Miffed eBayers Mobilize for May Break Up

The Long Good-bye: Readers sound off on whether sellers will be successful in changing eBay's proposed feedback changes or prompting Donahoe's resignation.
Disgruntled eBay sellers are not bidding good-bye to protests over the company's new feedback policy. Some strikers from the initial rebellion are still opting out of eBay while others are regrouping to organize a permanent break up kicking off in May. After our initial story on the effort, we received some comments from readers that we've outlined here along with a more detailed overview of the movement.

On Feb. 26, eBay member Mrskillion started a new discussion thread in the forums to promote an open-ended boycott of eBay starting May 1, which has been dubbed the May Day boycott. Calling the February 18-25th boycott a success, Mrskillion, is calling for sellers to rally by organizing again through off-eBay forums for the next protest, namely at the discussion forum and Web site dedicated to the 2008 eBay Boycott.

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While unhappy sellers have primarily taken issue with the new feedback policy prohibiting them from leaving negative comments about buyers, they are now also upset eBay's promotional efforts during the last boycott. They say the auction company padded listings by offering steep discounts to offset any decrease in activity that may have resulted by the boycott. Many sellers maintain that eBay is actually manipulating numbers of listings on the site. On the 2008 eBay Boycott Web site, sellers accuse eBay of  holding listing sales to create "artificial spikes" in seller traffic, and also claim that eBay has inserted tens of thousands (if not more) of  test auctions and other unscrupulous listings. EBay countered this by stating that these types of listings were the results of ongoing site testing.

Meanwhile, the seller's demands are clear and concise. According to this growing group of eBay merchants, the demands are as follows: they want eBay to revamp the feedback process (but not as currently proposed by eBay), use Detailed Seller Ratings, but not to determine how items are listed in eBay search results, immediately release PayPal funds and also adjust fees to "reasonable rates." Basically, it takes aim at all the changes announced Jan. 23 when John Donahoe was appointed to take over as CEO of eBay upon the retirement of  Meg Whitman. This boycott actually goes so far as to call for Donahoe's resignation if  the boycott terms are not met.

Sellers Sound Off On ECommerce-Guide.com
After covering the eBay boycott last week in eBay Watch, sellers wrote in to give us their own perspective and views on eBay, its proposed feedback changes and why boycotting is an action they are taking as an eBay seller.

EBay seller Arrowsmith-rd, from Eastern Washington state, is a stay-at-home mother who uses eBay to supplement her income. In an e-mail conversation with Arrowsmith-rd, she wrote that while she is able to make ends meet without eBay, there are many who can't, and even those sellers are stepping up and boycotting because they feel wronged. Arrowsmith-rd wrote in to tell us why she supports boycotting eBay:

"I have strived very hard to keep my feedback at one hundred percent, bending over backwards when needed. I have only left two negative feedbacks since 2002, and both were for non-paying buyers, and both were given numerous chances to pay, reply, or give a good reason for bidding and then not following through. I hate to leave anyone a negative, but I think buyers should be held to the same standards as sellers.  The fact that a seller can no longer leave a buyer anything but positive feedback just doesn't make sense. That feedback has merit. It lets the seller beware, and also, should that buyer decide to later sell, then that would count toward measuring their integrity.

EBay keeps calling us their sellers, but we do not belong to them. In reality, eBay belongs to the sellers, since we are paying for a service, not the other way around. EBay does not have customers, other than the seller, as they do not sell anything but auction space. I feel very strongly about the way so many have been wronged.

One lady on the "Sign the Pledge" eBay discussion forum is an elderly lady with heart problems and this is a big supplement to her income. There are many others who have had to really tighten their belts to get through this. I don't understand this deal about auction padding, how they continue to get away with it. There are others who have saved page after page of these auctions. The one thing, above the raise in final value fees and forcing sellers to use PayPal, which is also owned by eBay, is the fact that all the feedback so many have worked for years, will disappear. Feedback is only good for 12 months now. Also by forcing sellers to use PayPal, they can hold your money for up to 21 days, or longer if a dispute is filed.

I have another question. Why were so many of the big-wigs selling off so much of their shares last fall? Does this hint of Enron? Maybe I'm just grasping at straws, but I am just so hopping mad. EBay used to be the place to go when you were looking for the hard to find vase or book, or that out- of-circulation video game that you want for your kids. EBay considers that stuff "flea market" items and they are trying to get rid of it. They even list video game sales as risky. I used to feel welcome here, and it was fun. Not anymore."

(Continue to Page 2 for more reader responses)

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