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A Farewell To Ebay

DAHLINGS –

It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that I have closed my Ebay store. I still have some listings up, but not for long.

Being an online seller on Ebay has long been an Orwellian nightware: higher fees are better for sellers; not being able to leave feedback for bad buyers is good for business and keeps the marketplace safe; and its most recent move, changing store listings into 30-day listings that cost 400% more and have to be re-upped every month. “Griff”, the friendly, soulless face of Ebay, relentlessly ducks questions as he shills for the company.

Meanwhile, Ebay’s reputation has plummeted. How many times have I been told that Ebay sellers are dishonest? Thieves? Misrepresenters of their product?

Other sellers have told me to move to Etsy.com or Bonanzle.com. I have nothing against these fine sites, but it is time for me to move on to other pursuits. I have a book to write, personal appearances to make, and as always, this blog-thing.

Ciao,
Elisa & Bucky the Wonderdog

Ebay: Auctioning Off Its Soul

Dahlings –

Before I was able to write more about Project Runway, I felt the need to address the massive changes announced by (ugh) Ebay last week. It is not just that I am outraged. Every August, like clockwork, Ebay comes up with new outrages and higher fees, but these truly take the creme brulee.

Instead of ranting, after careful consideration I decided to take a quieter approach. Comments are welcomed.

Many of these changes have been reported by the national news media, but with quite a few pertinent matters left out or soft-pedaled. Numerous articles focus on Ebay’s de-emphasizing of auctions in the coming months. Part of the problem is that none of these writers have sold on Ebay (something they have in common with Ebay’s staff). But here are a few tid-bits you might like to know.

All sellers pay to sell on Ebay. It is shocking how much of the general public does not know that. From the seller with two key chains to the seller with a store stocked with 300 pieces of baby clothing, they all pay to sell. A seller’s monthly fees can range between $46 to $5K.

Unless you are Buy.com, in which case, you do not have to pay anything. Not a sou. But, Buy.com’s listings appear on every page, right under the highly manipulated Search Results.

If you have a store, there is a monthly fee. Even though your store items will not come up in Search Results. They discontinued that practice some time ago. When you list an item for sale, there is a fee (or fees, depending on if you use any of the features that Ebay offers, such as scheduling when your listing begins, or putting a Buy It Now price or Reserve on your auction. You will not get those latter two fees back if you cancel them, by the way).

If you sell your item, you first pay Ebay a Final Value Fee, and if the buyer pays by Paypal, you pay Paypal not only the Final Value Fee on the cost of the item itself, but also on the total, including shipping. (Note that I am not including supplies, staff, or anything that is not germane to this discussion.) So Paypal, which is a subsidiary of Ebay, takes its nibble from your shipping cost as well.

With a disingenuousness that not even a serial killer talking his way into your house could match, Lorrie Norrington made a happy announcement of all the wonderful changes that would make our lives so much easier and their profits so much higher:

Lower Fixed Item listing fees…however, they neglected to mention until much later in the announcement that there would be up a 300% increase in Ebay Final Value Fees, thereby wiping out any possible profit.

Electronic Checkout Only…by who else, our old friend Paypal. Oh, and a company with a very close relationship with Paypal via West Fargo, Propay. American currencies such as checks or money orders are no longer considered “safe.” For the sellers who have not accepted Paypal until now, or the hundreds of sellers who get a considerable portion of their income from paper currency, this is more than a substantial blow. Not to mention a blow to those buyers who, for whatever reasons, do not have credit cards. One imagines Debtors Anonymous will be encouraging its members to leave Ebay en masse. Antitrust complaints to state and local Attorney General’s offices are apparently pouring in.

Fixed Shipping Costs. Sellers can now be penalized (even lose their stores) if buyers feel their shipping costs are too high. This, even if the seller is only charging the ACTUAL cost of shipping. From the Ebay new Shipping Limits FAQ:

Q: Why are you setting limits on shipping charges lower than my actual costs to ship?

A: We based our maximum shipping & handling charges on recent transaction data of what sellers are charging and what buyers have told us is reasonable. We know that what buyers consider to be reasonable will be less than sellers’ actual costs in some cases. We believe that by offering buyers at least one shipping option that they deem reasonable, sellers will increase their overall sales and conversion.

Pardonnez moi. I had to leave the room and shriek a few times.

Buyers are told that leaving four star ratings are “good,” but sellers are told that anything under four and a half stars could risk the seller losing everything; their store, their account, everything. Your faithful correspondent cannot even begin to quote the answers that “Griff,” the avuncular lapdog for Ebay, gives to the question: “how can four stars be both good and bad at the same time?” Suffice to say I needed a stiff drink after reading it, and it still didn’t make any sense.

By “lapdog,” of course, I mean no disrespect to my beloved miniature pinscher, Bucky. That little darling would make short work of Ebay CEO John Donahoe’s ankles. In my own listings I do my best to explain this little bit of corporate doublespeak to my potential buyers.

Ebay operates as a great sucking void into which sellers throw their money. Somehow, the fact that Ebay sellers are actually CUSTOMERS of Ebay got lost somewhere around 2005. Ebay loves to talk about “improving the buyer experience.” But when they try to say anything about “improving the seller experience,” the sheer magnitude of their lies renders them incapable of making anything other than gurgling noises.

Discontented sellers are told to move elsewhere, and many are. Some moan and complain that those other sites don’t have the Web presence of the Evil Empire. However, one must remember that it took Ebay fourteen years to become Ebay.

But at this rate, it will take less than a year for Ebay to become Edsel.

Ciao,

Elisa & Bucky the Wonderdog

Stop The Presses! Is Ebay.Au Going To Court?

DAHLINGS –

I was sent this media statement this morning. I was so startled I dropped my cappucino. One believes it originates from Ebay Australia, although I will check to make certain I am not passing along misinformation. This could set a precedent, dahlings, so do try to plow through it!

Media Statement – 5.00pm 13th July, 2008

Ebay Members to Seek Recourse Through the Courts

Early last week a well co-ordinated group of ebay members was instrumental in facilitating large numbers of their peers, nationally, to write to their local Ministers, Senators, The Banking Ombudsman and to ASIC and other relevant organisations to register complaints over the aggressive manner in which ebay continues to promote PayPal as its preferred payment method.

The complaints are well documented and numerous, and ranged from : ebay’s misrepresentation, suppression of other payment methods, deletion of sellers’ listings without cause, refusal to allow sellers to pass on PayPal charges and the issuing of misleading statements to further the illusion that PayPal is more secure than other established and proven payment methods.

Other complaints included PayPal’s freezing of member’s accounts, the inequity of the PayPal User Agreement and PayPal’s refusal to sign the EFT Code of Conduct – therein denying ebay members the same protection which banks and other financial institutions provide to their customers. Later in the week the group again led their peers to write en-masse, but on this occasion to their respective banks, to air concerns over ebay’s public statements that PayPal is the safest product in the EFT marketplace, implying that all other EFT transactions – and in particular Direct Deposit – are unsafe by comparison. On the basis that the ACCC concluded in its draft Notice : “The evidence available does not support the view that PayPal is the most secure method of payment or offers the best service for all transactions”, ebay members sought reassurance from their banks that ebay’s assertions are incorrect and that Direct Deposit is a safe transaction method. This week the group will launch a further series of initiatives.

Mr Tony Green, the group’s spokesman on legal matters, announced today that “… as ebay’s response to member’s legitimate concerns is woefully inadequate it is now time to commence our next offensive which will be to seek remedies through the courts”. Mr Green went on to say ”Ebay’s recalcitrant behaviour has pushed us to the point that we must now use the legal system to bring ebay into line with decent trading practices.”Mr Green said, “In a conference last night the group decided unanimously that it would use legal due process to stop ebay from destroying its own site and, in the process of this, destroying the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of loyal ebay members”. He added, “We are ebay’s customers and to date they have refused to listen to us. Ebay has left us no alternative than to appeal to the courts to right the wrongs that ebay has forced upon us.”In anticipation of this offensive the group has had a team of researchers looking at legal precedents, similar legal actions and the various legal alternatives available to it.“We discussed several options available to us in prosecuting these actions,” said Mr Green “… and the possibility of a major legal firm doing the work on a no win no fee contingency basis is being examined.”

“The principles at issue here are of vital importance to the largest consumer group in Australia – 5 million people according to ebay’s own figures – only a few of these are commercially scaled businesses, most are mums and dads striving for a modest supplement to the household income, and these people do not have the financial resources to pursue fair and just treatment at the hands of ebay”, said Mr Green. “It appears that political leaders and regulators have yet to fully comprehend the significance of the issues and have not yet commenced the required corrective actions, and thus the group has stepped up its activity to rally ebay members together and to take ebay on as one. Ultimately, ebay will be made to comply with all of the laws of our country.”

Contact has been made with a University Law School as the group are exploring the possibility of engaging law students – ironically, many of them also disaffected ebay members – to research this area and begin cataloguing the huge volume of accumulated evidence assembled by ebay members. Further, there are a growing number of other ebay members offering to contribute to a fighting fund to pay for the planned actions.

“Ebay members are delighted to learn of Paymate Pty Ltd’s announcement on 11th July of it having lodged a formal complaint to the ACCC concerning ebay’s alleged breaches of s47 and s52 of the Trade Practices Act 1974,” said Mr Green, ” … and our group will now examine the merits of approaching Paymate with a view to the pooling of evidence and conducting a joint legal offensive against ebay.” “Our research to date is moving us on from the Trade Practices, and other Acts, competition sections to those sections dealing with unconscionable conduct, and breach of contract “, said Mr Green.“We need to do something dramatic, and quickly, to protect ebay members – mums, dads and businesses – from being destroyed by a company that can see no further than its own profit figure. If the anger of its loyal customers means nothing to ebay we intend to look to the courts to uphold Australian Law and to give us respite from the excesses of ebay”, said Mr Green.“Ebay believes that ebay members are isolated from each other, largely ignorant of ebay’s actions with regard to PayPal and are therefore ineffectual in complaining about or opposing ebay’s deplorable practices. For the average ebayer being channelled into paying by PayPal may seem to be a risk free and temporary thing rather than a calculated deception by ebay”, Mr Green said. ”Most ebayers are unsure how and where they should complain, and ebay are counting on this to push its policies through. We intend to expose this tactic to all ebay members.”

“The discussion boards on ebay are a good indicator of the level of anger at ebay’s new policies. There is no flocking to the boards by people who support the new policies. To the contrary they are full of horror stories and tales of anger and frustration from people who are violently opposed to them”, said Mr Green.“Between them the co-ordinators of the group have a data base of over one hundred thousand email addresses of ebay members who have purchased from us, and through other supporting sellers access to many hundreds of thousands more. If necessary we will contact every one of them to alert them to the full consequences of the disastrous policies that ebay have introduced. We will do the job that ebay is morally obliged but too frightened to do – to keep ebay members informed,” said Mr Green.

The group will conference again this evening to make decisions on its first legal offensive against ebay and to decide on a timetable.

Meanwhile, activity on the ebay site from both buyers and sellers has taken a nosedive, member’s anger and frustration continues unabated, and the level of disaffection with ebay is growing. Ebay’s only response has been to temporarily discount listing fees – again – the third such promotion in the past six weeks in a desperate move by ebay to arrest the steady decline in the number of listings.

—– Statement Ends ——
Media Enquiries : Mr Robert Vandermeer

Well, well, well.

Ciao,
Elisa & Bucky the Wonderdog

Ebay News From All Over…Meg Makes Out

DAHLINGS –

First of all, congratulations to former Ebay CEO Meg Whitman for cashing in her Ebay stock before the new feedback changes were implemented this past Monday. According to my sources, she made a $6 million dollar profit:

http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/080519/ebay_insider_transactions.html?.v=1

This is in direct proportion to the money that will be lost by sellers on Ebay as their feedback numbers and percentages drop. New changes too dreary to go into detail about mean that companies such as Buy.com can list on Ebay in unlimited quantities alongside the smaller sellers. Many Powersellers have seen their 100% feedback badly dented by the new changes. Yours truly must confess that my percentage dropped from 99.6 to 99.3 because of 1 negative received in the last twelve months.

However, yours truly is fighting the good fight. Ending in two days, this exquisite peach crepe 30s/40s “cusper” glamour girl gown, XXL (it is not sheer, the effect is due to the camera flash):

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=230252651159

And I shall be listing quite a bit of smaller-size vintage wholesale lots on Ebay in the next few days, so keep an eye out!

Sellers will also no longer be allowed to have outside links on their “About Me” pages, including links to their own stores. However, so many sellers are leaving in droves, that change may not mean much in coming months.

Meanwhile, browse at my Specialist Auctions shop, for some lovely vintage jewelry:

And so much more!

Ciao,
Elisa & Bucky the Wonderdog

Has Ebay Finally Gone Too Far?

DAHLINGS –

This past week has been simply filled with drama! And not the sham reality show kind, either. Real, gripping, human drama…at least if you happen to sell on (ugh) Ebay.

Let me see if I can explain this in layperson’s language. It is so terribly complicated, even your faithful correspondent cannot understand it all.

You see, first Meg Whitman, head of Ebay, stepped down, and in her place came a gentleman I can assure you knows nothing about buying and selling on the Internet (or anywhere else, for that matter). I name no names; that is for Fortune and CNN to do.

This week, the-powers-that-be introduced “fee reductions” that turned out to be Orwellian fee INCREASES! That is, you would pay less up front to list your item, but suddenly the fee extracted from the sale would rocket upwards. And some of the fees that are refunded upon selling your item are no longer refundable.

But what turned most sellers’s hair white overnight was the announcement of an outrageous, unbelievable change to one of the fundamental principles of Ebay: the feedback system.

If you have ever used Ebay at all (and who at some time hasn’t decided to buy a used Gameboy?) then you know that sellers and buyers are rated by feedback. The more positive feedback, the higher the rating. Following me so far? Good. The more negative feedback, the lower the rating. This was true for both sellers and buyers. As a seller, I can tell you that more than once I have checked a buyer’s feedback and been appalled at what I’ve found…no details, this discussion is cluttered enough.

WELL. Ebay, in its wisdom, decided to REMOVE the right of sellers to leave negative or even neutral feedback for buyers! The thought makes one’s head spin.

Last year yours truly was the victim of buyer fraud. Again, I name no names. The buyer left me a negative. I was able to leave negative feedback that explained my side of the story. What is to happen now? One seller suggested that since we can now only leave positive feedback, perhaps we should say, “I am positive that this buyer sucks.”

Forgive the common language. I am merely quoting.

And to add insult to injury, apparently they will require us to ship our merchandise before it is paid for! This might be the only retail environment on the planet with such a requirement: somehow I do not envision Saks Fifth Avenue being so broadminded should you try to leave with a sable coat. They can hold the money in your Paypal account for up to 21 days if you do not meet their incredibly complicated requirements (why do I suspect it accrues interest for Paypal while it does so?). There are other changes, but I am too dispirited to list them, and this entry is already far too long.

I am in despair, dear readers. Not even a stiff shot of Kahlua in my evening espresso would cheer me up. What is one to do? What is one to do?

Ciao,
Elisa & Bucky The Wonderdog

Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens…?

DAHLINGS –

Just when one thinks selling on (ugh) Ebay cannot get any stranger…it does.

For example, I am attempting to winnow my inventory for the New Year. So, I have been selling selected merchandise in lots (that is, for the unintiated, in groups. So they do not feel lonely, don’t you know).

One recent lot was four vintage 60s fur hats, two mink, one yarn and marabou, and the fourth one probably lynx. Up it went with my other lots, and like any good auction, immediately had bids.

Until one day–poof. It was gone. It had been pulled.

But here is the cherry on the lollipop:

When I clicked on the reason, it took me to a page about being against Ebay policy to sell live animals.

When an auction is pulled, it disappears, along with the names of your bidders, and the description.

I sat at my desk, baffled.

How, I wondered, had I slipped a live animal into my auction? Had I offered Bucky for sale by accident? Had someone slipped a drug into my coffee while I was listing? Was it simple fatigue? Had I offered vintage minks instead of vintage mink hats?

(There’s a disturbing image…ancient, angry minks clutching some poor buyer’s head.)

One possible reason it was reported was that one of the hats is made of lynx and cashmere (lower right), and there was the vaguest possibility that it was Canadian lynx. It is the same amount of possibility that Santa Claus really exists, but still, one never knows.

So, after a bit of fuming I did the sensible thing and relisted the auction. On Specialist Auctions, where they treat sellers very nicely.

SOLD!

Please do have a look, and if you feel so inclined, have a haggle, as they say.

This time I made certain that the listing contained the word “hats.” In the meantime, rest assured that nothing I have up on Ebay has fur on it, and Bucky the Wonderdog is definitely NOT for sale!

Ciao,
Elisa & Bucky The Wonderdog

The Plot Thickens on Ebay…

DAHLINGS –

Mon dieu! Ebay’s motto seems to be, “If it isn’t not broken, let’s throw money and time at it until it is.”

As an example, their “improved” feedback system. As a seller who is perfect in every way, I have no fear of this new five-star rating system. Annoying though it may be. Dealing with the public can be nerve-wracking, but that is why I have an assistant.

HOWEVER — it also reveals everything that my beloved buyers have bought, and what they have paid for it! And this is true for every seller throughout the USA system. Right underneath the feedback they have left for moi.

Your faithful correspondent is a woman of the world. Unshockable. A woman who embraces the differences in us all (except for the current Administration). As such, my store offers certain, er, private listings for those items in which confidentiality is essential.

But for the most part, I have assumed that few potential buyers would take the trouble to track down the links to the completed sales to see what most of my customers have bought from me. It takes time, and is usually beside the point.

The new system can be embarrassing, to say the least, and could frighten away those potential customers who, shall we say, buy things that are a tad different than you would expect.

So here we are presented with the dilemma: to make all listings private? To make my feedback private? Yours truly has always been suspicious of private feedback sellers in the past, but this may force my beautifully manicured hand. (Since this was written, I checked, and learned that IDs with private feedback are no longer allowed to sell on Ebay!)

I would certainly be interested in anything the Ebay community has to say about this, both buyers and sellers. I am writing about it here, because, well, there have been times when things posted publically on Ebay mysteriously disappear.

Now if only this mysterious new system would disappear, Bucky and I would be extremely pleased!

Ciao,
Elisa and Bucky the Wonderdog

PS A certain garment seems to have false certification…one waits to see how it plays out.