Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Fri Oct 5 2012 21:52:16

eBay Ejects Half.com Listings

By: Ina Steiner

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Half.com sellers were shocked this week to see that their listings no longer appeared in eBay search results, which had included HDC listings for the past 5 years. Sellers will now have to list their Half.com inventory directly on eBay - and pay eBay listing fees - if they wish their listings to show up in eBay search.

eBay sent a letter to Half.com sellers, but the wording was ambiguous and called the change a simplification. It was actually a version of the same letter it sent to eBay sellers in media and consumer electronics that also had recipients scratching their heads about what it meant.

We decoded the eBay email in this EcommerceBytes news story on Tuesday: eBay made a major, unannounced change to search in the media and consumer electronics category this week, and now shows individual listings instead of category-based "product cards."

eBay's Ryan Moore confirmed today that items listed on Half.com were no longer appearing automatically in eBay search results. Moore told me that Half.com sellers now needed to list their inventory directly on eBay to be included in eBay search results and said, "We understand this requires some additional steps for Half.com sellers."

What about fees? "They will have to pay the normal eBay fees when they list their items on eBay," he said. Half.com sellers normally don't pay listing fees and pay up to 15% in commission fees if their items sell.

Adding insult to injury for Half.com sellers was the way eBay handled the announcement. One seller wrote on the Half.com discussion board on eBay: "What makes this change even more frustrating, is the fact that there was zero notice. I have been getting emails and updates and messages since July about the "Fall Seller Updates" and the ability to add pictures to eBay messages, starting in October (Wow, how groundbreaking is that!). So for something as minor as that, I get four months notice, but for this change, I get an email on the day it took place?????"

Another wrote, "It seems it would have been simpler, more straight forward, more honest, more respectful, to just Announce to Half.com users that 'we regret to announce that due to system changes on eBay and incompatibility issues, the HOE (Half on eBay) program feature is being discontinued'. It would still hurt, still elicit outrage, but at least not be insultingly phrased in techno - gobble-di-gook, and patronizing BS."

eBay has always been ambivalent about HDC, which it acquired in 2000. At one point, it planned to integrate Half.com into eBay and close the site, but reversed that decision in 2004 and later began including links to Half in media categories on eBay. Beginning in early 2007, eBay added all Half.com listings to eBay search results.

It's a tough time of year to face reduced exposure in search as holiday shopping is beginning, and Half.com sellers are scrambling.




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Perminate Link for eBay Ejects Half.com Listings   eBay Ejects Half.com Listings

by: peasodos This user has validated their user name.

Fri Oct 5 22:26:22 2012

Great, maybe my eBay listings will get more traffic, Cassini sucks.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Fri Oct 5 22:27:48 2012

It is no surprise that eBay is pulling the rug out from under Half.com sellers... perhaps this is the precursor to a slow death for eBay's red headed bastard step child.

While they publicly deny it, eBay is facing a horrendous drop in traffic now that Google has gone to a paid format. eBay is not seeing the sales volume it is accustomed to so eBay is seeking to replace lost revenue with the listing fees they expect to collect from Half.com sellers desperate to continue their exposure on eBay for the holidays.

That the rug has been pulled with no notice just before the holiday selling season illustrates how desperate eBay is to find new sources of revenue.

I suspect there will be more unannounced changes as well as short notice changes coming soon as eBay struggles to maintain revenue levels for the fourth quarter against last year.

Further, I expect that Q4 2012 is going to be a big disappointment for eBay sellers. Many will consider themselves fortunate if they are able to match last years sales while many more will see sales that are below last years levels.

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by: rqtball This user has validated their user name.

Fri Oct 5 23:18:57 2012

My ebay sales have been really really slow up until monday or tuesday when things picked up...been VERY busy since.

Guessing this has something to do with it.

good for me, sucks for the half.com people

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by: NullApps This user has validated their user name.
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Sat Oct 6 01:11:04 2012

So that is kind of shocking.  I guess now eBay doesn't have to worry about that long running design flaw with the Finding API where HDC listings wouldn't show up if you restricted results to the US.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Sat Oct 6 16:55:38 2012

Hey, they have to get revenue from somewhere ...

The True State of the eBay Marketplace ...

I did an “auction only” search for “Rolex” in the Jewelry & Watches category, picked out a dozen merchants with higher feedback counts, and analyzed a couple of auctions in the higher price range (not necessarily for a Rolex) from each of their completed listings:

beckertime (15,883)
davefrommayfairgalleries (14,388)
fierygems (7,002)
gerryzu (5,552)
istanbul_market (14,998)
sflmaven (59,435)

Ultimately, analyses were not done for six of the selected merchants because they had, from their many listings, effectively no sales or, in one case, was using the “private” auction format (the ultimate eBay-supplied hide for the shill bidding merchant brazen enough to use it). Indeed, five of these undoubtedly honest merchants had such utterly abysmal sell-though rates no analysis could be attempted nor was there any point in doing so …

headphomania (11,493)—OK; sets start price at minimum prepared to accept; but, very few sales!
hessfineauctions (79,729)—“Private listing - bidders' identities protected” …
interwatches (8,069)—Few sales! No bids!
jfm_watches (4,027)—Very few sales! One bid!
universaldiamondexchange (2,464)—No sales! No bids!
universalnyc (69,733)—Very few sales! Very few bids!

The composite spreadsheet (~1MB) at the above Web Site link.

You will notice distinct differences in the patterns of bidding by any “regular” bidders on each merchant’s auctions: some of the merchants have a great many “regular” bidders making very many bids and these are probably “commercially-supplied” bids; but, as has been noted elsewhere, where these regular bidders appear at the lower-value end of the bidding on nominal-start auctions, its not absolutely impossible that such bidding could also be other unscrupulous sellers’ making faux bids on other sellers’ auctions to water down their own “% with” statistic …

Regardless, it appears that the eBay marketplace whale is now well and truly stranded on the beach and putrefaction surely has to have commenced. Notwithstanding the honest merchants that are still trying to make a living on this broken marketplace, I suspect that on eBay auctions there are now more bids being made by shill bidders than by genuine bidders as much of the observed bidding activity has at least the appearance of shill bidding …

eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking



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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Sat Oct 6 17:59:32 2012

Seems like another desperation move by eBay to generate fees. Everyone is complaining that sales are beyond abysmal, which means no FVFs for eBay. Since they've tacked on fees, or raised fees, just about everywhere else they can, they had to come up with a new source of revenue.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Sat Oct 6 19:20:05 2012

It's an object-lesson in how little regard eBay has for sellers. At one time, I was perfectly comfortable to rely exclusively on eBay to supplement our family income. I was an active and loyal seller (and buyer) and I knew that eBay was looking out for everyone's best interests. Back then... as the sellers succeeded, so did eBay.

But knowing what we all know now, it is a very unwise move for anyone to continue to rely exclusively on eBay or any of its subsidiaries. It's no longer a symbiotic relationship of mutual benefit... instead, the relationship has become PARASITIC! eBay execs and policy-makers have no qualms at all as they continue to engage in their quest to suck-dry and squeeze every last drop of life from sellers. Sadly, the ones who suffer the most from eBay's insidious policies and actions, are the ones who are most vulnerable and who can least afford it.

I've never been one to suggest that anyone should simply up-and-quit eBay. To do so would be the same as cutting off one's nose to spite their face. But for anyone who has not yet diversified their income streams, NOW is the time to start exploring other options!

Folks like me chose to ignore the early warning signs... I was convinced that things would return to ''normal'' and that rational heads would prevail. But as optimistic (and loyal) as I once was, there can now be NO DENYING reality. There should be NO DOUBTS with regard to what eBay thinks of its sellers.

The lies, the broken promises, the disdain and outright CONTEMPT they have for us could not be any more clear than it is right now. And the evidence continues to mount. The clues for what the future holds continue to be revealed.

Wake up! Do yourselves a favor build a future that doesn't rely EXCLUSIVELY on eBay.

eBay's luster is gone. It's tarnished, nicked, dinged and dented. Its glory days are over. I doubt it will disappear and vanish, but it is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Remember how ubiquitous AOL once was? But now, not so much. AOL is still around, but just a hollow-shell and a shadow of what it once was.

The same fate awaits eBay. -- One day, eBay will screw itself... or it will screw YOU. Can you afford to take the chance? Do you have a backup plan?  

Perminate Link for eBay Ejects Half.com Listings   eBay Ejects Half.com Listings

This user has validated their user name. by: Island_Sam

Sat Oct 6 19:49:25 2012

Almost done with porting ebay inventory to our new web site. Over a thousand listings. Working hard to hedge our bets. New sets of challenges but we will survive, we always do! One can just imagine the feelings of loyal sellers when ebay treats them like "Collateral damage" in its grand plan. Diversification is the name of the game.

Perminate Link for eBay Ejects Half.com Listings   eBay Ejects Half.com Listings

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Sat Oct 6 20:08:58 2012

Ric and Annie are 101% correct. eBay doesnt know what to do anymore, so these kinds of moves are what they pull. They figure that it will only effect a small amount of people and that they can easily get away with it. And so what if you do complain? Its like in a horror film when the bad guy tells the target ''no one can hear you scream now'' .... and on eBay no one can.

If you speak up here you have a shot of being heard, but eBay doesnt react. If you call them, they tell you BS then hang up on you. If you email them, they either dont return your email(s) or send you back a garbage form email. If you write on thier forums, the pinks come and shut you down. JD and NH know this and count on being able to control how the message is played out. All they do is send out press releases ''we have 10 gazillion billion trillion mobile purchases'' and all the lemmings reprint it as if its the gosple.

TWICE who rails on Amazon every week, barely mentions eBay, ever.

eBay must have ''wowed'' them at the CES show last yr in Vegas -since THIS year they arent even exhibiting. LMAO I guess thier diamond seller/manufactorer outreach went no where (but I think any of us here could have told them that up front and saved them money!)

I feel for the HDC sellers and Im sorry that they are now ''getting the treatment we eBay sellers get'' .... its a shame to wake up one day and find out that they people who you did business with, instead of spending thier time to help grow your business, instead spent thier time plotting against you.

READ ANNIE'S WORDS AND TAKE THEM TO HEART! Ive echo'd them myself 100 times - dont rely on eBay, Paypal or even Amazon to help you succeed - if you dont do it yourself you will fail. Do a website, do email, do wholesale, sell out of the country, do direct and email - DONT wait for eBay to come ridding into your rescue - they cant, they wont, they arent interested in doing so!

Perminate Link for eBay Ejects Half.com Listings   eBay Ejects Half.com Listings

This user has validated their user name. by: eBankrupted

Sat Oct 6 23:26:09 2012

@Anonymous Annie

Annie, although I love the thoughtful intent of your post; I still believe you are in a denial phase regarding the future of ebay. The sooner you accept that it is done, the better you'll feel.

Somthing was lost, or broken, or stolen.. some formula for success was somehow not backed up properly, or just totally deleted and now it's impossible to get it back. The ebay magic is over and will never be back, no matter how much you and we want it to get back to normal. It's done, and it's time to move on. I hope you find success without ebay.

Perminate Link for eBay Ejects Half.com Listings   eBay Ejects Half.com Listings

This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Sun Oct 7 10:28:57 2012

eBankrupted wrote: ''I hope you find success without ebay.''

Hmmm. It's unclear to me what you believe I may be in denial about. Were my predictions too dire? Or too rosy? ~~ In any case, I sincerely thank you for your well wishes, eBankrupted.

In the past few years, as I've ''weaned'' from eBay, my total sales have MORE than doubled. That's something I never thought possible! I still keep a small presence at eBay as a mere signpost to continually meet new customers and to guide them to my web store.

Thankfully, eBay sales are NOT something that I rely upon, and in fact, keeping my eBay listings updated has become (literally) an afterthought.

In happier days, the majority of store listings were GTC. Now, my eBay listings are limited only to the times when a free-listing promotion is offered. I must make a special effort to pay attention to the free-listing promotions if I want to list on eBay AT ALL.

Most times, however, my 10-day free listings will expire... and I'll have no presence at eBay for days or WEEKS at a time. (That is, until I think about it... or until I receive a ''free-listing'' promotional email from eBay.)

In an earlier discussion, someone asked why I didn't just leave eBay completely. It's a valid question, and my husband has also asked why I don't just shut the door and make a permanent break.

My response then, is the same as it is now... my very limited and infrequent listings on eBay DO drive SOME new sales to my web site (and that's a good thing). Also, even though the profit from an occasional eBay sale is a small fraction of my total profits... it's still a profit, AND an opportunity to meet and woo new customers.

It is minimal effort, minimum risk, reasonable benefit for my investment. So, considering those things, of course I'll continue to list at eBay... now-and-again... whenever-convenient... if it's free... and if I happen to think about it.

One other thing: Even though I do have a shadow ''store'' at eBay, my stress level (and overall attitude about online selling) has greatly improved. It's SO NICE to be excited about selling again! It's a great feeling to LOOK FORWARD to seeing a new order arrive in my email.

Although, frankly... considering the number of years eBay *was* a major part of my life, and considering my previous loyalty to eBay, probably it will be YEARS before my hurt and resentment disappears.

My anger subsides every time I post an angry message, or rave-on about how awful eBay is... and every time that I'm personally able to warn someone someone and guide them AWAY from eBay. --- One day, I just won't care anymore.

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This user has validated their user name. by: permacrisis

Sun Oct 7 20:52:07 2012

Curious decision for a company bent on inflating listing counts ???!!

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by: MADandCracked This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Oct 8 00:24:04 2012

Well, they haven't started charging buyers ..... yet! :D

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This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Mon Oct 8 00:29:47 2012

Yeah, ... a "buyers' premium" ... undoubtedly these headless turkeys will eventually get so desperate for revenue that they will try even that ...

eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking

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This user has validated their user name. by: Bijoux Dragon
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Mon Oct 8 01:17:01 2012

Had a few DVDs on half, saw the news and switched them over to Amazon.  I did charge a few dollars more to cover the higher costs at Amazon.  Sold in the first 24 hours.

Sad - I was one of the first users on Half and, at one point was one of the 'voices' sellers.  Feels like an old friend has passed away - just a ghost left.  Sigh ....

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by: blaumann This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 8 01:31:16 2012

Another week of no sales for me. Ebay is dead. I am negotiating to have a website built. I will try to open an Ecrater store. There is no money to be made with ebay any longer.

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by: Bruce Hershenson This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Oct 8 06:13:15 2012

I hate to say ''I told you so, but I DID!'' Way back in 2008, just before I took my then just under $3 million dollar a year business entirely off eBay, I posted the following on the eBay discussion boards:

''My name is Bruce Hershenson and I am the owner of emovieposter.com. I joined eBay
in 1998, and in 2000 I moved my entire mail-order business of vintage movie posters to eBay, and since that time I have sold 300,000 movie posters on eBay, for total sales of $16 million (3 million in 2007 alone). In all that time, I have auctioned all of my items with 99 cents start bid, and no reserve, the very kind of auctions that made eBay so successful when they first ''took off''.

The recent price changes affect my business greatly. They will result in the fees I pay going up 40% annually! If I were to achieve the 5% discount eBay is offering a very select few, my fees would go up by approximately 27%. If I were to achieve the 15% discount, my fees would go up by approximately 13%.

I feel that the price increases are extremely misguided. Normally, companies only raise rates when THEIR costs increase, or when they are delivering better results to their customers. In THIS case, eBay's costs have not risen and they are not only NOT delivering better results, but they are actually delivering lesser results (lower sellthrough rates and lower ASPs). Any company that did not perceive themselves as a monopoly would never raise their rates under these circumstances, but, if you feel your customers have nowhere else to go, then you CAN raise their rates, to make up for the lower profits you are having due to the lesser results you are realizing.

eBay has miscalculated in my case. I have to examine how much I pay eBay per year, and what I received in return for that money. I have concluded that I can do far better opening up my own auction on my own site. Unlike many other sellers, I had my own business for 10 years prior to starting on eBay, so I am now reversing the process I started in 2000! At that time, I moved my entire business ONTO eBay, and in 2008, I am moving my entire business OFF of eBay.

I really don't understand why eBay would drastically raise their rates on people like myself, who sell 100% of what they list, and have ''fun'' true auctions, where all the final prices are set by two or more actual bidders (the very kinds of auctions that made eBay so popular), and I have virtually perfect feedback (only 14 negatives in 300,000 transactions!).

What is equally difficult to understand is that eBay has slashed their rates to media sellers only, who sell very little of what they list, and who have generally mediocre feedback, and who often charge disproportionately high shipping, which eBay says is their number one concern! It also is odd that eBay chose these sellers to be the first recipients of their new ''non-level playing field'', for I can see no reason to single out these sellers as being especially important to eBay.

But it is not solely an issue of rates that is causing me to leave eBay. I believe their recent changes to feedback will have a disastrous effect on their company. I believe they made those changes because their research showed that buyers do not return to the site (either ever, or as often) because of dissatisfaction over high shipping, and because they get upset when a seller leaves negative feedback on them. So they made their recent changes (primarily trying to force sellers to lower shipping rates, and stop leaving ''bad feedback'') because they think that will improve sales.

I believe they are completely mistaken. In spite of what their research shows, I believe the number one reason buyers buy less often (or quit the site) is because they were cheated in some fashion. Similarly, I believe the number one reason sellers sell less (or quit selling altogether) is because they are tired of having buyers who never pay.

The solution to both these problems is to verify all other users on the site (both buyers and sellers). When a buyer or seller breaks the rules, eBay could then ban that PERSON, and not just that ID (which has no effect, because the person can get a new ID, under the current rules). If all users are verified, then a bad buyer or seller will be banned, and they can't easily get back on.

I believe eBay is aware of both these problems, but there are two things that prevent them from implementing my solution. One is that verifying all users would mean they would have to admit they would actually have something like 80 million users, instead of the 250 million users they claim (which counts all IDs as separate people, which everybody knows is complete fiction). The other thing is that eBay would have to have a REAL Trust and Safety department which would need to go after bad buyers and sellers, both with police and through the courts, and that would certainly be expensive, and would not bring eBay any additional income in the short term.

Under the current setup, eBay benefits greatly from the problems that beset the site. Many ''bad sellers'' are among the largest sellers, and pay eBay great amounts of fees. Many ''bad buyers'' cause items to have to be relisted a second time, and this generates a HUGE amount of revenue for eBay in listing fees they never refund (and surely many people never bother to get a refund of their final value fees, so that is an additional revenue source as well).

To sum up, eBay keeps raising the fees sellers pay, without delivering additional value of any kind, and in fact recent years have seen a deterioration of the value they have provided. They also continually micromanage their sellers, taking control of a greater and greater percentage of their businesses.

Sometime in the middle of March, I will hold my last eBay auction, and I will hold my first auction on my website http://www.emovieposter.com/. I am currently in negotiations with other major sellers of collectibles and antiques, trying to help them leave eBay as well, and set up similar auctions on their own sites. I have hope that, at some time in the future, I can help set up an auction site SOLELY for collectibles and antiques, so that all of the smaller sellers on eBay will have a place to sell on that is run by actual sellers, and which truly only does provide a platform for them to sell from. I believe such a site would be very welcomed by almost all sellers of collectibles and antiques.

Bruce Hershenson
President, eMoviePoster.com''

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by: Bruce Hershenson This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Oct 8 06:15:54 2012

I am very glad so many of you are seeing that you need to wean yourself away from eBay, and you need to do it any way you can, because it will only continue to get worse from here! I know few of you can do as I did and more your business to a stand-alone website, but you likely can start some alternate selling on one or more sites, and possibly supplement that with a personal website too.

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by: retiredcatlady This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 8 15:22:29 2012

I am stunned that a once successful business would continue down a path to destruction.  In order for them to continue to be successful, they need to turn back the clock to the year 2000 and adopt some of the old ways which WORKED! and be true to the sellers who made Ebay what it is today....the foundation.  Unfortunately, the foundation of Ebay is cracked and like the silicon valley companies, their day is coming.  

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by: mindelec This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 8 18:04:18 2012

this only makes sense to me...  why should listers on half.com get exposure that i have to pay for?

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