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Have eBay lost the plot?

I like eBay. I've bought things on it and sold them too - quite obscure things - and every time I've dealt with genuine, friendly people. When buying I've picked up a bargain - and when selling I've got way more than if I'd tried to sell to a shop. It's worked for me  - and I've liked it because it's based on trust. And I like PayPal too - it enables the likes of me to take credit cards very easily. It's liberating - you bypass big business.

Except of course eBay is big business. And they're about to get bigger. They've announced a raft of changes to 'benefit their customers' and some of the small traders are very unhappy. Most of the complaints are that the fees for the smaller seller are going up and in some cases will drive them out of business and yet big sellers will be better off. eBay claim everyone will benefit - but they would wouldn't they?

It looks like the changes are geared towards attracting bigger vendors with fixed price products - or the BUY IT NOW button in eBay parlance. I've noticed this already - last time I looked for something I got one bloke in Cambridge and lots of results from a large vendor in China offering fixed price products. Is this the future of eBay - a shopping mall instead of the car boot sale that was so endearing? That would be a real shame.

UK towns already all look the same - the same boring shops - and now eBay is to follow suit?

eBay price changes.



Comments: (2)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 29 August, 2008, 01:42Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I too have had positive experiences early on with purchasing and even selling on Ebay, however fraud and bad service put me off.

The level of fraudulent or purposely mis-described goods, allowed by Ebay to be foisted upon unsuspecting buyers made the whole experience tedious. for every genuine item one had to trawl through 50 fake items, which clearly were fakes and were listed in flagrant violation of Ebay's (alleged) policy.

Just look in antiques.

The hijacked accounts selling non-existent goods, the poor customer service, the support staff with IQ's approaching that of a mung bean working from scripts carefully designed to dismiss complaints, rather than address them, the total lack of fraud protection especially when using Paypal and the steadily rising fees are just the tip of the iceberg.

I could go on and on.

It is clear that management doesn't have a clue.

Ebay can only survive so long with constant churn (even though there's 'one born every minute') but eventually they'll run out of customers.

I challenge them to provide numbers:

Did Ebay put fake listings up to pad the listings? (be very careful how you answer that one - they'll probably call them 'test' listings).

How many 'inactive' members are there?

How many 'suspended' members are there?

How many 'duplicate' members are there? (originally they did not allow multiple identities  until they needed some new 'members' for the annual report).

How many reported frauds? (not investigated frauds, just reported).

It's definitely been hijacked and lead down the garden path - I believe  towards the dung heap. Watch their share price tank. I'm not the only one with this view.

Personally I know of several thousand in fraud losses from just a handful of friends. I know you can buy a million $2 widgets and all is ok, because who wants to steal $2. As soon as you get into the big ticket items it's a different ball game. One you eventually lose.

It's only a personal view but I advise anyone I meet to stay away from Ebay, both in a personal and professional capacity.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 01 September, 2008, 04:59Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Fair question Peter. I've noticed eBay behaving like "big business" for quite some time now - from the people they've been hiring to the way they deal with the media.

When they tried to mandate PayPal as the only payment option for Australian eBayer's they crossed a line with many people. Despite the overwhelming number of compaints made by users about the proposal eBay only backed down when local regulators threatened to step in.

I find it surprising that a company that makes an effort to blog, and has traditionally been very effective at communicating with customers has slipped so easily in to behaving badly - especially when the groundswell does such a good job of telling them what is and isn't a good idea.