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Sat May 17 2008 08:56:46

If I Ran the eBay Zoo

By: David Steiner

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"It's a pretty good zoo," said young Gerald McGrew,
"and the fellow who runs it seems proud of it, too."
But if Gerald ran the zoo, the New Zoo,
McGrew Zoo, he'd see to making a change or two:
"So I'd open each cage. I'd unlock every pen,
let the animals go, and start over again."
       - Dr. Seuss. "If I ran the Zoo." 1950.

That nutty Dr. Seuss. Who would have thought that a children's book published nearly 60 years ago could so clearly describe the changes over the last several years at eBay?
Yes, the site is almost unrecognizable from the eBay of 1997 - or 2005, for that matter, but I don't want rehash the changes that have taken place over the past several years. We've covered those - ad nauseum. What I'd like know is, what would YOU do, if you ran the zoo? Or at least, what is the one thing that really bugs you that you'd change? What would you implement, roll-back or change?
I'll start:
I'd like to see all of the really great User IDs that haven't been used in years, set free.  IDs like "Guitarzan" or "HaileSelasse" or "RichardNixon" should be back in the public domain again, so that I don't have to sell or buy as "eBay_Bot_30029." There are some amazing IDs that are just itching to see the light of day again, but it seems that each time I go to register a decent name, it's already in use. I say, a pox on touting a registered user base the size of India and China combined. Hello McFly - more than half of all eBay User IDs were abandoned years ago.
This idea could even be revenue-generating for eBay (and eBay hasn't turned away revenue yet). Auction off the IDs that have been inactive for, let's say, 3 years or longer. Since eBay essentially owns the names anyway, it's a pure-profit play. eBay could even take a percentage of the revenue raised on the ID auctions and give it to Myanmar relief, China earthquake relief or other deserving charities. It would go a long way toward changing the perception that the company doesn't have a heart.
So, that's one thing I'd do, if I were John Donahoo.
Now what would YOU do. In one line or a few.
But keep it constructive, and don't start to b*tch.
And this thread will go off without much of a hitch.
Hey, maybe the "Powers To Be" will sit down and listen,
To a thread that's devoid of much moanin' and....well you get the idea.
               -  Dr. Steiner. Blog Post. 2008.

Note: I couldn't let this blog post go without saying how impressed I am with the ideas in the comments. And the poetry is laugh out loud funny. Just a great reminder why Ina and I do this!

Comments (64) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for If I Ran the eBay Zoo   If I Ran the eBay Zoo

by: Mandy

Sat May 17 09:04:21 2008

I would create a "feedback resolution centre" which would work in follwoing way:

1) Buyer can not leave neutral or negative but must open a dispute which must remain open for 14 days

2) The buyer and the seller are able to write messages within each dispute

3) After the seller left the first reply - both the buyer and the seller will be able to close the dispute

4) After the dispute is closed the buyer has the right to leave a neutral and negative feedback

Perminate Link for If I Ran the eBay Zoo   If I Ran the eBay Zoo

by: Mandy

Sat May 17 09:11:00 2008

I would change the way ''bad'' and ''good'' feedback is calculated.And I would make following changes:

1) I would consider feedback that was not left by the buyer and that expired.I would see this feedback as ''50% of a positive point'' automatically as many buyers do buy , are satisified but do not levae a feedback at all which mitrepresents the good practices of the seller as bad feedback will ALWAYS be left

2) I would see a neutral feedback as ''50% of a negative point'' but not 66% as it is now

3) I would take into account if one buyer bought several items for example and would cound one of the feedbacks for those item as ''full positive point'' and the feedbacks for the other items as ''50% of a positive point'' , the same would apply to negative and neutrals as well.The reason is very simple: if you are a seller and sell 5 items to one customer , you have a RISK with EACH item , eventually the customer may be dissatisfied with ANY of them so it is unfair not to consider those feedbacks at all

4) I would connect the feedback to the payment.This means that any ebay buyer must not be allowed to leave a feedback if they have not paid for the item.Right now there many buyers , also many fake accounts who do not pay at all but leave bad feedbacks.thismust stop , if a buyer has not paid they do not have a right to leave ANY feedback

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by: Mady

Sat May 17 09:19:46 2008

And now finally ''PAYPAL SUBSRIPTION PROGRAMM'' - ebay's ultimate dream to make sellers accept paypal as the ONLY payment method but VOLUNTARILY

The paypal subscription programm would run this way:

1) Every seller can voluntarily subscripe to it in ''my ebay'' , they can also unsubscribe from it anytime but a subscription and unsubsription must only be possible nore more than 3 times within a 12 moths period

2) The paypa subscription programm means that the seller obligates themselves to accept paypal as the only payment method in all listings and until they unsubscribe they will not be able to list anything on ebay with any other or additional payment method

3) paypal subscription profit will offer following benefits to the seller:

a) the system will always check whether an item has been paid for , if it has not been paid for the buyer will not be able leave any feedback

b) it is easier to get final values fees credited if the ebay system can not recognize a valid payment through the paypal subscription

c) the buyer is not able to leave a feedback if the paypal payment was received with a delay of more than 20 days after the end of the auction

d) the buyer will not be able leave any feedback if the paypal payment was refunded within 10 days of the end of the auction

e) There is an exact time-fram for when the payment MUST be made , for example 14 days 0r 20 days.Any buyer who has not paid within this time receives (payment was not registered by the system through the paypal subscription) will receive an AUTOMATED UNPAID ITEM STRIKE

Summary: if ebay created such a paypal subscription they would help sellers and get rid of maaaaaaany non-paying buyers.At the same time sellers would VOLUNARILY accept paypal as the ONLY payment method and WITHOUT complaining about it because they would plenty of benefits and of course it would be pureley voluntary

Perminate Link for If I Ran the eBay Zoo   If I Ran the eBay Zoo

by: Mandy

Sat May 17 09:26:20 2008

Security: I would create a "Super-PIN" which would be generated when the SELLER account is opened

That super-PIN must allow the seller to REGAIN CONTROL over their account if it should have been hacked etc.

The super-PIN must alsoallow to BLOCKED certain functions.For example if I am a seller I would block the user name from buying anything etc.

The super-PIN is generated only once and it is not used to log in as there is the usual PIN for this , hackers would not be able to get it on their fake websites and sellers would not use it to log in at all.At the same time if you see your account was hacked you can user the super-PIN to regain control

Perminate Link for If I Ran the eBay Zoo   If I Ran the eBay Zoo

by: Mandy

Sat May 17 09:31:30 2008

FEEDBACK FOR BUYERS - aADDITION TO MY SUGGESTION with the ''PayPal Subscription Above''

ebay must allow sellers to leave a feedback for buyers who have not paid within 14 days and for buyers whoses paypal was refunded after:

a) paypal dispute

b) paypal complaint

c) chargeback

This means that such buyers are able to receive a neutral or negative feedback.

Consequences would be following:

a) Honest buyers would not be too fast with paypal complaints and would be faster with payments as they would risking getting a bad feedback every time

b) Dishonest buyers - who receive the merchandise and cheat the seller out of the money through paypal - would receive bad feedbacks and other sellers would be wanred

c) the ebay system would be able to see which buyers have got HIGH % of bad feedbacks and would be able to get rid of them as all those complaints would be stating that they either have not paid at all or have filed paypal complaints etc.

d) There would be LESS paypal complaints in general because buyers would understand they are playing with fire and may be suspended or may not be able to buy from other sellers because of their bad feedbacks

Perminate Link for If I Ran the eBay Zoo   If I Ran the eBay Zoo

by: Monster

Sat May 17 09:56:05 2008

If a ran the Zoo
I don’t think it’d be missed
If we just did away
With that silly Watch List

It helped put an end
To the auctions, so grand
And now our charming zoo
Has become boring and bland

Perminate Link for If I Ran the eBay Zoo   If I Ran the eBay Zoo

by: Zoo Keeper

Sat May 17 10:12:43 2008

I would make feedback a hands off system. I would make sure my zoo did not profit off off dysfunction.

I would talk to the sellers on the site and maybe include them in and make sure they know they are valued.

I would make sure the zoo collected 100% of the payments like Amazon, eliminating deadbeats. I would no longer accept Pending Echecks (DSR drain) and I would not reward sellers who offer FREE shipping in Best Match.

I would let sellers run their businesses like sellers should; creatively and without red tape everywhere. I would free the sellers so they can maximize there profits and go back to the motto that volume is king, not margin.

Perminate Link for If I Ran the eBay Zoo   If I Ran the eBay Zoo

by: sargi

Sat May 17 10:13:00 2008

If I Ran the eBay Zoo....
Get rid of the feedback system, DSRS, best match, favoritism for large sellers and have a level playing field.
Handle customer issues out of sight of future buyers. This can be done by having a very detailed return policy for all. Outline guidelines so that sellers and buyers have to abid, but it must be fair for both parties. If there is still a fight, then a neutral third party gets involved. Do the big retailers air all complaints in front of the whole world?
Have PayPal handle all payments, but lower the fees since they would be getting all the business. Buyers would have to pay right away or mark as paid through an e-check. That would solve the non-paying bidders problem and they would get strikes against them if they choose not to pay.
Adapt strong guidelines for scammers and sellers of fake or defective merchandise.
Concentrate on the problem areas instead of punishing everyone.
Have two separate websites. One for new merchandise and one for used. The buyer then decides where to go and search would be that much easier.
Keep the discussion boards friendly with helpful advise. If you have a issue, then there should be a board just for complaints. That way, if people are just looking for answers, they don't have to sift through all the negative (how does that look to buyers?)
No perks-just run a clean business and everyone will have more sales and money as a result. Is'nt that why we are doing this?
Tracking on all packages and they must be mailed out within a certain timeframe
Ebay-only raise fees if you are providing more service as a result. You will please your stockholders if there are lots of sales for everyone. If sellers are making money, then you are making money! if you are going to expand, then make it a benefit for the whole not just yourself-more money in the long run.
I am just a joe-smo, but it seems like a simple plan

Perminate Link for If I Ran the eBay Zoo   If I Ran the eBay Zoo

by: Lars

Sat May 17 10:21:48 2008

In my zoo ALL buyers would be screen and verified as part of the sign up process.

All usernames will go back into the POOL after 2 years of inactivity.  

In my zoo, feedback would go back to its roots which was a signature of Ebay.

In my zoo, I would rephrase all DSRs so they are not confusing. I would replace one of the DSRs with "Would you buy from this seller again?"

In my zoo, ending soonest would be the default search option and offering FREE shipping would not affect search results.

In my zoo, all the monkeys would have an equal shot at the american dream and not be discouraged because a volume seller knows how to work the system.

My zoo would be cool and profitable for everyone.

Perminate Link for If I Ran the eBay Zoo   If I Ran the eBay Zoo

by: Lars

Sat May 17 10:25:23 2008

My zoo would never sue another zoo.

My zoo would give the keys back to the monkeys.

My zoo would feed all the animals so they survive.

My zoo would exterminate the verbin that comes into the cages.

My zoo would be cool.

Perminate Link for If I Ran the eBay Zoo   If I Ran the eBay Zoo

by: bite me

Sat May 17 10:25:24 2008

I'd keep the feedback system the way it is (May 19). I'm glad buyers now have the leverage. Of course all the big sellers think all buyers are evil and that they should be suspicious of everyone from the start. But this new system will weed out big sellers who really stink and leave retaliatory fb.

Perminate Link for If I Ran the eBay Zoo   If I Ran the eBay Zoo

by: Jim S.

Sat May 17 12:11:05 2008

1. Enforce QC on all program changes so we don't have to deal with updates that either don't fix a problem or cause another problem. Will they ever get the bulk (re)scheduler fixed?

2. Stop trying to makeover eBay into 'Amazon2' - talk about extreme makeovers! There are so many good things about eBay vs. Amazon - make them even better.

Perminate Link for If I Ran the eBay Zoo   If I Ran the eBay Zoo

by: Patricia

Sat May 17 13:53:19 2008

Stop mucking around with feedback!  Allow both buyer and seller to give negatives AND let them resolve it like adults with a 30 day period in which they can change the feedback they left.  Its too simple I guess??????

Use time spent on feedback to rake out the really bad sellers AND buyers and banning them from the site.

Sounds simple but its not....not with the fox guarding the henhouse and the bottom line is simply his revenue!

Perminate Link for If I Ran the eBay Zoo   If I Ran the eBay Zoo

by: Auctionwally

Sat May 17 14:03:10 2008

Here's what I'd do if I ran the eBay Zoo,
I put a real licensed auctioneer on the  board
Or maybe two!

I'd spit shine my support team, and suck back up to the antiques seller's.
It seems eBay really hates these poor gals & fellers!

I'd get back to the business of being the best auction online,
I'd sit back in my big leather chair,
knowing things will be fine!

I'd try to correct any mistakes I surely would make,
lose that arrogant attitude of let them eat cake!

And I wouldn't be afraid of Amazon, eBid, or stockholders that turn blue,
I'd just let eBay, be eBay again,
if I ran this Zoo!

Perminate Link for If I Ran the eBay Zoo   If I Ran the eBay Zoo

by: Henrietta

Sat May 17 14:52:02 2008

I guess you can't fix stupid.

@ bite me
(No thank you I don't know where you have been.)

You are exactly wrong. This is killing off the small sellers. Someone who sells 600 items a year which is average 50 a month, (and at least 20% of satisfied buyers can't be bothered with feedback) can not overcome a neutral which is counted as a negative nearly as fast as someone who sells 100, 1000 or 35000 a month.

What would I do in my zoo?

First I would roll everything back to 2006 which was when things worked.

I would create limited term e-committees with volunteer sellers and eBay employees, each committee to address ONE issue.

Next I would build a brand new stand alone platform for all the BIN listings and move them over when completed. I would consult with sellers on desired features.

Then I would build another platform for auctions, consulting with sellers throughout the process. I would integrate the platforms through search so a buyer could search either or both and tie feedback into payment & delivery status.

I would enable search by keyword then refined by any combination a buyer wanted. eg. I want a teapot. Search all teapots, refine to size, refine to ending soonest, lowest price, or lowest price including S & H.

I would offer real benefits to all sellers who use Paypal only and open up to GoogleCheckout because if my product (PP) was better I would get all the business anyway. Buyers who want to mail a check or MO send it to PP.

I would ban automated feedback, write code to prevent UPI bidders leaving any feedback and make all (buyers & sellers) go through an automated dispute process & cooloff before leaving negative. Final step would be review by a human being.

I would require any employee at VP level or above who is in any way connected with decision making that affects buyers or sellers to sell (anonymously) for six months, make a profit and achieve a specified sales target, volume, value or combination of both.

Why am I wasting my time?

Perminate Link for If I Ran the eBay Zoo   If I Ran the eBay Zoo

by: George Damper

Sat May 17 17:18:48 2008

I would put some monkeys in charge and sack the idiots who are ruining a good thing.

Perminate Link for If I Ran the eBay Zoo   If I Ran the eBay Zoo

by: Darth Buyer

Sat May 17 17:41:40 2008

Do the eBay employees enjoy living indoors and eating food? Well, I'd make them pay for it by surviving on the money they make, selling items on eBay.

Like DSRs? That's what your bonus is tied to. Get less than 4.5s and you lose the bonus - then your items goto the back of the queue - if they show up at all.

Darth Buyer - programing the Star One death ray for May 19th...

Perminate Link for If I Ran the eBay Zoo   If I Ran the eBay Zoo

by: bite me

Sat May 17 18:50:37 2008

@ henrietta

I'm a small seller and I only average about 7 sales a month and I'm not worried about DSRs. Just pay attention to the details,provide good service, and have a good CYA policy to protect yourself.

I'm worried about eBay becoming Amazon 2 and giving special subsidies to big players like

Perminate Link for If I Ran the eBay Zoo   If I Ran the eBay Zoo

by: Jack

Sat May 17 19:45:56 2008

In my Zoo, the buyer could still get negative feedback, but it wouldn't come from the seller - it would come from the Zoo Keepers. If a buyer did not pay for an item, and the seller went through the UPI process, and completed it, not only would the seller get his fees back, but a negative feedback would be left by the system against the buyer to alert  future sellers. Any feedback left by either party  up to this time would be removed (because technically, there was no transaction), and only the negative feedback comment against the buyer left by the system would remain. This feedback would be in RED. It would have a -1 point value. It would say something plain and system like ''Administrative Feedback: Buyer did not pay for item.'' Short. Sweet. Simple.

But I don't run the zoo. Idiots run the zoo, and if I were more like Dr. Seuss, I'd make up a cute poem. But I'm not, so enough said.

Perminate Link for If I Ran the eBay Zoo   If I Ran the eBay Zoo

by: justonceonline

Sat May 17 19:59:21 2008

If I ran the zoo....

I'd dump BBD&O and get a new ad outfit to create good ads instead of the drivel we currently endure.

I would have everyone, buyers and sellers, verified by credit card, bank account, address and photograph....and I would charge every seller and buyer $2.00 a year to have their verification rechecked before renewal.  It would be for every ID, including those not in use and posting ID's....eBay should like that as it would make a tidy sum.

I would be sure that every employee for eBay actually has an active eBay account (also verified) and that they sell at least 12 items every year and that they maintain DSR's of at leastt 4.6.

I would have a committee of long-term sellers and buyers who are involved in the of training new customer service people so that they are at least as smart of the people they are serving.  Sellers and buyers would be available for the committee quarterly and paid for their assistance (handsomely)

I would be sure that management of every sort spends at least 12 hours in the presence of real buyers and sellers every month....regional meetings would be great (eBay get's to pay all the expenses, no charge for buyers and sellers with a tidy sum credited to member accounts for showing up and being honest....about 100 people drawn by lottery)

I would ban canned responses from eBay - all of them - so that replys actually fit the situation.

I would do whatever it takes to re-establish the enormous pride that many (most) of the sellers have had in the past by treating them like the golden ones they are.

I would take eBay off the stock market

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