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EBay Deal Irritates Individual Sellers

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the so-long-and-thanks-for-all-the-fish dept.

Businesses 382

Dekortage writes "EBay's recent deal with Buy.com appears to be seriously irritating its veteran individual sellers. The deal allows Buy.com and other large fixed-price retailers to list millions of items on eBay without paying listing fees, and appears to be the direction that eBay will follow in the future. Understandably, individual sellers are outraged. 'I've paid eBay many hundreds of thousands in fees over the past several years and believed them when they talked about a level playing field. And they just plain and simple are going back on their word.' This comes after the dire prediction that eBay is losing its popularity."

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No competition (5, Insightful)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183341)

With no real competition in the online auctions and micropayment system, I don't see things getting better. Craigslist auction anyone?

Re:No competition (5, Insightful)

ciscoguy01 (635963) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183437)

Google auctions, more likely. Craigslist's business model is ridiculous.

Re:No competition (5, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183503)

Craigslist's business model is ridiculous

And just what alternative do you suggest that provides all of the listing of a normal classifieds section and the "value added" services of casual hookups and marijuana dealers? ;)

Re:No competition (0, Redundant)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 6 years ago | (#24184041)

Your forgot the hookers.

Re:No competition (1, Funny)

Cerberus7 (66071) | more than 6 years ago | (#24184137)

In fact, forget the casual hookups and marijuana dealers!

Re:No competition (5, Insightful)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183515)

Many of the hard-core ebay whiners on its website are practically BEGGING google to open up an auction site, mostly because it will have practically millions as a buyer base overnight. Ebay's other competitors can't match that yet.

Google doesn't want the liability (5, Interesting)

sjbe (173966) | more than 6 years ago | (#24184013)

Many of the hard-core ebay whiners on its website are practically BEGGING google to open up an auction site, mostly because it will have practically millions as a buyer base overnight.

Google doesn't want the liability. If anything kills eBay it's going to be getting sued by every luxury good maker on the planet. EBay claims they want to ensure authentic goods but is unwilling to take the steps needed to ensure authenticity - namely physical inspection of items and their paper trail. Such physical inspection is completely outside Google's business model so they would be in the same boat eBay is liability-wise.

All that of course assumes Google could take marketshare from eBay where Amazon and Yahoo failed. That's a BIG assumption.

Re:No competition (5, Funny)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183565)

I think Craigslist's business model is fine. Although they're registered as a for-profit business, they have no desire to become a large commercial enterprise [craigslist.org] . They're doing very well at not becoming a large commercial enterprise, I think.

Re:No competition (1)

twiddlingbits (707452) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183647)

You must work for Oracle? ;) I've not seen anyone describe the CL model as "ridiculous" so can you elaborate?

Re:No competition (3, Funny)

Wister285 (185087) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183649)

They have a business model? What is it?

Re:No competition (5, Insightful)

Gewalt (1200451) | more than 6 years ago | (#24184135)

Their model is to *not* sellout. They are doing quite well at that.

eBay is a shareholder in Craigslist (5, Informative)

sjbe (173966) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183497)

I don't see things getting better. Craigslist auction anyone?

You do know that eBay owns a stake in Craigslist of over 20% [portfolio.com] of outstanding shares? Craigslist will not get you away from eBay.

Re:eBay is a shareholder in Craigslist (5, Insightful)

longacre (1090157) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183601)

eBay's stake in Craigslist does not allow for any management input on eBay's part, and based on Craig's previous behavior I don't think he'd have any qualms about competing with them.

Re:No competition (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183645)

Don't think that to be possible... mostly because I doubt that it would fit all to well with CL's local feeling.

I can however see someone like Google (as sibling mentioned) or one of the until-now-unknown competition sites growing a pair and doing something that captures enough attention to draw away eBay's customer base.

/P

Re:No competition (0, Redundant)

yorkrj (658277) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183663)

I think the time is right for some enterprising developers to come up with the next killer e-commerce app to eclipse eBay.

Re:No competition (2, Insightful)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183857)

Well, there is gunbroker.com which lets you buy/sell things fleabay won't (anything gun related, etc). And they have several domains pointing to them as well (forthehunt.com, a few others). No listing fees for basic listings, they do picture hosting for you, and if you don't "upgrade" your listings, you only pay when the item sells.

Corrections (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 6 years ago | (#24184143)

Ebay isn't especially suited as a micropayment system. At best, they are about average as far as transaction processing goes.

I'd be *very* interested in knowing how many of their transactions are 100% in-network value transfers. For the payment technology ignorant, that means a transaction where the source funds (buyer's payment) is stored in the PayPal system.

My guess is it's *very* low compared to their Visa/MC processing.

everything is about money (1)

A little Frenchie (715758) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183345)

and it will never ever ever change

First post (5, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183347)

Even though, this being about eBay, having the LAST post is the only one that counts.

Bottom Line (4, Insightful)

Hyppy (74366) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183351)

Unless it is in a binding contract, with severe penalties, you should never expect a company to "keep its word." This is especially true when keeping said word affects the almighty Bottom Line. Cash is king, peon.

Re:Bottom Line (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183597)

You hear that kind of excuse a lot, just like when a politician does something particularly egregious (e.g. Obama's FISA vote) you hear people explaining, "Oh, that's just a compromise to get more votes. He can't do anything if he isn't elected."

The problem with the stock explanation is that it's very often just wrong. Ebay's current emphasis on big sellers at the expense of individuals is losing them money, just like Obama's FISA sellout is losing him votes. Piss off your core market to chase some other potential market, and odds are you won't do well with either. By all means, businesses should try to expand their customer base and politicians should try to appeal to more voters. But when you abandon the people who got you where you are in the first place, you're almost guaranteed to suffer overall.

Businesses that do well are those which build a steady, loyal customer base that keeps coming back for more. This is particularly true in the online world, where changing to a competitor is very, very easy; the few success stories to come out of the dot-com mania of a decade ago show how to do it right. Amazon, for all its evil, still does a damned good job of selling books. Google, no matter what else it does, remains far and away the best general-purpose search engine. Until a couple of years ago, I'd have counted Ebay among those success stories, but now it looks as though they were just as flaky as any HowFastCanWeBurnVentureCapital.com site; they just took longer to show it.

Suits and their sycophants love to talk tough about how they serve the bottom line ... but in the real world, the suits are wrong more often than not, and here's a sterling example.

Re:Bottom Line (-1, Troll)

Hyppy (74366) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183651)

Making excuses? Please. Your ability to twist anything into a political rant is astounding.

Re:Bottom Line (4, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183815)

How was what I wrote a "political rant"? I'm talking about the effectiveness of business and political strategies, not about the merits of political positions. The Obama/FISA analogy naturally occurred to me because, as a Democrat, I pay attention to what my candidate is doing; I'm sure a Republican could have come up with a similar analogy involving McCain.

Apparently you missed the actual point of my post, so I'll say it again: businessmen, like politicians, very frequently do really dumb things, and they always have sycophants who will explain that they're doing those dumb things in pursuit of getting more of whatever they're interested in (money in business, votes in politics) while ignoring the fact that they actually end up with less of whatever it is they're after. So yes, it is just making excuses instead of actually looking at (to borrow a phrase from another hot topic) the facts on the ground.

Re:Bottom Line (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183671)

While in general that's true, there is a concept known as promissory estoppel. IANAL, so I can't say it can be applied here or give legal advice to those who feel wronged by this turn of events.

The basic concept is that if someone promises you something and you act in good faith based on that promise, then they are bound to keep the promise. I seriously doubt that people can[t hold eBay responsible for past auctions or auctions they haven't listed yet. Auctions listed before this announcement that have yet to close might be an issue.

Re:Bottom Line (1)

wile_e_wonka (934864) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183731)

Unless it is in a binding contract, with severe penalties, you should never expect a company to "keep its word." This is especially true when keeping said word affects the almighty Bottom Line.

But there are no listing fees. As you note, "Cash is king"--so how is Ebay making money off this deal? I don't know the aswer to that question. But even though there aren't listing fees, Ebay is certainly charging buy.com money. It might be, for example, a monthly sum--this would be the equivalent to purchasing listing fees in bulk. Divide whatever Ebay does charge buy.com and divide that by the number of listings it posts, and that is it's listing fee--it isn't really $0.00. So the playing field isn't quite as skewed as it initially appears (though it's still probably skewed, unless Ebay really screwed buy.com on whatever it does charge, or if buy.com really screwed ebay and gave them little or nothing).

Re:Bottom Line (1)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183771)

On the other hand, you shouldn't just let it go if they break their word just because there's no binding contract with severe penalties. A company should keep their word, and if they break it, pointing that out to people and trying to convince them to take their business elsewhere is fitting punishment.

Re:Bottom Line (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24184033)

Careful how your phrase that. "Severe Penalties" make a contract unenforceable. In fact, "Penalties" can make it questionable. Predetermined contract damages must be fair and equitable, as determined from the time a contract is entered into. If I contract for $10k of your services, plus $10k liquidated damages if you fail to hold up your end, the contract probably won't be enforceable.

Even the notorious US mobile phone contracts have run into problems enforcing their more egregious terms.

Re:Bottom Line (2)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#24184121)

I disagree, at least with the spirit of the post. Most market-leading companies will do very well keeping their promises for a while, then they'll build a user base, refine on their core business model, and become very good at what they do. At some point, they'll fuck it up (like ebay's doing now, like google's nearly done with privacy many time) to the point where a large portion of the user base leaves. EBay's done very well for its sellers for a long time now, and it's only in the past year or two that it's started to get into serious trouble. If you count this deal as the time when they fuck it up, they've been serving people quite well for over a decade. That's pretty good in my book.

The harder they fall... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24183365)

Ebay has name recognition. That's all. Everything else they do can be done by another business following a similar model. It's not like they invented auctions, after all.

Re:The harder they fall... (0)

initdeep (1073290) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183463)

why do people insist on calling ebay an auction site?

it's not

auctions dont end at a certain time.
the end when the bids are no longer increasing.

plain and simple

an auction site would have a time limit for the bids to be increased.
not some arbitrary deadline where the last person to enter a bid before the cutoff "wins".

Re:The harder they fall... (1)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183533)

LOLWHUT? Stop sniping?

Re:The harder they fall... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24183575)

why do people insist on calling ebay an auction site?

it's not

auctions dont end at a certain time.
the end when the bids are no longer increasing.

plain and simple


Wrong. [wikipedia.org]

Re:The harder they fall... (3, Informative)

Hyppy (74366) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183619)

Methinks you need to review the definition [thefreedictionary.com] of "auction," [wikipedia.org] troll.

uctions (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183717)

why do people insist on calling ebay an auction site?

it's not

Especially when it does a significant chunk of its business through fixed-price listings such as these [ebay.com] .

auctions dont end at a certain time.
the end when the bids are no longer increasing.

One big reason that eBay makes money is that auction-style listings of a fixed duration are less regulated [ebaymainstreet.com] than traditional auctions [youtube.com] .

Re:The harder they fall... (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183747)

Actually, there are many kinds of auctions. Accepting the highest bid by a certain time is one type. Lowering the price a particular amount at regular intervals until the first person present bids is another. An auction with no set ending time is a third.

Webster's definition says nothing about a time limit.

Re:The harder they fall... (2, Insightful)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183751)

Well there are silent auctions that work that way. But I agree the ebay system is rather ridiculous.

Though you do need a time limit for advertising reasons. I think an interesting solution to all this would be bidding doesn't end until 6 hours after the last bid or the initial time limit was reached whichever comes last. And the seller could always opt to end it early if they really need it to stop on the day they wanted it to stop. Heck most sellers would even agree to a per day fee if the auction went long.

Re:The harder they fall... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24183755)

Well, it is an auction, and a fixed time length.

One thing eBay should do to fix one of the major problems of their auctions is that every time a bid is entered, and there is less than 5 minutes left on the auction, the auction time should be extended to 5 minutes.

That way, there is none of this nonsense of waiting until 10 seconds before the end of the auction and then bidding furiously. If you knew that each time you bid you would extend it 5 minutes to give other's a chance, items would be selling for realistic values and not trumped up values in the last few seconds of an auction.

Re:The harder they fall... (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183787)

auctions dont end at a certain time. the end when the bids are no longer increasing.

You describe one type of auction. There are others that are used, such as the Dutch Auction [wikipedia.org] . Just because eBay does not meet your idea of one type of auction does not make it not an auction site.

One could also argue that auctions don't have a time before which they will not end -- in other words, offline auctions don't have a minimum time to run.

Re:The harder they fall... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24183957)

Maybe because they call it an auction...

http://pages.ebay.com/help/buy/buyer-auction.html

Re:The harder they fall... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24184085)

why do people insist on calling ebay an auction site?

it's not

auctions dont end at a certain time.

The same reason why people call /. a news site, I imagine--because it's close enough.

Also, why is craigslist's personals a personals site? Personals are printed on paper and you dial a 900 number and punch in a 6-digit code.

Bah.

Natural monopolies (4, Insightful)

sjbe (173966) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183603)

Ebay has name recognition. That's all...

Sadly that is not all eBay has. EBay has network effects working for it which makes it VERY hard to displace them no matter how much money and talent is thrown at the problem. Buyers go where the sellers are and vice versa. Amazon and Yahoo both tried to take market share from eBay and both failed miserably. There are lots of other auction and e-commerce sites out there but none of them are likely to displace eBay anytime soon.

That's not to say eBay won't cut their own throat (they might) but that's pretty much what it will take to make a real dent in eBay's market share. Ebay's business tends towards a natural monopoly [wikipedia.org] as do many marketplaces.

Re:Natural monopolies (2, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#24184161)

REally? I am buying moreand more from Amazon.com than Ebay lately. I've been looking at items and what they sell for on ebay and then snap them up for 5-15% less on amazon. and this is for electronics, cameras, etc.. not just books.

I've noticed recently that ebay has become rather expensive with lots of dumb bidders bidding things up past a sane price (sane being what I can get it for at an online retailer.)

eBay may be losing its popularity... (2, Insightful)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183367)

but what alternative is there when it comes to actual auctions? I can see the buy-it-now categories being replaced by other online retailers, but there simply is no better website (by better, I mean with as much variety and as many different purchase options) out there at the moment for people to sell each other things on an individual level. So maybe due to things like this buy.com deal, the era of the eBay power seller is over, but a lot of people, including myself, sell at least a handful of things on eBay every year and have since the site debuted. Other than maybe recycler.com and craigslist, both of which are more localized and filled with scammers, I don't see another good option.

Re:eBay may be losing its popularity... (1)

Wister285 (185087) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183711)

I'd be interested to find out if eBay is losing popularity or if online auctioning is losing popularity. Remember that that has been a crackdown by some state governments to collect taxes. This could discourage people from continuing their activities.

Losing Popularity to Whom? (2, Insightful)

cptnapalm (120276) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183371)

Where are these former eBayers going?

Or is it a case of a fad (ooh, I got it from eBay!) settling down and it becomes just one way to get something (I could have gotten it cheaper on eBay, but if I need to return it, it would be a big hassle)?

Re:Losing Popularity to Whom? (1)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183449)

Not far. There are some sites that are decent, but the buyers are mostly staying with ebay. There are a few good non-auction sites like iOffer or Blujay that are decent, but ebay doesn't have a serious competitor with a similar model.

Re:Losing Popularity to Whom? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183519)

Where are these former eBayers going? Or is it a case of a fad (ooh, I got it from eBay!) settling down and it becomes just one way to get something

It's possible that both buyers and sellers of specialty items are becoming more Google-savvy such that buyers are going strait to specialty sites, bypassing the auction as a middle-men. Plus, specialty sites often have specialty-related content, such as blogs, show photos, etc.

This is how it started out, then swung to auctions, but may be swinging back as "Web 2.0" makes website building easier via semi-standard "web components" such as discussion groups, blogs, wiki-based editing, store-fronts, and so forth.
         

Re:Losing Popularity to Whom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24183621)

Every time someone says "Web 2.0" a kitten dies.

Re:Losing Popularity to Whom? (1)

cptnapalm (120276) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183865)

Web 2.0 Web 2.0 Web 2.0 Web 2.0 Web 2.0 Web 2.0 Web 2.0 Web 2.0

I hate kittens.

Re:Losing Popularity to Whom? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#24184157)

Every time someone says "Web 2.0" a kitten dies.

The term has kind of been coopted to mean what one wants it to mean. I gave examples to hopefully clarify.
     

Re:Losing Popularity to Whom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24184095)

EBay is losing popularity to regular online shops. Most of the sellers on eBay are professionals who need eBay only as a form of aggregation service. Buyers flock to eBay because "everybody" sells there and can be found with one simple search. That's why eBay courts big shops with free listing. After all, the tide of price comparison engines is rising. Individual sellers have no alternative, so they still have to pay for every item they list.

From the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24183373)

According to a recent MSN-Zogby poll, only 31% of Americans plan to buy or sell anything on the auction site in the next year. That's down from 40% who said they bought or sold something on eBay in the last year.

WTF?! Those numbers are huge! I wouldn't have guessed that 40% of the population has ever bought or sold anything online.

I sure wouldn't cry over mind/market share like that if I were eBay.

Re:From the article (5, Informative)

Hyppy (74366) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183443)

According to a recent MSN-Zogby poll,

WTF?! Those numbers are huge!

MSN-Zogby, IIRC, conducts online polls. Online polls tend to violate a wide array of rules regarding statistical bias. [wikipedia.org]

Re:From the article (1)

pla (258480) | more than 6 years ago | (#24184099)

MSN-Zogby, IIRC, conducts online polls. Online polls tend to violate a wide array of rules regarding statistical bias.

If you expect the results to generalize to the offline crowd, correct.

If, however, you want to know primarily what people-who-answer-online-polls think, then they work simply wonderfully - You wouldn't want a truly "random" sample in that case.

Selection bias only matters when it gives you an unrepresentative subsection of your target population.

great (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24183375)

fish on roxc is the bone of heat sun query.

2313231231235677 smile

Is this the technicians of formal effect to? ;'';

Re:great (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24183825)

I am the topic and I SHALL determine what is off, sir. Good day!

puss fritz (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24183377)

puss fritz euck fbay

first post? (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183379)

I tend to agree that having a sort of long history with ebay, and not a pleasent one at that, why don't they just stop all fanfare and just post a .05 cents per post which when they try to argue that they have to pay for their staff, sorry bub, you offer no real support and you already make more on paypal transactions, so why worry about the auctions as well, it would make this level to everyone and also be competitive to the ones lik craigslist or kijiji etc.

I haven't auctioned on ebay for about 2 years now,
last impression being a bad taste in my mouth (could almost think it was the CEO!)

I just can't stand someone like M$ or Ebay that try to stiff you all the time.

Re:first post? (1)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183723)

I don't know who ebay is paying. Getting assistance or support with anything is like finding the holy grail.

Ebay on the way out (4, Interesting)

WillDraven (760005) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183383)

Things like this, creeping fees, attempting to wrangle everybody into using paypal, and their generally horrid customer service is driving ebays userbase away in droves. Even my dad has commented on how the volume of craigslist ads has been increasing lately. Naturally it will take quite a while for such a juggernaut to die out, but my personal suspicion is that the age of ebay has ended.

Duh (4, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183389)

I know several people who used to do a lot of business on Ebay who are rapidly becoming disgusted with it because of its clear preference for giant sellers over individuals; I'm not at all surprised to hear that this is a general trend.

Why is it that so many executives feel the need to destroy a successful business model? Ebay started as an online auction house where individuals could find a worldwide audience for cool, quirky stuff, and it was wildly successful as such. If its executives want to start a site for selling commercial products with free-floating prices -- which is essentially what they're turning Ebay into -- then fine, but why are they abandoning the business that made them successful in the first place? Ebay was one of the few real success stories to come out of the dot-com boom. It's really sad to see them throwing that away now.

The Need for Growth (5, Insightful)

sjbe (173966) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183929)

I know several people who used to do a lot of business on Ebay who are rapidly becoming disgusted with it because of its clear preference for giant sellers over individuals; I'm not at all surprised to hear that this is a general trend.

The only sellers that should be disgusted are ones with their head in the sand. EBay's costs mostly fixed so they grow through volume. You get volume through larger customers who can provide that volume. Economic inevitability.

EVERY non-regulated company I'm aware of besides eBay provides volume discounts in some fashion for larger customers. I was an individual seller as well as a high volume power seller. One of the (many) reasons I no longer sell through eBay is precisely BECAUSE they provided no incentive for me to bring additional business to them. They kept raising rates instead of providing incentives to bring additional volume. Basically they priced me (and lots of others) out of their marketplace. It was too expensive as an individual or a business to continue to sell on eBay.

but why are they abandoning the business that made them successful in the first place?

The short answer is that they decided a long time ago to become a publicly traded company and the growth demands of being public is the deal with the devil you make to get equity funding. That's why companies don't really want to go public unless the owners are either cashing out (private equity) or they have no other choice. Had eBay remained a privately held company they could have chosen to stay their present size.

Businesses out grow their original business model all the time. Some businesses simply do not scale beyond a certain point. Amazon started as an online bookseller that had no warehouses of their own. That only scaled to a point. IBM got out of the personal computer business not long ago. That particular niche of the industry just didn't hold enough growth/profit potential for them anymore and was more of a distraction than an asset. When you are a publicly traded company shareholders demand growth and eBay has hit a wall with being the world's premier online flea market.

Re:The Need for Growth (2, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 6 years ago | (#24184069)

The IBM and Amazon examples don't really work here: Amazon still sells books (whether they have their own warehouses or not is basically invisible to the customer) and the PC, no matter how huge its impact may have been, was never more than a small fraction of IBM's revenue stream. If Amazon stopped selling books entirely, or IBM abandoned their mainframe business, then their shareholders would be up in arms, and rightly so.

Missing the point (3, Informative)

sjbe (173966) | more than 6 years ago | (#24184163)

The IBM and Amazon examples don't really work here:

You are missing the point. The point is that companies often exit businesses that they were successful in. Even if they keep them they become a much smaller piece of the pie. I can come up with other examples if you like. How about Nintendo [wikipedia.org] which started as a card company? Or 3M [wikipedia.org] which originally sold corundum for grinding wheels? The point is that lots of businesses exit particular marketplaces all the time.

Re:Duh (1)

CowTipperGore (1081903) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183969)

Why is it that so many executives feel the need to destroy a successful business model? Ebay started as an online auction house where individuals could find a worldwide audience for cool, quirky stuff, and it was wildly successful as such. If its executives want to start a site for selling commercial products with free-floating prices -- which is essentially what they're turning Ebay into -- then fine, but why are they abandoning the business that made them successful in the first place? Ebay was one of the few real success stories to come out of the dot-com boom. It's really sad to see them throwing that away now.

Some of it is simply natural business processes - as eBay was more successful it attracted larger sellers. By tying the all-important reputation to the number of transactions completed, these large sellers quickly gained an advantage. As a business, eBay no doubt gets more money (and a more stable income) from large sellers than a collection of grandmas selling their Tupperware.

Re:Duh (1)

Jimmy King (828214) | more than 6 years ago | (#24184089)

Yep, I've been avoiding them for quite awhile. Even when I try to take my money/business to eBay, I can't find what I want. If I'm on eBay then I'm not looking for a new in the box, full price (sometimes even higher than the normal full price) product which I also have to pay shipping on and wait a week for it to show up. If I wanted the new in box one at full price I'd just drive to wal-mart, best buy,e tc. and get the product without having to pay shipping or wait for it to show up.

I've been saying the same thing as you for awhile now. If they want a place for actual business to load ton of new crap at full price on there, that's fine, but make a new site. I want a place where I can go look for a used product being sold by joe average who just doesn't use theirs anymore or bought an upgraded one or whatever and pay him 10%-50% of what it would cost me to buy a new one.

Of course there's still craigslist for that, but honestly, I prefer the auctions and functionality of searching and arranging the sales via eBay moreso than craigslist, which is effectively just online want ads like in the newspaper.

I based my business model... (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183413)

... entirely on a single corporation with major incentive to see me succeed, and now it turns out that they aren't acting in my interests!

Some people really make me wonder about humanity.

Ebay not going away, but changing... (4, Insightful)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183417)

I'm getting a little more and more irritated about this stuff with ebay, and I would honestly jump ship if there was another decent auction-style competitor that is close to the ebay of the early 2000s.

Ebay is doing some SERIOUS wrong by the small seller (mostly through their fee issues, I don't think the feedback issues are as bad as some sellers try and make them out to be), and despite their platitudes, is turning into Amazon-lite. I have no huge problem with this, but they really need to make a decision on who they want to cater to and either split into two divisions or send the small-time buyers and sellers somewhere else.

I completely understand that businesses need to make money, and the buydotcom route may be one way to do that. However, ebay is WIDELY opening a door for another company to undercut them in the small seller market, and those of us who collect, buy, and sell anything used on a small scale and aren't interested in just shopping online for new stuff that we can get down the street at Wal-mart or wherever.

Re:Ebay not going away, but changing... (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183613)

So here is your big business opportunity to start that small seller auction site you've always wanted to do. This way you can get rich off the smaller sellers for a few year before you, too, wander on over to the fixed price markets to move beyond the millionaire level.

Why I quit EBay (4, Interesting)

Skapare (16644) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183457)

I no longer use EBay because of the increased risk of dealing with people that don't keep their end of the deal (e.g. sellers that don't deliver the product or don't deliver a product that was described in the auction), and the fact that EBay was taking no steps to effectively deal with the issue.

Since then EBay has begun pushing PayPal harder, and that might also have been a reason for me to not use EBay.

The dilution of the auction space with fixed-price retailers is a big annoyance. Maybe it might also be a reason to quit.

If EBay wants to be in the business of aggregating retailers, then maybe it should register a new domain name and set it up, and provide links between it and the EBay site.

Re:Why I quit EBay (3, Interesting)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183587)

I agree with this. Formerly there were lots of great deals to be had on Ebay.

Now, the discounted items you used to be able to get from private sellers have given way to hyper-volume sellers with more or less fixed prices.

Ebay is not really an auction site anymore. It's really nothing more than a circular where any questionable web merchant can post advertisements.

Their gun policy made me bail on them (5, Insightful)

m0nkyman (7101) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183477)

Their anti gun policy [ebay.com] made me stop using ebay years ago....

Re:Their gun policy made me bail on them (1)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183625)

Pretty lame that you can't buy magazines on there. You can buy them anywhere else.

Re:Their gun policy made me bail on them (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183685)

Their anti gun policy made me stop using ebay years ago....

Looks like they lost D. Cheney's business also.
     

Re:Their gun policy made me bail on them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24183923)

gunbroker.com is better than ebay ever was anyway.

Not just a prediction... (4, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183479)

Anecdotal, I know, but even in the past few months, some of the not-so-mainstream stuff on auction (e.g. computer parts) have seemed to dry up.

My missus used to be able to buy (and occasionally sell) a lot of antique and classic toys on eBay as a hobby. There were literally dozens of pages of auctions for the stuff at any one time for her to pick and choose from. Nowadays, there's only a handful of pages in motion at best, and little is selling (not just on her part, but in most of the auctions concerning antique and classic toys).

Poking around, I see similar patterns for other, similar things.

I don't think it's just recent policies, either (though they certainly don't help) - eBay is (just IMHO) getting one hell of a reputation as a giant fence for stolen goods, a hotbed of scams, and a place where you can't quite get the deals that you used to get.

Recently, they've tried to boost things by having $1 listing fees for certain items, and I'm sure they've been doing some offline marketing (but again, not like they used to).

I dunno... these are just personal observations, but I strongly suspect that they are indicative of a larger shift away from eBay... and the Buy.com deal kinda shows me that the company is getting a bit nervous about its long-term prospects.

/P

Re:Not just a prediction... (3, Insightful)

Trojan35 (910785) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183927)

I agree, although have a slightly different opinion of why it is.

So many reasons I believe ebay is not going to continue to grow at its current pace:

1) Everyone already cleaned out their garage junk on ebay.
2) Diminishing quality control on products makes easy exchanges an important retailer feature (frys)
3) Used prices on ebay are just way too close to new prices. (what happened to half.com being half price?)

And, most importantly for me:

4) It's too freaking expensive. By the time you pay 10% to ebay, 10% to paypal(ebay), 20% to USPS, 10% to gas, selling that $40 item for $20 in "profit" just wasn't worth the hour of your time. There's businesses out there where you can drop off your product and they'll take care of all the hassle for you, but then is giving up your $40 item for only $3 or $4 even worth it?

It's not just the $40 items either. I look at ebay and the cheapest (barely used) macs I can find are only 5-10% off getting a brand new one at Fry's. I haven't used ebay in a long time because their listings, fees, and policies suck. Maybe that's why they are going with Buy.com stuff; they know it.

...losing its popularity (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183483)

That would seem to be the best way to "regulate" them. In a genuine free market, where newcomers could spring up overnight, the effect would be immediate. In the present system of protected monopolies, as demonstrated in the entertainment industry, it's another story.

Anyone take a look at financials?? (4, Informative)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183485)

From vaporware to $7.6B in revenue in 2007(a $2B increase from 2006), basically done within a decade. I think the word I'm searching for is 'quitcherbitchin'. On it's way out? Not likely.

Re:Anyone take a look at financials?? (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183595)

Question is, where is that money coming from? Is it growth in PayPal, income from the Buy.com deal, income from external investments, stock issues... what?

It also doesn't augur for eBay's future growth.

Not saying that it's going to die tomorrow, but eBay (as in, the auction site) isn't quite the hot buzz-worthy item it used to be...

/P

Re:Anyone take a look at financials?? (2, Interesting)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183961)

Ebay has always had a solid financial base in taking a cut of every sale and not spending it on customer support or anything else. It's one of the few dot coms that was a smart investment way back in 2000, because they had a solid revenue stream that wasn't dependent on online advertising or other such voodoo sources.

Re:Anyone take a look at financials?? (1)

eeek77 (1041634) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183985)

No kidding. $7 billion is a lot of money. How could any company THAT big crash that fast. There's no way. They're just too big. They'll be around for a while. No company that big can fall that fast. History has shown us that... (bzzzrrrppp)

In all seriousness, Ebay probably does need to be mindful of their business model. But remember, the reason they struck this deal was for the money. Obviously, it was in their financial interest to do so. What remains to be seen is if this really does become a tradeoff (if they have to give up all individual sellers to gain big company business), and which side is more lucrative.

Ebay simply doesn't care (2)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183567)

It has been a den of thieves for all but the most esoteric items for a while(try searching for xbox or iPhone, I bet you will come up with more scams than normal auctions) and ebay has shown that as long it collects fees it doesn't really give a rats ass about anything else. This is just further icing on the cake. Ebay thinks that people will not go anywhere else, so they don't have to police their network, they don't have to treat their sellers fairly and they can force paypal down our throats and we will just sit there and take it. Its been a looooooooooong time since I bought anything off ebay and I would have to be pretty desperate to find something before I would even consider using it again.

EBays Focus is Terrible (1)

llZENll (545605) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183607)

I rarely find anything on EBay cheaper than at a normal etailer, addin the worry of dealing with a shady seller and there is little motivation in buying anything _NEW_ on EBay. EBay needs to focus on what its good for, USED, CLOSEOUT, or RARE items. I have saved thousands of dollars getting great deals on close-out or nearly new items, of course they are hard to find due to all the new item listings.

If you are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees then you have no business being on EBay. You should open your own website, even if your sales significantly decrease you will still make more profit, and your job will be easier with lower volume.

Re:EBays Focus is Terrible (1)

mweather (1089505) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183763)

That's what my company did. We got fed up with FeePay, built a shopping cart and never looked back. Sales dropped off initially, but the lack of listing fees more than made up to it, even with PPC ads factored in.

Re:EBays Focus is Terrible (1)

S-100 (1295224) | more than 6 years ago | (#24184155)

Some sellers don't expect to make money from eBay, but instead use their eBay auctions to drive traffic to their own web sites. It's worked (on a small scale) for me.

Exactly (1)

Collective 0-0009 (1294662) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183641)

"Instead of focusing on being an auction business, we are looking at what it takes to create the best marketplace out there."

This is what happens when a company gets too big. ebay can't see that it won such wide adoring attention though being an open auction house. Adding buy it now was cool, as sometimes I didn't want to wait 5 days just to get outbid.

Now they are trying to create a marketplace inside a marketplace. They want everyone to be part of *THEIR* marketplace, that they control, they assess the taxes and fees and keep the peace.

Excellent (4, Interesting)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183655)

EBay degenerates into an alternative, inconvenient way to buy from major retailers (WHY would they list on eBay instead of their own websites anyway?) and somebody will set up a real auction site where you can buy used stuff from individuals and small companies. You know, like eBay used to be.

Re:Excellent (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#24184169)

(WHY would they list on eBay instead of their own websites anyway?)

Because it allows them to reach more of their market?

Lots of shoppers prefer like the advantage of having competing products from different retailers available on a single site, since it makes comparison shopping easier.

It's interesting (3, Interesting)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183757)

How far eBay has strayed from it's original purpose of being the "garage sale of the Internet" to now just essentially being an outlet mall. Perhaps it's just an inevitable result of gaining too much popularity; regardless something tells me there's money to be made in picking up the slack.

There's your entrepreneurial idea for the day kids. I'm sure garagesale.com is already taken (and isn't a Web 2.0 name anyway), but just go read a Klingon dictionary and I'm sure you'll find a good alternative. Your tagline is "What eBay used to be", at least until you pop up on their lawyers radar. Market it as specializing in collectibles, unique trinkets and such, and in your literature equate eBay with Wal-Mart.

No one buys on eBay anymore (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183793)

Why buy on eBay and go through the auction hassle when you can get the same thing for cheaper from Amazon.com ? And often with free or discounted shipping?

If I was a seller I would seriously be moving to Amazon as fast as my legs could take me. everyone I know has moved from buying on eBay to buying on Amazon. The recent fee hikes only made things worse. eBay really needs to cut its base fees and get back to its roots or else it will become obsolete.

Ebay losing popularity? (4, Informative)

Jason1729 (561790) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183823)

I used to do about 150 ebay auctions/month all in the $5-20 range, but I stopped a couple of years ago. They kept raising prices to the point I was making them more money than me (especially after paypal fees), and even then they were pushing aside the individual seller. They've raised fees since I stopped using them too. Just recently I wanted to sell some computer equipment, and found their fees to be so high I'm better off not wasting my time listing it. They've priced themselves out of the market and alienated their core customer base at the same time. And they're surprised they're losing popularity?

Shutting out the little guys (3, Insightful)

CowTipperGore (1081903) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183833)

eBay was wonderful back in the day, but has been on the decline for years. They've made decisions that increasingly shut out the individual reselling used items, which once formed the core of their business. The eBay of today hardly resembles the place where I bought a used guitar in 1998. I looked through a few hundred guitars each week, nearly all of which were used instruments listed by an individual. Now you're likely to find ten times the number of guitars but 90% or more will be listed by a wholesaler or huge pawn shop. Some of it was to be expected - as eBay succeeded it attracted more businesses that could do more volume than any individual, and directly tying an individual's reputation to the number of transactions benefited those large sellers.

However, the seller policies were modified over the years in ways that benefited the larger sellers. For example, many small sellers left when eBay wholesale surrendered to big business efforts to ignore the legal rights protected by the first-sale doctrine. My smart-card programmer listing was pulled without explanation, which I finally figured out was apparently due to DirectTV claiming that it could be used to "hack" their equipment.

Unfortunately, each time I looked, I found no viable alternative. There are plenty of small auction sites, but none with a fraction of the buyers and/or the buyer and seller protections offered by eBay. Has the Web simply been too commercialized now for someone to make a new eBay that caters to individuals again?

Fraud Problems (1)

StevisF (218566) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183853)

Their anti-fraud measures seem inadequate. My account was hacked a year or so ago. I hadn't used to sell in over a year and I hadn't used it to buy anything in almost as long. All of a sudden someone posted several hundred iPods on my account. I'd never sold items on my account in this manner. Just a few, different items here and there, like most individuals. I was surprised that a company like eBay wouldn't have fraud prevention software. Anyway, I canceled my account and I'll never use eBay again.

Different company (2, Interesting)

S-100 (1295224) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183895)

Ebay will continue to make money, but as a different company. The millions of people (such as myself) who labored long and hard to make eBay a viable marketplace are being brushed aside so that eBay can transform itself into another Amazon.

I stopped selling on eBay earlier this year, and I'm focusing on my own e-commerce site which I've had even before starting with eBay. I've noticed that my "My eBay" stored searches for certain collectibles have been returning fewer and less meaningful results, which is partially the result of eBay's new "intelligent" search engine and the fact that fewer people are listing unique items any more.

But when I need to shop for a commodity item, it's often on eBay (as well as Amazon and other places). eBay is shaking off its unique aspects and spitting in the face of the people that worked to bring them to where they are today.

The last time I used ebay... (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183937)

About 2 years ago, my wife and I bought used cellphones. Nokia N-series phones that you couldn't buy in the US.

We paid a lot for them.

Her n70 was actually a sales demo. It wasn't supposed to be sold. The seller claimed ignorance all the way to the bank.
My n80 was an asian market phone instead of the eu market phone it was supposed to be. Again, different seller claimed ignorance all the way to the bank.

That's the last time I used ebay. Shortly after that, my paypal account got hacked.

Ebay is a thieves' bazaar. It's a way to push crap or stolen goods with little or no consequences. There are some who have setup mini stripmalls in ebay to push dollar store crap. You just can't trust ebay anymore to protect your interests.

I think ebay is definitely on its way out. I can now buy stuff on amazon that before I could only find on ebay. ebay just isn't necessary anymore.

craigslist can now help you broker private deals.

Not death, but suicide (1)

austexmonkey (1108037) | more than 6 years ago | (#24183971)

I don't see EBay so much as dying, as committing a very slow suicide. In an attempt to increase revenue, they're shafting people who use Ebay for what its best at: being a world wide garage sale.

No other site is even close in its ability to connect buyers and sellers of used/rare/collectible items. This is what Ebay is best at, and also the market EBay has been marginalizing.

Adding ump-teen thousand listings from huge online retailers adds no value to customers at the core of the Ebay business. They can find the same crap at any one of dozens of online retailers. All this will do aggravate folks who use EBay to buy/sell in secondary/specialty markets.

And EBays customer service is atrocious. I can almost accept this when the company is viewed as basically a renter of flea market stalls. They don't have a change competing against reputable online retailers like Amazon.

What a stupid, stupid idea. You don't destroy your core business in order to expand your revenue a bit.

another angle (1)

hurfy (735314) | more than 6 years ago | (#24184015)

Everyone is talking about the ebay side of this...

While ebay is not what it used to be, what does it say about buy.com?
There would seem to be no need whatsoever to go there, is there?
Ebay is almost the same anyway and this would seem to cement the deal.

I think both had their place but now they are one and the same and don't fit so well with all the fat in either those places anymore :(

I rarely buy 'NEW' stuff on ebay, and now i rarely buy stuff i wasn't already looking for because sorting thru the chaff is too much work for very little (if any) gain.

Ah, there goes the best retro-shop in the world... (1)

MindPrison (864299) | more than 6 years ago | (#24184065)

eBay - my main addiction in life, it will be sad to see it drown in commercial trades.

The one thing I like about online auctions is that they are by and FOR average joes like me, not a bunch of insurance sellers trying to outbid eachother with gibberish.

I find it hard to believe that the average Joe's have a declining interest in eBay, it should be the other way from my own experience. Oversea eBay shopping has NEVER been bigger in eg. Denmark these times.

My experience with new used sales on the net is that it is exactly the average joe sales that make them grow in popularity because you get a real chance to get something that you really want from yesteryears and not some useless gimmick from merchandise companies that compete for the cheapest lanyards...

If eBay get filled up with nick-nack offers from commercial companies - organized...then eBay will decline severely in popularity- in fact...I'm willing to bet that it will KILL eBay entirely over 2 years and make it another alibaba outlet because the average joes sales can't be found by the other average joes... ...pretty much like Google today. Back when they didnt censor so much, and back when the commercial companies didnt work on outsmarting the google searches - there where a real chance of finding interesting stuff - fast. Today you need to be a real whiz with knowing how to "filter out" all the annoying "watch-me-buy-me-now" for just about anything you search for.

Ebay is dead, the body hasn't hit the ground yet. (1)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 6 years ago | (#24184151)

Their original market was bringing a community of sellers to a community of buyers and using time based auctions to decide who gets what.

This worked on the "fea market" model, where people could find a buyer for their property they no longer used. What happened to EBay was scammers. People buying things cheap on sale, and seelling them at full price plus "shipping."

Then followed the people who built whole business models on selling on ebay.

The geeks have pretty much stopped going to ebay because there are no more deal to be made. The people who don't know better are just now starting to see it for the scam it is.

Craigslist is the next ebay. Ebay knows this and that's why they tried to sue craigslist.

IF you want to make money, create a site that provides escrow services and dispute resolution to work in conjunction with Craigslist and/or ebay.

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