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


Bill said...

Scathing!!! :)

Desert Grace Boutique said...

I am a Powerseller on ebaY. I was doing so well this time last year, I was all geared up to implement my new business plan in Feb 2008, when ebaY dropped the bombshell on us! I sell used Plus Size clothing and was gaining more and more customers, they loved bidding up the clothes and I was making good money...well now I am finished with ebaY I held on as long as I could, these past three months I have seen my auctions have no watchers, no bidders and no sales. My customers like to pay with MO or personal checks. I have closed up shop and left.

Anonymous said...

How are you doing at ECrater? I sell used clothes too. It would be nice if a few big Ebay used clothing sellers would move to a new site (same site) because a lot of clothing sellers have repeat business (like you mentioned). I'm still at Ebay; sales are very down. The other sellers I watch in my category are definitely down.

It would nice to get a niche market going somewhere.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but the link to the so called eBay rep saying here customers are eBay's is not there. The link only shows her explanations of what she says what happened. eBay rep's replies are not there at all.

I tend to believe the article, but the evidence presented does not support any part of the article.

I have to past on this one,


Darlene said...

I have also been told that my buyers were Ebay customers not mine. Only difference I spoke with a gentleman in customer support. This took place shortly after the announcement in late August. When I asked him what he meant by that comment he explained that buyers were registered through Ebay, that made them Ebay's customers and I was a supplier.
Sorry, TomH I can't supply a link to the conversation, since it took place over the telephone. So I am inclined to believe what Susan stated. Also, if you go back to the discussion board and read the whole thread I think you will grasp what the conversation was about.
I closed my store in September after trying it for 6 months. My reason for closing was lack of sales since June and lack of merchandise. I have to admit I was not prepared to open a store.
I respect all you sellers who have 100's and 1000's of listings. It is hard work and you are to be admired.
Darlene J
North Bend, OR

Kevin_T said...

Large corporations have a tendancy to screw down the prices of their sub-contractors and suppliers. Subject to Darlene and Susan actually talking to the same individual employee, I tend to wonder whether part of the attitude of the new company structure is that the buyer is the customer and the seller is a sub-contractor. Given that John Donahoe, in his disruptive innovation speech, almost seems to think that auctions and incremental bidding are a new concept ( ), could it be possible that he does not understand that Ebay is ONLY an agent in the transaction, and simply paid a commission like any other agent or auction firm (FVF's are only a commission on the sale price, which Ebay legitimately earns).

However, if the prevailing attitude of the company is that sellers are simply sub-contractors, it explains much of what has happened this year. By dropping the status of the seller from paying customer to sub-contractor, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that sellers need to be viable for ongoing business. Instead, Ebay is looking to sellers as being sub-contractors to sell to Ebay's customers (the buyers) for the lowest possible price. Thus they are restricting the amount that the "sub-contractor" can charge for shipping (below cost inm many cases), and "incenting" and rewarding sellers to supply their goods cheaper, and to carry out Ebay's customer service. Since Ebay does not view the seller as their customer, only a means for Ebay to supply the cheapest goods on the internet (without buying any of the stock that they are attempting to discount), Ebay does not need to offer customer service, but will punish sellers who only offer the standard of customer service that Ebay itself supplies. As I have also said ad nauseum, this can not be a sustainable business model for those sellers who fall into line in this way (other than offering good customer service).

This is, of course, just a bizarre theory. Surely no high profile business would look at it's paying customers in this way (although individual staff may), but it is no more a bizarre theory than that of "disruptive innovation". However while current attitudes prevail, people's livelihoods and dignity suffer in varying amounts.