|Sun Sept 16 2012 21:24:17|
Point Counterpoint - Ending eBay Auctions Early
By: Ina Steiner
Do you think it is fair for a seller to end an eBay auction early once a bid has been placed? That's a question we posed to our readers, and the results are in: 56% said it's okay, while 44% said it's not okay to end eBay auctions early.
This is a timely debate, as beginning October 1st, eBay will start charging sellers a fee to end auction listings early if they have received a bid. (If the listing has a reserve price, the bid must be at or above the reserve price.) eBay will charge a fee equal to the amount of the Final Value Fee it would have collected had the listing ended naturally and sold for the highest bid received when the seller ended the listing.
eBay acknowledged there are times when sellers need to end listings early - in its advice for sellers under "Best Practices," the company suggested ways to minimize these situations. eBay will also allow sellers one chance to end a listing early without incurring a fee: "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."
Many readers said it was up to the seller to decide whether to end a listing early with no penalty from eBay. "The fact is that until the item sells, it belongs to the seller and nobody should be able to dictate what the seller can or can't do with their item," wrote one reader. "I'm sure eBay is paranoid that they might miss a nickel on items that are sold off eBay, but there's only so much of our lives that they should be allowed to control."
Some sellers mentioned family emergencies or weather-related events outside their control - "Last year, we had a major snowstorm, in October, which knocked power (and most cell service) out for a week. Luckily I was able to find a little spot of service, cancelled all bids and listings - and I did contact ALL bidders including the under-bidders. When I re-listed those items, I put a little note on each listing mostly to explain to the previous "watchers". It was a lot of work but worth it. In cases such as extreme regional weather Ebay should waive those fees or at least post an announcement and not penalize the sellers."
Another reader wrote, "As a seller, I want the choice to end an auction, to be mine and if I do so, I understand and will accept the consequences from the bidder. To receive yet another form of retribution from eBay, adds insult to injury. Once again, one size does not fit all."
On the other hand, many readers recognized that ending auctions early led to disappointment on the buyers' behalf. "As longtime sellers we feel ending an auction early after a bid has been placed it detrimental for both the buyer and seller. It obviously is going to upset the buyer (who after searching eBay to find the right deal for them) is forced into starting from scratch - waste of time. For the seller it lowers their credibility - why place a bid on their auctions only to have the auction cancelled - poor business!"
Another wrote, "A bid should be legally binding, for the seller as well as the bidder. If I make a bid on something I'm agreeing to purchase the item at whatever my highest bid is. If the listing disappears before the auction is set to end, it's very unfair. Seller should be held to the same expectations that the bidders are. The item will go to the highest bidder at the end of the auction. Period."
One reader felt that eBay must be seeing a higher incidence of sellers ending auctions early - "If eBay sees certain sellers ending a high proportion of auctions early, there is probably "something" going on."
We selected sellers with differing opinions and asked them to expand on their comments in the survey outlining their experience with offering free shipping. In Monday's newsletter, we run the two articles.
In the first article ("Point"), two sellers explain why it's okay for sellers to end eBay auctions early even after a bid has been placed. In the second article ("Counterpoint"), two other sellers explain why they believe it's not okay for sellers to end auctions early. Thanks to all four sellers for participating!
Now have your say - do you think it is fair for a seller to end an eBay auction early once a bid has been placed? Does the risk of disappointing auction bidders outweigh sellers right to decide for themselves if they wish to end auctions early?