Saturday, May 31, 2008

Censored! Purging eBay to usher in a new era....

Censors run wild!

Our guest blogger today, we will call her "Anna" (not her real name) posted this in an eBay forum, where it went POUF! within seconds. Do you see anything objectionable or violating forum usage policy in this?

Anna says

I'm a former PowerSeller that stopped selling when the changes were announced. My DSRs are all 5s except for shipping which is 4.6, & I have 100% feedback. I was dropped from the PS program two weeks ago due to zero sales for the last 5 months.


These new feedback policies certainly do bring out the worst in people! Perfectly good eBayers going bad. It becomes more and more mind boggling every time someone shares another experience.

My opinion only (for what it's worth), but I think eBay is trying to purge the site - of both sellers AND buyers. People have complained for years about bad sellers AND bad buyers, but nothing much was done to keep either in check very well.

Sure, these new policies leave most sellers neutered and ready to quit, BUT they are also doing a bang-up job of flushing out the dishonest buyers en mass. Even good buyers who in the past never gave a thought to screwing a seller over or some who are sellers themselves - all are running amuck - tossing negative & neutral feedback left and right, backing out of sales, returning empty boxes and ruined items. It's incredible - but its happening and I'll bet there's a method to eBay's madness concerning this as well.

The big retailers they are trying to lure aren't interested in selling their stuff alongside of used flea market items any more than they would want to deal with the rotten, buyers who are currently wreaking havoc here.

These feedback policies expose the bottom feeders for what they are. If eBay wants to clean up the site to make it more appealing to retailers, ridding it of this unsavory element is a good way to start. They are encouraging sellers to report the non-payers. Maybe they will take action and keep them from creating new IDs this time?

Or maybe we are all just playing into their hand. Ebay will be able to point to the Sodom and Gomorra this place will have become and say to the media: "We tried to clean up the site but are disappointed and horrified at what it has become. Regretfully, the original eBay values and philosophy are no longer viable; therefore we are announcing the "new direction and future of eBay...." Enter the big retailers - exit the used items and what's left of the smaller sellers. And eBay comes out looking great. "We've cleaned up the site! Welcome back buyers!" Wanna bet they'll make everyone re-register and we'll see user verification at last?

I've seen fishermen who catch small sharks in their nets take those sharks, slice their bellies and toss them back into the water, to keep from catching them again. The little sharks feverishly begin devouring their own entrails, not even realizing they are contributing to their own demise by eating themselves as others join in to finish them off.

We buyers and sellers of "the old ebay mentality" are those clueless little sharks and eBay is sitting back with their dripping knife, watching and waiting for us to finish each other off so they can usher in a new era: "the new and improved eBay buying experience."

I'll bet they change the eBay logo along with it - perhaps something like a colorful phoenix rising from the ashes of what once was the eBay we all knew and loved.

What do others think?





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Espressione di Solidarietà Con i Venditori eBay dell'Italia


Benvenuto ai nostri amici dall'Italia che sono inoltre arrabbiati con eBay. Ciò è un luogo libero per la traduzione, può tradurre gli interi Web pagi così come le frasi e le parole.

Un invito è dato ad unire i venditori americani a questa tribuna in cui possiamo discutere senza timore della rappresaglia da eBay.

Se avete un desiderio da commentare tradurrò per voi!


La conoscenza del mondo deve acquistarsi soltanto nel mondo e non in un armadio.
Signore Chesterfield, lettere al suo figlio, 1746, pubblicato 1774




Y' tutti ritornano in qualunque momento e visitano, sono sicuri scattare sopra tutti i collegamenti interessanti nel sidebar!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Give eBay Enough Rope & They Will Hang Themselves

Are eBay too Clever For Their Own Good?

It is certainly beginning to look that way! Some years ago when I was actively bustin' butt selling on eBay I received some advice on the Answer Center that made a lot of sense, and I took it. I set up a buyer ID so that a diligent buyer would not be able to find what I had paid on an item I was reselling. Feedback built, slowly, most wholesalers at that time didn't give a rip about feedback, and I also used it as a personal buying ID after a fellow seller got a neg from a newbie seller from buying on her selling ID. My alternative ID sat, mostly unused as I worked my exit strategy and built my website, making new baskets to put my eggs in.



Earlier this year I bought a plate & paid for Priority shipping which takes about 4 days. It never arrived. I communicated diligently with the seller and got three different stories: it had been mailed one day last week she couldn't remember which; she states clearly in her listing that items might not get mailed for ten days (this is a PayPal TOS violation Sec.11.3.g which invalidated Seller Protection); she had been out of town for a family emergency. Remember this is a very low feedback ID, says noob in big green letters. I had too many red flags waving in my face & filed NPS with Paypal. She never responded and about a month later I got a refund. She got a negative stating, "never arrived filed PP disp /date /invol.refund /date". On the 19th I got a negative too. Since I have exactly 4 transactions this year, on that ID, I am clearly an undesirable bidder with 75%. Because I filed a dispute I am screened out from a lot of sellers (which is very understandable).

Meanwhile back at the ranch, what do we have?

We have an apparently newbie buyer, who can't buy on that ID. When I bid my bid never registers. Since I am not a crook I wouldn't know to just get a nice new ID. I couldn't sell on that ID to build my feedback, so I am effectively off eBay and MAD because I really wanted that plate. Would I buy again on eBay? Hell NO!

Add this to mixture and stir vigorously

PowerSellers who thought they were insulated from all the dwama and flea market noise are feeling a little draft in the nether regions. Somebody bit them in the biblical donkey, there is a large rip in their pants and they are feeling very vulnerable. eBay sales are flatter than a pancake. They are just dolphins caught in the net.

Garnish with a cherry on top

To top it off many eBay Education Specialists are in danger of losing their qualification. The program retention criteria specifies

"You may use this title as long as you are a member in good standing in the program. maintain an eBay Feedback rating of 98% or higher and continue to pay the yearly renewal fee and meet the minimum Instructor Rating."


Sigh. What goes around, comes around. Some call it karma. Karma is a lovely lady dog.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Coming Soon to an eBay Near You?


eBay Germany has announced a maximum allowable shipping policy in several categories which will take effect June 15th 2008, the untranslated announcement is here. eBay Germany is the largest non US eBay trading site and was launched in June 1999.

"In order to prevent bad buyer experiences, eBay.de introduces maximum forwarding expenses to 34 categories."

This will naturally increase eBay's 'take' through Insertion and Final Value Fees because sellers may need to make a profit to justify remaining in business.

The only collectibles category affected by this new policy is Total Verrücktes which translates to Totally Crazy, and it is certainly strange. Amongst the offerings in this category are watches, male anatomical sculptures, a hand knitted 'williwarmer', tri-color mohawk wigs in the German national colors (gold black orange) and a fake tattoo sleeve.

Other recent policy changes in Germany include mandatory Paypal in one day auctions in the following categories, effective May 30th:

# Photo & Camcorder

# Mobile phone & Organizer

# Clothes & accessory

# PC & video games

# Audio & Hifi

# Computer


Time to hang up your hat?
Is this the next step in the ersatz Amazon-ization of eBay, coming soon to the USA?

What do you think?

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Woohoo I won!

On Tuesday Ina Steiner over at Auctionbytes Blog posted on a Mysterious ACCC Filing in the eBay PayPal Only for Australia Waiver application. Ina has a way of making things fun and she invited readers to play 'whodunit" in the comments. My comment was #11.
Today's update will be of interest to my readers.

Lets hear a round of applause for Master Detective David Bromage!

I was going to post an exhaustive analysis of this excellent document,
but,
that is going to have to wait until it comes back, if it does.




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Technology ITs Better Stronger Faster

In my morning wander around the blogs (not all business related) I see that RBH over at eBayInkblog is all chuffed about some new widgets he is getting for his blog. He says

We’re in the final stages of bug-testing that feature, so look for that later this week.
I say hmmmmmm.

In the comments today was a question
Can you find out the details of the (EMR) Enhanced Member Reporting tool? I only know that it is an honor for positive membership that some sellers have been rewarded with. Also, that it is to quickly report other sellers for violations.
Hmmmmm.

On the system announcements board a seven day old glitch which actively changes listings is finally fixed. eBay advises:
Buyers: When you contemplate bidding on or buying any item, please rely on the information provided by the seller in the item description, rather than depending solely on the information shown in the Item Specifics area. If you have any question about the item, please contact the seller via the Ask Seller a Question link on the item page.
Now we all know that diligent buyers not only read the listing from beginning to end (parsing every sentence) and email the seller with questions, but they always check the system announcements board before bidding. Hmmmm

I notice that the Systems Announcements Board has been 'enhanced' it now only shows the last few acknowledged 'glitches'. This is a proactive measure designed to lessen stress for sellers, if they can't track back and see all the 'glitches' they can just be happy singing the eBay song as they work. See! Just like Lorrie Norrington said; eBay does care about sellers. Awwww.

Earlier this week Charity Auctions were down.
sellers may have difficulty interacting with and viewing information for any of their eBay Giving Works listings in My eBay
No biggie, hmmm.

An enormous outage in ProStores which did not make it to the announcements board; read all about it on this forum thread
ProStores administration URL goes to the Google Search Page, good grief, this is terrible.
Three pages of agitated ProStores sellers enlivened by these posts,
#31 Didn't you see the announcement posted this afternoon?

ProStores are shut down permanently.

No more prostores.

and #32 IT'S THE RAPTURE. AND ONLY EBAY GOT TO GO!


Hmm

The techies at PayPal have been having a workout this month, Auctionbytes reported a one day notification problem fixed but the glitches have been ongoing for a while. We will go deeper into that another day!

Aaaah, technology ... better, stronger, faster!


Almost forgot!
Congratulations & Many Happy Returns of the Day to official eBay blogger Richard Brewer-Hay on the successful completion of two months, apparently with sanity and sense of humor intact. Well done RBH.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

BaySpeak on PayPal in the Land of OZ



I HOPE the ACCC is a lot smarter than eBay and Paypal's lawyers in Australia think they are! Reading their final submission on their application for a waiver to certain provisions of the Trade Practice Act 1974, produces as fine an example of BaySpeak, half truths, diversions and plain prevarication as I have ever seen, and I have seen a lot.

Half Truth:

excluding Google Checkout, which, contrary to BPAY's submission, does not operate in Australia

Actually, Google Checkout does operate in Australia. Google Checkout is available to buyers in Australia. Google says "We're working towards making Google Checkout more widely available in the near future. At this time, however, we cannot provide any details regarding when Google Checkout will be available in specific countries." Therefore eBay's statement is half true, the system is not available to Australian Sellers.

eBay loves it's sellers!
It is not possible for eBay to achieve the stated objective of significantly reducing "bad buyer experiences" for all eBay users without mandating the use of PayPal ... One likely contributing cause for this is that a number of negative incidents are caused by fraudulent or otherwise dishonest sellers. Such sellers are unlikely to accept PayPal payments because of the security and fraud protection measures available to PayPal users on eBay and, in particular, the ability of PayPal to reverse payments and freeze accounts. It follows that any increased usage of PayPal can be expected to reduce the total number of such incidents.

eBay considers that many of the submissions contain factual errors or distortions and the ACCC may be assisted by eBay clarifying those errors. Accordingly, eBay has identified a number of the most frequently asserted factual errors issues and addresses these issues below.


Just a few:


PayPal is not subject to the same level of regulation as banks.
While not subject to the same regime as banks, PayPal is subject to comprehensive regulatory oversight by government agencies. It is the holder of Australian Financial Services Licence No. 304962 and a banking license. It is subject to regulation by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission and the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority. PayPal is also subject to the Australian Anti-Money
Laundering, Counter-Terrorism Financing and various other Australian and foreign laws.
Translation: well no it is not, but we can cite a whole heap of regs we are subject to

As a result of the Project, PayPal will become a monopoly provider of payments services for eBay transactions.
This is factually incorrect. PayPal will not become the only provider on eBay - EFT and CC will continue in use, the only difference being the imposition of PP as the intermediary to process transactions. PayPal will continue to pay the credit card merchant fees that would otherwise be imposed on sellers
Translation: No no, not a monopoly, we will just be the only payment method and we are telling you how we pay all fees for something most sellers do not use, without mentioning that we will charge the sellers even higher fees for something they get very inexpensively if not free from their banks.




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Memorial Day

Today we remember all the gallant men and women who gave their lives for their country. Today in Afghanistan and Iraq, yesterday in Viet Nam and Korea, war after war stretching like milestones into the past.

What happens when the gardens of stone can no longer name the dead? Will the wind catch their souls and whisper their names to the midnight sky? Or will silence be the lullaby of the forgotten?
- John Cory


Today is a good day to think about the price of war. To think hard about what we can do to wage peace so that all the suffering stops. We honor those who heard the call to service, and returned wounded in body and mind, but what can we do to help them? We need to become more activist and tell our elected politicians that our veterans deserve more not less.

Check out Welcome Home Soldier and see what you can do to help Miz'Remy.

We thank those who serve today with pretty and patriotic speeches and this is a good thing. It would be a better thing to work to ensure they will not be forgotten when they return.








Saturday, May 24, 2008

Looking Back

Randy Smythe's post on My Blog Utopia two days ago has been on my mind, I have been thinking about eBay three years ago, early summer 2005 and today. A June 2005 Wall Street Journal Article could have been written yesterday.

eBay's latest fee increases, in February, have intensified seller complaints about poor customer service and falling prices ... further cutting margins, and fraud was becoming a problem ...


Customer Service

From one of the familiar seller nightmare stories:

eBay erroneously shut down one of (his) accounts for 14 days ... trouble listing products, completing transactions and sending email ... fielded angry calls from customers, the Better Business Bureau and PayPal -- an electronic-payment service that was in the process of being bought by eBay -- who all questioned whether his company existed.

eBay reinstated the account, but the incident soured the two men on the auction company. At the time, eBay didn't provide telephone customer support to all sellers ... called eBay but were told to send a request for help through email. After 10 days, an eBay employee called, but didn't apologize, "They were really cavalier," ... The glitch propelled the pair to enhance their Web site. "You can't depend on someone you can't communicate with"


Digging deep into eBay's dusty archives I uncovered this gem; a February 2005 Message from Bill Cobb said

eBay has a fantastic Customer Support team, but Meg and I
agree we haven’t invested enough in giving our CS reps the
flexibility and tools they need to really take care of you. So,
to start, within the next 90 days, we’ll shut down most of
our automated email responses. Our users will get a
“real” e-mail response to their questions - you’ll
hear from a human being
who will try to help you with your
problem or question right off the bat. We will only use auto
responses to acknowledge receipt of spam or policy violation
reports.


The same month from a Brown Bag Lunch. It is worth reading just to see how friendly things were then. Post #48

At this very moment we are creating an entire new phone team that will field all of the calls from members who have a stores subscription. This team will be made up of representatives who have been at eBay for some time and they will have complete knowledge of Stores so that they can help with general stores questions as well as the technical problems that you experience as store owners. This team will be available to take calls on April 1.
Where did that go? Everything today is automated response and usually has nothing to do with the question asked.


So what has changed? Ethics

Remember eBay's Community Values

Is there one single one of the five fundamental values which is honored or even thought about today?

For example in Seller Tips

Sellers are expected to consistently perform in a manner that results in a high level of buyer satisfaction. When a seller lists an item on eBay, and a buyer bids for and wins that item, the seller and buyer have entered into a contract that both members are expected to honor. If the seller doesn't live up to this agreement, it leads to a bad buyer experience that may result in negative or neutral feedback for the seller.


Does bad seller experience have any place on eBay? There are very limited protections in place for PowerSellers, protections which have no basis in reality and with loopholes you could drive a Mack truck through. If you are not a PowerSeller eBay policy as stated by Brian Burke is basically summarized as 'who cares?'

There will inevitably be a small group of folks that are negatively effected by the 12-month window but again, we think that recent performance and activity is a much better indicator of what a buyer can expect to experience than a performance rating from 7-8 years ago ... (We) define “track record” as active PowerSellers who have been on eBay for at least 12 months.


Yes, dear reader, you read it right, years of continuous excellent performance would not be a favorable indicator of what a buyer can expect to experience.

How ethical is it to make a unilateral decision to amend any neutral feedback to a negative? If I had wanted to leave a negative I would have left a negative! As a buyer if I had any idea that eBay would in future take my neutral and use it to disadvantage the seller I would not have left any feedback at all. My neutral meant precisely that, not negative, not positive. I did not give permission to change my opinion from neutral to negative. That is precisely what feedback is, opinion, the opinion of the person who leaves it.

How ethical is it to remove feedback from sales fully in compliance with eBay policy at the time the sales were made? An upper level executive makes a decision based on a flawed premise and clerical workers immediately start removing feedback. There are no published guides as to the parameters used in such decisions, no contact is made with the seller, no input is permitted and no accountability is required for eBay.

Noted eBay Booster, PowerSeller Skip McGrath commented in his newsletter recently and on his blog

I got an email from one poor fellow who took a breather from selling on eBay for quite a while. Consequently his total number of feedbacks for the past 12 months was quite low although his overall score for the past several years was high. But because eBay now only looks at the past 12 months and he had a neutral about 6 months ago, his score dropped from 99.9% to 87%. With that score it is going to be really hard to get sales and therefore improve his score when people who don't really know any better see a feedback score of 87%.


Arbitrary feedback removal together with adjustment of neutral to negative has far reaching implications for sellers in regard to deliberate disadvantaging of product placement in search, fees paid and seller protections. It also exposes them to payment holds.

Looking into my crystal ball I see a class action lawsuit, in the very near future from sellers who have outstanding DSRs and have effectively been put out of business by these policies. Something I would LIKE to see is a lawsuit from sellers who are paying standardized listing fees for search visibility with no guarantee under Best Match they will ever get what they are paying for.

Finally, food for thought. There are multiple resignations in the upper echelons of eBay including Matt Halprin, eBay's Vice President in charge of Global Trust & Safety after less than 7 months in the job, and Jim Ambach, VP Seller Experience. Why?

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

eBay: Heroin Buyers and Crack Addicts

Earlier this month eBay Australia regional VP Simon Smith called sellers attending a public meeting the moral equivalent of drug addicts. Australian journalist Angus Kidman was there and this is what he wrote. You can read the whole article here.

"We're not allowing people to offer unsafe choices, just like in this democracy you can't go out and buy heroin on the streets." Telling customers who care enough about your company to attend a public meeting about its future that their rejection of a payment system makes them the moral equivalent of drug addicts is not likely to endear you to them, we'd have thought, but then we are but lowly journalists -- not masters of the online auctioneering universe.


Don't they teach these junior executives to think before they open their mouths? I wonder what sort of impression that statement made on the powers-that-be at the ACCC who are considering eBay's application for a waiver from compliance with Australia's strict 'exclusive dealings' laws? Exclusive dealing involves one trader imposing restrictions on another trader's freedom to choose with whom, in what or where they deal. Exclusive dealing is prohibited under the Trade Practices Act of 1974

A key objective of the Act is to prevent anti-competitive arrangements or conduct, thereby encouraging competition and efficiency in business resulting in a greater choice for consumers in price, quality and service.In certain circumstances,
for example, the Act prohibits a common form of exclusive dealing known as third line forcing. Third line forcing is the supply of goods or services on condition that the purchaser also acquires goods or services from a third party.


Today blogger Randy Smythe, one time top eBay PowerSeller ID GlacierBayDVD, wrote a sensitive piece comparing eBay sellers including himself to crack addicts. I urge you to read his post on My Blog Utopia! and leave a comment with your thoughts.

Was I going to try and restructure my business, for the 2nd time in as many years; after all it was still generating nearly $350K a month in cash (no profit mind you). Or, would I quit cold turkey and deal with the inevitable crash and burn when the crack (cashflow) stopped... ...
I made my decision in Dec of 2005 and though it was the most painful decision I've ever made in my life, it was the best decision I ever made.


Has the Cash Cow Moved on to Better Things?

Back in 2005 eBay auctions had sell through rates of 45 to 50% and yet writing about that time today Randy said "no profit mind you". 2008 auction sell through rates are flat hovering around 40% and I can't help wondering how many mega sellers will vanish this year because they are not making any profit. Making money yes, profit no. Elsewhere in today's news Phil Leahy, Platinum PowerSeller and head of PESA Australia under the user ID philsales1 has been suspended for non-payment of fees. Read all about it at Auctionbytes

eBay is making profits and it seems pretty obvious that as seller numbers decrease eBay fees must rise, after all there are some pretty hefty executive compensation packages to fund.

Tomorrow we are going to discuss Best Practices, Customer Service and Ethics with examples, names named.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Why Buy From Buy.com on eBay? Not for Value!

These days eBay is all about 'buyer experience' and eBay has a mission to provide a 'more retail like experience for our buyers'. Those quotes are both examples of Bayspeak from Stephanie Tilenius. Sounds good, but what does it mean? eBay is just a venue, unlike the highly successful Amazon which is a vendor as well as a venue. eBay does not source, sell or ship product but instead provides a platform or venue for vendors. Vendors do have buyers but for eBay to claim those buyers as their own opens up all sorts of very interesting legal implications, but I digress.

On May 2nd eBay was 'outed' by Randy Smythe on his blog My Blog Utopia and forced into hurried transparency on a done deal with Buy.com. As the cat romped among the pigeons eBay Smoke & Spin man Usher Lieberman Bayspoke:

“eBay is aggressively using price as a lever to improve the value and selection on eBay.com. Consistent with our goals, we have entered into a partnership with Buy.com to bring their new-in-season merchandise onto eBay.com. We expect to learn a great deal from this partnership and we will build upon the results.”


"Improve the value and selection"

This caught my attention right smart! I like value! After a bit of a tussle (I like definition #3) using eBay's mah-vel-ous search I found Buy.com sells under the user ID buy and also has an eBay store. The store has a small discreet banner saying "Welcome Ebay Customers!"

I picked an item about to end; a hardcover book History, Literature, and Society in the Book of Acts with FREE SHIPPING for a mere $110. Just thrilled to see it had no bids yet (item ended with no bids)I hustled over to Amazon where I found it for $92.10 also with FREE SHIPPING. Hmmmm. My buyers mind tells me that given an equal perceived value between vendors on this new book, Amazon.com at $17.90 less is the better value.

Undaunted by my abject failure to find value in this partnership I tried again. Maybe a nice new game for the kiddies at $9.99 but no free shipping on this one, add $5.20 S&H (which seems a bit steep for 9.6oz shipping weight) for a total price of $15.19. Over at Amazon I found the identical item from Amazon seller eToys, same price but only $3.99 S&H, a savings of $1.21. My perception of value says AMAZON!

Third time is the charm. My eye was caught by this totally unintelligible title "NEW OMNT 2 SHLF FLT PNL FLR STND UP - 50" PCK 2 BOXS" IT turned out to be an OmniMount STUDIO 4B 2-Shelf Flat Panel Floor Stand, and who'da thunk that! OK, Price $799.95 plus $150 S&H, total $949.95. Back to Amazon where seller TheFactoryDepot has the same item for $551.27 plus $198.81 S&H, total $750.08
This represents a $200 (21%+) savings over eBay's buy.com value.

We are not done yet. Google Shopping found the same item from ProDigitalMall for a stunning $484.85 plus $233.16 S&H, total $718.00 and this is a whopping $231.95 savings (almost 25%) over the eBay price.

Message to buyer: Do your homework, you will find better value selection elsewhere, and as a high value bonus you will not have to deal with eBay or PayPal, you can pay with Google Checkout.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Eve of Destruction

First I was astounded
Next I was angry
Then I got busy

The angry and busy lasted a long time and there were periodic announcements which made me angrier.

Next came hurt. How could a whole community be so carelessly yet methodically discarded? Surely there was a mistake? Maybe if we explained carefully and politely they would understand?

Smiling faces saying one thing meaning another.

Reading corporate announcements carefully not for what they said but for what they left unsaid.

Careless slap after calculated smack, the incessant repeated hammer blows of destruction, sadness and depression, punctuated by moments of sheer disbelief and flashes of incandescent rage.

Insult tossed on top of injury.
Smug assumptions of superiority from a position of supreme ignorance.

Sellers are numb. A way of life as we knew it is gone. We now have to endure the stink of decay and decomposition.

WHY? Pappa John, our leader. The boyishly smiling man who had a whole 20 year career as a consultant, fixing things he did not have the ability to build, the supreme commander waiting eagerly for his photo op to declare 'mission accomplished'. The Chief of 'Only a Venue' who has a calling to micromanage YOUR business so you can pour even more into the groaning coffers of a corporation that has never EVER paid a dividend to shareholders. He who knows best; what is good for you is what is best for him. If you should stumble and fall it is because you are unworthy and there are plenty more where you came from.

I urge you, pack up your baggage and walk quietly away. Don't burn your bridges, you may want to use them again some day, just walk away. Don't look back.


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Monday, May 19, 2008

Today is the Day

Today eBay rolls out their wonderful new feedback policy.

Today infrequent buyers are finding their feedback percentage is 0%

How that will affect their ability to shop only time will tell.

I heard from a relatively new buyer who won from a seller who did not ship her item, or respond to a PayPal dispute. Buyer eventually received a refund from Paypal and yesterday a negative blaming the buyer for her inexperience and failure to buy insurance. A query to eBay help today advised her to use Mutual Feedback Withdrawal.

eBay removed the Mutual Feedback option May 7th.

This promises well for sellers who are relying on eBay to protect them!

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Just for Fun The Land of Oz

Australia has been on our minds a lot recently and it is difficult for those of us who have never been there to understand just how different it is. Australia drives on the left, measurements are metric and even the language is different!

You can look at a picture of a kangaroo and think it is strange but I don't believe you can understand just how strange it is until you see it in its natural habitat. The kangaroo is just the most instantly recognizable symbol of how different Australia is. There are a lot of strange and wonderful critters, birds and plants on that unique and special continent.


You may not be aware that Australia has been suffering from severe drought for years.
This blogger talks about Heleioporus eyrei frogs appearing after a rain and the sounds they make.




These beautiful native birds are galahs. Calling someone a galah in Australia is a traditional way of questioning their intelligence.











The climate varies widely, the north is tropical and the south is more temperate. Seasons in the southern hemisphere are the opposite of the northern hemisphere, Christmas is mid-summer. Most of the center of Australia is desert.

I am told there are more than 400 different varieties of gum (eucalyptus) trees in Australia.

Mist at Yellow Water billabong - Kakadu



Mist at Yellow Water billabong - Kakadu in the Northern Territory, image by Tourism NT. Click this image to go to their website which has many more beautiful pictures. Billabong is Australian for a lake.

This is Reids Coffee Palace, Ballarat, Victoria. Between approximately 1850 and the late 1860s Ballarat was at the center of the Australian Gold Rush, the style of architecture is called Federation Filigree. It is designed to let cool air flow through the building.

In case you were wondering, I am assured by Australian sellers that kangaroos do not hop down the streets everywhere.

This is where many Australian eBay Sellers have moved to and YES we can buy from them there! We wish you all the best and much happiness in your new home.





Any errors or mistakes are mine alone and corrections will be gratefully received. I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed researching it.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Deceptive & Misleading Business As Usual eBay/ PayPal


UPDATE to Pants on Fire?:

IT has been pointed out that the eBay market research questionnaire wording:

"PayPal(or) Credit Card or Debit Card payments made directly to the seller's Merchant Account (Sellers will need to acquire a Merchant Account from a bank or other provider)"

is NOT the same Paypal only policy as is currently proposed in Australia.

Sellers have the option of a higher cost Merchant Account & PayPal pricing would be precisely calculated to be cheaper. (There is an example in the Ads on the right, click through to pricing.) This is de facto monopolization and inhibition of competition with the potential for price fixing as has been noted in submissions to the ACCC in Australia.

I am surprised that Google Inc has not taken steps to defend their superior Google Checkout service from eBay's specific written classification as an unsafe and inconvenient payment option.

Another example of what eBay has become. This corporation is the epitome of 'do as I say not as I do'. This is the venue that unabashedly insists the sellers terms of service are irrelevant if a buyer, after accepting them, chooses to unilaterally void any part of what is a legally enforcible contract. eBay's penchant for deceptive and misleading statements is directly responsible for record low levels in seller listings. eBay's continuous stream of negative and disparaging public statements implying a need to protect buyers from unscrupulous and fraudulent sellers has predictably resulted in loss of buyer confidence.

Sellers are moving their listings to alternative venues in increasing numbers and many are simply going out of business while eBay executives continue to harvest vast personal fortunes from soil that is no longer fertile in an unhealthy economic climate.

There is a conflict between 'eBay is only a venue' and eBay dictating business policy for the sellers. It is only a matter of time before that dichotomy is challenged in court.

Y'all come back and be sure to click VICTORIOUSLY on any interesting links in the sidebar! Gotta keep me in tea bags!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

eBay Pants on Fire?

A new survey from eBay being emailed to US Sellers appears to contradict the star of eBay's Smoke and Spin Department, Usher Lieberman's statement on eBayINKBlog May 9th, 2008 in which he said

In the U.S., we are not mulling, planning, or otherwise seriously considering a move to PayPal-only,"


Now let me see, is IT a glitch? A test? A server error? A miscommunication?

Since we are not mulling, planning or otherwise seriously (I like definition #3 "with genuine, earnest intent; sincerely:")
considering (now that word is a bit more difficult, let me quote:"These verbs refer to holding opinions or views that are based on evaluation. Consider suggests objective reflection and reasoning" hoo boy, eBay oxymoron) a move to PayPal-only in the USA isn't this all a bit of a time waster for a whole bunch of eBay employees?

Onward to the survey!

For the next question, we'd like you to consider the following statement outlining a possible new eBay policy:

To make eBay a safer place to buy and sell, sellers will be limited to accepting only the following safer payment methods for their eBay sales:

PayPal

Credit Card or Debit Card payments made directly to the seller's Merchant Account (Sellers will need to acquire a Merchant Account from a bank or other provider)

In person payment for local pickup items

Sellers can accept any one of the above payment methods, or they can accept all of the above. Sellers will receive full protection from payment reversals for items sold on eBay and paid with PayPal when they ship to the address provided by PayPal. Buyers paying with PayPal will be fully covered, no coverage limit, if their item doesn't arrive or is different than described.

Compared to what you anticipate selling in the next 12 months, if this new eBay policy is put into place, which of the following best describes your likely sales activity on eBay?




Also listed in the survey are the following items under consideration to increase Paypal & eBay use:

eBay lowers the final value fees for using PayPal
eBay removes the insertion fees for using PayPal
PayPal lowers its fees for long-term eBay customers
PayPal charges no fee for one month
PayPal offers unlimited buyer protection to attract more buyers
PayPal offers unlimited coverage to eBay sellers, without requiring confirmed shipping addresses.
eBay or PayPal provide more detailed information about PayPal and how it works
PayPal transfers funds from buyers to sellers bank accounts more quickly
eBay and PayPal fees are combined into one
eBay lowers the total eBay plus PayPal fees

How about none of the above? How about allowing Buyers & Sellers to choose between PayPal and Google Checkout. How about > > >

Y'all come back and be sure to click VICTORIOUSLY on any interesting links in the sidebar! Gotta keep me in tea bags!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Buyers LOOSE protection on eBay


Was IT intentional?

Who knows! eBay Management certainly doesn't, as Ms Norrington said "I think it’s a great point of learning for us." So what did we learn today?

At the PeSA/EMCTA Summit in New Orleans last month some very grand statements were made by upper eBay management. Matt Halprin VP of Trust and Safety said

buyers don’t trust the feedback system because they can’t discriminate between great sellers, average sellers or poor sellers. We needed to fix that because eBay is based on trust. If buyers don’t have trust they won’t send money or bid as much on an item

Lorrie Norrington, President, Marketplace Operations, stated
I think it’s obvious that our intent is to put more trust back into the system. We think this new Feedback system does that.

An unfortunate side effect to all of eBay's recent 'improvements' to feedback including the statistically deficient analysis of retaliatory feedback as defined by Brian Burke, Director of Global Feedback Policy last week
We used a really simple definition when determining exactly what constituted retaliatory negative feedback. It was strictly a user who received a negative feedback and subsequently left a negative feedback. That second negative feedback was counted as being retaliatory. There wasn’t anything that we did to go back and look to see if that negative was justified rather we observed how behavior changed in the marketplace over time

will be to reduce the much vaunted Buyer Protection Plan afforded by 'Safe Shopping with Paypal'. In the Answer Center we used to advise buyers never to buy from a seller with a feedback percentage of less than normal human body temperature or 98.6%, by the end of May if may be difficult to even find a seller with a higher percentage than 98.6

eBay decided to count neutral feedback as negative because "it is not positive". When calculating Seller feedback percentages the sum of positives received, minus the total of neutrals and negatives is expressed as a percentage. It is now possible for a low volume seller who has no negative feedback and a few neutrals to fall into restricted selling status with a single additional neutral.

While researching my submission to the ACCC I did a lot of reading in the Paypal User Agreement,see Sec.13.1 and 13.9, and I was not the only one. Sellers in Australia where the 'new & improved' feedback took effect today, pointed out


First, buyers are basically being encouraged to leave Neutrals and Negs on sellers.

So this is the honeymoon period for buyers.

Then their actions start to affect buyers .. in their hip pocket.

Because after Negging and Neuting as many sellers as they can find --- they suddenly discover that their ahem .. E-Pay 'protection' has dramatically reduced from the $3,000 they've been assured they 'may' be entitled to .. to just $400 that they 'may' be entitled to as result of their buying from sellers with less than 98% (the same sellers those buyers smashed down to 98% and under, lol)

Get it now, lol

Ebay has arranged for buyers to slit their own throats. Got to admit, it's funny.


It appears that no less than 56% of the MedVed top 100 PowerSellers on eBay will NOT be eligible for Top Tier Coverage.(auctionbytes blog comment from 'PowerSellerSlaughter08)

Smart buyers should not buy anything worth more than $200 from a seller who has less than 98% positive feedback, eBay & PayPal say so.
Of course most buyers are oblivious to the fact that a seller with less than 50 total feedback or any seller with less than 98% is not a good risk over $200. Is eBay publicizing that? No. Seems strange with all that concern for “excellent buying experience”.

AND here is another Aussie (gotta love these guys)
Well I lasted 4+ years on 99.9% and I was using protection most of the time, Paypal that is.

Now in one foul (very foul that is) swoop, overnight I have dropped to 99% - did someone prick my protection ????

Geez, I lasted longer under the old system than less than 12 hours under the new system. Methinks I need to find a new form of protection, lest I be accused of things that I never begat..


Just to remind my Aussie friends that after the UK tomorrow, we in the USA will get chucked on the dungheap too by the end of the week. Then we will all be in it, together, hock deep.





Y'all come back and be sure to click VICTORIOUSLY on any interesting links in the sidebar! Gotta keep me in tea bags!

Etsy? You Betcha!

I am very tired of all the stress & nastiness at eBay and almost as tired of PayPal. Today we are going somewhere NICE.

When I started looking at alternative venues Etsy.com was one of the places I looked at. It doesn't really fit me as a seller, Etsy is limited to handcrafted items and supplies, but it really fits me as a buyer!

Etsy is different. Almost three years old, Etsy treats it's sellers like rational adults. There are rules, sensible rules which are amended from time to time with input from members of the community. An email to Etsy gets answered, by a person. The mission statement says it all:

Etsy is an online marketplace for buying & selling all things handmade.

Our mission is to enable people to make a living making things, and to reconnect makers with buyers.

Our vision is to build a new economy and present a better choice:

Buy, Sell, and Live Handmade


Here are some of my favorite things: Clicking on the picture will take you directly to that item.

From Sparkklejar ~*~ SpArKkLy ThInGs!~*~
be sure to take a look at her clothes pins too!

Rare Canadian Consumers Glass Quart Taper Retro Chic Vintage 1981 Cottage Rose Shabby Pink Lid Mason Jar

From ActiasLunaMasks: Artist, Maskmaker, Multifaceted Designer and Printmaker, I would take this home!


Silver Circus Tabby Mask

From Citypretties these earbobs caught my eye.

i told you your ice cream would drip if you held it upside down


The last item is from Emi Shimosato's shop Momonmo. I own one of her purses, my first Etsy buy, and the workmanship is exquisite as is the Japanese fabric.

Japanese blue birds tote -- Tulip shape -- free shipping

I hope you enjoyed this little trip through Etsy as much as I did, good thing we can also Shop Victoriously Elsewhere!

Y'all come back and be sure to click VICTORIOUSLY on any interesting links in the sidebar! Gotta keep me in tea bags.














'

Monday, May 12, 2008

Yes We Have No Bananas Paypal

As I have said before Ms Nichola Sharpe of eBay's Smoke and Spin Department is not a liar. Saturday's Silicon Valley Mercury News reports "In the United States, an "extremely high" number of eBay transactions, spokeswoman Nichola Sharpe said, are conducted via PayPal." Usher Lieberman of the same department wrote "In the U.S., we are not mulling, planning, or otherwise seriously considering a move to PayPal-only," on the company's eBay Ink blog. To misquote the Immortal Bard..."The lady (or gentleman) doth protest too much, methinks..."

So what is all the furious spin about?

The art of spin by smoke and mirrors requires the target to look and listen to the spinner, not elsewhere. I went and looked elsewhere. The following list of internet payment service providers is taken from eBay's Accepted Payments Policy page Naturally it is tucked away out of sight, click on 'Some Examples' to find it.

Comments to the right are mine. Click here to enlarge. I have highlighted US providers in yellow.

To summarize:
In the USA we have three alternatives to PayPal none of which were designed or intended for auction payment. We have a bank bill payment service, designed for recurring monthly bills from entities who are also participants in the system. We have ProPay, a merchant CC processer, the only thing which distinguishes it from many other similar services is the unrealistically low monthly limits and a very high price, and we have Xoom which charges buyers and requires the recipient give the buyer his bank account number. Xoom appears to be similar in many ways to the banned Western Union but not nearly as convenient.

Talk about comparing apples to oranges!
Here we have an apple, an orange and a papaya to compare to the PayPal banana. The only other banana around is Google Checkout, which is of course banned because "This policy is designed to promote safe online shopping, and to encourage online payment methods that are safer, easier to use, and offer high levels of protection for users" How odd that the only alternatives to PayPal are no safer and certainly not easier to use. Guess we know why PayPal usage is extremely high.

If no competition is permitted on eBay then of course eBay is not 'mulling, planning, or otherwise seriously considering a move to PayPal-only', it is already Paypal only.

Now, please join me in a rousing chorus of the eBay PR department theme song

When you ask him anything
He never answers "No."
He just "Yesses" you to death,
And as he takes your dough,
He tells you:
YES! We have no bananas,
We have no bananas today.




Y'all come back and be sure to click VICTORIOUSLY on any interesting links in the sidebar!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Poof to YOU Says the King of Spin

UPDATE! UN*POOF*ed!

sumabuddy fixed a glitch, thank you


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I commented this to Usher Lieberman's guest blog on Richard Brewer-Hay's eBayINKblog but I guess there is something in it which is against policy because it got censored. Maybe it was a glitch! We get a lot of those on the Discussion Boards and the Answer Center these days too, we call it *POOF*. Original post below.


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Hello Mr. Lieberman

Most of us posting here have been around eBay a LOT longer than you have. We may be noisy but we are not stupid. We can even spell Sherman Act!

Remember when PayPal was a start-up? At that time eBay owned BillPoint (of late unlamented memory) and PayPal was unsafe and prohibited on eBay.

Well gee gol-lee gosh! Right after eBay bought PayPal it became safe and secure. Very few changes in TOS or management but it became a whole lot safer once the fees were going to the right place.

Yes, I offer Paypal on my website too, but am having Google Checkout integrated because it is just as safe, in fact a LOT safer for a seller and it is clean and easy for buyers.

I like to credit my buyers with enough brainpower to decide for themselves which service they choose. For a retailer with a strong emphasis on customer service and satisfaction guaranteed, choice is good. Customers like choice and as we sellers all know; keeping the paying customers happy is the key to success.

In so far as the media ignoring you, maybe they placed greater weight on your boss's statement to the NY Times when he stated . . . if the test was successful in Australia, the company would introduce it in other countries “in months, not years”, than to your spin.
Here is the link: http://tiny.cc/YZJWR

Are you going to have a little chat with Simon Smith about not comparing his customers & their buyers to heroin users?

Possibly the lesson eBay needs to apply to ALL its markets can be summarized in two things almost everyone's mother must have said at least once. Sometimes it is good to remember what Mom said.

Don't Push! It's rude to push.

and

You can catch a whole lot more flies with honey than vinegar.

I hope your headache is feeling better and thank you for coming to play with us.

PSST. Mechelle, there is a link to on the spot reportage of that meeting on my blog, linked to my name above. eBay did make a video but obviously not for public consumption.

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Y'all come back and be sure to click VICTORIOUSLY on any interesting links in the sidebar!