eBay Watch: The Auction Giant Giveth, and Taketh Away

This week eBay offers some concessions to sellers while holding steadfast on other new policies that have the community threatening to strike.

eBay To Lower Media Insertion Fees
This week eBay announced a new pricing structure for its media category. This popular category is home to sellers offering books, movies, music and video games. Only the first three tiers of the insertion fees will be lowered. The following insertion fee changes will take effect on Feb. 20, 2008:

  • $0.01 . 0.99 (auction-style only): Fee drops from $ .20 to $ .10
  • $1.00 - 9.99 (auction-style and fixed price): Fee drops from $ .40 to $ .25
  • $10.00 . 24.99 (auction-style and fixed price): Fee drops from $ .60 to $ .35

PayPal Alternatives Come Out of Hiding
When eBay first said the company will begin to freeze some PayPal payments in risky situations, only a few people took note of the actual consequences. As the proposed date for changes looms closer, however, a slew of opinions and alternative choices have started surfacing. EBay has said that to help ensure better buyer protection, in some cases eBay will require sellers to offer either PayPal or a merchant credit card to customers.

While PayPal buyer protection covers most qualified transactions up to $2000, sellers will only be required to provide this safe payment option to customers in riskier categories, for example, computers and cell phones. If the seller has, for example, less than a 100 Feedback, eBay says PayPal can hold payment funds until either the buyer has left positive Feedback or 21 days have passed without a claim.

Even though PayPal has said this would effect less than five percent of transactions, many sellers just do not agree that PayPal should have the right to hold their money for 21 days if the buyer doesn't feel like leaving feedback. To this end, PayPal alternatives such as Digital River and AlertPay are making themselves known as viable PayPal alternatives.

Out of the many proposed changes, this one definitely takes the cake, in my opinion, as the oddest development yet. Realistically, I can't think of a single business that ships out product before being paid by the customer, so I can't quite comprehend why eBay would expect any seller to work in this manner either. Payments will not be held for sellers who manage to meet all the following requirements:

  • eBay Tenure: Greater than six months
  • Total Feedback score: More than 100
  • Dissatisfied Buyers Percentage: Less than five percent
  • Detailed Seller Rating: Greater than 4.5
  • Total Detailed Seller Ratings Received: More than 20 in the last 12 months

No Give on "Shipping Weighted" Feedback Changes
Lorrie Norrington, president, eBay Global Marketplace Operations, recently showed eBay's unwillingness to make any room for compromise in terms of adjustments to the shipping section of the Detailed Seller Rating (DSR) feedback system. While stating that eBay did indeed hear sellers when they asked eBay to re-examine the shipping DSR, Norrington said that eBay will proceed with plans to change the feedback system and include the weighting of Detailed Seller Ratings (DSRs) in search results as previously announced.

While many sellers posting in the eBay feedback thread on the PowerSellersUnite discussion forum do not appear to agree with the changes, some do agree that there are sellers who are 'snakes' on eBay and this is eBay's way of trying to appease the buying community — even at the risk of forcing some sellers to look elsewhere online to list.

Unfortunately, eBay dictating that sellers "may only leave positive feedback for buyers, at the seller's option" is just not sitting well with a vast number of sellers at this point in time. For more information on the changes that are expected to be made to eBay Feedback, you can review eBay's feedback 2008 page.

Cards and Art Receive Item Specifics
Lastly, eBay says they will be adding eBay Item Specifics to several categories including Cards: Sports Memorabilia, Cards, & Fan Shop, several Art subcategories and two of the Athletic Apparel categories. Item Specifics lets sellers take advantage of eBay's Pre-filled Item Information, such as stock photos, brands, models, colors and more to provide standard information to users without having to type the details in by hand. Pre-Filled Item Information is optional when listing.

Vangie Beal is a seasoned eBay seller and frequent contributor to ECommerce-Guide.com. She is also managing editor of Webopedia.com.

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