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Thu July 3 2008 00:40:56

eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?

By: David Steiner

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A row has broken out on the eBay UK forums over a recent promotion offering UK visibility on the US site for 5-cents. In the promotion, users have pointed out that the Union Flag is displayed upside down.

While some UK posters took the opportunity to poke fun at eBay's error, others seemed genuinely offended, with one poster stating, "Could you imagine the US reaction if eBay displayed the Stars and Stripes upside down and missed a couple of the stars off?"
Some posters even wondered if eBay was sending out a subliminal message that the company was in trouble. In the graphic for the promotion, the thicker diagonal white stripes appear to be pointed downward - a maritime signal for a ship in distress. According to the site, British Life & Culture "the broader diagonal white stripe should be at the top left hand side of the flag nearest the flagpole."

Although not likely to reach the scale of the Paul McCartney death hoax in the late 60's, when fans looked for clues in album covers, music tracks and song lyrics supposedly telegraphing the death of the Beatles' bassist, this controversy illustrates the close scrutiny that eBay is constantly under by its users, who look for possible clues to the company's future plans in announcements, policy changes and site redesigns.

Word of advice to eBay: Don't publish any pictures of John Donahoe crossing Abbey Road in bare feet...


Update: Thanks for the clarification, I've amended "Union Jack" to "Union Flag." The source used was http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/page5017.asp




Comments (33) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?   eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?

by: angryjim

Thu Jul 3 00:52:05 2008

Let the comparisons and/or metaphors to the ill fated RMS Titanic begin.

eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?   eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?

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

Thu Jul 3 02:04:18 2008

If you play The Donna Ho's Ebay Live speech backwards and listen carefully, you'll hear "John is Dead."

eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?   eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?

by: tj

Thu Jul 3 02:09:08 2008

@Ming...Brilliant LOL, I thought it was John's Head!!

As a Brit the flag is displayed correctly as eBay are well and truly in Distress...strange how a UK listing on US is 10p and a US listing on UK only 2.5 p

eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?   eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?

by: guy bell

Thu Jul 3 02:56:44 2008

.....nice to see how much (little) respect the yanks have for us limeys. Cheers. ..........I dont think

Everyone knows now ebay is in trouble, i dont think this makes a blind bit of difference. Sod 'em, its their own fault.

eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?   eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?

by: bonni

Thu Jul 3 03:05:52 2008

Well, it's amusing to think it was something subliminal, but I think they're just ignorant.

A couple years ago, during the peak of one of the worst droughts Australia has had in living memory, they put a campaign on the front page of eBay Australia with the old child's chant, "Rain, rain, go away." Australians, who were suffering higher prices in the market and some were facing actual bankruptcy due to failure of crops, found this in poor taste.

The problem was that the people who do this stuff are ignorant and have no clue what's going on in the rest of the world, even parts of the world where their own company is doing business.

eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?   eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?

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

Thu Jul 3 03:25:46 2008

@tj

If the ebay Board had a lick of sense, they would have The Donna Ho's head...on a silver platter!

eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?   eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?

by: ss

Thu Jul 3 07:11:35 2008

Just goes to show how irresponsible ebay and their employees are!!!!!!!!!!!!! Seems lately they are getting smacked around ( which is well deserved )

eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?   eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?

by: Keith

Thu Jul 3 09:07:44 2008

That is really stupid!  eBay is a mess, a public apology to all the Brits is in order. It's just one more nail in the coffin for eBay........

eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?   eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?

by: Suzi

Thu Jul 3 09:45:24 2008

tj you are right about the unfair pricing policy between ebay.com and ebay.co.uk but what really annoys me is our minimum reserve of £50. ($100.) On the US site you can put in any reserve you like there is no minimum - quite unfair I think.  To stick to the subject if they had used a picture of the Queen upside down it's treason - behead the CEO's of ebay I say lol.

eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?   eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?

by: Ethan

Thu Jul 3 10:03:40 2008

eBay UK may be in distress, and UK eBayers are certainly exceedingly distressed about the changes to the search format now that eBay is trying to force through a revised search that nobody wants.

The level of bile and hatred currently being directed against this company in their forums exceeds any prior precedent I've ever encountered for hatred against a web site.

I think you'll find that this upside down flag, although it is insulting, is just an error on eBay's part.  eBay seem to be mistaking quite a few mistakes lately, most noticeably since Douglas McCallum left the UK company.

eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?   eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?

by: Flagging ?

Thu Jul 3 10:21:32 2008

Actually it's the Union Flag not the Union Jack and the difference in orientation is far too subtle for a company who does not care about their own country's sellers let alone those any where else.

eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?   eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?

by: astro

Thu Jul 3 10:22:58 2008

Ummm  the flag isn't upside down at all, its completly incorrect.

Not really offended by both ebay and now auctionbytes getting that wrong, but it however does show a lack of attention to detail


eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?   eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?

by: ty

Thu Jul 3 10:25:23 2008

MMM

it's not upside down, it's plain wrong.

But, there is a valid point about ebay's apparent lack of respect for the UK - it probably was human error, but does show ignorance

eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?   eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?

by: Oblivious

Thu Jul 3 10:43:32 2008

If Ebay wasn't so hated by so many of its customers, something like a mistake regarding the flag might not get even a blip on the radar.

But Ebay's problems are deep - very deep, and they either don't know how to resolve them or they are just in total denial.  

Meg Whitman's fingerprints are all over the weapon that killed Ebay.  So she takes her millions and just moves on.  Sweet!

And she's toying with the idea of running for Governor of California?  Hey CA folks, if you elect her, you deserve everythiIf Ebay wasn't so hated by so many of its customers, something like a mistake regarding the flag might not get even a blip on the radar.ng you get.

eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?   eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?

by: ty

Thu Jul 3 11:05:07 2008

(Britain's flag)

and one minor correction to your article, it is not Britains flag. It is the flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland.

Britain, is made up of Scotland, Wales & England, and there is no flag that combines the 3.

eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?   eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?

by: kevin baker

Thu Jul 3 11:06:21 2008

Ina
It is the ''Union Flag'' not the union jack!

A ''Jack'' is the flag flown at the bow (prow) of a ship.

eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?   eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?

by: kevin baker

Thu Jul 3 11:08:15 2008

ty
BRITAIN comprises England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland.

So it is the flag of Great Britain!!!

eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?   eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?

by: Angie

Thu Jul 3 11:42:17 2008

Kevin

Ty is correct.
Northern Ireland is not part of Great Britain, but it IS part of the U.K.

While I'm on the subject, the United Kingdom is not a country, it is a Nation State made up of 4 countries. Although even our own passport office can't get that right on passport applications :(

As for ebay - A couple of years ago I would've been stunned & horrified at the total lack of respect shown - doesn't surprise me now though

eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?   eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?

by: conmor

Thu Jul 3 11:58:32 2008

Many of you think ebay is a sinking ship. I disagree, even if they'll hike fees with 200% tomorrow I'll disagree. Don't know about you guys in other continents but here in Western Europe no site even comes close to the potential in websales that ebay offers right now. I regret it though. No alternative, no exit.

eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?   eBay Signaling Distress in the UK?

by: Patricia

Thu Jul 3 13:10:14 2008

Gosh...looking at the right and wrong way at first glance you would scratch your head and say - I don't see it.  After awhile I caught on to the difference.  It doesn't seem as evident as if you hung old glory upside down.  I'd cut ebay some slack on this one.  We all know they do not excel in the "mental giant" dept. LOL

www.ACEOart.net

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