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eBay Battles Power Sellers

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the something-to-think-about dept.

The Internet 370

DigitalDame2 writes "eBay power sellers, angered by the recent eBay policy changes, have been hitting back the auction site with listing boycotts and now with accusations of fake listings and forum censorship. EBay admitted that a "bug" in its system had accidentally placed listings from eBay-owned shopping.com onto eBay.com late Friday night. A California-based seller's new eBay listings did not allow users to actually bid on his items. "This guy has over 35,000 items. And there is no button for a 'buy it now' and no button for making a bid." As a result, sellers are threatening to take their complaints to the Federal Trade Commission, but eBay is not backing down." Normally I wouldn't really care, but I think this is interesting because eBay is so dominant in their field, that there is no real alternative. Watching how things like this play out is interesting to me because I want to believe that the internet will require everyone to be more responsible or lose. But the real question for me is at what point does total marketplace dominance trump that.

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370 comments

I'm still lost... (3, Insightful)

TheGreatHegemon (956058) | more than 6 years ago | (#22650978)

...as to why eBay even implemented these changes. Was there some major drive for it, or what?

Re:I'm still lost... (5, Interesting)

Oxy the moron (770724) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651032)

Google stock info [google.com]

Ebay has had a major drop in its stock value over the past few months. I believe that, since the actual number of auctions/bidders has dropped, this was an attempt to get more money from those people still doing decent business... Power Sellers.

Seeing as to how stock is back on the rise, it appears to have worked from that standpoint. At least for the time being...

Re:I'm still lost... (2, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651304)

They're down 32% since october.. I don't blame them for trying desperate measures. But the power sellers are absolutely right.

Ebay isn't the only player in that area (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22650990)

If you want crap, Craigslist is available too.

Re:Ebay isn't the only player in that area (5, Informative)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651316)

Oh, please. Craigslist is only useful for items in your city (if you even live in a city large enough to have a Craigslist site). If you're trying to sell some small $50 item and want a nationwide or even international audience, you have to use Ebay. No one is going to search the hundreds of different Craigslist sites for items.

CL is good if you're trying to sell some big, bulky item like a piece of furniture, which people generally would prefer to buy locally and pick up themselves. Ebay is terrible for things like that. Ebay is where you go for things like electronics and other things which are fairly easily shipped.

Re:Ebay isn't the only player in that area (2, Insightful)

PingXao (153057) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651356)

But Craigslist isn't fancy. The look and feel of Craigslist is that of buying and selling through the newspaper classified ads. ebay's user experience lets someone selling stuff from the junkyard behind their trailer feel like they are "in business".

Re:Ebay isn't the only player in that area (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 6 years ago | (#22652064)

No kidding. With eBay's fees plus PayPal's fees, I've been doing most of my selling on Craigslist lately, with a bit of Amazon thrown in. eBay does NOT have a monopoly anymore.

Matter of Capital, Profit & Competitiveness (3, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651020)

Normally I wouldn't really care, but I think this is interesting because eBay is so dominant in their field, that there is no real alternative. Watching how things like this play out is interesting to me because I want to believe that the internet will require everyone to be more responsible or lose. But the real question for me is at what point does total marketplace dominance trump that.
Let's rephrase that last part to "When does competitive capitalism and greed cause a company to push its ethical and moral responsibilities to their absolute limits?" and the answer is: Always.

Right now eBay's board is having a few analysts go through this list of "power sellers" and derive some nice little numbers. (A) What percentage of income on listings come from these people? (B) What is the approximate dollar value in having those auctions available to our users (probably pretty small)? (C) What's it going to cost us to retroactively fix these erroneous auctions, restore the forums and send out apologies to every eBay user? (D) What are is the probability that the FCC will act on the user's complaints? (E) What's the maximum fine we could receive from the FCC?

Now here's the math, if A + B > C then eBay will probably send out apologies and make a good effort to please these power sellers. However, if D*E < C then I'll bet there's no chance in hell they're taking action on this.

Now look at it from the other side of the issue, the power sellers on eBay. What dollar (or percent) value do you assign using eBay to your sales (probably pretty high considering the exposure they offer you). There are competitors however small, you could go to them but it's going to hurt your sales. So the question now becomes whether or not you've lost enough on these fake auctions and censored forums. The answer is obviously no. A young idealist might blindly stick it to the man and suffer in the name of ethics and against censorship. But the businessman would not.

So what Taco is interested in is whether or not eBay is going to do the moral and ethically correct thing and take action C regardless of price or if the sellers are going to move to another site out of respect for free speech and standing up against shadey listings. The answer is "no" thanks to the effect of symbiotic profit experienced on both sides.

Re:Matter of Capital, Profit & Competitiveness (2, Insightful)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651340)

You seem to be operating under the assumption that censorship and shady listings have been put into practice on EBay, which is not something I gathered from the article. EBay has flatly denied any wrongdoing and is sticking to the position that the powersellers are just upset over the policy changes. So we don't even know if EBay is acting immorally or unethically. This still could be an Internet conspiracy (I know, who could imagine such a thing?).

All that being said, EBay understands that powersellers bring in the cash for the company. I couldn't see them doing such stupid things as censoring the forums and posting fake listings. That would be suicide. They've been on the Internet for a long time. They know how people act on the Internet. I would be highly surprised if this wasn't just a reaction by the powersellers to the feedback changes.

Re:Matter of Capital, Profit & Competitiveness (2, Informative)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651576)

Slashdot is too used to railing on the FCC :) The FCC isn't involved here, it's the FTC.

Re:Matter of Capital, Profit & Competitiveness (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651696)

First off, you need to tone the bias against capitalism and corporations down just a little bit. It makes it so that people who don't agree with that aspect of your comment (actually a rant) will have a knee jerk reaction against the actual logic of your comment, which was pretty decent.

As for that logic, you make the assumption that the only thing power sellers have to gain by moving to another site is a warm, fuzzy feeling from doing what they feel is right. That's just not the case. All they need to do is either find or start an auction site that doesn't do the dumb things that ebay's been doing (like making them accept credit cards through paypal or not at all) and get a significant (~25%) portion of the actions and buyers to come to that site. This isn't as hard as you imply, since they don't have to list all their auctions, just a decent number of them.

This has a definitive business advantage. First, if this other site takes off, you can knock ebay off its pedestal and get a better auction site. Second, even if it doesn't take off it sends a warning that they're not going to put up with ebay's bullshit forever. Market dominance on the internet's not a permanent thing as facebook has shown. MySpace dominated more than google, and in a matter of a year and a half facebook has taken significant market share and branded itself as the "cool" social site. Google remains dominant because they continue to innovate and keep their appearance pretty clean. Dating sites are battling back and forth continually. Ebay would be foolish to not recognize that they could have a serious competitor if the sellers banded together and the new site had a marketing blitz.

Re:Matter of Capital, Profit & Competitiveness (1)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22652038)

Now here's the math, if A + B > C then eBay will probably send out apologies and make a good effort to please these power sellers. However, if D*E

Thats fine an good, but what ever happened to at least the illusion of "The customer is always right?"

With the ilks like RIAA, MPAA, eBay, Neo-cons, oil, Microsoft, etc, its "The bottom line, those poor top 1% wealthy people, and shareholders are always on our mind", the customers don't matter because they don't have too many other choices, now do they?

I would guess that my rant is about as effective as just screaming like Roger Daltrey -- "Meet the old boss, same as the new boss". We're not fooled, but then again, it seems like its just SSDD.

HOW WAS YOUR EBAY EXPERIENCE? (1)

downix (84795) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651034)

O Positive
O Neutral
O Negative
Comments:

Re:HOW WAS YOUR EBAY EXPERIENCE? (2, Funny)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651492)

O Positive
O Neutral
O Negative
Comments:


Mine is AB-

Re:HOW WAS YOUR EBAY EXPERIENCE? (1)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651640)

A++++++++ Would definitely donate again!!!!1!!one!1

I'm confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22651044)

What's the policy change, what are sellers upset about, what does the shopper.com bug have to do with this, and what's the reason given that auctions are showing up without buy or bid buttons?

Alternatives... (4, Informative)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651086)

Alternatives exist. I like gunbroker.com (aka forthehunt.com if your workplace filters the word "gun" in a url).

No restrictions on listings, other than legal things (body parts, slavery), no listing fees unless the item is sold, the costs are fair, and NO SNIPING - true actions. If a bid happens in the last 15 minutes of listing time, it automatically extends to 15 minutes.

Morning LOL (5, Funny)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651184)

I hope to Christ I'm not the only one who found the concept of "NO SNIPING" at gunbroker.com entertaining.

Re:Alternatives... (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651236)

While I love Gunbroker for my gun buying needs (www.auctionarms.com is decent too), realistically it is only a sound alternative for firearma and related products and not general stuff (this mainly because Ebay itself stupidly stopped firearms listing early in it's life).

Re:Alternatives... (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651352)

True, but that is mostly due to the current customer base of the site. I think if GBH,Inc. wanted to they could get more "general auction" business going... There already are vehicles, domains, etc. for sale on GB... but because of its primary niche market, not a lot of potential - yet...

Re:Alternatives... (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651744)

But that just means it's a POTENTIAL alternative. Amazon has a general purpose auction site up too and Yahoo had one until recently. None of those really help eBay's current behavior though because they control the VAST majority of the current general purpose market.

Re:Alternatives... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22652162)

Amazon has a general purpose auction site up too

So I've heard. Going to Amazon.com doesn't reveal the auction site, though. Searching in Amazon's search doesn't reveal it either. It seems to be hidden from Google too (or at least no search word combination I've tried will find it).

So as an interested, motivated potential user (both buyer and seller) of Amazon's fabled auction site, WHERE THE HELL IS IT????
   

Re:Alternatives... (4, Interesting)

Fastball (91927) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651318)

Why do people make such a big deal about sniping? It matters not to me as a buyer or a seller. If I'm buying, and I find something that I can get a reasonable price, maybe I don't want to get mired in a bidding war. I punch in the max I'm willing to pay, and I'm done. As a seller, I appreciate the last second bump in price for the stuff I sell.

Everybody knows the end date/time and should know how much they're willing to pay. What's unfair or difficult about that?

Re:Alternatives... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22651536)

and I find something...I punch in the max I'm willing to pay

Some of us find multiple somethings, bidding $500 on each of them because "thats the maximum we want to pay" is irresponsible and stupid. If I lose auction #1, that's more money I can allocate to auction 2, and so on.

Re:Alternatives... (4, Interesting)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651552)

Because if you go to a real auction house, the auction doesn't end until the bidding ends... so as a seller, if your auction is sniped, then you aren't making as much money as you possibly could. With GB's 15 minute rule, the max value for the item is reached - or rather, an opportunity is given to all buyers to reach the max value.

Although I do agree - when I'm buying, I put in what I'm willing to pay and if I win, I win...

Re:Alternatives... (1)

Baron_Yam (643147) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651776)

OK, now I feel like an idiot.

I HATE sniping on eBay on principal... and it never occurred to me that you could simply have the auction end at the latter of either a set time or 15 minutes since the last bid.

Now THAT would be a great eBay modification.

Re:Alternatives... (1)

shoemilk (1008173) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651734)

Maybe I don't want to just start out and bid $1,000 on everything to make sure I win. Maybe when my $50 bid gets beat, I want to re-evaluate the situation. And on my 2400 baud modem I'm sure as hell not going to be able to beat you and your mighty broadband.

Re:Alternatives... (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 6 years ago | (#22652154)

Maybe I don't want to just start out and bid $1,000 on everything to make sure I win. Maybe when my $50 bid gets beat, I want to re-evaluate the situation. And on my 2400 baud modem I'm sure as hell not going to be able to beat you and your mighty broadband.
You still have a maximum price that you're willing to pay for an item. Why would this change based on someone else's behavior? Put in your maximum price at the start of the auction (it won't show up, but simply auto-bids on your behalf up to that maximum) - the dollar amount you really feel the item is worth to you - and wait for an email notification.

Re:Alternatives... (5, Interesting)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651772)

Sniping is bad from a seller's perspective.

I bought my house in an auction that allowed sniping. At 11pm I submitted a bid for a property of around $200k. The other party had no chance to resubmit a bid at that time since the auction was closing 15 minutes after that.

The property itself was appraised at $240k.

I knew that the other party would want to revise their bid if they thought they would lose it. They were trying to benefit from the seller needing to sell fast, but didn't expect someone to jump in at the last minute.

So why is that bad for the seller? Since the auction allowed for my bid sniping, the other party never had a chance to put in a counter-offer. I was prepared to go up to $215k, and, judging by their reaction, they probably would have done the same.

The sniping cost the seller nearly $15k because there was no period to re-evaluate the bids.

(Not that I feel bad, I needed the property fast too since my previous home was washed away in a flood. I was just pointing out that the seller lost out on some $ because sniping was allowed)

Re:Alternatives... (2, Insightful)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651936)

This is why I don't use ebay anymore unless I'm just using "buy it now". *everyone* snipes the auctions. There are even programs that do it for you. Trying to win an auction at a good price is almost a fools errant at this point.

Re:Alternatives... (1)

pyite (140350) | more than 6 years ago | (#22652020)

If it's ebay, the other potential buyer had an opportunity to set his max bid at higher than $200k. He didn't. As such, the seller got what the market was willing to bear.

Re:Alternatives... (5, Insightful)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22652066)

So the upshot here is, "the original bidder was an idiot for not putting in the top price he was willing to pay to begin with." If he'd put his bid limit at $240k, E-bay would have automatically raised his bid when the bid came in for $200k. If somebody had sniped him above $240k, well, that's more than he was willing to spend. As far as I can see, people who complain about sniping are people who a) don't understand how to bid on E-Bay and b) let their emotions get in front of the judgment and decide that the most important thing is that they don't "lose" the auction.

Re:Alternatives... (4, Informative)

segfaultcoredump (226031) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651788)

Here is the issue with sniping:

On the buyers side, it rewards the person with the best timing. On the sellers side, it keeps the price lower that it should be.

We are not talking about 'max bid' entries where two interested folks tell EBay what their max price is and it automatically gives it to the higher of the two at a price just above the loosers price. That is more or less OK by everybody's measure.

We are talking about software run on the clients system (or a proxy system) where the max bids are secret. The packages then try and out-time each other at the very end. In this case, the auction goes not to the person who is willing to pay more, but to the person who manages to slip their bid in at the last second.

Example: Bob and Jane both use EBays max bid option and put in a max bid of $100, but Bob entered his bid first. If they both used ebay's max bid, the auction would go to bob for $100. Simple enough.

Enter the bid software. The auction is listed at $10 starting price. Neither users software mades a move until the last second, slipping in a bid for $11. The first one in wins, and if there is not enough time to put in a counter bid, the selling price is $11. (in reality, the software often puts in a bid 30 seconds or so too soon just in case the clock is off, which gives a chance for 2 or 3 rounds of counter bidding till the time is up).

To the buyer, this is great. They were willing to pay $100 but got it for $11. To the seller this is horrid, they had two buyers willing to pay up to $100. To the looser this is also not optimal, since they would have been happy to pay up to $100.

It no longer becomes an auction, it becomes a lottery. Add in a 5 minute auto-extend and sniping becomes impossible.

Re:Alternatives... (1)

zarkill (1100367) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651866)

Something doesn't necessarily have to be difficult or unfair in order to be annoying. If you're winning an auction at a price that is well below your maximum bid (and naturally you'd prefer to pay the lowest price possible, regardless of what your maximum bid actually is) you may be pleased at the considerable discount you're poised to receive. Then if someone at the last second comes in and bids the item up, either eliminating your potential savings or causing you to lose the auction, that's going to sting a little.

It's even worse when shill bidders do it in order to guarantee that you don't get away with paying any less than your maximum bid.

Re:Alternatives... (2, Informative)

alan_dershowitz (586542) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651970)

You're totally wrong, sniped auctions do not benefit the seller or the buyer. From the buyer perspective, most everyone is out for a deal, and part of the auction is reacting to other bids to see how much OTHERS are willing to pay. Sniping eliminates that. From a seller perspective, I can tell you that sniping drastically reduces your final selling price BECAUSE of the fact that buyers can't react to those final bids. The selling price gets comparatively jacked up in a non-sniped auction because most people do not really put in the maximum they are willing to pay because, frankly, they don't actually know that until they size up the other bids.

I have seen this in practice. I bid primarily on classic video games, and some of that stuff is prime sniper material. It just so happens that I lost out on a particular game with niche appeal, about five or six times. The game typically went for around 250 dollars. Out of frustration at being sniped on several other auctions of late, I set up a bid snipe program and got the game for 150. The seller got totally screwed. I started sniping more and consistently found that it significantly reduced the final selling price.

So what happens in a sniped auction is that the seller sells at a lower price, and a bunch of typical, non-sniping buyers are pissed off because the item actually sold at a lower price than they were willing to pay. There is nothing unfair about that, but the situation is generally unsatisfactory to everyone but the single sniper who wins the auction.

I actually prefer the uBid method, where any bids in the last five minutes extend the bidding another fifteen. This is like a real auction, buyers are happy, sellers are happy, the only people who are unhappy in that scenario are the people who can't game the system anymore. And I don't have any sympathy for them.

Re:Alternatives... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22652054)

I left eBay a few months back. To bring my feedback profile along with me, and not be a total unknown on the new sites that I am selling, I set up an account at Repatoo [repatoo.com] .

Ebay is abusing a monopoly position (2, Interesting)

jbernardo (1014507) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651094)

If you're unlucky (and that is becoming more and more frequent) to have a buyer "give up" on your auction after winning it, be very, very careful with what you click. If you're a inexperienced seller, you might assume the FVF (final value fee) reversal link, which shows after a dispute is ended, would revert the final fee to you - when in fact it gives the FVF irrevocably to ebay. And they don't care - after all, what alternatives you have in Europe? And now with the end of sellers giving feedback on buyers, this kind of abuse will only increase, the only hope honest buyers and sellers have is that the complains will be so many that ebay will finally be hit where it hurts, on its corporate pocket. Anyone willing to start a worldwide (or even only EC wide) alternative?

Re:Ebay is abusing a monopoly position (1)

Denyer (717613) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651242)

There's PriceMinister.com, which is a fairly big brand in mainland Europe and seems to be about to launch a UK variant. I've had some joy finding rare CDs on the original site, so I'll be checking the new site out when it launches.

Re:Ebay is abusing a monopoly position (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22651452)

And now with the end of sellers giving feedback on buyers, this kind of abuse will only increase, the only hope honest buyers and sellers have is that the complains will be so many that ebay will finally be hit where it hurts, on its corporate pocket.

Nothing but "the sky is falling" nonsense. Ebay is faced with a "rock and hard place" dilemma because there's two kinds of abuses going on, seller and buyer. The Seller was threatening negative feedback on the buyer if they don't give positive feedback, while there are buyers threatening sellers with negative feedback if they don't charge them less than selling price, or throw in bonus perks such as faster shipping.

So what's eBay to do? Let both groups continue to scam each other? That would just devolve into a holistically distrustful brand name (not that I have much "trust" in eBay's brand). I'm speculating, but I imagine eBay cut off the biggest offenders, sellers. But sellers are not without loss. What's to stop the free market from starting "ebaybuyersfeedback.com" website where sellers can leave feedback on buyers, unaffiliated with eBay? It's much like EQ1 back in the day and the "shit-list" of ninja looters and horrible players.

YouTube vid of padded auctions (1, Informative)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651126)

Cap of "padded" buy.com listings [youtube.com] on ebay.

total marketplace dominance (1)

celle (906675) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651134)

Is it just me or isn't that called a monopoly? Maybe the feds should get involved.

Re:total marketplace dominance (1)

Kelbear (870538) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651358)

Monopolies are not illegal, anti-competitive practices are.

Re:total marketplace dominance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22651432)

It's not a monopoly when there are several [webidz.com] alternatives [ubid.com] available [bid-alot.com] , dipshit [amazon.com] .

eBay has great solutions! (5, Funny)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651154)

Problem: A seller is getting his mate to bid against something you're trying to buy?
Solution: Hide the names of the buyers

Problem: Buyers are giving sellers negative feedback even though the exchange was fair and square?
Solution: Don't allow sellers to give retaliatory negative feedback

Problem: Someone's found out about the fact you're a bunch of crooks and has posted all the evidence in a forum?
Solution: Delete the posts and claim it was a bug

Re:eBay has great solutions! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22651402)

Problem: Buyers are giving sellers negative feedback even though the exchange was fair and square?
Solution: Don't allow sellers to give retaliatory negative feedback
I disagree with your evaluation of this. Typically what happens is a buyer gets a piece of crap defective product and gives the seller a negative. The seller then blasts the buyer with a negative even though the buyer did nothing wrong and was just trying to inform others about the seller's crappy product.

Re:eBay has great solutions! (3, Insightful)

wpegden (931091) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651436)

Problem: Buyers are giving sellers negative feedback even though the exchange was fair and square?
Solution: Don't allow sellers to give retaliatory negative feedback
I see... do you not know what the issue with retaliatory negative feedback is? It prevents buyers from being able to safely leave legitimate feedback for fear of retaliation. This has become a real issue on ebay. As a regular buyer, I know that it's not enough to see that someone has a high feedback rating (97%, whatever.) I scour every feedback page for evidence that the buyer is a dishonest one hiding behind feedback threats. Sometimes the evidence is obvious enough: mutually withdrawn feedback, negative comments hiding in postive feedback to avoid retaliation, etc.

The point is, ebay cannot expect its whole user base to be so diligent, which is why this step is absolutely the right one to take.

I agree that ebay took absolutely the wrong track on the hidden names issue, which is why I'm so surprised they stepped up on this one. I'll believe it when I see it.

Re:eBay has great solutions! (1)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 6 years ago | (#22652004)

No, their response is LAZY, and not a real solution at all.

A real solution would be to have a mediation and time limit, where neither review shows up until both people review or the time limit (say 2 weeks) is reached. Once the reviews show up, you can't change them and you can't respond to them.

Re:eBay has great solutions! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22652014)

You must not do much selling on eBay. Sellers need to leave negative feedback to let other sellers know who they will be dealing with. Eliminating negative feedback on buyers renders the safety of specifying qualifications for who can bid on on your auctions useless. There are shady sellers, and there are shady buyers. Both need to be treated as such. Also, there fair alternatives http://ebid.net/ [ebid.net]

Re:eBay has great solutions! (4, Insightful)

STrinity (723872) | more than 6 years ago | (#22652032)

do you not know what the issue with retaliatory negative feedback is? It prevents buyers from being able to safely leave legitimate feedback for fear of retaliation.
The proper solution would be to create a feedback escrow system where you can't see what the other person said about you until you submit your own feedback. Making the feedback system one-sided is completely idiotic.

Re:eBay has great solutions! (1)

immcintosh (1089551) | more than 6 years ago | (#22652272)

This is not even remotely the right solution. They may as well just disallow feedback altogether if they're going to make it so lopsided. I've spent only a little time on eBay (can't really stand the place myself), but even that was enough to see that there are a lot of people who are absolutely shameless with handing out totally inappropriate feedback. Buyer A wins an auction, then 30 minutes later posts negative feedback complaining about slow shipping. Excuse me? It happens though.

They either need to make the feedback process far more meaningful, or just do away with it altogether. Some way to allow sellers to respond to feedback, and list that feedback as "contested." Add in a feedback moderation system (like /. meta-moderation) to allow third parties to randomly investigate contested feedback. Anyway, that's just off the top of my head, I'm sure that somebody putting the effort in could think of something much more elegant.

So no, I don't think this was the right response, I think it was the LAZY response, and I think they're going to suffer for that when sellers no longer want to submit themselves to an unfairly lopsided system.

Re:eBay has great solutions! (1)

Alpha232 (922118) | more than 6 years ago | (#22652284)

And the solution for that is requiring mutual feedback or expiration of the deadline before posting the results.

Dick buys an Acme Widget from Jane, Dick confirms receipt and Posts Feedback which is not displayed yet, Jane is told Dick got it and posts feedback on the transaction. Now both ratings are shown. If there is a negative or neutral remark, both should have the opportunity to rebut the statements made and a final conclusion statement from the initiator of the feedback.

Double blind feedback allows for honest opinions.

Re:eBay has great solutions! (5, Insightful)

artificial_grey (907745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651458)

Let me fix that 2nd one for you:

Problem: Sellers are giving buyers negative feedback even though the exchange was fair and square? Solution: Don't allow sellers to give retaliatory negative feedback


The term "retaliatory negative feedback" says it all - it's actually against Ebay's rules. Sellers shouldn't give negative feedback just cause they failed to get something right and got called on it via feedback. The buyer's only obligations are to give correct shipping info, read the full listing and pay the correct amount (on time). If the sellers don't like dealing with difficult buyers, then maybe a new line of work is in order.

Re:eBay has great solutions! (1)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651654)

I can see - and understand the reasoning behind the post; however, buyers have a responsibility as well. I sold some hot wheels to a buyer who proceeded to neg me WITHOUT asking if I would refund or do anything about the transaction. I gave him a neut because he wouldn't communicate and see if I was willing to do anything about the issue.

Re:eBay has great solutions! (1)

artificial_grey (907745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651880)

I buy regularly on Ebay and understand what you mean. There is no shortage of stupidity amongst Ebay buyers, just as anything else in this world. However, penalizing buyers that do the right thing because of these difficult buyers isn't the answer. Most of us have things we do not like about our jobs, especially when dealing with customers in the general public.

On a semi-recent small item purchase, I received the wrong item and promptly e-mailed the power seller of the mistake (item cost almost as much as the shipping fees). He/They responded quickly and stated that they would send out the correct item at no additional charge. Almost two month later, the only thing I received was a form email "reminding" me to leave feedback for them, and that they would do so in kind. I shouldn't have to leave feedback to get some in return - I paid quickly and was not difficult in any way. In the end, I never left any feedback for the seller for fear of retaliation on my 100% positive account.

Re:eBay has great solutions! (1)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 6 years ago | (#22652006)

You should have tried contacting a couple more times and negged them and taken the hit. Feedback doesn't matter much unless you drop below the 99.4% range. Even then, I've gotten some great deals from misunderstood sellers.

I don't Mind eBay (2, Insightful)

PawNtheSandman (1238854) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651190)

Sure eBay "gave" you free gallery listings but bumped final auction fees so now your paying even more, but the point that I can't stand and no one seems to ever try to change is the double dipping on fees mandated for using eBay with PayPal. PayPal is the devil. Craigslist is the way to go, unless you have a high ticket, low weight collectable, in which case eBay might be your only option despite all the potential land mines.

Re:I don't Mind eBay (2, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651630)

Craigslist really isn't very useful for lower-weight items, or items with small numbers of interested buyers. Ebay gives you an international audience, Craigslist does not, they only get you in contact with people in your city.

CL is great for stuff like furniture, large industrial tools, rental units, and other things which lots of people in your city might be interested in and aren't easily or cheaply shipped. If you want to sell stuff that's worth less than $100 and easily shipped, Ebay is really the way to go, except that they're doing everything they can to make it totally not worth it to sell items under $25 with ridiculous fees.

Why doesn't Google come out with their own auction site and payment system? They could easily take over most of Ebay's business. No one likes Ebay anymore; they only use it because there's no good alternative, though I hear Amazon is doing more and more business with used items and cutting into Ebay's business very badly.

Re:I don't Mind eBay (1)

PawNtheSandman (1238854) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651900)

Um yeah, that is basically what I said. Not to mention USPS keeps raising shipping prices. It has come to the point where many items are more expensive to ship than their actual value/final eBay auction price. On top of that, because of all the new eBay fees, sellers are jakking shipping even higher to recover those costs.

Re:I don't Mind eBay (1)

bryce4president (1247134) | more than 6 years ago | (#22652112)

Except you can't find $hit on Craigslist. It takes an hours to do the same search 50 times in 50 different regions...unless an item is listed close to you its a waste of time IMHO.

You answered your own question... (2, Insightful)

gambit3 (463693) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651216)

You answered your own question in the blurb:

"I want to believe that the internet will require everyone to be more responsible or lose. But the real question for me is at what point does total marketplace dominance trump that." ...

"eBay is so dominant in their field, that there is no real alternative. "

Why no solid competitors? (3, Interesting)

Fastball (91927) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651222)

You'd think with all of the complaints eBay has from both sellers and buyers that an alternative would have blossomed by now. I've used eBay extensively to buy and sell goods, but I'd love to have an alternative auction-style, online marketplace to delve into. Paypal seems to be eBay's killer app, but you'd think Mastercard and/or Visa could come up with something else to compete and go get those dollars from fees and such.

Re:Why no solid competitors? (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651522)

Critical mass. If you are a seller, you want to sell your item on the site with the largest number of potential buyers in order to get the highest price. If you are a buyer, you want to sell your item on the site with the largest number of potential sellers in order to get the lowest possible price. If I start a competitor to eBay, at launch I will have no buyers or sellers. Buyers won't start visiting until there are items listed, and sellers won't start listing until there is evidence that buyers are visiting. You can spend a couple of years charging no fees and hope you can build up the critical mass required to make people visit your site, but until then it's not going to be making you any money.

Re:Why no solid competitors? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22651586)

Auctions almost absolutely require 'marketshare'. They need to accumulate a minimum amount of buyers and sellers. If someplace has more buyers, it would be better to go there since there would be more people who might buy your wares. This provides a cascading effect.

Re:Why no solid competitors? (4, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651748)

It's simple: Ebay has mindshare. Because they're so big, if you want to sell an item, you need to go there because all the buyers are there. If you want to buy an item, you need to go there because all the sellers are there. It's a catch-22. So, if you try to go to an alternative place, like the now-defunct Yahoo auctions site, you either won't find what you're looking for, or your item won't get bid up to a decent price. This is why Yahoo finally gave up.

Even worse, Ebay now owns Paypal, which is the only way left to transfer small amounts of money online, and the sites are tied together.

Because of all this, a new auction site can't just start small and build up to being a good competitor to Ebay/Paypal. No one would bother using them because no one else is there. The only way to compete with Ebay is to start BIG, and offer everything Ebay/Paypal offer, but for much lower cost. And even that would be a huge risk, because it's banking on the idea that so many people are pissed at Ebay that they'll try it out.

The only company I can see pulling this off is Google. They have the size and money to make a full-featured auction site and get it mostly right the first time out of the gate, and they already have some sort of payment system which could be adapted I believe to be a real Paypal competitor. They also have a reputation for providing many of their services for free, and their reputation overall is very good, unlike Ebay's (or Microsoft's; if they tried this, it would fail immediately just because of their tainted image).

Free Editing for the "Editors" (1)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651228)

But the real question for me is: at what point does total marketplace dominance trump that?

Enjoy!

There's been a movement for quite a while. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22651240)

Safesite of the NIMP foundation [nimp.org] serves as a protection for "power sellers", it's pretty effective. I recommend testing it out.

Re:There's been a movement for quite a while. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22651396)

Can't the comment system just blacklist links like this? Of course malicious...

MOD PARENT UP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22651424)

+5 Useful! Would use again. A++

The internet doesn't mean you have to play nice. (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651246)


I want to believe that the internet will require everyone to be more responsible or lose. But the real question for me is at what point does total marketplace dominance trump that.

An auction site is just a natural monopoly. It's in the interests of the sellers to have all the buyers on one site (increased buyers/item), and it's in the interests of buyers to have all the sellers on one site (increased items/buyer).

Ebay is a public company, so even if there's some virtuous people running the company, there's still the interest of the shareholders.

The only thing really standing in the way of Ebay doing "whatever it takes to make more money" is the sherman anti-trust law. Monopolies ARE legal in the US. What's illegal is using monopoly power to stop competition (and likely a few other things).

Re:The internet doesn't mean you have to play nice (2, Informative)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651814)

Ebay is a public company, so even if there's some virtuous people running the company, there's still the interest of the shareholders.

Ebay is NOT run by virtuous people; it's run by weasels. To see this, just like at their recent rate increases: they sent out emails to all their members loudly proclaiming their new, lower listing fees (which in reality were only lowered a few percent--BFD), and saying NOTHING about any changes to their final value fees, which make up the bulk of the fees sellers pay. To see that, you had to go to their site and read through all the fine print, to find out the FV fees had increased a whopping 60%.

In addition, Ebay has repeatedly had the gall to claim that their rate increases were somehow GOOD for the sellers! Since when does anyone consider it a benefit to pay more for something?

Ebay is run by evil, lying, despicable people, make no mistake.

There was a boycott? (4, Insightful)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651266)

I didn't see one - everyone's claiming that there were 10% less items for sale, but for what I was looking at, the numbers seemed normal. I expected things to run a little short near the end, but it didn't happen, other than the nominal "cheap listing day" crap they pull every so often that spams all my searches with a billion identical items.

Which is a problem for eBay. When they make their insertion fees cheap, everyone spams a billion auctions, drowning out the stuff I want with cruft I don't. The problem is, those items can't really be searched away - they are the item being looked for, technically, just not the one you want.

I believe probalby 95% of people on eBay really don't give a damn, it's just a vocal minority spouting. I certainly didn't see any changes. Then again, I use eBay for finding hard to find stuff. Stuff you can buy in a store, is usually less of a hassle buying it from the store (B&M or online) - rather than eBay. eBay's for all those items one either can't find in stores (sold out/not made anymore/rare items), and the ones complaining are those who sell what everyone else can find at an online store. It's not like eBay even has many deals, so bargain hunting isn't an option.

As for the reasoning behind the changes, well, consider "feedback hostage" is rampant on eBay. The seller won't post feedback until you (the buyer) do. If you post negative feedback (say, item was fraudulent), the seller will do the same to you, even though you fulfilled your obligations (i.e., paid seller in a timely fashion, tried to resolve issues with seller, etc). Most good sellers will leave feedback immediately since the buyer's fulfilled their contractual duty to pay. (Part of the changes also involve the buyer not being able to give feedback for 3 days or so, to prevent the buyer from the lesser idiocy of "I paid seller within hour, item didn't arrive 5 minutes later" crap, or the more common "item did not arrive" when buyer hasn't even paid for it!).

There's no real good solution to this - you could do feedback escrow (buyer and seller can't see feedback until both have submitted it), but that won't protect against buyers doing what I mention.

I don't know if the changes are good or bad, but I'm guessing they came out of all the complaints from buyers who left negative feedback because sellers deserved it, while getting retaliatory feedback in return when they did their end of the deal.

Re:There was a boycott? (1)

Leuf (918654) | more than 6 years ago | (#22652262)

I didn't see one - everyone's claiming that there were 10% less items for sale, but for what I was looking at, the numbers seemed normal. I expected things to run a little short near the end, but it didn't happen, other than the nominal "cheap listing day" crap they pull every so often that spams all my searches with a billion identical items.

It's hard to tell. The numbers did seem to climb after the boycott. There was just too much going on between the listing day, the new fees, and the boycott to make any determination.

Then again, I use eBay for finding hard to find stuff. Stuff you can buy in a store, is usually less of a hassle buying it from the store (B&M or online) - rather than eBay. eBay's for all those items one either can't find in stores (sold out/not made anymore/rare items), and the ones complaining are those who sell what everyone else can find at an online store. It's not like eBay even has many deals, so bargain hunting isn't an option.

But all of the changes are to favor the high volume sellers. Cheaper insertion fees favors spamming listings. 5-15% off FVF for powersellers with high ratings. Best match search results. One crazy buyer can do much more damage to a small seller than a volume seller, now that there is no checks and balances in the feedback system. And the new CEO has outright said he wants to get rid of the garage sale look of ebay. He has his eyes on Amazon. So, while many small sellers are going to stick around simply because ebay is where the buyers are, it's in spite of the changes. I've moved to etsy, though I may throw up the odd listing on ebay just for advertising. Nothing compared to what I had planned for this year.

As for the reasoning behind the changes, well, consider "feedback hostage" is rampant on eBay. The seller won't post feedback until you (the buyer) do. If you post negative feedback (say, item was fraudulent), the seller will do the same to you, even though you fulfilled your obligations (i.e., paid seller in a timely fashion, tried to resolve issues with seller, etc). Most good sellers will leave feedback immediately since the buyer's fulfilled their contractual duty to pay.

Bull. Have you ever even sold on ebay? Because there's only two kinds of people that think the seller should leave feedback first. People who don't sell on ebay, and people who sell but haven't gotten burned yet. The transaction is not over yet when the buyer pays, there is plenty that can go wrong after that. By the same logic the buyer should leave feedback immediately, because you thought it was good enough to buy in the first place so therefore it must be good, right? I would leave feedback as a seller when either I was sure the buyer was satisfied, by either leaving me feedback or sending me an email saying everything was ok, or if a couple weeks went by without me hearing anything. I guess that makes me a bad seller.

(Part of the changes also involve the buyer not being able to give feedback for 3 days or so, to prevent the buyer from the lesser idiocy of "I paid seller within hour, item didn't arrive 5 minutes later" crap, or the more common "item did not arrive" when buyer hasn't even paid for it!).

The 3 day waiting period is a joke. On what planet does that give time for the item to get there when often the seller doesn't even have a cleared payment until after that? If it was a week it would make some sort of sense, but 3 days just tells me those making the changes have no concept of what actually happens selling on their site. And it sure doesn't stop the buyer from leaving feedback without paying. And all the buyer has to do to keep their feedback from getting removed is respond to the dispute. They don't have to win, they can just type in some gibberish and their feedback sticks. How does that make any sense?

There's no real good solution to this - you could do feedback escrow (buyer and seller can't see feedback until both have submitted it), but that won't protect against buyers doing what I mention.

You are posting on the site with the answer. Peer moderation of feedback disputes. Keep in mind for the scammers out there sellers can in effect mod them down much faster than ebay can do anything about them, so holding feedback until both leave it doesn't work. You'd just have the losers never leave feedback so they can act with impunity until ebay does something about them.

Ebay is NOT an auction house, that is the problem (4, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 6 years ago | (#22652292)

Ebay is closer to an auction engine, it suplies the tool but the SELLER is the one who is the auctioneer, this is odd because usually in auctions there is a threesome going on. Seller, Buyers and Auctioneer. The auctioneer is the middle man and makes sure BOTH sides keep up their side of the bargain.

The whole thing about negative feedback doesn't happen in real auction houses. Rememeber that deal with the vizors of the La Forge not being the real one worn by the actor? Was it the seller OR christies who took the heat for that? Answer,the auction house, they accepted the item and certified it as being real.

If I buy something at an auction I pay the auction house and THEY hand me the item. E-bay is a far cry from this and people forget this.

Auction houses are an ancient invention, there is a REASON they work the way they do so it is only natural that when ebay tries to change this ancient process problems will occur.

If ebay worked like a normal auction house then there wouldn't be any problems other then the typical buyer beware, but that is try anywhere.

in the long term... (4, Insightful)

wpegden (931091) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651268)

In the long term, the feedback changes are really important for the sellers too. I've known lots of people who got ripped off on ebay, buying from sellers who had 98% positive feedback, because they hadn't bothered to go through and actually read all of that feedback---some of "mutually withdrawn"---to recognize that they're dealing with a sometimes dishonest seller who knows how to use feedback threats to keep their ratings high.

If ebay doesn't want people to be turned off, they need to get this under control.

Yes, I've heard it all, there are jerk buyers as there are sellers, and this will mean some honest sellers absorbing negative feedback they don't deserve. The point to keep in mind, is that this effect will be distributed more or less evenly among sellers, leaving it possible to reliably distinguish the good sellers from the bad. Under the current system, the dishonest sellers benefit the most, because they are the ones willing to use threats and retaliatory feedback to prop up their profile.

I'm still surprised ebay had the foresight to do this.

Re:in the long term... (1)

bpdski (537070) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651940)

Why don't they just change it so that feedback from both parties is not visible until both have left feedback? Problem solved.

Why no EU action against obvious Monopoly? (1)

TXISDude (1171607) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651272)

Microsoft, Cisco, Intel, IBM - they have had their turn through the monopoly ringer from major governments . . . why is ebay exempt? Because there is no fanatical base screaming? Watch out ebay, you may create it, and then, well ask Mr. Ballmer what making checks out to EU is like!

Google Auctions anyone? (1)

Araxen (561411) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651290)

Please somebody come in and challenge Ebay. The market is screaming right now for some competition.

Save us Google! (1)

JohnSearle (923936) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651298)

Has anyone heard of any G-Bay rumours?

- John

I am a case study (5, Interesting)

clonan (64380) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651384)

The last time eBay did a major change to their fee structure, I was a large power seller.

I sold jewelry $15-%50 range. Mainly silver with gemstones, almost no costume. I had a rating of about 9000 and % positive of 99.7. I was netting about 35K a year. My system worked on volume. I would make $0.50 to $1.00 per sale. At that size I ended up sending eBay about $70K a year.

The last time they cahnged their fees they essentially killed my profit margin. Now I could have adjusted at that point and probably survived but at the same time they started using some incredibly poorly written bots. These bots decided I was selling illegale stuff and even though I had exceptional records eBay refused to have a human even look at what the bots were reporting.

After over a year fighting with eBay and holding my last months worth of fees (about 2K) I finally got someone from their collections department to give me some information...I ended up settling the debt for $1600 plus a printout of what the bot was reporting.

To sum up, because eBay did not treat me fairly while at the same time demanding more money from me I have completly left them and they no longer get my $70,000 a year in fees.

While eBay is still huge, Google and other search engines provide independent sellers almost as much visibility so I predict that these sort of heavy handed tactics will only speed eBay's decline from the throne of online reselling services.

Re:I am a case study (1)

Mike Van Pelt (32582) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651852)

This is a good point -- Do real power-sellers really need EBay? How many people come to EBay because they did a Google search for an item, and the EBay listing just happened to be among the results? How much does it cost to get special treatment from Google, and how does this compare with EBay's fee structure?

The sellers who have a problem with this (4, Insightful)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651392)

Are exactly the sellers that should leave ebay or simply be banned outright.
Get rid of the storefronts too.

Ebay is great when it acts as a garage sale, but that is rare since all the professional sellers turned it into a gigantic strip mall.

The FTC will laugh in the faces hopefully.

Did $6,000 on eBay Dec-Jan, stopped listing Feb (4, Interesting)

Nova Express (100383) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651430)

I did over $6,000 worth of book business in December and January, and I haven't listed anything since the rate hike and changes were announced. The new Final Value Fees hike takes too deep a cut in profitability for new small press books, and the "no negative feedback for buyers" is a non-starter, especially since everyone knows eBay's promise to crack down harder on deadbeat bidders is a lie. If it means spending more time and effort, you can always be sure that eBay is going to blow it off.

Since my feedback just recently went over 1,000, eBay keeps sending me e-mail to jon the PowerSeller program. I told them what they could do with it...

Lawrence Person
Lame Excuse Books
http://home.austin.rr.com/lperson/lame.html [rr.com]

the final straw (5, Insightful)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651520)

The problem with eBay is that it has shifted away from being a private auction site used by people trying to sell their own stuff. The modern eBay is home to thousands of somewhat shifty "Power Sellers" who buy stuff at estate sales, thrift stores, and garage sales. They list the stuff with often misleading descriptions and rip people off. Unfortunately, these junk dealers generate huge profit for eBay (I worked out the total fees related to a transaction once, and they came to about 15%, including PayPal, listing and final value costs).

It's time to split eBay into two sites - Pro and Casual Sellers. Let users quickly and easily filter out the "power sellers" and others who sell hundreds of items a year and focus on the amateur sellers offering their well-kept vintage cameras, video game consoles and so on. While they're at it, they also need to fix their feedback approach once and for all. Disabling negative feedback from sellers hamstrings good people and puts them at the mercy of sometimes irrational and mentally unbalanced buyers.

Re:the final straw (2, Interesting)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651710)

To take this further: It's shifted to a 'free' market place for China (Any word on if they still are letting China sell for free). Sometimes I like it because if I need cheap LEDs eBay has 100 sellers selling them but the 'auction' format is completely no-ideal. Google needs to setup a free/cheap 'marketplace'. There's no reason 100 pc LEDs should cost $.50 with $5 shipping and paypal/ebay getting their cut. Just set up a damn website and sell it.

But I agree 100%. If I'm looking for a used, cheap iPod I'll get 500 hits for "ZUNE IPOD 360". Thankfully ebay lets me negate terms but it's still annoying when I'm searching for headphones that i have to do 'iPod headphones -zune -mp3'.

Google could come to the table with all of these changes in place and eBay would lose 50% of their population over night. Make it easy to sell lots of things repeatedly (without doing a dutch auction), make it easy to just sell things period (without having to list everything as an auction), and make it easy to search for obscure or rare things or just used things from 'some guy' not trying to make a living on this.

Nothing is perfect but (1)

grumpyman (849537) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651532)

monopoly is always bad.

Big fish/Little Fish (1)

Atraxen (790188) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651546)

"Normally I wouldn't really care, but I think this is interesting because eBay is so dominant in their field, that there is no real alternative."

There was a time that people said the same thing about Hotmail in the webmail market. In the end, if people call for an alternative, someone will fill the emergent niche; if this alternative is of wide enough appeal, it may become the new mainstream. So, I agree with the summary that this will be interesting to watch - it always fun to see the lightweight newcomer battle the huge and established titan, even if the little guy ends up getting smashed...

(In fact, this is a good summary for why I read /. ...)

No competition? (1)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651556)

No competition? Now's my chance to launch a Sealed-bid second-price auction [wikipedia.org] site; something which actualy provides benefits to the buyers.

XKCD has a good eBay policy (3, Funny)

TrumpetX (445716) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651558)

Have a little more faith in the market (1)

jdavidb (449077) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651670)

Watching how things like this play out is interesting to me because I want to believe that the internet will require everyone to be more responsible or lose. But the real question for me is at what point does total marketplace dominance trump that.

If ebay doesn't shape up, won't their total marketplace dominance end? What obstacles are there to starting a competitor to ebay? Is it illegal or something? Will noone use it? Don't these disgruntled sellers constitute a perfect marketplace for such a competitor?

Re:Have a little more faith in the market (1)

delt0r (999393) | more than 6 years ago | (#22652098)

But would the buyers follow?

Market Dominance (1)

blueheronorganics (1251350) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651684)

This is very interesting in terms of market dominance to me as well. We closed our Ebay store nearly a year ago because we saw the fee hikes coming, and were already having trouble making it pencil. I have been struggling with many problems recently in our business that are hitting the same wall of "We don't care because you can't go anywhere else" I remember it used to be if you squawked enough you could get a little satisfaction, now all that seems possible and available is a "Sincere apology for the inconvenience" and I am really tired of it. If someone does business with our company and is unhappy for any reason, we take every step to make them happy! Why are so many companies losing sight of the long term for short term gains?

Blue Heron Organics & Natural Products [blueheronorganics.com]

eBay: We don't care, we don't have to! (3, Interesting)

achaios (1224786) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651746)

Some Power Sellers have it good. I like to browse the coins->ancient->greek category, and I have to wade through the listings of high volume sellers hawking crap like jewelry (not even all coin related) and reproductions (even though there is a specific category for these). One of the reproduction sellers didn't even bother to list the fact that it was a reproduction in the auction title. I tried reporting them to eBay as being listed in the wrong category, but that was as effective as yelling at the crack in the sidewalk that I tripped on, and a lot harder to do to boot, since I had to wade through several web pages to actually send the message on. Apparently, these dealers had the "terms of service = suggestions" package. I do use other sites than eBay, but unfortunately, they don't have the volume or selection. I guess the most frustrating thing for me is that I can see how much better it could be, if they could only work up the energy to care. They have drifted too far from their garage sale roots, and I don't see any improvement coming. But then again, they are "only the venue", as the keep telling everyone who threatens to sue. With all their marketing, that defense is becoming a bit shaky... -- Tom

imperfect substitutes (1)

DriveDog (822962) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651794)

Markets still work when imperfect substitutes are available, though not as efficiently. For example, some who might've previously thought of selling through eBay first may now consider CraigsList first.

Not only in the US. (2, Interesting)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651820)

The recent moves of eBay puzzle me. The scientology backdoor is one thing, but the action in Poland is entirely different.

eBay.pl is by no means dominant site in Poland. In Poland, THE auction site is allegro.pl, with more than 90% of the market. They charge very little for putting an item on auction, the percentage for a successful sale is low too. The second one is Swistak.pl, which, being much smaller, offers no fee for putting your items on auctions, and restricts all fees to people who sell lots, feature their producte etc. eBay used the same strategy until recently, keeping a firm third place close behind Swistak.pl

But last month or so, they introduced fees for putting items on auction. Result - almost all sellers from Poland vanished. It still lists some 80000 items 'from Poland' but if you check the listings, you see that over 90% of them are "e-book, electronic form, free electronic shipping everywhere world-wide." Currently there's some 8000 non-eBook offers )many of them duplicates from the few remaining desperate powersellers putting the same item in multiple categories) on eBay (vs almost 4 millions on Allegro), and essentially eBay.pl is dead.

nothing is perfect (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651914)

Ebay would be great if it were still a trading site. Some people like to sell, some people like to buy. Those that like to sell put stuff up, and those that like to buy have a way to pay no more than they think it is worth, and those that like to sell know they got as much as possible at that particular moment. Those that are follow minimal ethics will suceed. A perfect, frictionless, massless, marketplace.

IMHO, ebay has done much to destroy the marketplace, likely as the perfect market is not really profitable, as much as theorist might argue otherwise. The buy it now option and reservem pricing kills the auction premise. Powersellers kill the idea that you are trading with an individual that is just trying to get rid of unwanted product. In the end, this is just a flea market, and eBay is just the booth renter trying to create a profit out of otherwise wasted space.

Hatred. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22651952)

Webmaster for a Titanium PowerSeller here. Shooting Star on eBay... forgive me if I don't tell you which?

We hate eBay, we hate the awful customers eBay brings us, and PayPal won't stop lying to our customers when they fuck up their shitty excuse for a bank. We're gonna lift up stakes and move on to Amazon, leaving only a few signpost auctions in our wake. eBay and PayPal combined have managed to fuck up $200,000/yr in fees.

How victorious. Seriously, if a seller on eBay has a website? GO TO THE WEBSITE. Don't let eBay shove its dick in your shopping cart.

About the changes... (1)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651962)

As a VERY part-time seller on ebay (I may make $5k this year, and with everything I put into it, I may not really be making any money), I can attest to the oddities that ebay is trying to pull.

Right now, I'm doing okay, except I can't make much on an item I sell for .99 and cover the fees unless I add about $4-$5 to shipping, which is REALLY starting to cheese people off at times. Ebay hates it, too, but I don't really care about that.

Of course, other major sellers on other sites (Amazon, or any major retailer) have similar shipping (or pay for bulk rates) and also have the luxury of 4-6 weeks shipping. Not NotQuiteCajun, no sirreebob. If I don't have it out next day, (or get an ignorant buyer on the west coast) I can get tagged with 4's instead of 5's on my shipping time for no good reason than they didn't get it yesterday.

The sellers not being able to neg buyes is gonna be a wash - I don't think it's going to hurt as much as some sellers (particularly on the ebay feedback newsboards state), but we ARE going to see a rash of a small percentage of new buyers try and say "send me crap for free or I neg you." Ebay BETTER step up to the plate when that happens and back up the sellers, because it is going to get VERY bad between some sellers because it will be VERY easy to slam your competition by making a new user id and bidding something up and not paying.

I may shift to trying to move stuff first on discussion boards and such instead of auctions. We'll see.

Consider this before you yell (5, Interesting)

zonker77 (252314) | more than 6 years ago | (#22651966)

Ok first the disclaimer, I do work for eBay though I have no specific or internal knowledge of this particular case.

The part of the article here that caught my eye was "One forum thread from Friday pointed to a California-based seller known as sdc_prod_434012 with no previous eBay transactions whose new listings did not allow users to actually bid on his items."

Like I said I don't have any specific knowledge of this user or case but lets consider the facts and possibilities here. Its a user with 0 feedback, who has apparently never bought or sold a single item on eBay, despite being registered on the site for almost a year now. Then one morning he suddenly wakes up and in a brilliant display of speed and efficiency posts 35000 items for sale at once. Now then, is it more likely that this is:

a) An ambitious new user who was waiting for just the right moment to post his entire inventory for sale.
b) A scammer who is trying to get as many quick fraudulent buy-it-now transactions as he can before being noticed by the security filters.

I'd be willing to bet the correct answer is b, and that the anti-fraud programs correctly detected this user and disabled his items before people were able to bid on them. If this was a legitimate user then its unfortunate and I'm sure that customer service is apologizing profusely, but in 99 out of 100 cases like this its just your garden variety scammer and the fraud detection programs at eBay worked exactly as they were supposed to.

Notes on market dominance (2, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#22652092)

Online auctions are a business which tends towards market concentration. The biggest auction is the most valuable, and the auction systems are closed. eBay objects if you write a search engine for eBay auctions, or a system to manage auctions across multiple auction sites.

In contrast, e-mail systems are today open - Hotmail can mail to Gmail, and vice versa. That wasn't always the case. There was a time when MCImail, GEnie and AOL didn't talk to each other; eventually, the open e-mail system of the Internet wiped them all out. Search is open from the consumer side; all search engines can look at all sites. But it's not open from the advertiser side, not since Google bought DoubleClick.

So there's an inherent tendency towards monopoly in the auction area. It's a legitimate subject for antitrust enforcement.

Selling power on eBay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22652282)

So what is the going rate per MegaWatt -hour?
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