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Fri Apr 22 2011 00:02:41

What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay

By: Ina Steiner

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We occasionally take some heat from people for our "tone" when covering this industry - especially when it comes to eBay. A case in point occurred last May, after we published an editorial entitled, "Editorial: eBay's Opened-Case Policy Is a No-Win for Sellers"

This editorial sparked some emotional responses from several large PowerSellers who supported eBay's changes. One email in particular caught our attention, since it came from a person that we had spoken with many times, and greatly respected their opinion. They took particular issue with the following two paragraphs of the editorial:  

eBay became a minefield for sellers ever since eBay took away their ability to leave negative or neutral feedback for their customers. eBay's constant changes; tantalizing sellers with monetary rewards for achieving increasingly difficult-to-achieve standards; the threats of punishment for failing to conform (loss of PowerSeller or TRS status, demotions in search, account suspension); they have all led sellers down the path to this latest Kafkaesque policy.

In case you've become desensitized over the course of this surreal multi-year campaign, the message to eBay sellers is this: you can't win.

This seller thought I went too far - here is part of their email to us:

----------
I believe that you have gone over the top in listening to the complainers. REALLY!!

You hear from the complainers so often, I think you believe that they're speaking the truth on behalf of all sellers. NOT SO!!

There are plenty of sellers, myself included, who APPLAUD changes like not allowing sellers to neg buyers. Many of us also love that the bar for excellence is VERY HIGH.

The TRS program is not perfect, but it's a step in the right direction.

Personally, my sales are huge and getting even better.

I don't want to be quoted because I'd be the target of the nuts and CERTAINLY get hit with some malicious buying to "show me". But Ina, really.......... just take a look at the site and look at how some of those complainers are conducting "business". They NEED to be pressured off the site!

Please, Ina, step away from your core group of complainers.
----------

David and I predicted at the time that eventually, that this seller would come across some bad buyers and be hamstrung by eBay's one-sided policies. This, along with increasing competition in their niche from large brands and retailers that get special marketing exposure from eBay, would make them realize what their fellow eBay sellers were complaining so loudly about.

Almost one year after writing that letter, their eBay Store is closed, due to the abusive treatment by eBay buyers.

eBay thought it was taking a lesson from Amazon.com when it took away sellers' ability to mitigate bad buyer behavior, but it is failing to do what Amazon.com does: keep the buyers in line itself.

The sad thing is that eBay lost a very good seller, and probably doesn't miss them. May that seller's sales flourish, wherever they open shop!




Comments (107) | Permalink

Readers Comments

What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay   What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay

by: Martin Niemoller

Fri Apr 22 00:16:29 2011

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay   What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay

by: eBuyer Feedback This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Fri Apr 22 00:29:27 2011

Honestly didn't expect that to the end result and I'm more cynical about eBay than most.  However it would be nice if that seller would show up with their eBay id to give the story credibility.  It isn't like some nut can neg him now.

What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay   What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay

by: Rich

Fri Apr 22 00:33:06 2011

Sounds like a case of chickens coming home to roost...

What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay   What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay

by: Et tu, Brute!

Fri Apr 22 00:37:11 2011

Ina, I value this follow up article.  I was a power seller baby on ebay but left in 2008 when all the ruckus started.

And I've never looked back or regretted that step.  I just wasn't going to "struggle" with an ongoing site relationship of grief that I see is STILL so ongoing and unending.  No one I know -- no one -- who consistently used to use ebay at that time still does so 3 years later.  Not a one.

I just don't get why sellers stay.  And take it.  And stay.  And take it.  And stay...

@ Martin Niemoller : well stated, indeed.  

What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay   What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay

by: Crystal Nock

Fri Apr 22 00:41:04 2011

I think this explains thing pretty well.

http://youtu.be/e3H9LPVknk8

What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay   What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay

by: Rich

Fri Apr 22 03:26:42 2011

That's very fitting that seller is no longer registered.  I hate the TRS program and the seller dashboard; even though I get the discount.  Because I know all it takes is a couple of bad people or competitors to ruin my scores and then have a few of their friends do the same and I might go from top rated to bottom rated.  6 straight years of fee hikes, a horrible feedback system and no seller ever being helped by ebay customer service or trust and safety when they've had a problem; makes selling on ebay worse and worse.  If Amazon or Google ever opens a used collectible site; Ebay would be finished.  

What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay   What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay

by: Jim This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 22 04:08:22 2011

I quit selling and 6 months later I got TRS status.  

What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay   What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay

by: John

Fri Apr 22 06:25:10 2011

An interesting thread. Ina, and a good prediction by you both. A follow-up with this person may prove an equally interesting thread if you can find them.

The comments comparing them to nazi germany is in poor taste though IMO.

I see them more as a socialistic republic. Their discussion boards policed by the gestapo. Their policies require assimilation of faith and spirit. Their hidden motto hard work through the hammer and sickle.  

What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay   What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay

by: Deanna

Fri Apr 22 07:14:59 2011

I've been selling handcrafted jewelry on ebay for about 12 years. It's true I don't like some of the changes, and have experienced a little bit of the "bad buyer syndrome." I would love to sell on sites such as Etsy or Artfire, but the bottom line is... I sell about 10 times more on eBay than I do on Etsy. Etsy just isn't worth the time involved to list there, with the return I get. I have only store items on ebay that are things I can reproduce, and the listings just keep renewing themselves. I haven't created a new listing for over six months, but still I make a very steady income, which is much higher than any other selling venue I've tried (I've also had my own website for about 13 years, which sells a very tiny bit compared to ebay). Only writing this because, yes, there are still some sellers on ebay that have been there for years and still make money with it. I am also a TRS. I know of at least 5 other sellers on ebay selling similar jewelry to mine that have also been there for many years and still going strong.

What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay   What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay

by: Dan

Fri Apr 22 08:01:47 2011

I think the irresponsible part of eBay is that they don't provide any general education to buyers on what is deemed "standard practice".  If a USA buyer ships a product internationally or to a Canadian customer for example, the buyer should expect to pay customs fees or other shipping fees.  International shipping is not cheap and it certainly is not free.  eBay is not setting expectations but they sure do knock sellers off the site for one or two problems per 100 transactions...thats all it takes.

What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay   What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay

by: My Own Website Not Quite Paying My Bills Yet

Fri Apr 22 08:49:52 2011

"The comments comparing them to nazi germany is in poor taste though IMO."

I totally agree. It's an insult to Nazi Germany.

What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay   What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay

by: pete

Fri Apr 22 09:38:45 2011

eBay the ONLY on-line sales venue where a seller can be suspended with 100% postitive feedback? for bad seller performance

Just Idiots......

What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay   What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay

by: Ed

Fri Apr 22 10:13:04 2011

I was a 100% for ebay to clean up their site. The problem I see is that they have two standards.

Example: DON'T over charge for shipping.

1. DO promote .99 cent auctions and do nothing about the shipping charges.

1. DO offer Free Shipping even if it increases the cost the buyers an extra $5.00

The idea of getting your search lowered for not giving FREE SHIPPING seems a little unfair since they both pay the same amount in fees. But allowing a Seller to get 1 DSR for as little as .25 over actual shipping and them making the BUYER give them a 5 Star of over charging them $5.00 or $6.00 hidden in FREE SHIPPING seem strange. ebay wants FREE SHIPPING and if you don't want to do it you are going to get punished by lower search or the stress of the DSR system. It shows the DSR system is for punishment only.

I look using punishment as a way to manage a business unprofessional and will only hurt your business over time. ebay really needs to get back to a more positive business model.  

What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay   What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay

by: Nick Anorah

Fri Apr 22 10:47:32 2011

''I look using punishment as a way to manage a business unprofessional and will only hurt your business over time. ebay really needs to get back to a more positive business model.''

EBAY PHILOSOPHY: ''The beatings will continue until morale improves.''

What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay   What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay

by: Paul

Fri Apr 22 11:01:17 2011

A year later, my sales are up 300%, my DSRs are 5,5,5,4.9, and my TRS status is safe, with no low ratings (1s or 2s) in the last three months.  Providing fast and ''free'' shipping, along with good descriptions so buyers get exactly what they expect does it.

I have no doubt the Corps of Chronic Complainers will be back to flame me, but the fact is I am one of many sellers who is doing just fine.

What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay   What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay

by: Paula P.

Fri Apr 22 11:02:10 2011

eBay is peeling back smaller sellers like an onion...one layer at a time. Eventually they'll get around to the dithering idiots that still attend their On Location events, and dress up in Red, Blue, Yellow and Green makeup and wigs. It's sad but fascinating to read about the the downfall of a one-time eBay cheerleader. I suspect we'll be hearing this type of story more and more.

What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay   What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay

by: DonC
Web Site

Fri Apr 22 11:05:01 2011

Very interesting article.

I don't consider myself a complainer. Like some here I tell it like it is and come to learn and exchange knowledge.

Keep up the good work.

Don

What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay   What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay

by: Rich

Fri Apr 22 11:08:37 2011

@Paul

You sound just like the seller in Ina's blog. Feel free to check back in a year! LOL!!

What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay   What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay

by: Paul

Fri Apr 22 11:26:51 2011

@rich
Ok, I've marked my calendar!

What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay   What a Difference a Year Can Make on eBay

by: small seller

Fri Apr 22 11:35:14 2011

I am a small seller and by far the biggest problem I have is the dsr system where they expect you to have a 99.5 customer satisfaction rate.In the real business world that is just pure insanity.I did achieve that and was a trs until I had the misfortune of getting left a bad dsrs by just 2 customers who never contacted me with any problem just neged and trashed our dsr's .Mind you they received exactly what was described in the auctions just never bothered to read descriptions.So I have 10000+ glowing positives almost all gushing in appreciation for my great service packaging and bargain pricing.Now because of 2 out of thousands and thousands of customers I am now a STANDARD seller .What is wrong with this picture?

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