Friday, October 31, 2008

Praise for ProPay, Good Grief!

For those of us who are no longer doing eBay, ProPay has come up with the coolest gadget I have seen in years. The days of lugging around a three pound weight credit card scanner for point of sale charges are over!

Are you working craft fairs, flea markets, sales parties or shows? Check this out. Full disclosure, I gain no financial benefit from telling you about this whatsoever.
The MicroSecure Card Reader. Is that cool or what?

It is a secure, encrypted, portable card reader that comes with a lanyard and USB cord. You simply swipe the card, the green button lights to tell you everything is copascetic, record the name, amount of charge and last 4 digits only of the card in your duplicate receipt book, hand your customer their receipt and move on to the next sale. You can store 71 transactions at a time. When you get home, plug the Card Reader into the USB port on your computer, login, your transactions will appear one at a time. Enter the amount of the transaction and an optional invoice number. No more entering card numbers and hoping you got them right.

If you have an internet connection and computer available, the reader processes and authorizes real time transactions.

How secure is secure?

From the look of it, very secure indeed. The device stores and encrypts the data and is fully compliant with card-association security standards. If it gets lost or stolen the information is still secure and can't be decrypted without access to your ProPay account and using the ProPay software.

And the price tag is?

Amazingly low. Did I just say that? Hmmm.

Regular price $149.95 with a $4.95 service fee per month. Pay that fee annually up front and it drops to $39.95, a year. There is an introductory price on the device of $99.95 and service fees are waived through 2008 (better than a swift slap upside the haid!) If you buy more than one you will not be charged more than one monthly service fee. No contract, no termination fee and you can sell the device (with some restrictions) if you no longer need it.

There are of course the normal merchant credit account fees in addition to the card reader service fees.

Back in the day I paid over $200 for my reader and $75 a month, with a one year contract. I had to lug carbon paper forms, be connected to electricity and a phone and most of the time input the transaction more than once.

I am really impressed. I don't often say that.

Y'all come back!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

In Demand on eBay

Once again Scot Wingo has a very interesting revelation on his blog. Scot is the President and CEO of ChannelAdvisor, which provides large retailers and manufacturers with the tools and services they need to successfully utilize consumer marketplaces as a sales channel. Recently ChannelAdvisor received substantial funding from eBay; one of the main marketplaces they utilize.

Although InDemand will not please smaller sellers or those sellers whom eBay considers 'not good enough' to benefit, (regardless of what information they have on their dashboards) on the surface it could be a positive move to match retail supply with demand.


eBay has been guarding their data for years and only trot carefully selected portions of it out when they think it will give them backing for the policy of the moment. Maybe someone in a position of power has finally realized that sellers can use data to offer stock that buyers are looking for. That is a radical concept which takes the first tiny baby step towards realization that eBay and sellers should not be locked into an eBay fomented adversarial position. Yes, unless eBay is going to Amazonize to the point of stocking and fulfilling orders themselves they do need sellers.


  • Virtually the same set of well connected high volume sellers of brand new goods will receive all the benefits of this program. *If they can qualify.*

  • Everyone else is invisible, sheesh, just pay your fees and shut up!

  • From what we know so far, InDemand will be gameable; if it is possible sellers will do it.

  • In order to prevent gaming the system eBay may well make it effectively unusable

  • eBay appears to be giving items their own set of eBay ID numbers, why? All this type of product already have ISBN numbers and SKUs.

The devil will be in the details

History has shown that eBay is capable of conceiving wonderful ideas. Implementing them in a usable manner is is a challenge that eBay has repeatedly failed.

*If you qualify for this program and sell the types of items that would benefit from it please satisfy my curiosity and leave a note in the comments section. After checking feedback for several excellent sellers who do not qualify, I am wondering if anybody qualifies.

Implementation of yet another elitist eBay program makes me want to turn into a socialist, or a vegetarian anarchist, or something. Maybe just staying an ex-eBay seller will be less stressful.

Y'all come back!

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“Twitter has also become a social activism tool for socialists, human rights groups, communists, vegetarians, anarchists, religious communities, atheists, political enthusiasts, hacktivists and others.”

Randy Smythe - My Blog Utopia!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

eBay Turns On

Dinesh is at it again. Yup he of the feather and VP Seller Experience. That is an interesting title. Note they don't say Good Seller Experience. He made an announcement on the 16th about legal gambling on eBay and another one on the 21st to remind sellers to do their chores before eBay turns on the Paperless Seller Experience.

It then took another week for eBay to turn it on. So what else is new? According to Scot Wingo, although he is very polite and sideways about it, it is not quite ready for prime time.

No he didn't actually say 'not ready for prime time', he didn't say "You have egg on your face, Sir" either, what he said, politely, is that there are ramifications to the policy eBay apparently hasn't thought about. I guess they didn't cover that in the MBA program. Scot said he had been talking to John McDonald (big chief eBay's Trust and Safety for the USA) who did not have an answer to the following question:

There is some confusion around international (eBay calls this cross border trade or CBT)- e.g. can I specifically mention in my USA listing that "for DE buyers I take x, y, z?" - assuming x/y/z are allowed in DE, but not in USA?

What a surprise!

Personally I could care less whether a buyer uses Google Checkout, mails me a check or Money Order or meets me at the local Starbucks with cash. Heck if they want to they can even use PayPal, but then I don't sell on eBay any more, so I can be the decider in my business. I like that, it is why I am not an employee drawing a paycheck.

Y'all come back!

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Well Whaddya Know?

I guess if you aren't an eBay insider or e-comfortable it is easy to get confused.

I can tell you that Pierre was surprised, see for yourself:

There is a short news video clip (scroll down) and I found the most amusing part of it to be Meg's face.

Personally I have always believed Keith Ferrazzi who said that to be credible "the first prerequisite is deep familiarity and facility with your subject matter." On the other hand maybe Ferrazzi Greenlights mission and values aren't a good fit in this case.

Y'all come back!

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

That Was The Week That Was

To be perfectly honest it really wasn't much of a week. All the usual boring eBay glitches, which may or may not be glitches. Anyone who is still struggling with eBay and does not have a multi-channel marketing plan in place deserves what they are receiving. Undoubtedly for some people eBay is still a good thing, or they think it is, which amounts to the same thing.

The economy is still revolting but people can only live at the peak of terror for just so long before they become numbed to it. Our job is to be ready when they want to buy themselves a little treat.

If you enjoy BritLit I have a little treat for you! Alexander McCall Smith is perhaps best known in the USA for his beguiling series The #1 Ladies Detective Agency, set in Botswana. He is currently writing a daily serial book called Corduroy Mansions for the,uk You can choose to read on line, to receive it by RSS or email, or download it in audio format read by Andrew Sachs, best known as Manuel in Fawlty Towers. Chapter 1

Here is a dose of reality from UK author, consultant and former eBay employee Dan Wilson for you to read, it does have a lot of truth in it and I hope you will share your thoughts in the comments.

A Seeking Alpha article by 'eBay investor' on PayPal and the value the author attributes to PayPal in eBay Inc share price, this is the second article and there is a link to the first. The comments in both pieces are interesting. One wonders why he or she feels a need for anonymity.

A Business Week story about Big Lots move online

The Brews News response to an article on eBayINK. Brews News always writes interesting articles and I highly recommend you add her to your daily reading.

Cliff Alliperti, eBay PowerSeller and Classic Movie expert writes about the Bonanzle experience on his blog Movie Profiles and Premiums and so does fitzcharming on her blog CharmChatter

Y'all come back!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Blatant Counterfeits Continue to Be Offered on eBay

What a surprise!

An October 22nd 2008 press release from the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition has some astounding numbers.

"According to FBI, Interpol, World Customs Organization and International Chamber of Commerce estimates, roughly 7-8 percent of world trade every year is in counterfeit goods. United States "businesses and industries lose about $200 billion a year in revenue and 750,000 jobs due to the counterfeiting of merchandise"; worldwide, counterfeiting accounts for more than half a trillion dollars in global trade each year."

In a brief filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in support of Tiffany's appeal in its lawsuit against eBay the IACC references eBay's "persistent failure to meet its obligations to prevent illegal sales of counterfeit and infringing goods on its site."

  • In 2003 Tiffany sent eBay 20,915 notices about the "deluge of counterfeit merchandise"

  • In 2004 - 45,242 notices were sent

  • In 2005 - 59,012

  • By 2006 - the number had risen to 134,779

Robert Barchiesi, President of the IACC said,
"Counterfeiting is a criminal activity carried out on global scale and, with eBay turning a blind eye, broadly on the Internet. In fact, eBay is estimated to provide the forum for 29 percent of the entire online counterfeit market ...It is not acceptable that today eBay still tolerates blatant counterfeits being sold on its website...The brief asks the Court to hold eBay responsible for the open and notorious counterfeiting that occurs, with its knowledge and to its economic benefit on its sites."

A quick titles only search of eBay this morning found close to 2000 "Tiffany Style" items. I haven't visited eBay much recently, preferring to use the Google Shopping search. I was shocked to see so many blatant listing violations. eBay has some good rules to protect buyers but enforcement seems lacking.

I wonder if the exodus of volunteers who routinely reported violations coupled with mass layoffs among support staff has sent a message to less than scrupulous sellers that the cat is away. Not only the mice are playing, sadly I saw some rat sized listing violations in the few minutes I was on eBay.

Y'all come back!

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Message From ProPay

Red Ink Diary was honored yesterday by a visit from Brandon Crotts of ProPay who left a comment on my post about the two new payment processing options for eBay sellers. Long time readers will remember Brandon from my post about ProPay vs PayPal in late August.

Thank you Brandon for posting. Here is the question I asked the (very nice) ProPay CSR

I am a silver powerseller (I am not but it was a rhetorical question) and in January due to failure to maintain volume I loose my PS status. What happens?

The answer I got was that on review I would be offered a different plan tailored to my seller status at the time.

From this I wrote in my blog "Are you comfortable with the possibility of losing your payment processor if your PS status drops and/or paying increased fees?"

I am curious to know in what way I "had it wrong", if Debbie and Brews are "right" your implication is, I had it wrong.

If I loose my PS status my rate does not change?

Image courtesy of
Image courtsey of
As an ex-eBay seller I am very familiar with the carrot and stick concept. As a low GMV seller I would be the recipient of the stick, you would recognize me by my shaggy gray coat and very large ears, which hear very well by the way.

What I hear is not something I like. It is not in any way wrong or abnormal in business. It is a fact of life that the more you consume or purchase, the better deal or discount you get. That doesn't mean I have to like it!

As I stated in my response,
ProPay have worked very hard to come up with a plan for eBay sellers which should be mutually advantageous and is infinitely superior to what they were offering earlier this year.

The ProPay eAuction plan is a special deal directly tied to seller status on eBay. If on evaluation you no longer qualify, either because of DSRs, (losing PS because of one below permitted level) or volume you will have to move to a different plan.

I stand by my post. That is something every well brought up donkey knows how to do.


My business is about 30% export, or cross border. ProPay does not, at this time, offer an international payment processing facility. I have been told that ProPay has excellent customer service. From my very minimal experience with them this is true. I am pleased and delighted that ProPay were able to come up with a viable alternative to the PayPal stranglehold on eBay sellers. I sincerely hope that ProPay will continue to work on producing an even more comprehensive service for ALL established eBay sellers..

Y'all come back!

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Out to Lunch

My brain is out to lunch today!

Y'all come back tomorrow! OK? See you then.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Shameless Promotion

Haven't had one of these in a while!

Everybody has a special someone, someone who deserves a special card, something that you don't see in the supermarket card aisle. I sell very special cards (what a surprise!) for very special people.

This is Sinterklaas riding his white Arabian looking horse laden with old fashioned toys.. That is the Dutch name for Saint Nicholas. It is a complex die cut card (with cut outs on the inside, not just around the edges) & embossing adds dimension to the card. A piece of thick cardboard is attached to the back, allowing the card to be displayed free standing. Comes with an envelope and is approximately 6-1/4" tall and 4-3/4" wide overall.

These three versions of Father Christmas, Pere Noel, Santa Claus, are reproduced from antique European scrap art of the Victorian and Edwardian eras & make a huge freestanding card, approximately 8" tall and almost 10" wide. This card comes with its own cream colored envelope. A little poem is printed on the back.

May all that's jolly,
Bright and gay
Delight your heart
This Christmas Day.

Serious brownie points on this one men! Mothers flip.

Darling reproduction Victorian Christmas ornament Church with snow covered steeple, printed both sides, die cut and embossed. Comes with its own gold cord for hanging.
Brand new; approximately 3-1/2" by 2-3/4"

Three Angels Dancing a blonde, brunette and a redhead, each has a golden star on her brow. Beautiful complex diecut with many interior cuts, printed both sides, die cut and embossed. Comes with its own gold cord for hanging. Size: 3-1/2" by 2-3/4"

I offer wonderful combined shipping, you pay one shipping fee, the heaviest item, all the rest of your additional items come free.

Many more wonderful cards, gift tags ornaments etc at Felicitations at 200 West Main and be sure to check out the other shops at 200 West Main while you are in the neighborhood.

Y'all come back!

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Monday, October 20, 2008

PayPal Competitive Offer? Yes, but . . .

This week the policy change requiring all payments on eBay to be electronic takes effect. The press release from October 7th made it clear that ProPay would be no alternative to PayPal on eBay for any sellers below Silver PowerSeller status. Quote from ProPay's website:

Currently, the ProPay eAuction account is exclusively for US-based eBay Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Titanium PowerSellers.

Smaller sellers or sellers who have higher volume with low Average Sales Price (ASP) items are used to only seeing the stick from eBay. All the carrots this year have gone to PowerSellers. Now lower level PowerSellers are losing the carrot. Once again while all are equal, some are more equal than others.

A second press release dated October 19th states ProPay's transaction rates are scaled to PS status:

  • Silver -- 2.7% and $0.30 USD per transaction

  • Gold and Platinum -- 2.4% and $0.30 USD per transaction

Titanium level sellers are encouraged to contact ProPay direct to set up custom transaction fees.

I have one major question for the seller who plans on using ProPay.

Are you comfortable with the possibility of losing your payment processor if your PS status drops and/or paying increased fees?

Quietly, with very little fanfare from PayPal labs comes an interesting new offering designed for processing micro-payments. The formula is the familiar decrease on front end with an adjustment in the percentage rate. Also familiar is the confusing language and charts to explain terms. The transaction fee drops to 5c from 30c and correspondingly the percentage rises from 2.9% to 5%.

The tipping point, or transaction size at which the micro-payment plan costs more than the regular PayPal plan is $12. Payments under $12 will save on the micro plan. See the chart here.

The drawback is that you have to choose between the micro-payment program and a regular account. This program might be of value to sellers who are

  • (a) willing to go through the hassle of opening a second PayPal account which requires a 'fresh' credit card that does not appear on your main PayPal account, and
  • (b) are able to split their business into total transaction under $12 and the over $12 transaction groups with separate payment processing.

Remember that for PayPal it is the total transaction being processed that pays fees, including shipping, not just the sale price.

Y'all come back!

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

That Was The Week That Was?

Absolutely my top choice blog post this week, Brews News

Not only is the percentage I pay to eBay and Paypal higher than my Amazon fee percentage (total 15% which includes payment processing fees) but my Average Selling Price (ASP) on eBay is significantly lower than other venues. In addition, eBay continues to provide less service for the increased fees I pay.


Radical and revolutionary common sense from As Was

Between eBay and PayPal/credit card processing fees, someone can easily be losing 12%, 15%, even 18% of their sale price. We even had a client recently tell us her eBay fees were 20-25% of her sale price. This fee is probably most or even all of your entire markup. You can't have money in your pocket when the costs of doing business leave you with little or no profit (or even a loss).

From eBay and Beyond, this is an older article but the author should be praised for his exceptional clarity of vision.

related article from eCommerce Marketing Radio Network: Bank of eBay

Retro Current
Michael Malone wrote 'This Week, eBay Took the First Step to Becoming an Auction Company No More'

Just for fun: Way to go Ferdinandgingercat!

Finally, are there really people that dumb out there? Uh Huh!

Y'all come back!

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Divide and Conquer

One of the major effects of John Donohoe's disruptive innovation on eBay has been a polarization of eBay sellers. He used the divide and conquer tactic and for a while it worked. I wrote about it in early April as the first cycle of 'decreased and adjusted' billing completed.

In the days when eBay was a community, experienced sellers, many of them very high volume volunteered in the Answer Center and helped beginning sellers become good sellers. I know this because I was once one of those beginning sellers who was trained to do it right. I have always believed "What goes around comes around" that thought can also be found in the beautiful language of the King James Testament, Galatians 6:7 "..whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap". Years later when I actually knew what I was doing most of the time I too volunteered in the Answer Center.

That ended when eBay 'fixed a system that wasn't broke' with what, with 20/20 hindsight was a precursor of the Detailed Seller Rating system. The search function was 'weighted' to return threads that had been voted on as being helpful or not helpful. How do you think a slightly crooked seller would vote after being roundly told that his listing was in violation and business practices unacceptable?

Soon responders were registering 'posting IDs' to protect their eBay business from malicious buying just to give negative feedback. Both the good guys and the bad guys gamed the votes and eventually 'finding' was corrupted beyond redemption. If you are volunteering and the job is no longer rewarding the incentive is soon gone. Many of the good guys went away and eBay's customer service suffered.

Fast forward to October, six months after PowerSellers started eligibility for discounted Final Value Fees. Many smaller sellers left in May, they were the 'disgruntled noise'. Since then a trickle of sellers, business people who analyzed eBay and found it an increasingly unsustainable venue have quietly (for the most part) formulated an exit strategy, implemented it and gone.

The Brews News wrote twice this week on the subject, Thursday about the effects of lowered fees on their business and today about eBay's seller shrinkage and what the prognosis is for Q1-09. Insightful commentary and I recommend reading it.

What lessons can we learn from this experience? Please add your comments so we may all have food for thought.

Y'all come back!

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Announcements Everywhere

Yesterday Dinesh Lathi (yes he of the feather fame) Vice President, Seller Experience on eBay, made an announcement. Nice looking young fella isn't he? I bet his Mama is so proud of him. I know, they make announcements all the time to a point where eBay sellers can be found curled up in a fetal position under their desks banging their heads on the floor. In case you have been avoiding it I am quoting the juicy bit here:

Introducing Featured First, a New Listing Upgrade
We’re also introducing a new listing upgrade called Featured First. Add Featured First to your listings for an opportunity to appear in the featured area at the top of the first page of search results. A limited number of Featured First listings are randomly selected to be rotated into the featured area, so there’s no guarantee yours will appear. But this upgrade is still a great way to significantly boost your chances of being displayed on the first page for increased visibility and increased likelihood of a sale. It’s also a great way to jump start "recent sales" for a new Fixed Price listing.

Featured First takes the place of Gallery Featured and is offered for the same price: $24.95 for up to 10 days, and $74.95 for up to 30 days. (italicization is mine!)

WOW! What a Seller Experience enhancing deal, eBay sellers should be grateful, probably surprised and delighted too. Drop $75 for a chance. Is that gambling? Looks like it to me and you get to pay for it with PayPal. Wow!

It was a big day for announcements. Bill Harding Founder of Bonanzle made one too.

Bonanzle's deal is a great deal more open and transparent. Dare I say honest? Yup honest.

Membership Upgrades of Pro Features

Bonanzle is now offering completely optional additional features for a fee. Like just about anywhere else if you pay a lump sum up front you can get a discount, (my website hosting is $50 a year or $72 if I choose to pay monthly for example).

Here is a link to the features page. Hillary over at The Whine Seller wrote a very good post on it and I am not going to repeat it. There was a very minor kerfuffle on the boards with the announcement but I honestly feel the majority see it as a business decision. If you don't need or use the analytics why pay for it if you don't have to? As Bill said
"Upgrading does not change your positioning in the search results. We do not adjust the main body of search results for Premier Members. That would make search less relevant. . . . choosing not to be a Plus or Premier member will in no way affect your ability to do business on Bonanzle. You can continue to setup your booth for free, list your items for free, and do everything else you could already do on Bonanzle for free. We’re taking nothing away, but for those who can help our business stay funded, we are adding some perks to them to show our appreciation.”

Bonanzle now has 5334 registered users, although registration is not required to purchase on the site, and 203762 items listed. There are 1216 booths or active sellers on the site.

Y'all come back!

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The Whine Seller - Bonanzle offers new Plus and Premier Paid Membership Tiers

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Is the Honeymoon Over?

Checking on SellerDome today I noticed something strange about which was (and still is, so far) eBay's only Diamond Power Seller. If you search SellerDome for Buy, the most recent monthly sales data is July 5th. It looks like the site is currently processing an update. Below the July figures are updated figures dated October 6th for their current listings.

On July 5th Buy had 1,600,397 listings
By October 6th Buy had 735,962 listings
October inventory is roughly 46% of July inventory.

On July 5th Buy had a sell through rate of 2.3% on 151,162,750 items offered at an Average Sale Price of $42.26. No October figure is available at this time.

If Buy was paying standard insertion fees for Fixed Price 30 day listings on their current listing inventory it would cost them approximately $15,000.00 a month. With an Average Sale Price of 42.26 FVF (before any PS incentives, special deals or discounts) would amount to around $145,400.00 in other words, paying full freight, eBay could expect a maximum of around $160K per month ($1.9M per annum) less any applicable discounts. Ignoring the IF and PayPal, eBay's take is approximately 6.5% of sales. This is fingers and toes accounting or pure guesstimation.

Recently Buy has come into compliance with the PayPal only requirement. Previously they stated "we are unable to accept PayPal at this time". This probably will not add to their payment processing fees per se because of the volume. It does however put them at risk for chargebacks and the endless glitches we endure in any deal that involves eBay. Extra employee hours will be required to reconcile and balance the books. Shrinkage will increase.

Another recent change to Buy's eBay business model is free shipping on eBay inventory. Previously this was only offered on their website. I think this will make it much easier for Buy to get an accurate cost comparison of the costs of doing business on eBay as opposed to their own website.

Now lets look at the intangibles. Goodwill is nonexistent among many eBay sellers who are justifiably resentful of Buy's 'teacher's pet' status. If each hostile person shares that hostility with ten others the negativity compounds at an alarming rate. This can and will affect sales. Buy harvests contact information from eBay buyers and adds them to their mailing lists. Some buyers see this as spam, nobody likes spam and each time you get one it may reinforce negativity, or, have precisely the opposite effect anticipated or desired. is a business. Just like eBay, decisions are made by looking at the bottom line. Emotion and warm fuzzies have no impact on planning for profitability.

eBay has assiduously cultivated and created a buyer mentality that is unparalleled elsewhere. Buyer expectations on eBay would be greeted with hysterical laughter in any B&M retail establishment. Visualize, customer in Sears, Macys anywhere "This is overpriced I will pay you 30% of your asking price and I expect you to deliver it free, then if I say I don't like it you will refund me 100% and I get to keep it".

Have been "surprised and delighted" by their eBay experience? They are not saying but I would bet money they have been surprised, and probably not delighted by the seller experience on eBay.

The big questions are:

  • Is the sales volume what was anticipated?

  • Are they committed to eBay for a set period of time and if not, how long will they stay?

  • Are they contemplating packing their bags and hitting the road?

Time will tell!

Y'all come back!

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My Blog Utopia! - On eBay: The Little Guy Can't Take IT Anymore

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Susan became an eBay member September 22nd 1999. A few days after her ninth eBay anniversary an eBay representative told her

"everyone who purchased from your store is eBay's customer and you are nothing but a middleman for eBay's customers".
You can see a screen shot of the original discussion board comment here. This gratuitous insult was the straw that broke the camels back. Susan closed her eBay store this week.

Susan has 1182 transactions, 100% positive feedback and Detailed Seller Ratings of 4.9, 4.9, 4.8 and 4.7. The shipping cost DSR is amazing because Susan sells heavy old vinyl records! She is the epitome of the type of buyer and seller who helped build eBay and her 'eBay roots' were deep. Her eBay history closely parallels my own, she has three weeks 'seniority' to me having been a member since September 22nd, 1999 while I joined October 11th.

Susan did not join the February boycott, nor did she strike in May as so many others did. When I asked if she would allow me to write a profile she said
"Please understand, I don't hate eBay. Because of eBay I was able to start a home based business and build a good rep with my customers. I have experienced many changes over the years with eBay, and kept my mouth shut. I just rolled with the punches and kept singing their praises until this year. I think greed and poor management is hurting them."

Susan's story in her own words; this will sound familiar to many of you.

"I started with eBay September, 1999, looking for a bowl to replace the one I broke a few days earlier. The broken bowl belonged to my mother-in-law and I found one just like it on eBay. The auction was coming to an end, only minutes left and someone outbid me, with 10 seconds left I added one last bid and won. I was hooked.

I began selling little things I didn't want anymore shortly after that and loved to watch the feeding frenzy that took place in the final minute. It was exciting to watch how people reacted to what I called "my junk".

In 2001, I had to have major back surgery. Unable to walk for months, I was told I had no choice, the surgery had to take place. After the surgery I was very limited to what I could do and I began to fight depression.

A friend knowing I once sold on eBay, brought me boxes and boxes of record albums. He told me to add them to my collection or try selling them on eBay. I have collected records since the early 60's and love to show off my collection. Since my living room floor was covered in records I started cleaning them, listening to them, taking pictures and listing them on eBay.

I poured my heart and soul into my business. After selling 10 or so records, I decided to open a store front. Countless hours went into building my store."

Clicking on any picture will take you to that item in Susan's new Bonanzle booth, The Record Hut where her inventory now lives.

Bill Gaither Trio - My Heart Can Sing, InspirationalHawaii Calls Al Kealoha PerryThe Best of Jerry Lee Lewis Vol II

Why is Susan no longer selling on eBay?

  • Best Match searching is one of my biggest complaints. I can't find my products in search, what makes me think the buyer is going to have any better chance?

  • My sales have dropped since May to the point I spend most of my earnings paying the Ebay fees and this month wondering if I will have enough in PayPal to cover those fees.

  • Instead of listing new items, it seems most of my time is spent revising to meet their newest rules.

  • The DSR "star system" is a complete kick in the teeth to the sellers,

  • Only being able to leave a positive for a buyer no matter what they put you through is horrible. Since it started, I have more non-paying bidders than I have had in 9 years.

  • Capped shipping has effected my business somewhat. I ship mulitiple records, boxed sets, or 78's not DVDs. When I addressed my concerns about this with a customer rep. I was told, to just had the extra on the starting price of the item. Of course this works for them, the FVF's will go up. And once again, the sellers are suppose to "suck it up".

  • Only accepting PayPal is another problem. Many of my buyers pay with personal check or money orders. I have never had a problem with a check or money order, but by requiring PayPal only, it is more money for Ebay.

I had a phone call from an Ebay rep. who wanted to tell me about a wonderful offer for sellers, "free shipping". When I asked who was going to pay for the shipping she replied, "I don't know". I asked if I took my packages to the post office will they accept them without postage, she said, "No". Then who is going to pay for the shipping? She said, "the script I am reading doesn't say." She will probably NOT be one of the 1000 getting laid off. She fits in their customer service perfectly...clueless!!!

Y'all come back

Related Stories:

And Another One Bites the Dust
Hitting the Highway

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Monday Morning Surprise

Yesterday when I fed my hens we has some surprise visitors. We have pigeons and mynah birds every day plus the usual hordes of sparrows but I had never seen birds like these before. My husband tells me they are Kalij Pheasants (Lophura leucomelanos)pronounced Ka-leege, which were imported from Nepal in 1962.

They are quite large, bantam size, and there were two males and a female. One of my Australorp hens likes to fly out of the pen and forage in my next door neighbors yard. Australian Black Orpington My neighbor doesn't mind so I have not clipped the hen's wings. Much to my surprise one of the male visitors chased her up the fence line and back down again until she found a place she could get through into the safety of the hen yard. I had never seen that kind of aggressive behavior in a game bird, my hen was at least twice as large as he was, but being a chicken she acted like a chicken and ran for her life. No eggs from her for a few days!

If you are thinking about keeping a few backyard hens you could do a lot worse than the Australian Black Orpington. They are prolific layers of what the pros call a 'tinted' egg which is medium brown, and delicious.

Y'all come back!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

That Was The Week That Was!

This is my favorite story this week, Catching a Scammer on eBay
Dude, you rock!

Runner Up goes to the comments section on eBay Ink News. Not the post, the comments. The King of Smoke and Spin was moved to come out from under his rock and make not one but two denials to this question. After I picked my jaw up off the floor and dusted it off I couldn't help wondering why? Hmmm. The comment I wanted to point you to was made by Davey and if he reads this, I would like to write about you!

From the horses mouth, or am I thinking about the other end? eBay's head of Public Relations goes on and on and on in this leaked inter-department epistle. Thanks to Randy Smythe for the lead on this one on Wednesday.


Goes to this piece of end product of a very stinky animal. Please do NOT click on any of the links, or advertisements. A list of ten (10) money making (for the writer) affiliate links with no disclosure masquerading as 'news'.

How to write a misleading headline "eBay shares rise as analyst upgrades, sees bottom" Inquiring minds want to know, who's bottom? American Technology Research analyst Tim Boyd upgraded eBay to "Neutral" from "Sell." saying that he believes eBay's share price, which has fallen 31 percent since July, already takes into account all sorts of bad news. Actual quotes from the analyst:

"We do not recommend buying or even holding eBay shares at this juncture . . . . These valuation levels suggest that the market views eBay as 'mostly dead'

Retro current:
From Scott Wingo's eBay Strategies blog his thoughts on eBay's latest brilliant plan, the anonymization of buyers. He includes a link to a January 2006 post about the famous non-functioning Yellow Button.

Chris Dawson on TameBay
breaks astounding news from the other side of the pond, Richard Ambrose Where's Dickie? the beloved (not) head of Trust and Safety for eBay UK apparently announced um, stated um, he leaked at the Small Business 2.0 Conference October 11 in London. Early next year eBay UK will impose maximum postage rates for media and mobile phone categories, the kicker, some of the rates will be below actual cost and for DVDs they will insist sellers offer free post, although upgrade to priority services and overseas postage can still be charged. Wow, that's pretty generous of you Dickie, what happened to "only a venue?"

Y'all come back!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Deceptive Doings Down Under

One of the reasons why I keep going back to this story is that my crystal ball tells me we will be seeing large eBay seller defaults in the USA after Christmas. Learn from history and if you must shop on eBay, always pay with your credit card.

When eBay's seventh largest Australian seller "ebusiness-supplies" (or EBS) went into receivership in July about 4,000 creditors (mostly eBay buyers) were owed about A$1.7 million. In the face of nationwide consumer outrage and considerable negative media publicity PayPal announced the funding of a special fund to compensate all victims who paid and lost using PayPal.

Three months on, it is now clear that PayPal misled the victims and misled the media - its statements and actions since then prove this beyond doubt. It appears the original announcements were little more than a publicity exercise to promote the purported buyer protection benefits of PayPal - at the expense of thousands of defrauded buyers.

Mid July eBay announced second-quarter profit jumped 22 per cent, with strong growth in its e-commerce sites and its PayPal payments service. PayPal, revenue rose 32 percent to $US602 million. CEO John Dohonoe was quoted

"This was a strong quarter and we are very pleased with the performance of the portfolio, particularly with the growth generated by PayPal"

eBay and PayPal have done incalculable harm to the credibility of their business in Australia. Public perception is not that they are simply incompetent, or micro-managed from the USA but that they are dishonest or "twisted." Mid August, less than a month after revealing PayPal revenue rose 32% in the second quarter eBay announced (bolding is mine)
"PayPal has been working through the process of identifying its customers that have recently been affected by the collapse of EBS International (in liquidation), operating on as eBusiness Supplies and running the website at," it said.

"Customers who have been directly impacted by eBusiness collapse have now all been credited by PayPal to either their PayPal account or credit card."

This statement was more than misleading, it was not true.

Australian investigative TV program ABC's 7.30 Report aired October 2nd. eBay's Daniel Feiler was interviewed and filmed. If you have not seen the video go here, Mr Feiler's wide eyed boyish charm rang false. Arrangements had been made to interview and film a spokesperson from PayPal, however PayPal withdrew from this at the last minute. Miraculously several buyers who had been previously denied refunds, received refunds just days before the program aired. The heavy hand of the PR department can clearly be seen at work on the two stories below.

Debbie Robbins of Queensland had filed a claim for $2025 on three items and completed PayPal's statutory declaration. She was fully reimbursed for two items totaling about $700 but PayPal denied her claim for a spa from EBS for $1325 saying she had missed a June deadline. Debbie posted this in the comments section of this story. (bolding is mine)

I am the Debbie Robins mentioned in your online story and I just want to let you know that PayPal did finally refund me the $1325.00 for the sauna that I purchased last week. It took awhile but it happened at last. Kelly Stevens from PayPal read your article and wanted to be sure that I set the record straight with regard to this developement. Feel free to let her know that I have done so. Thanks again Debbie Robins

Paul Foster of New South Wales also received a miraculous reimbursement of $435 after being told he was not eligible for the EBS special fund as his transaction with EBS was "outside its reporting criteria". Mr Foster made lots of 'noise.' Not only did he complain to both eBay and PayPal, he also lodged a complaint with the Banking and Financial Services Ombudsman.

As Auntie May would say "The squeaky wheel gets the grease."

Y'all come back!

Related articles and Links:

Australian IT News - PayPal to Refund More EBS Victims
-PayPal Silent on eBay Refunds Dispute

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

PayPal's Unwelcome Mat

Bill You Later or Pay You Later?

PayPal's newest advertising campaign in the UK begun in September and is aimed at retailers. IT asks if they are "alienating" customers by not offering PayPal as a payment method.

The "Unwelcome" campaign, which has been created by Base One, shows shopkeepers holding signs saying "Go Away", suggesting that not offering PayPal is the equivalent of sending customers away. It also intends to highlight PayPal as a secure and convenient method of online payment.

Last week I read this blog by Matt O'Hern I found it interesting for several reasons. Matt has been an eBay user for some years, appears to be an occasional seller but more frequent buyer and played an involuntary game of Bait the Bot.

The next item to catch my eye on the subject was a post from the UK. Cliff Saran of Computer Weekly reports casual users are getting upset and think PayPal should be subject to UK banking regulations.

"As it is, it appears to be completely remote and unaccountable to its users and judging from threads I have read elsewhere appears able to act with impunity, and gets away with it."

Well that is a surprise!

In Australia there is a strong movement lobbying for regulation of PayPal. I wrote that Andrew Pipolo the Managing Director of PayPal has been summoned to a meeting with the Reserve Bank of Australia, which will undoubtedly lead to some form of restriction on PayPal's operating methods. Australia will, in my opinion, be the first of many countries to take a long hard look at PayPal; which is appropriate given eBay's fondness for using Australia as guinea pig country.

In the UK, which is highly regulated, there is growing seller dissatisfaction with eBay and PayPal's propensity for both quoting and enforcing handling and return laws and regulations which do not exist in the format eBay policy requires from sellers. There has been enough 'noise' that some policies have been deferred until after Christmas. Will the UK be country number two to impose regulations?

Given the recent purchase of Bill Me Later there might be grounds for thinking eBay Inc. will have something close to a monopoly on online payments. Perhaps it is time for the FTC to be asked to take a look at the situation. The current trend towards acknowledgment of a need for closer oversight and regulation of financial institutions may well be favorable to those who believe PayPal is overdue for inspection. A complaint to the FTC is the first step.

Those of you who read my blog know that sitting in front of your computer and whining doesn't even make you feel better. It is simply depressing. We have to DO something! Write a complaint to the FTC today. It will take you 15 minutes at most.

Y'all come back!

Related articles and Links:

Computer Weekly Cliff Saran
- More Insanity on PayPal
- PayPal Money Laundering Nonsense
- UK Users Attack PayPal's Anti Fraud Policies

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

eBays Plans For Europe Updated

This morning we get a glimpse of eBay's plans for Europe.

By the end of Q1 2009 eBay will shut down its operations in Poland and a majority of 39 countries in which it has local versions of its Internet auction portal.

Operations in Europe will be run from two headquarters in London and Bern. The plans mean laying off about 1,000 of its 16,000 strong workforce. "Persons who will stay in the company will be moved to eBay headquarters, or will be employed in PayPal or Skype," said Karol Świtała, spokesperson of eBay Polska.

Changes in the structure of the company should bring about savings of $70-80 million by the end of the year.

eBay currently has European regional operations in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. I am not sure if Turkey would be included in Europe, geographically it would make sense.


Much coverage in the European press as people realize that all country offices will be closed with the exception of course of London and Berne, Switzerland. It appears that all marketing will be run from the USA.

From Germany Der Tagesspiegel reports:
The Ebay speaker confirmed only that management functions are above average strongly affected by job reduction.

From Austria the Wirtschafts Blatt questions eBay's business model citing the cutting of jobs to save an estimated $70M next year while simultaneously spending $1.4B in a shopping spree.

If the supremacy of eBay a few years ago was undisputed it is no longer so, successful online dealers have gradually discovered alternative sales possibilities on the Internet, also in Austria. The strong arm enforcement of Paypal as a payment method has increasingly infuriated PowerSellers, who feel strong resentment at Ebay profiteering at their expense. It has been conjectured the trend to develop their own online Webshops could accelerate. For many dealers Ebay has become too complicated”, says a former Powerseller from Austria.

Y'all come back!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Why Do You Hate eBay So Much?

A fellow seller asked me the other day "Why do you hate eBay so much?" I could have made a wisecrack answer, but the question was thought provoking and deserved consideration. I have thought about it and this is my response.

I don't hate eBay.

eBay is a corporation and is perfectly entitled to move in whatever direction it's CEO and Board of Directors approve. I am equally at liberty to do likewise.

Consumers always have choice and the most basic of those choices is not to consume. eBay had shown me, personally, in 2006 that it was an unreliable service provider. I am referring to the Stores Inventory in search implementation and subsequent abrupt reversal without warning a few months later. Like many others I had invested a substantial amount in inventory. Unlike many others I have always had a firm policy of not buying on credit. I own my stock and two years later I still own some of it! Strike one for eBay.

Shortly thereafter eBay kicked me while I was down. Store insertion fees doubled. I had begun the (for me) long and difficult process of building a website. My capital was tied up in stock so I could not pay someone to build one for me. I did not want to be at the mercy of another instant e-commerce solution, therefore a stand alone website seemed the intelligent solution. Strike two for eBay.

Auntie May (the fictional dumb small seller of fleamarket junk) & I are fond of aphorisms. You may roll your eyes at this point (although I would bet money you can't do it as well as the Good John does) but there is often a lot of truth in them. this applies to the person who, as Auntie May would say "done me wrong".

Once, shame on you, twice, shame on me.

In the corporate culture employees take their cues from the top. I wrote about this here and here in May. As John Donohoe was preparing to take the reins from Meg Whitman in December 2007 he gave an interview to the Financial Times. There are clear indicators of Donohoe's attitude towards sellers in that article,

Mr Donahoe has cast an outsider's dispassionate eye over some of the site's practices and found them wanting. During an interview at Ebay's headquarters in Silicon Valley, he talks with the clear and untroubled certainties of the consultant, and has the prescriptions to match.
John Donohoe subtly conveys an inner certainty of his absolute superiority in every way to the sellers who pay fees to utilize eBay's services. This contemptuous attitude was absorbed and magnified by lower level employees, aided by Usher Lieberman of the PR department, and now it permeates the entire company.

My colleague at the Brews News commented on this last week and again here. Please note that The Brews News are not hysterical noisy boycotting ex-sellers. They are a group of multi identity PowerSellers who are still trying to run their businesses on eBay. Key phrases in the post are
He immediately became belligerent
he was insistent
he was adament
he was rude
asked me what I wanted to discuss with the TSAM
the rep grilled me and told me to explain

Does this sound like a Customer Service Representative assisting a valued and high volume paying customer? No? More like a self important busy junior executive dealing with intolerable interruptions and inefficiencies from an incompetent subordinate?

A monolith like eBay Inc. makes the decision to follow a course of action and implement policies which are contrary to the interests of it's users. When eBay refuses to engage in a two way conversation with it's customers or listen to their concerns ("we hear you" does not mean "we are listening") the only option is to vote with your feet; I made the decision to not use eBay, either as a buyer or seller, and I sold my stock.

I repeat, I do not hate eBay. This blog is a chronicle of eBay's destruction of the brand. How eBay lost ITs groove. It says so right up top on the header.

eBay Inc opened on the Nasdaq exchange this morning at $18.50 and as I write this has dropped to $16.90. Today eBay announced two classified site acquisitions in Europe and the purchase of the US second largest online payments system Bill Me Later; which will merge with PayPal increasing eBay's near monopoly on online payments.

Y'all come back!

Related Articles and Links:

Sunday, October 5, 2008

That Was The Week That Was

Top blog post for me this week was an excellent and balanced editorial by Ina Steiner at Auctionbytes on the Professional eBay Sellers Alliance position paper released on Tuesday October 1st.

Runner-Up: In Australia the reverberations from the EBS scandal are still rocking eBay and PayPal's credibility. ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corp.) TV's 7.30 Report investigated the EBS Fraud (which left about 3,000 ebay buyers and other creditors owed about $1.68 million) and revealed the inherent flaws in PayPal's Buyer Protection Policy. eBay's Daniel Feiler was interviewed and filmed and arrangements had been made to interview and film a spokesperson from PayPal, however PayPal withdrew from this at the last minute.

Retro Current: This is an archived blog post from Adam Nash That Was The Year That Was 2007, interesting in view of the persistent rumors about eBay wanting to sell StumbleUpon and shopping for more classified sites in Europe.

Secrets and Hot Gossip:

Tech Crunch on the not so secret subject of StumbleUpon being for sale.

Brews News eBay hides sellers from buyers Glitch or planned disruption?

John Lawson's video commentary also on the Pesa position paper.

Blog about PayPal, or how to antagonize your customers just because you can.

Take a break!

Just a nice story from a UK newspaper that has nothing to do with e-commerce or business or the economy. Nice photographs!

Also ran:
An interesting article on shipping from in view of eBay's determination to increase revenue by forcing sellers into 'free shipping'.

Y'all come back!

Related Articles and Links:

Thursday, October 2, 2008

How Low Can You Go?

Shah King of Limbo
Picture courtesy of Shah King of Limbo

I am NOT a stock market analyst. I had shares in eBay which I bought mid January 2001. I bought them for all the usual wrong small investor reasons. I was in love with eBay, it was a wonderful thing, nothing but good times ahead. I sold them this March at $30. I broke even, taking into account capital gains tax, commissions, and the decline in spending power of the dollar between my purchase in 2001 and eventual sale 89 months later. eBay shares have never paid a dividend. How could this be considered a good investment?

Using the MSN Money Central chart, I checked eBay stock prices on the first trading day each month between April 1st (when John Donohoe took over) and October 1st, 2008.

Other than a one week 'honeymoon' when the stock rose a whole $1.02 from $31.42 to $32.42, it has been pretty much down hill each month all the way for six months.

Apr 1st $31.42
May 1st $31.78
Jun 2nd $29.31
Jul 1st $27.74
Aug 1st $24.58
Sep 2nd $24.07
Oct 1st $20.85

Auntie May (the fictional dumb small seller of fleamarket junk) & I calculated this is a 33.67% drop under Donohoe's stewardship. Not small potatoes but we didn't even have to take our socks off.

At what point are the institutional investors going to join the sellers in being 'disgruntled' & 'revolting'?

I am no longer an eBay shareholder.

Y'all come back!

Related articles and Links: