Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sellers Revolt As eBay Goes Corporate

FOR more than a decade, eBay has functioned as a global jumble sale where browsers can buy and sell everything from bric-a-brac to a Gulfstream jet. eBay was known for the availabilty of cheap little odds, the site was *used* to be brilliant for picking up the most absurd and unlikely things imaginable. So far-reaching has eBay's appeal become that millions have taken to disposing of their wares on its online pages. Now, however, the internet auction site is facing a revolt from some of the individual internet users that helped to establish it as a worldwide brand.

A worldwide one-day boycott of eBay, which has annual revenues of £3.8 billion, is being organised for May 1 and British users of the site are among those intent on implementing it. The internet giant was founded in 1995 and its celebrity users include Sir Paul McCartney, Johnny Depp and Cameron Diaz - Cherie Blair has admitted to bidding for shoes online.

The changes are being introduced by John Donahoe, who took over as chief executive last month. He has said he wants to upgrade eBay's image from a flea market to something more like a shopping centre.

Until now, eBay traders have been able to rate each other's conduct on the site, thereby enabling other users to judge how trustworthy they are. The system is vital in allowing small sellers to build a good reputation. It also allows them to post responses to abusive or untrue comments written by buyers. From May, eBay is banning sellers from posting feedback at all in order to avoid unjustified comments posted on buyer and seller profiles unfairly compromising their reputations. This was credited with establishing the bedrock of trust to enable strangers to buy and sell each others' goods anonymously.Only buyers will be able to post comments on the service they have received. This will leave sellers with no reply to postings that damage their reputations.

The sellers argue that the move is an excessive attempt to professionalise the site by imbuing it with the attitude that "the customer is always right" rather than the trades being a matter of give-and-take.

Tony Mills, a British eBay trader, said in an online posting: "The changes will allow buyers to be more honest when leaving feedback, it will also allow them to be more dishonest about it, too. They shouldn't be taking money from people in the first place if they think they are bad sellers."
The suspicion that eBay is favouring big business was sharpened in February when the company made changes to its charging structure.

The cost of listing items for sale was cut by up to a third, but the fee payable on completion of the sale - based on a percentage of final price - rose from 5.25% to 7.25%. Those who sell large quantities of items through the site can qualify for discounts of up to 40%.

“We are a marketplace founded on trust. While that is a very powerful proposition, it does mean that if people have a bad experience on our site, caused by a poor seller, then they will no longer use the site,” said Vanessa Canzini, a spokeswoman for eBay.

“Clearly, this is in no one’s interest, least of all our sellers, so the changes we announced recently are unashamedly focused on protecting buyers.”

Canzini said the site was not trying to alienate small users and that most sellers would see their overall fees stay the same or even decrease, while malicious comments from buyers would be removed by the company.

Justification by ebay :-

Among other changes that have hit the popular auction site, eBay will now be blocking sellers from leaving negative feedback about buyers. EBay claims that there were problems slowing down sales when buyers left negative feedback about the seller who then fired back.
Starting in May, sellers on eBay will no longer have the option of leaving negative or neutral feedback about buyers.

According to the BBC the change will affect all eBay users worldwide but sellers are not convinced this is for the better. They say it will leave them defenseless when a sale goes bad. EBay says that will not be the case.

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