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eBay, WHAT are you doing?!

by acenh (09/09/08).

I’ve been an eBay seller going on 11 years, I love what the company has helped me do with my business and it’s largely responsible for the success of my Internet presence. One could argue that I owe eBay a lot.

I’ve paid back a lot over the years, and not just in fees. I wrote pro-eBay articles and talked up the company in my podcasts. In short I was as much of an evangelist for the site as anyone. And I do hope the company can get back on track, but I have to ask:

eBay, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?

I just got an an automated call this morning from eBay, “seller Auctionwally, eBay would like to make you aware that it is making more new changes to make listing more affordable and instill buying confidence in eBay.” Uh-oh.

eBay, for the past two years you’ve rolled out a multitude of controversial changes that have made people who sell unique items, such as antiques dealers, furious. You’ve confused those that sell new stock, and sent a stampede of booksellers over to Amazon.com out of frustration at their items not showing up in well in your search engine.

Nothing stays the same, I realize that. But those of us who sell online are bombarded with changes we can barely keep up with.

To roll out an enormous amount of changes is risky practice at best, to roll out so many CRITICAL changes, is risky and confusing to all who would use your site. To roll out so many changes and announce that more changes are coming after your base is begging you to stop, is risky, confusing, and smacks of desperation.

Let’s look at other changes and what I see as the problems with them.

  • You’ve stripped one of the core features that eBay was founded on, the duel feedback system. When you did this, your response was, “Well everyone else has only buyer feedback.” Exactly.  The results, sellers are disgruntled and look for other platforms to sell on. There are none as good as eBay. Not a big loss yet.
  • Last year you announced a fee decrease for sellers,..Yippee! The results, it was a PR nightmare for your company when sellers found out that you were only decreasing listing fees, and taking more on the back end, in effect, rewarding those who list junk that doesn’t sell and whacking successful dealers with higher commission fees. I personally didn’t mind the higher commission fees, but it looks like the move is clogging up eBay’s search engine with junk. And don’t try to sell a fee increase as decrease, we’re not stupid.
  • You put in place a very complicated DSR (detailed seller rating) system that no one, even eBay by it’s own admission, can figure out. This tool has had major crashes and has not been able to accomplish it’s goal. The results: Everybody says, “Huh?”
  • After much user angst and public outcry, the leaders in your company, John Donahoe and Lorrie Norrington, announce that we should get used to changes, more are coming and we won’t recognize eBay in a year from now. The results:. More eBay sellers leave the site, and still don’t find a better platform to sell on. BUT, sellers start  building their own sites! They are taking what they’ve learned from eBay and using it to brand themselves. They’re using sites like Worthpoint.com, EveryplaceIsell.com , The Vintagelist.com and  The Auctionwally Network to get advice on how to become independent sellers.
  • eBay announces that in the near future, it will only accept electronic payments. OUCH!  The results: eBay gets a two-fer on this one, they manage to tick off sellers AND buyers! Not only is there blowback about having to cowtow to PayPal, but there is potential for a disaster as sellers with a huge ammount of listings have to scrape other payment options that may be referenced in each description. While it’s true that a seller can change payment options with a flick of the switch, they will have to delete manually any reference to those options if they are in anyway referred to in the item description. For example, I have in my desrciptions the following statement, “A check or money order will need to clear before shipment.” This statement is a violation of this new policy and will have to be scraped from every listing, or I lose the listing.  What about the poor sap that has 100-500 store listings they have to edit?!
  • eBay announces yet another price change is in the works, I’m not kidding. They say the new fee structure will encourage sellers to list more items with the fixed price format. The results: The   blogosphere lites up with rumors and speculation that eBay is doing away with it’s eBay stores. Is there any truth to this? Who knows, but it could very well be as the company has gained a reputation for being a loose cannon with it’s willy-nilly site change attitude.

Don’t get me wrong, I still sell on eBay, I will always maintain an eBay presence and wish the best things for it. But I’m an old school Yankee Auctioneer, you can’t hardly shut me up once I get going, (ask my poor wife about that).

The way I see it, I have a responsibilty to call ‘em as I see ‘em. I’m a passionate evangelist for brands and services that go above and beyond, but I’ll never stand by and cheerlead for any one that so obviously seems to work against its users’ best interest.

I often get asked, “Who do you think will beat eBay?” I reply, “eBay is the only one that can beat eBay, and these days it looks like they’re doing a pretty good job of it.”

Thanks for reading,

AW

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