sellers) and adapts to KEEP it's customers not just thumb its nose and say take your criticism and take a hike.  While I have complaints about eBay as the venue/platform for my business, economics keep me there.  No one can even begin to compete with the numbers of buyers - plain & simple and even ones that come onto the scene will have years to build up the same exposure so competition isn't really going to do anything to help in the near future.  All I want is for eBay to FINALLY listen to the sellers.  To stop increasing fees that make a small seller like myself lose 25% of gross revenue (that is not even counting PayPal fees).  Do more to build up ''THEY WHO PAY YOU''!  Buyers don't pay a dime, but whine up the wazoo about getting ripped off (READ, people, READ! 90% of so-called ''scams'' could be avoided if a buyer would just do some research - LOOK at the feedback, READ the description - what is missing? if they don't say never used or new, then it isn't or if they say there's a 7-10 day shipping window, they mean it or if they say PayPal only, they aren't joking, kids!).  This is not to say there aren't bad guys out there...there are and eBay has gone overboard and bent over backwards to ensure buyers have a safe transaction, but what about their bread & butter?  All I have to says is what have you (eBay) done for me lately?  Ummmm...Neighborhoods...a 10 cent listing day (not FREE mind you....that kind of holiday present has been gone for years now)...free Gallery (don't get me started on that one!)....how about if your item doesn't sell free relisting until it does?  How about a cut in fees?  How about REWARDS for GOOD sellers (i.e. outstanding feedbacks; length of service)?  AND, getting rid of the ludicrous BuyItNow fee (they get more if we sell for more so it benefits them already...why pay them for their own benefit????)??  Okay, enough said....but, still I love eBay....can't go anywhere else due to simple economics, but just because I love someone doesn't mean I can't criticize and hope they change their ways.  Listen to your sellers eBay...we KNOW you and we LOVE you...don't turn your back in pride...let us help you into the next 20 years.  What is good for us is ultimately good for you!

eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews   eBay Getting Panned in Recent Media Reviews

by: KEVIN

Sat Dec 29 07:28:13 2007

I DO DELIVERY CONFIRMATION NOW. IT JUST IRRITATED ME AT THE TIME THAT I DIDN'T HAVE A CHOICE THAT I COULD DO. MEANING OH THE BUYER SAYS HE DIDN'T GET IT SO HE MUST BE 100 % RIGHT. I STILL LOVE BEING ON EBAY THE AMOUNT OF PRODUCTS TO BUY ARE GREAT. I AM ABKE TO SELL STUFF I NEVER WOULD IN MY STORE. BUT AFTER BEING IN BUISNESS NOW 15 YEARS IN JANUARY I HAVE NEVER HAD TO DO ANYTHING I DID'T WANT TO DO. THAT'S ALL I AM SAYING

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