Thursday, July 31, 2008

Just For Fun The Perils of Aging

My cousin sent me this and it tickled my funny bone.


Y'all come back

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

We're actually not liable for it says eBay

A day late and many dollars short.

Yesterday when I wrote about the demise of #7 eBay Australia seller eBusiness_Supply, (EBS) which is now in receivership, the company was still in good standing on eBay. Their feedback showed 4 recent negatives. As I write today, the business is finally Not A Registered User (NARU) and has accumulated 668 negatives as buyers wake up and smell the yak dung.

eBay and PayPal must have known of the incipient problems with EBS for a month or more. On the Australian boards there are multitudinous posts about non delivery from this seller increasing sharply in volume by the first week in July. With all the publicity on PayPal being the only safe way to pay, many of the posters specifically chose PayPal, only to be SOL for refunds.

Listen to a Tuesday evening Radio Australia broadcast, the transcript provided seems to have some confusion as to exactly who said what but the broadcast is clear.

I have said it many times before (just search PayPal in the blog search) PayPal's Buyer Protection has truck sized loopholes designed purely to protect PayPal not the Buyer.

Right now eBay/PayPal Australia are being squeezed between a rock and a hard place. IT is not going to get any better. Large sums have been spent in advertising promoting PayPal buyer protection and safety. This would have paid off in the long term because a few buyers getting ripped off at one time and 'not qualifying for protection' would not garner any attention at all. This situation with hundreds of victims is very different. Note that PayPal's initial response was .. the auction didn't specify PayPal or, so sad, too bad, we can't reclaim funds from the seller.

Many of the high dollar purchasers bought ATVs, which are not covered because (a) they are vehicles and (b) they were not in Australia at the time of purchase. Almost all buyers were 'unprotected because (c)the terms of the auction itself were in violation - delivery over 20 days from time of payment, and then (d) because of all the negatives the sellers feedback was below permitted levels. Add to that the three different legal agreements pre June 7th, between June 7th and June 17th and after June 17th and you have a mess.

Most of the buyers were lulled into inaction beyond eBay's and PayPal's (different) filing deadlines because they knew they were 'protected'.

Some comments from the discussion boards, which are being deleted almost as fast as they post:

Have to wonder on eBay/PayPal's priorities, when they are more interested in pulling posts, rather than openly communicating with the many people who have lost their hard earned money to this lot and keeping us updated on whats happening..

I am also in dispute with paypal, as i used paypal to pay for my item. But the EBS eBay ad didnt actually have a PayPal option(which is weird), so i logged into PayPal and associated the payment with the eBay auction and thought everything would be ok. But now PayPal are saying cause the auction didnt specify PayPal, i am not entitled to any buyer protection!; so much for trying to do the right thing by using PayPal !

I recently recieved a big 'stuff you' email from Paypal whereby they found in my favour but said they couldn't reclaim funds. I couldn't believe they would be so dishonest and offer $20k protection then wash their hands of the matter so I called them up and asked them to recheck. They admitted the email they sent was in error since the listing I purchased from carried the $20,000 protection logo and I was, therefore, entitled to cover. I am expecting a refund within 24-48h from Paypal. To be eligible you need to have lodged a claim and escalated it within the timeframes Paypal stipulate (I did) so don't listen to the scammer's delaying tactics...lodge a claim NOW and you can always cancel it later.

Make sure you grab a copy of your ad before it disappears off the site. My purchase has already gone and when doing a search and find for the item, it appears as a listing, so PayPal are saying you are not covered by .au protection. Lucky i kept a copy that shows it listed as a listing.

I ordered my item on June 23rd, 2008. So buyers having problems in May, should have had the opportunity to warn people like me who bought in June. I was checking the listings from eBusiness_supplies and a couple of weeeks before my item was won and everything (including eBAY, feedback score) looked healthy.

The biggest factor that influenced my willingness to purchase on eBAY was the belief that eBAY's new hardline with PayPal Protection (all the adverts).

Y'all come back


Sydney Morning Herald
AsiaOne, Singapore
The Sheet, AU

Monday, July 28, 2008

Will eBay Australia & PayPal Make Good?

Top eBay news in Australia today is that the seventh largest eBay seller in the country, ebusiness_supplies is in receivership.

According to SellerDome ebusiness_supplies had average monthly sales in excess of $373,000 with an enviable sell through rate on items with an average GSV of $170+. Selling imported high dollar items like quad ATVs and home gymnasium fitness equipment, ebusiness_supplies has had problems in the past. New management took over April 1st of this year and an announcement was made on July 7th offering to refund all customers who had ordered before June 1st.

So what went wrong? More importantly will any of the buyers be covered by eBay's much touted PayPal Buyer Protection?

According to an article in The Age "Those who paid using PayPal, which is owned by eBay, would be entitled to refunds through a new fund set up to deal with this incident, PayPal managing director Andrew Pipolo said."

PayPal's User Agreement for all payments effected using PayPal on or after 12.01am Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) on 17 June 2008:

Amounts that you may receive under PayPal’s Buyer Protection Policy.

IMPORTANT: For purchases made on there is a maximum discretionary payment amount of $20,000.00 AUD.

PayPal is not obliged to pay any amount at all, or if it does decide to make a payment, to pay the maximum amount set out – you may, at PayPal's discretion, receive a payment which is less than the maximum of $20,000.00 AUD, but PayPal will not pay more than the maximum discretionary amount.

For payments made prior to that date but made on or after 7 June 2007 PayPal would exclude buyers from 'top tier protection' because ebusiness_supplies feedback rating was less than 98% at that time. Basic tier protection has a $400 maximum. There too, as always, PayPal's all purpose cop out "The decision whether to offer coverage under the PayPal Buyer Protection Policy on a given listing is at PayPal's sole discretion."

Either way I think there will be rather a lot of unhappy and probably ex-eBay buyers in Australia. It may seem unfair because eBay is not responsible for ebusiness_supplies poor management, but when you raise buyer expectations by deception (PayPal Buyer Protection has truck sized loopholes built in to protect PayPal, not buyers) you must expect to pay the price.

Y'all come back

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Distrust All Around on eBay

Once again, a comment posted by eBay Australia seller Kevin to my post on seller confidence is too comprehensive to leave in the comments section. It deserves its own post so I have moved it. Thank you Kevin for taking the time to share your thoughts.

eBay seems to have added a rather odd business tool to their arsenal this year - distrust.

This is totally at odds with the concepts and foundations that Pierre Omidyar built the site on, and is probably the major affront and culture shock to "old school" eBay sellers, who have felt assailed by an apparent campaign against them throughout 2008, but as illogical as it sounds it does seem to be eBay's tool of choice for the financial expansion of eBay this year.

So, how can distrust be used to make a marketplace more profitable, when trust is an essential ingredient for that very marketplace to work in the first place?

If it is true that during times of recession Ebay will stagnate, or if numbers or gross turnover will cease to grow at the rate of unreasonable expectations placed on it by the stock market, then tools on the site need to earn additional income for the perception of growth to remain.

The obvious answer here is PayPal.

In times of recession, sellers will be more alert to how they are spending their money and will stop investing in "bells and whistles" on their listings unless they feel they have a proven track record of increasing sales.

Meanwhile, the buyer is being mercilessly convinced that the only safe way to shop on eBay is to use PayPal. And thus, while I suspect that only a minimal fraction of buyers have actually read the user agreement to see what the extent of their protection really is, most are convinced that they are being protected by the online payments monolith, whatever may happen with their transaction.

Most buyers, even of high value items, will no longer take postal insurance because, it appears, they believe that PayPal is a free insurance policy for their purchase (it isn't).

Several sellers I know here in Australia had not even studied the protection aspects of PayPal until they were facing all of their turnover being forced into the hands of this company through the threatened "PayPal only" policy for the Australian eBay site, and were quite alarmed to see the gaping loopholes in PayPal's protection policies (more fool eBay for drawing user's attention to such things).

What seems to be ignored is that the costs related to PayPal have to be paid by someone, and as is obvious to every seller on eBay, particularly if they are "retailing" new goods on the site, the seller bears all of the fees and creates all of the profits that eBay pulls out of it's payments monopoly subsidiary, and in some countries must also bear the costs of real postal insurance in order to qualify for so-called seller protection, and it eats into their profit margin.

As we have already discussed here, at the same time as having increasingly distrustful buyers channeled through PayPal and adding to the costs of sellers marketing their goods on eBay, the sellers are being "incented" to reduce their selling prices and associated costs, such as shipping, for the benefit of the marketplace. Well, I guess that combination benefits everyone in the marketplace - except those who are selling there.

Using distrust as a business tool has to be a dangerous exercise, but in eBay's eyes it has benefits. As well as forcing the uptake of PayPal, it also discourages buyers from communicating directly with sellers (who they are learning not to trust,) and that in turn reduces "off-site" sales. The danger though, is, of course, if you convince people that eBay really is an unsafe place to shop, they will actually go elsewhere to shop, where they feel safe.

There is also another danger for eBay, the sellers who are no longer trusted in their own marketplace have also lost much trust of eBay itself. While this can be marketed as an effective campaign against dishonest sellers (they protesteth too much), it will also mean that many good sellers are leaving the site because they simply do not trust the business tools that have now turned against them.

The quality, variety and life of the site is being sucked out of the eBay marketplace - and from my perspective at a steadily increasing rate. We were promised that eBay would be unrecognizable by mid next year, but I am not convinced that this is the direction that the site should be taking for it's own long term health, let alone for the health of it's clientele.

Oh well,


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Seller confidence

The big push on eBay this year is to promote buyer confidence, and it is hard to find fault with that. Unfortunately eBay has chosen to accomplish this goal by heavily publicizing the need to protect innocent buyers from the bad sellers. Predictably this has decreased buyer confidence; after all eBay is constantly telling them it is full of fraud, fakes, crooks and scammers. eBay has fostered adversarial attitudes all round.

eBay's message is that all sellers are bad, some are more bad than others. eBay despises small sellers. Big is best. Small sellers need to be regulated and controlled, big sellers get all the goodies, if they can. Keep that big juicy carrot dangling just out of reach. If small sellers want carrots they need to grow, put more fees in the coffers. This contentious and contemptuous attitude has trickled down from the top echelons of management to pervade the entire corporate structure.

There is no gray on eBay today, eBay is strictly black and white. This is shown very clearly by the Freudian slip in Brain Burke's decision to count neutral feedback as a negative.

There are no bad buyers, eBay's president Lorrie Norrington is so confident of this that she explained step by step how to work the system so no crooked buyer need pay a seller for items received. Not satisfied by this she then stated that 'we' need all the buyers even the bad ones.

All this enthusiastic but clueless proselytization has caused some major problems for eBay today, lack of seller confidence and active seller distrust.Sellers have learned to look for the hidden agenda which is often expressed more loudly by what eBay does not say than by the words which are spoken, or written. I doubt very many sellers look on eBay as a partner anymore, an adversarial and domineering partnership is a guarantee for failure. eBay is more like a bad landlord or the fairytale farmer who killed the goose that laid the golden eggs for short term profit.

Successful sellers are not stupid people. Stupid gets weeded out fairly rapidly in a natural selection process. eBay has either forgotten this basic truth or has chosen to ignore it in the hope that as old sellers leave there will always be new ones coming in the door. To a point this is true, but the new sellers will also find the conditions inimical to profitable trading and they too will leave, for the same reasons the old ones did. As outgo exceeds inflow eBay will have an entirely different set of problems.

Sellers do not want to hear the phrase "we hear you" from eBay executives again, we know you may hear us, but you are not listening. eBay must recognize the need to respect and work with the sellers because we all want the same thing, sales and happy customers. If we can't get IT on eBay we will remake our business plans because life is too short to waste in war with our venue.

Y'all come back

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Making Noise Successfully, a Primer UPDATE

Ed over at Buildaskill Blog made a post on Tuesday, which was picked up by AuctionBytes yesterday on the subject of some dubious business practices by eBay.

To summarize, it appears that eBay is taking payment for services which it then fails to provide. How shocking! What a surprise! Undoubtedly a glitch, worldwide but, by an amazing co-incidence when eBay suffers these kinds of glitches, they are always financially beneficial to eBay.

If you are a US seller and believe that you have been defrauded there are actions you can take to press your complaint. First you should download the relevant eBay invoices, put them on a CD so they are safe.

Go through the eBay email complaint procedure. Be sure to keep and print all responses, no matter how inane. Next complain in writing to eBay. You will need to send the complaint by certified mail to eBay Inc. 2145 Hamilton Ave., San Jose, CA 95125, with a return receipt. Keep your correspondence short and to the point. Make copies.

You should fill out a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. This will almost certainly accomplish nothing meaningful, but it is worth doing. It gets the complaint on record and eBay has to respond, quite often the response is completely different from what you received through your initial email complaints. Expect this process to take a month or longer. Add copies of your complaint and responses to your file.

The next step is the Federal Trade Commission, the nation's consumer protection agency. The FTC does not resolve individual consumer complaints. The FTC collects complaints about companies and business practices. The FTC enters all complaints it receives into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database that is used by thousands of civil and criminal law enforcement authorities worldwide. These collected complaints can help detect patterns of wrong-doing, and lead to investigations and prosecutions.

You can also make complaints to the Complaint Assistance Unit of the Division of Consumer Services of the California Department of Consumer Affairs by contacting them in writing at 400 R Street, Sacramento, CA 95814, or by telephone at (800) 952-5210.

Complaints can be filed with both the Attorney General of your State and the office of the Attorney General of the State of California Keep copies for your file.

Complaints about e-commerce companies or websites located across international borders can be filed at

If you decide to hire an attorney, please be sure to read the eBay User Agreement. Merely by going to the eBay website you have agreed to be bound by the User Agreement which states you can only file with a court located in Santa Clara County, California.

Finally, remember, when making a complaint, make it in writing. Generally a spoken complaint as in a telephone conversation does not carry the same legal 'weight' (if any) as a written complaint. Go forth and make noise!

8/3/08 UPDATED INFORMATION -Notify the National Fraud Information Center operated by the National Consumers League, a nonprofit consumer organization. Call 1-800-876-7060 or visit This organization has numerous top media contacts and will get consumer complaints of fraud against companies broad media exposure, i.e. - Television news, major newspapers and internet electronic news medias.

Y'all come back!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Third Incarnation of Wagglepop Part 1

In January 2005 eBay announced an increase in basic store subscriptions from $9.95 a month to $15.95 paired with a Final Value Fee increase from 5.25% to 8%. Sellers were horrified. Raymond Romeo, who was and still is still an eBay seller, with an eBay store and currently using the ID printed442; announced that he was founding an new venue. Wagglepop launched with much fanfare and a great deal of support from other sellers (who wanted an additional venue as an exit strategy) on February 16th 2005.

About one week later Wagglepop closed abruptly with this (much abridged) announcement

Within hours, I will be closing Wagglepop for good, and forever. The servers will be shut down, and all drives reformatted, destroying any and all personal data.
An estimated 2000 sellers were stranded, many with no way to service paid sales.

Wagglepop II launched very quietly May 16th 2006. By January 2007 Ray is quoted in an interview on saying
Our current Alexa Traffic Rank after just eight months in operation is currently at 47,303,which puts us on par with or ahead of most other independent alternative online auction sites at this time and ahead of all internal projections. We average roughly 2,000 unique sales per week, and currently have 140,000+ listings available in a variety of formats for bid or purchase.

And they all lived happily ever after .. ..

Well, not quite. Within three months of rebirth, Wagglepop II CSR Karen was making strangely 'Ray like' posts in the forums "They visit us and blow the horns of despair, hoping someone, anyone will 'hear the call' and follow up the hill of negativity to nowhere." Karen was succeeded by Andrew Pittino (Director of Business Development & Customer Care), a Richard Ambrose clone, with a unique touch for customer questions as in this response to a potential seller who did not want to use PayPal.
You are exactly the kind of idiot eBay is trying to get rid of, and we don't want you here either.

There were, and still are 'issues' with the site search engine. Wagglepop sellers learned not to mention this to management. The February 2008 newsletter places blame squarely where it belongs, on the sellers.
Conversely, incredibly, in excess this past month of 75% of all keyword searches by those 50,000+ unique visitors yielded "0" search results!

Mind numbing.

It's time we stopped thinking about Stores in the hundreds and talked about them here at Wagglepop in the thousands or tens of thousands - this is the opportunity everyone has been looking for and now is the time to populate this site! 200 or so Stores and 100,000+ listings simply won't support the incredible amounts of traffic we get each month - unique shoppers looking to buy!

I am unsure how many times and how long we as a company can repeat our message - becoming a Wagglepop Merchant is a real opportunity to break away from eBay that everyone has been clamoring for for so long. Let's go online selling community - no more excuses. More than enough online sellers know about Wagglepop. We have thousands of buyers looking for your items and products!

It is rather obvious to me at this point that third-party vendors are not going to support sites outside of eBay and so-called auction-related "independent reporting" news sites are not going to risk their affiliate eBay relationships (and affiliate and/or advertsing income) either.

It's going to be up to you. Revolutions are made, not observed.

Wagglepop II page views peaked in March 2008 claiming 67,810 month unique visitors.

It should be noted that Wagglepop does no paid advertising or promotion. This is considered to be the responsibility of Wagglepop store operators who are encouraged to spam boards, newspaper comment sections and blogs. WagglePop does NOT permit use of the logo by sellers in advertising. Store fees up to May 31st 2008 were $9.95 per month and sales incurred a 2% - 3% commission which on eBay would be called a Final Value Fee.

Graph courtesy of Alexa.comStatistics:
As of today Wagglepop's Alexa ranking is 178,928. There are 83 stores; 3 Showcase stores, 14 Featured stores, and 65 basic stores paying 39.95 a month, one of which has a notice of pending closure.

Mid March sellers received this (much abridged) communique:
I have been issued a direct deadline within an approximate six month timeframe to achieve new ownership participation goals. Should those goals not be achieved, we must then consider either adjusting participatory costs or realigning site services and structures to match participation.

It is a shocking reality that makes many things more apparent to us than ever before regarding the entire vision of Wagglepop as designed and presented. Had everyone stayed that signed up, we would have near 5,000 Stores and about 3.5 million listings.

Our single month high was 910 Stores, but that is a bit misleading as we had a delinquency rate at that time in excess of 65%.

The past two months plus showed a low of 110 Stores, 546 new ones, and 376 closed or suspended for non-payment bringing our current count to about 280.

Pretty high attrition rate there Andrew?

Maybe this customer comment in June will give you a clue why.
One thing for sure is that Wagglepop management need to go to school and learn what customer service is because when you ask a simple question or you ask the wrong question or you challenge what Wagglepop management is saying they have no ability to be professional and answer the question in a professional manner; instead they resort to name calling, throwing a tantrum, deleting threads or posts and anything else that is immature.

Chronologically this is the next installment or episode in the ongoing e-tail soap opera at

Final episode coming soon.

Y'all come back!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Do As I Say Not As I Do says eBay

ITs an amazing thing. We have had free shipping pushed down our throats for three solid months. eBay InkBlog had a post in June about a survey for PayPal conducted by comScore from March 25 to April 18, 2008. This survey has been previously offered as supporting VP, Seller Experience Dinesh Lathi's statement at the PeSA Summit on April 24th 2008 "The fact of the matter is that free shipping is the standard for eCommerce now. Sellers who want to meet buyer expectations need to aspire to that."
Buy this COOL refrigerator magnet for $3 plus $2.25 S&H!

Reading the press release on the survey it quickly becomes obvious that the survey was of online shoppers in the U.S. who recently abandoned the checkout flow on either a large or small merchant Web site, not on eBay.

The sub heading on the press release blares High Shipping Fees and Unexpected Costs Are Most Common Reasons for Checkout Abandonment More than one in five shoppers didn't complete purchases because their preferred payment option was not offered on the merchant's Web site.

Maybe eBay needs to go back and study their own survey, or read the press release.

I visited the newly refurbished and redesigned eBay Store this morning.

The first surprise was that this is not an eBay store. It is a stand alone website which seems very strange.

On the whole prices really aren't that bad. I carefully read the entire customer service page which contains the FAQ's, privacy policy and contact information. There is a toll free telephone number and an email address, neither of which would be permissible on eBay.

What payment methods can I use at The eBay Shop? PayPal is an accepted method of payment. We also accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover.

The only shipping methods are FedEx and UPS, this surprised me but did not delight because they are the two most expensive methods of shipping to my home state.

I chose a nice keychain for $4.95 and proceeded to register as part of the checkout. Not your standard eBay checkout, this was a shopping cart. I think the eBay store owners would enjoy having a shopping cart too. I used my South Dakota business address and to my surprise shipping on my one little keychain was $7. Changing to my Hawaii address the shipping was $29.20.

I abandoned my cart. Yes I did.

Y'all come back!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Instant Changes to Services Category In Oz

In accordance with Standard eBay Operating Procedure, on Friday 18th July 2008 at precisely 4.29 pm, on their way out the door, eBay Australia made a major and instantaneous change to the services category on

18 July 2008 | 04:29PM EST

In an effort to simplify and enhance the services category on we have made some changes you should be aware of:

* From Monday 21 July the services category will no longer allow Auction or Fixed Price (Buy It Now) formats. Any listings in these formats that are live when this change occurs will be allowed to expire, however they will not be able to be renewed.

* The Sell-Your-Item pages have been streamlined and offer new customisable features to enhance your listings and help you attract more enquiries.

* The search pages have been simplified and the refinement features enhanced allowing you to quickly find the service you need, from removalists in Adelaide to wedding photographers on the Gold Coast.

So whether you’re advertising your business or searching for a contractor/service provider, we trust you’ll find these changes make it even easier to get what you’re looking for.

For more information visit our classified listings page or take a tour of the new look (beta) services category on

The eBay team

So what is going on then?
What are eBay Australia all of a muck sweat panic about?

Inquiring minds want to know!

Y'all come back!

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Road to Ruin Has No Speed Limits

In April at the ChannelAdvisor Catalyst Conference Stephenie Tileneus General Manager of eBay North America, gave a speech in which she promised even bolder and faster changes at eBay, stating that eBay’s goal is to deliver a more retail-like experience. She indicated that ensuring buyer confidence in every eBay transaction and taking care of its customers was the company’s first priority. She also made it clear that the concept of an annual price change no longer existed at eBay and that further pricing adjustments could come at any time.

She is also quoted recently on the subject of power

Those with true power share the ability to influence, inspire and, ultimately, lead people to pursue a common goal and vision.

Almost exactly six weeks ago my Australian friend Kevin wrote
Surely a company that attracted sellers by using the dynamic pricing model that competitive auctions creates, and, importantly does not invest anything in merchandise for their site, is not trying to set themselves up so that they are offering the cheapest mass volume merchandise on the internet.

That may explain the shift from treating the seller (who actually pays eBay's fees) as being the customer, to now treating the buyer as their customer. In this environment, the customer is indeed never wrong - they are protected from criticism while being *encouraged* to criticize the seller they have bought merchandise from.

In his reading of the July 16th eBay Q2 2008 Conference call transcript Kevin focused on a question from Brian Fenske of Lehman Brothers
.. there had been discussion about rolling out category specific pricing. In the U.S., you’ve rolled out media. Is there any sort of time line for rolling out more category specific pricing in the U.S.?

And secondly, can you comment .. more about the deal you are doing with and how the economics work there .. how you manage that with other power sellers?

answered by John Donohoe (bold emphasis is mine):

on category based pricing .. we did roll out specific media pricing in the first quarter .. it’s our intention to move in that direction, .. most likely in the second half of the year .. sellers make very different margins in different categories .. so we think over time that our pricing has to reflect that .. the relationship is one that really symbolizes what we want to do going forward, which is really incent and reward sellers to provide low prices to buyers and great service

He then went on to explain that
the movement to .. reward great prices and great service to buyers is not limited to larger sellers .. we have many small sellers who are achieving very high DSRs and are providing great prices and great service to our buyers, under these conditions, as well as larger sellers .. we intend to continue to incent and reward that across sellers large and small.

There it is again "our buyers" so, while increasing their profits by 22% and continually seeking growth on those profits, eBay is "incenting" the businesses that use their service to trim their profits in order that Ebay can "sell" cheap goods.

In other words Ebay and buyers should profit from Ebay transactions, good sellers should NOT.

How is this business model sustainable?

Y'all come back!

PS The BrewsNews also had a very thoughtful and well reasoned post on the subject of lower prices from a seller viewpoint.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

An Open Letter to Lorrie Norrington

Dear Ms Norrington

As a woman I was very pleased to hear that you are moving up in the corporate ranks again. Sincere congratulations on your promotion. eBay has a history of being an equal opportunity employer and I am sure that you have worked very hard to earn your place in the sun, however, as you know, all is not well at eBay. As a woman I would hate to see another woman in the role of fall guy.

You have made a choice to live in the corporate world, with a regular salary and structured benefits. You have paid and will continue to pay a price for this choice, but it is your choice. Both large and small eBay sellers, who made eBay what it is today as sellers and buyers, are not like you in that respect; they are entrepreneurs, gamblers if you like, and probably not good employee material.

Those of us who are categorized as 'noise' by your PR department and 'flea market' by your boss John Donohoe, are unhappy with the 'New eBay'. Many left in May with lots of noise and others have just been quietly closing their doors and melting away in the succeeding months.

I know that eBay's focus this year has been on the buyer experience. I would respectfully remind you that we who sell on eBay are eBay's buyers. We are your buyers and the good people who buy our products are our customers.

eBay is loosing good sellers like water through a colander.

Do you know that as of yesterday 21% of the top 100,000 eBay sellers are inactive? Or that there was a 15% increase in the number of inactive registered sellers in that tranche alone in the last month?

This blog post from Scott Pooler explains one important reason why your seller base is suffering such enormous shrinkage. Customer Service. Is it possible that there is an element of "Do as I say, not as I do" at eBay today? Your customers at Cornerstone Supply have grounds to believe that. Sue at Tamebay, who is as pro-eBay as it is possible to be has a similar case.

Here is a blog post from one of your remaining good sellers. A pro eBay multiple account PowerSeller who because of the PS status is able to talk to a live person at eBay. The last two paragraphs indicate a poor prognosis in this case. Can you imagine the frustration of a small seller trying to deal with unwanted bidders, listing glitches and non-relevant bot driven customer service?

My judgement of you Ms Norrington is that you are a genuine person who honestly does not understand why your customers are so negative and depressed about changes that you believe are for our own good.

A large part of the blame can be directly attributed to your PR department who are arrogant, rude and dismissive. The 'noise' and 'routed off the site' comments will still be resonating long after Mr Lieberman has moved on. In Australia it would be safe to say Simon Smith is despised, moving him would solve a lot of problems in that country. Your T&S chief in the UK, Richard Ambrose has earned the reputation (in less than a year) of being a vindictive and arrogant micromanaging cruiser of the discussion boards who is openly contemptuous of sellers. This attitude is increasingly prevalent among your employees towards your customers and it is not helping.

Your customers have been deluged by too many ineptly implemented changes in too short a period of time. We are told that even more changes will be implemented 'before the holidays'. This may be enough to drive even more sellers to a platform where they can concentrate on selling during the busiest time of the year. I am directly quoting one of the top eBay sellers here, "One thing I would ask eBay, is to please stop making nonsensical changes in the 4th quarter...from September through December... Please try to stay out of 4th quarter changes this year!"

Y'all come back!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

And The Point Is?

A good advertising campaign not only motivates the customer to the final purchase but educates the buyer tn the benefits of shopping at the advertisers venue. eBay Australia seems a bit confused, and if they are not confused I certainly am! The theme of their latest advertising campaign is no longer the tacky and suggestive 'doing it with lots of people but using protection' (adolescent sniggers all round) now we have Big Game Bargain Hunters Shop on eBay. Here is the video:

The supporting 'print' ads one and two seem to be pushing the buyer to buy anything as long as it is cheap and has free shipping.

The CEO of eBay, John Donohoe has expressed a dislike of the 'flea market' atmosphere on eBay and the entire trend on the U.S. site has been away from that. All recent promotions, discounts and benefits have been aimed at large volume commodity sellers, the upper tier PowerSellers. Comparatively low volume sellers have borne the full weight of fee increases and been disadvantaged in search through the DSR component in Best Match. We were told quite bluntly by Lorrie Norrington, eBay President, to gear up and sell more if we wanted to share in the largesse. Is eBay Australia traveling in the opposite direction? If so, why?

The motivation for free shipping is very clear, we all know there is no such thing as free shipping, shipping is a service, sellers pay for shipping, that cost has to be factored into the sales price for the seller to remain in business. If shipping is included then eBay will take a cut of that too, twice, once in FVF and again in PayPal fees.

Insertion Fees in Australia are 30c for an item starting under 99c. A gallery picture will cost an additional 59c. Final Value Fees are 5.25%, PayPal is 30c plus 2.4%, therefore, rounded up, eBay/PayPal's take on an item which sells for 99c would be $1.20. As far as I can determine it costs 55c to mail a letter weighing less than 250g (approximately 8oz.) Assuming our 99c seller got the item free he/she is already hock deep in red ink, never mind overhead. I am told that due to the devaluation of the US$ the exchange rate is almost identical.

If you are selling internationally it is important to remember that there are now International Visibility Fees, extra PayPal fees and that PayPal has recently very quietly started gaming the exchange rate. More on that later.

My message from the advertising is that eBay is trying to apply pressure to sellers to reduce prices. What I can't understand is, why? eBay does not own the items for sale and the higher price a seller gets, the bigger eBay's fees... so why the big push?

Our Australian friend Kevin says:

Am I wrong to think that such marketing strategies encourage lower prices? Yes, this has been underlying theme of much that I have said in the last few months, but it seems if anything to be becoming more blatant. If buyers are actively asking for free shipping, as eBay tells us, why instruct more of them on how to find that at the expense of finding every other auction on eBay - surely those that are demanding free shipping are already searching for it specifically? Why encourage bidders to search only for items with a price under a dollar, to the extent of teaching them that if it already has a bid, it is too dear? For eBay, who has no stock cost to carry, the mark-up percentage is fine, but as I have asked before, if you try to force the sellers into accommodating this mindset, how can they sustain a viable business model.

To me this is all skewed wrongly and in the long run unsustainable to everyone (EVEN ebay) - does anyone else see it this way, or do you see these as clever marketing strategies?

Y'all come back!

Boycotting eBay, I'm Going Shopping

Back in February I closed my eBay store for the boycott. After seeing what was in the works for sellers I shut down completely May 1st 2008. I was a small seller and had started building my website after the Search In Stores fiasco in 06 (Store Inventory Format or SIF for you Brits) so it was no big loss. I am still boycotting, no buy, no sell, this is my vote, with my feet. That doesn't mean I have to stop shopping online.

Yesterday I bought this unique handcrafted stained glass and copper wind chime on, that pretty much blows my frivolity budget for the month! I have my eye on sparkly things too, but topping my wish list this week are these darling vintage pins with blue roses and dots. Imagine a miniature or doll quilt hanging from a wire hanger with these primitive painted pins.

Being a wrinklie doesn't mean I have to stop being girly. I found these beautiful 'beat the hot splashes' cotton bandanas for a bargain price, at 3rd Power Outlet available in nine other colors if pink is not your thing. I know they combine shipping so check out back to school needs for your teen while you are there.

About to have an empty nest? Then it is time to do some redecorating.

Look at this one of a kind, machine wash and dry, red and white quilt made from 100% cotton in the USA. It is a reproduction of a 1930 heirloom. Free shipping from the Blue Sheep and one of the best guarantees online. If you don't like it when you get it, send it back.

Lori at the Dakota City Quilter, who made this quilt also does custom quilting, if you are a quilter with UFOs that you would like to finish before Christmas you need to book now! Ask her about hand binding services too.

Y'all come back!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Yet Another Unannounced Policy on eBay

Just when you think that eBay management have plumbed the ultimate depths of lunacy something happens to prove you wrong. It appears there is more creative interpretation and BaySpeak yet to come from eBay on the subject of Buyer Dissatisfaction.

Back in March eBay initiated a new policy known as the Safer Payments Requirement. This is the policy which implemented the infamous 21 day hold among other changes. It states:

Your payments will not be held if you meet the following requirements:

* You have been an eBay member for 6 months or more, and
* Your total Feedback score is 100 or greater, and
* Your buyer dissatisfaction percentage is less than 5%.

One of the consequences of the Buyer Can Do No Wrong Policy is that there are no penalties to the buyer who bids on an item and either does not pay for it at all or ignores the sellers stated Terms of Service (TOS) and pays if and when convenient. This has resulted in a significant increase in Non Paying Bidder (NPB) reports and Unpaid Item (UPI) disputes being filed.

If the bidder does not pay the seller has two choices, neither is good.
1. Seller can file a UPI dispute and attempt to get their Final Value Fees credited back while risking not only negative feedback but Detailed Seller Rating (DSR) bombing from an irate NPB (eBay keeps the listing fees regardless) or,
2. as recently advised by ChannelAdvisor's Scott Wingo do not file UPI and eat the loss of FVF while hopefully avoiding retaliation from the NPB.

Meanwhile, especially if the item is unique, stock is tied up, essentially on free layaway for up to 30 days and the item may not be relisted or sold. This is no big thing for a commodities seller, he has many identical items. For the seller of unique items, not necessarily cheap, think high end estate jewelry, it can be a disaster.

Here is the kicker. If your buyer does not pay, there must be a reason. Obviously they are dissatisfied in some way either with the item or the seller. Never mind that they have not actually bought the item (there is no contract without consideration) or seen the item, or even had any contact with the seller, this is a dissatisfied buyer.

Sellers, your open UPI disputes count towards the 5% buyer dissatisfaction percentage.

Punish that bad seller. Require that they offer PayPal, restrict listing until the UPI disputes close and because they are bad sellers bury their items in unfinding. Never mind that eBay's own guidelines and policies dictate the UPI process and timeline; the seller always has the option to abandon the process and leave eBay with all the FVF. * Because eBay discussion threads are prone to glitches I saved this post.

To make it easier and more convenient for scamming and deadbeat bidders to keep track of their eBay activities, eBay's Ted Fong of Buyer Experience made an announcement last week. It is a Dispute Hub! Compare this to the famed Seller Reporting Hub.

A final irony to take with you, go to eBay's help pages and search for Seller Reporting Hub.

Y'all come back!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Not A Smooth Move eBay in Australia!

Do you know that Chinese curse that goes "May you live in interesting times..."? There are certainly 'interesting times' for eBay in Australia.

Once in a while I do love to say "I told you so", so juvenile and so infinitely satisfying! When this whole PayPal Only in Australia debacle started I said that Australia may be a country with a small population but that Australians are a tough people and do not take kindly to being pushed around.

Hoo boy!

I am so glad I am on the side of light. I can't imagine anything closer to Hell than having a bunch of Aussies with blood in their eyes after me. eBay may think that they have gotten what they wanted. In reality what they have is the first stages of an unholy nightmare.

Australian sellers made a record breaking number of submissions to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in the matter of eBay's request for a waiver from the Trade Practices Act 1974. After a lot of bluster eBay withdrew their application. First round to the sellers I believe.

Many Australian sellers believe Stage one was merely a smokescreen for Ebay to sidestep themselves into the position they wanted in the first place. Mandatory PayPal on every listing, mysterious glitches to lower alternative methods of payments visibility and penalties for any seller who expresses a preference in payment methods. Ask for the moon and settle for a handful of stars.

Not content with their round one victory Australian sellers are now carrying the fight to eBay.

No more hiding behind "we are just a venue" whenever the going gets tough. If eBay thought that Australia was a soft target for sweeping global change we are determined to prove to a watching world just how wrong eBay is.

Their goals:
1. PayPal will not be a mandated option,
2. eBay/PayPal will have to become a party to the EFT code of conduct, and,
3. both will be obliged to respect all of the consumer laws of the country.

Letters are being written to The Hon Chris Bowen MP, Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs, and individual Members of Parliament as well as the various Ministers for Consumer Affairs, Fair Trading, Attorneys-General, Justice and Workplace relations in all states and territories of Australia including at the Federal level.

Many US sellers feel that eBay has declared war on the small seller. Australian sellers appear to have declared war on eBay. I hope Simon Smith has a tin hat.

Y'all come back!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Maybe Neutral is not Negative After All

The Moon is a symbol of
deception & danger

A major alteration to the Bayspeak dictionary is on the horizon, again. Lorrie Norrington announced two new changes yesterday. First, Neutral feedback, which became Negative retroactively this spring, will become Neutral again retroactively this fall, maybe. I have heard that it will be done by late August, no October, no late October, and, 'this is so complex it will not happen until early 2009.'

It seems strange that for eBay to change this one mistake could take so long. Sellers have made change after change to millions of listings this year, many with little to no lead time. Most of the eBay mandated changes had to be done manually one listing at a time because the 'tools' eBay provides for bulk editing do not bulk edit the changes eBay demands.

While sellers have been "pleased and delighted" by the first proposal, the second part may do more harm than good.

Helping you resolve issues and satisfy buyers: By the end of October, we will roll out a new process to help you resolve issues with buyers, even after the buyer has left negative feedback. Everybody makes mistakes – buyers and sellers alike, and buyers should have a mechanism to change feedback if they make a mistake or if the seller rectifies an issue in a timely manner. Unlike with our previous Mutual Feedback Withdrawal system, our new process will enable buyers to change their feedback of the seller, not just withdraw the rating. We'll provide more details of this new process in the fall.

At first glance this looks like an extortionists dream.

Here is how it works.
Buyer leaves positive feedback, emails seller, this is nice but I paid a bit more than I think it is worth. No demands, just a simple statement. If seller does not respond appropriately the feedback will change to negative. Alternately buyer leaves negative and tells seller "I could be persuaded to change my feedback to positive."

Amazon allows buyers to remove feedback, but not alter it, for precisely this reason.

One hesitates to offer advice to such keen business brains as the decision making executives at eBay because their brains operate on a totally different wavelength from the brains of sellers. Sellers are only simple retailers who understand the complexities of creating, growing and running a retail business.

For most retailers August through late December is the golden season.

This is the time we make most of our sales. "Back to School" through Christmas, Hanukkah. Kwanzaa, you know, all that. You want us to implement changes to our listings, collectively, every listing on eBay, (millions of listings,) while simultaneously providing customer service to our buyers at a level 20% higher than the leaders in the retail industry at the busiest time of the year.

Please reconsider asking sellers to implement changes in the fourth quarter. This together with the extortionists dream above could be the final straw that breaks the sellers' backs.

Y'all come back!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

PayPal The Naked Truth Part III

PayPal Seller Protection in the USA
The Joke is on You!

PayPal seller protection is limited to reimbursement to a maximum of $5000 per year for Chargeback and Reversal under two conditions IF you comply with all ten qualification requirements. Period.

You can read Section 11 of the PayPal Legal Agreement for the fine details.

Now see if you can make sense of this

A Chargeback is covered if it was due to non-receipt of merchandise, or an unauthorized payment. A Reversal is covered if it was due to an unauthorized payment. The Seller Protection Policy does not cover Claims for Significantly Not as Described or for non-receipt of merchandise, or sales of intangible goods, services, or licenses for digital content. PayPal Claims are not covered by the Seller Protection Policy. For more information on winning a PayPal Claim see the Buyer Protection Programs section of this agreement.

Sentence three directly contradicts sentence one.

The first thing to remember about "Seller Protection" is that it only applies if you have a verified Business or Premier account. If you are an occasional seller with a personal account you have no protection.

The transaction must be between a US, UK or Canadian buyer and a US, UK or Canadian seller. Be aware if you sell to an Irish, German or Australian bidder you have no protection.

Don't sell a custom made item on Sunday if you can not ship by the following Saturday without getting a signed statement from the buyer agreeing to your production time and delivery terms.
(11.3.g.)You must ship the item to the buyer within 7 Days of receiving payment. Or, if you are selling a made-to-order or pre-ordered item on eBay, you must ship the item within the time-frame you specified in your eBay listing as long as the buyer agreed to the extended time-frame at the time of payment.
Simply stating in your listing that it will take X days to custom produce the item is not acceptable.

You must have trackable online proof of delivery from an approved shipper to the address on the Transaction Details page. For transactions involving $250.00 USD or more, you must provide a proof of receipt that was signed or otherwise acknowledged by the buyer and can be viewed online

The ONLY approved shippers for US sellers are the United States Postal Service, UPS, FedEx and Canada Post. If you hand deliver an item, or provide delivery in any manner other than required in this section, your transaction will not qualify for the Seller Protection Policy.

Countless sellers who did not cross every "T" and dot every "I" have discovered the hard way that there are buyers out there ready, willing and able to manipulate PayPal regulations to steal.

Y'all come back later!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The New New New eBay Search

eBay has not been able to find ITs way out of a brown paper bag lately.

According to Scott Wingo of ChannelAdvisor this may be about to change. In a post yesterday on his eBay Strategies blog he gives absolutely the clearest explanation of what Finding 2.0 is expected to do that I have read to date. Thoughtfully, Scott has translated the normal alphabet soup in his post so non-SEO geeks can understand. Go check it out.

The theory actually makes sense the way Scott describes it. As always, how it will work on eBays teetering and obsolescent platform is the main question.

As I was writing this I was slapped 'upside the head' (as we say here) with another thought. Maybe eBay can't find anything because what I am looking for is simply not there any more.

What do you think?

Y'all come back

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

IMA Storm In A Teacup - UPDATED

The Five of Swords Tarot
card symbolizes discord.

How does that saying go?
Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

It is plausible that differing management goals and philosophy from the Professional eBay Sellers Alliance (PeSA) plus a personality conflict caused the birth of the Internet Merchants Association (IMA).

I am not a member of the IMA although I did consider joining last year. At the time I was a very small eBay seller and could not justify the expenditure of the substantial (to me) annual dues. I am sure the dollar level of the dues was precisely calculated to ensure membership at a defined level of sales, I didn't fit.

As I recall, the issues which caused the split from PeSA were 'transparency, ethics and accountability'. There is some irony in that Steve Grossberg, the loudest and most vocal critic of Joe Cortese, founder and chairman of PeSA is now in that same hot seat himself as founder and president of IMA.

Did the Pot call the Kettle black?

You can read the history of the PeSA and IMA split on AuctionBytes in two parts, Part 1, and Part 2. Ina Steiner's professional and impartial account would lead me to believe that, at times, poor judgment was shown by PeSA's management, but there is no evidence of malfeasance. I also firmly believe that 20/20 vision is inevitable with hindsight.

The pending implosion of IMA, was mentioned on AuctionBytes last week, follow the links in Ina's post to read first hand opinions of IMA members. Events since Ina's initial blog have been covered thoroughly by Scott Pooler on his blog Trading Assistant Journal. Randy Smythe has also commented on My Blog Utopia!

The Eight of Swords Tarot
card indicates constraint.

Steve Grossberg, president of IMA once again finds himself to be the source of discord at the very heart of a 'transparency, ethics and accountability' storm in what is supposed to be a professional organization. A comment on Trading Assistant Journal which reads like a threat to all bloggers says

...any site you are aware of where there is posting private information from our forum... any information found on a web site other then an IMA owned web site where you feel the information was obtained as a result of coming from someone who is now or was a member of IMA...We will be taking any and all legal action necessary to ensure the privacy of our members is respected...

It would be stretching random probability statistics to believe that this kind of incident just happens when Steve Grossberg is involved.

The stated mission of IMA is:
to develop, promote, and to protect the economic vitality of internet merchants though a positive business enviroment and to foster a climate in which commerce, industry and technology will flourish.(sic)

I don't see much evidence of a positive business environment at the Internet Merchants Association.

Y'all come back

I discovered this online after making this post. I believe these requirements have changed somewhat but it does make my statement that I had 'considered joining' very funny with hindsight. My lifetime GMV on eBay might meet the one month qualification!

The Internet Merchants Association (IMA) is a not for profit trade association and home of some of the foremost merchants on eBay. The Association was set up to provide its members with a forum for exchange of ideas, to build upon each other’s best business practices, and to have a unique presence on eBay, where buyers of members’ items can know for certain that IMA members adhere to those best business practices.

It is generally understood that sellers applying for membership will meet all of the below minimum requirements, all applications are brought forth to the membership committee for review.

* 3000 minimum feedback rating
* 98.9% rating
* 1500+ positive in past 6 months
* $10,000 GMV per month

Monday, July 7, 2008

Louis Louis Gen-u-ine Vuitton for One Cent

Today I found approximately 2415 Louis Vuitton items listed on the US site.

The two 'authentic' auctions I showed last week were ended within hours of my post so here are a few more.

Authentic purse 160258607386 $1.04 and $8.00 S&H

Well Goll- eee, just looky here! 320271367800 This one for one cent - with slightly excessive $25.00 S&H

$39.00 will buy you a $900 purse, whew, some real bargains on eBay! Hurry! 270252475449 - with CALCULATED excessive S & H

Nichola Sharpe must still be putting her foot down and strongly fighting on behalf of consumers' choice.

Y'all come back

Thursday, July 3, 2008

PayPal The Naked Truth Part II

Protection for Buyers

eBay has been running a series of risque advertisements for PayPal in Australia, one featuring a middle aged woman saying "I've done it with 90 different people, but I used protection". The big push is to promote buyer confidence, and it is hard to find fault with that. As is usual with anything eBay does, which naturally includes all subsidiaries, the baggage which accompanies any policy is to promote the bottom line, profits.

What exactly is PayPal Buyer Protection?

eBay has five separate programs:

1. Item Not Received (INR which is also sometimes referred to as Seller Non-Performance (SNP or NPS)) or Significantly Not As Described (SNAD). eBay says

Note: Your eligibility for reimbursement through our buyer protection programs is determined by the payment method that you’ve used and the eBay country site where you have purchased the item.

If you have paid for an item, but didn’t receive it, or you paid for and received an item, but it was significantly different from the item description. Note: If you paid for your item with PayPal, you'll be taken automatically to PayPal to file a PayPal Buyer Protection claim.eBay facilitates communication between the buyer and the seller through the dispute console, an online communication tool. All information posted in this tool will be accessible anytime by you, the seller, and eBay Customer Support.
Here is the link to the eBay policy page.

What is it in reality?

An automated (bot driven) venting space which is not seen by a human unless and until it is escalated to a claim. Then "Our Trust and Safety team may take appropriate actions if they find the seller has violated our Seller Non-Performance policy."
Red INK Rating

2. PayPal Buyer Protection
eBay says
PayPal Buyer Protection Policy only applies to items purchased on eBay or to payments funded through your debit card and processed through the ATM debit network. If you have paid for the item through PayPal, up to $200 (Basic Tier)or $2000 (Top Tier Coverage Amount) at no additional cost. See eligibility.

Henrietta says the fine print is too voluminous to put here!

What is it in reality?

Basically if you meet all eight eligibility requirements specified in Section 13.8 of the PayPal User Agreement; and follow exactly the seven steps of the Claims Procedure specified in Section 13.7 of the PayPal User Agreement; PayPal will cover you up to $200 if the seller does not. Need more? Pick your seller very carefully and meet all six eligibility requirements specified in Section 13.9 of the PayPal User Agreement. Risk to PayPal, very very low.
Red INK Rating

3. PayPal Buyer Complaint Policy
PayPal says
PayPal Buyer Complaint Policy - Our best efforts program to reimburse Users for losses only to the extent we are able to recover the funds from sellers.

The PayPal Buyer Complaint Policy only applies to items purchased outside of eBay or eBay Express. If we grant a Claim under our Buyer Complaint Policy, PayPal will seek to collect from the seller by debiting the seller's PayPal Account up to the amount of your loss, and you will receive a recovery to the extent that the seller has funds available in the Account at the time we debit the seller's Account. If there is more than one Claim against the same Account, we will process the Claims in the order they are filed, and will pay out on each granted Claim up to the amount of funds in the seller's Account at the time the Claim is awarded, but not more than the amount of the Claim.

What is it in reality?

Worthless! A crooked scamming seller will have very little in the way of funds in their PayPal account. Buyer will be SOL. An honest seller will bend over backwards to settle any transactional problems with a buyer.

Risk to PayPal, zero.
Red INK Rating, I am looking for another bomb.

4. eBay Standard Purchase Protection Program eBay says
If you make a purchase from one of the eBay websites listed below,(Hong Kong, New Zealand, Poland, Singapore, Sweden) you may be eligible for the eBay Standard Purchase Protection Program (eBay SPPP) instead of the PayPal Buyer Protection Policy. The eligibility requirements for eBay SPPP are the same eligibility requirements for PayPal Buyer Complaint Policy as listed above. eBay Standard Purchase Protection Program is our program to reimburse buyers for losses up to the applicable coverage amount minus the processing cost for purchases made on the eBay SPPP websites.

What is it in reality?

Worthless and expensive! Processing fees appear to be 12% or greater. A crooked scamming seller will have very little in the way of funds in their PayPal account. Buyer will be SOL.

Risk to PayPal, zero.
Red INK Rating, I am looking for another bomb.

5. eBay Motors Buyer Services & Protection eBay says
The eBay Motors Vehicle Purchase Protection (VPP) program provides protection of up to $50,000 against certain losses associated with some types of fraud. You are automatically enrolled in the program at no charge when you complete the purchase of an eligible vehicle on the eBay Motors site

This program is administered and managed by an independent service provider that is not affiliated with eBay Inc.

Overall Impression

The whole thing is so lawyered up that most claimants will give up. This may be the intended effect. The differences between Standard Purchase Protection, Basic Purchase Protection and the Buyer Complaint Policy are so 'fine print' that I doubt any eBay Live Help Customer Service Representative can give correct advice. Lotta smoke and plenty of mirrors here. No real protection. I will not purchase anything online without using my Credit Card, that is simple to do and easy to claim on should the necessity arise. Best advice to buyers? Do your homework, study your sellers 'feedback left for others' and read the listing.

Next PayPal post will cover seller protection, it will be much shorter.

Y'all come back

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Then eBay . . . Blinked

eBay Australia has announced that it is withdrawing its application for a waiver from the Trade Practices Act 1974. eBay has apparently realized that despite all the bluster, threats and arrogant statements, in Australia the law is the law and it applies to eBay too.

It is my opinion that eBay is concerned that the current accepted payments policy

eBay requires all sellers to offer PayPal as a payment choice on along with other permitted payment methods of their choosing.
together with the Misleading and Discouraging Payments Policy might be ruled contrary to the Act and is hoping to avert this unintended consequence by withdrawal.

On calling the ACCC Thursday afternuoon (their time) I was informed that anyone can file a complaint and that the ACCC will investigate. The ACCC has the power to prosecute when it finds violations. The complaint form is here

Any complaint should reference:
1. eBay supplies services (listings) on condition that the purchaser (eBay seller) buy financial services from a third party (PayPal) and refuses to allow listings if the seller will not agree to that condition.
2.This appears to be third line forcing contrary to Section 47 of the Trade Practices Act 1974

eBay originally stated that the PayPal only in Australia Plan would be implemented in two stages. From their notification:
Specifically, under the Project it is proposed that:
(1) effective on and from 21 May 2008, eBay will amend its User Agreement and alter the functionality of the eBay Site such that all sellers (including both new and existing sellers) will be required to offer PayPal as one of their accepted payment methods;

Here is the definition of third line forcing from Section 47 of the Act:
Third line forcing is a specific form of exclusive dealing prohibited outright by the Trade Practices Act. It is not subject to the substantial lessening of competition test. It involves the supply of goods or services on condition that the purchaser buys goods or services from a particular third party, or a refusal to supply because the purchaser will not agree to that condition.

What do you think?

Y'all come back

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

AND Another One Bites The Dust UPDATE

This is exactly the type of bad seller eBay needs to route off the site. NOT.

PowerSeller webarker has been selling jewelry and collectible pocket watches on eBay since March 31st 1999, listing both auctions and in their eBay store. With a feedback score of 34,807 and a total 46,322 transactions on eBay, this seller ranked #2882 on the top eBay sellers ranking table.

PowerSeller webarker had an Average Sale Price of $51.51, monthly statistics show that this seller listed an average of 691 items a month with an incredible sell through rate of 72.65%, Gross Sales averaged almost $26,000 a month. That translates to over $310,000 a year.

PowerSeller webarker no longer has any items for sale on eBay. Not one.

But why you ask? What happened?

PowerSeller webarker got 2 negatives from non paying bidders in June. Bidders who failed to read the Terms of Business. Bidders you might want to put on your blocked bidder list if you are still trying to make a living on eBay.

There comes a point in time when it just is not worth it any more.

One of the bidders (270241901181) chose to ignore the sellers Terms of Service which stated in big red letters in the listing NO PAYPAL. In my opinion that is like walking into Macys and insisting on paying with Swiss Francs because it is a more stable currency. Macys does not take Swiss Francs in the USA and Webarker should not have to take PayPal if he states that in his listing. He accepts Credit Cards, personal checks and money orders.

Y'all come back

Pulling Levers on eBay

There is a whole lotta trading going on. eBay opened at $27.01 this morning down from $27.33 at close last night. Trading has ranged between $26.97 and $27.48 today.

Last year Ina Steiner at AuctionBytes wrote about eBay's slot machine venture. Licensing the eBay name for one-armed bandits was not out of character for former CEO Meg Whitman who was fond of pulling levers as needed to tweak eBay performance at strategic moments.

As eBay's remaining sellers, overwhelmed by the recent avalanche of changes without clear guidelines or implementation dates pull listings for revision to avoid arbitrary suspension, eBay is wildly pulling levers.

Scott Wingo blogged on eBayStrategies last month about "copious couponing" with eBay Bucks plus cash back offers from PayPal and Microsoft's Live search engine. This was followed by a double discount eBay Bucks coupon.

Today UK sellers received notification of a two week 1st July to 15th July 2008 inclusive *one penny per listing* offer from, limited to businesses listing in technology categories. Another offering for our brethren across the pond says:

Push the frontiers of your eBay business with this by-invitation-only special for selected sellers. If you’re a verified PayPal user and have never listed in the US, say howdy to the exciting marketplace with US$0.10 insertion fees on Auction and Fixed Price listings.


In my search for references I came across this delightfully nostalgic puff piece from U.S. News and World Report published Halloween 2005. The article contained these quotes:

From the article; First, she realizes she can't control eBay's community of buyers and sellers, because they don't report to her and if they're dissatisfied, they don't have to show up for "work."... Anthony Noto, at Goldman Sachs "The eBay community is a democratic state ... and from Meg "Don't assume you know more than the marketplace or community--because you don't."

As my friend Ed says "Are they feeling the squeeze of the seller exodus?" Seems to me there might be some subtle messages for John Donohoe in those quotes up above.

Y'all come back