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EBay Losing Allure for Some Entrepreneurs

Old 06-27-05, 07:40 PM
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EBay Losing Allure for Some Entrepreneurs

From yahoo news:
EBay Losing Allure for Some Entrepreneurs

SAN JOSE, Calif. - With roughly 150 million registered users, eBay Inc. ranks among the world's most powerful companies, online or otherwise. It had more than 1.4 billion items listed last year. For every $100 spent online worldwide, $14 was spent on eBay. But some say eBay's blockbuster growth has engendered arrogance.

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Entrepreneurs grumble that executives pander to big-ticket electronics vendors and industrial manufacturers not the teddy bear enthusiasts and numismatists who were faithful a decade ago, when eBay was founded and enjoyed a kitschy obscurity. They complain about shoddy customer service, including site crashes and anti-fraud software that too often mistakes a legitimate business for a huckster.

Meanwhile, eBay executives are looking for new revenue as growth slows in North America and competition heats up from Amazon, Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO - news), Google Inc. and plucky startups. Business experts agree that eBay faces daunting obstacles, such as cracking the nascent Chinese e-commerce market and broadening the audience for PayPal, the online payment division that still does 71 percent of its transactions through eBay.

"They've made good strides but haven't fully monetized other opportunities," said David Edwards, an analyst at American Technology Research in San Francisco. "The nature of a marketplace is that once you have a critical mass, it tends to stick, and there's not a lot that can unseat it. But that's not to say that eBay doesn't have significant challenges ahead."

Jewelry dealer Michael Jansma used to be one of eBay's biggest cheerleaders. The entrepreneur from Largo, Fla., sells roughly $250,000 worth of baubles every month on the auction site. But the revenue Jansma gets from eBay has declined over the past year, and in January the company raised fees, denting his profits.

To compensate, he added inventory on his own site, gemaffair.com, which sells about $60,000 worth of pearls and other luxuries each month. In November, he opened an account with Overstock.com, where he sells $35,000 in merchandise per month. And in February, he began selling on Amazon.com, where sales have more than doubled each month.

"I hope eBay gets the message: People have choices, and if we're not happy we'll look elsewhere," Jansma said. "I hope eBay will rise to the occasion."

EBay foes concede that it would be nearly impossible to eclipse the world's largest online auction company. But that hasn't stopped them from carving out niches where they perceive eBay to be weak.

Take fraud, for example. EBay maintains that less than one-hundredth of 1 percent of all listings are fraudulent, but scammers target high-priced items such as plasma TVs, and some victims have lost thousands of dollars. Although eBay's fraud-detection software alerts internal investigators of suspicious listings, executives say it's impossible to police a site receiving as many as 2,000 new listings per second.

By contrast, Chicago-based UBid Inc. verifies addresses and checks bank references for all 3,700 of its sellers. Service representatives place random orders to ensure prompt delivery, said CEO Bob Tomlinson.

"EBay's taking a hands-off approach to fraud that makes some users uncomfortable," Tomlinson said. "We're taking a hands-on approach."

EBay has also gained a reputation as unresponsive to complaints, a company that acts like an unregulated monopoly and only recently has extended an olive branch.

In mid-January, eBay warned sellers in a terse e-mail that the monthly fee to operate an "Basic eBay Store" would increase from $9.95 to $15.95, and standard listing fees would double, to 40 cents. Sellers peppered eBay executives with angry mail, forcing the company to reduce some fees.

EBay CEO Meg Whitman acknowledges that some of eBay's user relationships have been difficult. But the company, which routinely flies in buyers and sellers for focus groups, has "redoubled" efforts to be innovative, she said.

"Sometimes it's a little bit like being a politician," Whitman said. "We have work to do in understanding our users' sentiments."

Bill Cobb, president of eBay North America, said the company would try to mollify disgruntled sellers with a new rule. If a winning bid comes from someone who has no intention of paying, the seller's rating will not suffer in eBay's "feedback" feature. Sellers often complain of too many fake bidders, particularly on cultural zeitgeist items. For example, in November, a grilled cheese sandwich purportedly depicting the Virgin Mary sold for $28,000, but only after the posting received 1.7 million hits and several astronomical fake bids were eliminated.

Such changes are a departure from the original mission of eBay founder Pierre Omidyar to create a site that would act as an intermediary between buyers and sellers, devoid of oversight or bureaucracy.

"Pierre never in effect wanted customer support because the marketplace was supposed to work everything out," Cobb said. "But when you scale to 150 million members, you have to account for the margins. Unfortunately you have a very small percentage of people who will try to disrupt the marketplace."

But eBay's contrition may be too late. Salt Lake City-based Overstock.com launched an auction site eight months ago that addresses complaints from eBay sellers partly by charging roughly one-third of eBay's listing and transaction fees. It has 225,000 listings, from tractors to sneakers.

Holly MacDonald-Korth, senior vice president of Overstock auctions, takes calls directly from sellers. By contrast, eBay only stopped sending automated e-mail responses to sellers in February.

"Larger sellers give us a depth of inventory that we need, but the smaller sellers really give us the flavor," MacDonald-Korth said.

Despite the complaints, eBay still maintains an enviable, passionate user base. More than 10,000 sellers converged in San Jose last week for eBay's 10th anniversary, which ended Saturday with a concert by The B-52s.

Glenna Woolard of Santa Cruz, who sported a temporary eBay tattoo and a woven ponytail in eBay's logo colors, has been a seller since 1999. A stay-at-home mother of four, she hawks items purchased from local estate liquidations, garage sales and industrial auctions, with monthly revenue of $3,000.

"EBay takes the 9-to-5 world away, so even someone like me can fit into the economy," Woolard said. She hopes to spend next summer collecting items to sell on eBay while driving cross-country in her Fleetwood Bounder, a mobile home she purchased on eBay for $29,000.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050627/..._at_crossroads

I can't believe that Ebay dismisses fraudulent emails, bad customer service and bootlegs. Paypal and Ebay are one of the sites that hackers and bootlegers use on a daily basis for decieving, money and email scams, and identity theft and they don't anyhting to stop it. They say its out of their hands. Unbelievable.
Old 06-27-05, 09:28 PM
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What I seriously cannot believe is that there isn't a new online auction site that is putting a serious rival against Ebay. For all the complaining about Ebay, I don't see anyother auction site offering the kind of exposure Ebay gives their sellers. You would think by now that their sellers would jump ship and other sites like yahoo's auctions, amazon.com's auctions, or some other new auction only website would be doing massive business. Heck, even a site like Alibris doesn't even come close to what Ebay is. (Not that is an auction site, but it is a good site for people to sell some stuff on, though it's limited what you can sell in the categories they offer.)
Old 06-27-05, 10:26 PM
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EBAY is a haven for bootleggers, the movie industry needs to after EBAY to put an end to all the pirated junk being sold on their site.

Try reporting one of the many bootleg DVDs being sold on their site and watch the item, they will never remove it. You look at the seller's history with many negative feedback from buyer's being ripped off.

http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/bootlegs.html

EBAY cares more about making money from the sale of illegal items than they do for uninformed buyers.
Old 06-28-05, 03:19 AM
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Originally Posted by calhoun07
What I seriously cannot believe is that there isn't a new online auction site that is putting a serious rival against Ebay. For all the complaining about Ebay, I don't see anyother auction site offering the kind of exposure Ebay gives their sellers. You would think by now that their sellers would jump ship and other sites like yahoo's auctions, amazon.com's auctions, or some other new auction only website would be doing massive business. Heck, even a site like Alibris doesn't even come close to what Ebay is. (Not that is an auction site, but it is a good site for people to sell some stuff on, though it's limited what you can sell in the categories they offer.)
In theory that would be a better idea but it won't happen. Ebay is the biggest out there and sellers won't jump ship until they believe that they'll get more exposure elsewhere. So unless a massive amount of buyers jump, sellers won't leave either.
Old 06-28-05, 01:44 PM
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I don't know if pissed ebay for putting the article over here, but since I posted it, i have been recieving watch notice emails in different languages and double the amount of Paypal and Ebay "membership cancellation" fraud emails.
Old 06-28-05, 05:26 PM
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I am all for a crack down on the bootleggers on Ebay. For all the time and investment the RIAA and the MPAA have put into cracking down on file sharers, complete with horror stories of them going after somebody on Medicaid because their grandchildren downloaded a few songs a couple summers ago, why not shut down the crap sold on Ebay? It is ridiculous and out of control. I would say that in some instances you can look up a popular title and maybe 80% of the matches that come up include bootlegs of some sort.

Ebay probably wouldn't like that, though. That would be a MAJOR cut out of their annual profits.
Old 06-28-05, 07:16 PM
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It seems like a lot of the buyers don't know any better either though- I've never bought any regular DVDs from Ebay, but I have gotten a few home-made DVDs of weird stuff like old TV commercials and drive-in trailers. A good percentage of them have been poorly made- the biggest problem is people are using DVD recorders set to put chapters every 5 minutes, instead of putting them at every segment like they should be. Yet when you check their feedback from buyers, most of them put comments like "Great DVD!" I'm working on my own DVD of old TV commercials taken from old Beta and VHS tapes I've found, and when I finally get it done it's going to kick serious butt over the crap other people are selling. Since the legality of this is still a bit shady however (but nothing the powers that be are going to be concerned about if they let people get away with selling copies of stuff you can buy legitimately), and some sellers will give you negative feedback if you say anything bad about them, I try to limit my feedback comments to the delivery- regardless if what I received was crap or not, at least I did receive something. One comment I posted "received in good condition, but disc only has auto-chaptering" and the seller responded "Actually there's no chapters, it just plays, what a concept!"
Anyways, since apparently most buyers can't even tell they've got a badly-done homemade DVD when they see it, they probably aren't noticing at all when they get a copy of a legit release.
Old 06-28-05, 07:59 PM
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I have a question... if ebay spend money and resources to eliminate those bootlegged items in their auctions, would they then pass the cost to us as an increase in fee?
Old 06-28-05, 09:13 PM
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Originally Posted by mookiemeister
I have a question... if ebay spend money and resources to eliminate those bootlegged items in their auctions, would they then pass the cost to us as an increase in fee?
EBAY tries to increase their fees all the time... they don't need the excuse of incresed resources to eliminate bootleg items.

I don't think EBAY really has any intention of stopping bootleg items. The fact you report someone selling a bootleg item and yet they do nothing about it. Sorry I don't buy the excuse that they don't have the resources to stop illegal items being sold on their site. Until the MPAA and RIAA go after EBAY for allowing these items to continue being sold will we see a real effort on EBAY's part to stop bootleg items.

MPAA and RIAA stop going after grandparents and little kids for filesharing. Go after the crap being sold on EBAY!!!
Old 06-28-05, 09:43 PM
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The reason they don't do anything if you report a bootleg is because they can't do anything. Only the copyright holder can file the claim to get the auction removed from the site.
Old 06-29-05, 12:53 AM
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^^^ Bullocks. They can stop any auction for any item any time they want to. Remember when they "banned" Apex DVD players, even though no one asked them to?
Old 06-29-05, 01:18 AM
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Originally Posted by calhoun07
The reason they don't do anything if you report a bootleg is because they can't do anything. Only the copyright holder can file the claim to get the auction removed from the site.
They certainly could do something. They might not have the authority to take legal action, but they could ammend their user agreement to state that they have the right to suspend/cancel any auction that may be a copyright violation until proven otherwise.
Old 06-30-05, 01:11 AM
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Originally Posted by D-Ball
They certainly could do something. They might not have the authority to take legal action, but they could ammend their user agreement to state that they have the right to suspend/cancel any auction that may be a copyright violation until proven otherwise.
And then honest sellers could be targeted and have their accounts suspended for no good reason. How are they going to proove they are selling legit things if somebody erroneously reports them? Not that would happen too often, but it does happen on sites like cafepress.com. Imagine you piss somebody off for whatever reason, and they try to get back at you by filing a false report against you?
Old 06-30-05, 01:35 AM
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Originally Posted by calhoun07
And then honest sellers could be targeted and have their accounts suspended for no good reason. How are they going to proove they are selling legit things if somebody erroneously reports them? Not that would happen too often, but it does happen on sites like cafepress.com. Imagine you piss somebody off for whatever reason, and they try to get back at you by filing a false report against you?

The frequency of that happening would be minimal compared to the amount legitimate complaints. Ebay could use feedback history, picture of the item in question, etc. to determine whether it is a legitimate claim. Or they could require a certain number of claims before the seller is suspended. Then a single pissed-off customer wouldn't do much harm. There are many things Ebay could do to combat bootlegs. And an honest seller shouldn't have anything to worry about.
Old 06-30-05, 01:29 PM
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The main problem is that Ebay doesn't have experts in the field of the categories they list. For example, they don't have a DVD expert, someone who knows if a DVD got released or not. Still, they sell DVDs and there is a huge quantity of bootlegs from everywhere in the world of films, TV shows and cartoons that haven't seen the light of day. Another thing is that their feedback system is a joke. Ebayers don't usually leave negative feedback for fear of retaliatory negative feedback. Sellers advertise a product and then give you another thing. Everywhere else, that is fraud and the Better Business Bureu would have a field day with the customer, but on ebay, they don't do squat. You leave bad feedback and the seller then gives you retaliatory bad feedback, when you have been a good and prompt customer and there is nothing you can do about it. What does the customer do the next time? Doesn't leave feedback and the bad seller continues to scam people from their money.
Old 06-30-05, 01:31 PM
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I've noticed more and more that most of the people who sell dvds fulltime (or regularly) have been lowering prices and raising shipping prices. Anyone else notice this? There's an option to include shipping cost in the searches, so I don't bother with people who sell a dvd with $8-12 shipping.
Old 06-30-05, 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by dick_grayson
I've noticed more and more that most of the people who sell dvds fulltime (or regularly) have been lowering prices and raising shipping prices. Anyone else notice this? There's an option to include shipping cost in the searches, so I don't bother with people who sell a dvd with $8-12 shipping.
This is because EBAY keeps taking a bigger chuck out of the seller profits. Not only do they charge listing fees but, also charge you a percentage of what an item sells for not based on shipping charges. So if you sell an item for a $1.00 and charge $10.00 to ship the seller really only pays commission on the $1.00.

Originally Posted by dx3
The main problem is that Ebay doesn't have experts in the field of the categories they list. For example, they don't have a DVD expert, someone who knows if a DVD got released or not.
I agree they don't have experts but, many of the auctions I have reported in the seller's description they will put things like "DVD-R", "This is a copy", "Why pay a high price for an out of print DVD when you can get it cheaper from me on a nice DVD-R copy" or you look at the seller's feedback history and see netural or negative feedback from buyers saying that they thought they were buying a legit DVD and got a bootleg. Sorry I don't buy EBAY's excuses and neither will the MPAA when they finally decied to go after EBAY for allowing such auctions to go on. The music industry didn't buy Napster's excuses on file sharing and neither did the courts.
Old 06-30-05, 06:42 PM
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Well, a friend of mine was caught selling an anime bootleg (the person really had no idea they were boots, though I've since educated them), and they suspended the account indefinitely. There was no chance at explaining or anything, and this person certainly wasn't selling as prolifically as a store might. I think this was at the request of the domestic company that bought the rights to the anime in question had requested that ebay do this, though.
Old 07-01-05, 12:54 AM
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THIS ARTICLE COULDN'T POSSIBLY BE ANY MORE RELEVANT TO MY CURRENT SITUATION!!!

Everything that article says is true. eBay has become so jaded from the internet that they just - don't - care. They really - don't - care. They do volume, and will push you out at the first sign of there maybe possibly being a probably problem. They just - don't - care.

A little background... I'm a pretty big eBay seller. Not up there like some people. But pretty big. It's my full time job. I run one business on my own (cell phones), and one business with a family member (industrial equipment ... work is split like 30me/70him). Since I started in 1999, I'd say that I've had around 10,000 transactions.

I pride myself on being an eBay entpreneur since I was 15. I made a few extra bucks, backing in the days of Reel.Com and those other guys. After they left, I got into selling music merchandise for Modest Mouse on there (back when there were just taking off with Moon and Antarctica).

I've been running a cell phone business on eBay for a few years now. My monthly sales are around 15k, and my monthly fees around $3500. At one time, I was purchasing 55-10k/month worth of various phones on eBay, getting them in, testing them, making replairs/modifications, and turning them around with warranties. Of course, I had a different username to purchase my stuff. I would have considered my self a 'full time buyer'. Well, I eventually got "three strikes" for not paying. They were actually from people who were rude to me, and I said "go fuck yourself" (well, in a nicer manner). So that username was suspended. WELLLL... A year later, they're like "hey, you can't be linked to this suspended user ... you're being kicked off eBay". They left me out cold. Absolutely nowhere to go. They cut off my cash flow, which you just can't plan for. People weren't getting phones, cancelled checks, filing complaints, filing chargebacks (since eBay does sent emails to all of my customers, telling them not to do business with me).

A good bit of anguish goes by. A month later, I started up a new username, business, and rebuilt EVERYTHING(!!!). A few months go by. I get a call regarding my old account. We converse for a few days, he says 'you're fine with that old problem'. Well, another 14 months go by. The fees go up. I'm now giving around half my profit to eBay in the form of fees. I've forgotten about all of it, and just went on. IT HAPPENED AGAIN! And it's landed me in serious fucking trouble with a lot of people, as my operation is ten times bigger than it was last year. I mean, it's an official, tax-paying, legal entity now. I have two employees. I have an inventory valued close to $70k, and it didn't come cheap ... nor is it all paid for. It's just sitting, with nothing to do. I'm terrified of doing much with it on eBay (wholesaling it is my only option, and even that is proving hard).

I went back to my old account. I e-mailed people that I haven't talked to in two years, and told them about the problem. They were pretty nice this time around (probably didn't even remember me). They helped reinstate my account. But now I still have my first selller account, that they said they won't reinstated. It's so fucking unbearably beaurocratic. I'm NOT going through that shit again. This ... is ... done. And that's where I'm at ... RIGHT NOW. And it's fucking bullshit that they can treat people like this, and not even help work out issues - specifically, issued a fucking minor as the one I had nearly TWO YEARS AGO.

As of this point, the cell phone business is gone.

Luckily, I sort of had my other business to fall back on. But it's left BOTH of us pretty bitter with eBay. I'm working my hardest to find new outlets to list our stuff, and completely move off of eBay. I've been working my way into various trading posts for specific equipment (labx.com ... which has been GREAT, and things like that).

Before this, I was attmitingly pretty fucking wealthy. Now, I'm barely scraping by, with maxed out credit cards, two former-employees that aren't at all happy about what I did, and more-or-less, starting a new business AGAIN. All over some stupid shit that occured YEARS ago.

Additionally, I've been ripped off on BOTH sides, on a rather large scale (lost upwards of 10k over the past few years). But I'm not even going to go into that part...

In closing, eBay is NOT the kind of place to safely do business. And they're going to find it out when all the self-respecting businesses migrate to other trade sites. And, with their ridiculous fees, it's nearly impossible for an electronics dealer to conduct business, and still turn a profit.
Old 07-03-05, 07:11 PM
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Wonder how long they will allow this item to be sold???

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...tem=6411901054

Last edited by Tracer; 07-03-05 at 07:33 PM.
Old 07-03-05, 11:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Tracer
Wonder how long they will allow this item to be sold???

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...tem=6411901054
My guess is not long...
This listing (6411901054) has been removed by eBay or is no longer available. Please make sure that you've entered the item number correctly.
What was it?
Old 07-04-05, 05:33 PM
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