|Wed Aug 15 2012 12:06:11|
Bad Apples: Is eBay's Upcoming Early Auction Ending Fee Fair?
By: Julia Wilkinson
Nestled in the 2012 eBay Fall Seller Update was news about a new fee eBay will charge sellers who end auctions which have already received at least one bid early. I didn't even really realize it until I noticed an active discussion on the eBay boards debating the fee, titled "Does the upcoming Early Termination Fee Take Seller's Rights Away?"
I found this discussion interesting because although some sellers were angered by the new fee, which starts October 1 -- and will equal the amount of the final value fee had the listing ended naturally and sold for the highest bid received when the seller ended the listing -- plenty of others defended eBay and said the new fee was understandable given that a lot of sellers seemed to be abusing the "ending a listing early" feature, leading to a substantial number of disgruntled buyers.
This made me think back to other "bad apple" situations when all sellers on eBay have to pay for the abuse of the few, such as the fee we now pay on shipping fees (yes, a fee on shipping fees...sounds funny, doesn't it?) because some sellers were listing items at deceptively low starting prices and packing the real cost of the item into their shipping, in order to save on listing fees.
It also makes me wonder, who is finding the need to end so many auctions early, and why are they doing it? It reminds me of that old Seinfeld bit about how they have that tiny slot for used razor blades in airplane bathrooms: "Who is shaving on the plane? And shaving so much they're using up razor blades? Is the wolf man flying in there?"
Who is ending so many auctions early? And if the "few bad apples" are abusing this, could eBay find a way to prevent the few, rather than penalizing the many? Granted, eBay does allow a seller one freebie a year: "In rare situations, a seller may need to end a listing early, so the fee will be waived the first time a seller ends a listing early each calendar year."
Could eBay, for example, set a reasonable limit on ending a listing early..say, three to five a year? Or some other amount? Or is there another way they could handle it, such as targeting the sellers who are doing this on a regular basis?
Personally, I don't often need to use this feature, but on the rare occasion when I do, it is for a good reason, such as I discovered a flaw that I hadn't noticed on first inspection (we are only human after all; all sellers sometimes make mistakes) and it makes the auction unacceptable. Or, let's say someone's dog chewed up the lovely Manolo Blahniks they had up for sale. I don't do it often but if I had to do it just a few times a year, I don't like that I'll be charged for it. (Granted, I don't think any of the auctions I ever ended early had a bid, but after 13 years of selling, I honestly can't remember).
What do you think? Is this fee fair, or do you not give it much thought? And on a larger level, when these "bad apple" situations occur, do you think eBay could use its technology to ferret out those who are "gaming the system" and penalize only them? Post a comment here!