Wednesday, March 26, 2008

eBay Ruined by New Management

As many of you know, eBay announced big changes in February, focusing on it's broken feedback system and increasing fees.

The feedback system changes were supposedly designed to increase buyer confidence and attract buyers back to eBay. To aid in that goal, sellers will no longer be able to leave feedback for buyers, eliminating retaliatory feedback (which eBay says was rampant and being abused). No matter that sellers used this system also to communicate with other sellers, providing warning of the deadbeats and bad apples on eBay, and the option to block these bidders from bidding on one's auctions.

While the fee changes decreased the initial listing fee, the final value fee charged upon an item's sale was INCREASED, making the overall fee change a hefty increase. This put many sellers, already operating on slim profit margins, out of business. I have no doubt that thousands closed their stores and accounts after this announcement. Shortly afterwards, rumor was circulating that eBay is protecting its auction listing count by "padding" listings. It's pretty suspicious to see 88,000 beer/brewery clocks listed for sale...See it here:

Does that look "fishy" to you?

Since February, other changes have appeared ~

"Best Match" search which catapults listings of sellers with a Detailed Seller Rating above a certain point criteria to the top of the page. Now this is an unfair advantage. Especially when eBay does not require any buyer to leave feedback, let alone fill out the little star boxes that comprise Detailed Seller Ratings (also known as "DSR's", and include rating the seller on 4 issues: Accuracy of Description, Overall Satisfaction, Shipping Time and Reasonableness of Shipping Fees). I've seen sellers who produce top shelf primitive/folk art handmade items whose customers wouldn't leave feedback, thereby making their feedback rating non-existent, with no DSR's at all! When they first introduced DSR's it was a mistake. Everyone had a percentile feedback rating using a "positive", "neutral", or "negative" score, and a field where you could further comment on the rating given. What was wrong with that? If it ain't broke, don't fix it! Sellers are also penalized on their DSR rating when it comes to getting paid for the items they sell, if they utilize the eBay owned company PayPal. If your DSR rating falls below a certain level, PayPal can hold onto the payment you received for your item for 30 days! Hmmmm any interest being made on those held funds? All because eBay decrees it, but doesn't make leaving feedback mandatory for a buyer. There's something just not right about that.

Bidders' eBay User ID's are no longer visible when you're bidding on an item. Now that's real inspiration of confidence with the system! I want to know who I'm bidding against. Maybe there's shill bidding going on. But why would eBay care about that? It only serves to drive up the bid and they get their payoff in the final value fee on what the item sold for.

Since becoming an eBay member in 2001, I've seen a lot of changes that I personally think ruined the site. What is all this "junk" they continue to add ~ Who cares about "Reviews & Guides"? Blogs? We have Blogspot, Typepad, and myriad other website sources for blogging. Why does it need to clutter up eBay. "My World" ~ isn't that redundant? Isn't Ebay Express redundant to "Buy-it-Now? The Brain Trust at eBay needs to look at all this crap and pare it down so that folks who aren't all that computer savvy have an easier time of navigating the site. Too much information guys!

Just the tip of the iceberg of more inane changes to come, I'm afraid. Yesterday, another new announcement:

March 24, 2008 | 01:00PM PST/PT

Brian Burke
Hello...This is Brian Burke, Director Global Feedback Policy. Digital goods are often reproduced at little to no cost to the seller. On eBay, this creates the potential for Feedback Manipulation (both real and perceived). To preserve the integrity of the Feedback system, effective March 31 all goods that can be digitally downloaded or transferred electronically must be listed using the Classified Ads format.

Using the Classified Ads format, sellers receive a 30-day ad at a fixed price. This solution enables sellers to continue to market their digital goods on eBay; however, because Classified Ad listings are a lead generation tool and do not result in transactions that go through eBay, Feedback cannot be exchanged between buyer and seller.

Sellers who wish to continue to offer digital goods can do so by selecting the Everything Else>Information Products category in the Sell Your Item form and choosing the Classified Ads format (not auction-style or fixed price). For more information about the Classified Ads format, please read Advertising with Classified Ads.


Brian Burke
Director, Global Feedback Policy

This effectively puts out of business A TON of legitimate sellers who offer e-patterns, digiframes and other graphic downloads, eBay auction template graphic designers, e-books, and the list goes on. Many, again, who relied on the income produced from these sales to supplement their income or support their families, are today closing down their eBay stores, sick with this new eBay decree.

Then, hot on it's heels, another announcement, an oxymoron to the one above:

March 24, 2008 | 05:00PM PST/PT

Stephanie Tilenius
Hi everyone...I'm back with some good news. As you've heard us say a number of times already this year, great service will make the difference in 2008 and beyond. So to reward sellers who consistently delight their buyers, we're cutting insertion fees through the end of the month.

Starting tomorrow, if you have Detailed Seller Ratings (DSRs) of at least 4.5 on all criteria - and you specify your shipping costs or use the Shipping Calculator - simply list your auction-style item with a starting price of 99¢ or less to pay an insertion fee of only 1¢! New sellers who don't yet have DSR ratings are also eligible. This promotion will run through March 31st, so make sure to take advantage quickly.

Check out our information page for all the details.


Stephanie Tilenius
General Manager, eBay North America

I read one seller's comment that for them to list their downloadable graphic items (collage sheets for ATC's, altered art, etc.) in the Community Ads section would cost them $2,000 a month. eBay knows this is not a viable option, and is designed to drive these sellers off of eBay.

NOW, if your purpose is to ban digital auctions from the eBay site because they promote feedback manipulation, why on God's green earth would you run a promotion for auction-style items with a starting price of 99 cents or less?


Next, they will be rolling out a new listing format. I saw a glimpse of it yesterday. The way it is proposed, any DSR rating that falls below eBay's criteria, will have the bad rating placed on the front page of their auction listing in big RED letters. Too many changes all at once to have to deal with.

And I'm sure there are other subtle changes I haven't even noticed that other sellers have a gripe about. Recently I've read so many horror stores about eBay's non-existent customer service, lack of communication, suspended accounts for no good reason. I suspect they are mired and mucked down in so many legal issues, some of these changes MAY be necessary. But to throw out the baby with the bath water...

I've heard lots of sellers remarks, ruminating on eBay's reasons for some of these changes. It's said they want to eliminate the yard sale/flea market sellers. You know, "one man's trash is another's treasure." That's what made eBay so great in the beginning. Any hard to find collectible could be found on eBay. How many of you have a collection of SOMETHING? eBay advertises it's thrill of the hunt in it's new "Shop Victoriously" television ad campaign, but soon, there will be nothing left on eBay but cheap overseas imports.

So what's going to happen to all the great eBay sellers? I've got an idea! eBay should give them a job manning their LIVE CHAT. Then they'd have folks who could actually give ya a straight answer or help you when you call in for support. Speaking of support ~ one of eBay's stated main goals for the company is the "make it more transparent." Yeah, right. Then why don't you have a means to speak to a real person to support your customers. They say another goal of all these changes is to bring eBay more in line with how all e-commerce does business. Most e-commerce concerns I do business with have an 800 phone number for customer support. And I don't get to rate them on the accuracy of their described item, my satisfaction, shipping time or shipping fees charged. Nothing they are doing is consistent with their stated goals.

eBay sellers are going to scatter to the wind folks. You will have a hard time finding your favorites on the big, vast World Wide Web. All depends on how well they can promote themselves. Or if they even have the means to set up an independent website. Most will just throw their hands in the air, in disgust and despair, and give up. To refrain a common comment I've heard by many since all this foolishness began ~ "GOOGLE, where are you?"

Okay, I'm going to get off my soapbox now and get to work around the house. The sunroom is almost done. I've just got to finish scrubbing the paint off the wood laminate floors. Some sloppy painter made a real mess! :)



*Linda Pinda* said...

Mary, I do think it's a shame that Ebay is turning it's back on the very same folks who helped it become the household name it is today.

Not sure what step I'll take next, but it's getting harder and harder for me to keep supporting Ebay with each and every twist and turn after seeing what is happening to all of my friends.

I know this has hurt your design business as it has mine, but you and I are just building our business. My heart is aching for all of our friends who support their families. Ebay really pulled the rug out from under all of us and still hasn't even officially notified any of us that we are effectively out of business!

Love you... *Linda*

Kelly~Once in a Blue Moon Primitives said...


I'm with you 100% on everything you just said. I would also like to offer a prayer to those sellers who depended on that income to support their families in these tough economic times. Thanks Ebay!


Mary said...

Thanks, Linda. Yes, you're right. Kelly too. There are a lot of sellers who have had the rug pulled out from under them yesterday. People who count on the income they were getting to make ends meet and support their families. I am eaten up, sick for them. My husband doesn't get it, but he has not been so "invested" financially, or most importantly, personally, in this whole eBay thing. If I didn't have my Groups, I would not be so emotionally invested, but hearing how it will hurt so many of my friends is really hard. I will add my prayers to yours, Kelly. As Linda likes to say..."God doesn't close a window without opening a door elsewhere."


~Mary~ said...

Thank you! Great posts and I agree 100% (altho I do believe that the decline of eBay BEGAN with Meg Whitman). EBay seems bound and determined to go with the corporate mindset that has destroyed our economy - that is to squeeze every last penny of profit out NOW - and to hell with the future.

When I first got divorced, I became a PowerSeller and supported myself and my two daughters comfortably for 2 years. I've also run an eBay business selling handpainted dollhouse miniatures (when I used to sell, you could do a search on CDHM, short for an eBay group Custom Dollhouse Miniatures, and come up with close to 2,000 listings - recently? just over 100!) that brought in $600-1,000 a month extra income.

Here is a company that COULD have prospered well into the future - and considering today's economy could be doing fantastically - destroyed by greed and bad management.

Pierre Omidyar and Google - where ARE you???

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