Sunday 31 January 2010

Flip Flop eBay

Hey, it's their company, they can do as they please I suppose. However, I can't help being amused at the odd business sense being shown by eBay UK.

You know the drill ...

Well, that's how most see the site, and how they initially traded and grew. After a while, of course, they actively attracted professional sellers. So much so that their bread and butter small buyers and sellers were beginning to desert them. This led to a change in fees and the way search results were presented which didn't go down too well at the time.

They seem to have quite a lot of trouble balancing the two types of user, and have flip flopped back and forth for a while. Last year, they launched a charm offensive, to attract back the small sellers who earn a few pennies selling their unwanted goods, by re-introducing free listing for low-priced items.

In October, though, they changed tack again and stipulated that books, records (as mentioned specifically in the above 2007 ad) and a slew of other categories, must be listed with free postage.

Not a problem, I hear you say, as the seller can just add the postage cost to the item listing. Nope, as that is against eBay rules and can lead to account suspension or termination.

So, if you have a book worth around a quid before postage and want to sell it, the p&p cost, even for a Ladybird, will be around £1.50. That's before paying your fee to eBay and PayPal. Which kinda defeats the object of offering free listings for cheaper items ... that they were attempting to attract.

To make selling even easier, eBay has announced new pricing for casual sellers, making it free to list items in the classic eBay auction-style format with a starting price of up to 99p. There is a flat 10% Final Value Fee when the item sells. If it doesn’t sell, there’s no fee at all.

I'm sure there will be those stupid enough to sell something for £1 and pay £2 for the privilege (the UK is populated with plenty such fools) but most would rather take their unwanteds to the dump - along with eBay's cut.

If you're reading this from outside the UK, this doesn't apply to your satellite eBay site as the rules are only apparently applicable here.

eBay's profits took a bit of a dive last year, I'm not sure eBay UK are helping matters much with their confused customer relations initiatives.


Ray said...

I used to sell a few bits and bobs on eBay - old Haynes manuals for vehicles I no longer had and so on. I gave up on selling on eBay a couple of years ago. It is almost as if they are carefully thinking about what would be the best business decision and doing the opposite!

Cate Munro said...

Great post Dick.
Last year I sold a 20 inch Crumpler laptop bag which originally cost me over a ton.
However, when listing, E-bay stipulated that postage on such an item had to be free FFS!
Clearly this monster of a bag was going to cost a bit to post so I ended up charging for the postage within the actual advert! As IF I was going to throw in a fivers worth of free postage!
Anyway - note to self - beware of E-bay trickery! ;-)

Anonymous said...

eBay no longer permits the selling of e-cigs, a non-Big-Pharma product - yet permits and encourages the vast black-market underground of sellers touting old, stale, dented, expired Nicorettes and patches plucked from the grungy back-bins and scooped off the filthy floors of pharmacies throughout the world, where they were apparently unable to be sold for lack of enough market desire for these products in the first place. eBay is politically-correct lunacy and with illogical thinking like that in fashion, beholding to Big Pharma fascists first, consumers second, no wonder they have a wishy-washy change in fees schedules on a continual basis. They'll be the next ones to fail one day for being micro-managed to death and policies based on political expediencies instead of a concern for customer comes first.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Ray & Totty: Personal experience which concurs with the article, excellent.

I remember eBay a while ago dreaming up the word 'rehome' for unwanted items sold there. The free P&P policy will just 'rehome' anything in those categories to the local landfill.

Seller gains no cash, eBay gain no fees. Everyone loses. Way to go, eBay.

Angry Exile said...

eBay do different cuntish things in different territories. Not so long ago it was going to be Paypal only for payments on, until the Australian regulator told them they couldn't do it. That might sound like the state doing something useful for a change but I'm not sure eBay's much smaller competitor Oztion, not to mention the Trading Post, would agree. I expect they were hoping for a lot of pissed off eBayers to head their way. As it is when selling on eBay Australia you can't leave negative feedback even if the buyer turns out to be a tyre kicking fuckwit or even an attempted fraudster. Nor can you put a reserve price on your item unless it's above a certain value ($100 I think), which fucks up everyone who might want to sell something as long as they can be certain of getting at least five bucks. Still, eBay's is a private business and they can run it how they like. If they want to alienate the very people who made their success and drive them off to sites that are run the way eBay used to be that's their lookout. Personally I won't sell through eBay again. I'd rather take it down the charity shops.

V said...

Ebay just seems to rip us off all of the time with their outrageous pricing. I'm tired of it! I switched to a site that is easier and less expensive called Sooooooo much better...