Published: February 12, 2008
Proposed changes in the feedback system widely used by eBay buyers and sellers, and the restructuring of fees scheduled to go into effect on February 20, have met with mixed reviews by an uneasy group of sellers. Widely critical of the new charges and policies, critics are posting their protests at eBay’s forum as well as other sites across the Internet and signing online petitions.
Some eBayers are calling for a weeklong strike, encouraging the selling community to not post auctions between February 18 and 24.
“Feebay” as the eBay site has been called on the Internet, touted reduced fees, yet the reduction in listing fees has been viewed as minimal by eBay sellers, and the increase in final sales commissions has been called outrageous.
Sellers soon will no longer be able to leave negative feedback for buyers, with the online auction giant citing a notable increase in retaliatory negative feedback left by sellers after a buyer has left critical feedback. Upset sellers are charging they will have no remedy when a transaction sours.
These are some of the changes outlined recently by eBay North America president Bill Cobb, who gave the keynote address January 28 at an eCommerce Forum here. Both Cobb and Meg Whitman, eBay’s CEO for the last ten years, will step down this year. Whitman will step down effective March 31.
The biggest changes the online auction platform announced involve pricing. Ebay will reduce its insertion fees, offer free gallery photos with each listing and create a tiered pricing structure for “Featured Plus” items for sales.
Balancing the lower fees on the listings end, eBay will increase its cut at the close of successful sales. The “final value” fees for auction-style and fixed-price sales will go up around eight percent, while fees for store inventory listings will rise around two to three percent, depending on the final sale price.
Power sellers are those sellers on eBay who have maintained a 98 percent positive feedback score. Starting in July, power sellers must maintain a minimum 4.5 satisfaction rating over 12 months to remain a power seller. New incentives for power sellers will include fee discounts, improved payment protection and bigger exposure in listing searches.
EBay’s feedback system, where buyers and sellers leave comments about each other after completing a transaction, and which are available for anyone to view online, has increasingly been a concern, said Cobb.
“Today, the biggest issue with the system is that buyers are more afraid than ever to leave honest, accurate feedback because of the threat of retaliation&⁗e realize that feedback is a two-way street, but our data shows a disturbing trend, which is that sellers leave retaliatory feedback eight times more frequently than buyers do,” he said.
Starting in May, eBay will only allow sellers to leave positive feedback for buyers, who continue to have the option of leaving no feedback. Ebay has dispute resolution programs in place to keep both buyers and sellers honest.
A number of seller protections are also planned, he said, including basing feedback percentage on the last 12 months only, preventing negative and neutral feedback within three days of the end of a sale listing for those sellers with a proven track record (so buyers and seller would have to first communicate with each other), and removing all negative and neutral feedback when a buyer or seller is suspended.
Lastly, eBay will also offer members credit for multiple purchases with the same buyer when the listings end at different times, even weeks apart.
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