Thursday, July 24, 2008

eBay is training to jump a shark


I've reviewed several books about eBay and use the online auction site to buy and sell stuff. Mostly, I sell my old comics with the help of a friend.

eBay is not doing so great lately, supposedly due to competition from Amazon, which conducts fixed-price sales and not auctions. Maybe that's true, but in the meantime, eBay is pissing off its sellers, which is no small thing.

The rap is that too many buyers have been swindled and are shunning eBay.
Rather than fixing this by strengthening their own procedures, eBay made it tougher for sellers... y'know, the ones they collect their fees from. They changed their feedback system to allow buyers — but not sellers — to leave negative feedback.

Now, buyers have the upper hand. I'll spare you the sob stories but it's not been pleasant, though some sellers have really been hit badly. And it hasn't improved anything, as many buyers are still reportedly quite unhappy. What a surprise!

In addition, eBay cut a deal with bulk sellers and retailers like Buy.com that gives them a huge advantage: they pay no fees.

Yes, eBay must grow its business. Doing so may require dumping old, unprofitable customers or those who don't fit a new business model. That's understood.

But it seems to me that eBay
should be able to grow without screwing up (or just screwing) their existing client base. Is that so crazy?

1 comment:

crotchetyoldfan said...

Yeah, I saw this a week or so ago.

I've had problems in the past as a seller with buyers who are quick to realize the extortion potential of a seller with a high feedback rating. 'Give me my money back or I'll leave negative feedback'.

I actually had a guy who claimed that he had spent $75 bucks getting the item I sold him 'fixed' (thoroughly tested before being shipped and even if broken during transit - NO repair to this item would cost anywhere near that much.) He threatened negative feedback unless I refunded his auction fee AND the (bogus) repair fee.

At least I was able to append a plausible explanation to his negative feedback and give him negative feedback as well. Now I'm not sure what I'd do.

I've got 100% positive on relatively low volume right now. Like you I often sell things who's condition can be difficult to assess.

I think I'm going to have to amend my auctions: no buyers with less than X feedback/purchases, ALL sales are absolutely final, here's the pic, WYSIWYG, and please don't leave me ANY feedback - positive or negative.