EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 242 - July 12, 2009 - ISSN 1528-6703     7 of 7

AuctionBytes Soundoff: Letters from Readers

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In every issue, readers soundoff about issues important to them. From feedback to payment services, from fees to posting policies, AuctionBytes Soundoff gives you a chance to air your views.

Send your letter to the editor by emailing ina@auctionbytes.com with "Letters to the Editor Blog" in the subject line. (Remember to include your name as you would like it to appear.)

And be sure and follow the AuctionBytes Letters to the Editor blog!

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To the Editor:
Just a comment on Auctiva. With their move to a fee based service, small sellers have finally been all but eliminated from eBay. A seller who uses eBay five to ten times a year, items usually under $100, would be out of his mind to pay Auctiva (or Vendio) $120 per year for the privilege of being abused by eBay. Craig's list for me, as eBay or Auctiva will never see another thin dime from this casual auction user. What a shame that the fun (and a little profit) has disappeared forever for the attic/garage seller. John in Boise

Comment on this letter in the Letters to the Editor blog

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Hi Ina,
On June 10, 2009 Ebay retired Classic Search. Our sales immediately dropped from 20-30 a day to 0-1 per day. A few days later we started hearing from buyers that they were having major search problems, such as slow loading (with high speed DSL), inability to search more than 5 pages (out of 200+ pages), sometimes not being able to go to page 2 (page 1 kept reloading). Many are so discouraged by yet another change at Ebay, another one they see not needed, that they have turned to other venues to shop.

Other sellers I am in contact with, outside of Community Boards, report the same.

When will Ebay realize that not only have they chased of many good sellers, who were also buyers, but they are now chasing off buyers who have remained?

Community boards report same problems. I do wonder how many posts Ebay deleted. Also, board posters have declined mostly from disgust at Ebay's inablity and/or disinclination to respond to and/or update members on issues. If you are being ignored, why make the effort?

See board posts:

Link 1

Link 2

Link 3

Link 4

Link 5

As with all other Ebay changes to one aspect, there seems to be other glitches happening since Classic Search was retired. See posts:

Link 1

Link 2

Link 3

Link 4

Posters report that responses to ebay tech support via email and phone calls only include: "There is no problem.", "No problem has been reported", and the old standby "Clear cookies & cache."

I have to believe that no sales for sellers = no FVF for Ebay. Why wouldn't they be working on this? Ebay is silent, as usual, about site issues. God forbid that stockholders get wind of what appears to be a major problem at Ebay. Perhaps you can find out something.

Keep up the excellent work! AuctionBytes is often the only way we are able to find out about what's going on at Ebay.
Sincerely,
SJ
PS: Feel free to post this in your blog or letters section. I'd be curious to see what others have to say about this.

Comment on this letter in the Letters to the Editor blog

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To the Editor:
I am a long-time reader of your blog, and have received many a benefit thereof. I find your comments and candor to be quite informative, and very useful. In that spirit, I'd like to share with you a few tidbits of information that you may find quite interesting.

First, I'd like to ask that, should you decide to publish this under your "Letters To The Editor" section, you please omit my name & email address, as I'm aware that the eBay folk monitor the blogs, and I'd be concerned about potential reprisals.

All that said....a small bit of history. I have been an eBay seller for 10 years; a Silver Power Seller for 6. I move roughly 5000 units/year; grossing ~ $120,000.00 annually. I'm an educated & experienced eCommerce retailer, and, as with all eBay sellers, I keep close tabs on eBays policies.

With the recession beginning last year, I was expecting a slowdown in sales; as I, and my family, were cutting back on our expenses as well. Therefore, when the slowdown in sales came, it was really no surprise. What was a surprise, however, was the significant decrease (y/o/y) that I saw (I'll get to the actual #'s in a moment, but suffice to say, I was a bit stunned).

On or about 1/31/2009, I began to see (what I thought) was going to be the "recessionary" eCommerce shopping patterns; and adjusted my business plan appropriately. I liquidated my inventory, cut back on expenses (smaller orders, more efficient shipping, etc...), and began projecting the balance of 2009 accordingly.

However, on April 15th, 2009, I was equally as stunned to see a significant increase in both my sales, and especially my revenues. Since, I've monitored very my sales/revenue very closely for the past 60 days. I had not changed my business plan since 1q08, and had offered the same merchandise as well. However, it was literally as though someone at eBay had turned on a bank of servers that had been mistakenly turned off for 3 months. To illustrate this point:

Period = Jan 1, 2008 - April 14th, 2008 vs same period in 2009:

  • Sales - Down -28% (y/o/y)
  • Revenues - Down -25% (y/o/y)

Period = April 14th, 2009 - June 14, 2009:

  • Sales - Down -10% (y/o/y)
  • Revenues - UP +13% (y/o/y)

I have racked my brains for the past week, and scoured numerous resources to try to determine how/why this happened. Then I stumbled upon the obvious....eBays "Spring 2009 Update" was announced on April 14th.

We all know that eBay has a penchant for continually making changes to the site at peak shopping hours. EBay may have a stated "Maintenance Period" on Thursday evening (PST), but we all know that was put in place a few years ago to appease the masses. I think we've all seen occasion wherein (as a seller) we'll compare competitors pricing on a specific item we offer, and find that it is not showing in Search; only to see it a few hours later, utilizing the same Search terms.

I believe that eBay/Mr. Donahoe (et.al.) are utilizing the current economic recession to their advantage (as if anyone's lower sales could be an advantage!). The changes proposed by the eBay Brass were so sweeping, and so much more difficult than they had originally anticipated in 3q08, that once they had begun (making the DSR changes to Best Match, began bringing in the "Big Box" retailers & began molding eBay into more of a liquidation-type eCommerce site, etc..) they were so solidly entrenched in the "mess" they had begun (I.e., updating servers, bringing on new servers, fixing the non-stop "glitches), that the "recession" was an advantage to them, and the slow-down in eCommerce gave them the "cover" they needed to move forward, with little opposition.

In summation, eBay is hiding behind the recession, utilizing it as a smoke-screen to make sweeping changes to the site. Instead of just telling Wall Street that they have a long/tough road ahead, and that the implementation of the technologies required will negatively affect sales/revenues (a little contrition is good for the soul), they are utilizing the recession in a very militaristic fashion. They are using Wall Streets expecting of lower sales, and making them even lower by these changes in coding and technology. Of course, in hopes that no one will notice.

In the spirit of humility, I do not suppose that I am any smarter than the next eCommerce retailer, and that my suppositions above are true, or even more accurate. However, the numbers don't lie. My uptick in sales/revenue on the exact day they announced their 1st of 2 annual changes cannot be coincidence. Had there been a small increase, maybe. But they were as dramatic an increase, as they were a decrease in the 1q09.

I guess this means we can expect the same soon; what with the 2nd of 2 annual announces due in July!!
Keep up the good work Ina!!
Best Regards.

Comment on this letter in the Letters to the Editor blog

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To the Editor:
I am an Englishman living in France and receive your missive on a regular basis. the biggest single theme is without any doubt at all "How badly eBay is treating us" and YES they are sometimes slightly lacking in there seemingly human side! BUT here in the UK it seems that a NEW breed is taking over!

Yes that is right they are actually paying REAL people to help out with problems I and thousands of others have with the site! Before of course they paid peanuts and of course hired monkies! But this NEW breed are certainly not only ABLE to help out they enjoy doing so it seems!

In the last 6 months I have not had ONE single bad report from anyone at eBay! Now that IS progress, as to how long it lasts..............

Great read and PLEASE keep them coming! (Hi to Newt if this gets published! He got me started with you!)
Regards
Chris

Comment on this letter in the Letters to the Editor blog

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To the Editor:
Apparently there is a problem with PayPal that they are not sharing with everyone. I say this because it's not on the Systems Messages at eBay. For at least a week I cannot view my History on PayPal beyond 7 days.

I reported this to PayPal by phone. The result of a 15 minute call was that "this is a know issue and our engineers are working on it".

I reported it again in a couple of days by e-mail and received a canned reply about clearing out cookies, etc. I know all about clearing cookies, etc. I had already tried this several times.

After my angry reply to this canned message I received another reply that stated, "yes, we know about this and are working on it".

It's been more than a week now and it still is not solved. I can only see my History for the past seven days. Has anyone else reported this to you at Auctionbytes?
Can you look into this?
Signed,
Bob

AuctionBytes inquired about the problem, PayPal spokesperson Charlotte Hill replied via email: "A very small number of our customers have reported they are unable to view their transaction history when logged into their PayPal account. This issue is still being carefully reviewed and a cause has not yet been determined. Please advise any PayPal customers experiencing this issue to call customer service. We can manually pull their history information and send to them directly via email."

Comment on this letter in the Letters to the Editor blog

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To the Editor:
Over the next few days eBay is rolling out a little known change, but it is terrible. They are removing the running balance next to each transaction line by line and this means ebay can "make mistakes" and you will never notice them. Very shady, not nice at best, _______ at worst.

Thought you might like to know so you can report on this. It is NOT fair to do this.

Not everyone's account has changed yet, as they are doing it in batches. But within a few days it will be changed on all accounts.

Discovered it in my account and contacted ebay chat support. The rep informed me that they are rolling out this to all users over the next few days in "batches."

This is a sneaky underhanded move and is very wrong. Allows them to sneak in changes to your balance without your seeing them. It is wrong. They should show the running balance. For people with a lot of transactions, a running balance allows them to see if a charge has gone up in error or a credit did not post, much easier.

Comment on this letter in the Letters to the Editor blog

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To the Editor:
I read your newsletters all the time and am so glad to have found you! Your newsletters are always so timely and the articles just the right length.

I was wondering if you could ask eBay for comment about their contest for eBay sellers. It's a wonderful opportunity for any eBay seller and certainly $25,000 would go a long way to building an eBay business.

My question to eBay would be the reason why this opportunity is exclusive to the US sellers. Why would they not have the contest open to all eBay sellers around the world or have one for each region - Asia, Europe, UK, North America - etc.? It seems unfair that such an opportunity is only open to US sellers - eBay makes a profit from all sellers all over the world and as an international company, it might good PR to behave like one.

Just a thought - but it would be interesting to know the reasons for the exclusion of all other eBay seller outside the US.

Thanks - keep up the good work.
Lorraine

Comment on this letter in the Letters to the Editor blog

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To the Editor:
Something you should ask eBay to explain to us, seller who are setup with buyer who doesn't pay or either just don't care about our DSR and leave us a negative like if it wasn't the end of the world. Yes it is!

Tell them why do they still have in buyer requirement a section that I quote say the following: "Block Buyer who have a feedback score of -1 or lower". You can chose from -1,-2,-3 ...or lower. Are they trying to sale us a dream like they always do to seller.

It is impossible to have any buyer with a negative rating is not that there new vision of eBay. Then tell them to let us chose buyer with 0 feedback, since we are setup of NOISY people. 95% of our negative are from buyer with a feedback score from 0 to 5. Now tell them to tell us what they think about that. It's pretty obvious no one ever took attention to this.
Thanks
Jason

Comment on this letter in the Letters to the Editor blog

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To the Editor:
when i read the article this a.m. on eBay, i wondered why they aren't highlighting the recycling aspect of the service they offer. i mean, i feel so good when i get something for a fraction of the original price and it is good quality and i am saving it from the landfills...

thanks for your ear.
-L

ps: i think the move toward the larger sellers is a mistake.

Comment on this letter in the Letters to the Editor blog

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To the Editor:
Hope you are doing great. Are you aware of the problem we are having with turbo Lister? As far as I concern many people can not upload the items to ebay..
Have a great day!
Fran

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To the Editor:
Most everyone is having major trouble with the new updated Turbo Lister. Is there anyway that you can do an article on this that may help?
Thanks much.

Comment on these two letters in the Letters to the Editor blog

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Re: Online Shopping Set to Boom According to PayPal UK Survey

"Online shopping in Britain is set to boom from 8.9 billion to as much as 21.3 billion in annual sales by the end of 2011, according to a new report by online payment service PayPal. The PayPal UK Online Retail Report, conducted by Experian, predicts that 2011 will offer the first signs of UK retailing emerging from recession."

Let's rephrase that: "2011 will offer the first signs of UK retailing emerging from recession and by the end of that year online sales will jump from 8.9 billion to as much as 21.3 billion in annual sales."

If this quotation is correct, it sounds like the same sort of spin logic that eBay uses. Who do they think they are kidding?
Regards
Philip

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Dear Ina,
I'm in the process of trying to source products for my store and I'm only finding companies importing products from China. I would like to find American made products to sell if possible. Are you aware of any of these companies? If so, could you possibly report on them?
Sincerely,
Carol

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Hi Ina,
Thought this topic may be of interest to your readers...what actually happens on ebay when a notable person passes?

Farrah was kind of expected, so I don't know if that would work, but you might want to keep an eye on Michael Jackson.

I heard of his passing around 6:30 EST. There were 2593 items listed under "Michael Jackson".. Four hours later, it's pushing 8000. It would be interesting to see how hight it runs in the next few days.

Then again, it may be a bit too morbid to report....
Just thinking out loud,
Greg

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Hi Ina,
This looks like a really interesting article.

Basically PayPal has or tries to obtain info about everyone REGARDLESS of whether you EVER have used their service or not.
Ken

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Ina - Go check this link out in the Ebay discussion forums. Is this why sales have dropped so drastically? Everyone is talking on all the boards about how dead Ebay sales are in the last 2 weeks since changes were implemented, even on the Power Seller Board - sales way down. Thanks, Lynne

Ebay Discussion Boards - Technical Issues - "Why is Ebay running so slow?"

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Hi Ina,
Thanks for your dedication in serving ebay sellers. I have never written you before but something on the powerseller discussion board got my attention and I wanted to ask you about it. Apparently the seller "ideelie" is creating quite a stir, its ads violate several ebay policies outright, most obvious being outside links. And many watched it today being promoted via ebay ad bar button. In fact, many also watched ebay scrub off a negative without a trace, something that really bugs me.

My question is.... I figure that you more than anyone else would know if ebay truly "has thrown out the rule book" for these elite "pay to play" sellers. How long have they been doing this? Is this ebay's the last ditch effort to attract business?

I am shocked but not surprised, and wanted your views on this matter if possible.
Thanks much,
Jason

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Hi Ina
Don't know if anyone has noticed this yet. I went to relist a 30 fixed price listing on a book and notice the extra feature prices were out of control...Here's a sampling..

Subtitle ($1.50)
Gift Icon ($0.75)
Bold ($4.00)
Border ($8.00)
Highlight ($10.00)
Featured Plus! ($39.95)
Home Page Featured ($179.95)

Now I try to give ebay as little money as possible, but I have used some of these occassionaly. I know the subtitle was 50 cents, the gift icon was 25 cents and the Featured Plus was $9.95.

Not sure what's going on, buy people need a heads up, especially if they relist without paying attention...
Thanks
Rev

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I have been a seller on EBay since 1996. I have enjoyed a lot of nice business in the Stamps-Collectibles area. It now seems that Ebay no longer cares about those categories and is out to bigger and better things. The business in this area has deminished to very low levels. Sales activities at auctions and EBay stores is minimal. THey used all of the collectibles categories to build their business. NOW, they don't really care about those areas. With the economic recession those areas are showing a lower activity BUT what has EBay done to improve their results? NOTHING. Sellers in these areas built their business. No they are being thrown away light old garbage.

Congratulations to EBay for not remembering who BUILT their business! They have exhibited this by lack of response, massive changes to all of their products i.e. Turbol Lister etc. Just through out with the latest trash!

I hope that EBay stock goes to the bottom. They deserve it.
Curtis


About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.


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