eBay Seller Revolt Gaining Traction

eBay will be introducing its new fee schedule for sellers, along with some other administrative changes, on Feb. 18. Some sellers are so incensed over what they perceive as a raw deal, they’re planning to boycott the iconic online auction site from Feb. 18 through 25.

Sellers have banded together to boycott eBay in the past, usually for the same reason: its ever-increasing fee schedule and, in the views of some, policies that ignore the needs of sellers. For the most part, these efforts have failed either to change eBay’s mind or even to make any significant dent in its traffic.

This time appears to be different, with more sellers publicly jumping on the boycott bandwagon. Fees have reached new highs, and many sellers are infuriated by new feedback policies that forbid them from making negative — or even neutral — comments about buyers. Buyers, for their part, still have free rein to comment on sellers.

eBay has shrugged off the complaints, noting the additional protections it has put into place to guard against buyers using the feedback system against sellers for vindictive reasons. Also, representatives from the site have pointed out, the traffic one receives on eBay compensates for the higher fees.

Displacing eBay?

Few sellers believe eBay will ever be displaced, precisely because of its volumes — it basically invented the e-commerce auction category and still dominates it more than 10 years later.

However, some are moving on, either because they cannot afford to stay with eBay, or simply no longer want to.

Debi Pieraccini, who until this Tuesday was selling Christian and Jewish items on eBay, is among the latter.

“Some people depend entirely on eBay for their income,” she told the E-Commerce Times. “I am not one of them.”

Pieraccini is relaunching her operations at OnlineAuction.com, which was created by a former eBay power seller.

Fees are reasonable compared to eBay, she said. “Last month my fees at eBay were US$700, which was more than I actually made.”

The new fees and feedback regulation have “pulled the rug out from a lot of sellers,” Pieraccini lamented.

Nancy Baughman, founder ofeBiz Auctions, told the E-Commerce Times she would be forced to cut back on her two part-time employees’ hours because of the changes eBay is implementing. “All of these changes are hitting us at once. It is getting harder and harder to make a living off of the site.”

Another self-described eBayer, Stan Lisk, told the E-Commerce Times that he and his wife Sue have always looked for other ways to sell their wares, from listing onCraigslist to selling directly from their ownWeb site.

“Unfortunately, eBay has the millions of followers and is still the best at bringing them in,” Lisk said.

Beyond eBay

Some sellers are getting out completely. Corey Kossack, president ofClub E Network used eBay for years to sell videos and DVDs. The site’s policies and fees were one reason he left.

“I started an eBay business in 2005 that quickly became one of eBay’s larger sellers,” Kossack said. “In just two years, my company did $1 million in revenue on eBay.”

When he spoke in front of the eBay Live Town Hall last summer, he specifically told the president of eBay North America, Bill Cobb, that eBay needed to reduce its insertion fees to reduce the risk of selling in the eBay market.

“After big applause from the audience, Bill said they would consider looking into it,” Kossack recalled.

“Eight months later, they have done exactly that — but now are jacking up eBay final value fees so high that they are driving sellers out of the market,” he complained. “If you ask me, eBay is losing their way and is not looking out for its most important customers, and those are the sellers. Without the sellers, there is no marketplace full of great deals for consumers.”

More than likely, eBay will continue to dominate for quite some time, Kossack acknowledged, but it will also experience major declines in its growth.

“Part of what fuels growth on eBay is the public display of eBay success stories, so that aspiring eBay entrepreneurs see the success and want a part of it,” he pointed out. “But as eBay continues to make it harder and harder for even its top sellers to flourish, more entrepreneurs will seek out other avenues to run their businesses. They may go to other auction sites, or they may go to other sales channels or start new businesses entirely.”

Kossack knows, of course, that for many sellers, there are no alternatives. The investment in time and inventory is too costly to maintain without eBay’s promised volumes.

“I think it would take a company with a huge commitment and deep pockets to give eBay a run for its money,” he said.

A Google or a Microsoft, for instance.

One thing is clear: If such a company were to step up, the issue of supply would likely not be a problem for it. Sellers feel less and less loyalty to eBay and many would drop it without hesitation.

“They’d come running,” Kossack predicted.

11 Comments

  • eBay is just too expensive for some small business or home based business. Try out great ecommerce called fastcommerce…. excellent ecommerce platform for just $30 for 2000 products. Lots of features, like volusion but not a lot of money….www.fastcommerce.com

    • Seems as though Ebay is feeling the heat from the media as they are deleting messages on the community boards that are in favor of the
      Boycott… There are over 8000 messages and they come in so fast that it’s hard to keep up… They seem to delete them as quickly as they come in too!! I was one that was kicked off the board today because I was not being "a good community member" I have copies of the messages that were deleted and one was just rules for listing on the boards that was copied and pasted to the forum, according to the letter they sent me… So, I decided to list one last auction for them… Check it out, it’s Item number: 150215813689 on ebay…
      The censorship just causes more resentment and more people to join in and I AM sure that on the 18th, Ebay will feel the "noise", as they refer to us… Anyone who really looks at the new rules they’ve posted for sellers would turn and run before they signed a contract that they offer to dealers…

      • Debipier, you forgot the CEO bonus package !!!
        "The company filed details of compensation being offered to its new CEO, John Donahoe:
        Salary: $900,000.
        Bonus target: $1,125,000.
        Long-term equity award: $8 million worth of stock options and restricted stock units.
        Promotion award: $15 million worth of stock options and restricted stock units."
        I can’t find the words to express how I feel about that ……

        • I see little use for afterthegavel.com, first few know about it, second it works only if you can post it on ebay and they will quash it. It has no effect on negative feedback left on ebay, the negative feed back blocks your auctions from the search engines damaging your chances of anyone seeing your auctions,this in itself is an unfair market practice giving advantage to others!
          eBay still gets its fees but you don’t sell your product, all a competitor has to do is buy one of your products, leave bad feedback and you are no longer competition or if they use dummy accounts leave multiple negatives and put you completely out of business! Our main focus is antique gun parts which eBay banned last year, that cut our business by 2/3rds We moved that aspect to GunBroker.com (Thank you eBay) Now we’ve gone to Onlineauction.com for the rest of our sales, I believe there is a chance this will become eBay’s competition. Also we must stop using PayPal! An alternative is GearPay.com they will not hold your money for 21 days! they are also Pro Gun for those who sell in that market. they won’t freeze your account for selling a gun part!

          • If you are no longer on eBay why would you put down a site that is aimed to help eBay sellers?

            http://www.AFTERTHEGAVEL.com is rapidly growing and as the changes take place will grow very very quickly.

            As far as how it benifits the seller, it has always been a help to me to know if I AM dealing with a problem buyer and this site will allow me to continue to have that resource. In addition to that as more sellers use the site and more buyers find out that their reputation is still out there for all to see they will be more likely to refrain from abusing sellers.

          • I have long held the opinion that I would not sell anything on Ebay due to the Nickle and Diming ones is subjected to!
            I recommend Craigslist.com, a Private Seller may post for Free for 45 days. Anything that can be done to attract attention to continued EBay abuse, is a very good endeavor…

  • As a Powerseller I was apalled and concerned when I heard the changes for feedback on eBay.
    I quickly started searching the web for someplace else to sell. As I searched I realized there are no other viable places to sell and make a living using online auctions.
    With that planted in my thick skull I started looking for a way to overcome at least some of the problems that will soon occur. I was able to find a new site called afterthegavel. They are offerring a place where sellers can leave neutral & negative feedback for buyers. If sellers participate it will create a new balance in the feedback system to replace to one that eBay is taking away.
    Best of all it’s FREE!!!!
    Also they will not display the sellers user ID to the public only the buyers ID and the feedback left for them will be seen by the public.
    Check it out and let me know what you think.
    I think it is great!
    I AM not however delusional, the problems at eBay run much deeper than the feedback system. But at least this can minimize the effects of eBay’s changes and give the sellers some of our power back.

  • Very good article that gets to the heart of the matter. The original success of Ebay was the perception by buyers and sellers that they were members of a community. We were on a playing field with simple to understand rules and every one had the chance to find a bargain, or become a success story selling bargains.
    I started out on Ebay and Half.com from the inception, selling technical items for companies I consulted for, and kept my own bookshelves and technical gadgets down to a managable level. Then my granddaughters and I developed a small business model buying and selling fun-to-find doll and miniature items, including handmade miniature jewelry. We cleared at least $1000 a month, but to keep that level we had to put more and more time into it as the fees got out of hand.
    We cancelled our accounts and dropped all our listings almost to the minute on receiving the latest news. We will do better developing our own website and having it hosted for about $40 a month, period. Implemented with Google checkout for payment, we can thus cut our work in half while still growing the business.
    If anyone really wants to know what is truly going on, go to MSN money and do a search for insider trading. Then select the Ebay symbol. You will see exactly who has been selling off stock. Their confidence is just underwhelming!

  • Good riddance to EBay. Been buying and selling on there for 10 years. Tired of the fee hikes, forced use of Paypal but the feedback issue was the straw for me.

  • You did a fantastic Job Erika!! This Boycott is real and the people behind it are real…It doesn’t matter to the new ceo, whom happens to make 900,000.00 a year that their policies will destroy the hard work and efforts that the small business man has put into this company… Without the Seller, there is no buyer…And then when we comment to them, they call us "noise"…Well, they need to listen to the "ROAR" that they’ve caused and watch the stocks continually drop… Their listings have dropped, and I see a better future for many without Ebay…Your article was AWESOME!!
    Blessings,
    Debi

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