Monday, April 02, 2007

Mightily Pissed at eBay

I don't normally like to post about work, as this is primarily a blog about books and knitting. But I am so pissed off about this that I have to let off steam.

A couple of weeks ago eBay in their infinite wisdom decided that in future items listed on the UK site would no longer be automatically visible on the US site. Apparently, up to 20% of all listings visible on were listings from the UK and it was making their site unwieldy for US buyers. For this they blamed the popularity of the UK Cheap Listing Days.

The conclusion they came to in order to solve the problem was not, as would seem logical, to stop having Cheap Listing Days, or to do anything about the thousands of dodgy products which flood the UK site from Hong Kong and China. No, no. It was deemed much more sensible to change the way searches work so that if Americans want to buy from the UK they have to now search Worldwide, instead of the listings just appearing automatically.

The most frustrating thing about all this is that having changed the way the searches perform on the US site, THEY DIDN'T TELL ANYONE! They didn't tell the UK sellers that there was this change happening. They didn't tell the US buyers that in future they would need to search globally (by means of a drop down box at the side of the screen). They apparently didn't even tell the people at Paypal (who are after all part of the same organisation).

The first we knew was when we noticed a steep drop abrupt halt in sales to the US. We haven't sold a book to the US for about 2 weeks now, where before about 20-30% of our sales were to the US. We even had a batch of American Civil War books, and none were sold to the US. If we had been forewarned about the change in policy we probably wouldn't have bought them in the first place. As it is, our very small profit on the books was considerably less than we had predicted.

It seems that Books and Antiques & Collectables are among the worst affected categories due to the change - and these are not categories which are swamped by the cheap foreign tat, with inflated postage rates, that fills other categories. The solution we are told is to list our items on or on both sites - but as we sell individual, rare and one-off items which we can't list on both sites simultaneously, we either lose our UK trade or our US trade (oh and this affects Canada and Australia too!). Ebay say they will monitor the situation and will be running some tests "in the summer" which may help. I fear this will be too late for many bookdealers, who without the American trade will be driven out of business.

Now I don't dispute that eBay have the right to make trading decisions and implement them where they see fit, to protect the integrity of the sites. But don't they think that a little warning to the UK sellers would be just common courtesy. That way we could have adjusted our buying to reflect the fact that we will lose most of our US, Canadian and Australian trade.

Thanks a bunch, eBay. Whatever happened to the famous eBay Community Spirit!!!!!!! It seems that despite all their shouting about Community, eBay really have no regard at all for the people who use their site, for the businesses that helped them grow from small beginnings, or anything at all bar a fast buck.

I'm not sure this was what Pierre Omidyar had in mind when he sold his laser pointer.

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