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TAGnotes Mon 28 Apr 2003 Vol 5 Number 6 Issue 445

The Auction Guild Notes Mon 28 Apr 2003
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7000 subscribers
With our Editor in the Army Reserve, an increased amount of
Army Duty has once again made it difficult to get TAGnotes out.
There has also been lots going on in the OAI/OTI so there will be
two issues in rapid succession. We apologize for the delay, and
for the flood of information to follow. Part I will be exclusively
ebaY, Part II will be our more normal format

ebaY - Please Check These Pages for COMPLETE ebaY
OUTAGE Details

ebaY Outages Details 1 - 31 Mar 2003 -
ebaY Outages Details 1 - 22 Apr 2003 -
* * * * * * * * * *
Once again, there are too many ebaY outages and problems to
list here in TAGnotes. The full details of ebaY's Mar and Apr
outages can be found on the TAG website at -

ebaY had widespread problems including crashes and
problems that blocked the ability of buyers to find, view and/or bid
on auctions on 18, 19, 21, 22, 26, 30 and 31 March. Serious
problems continued on 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 13, 14 (a complete crash for
over an hour that ebaY lied about so they would not have to give
refunds), 17, and 20 April.

TAG STRONGLY recommends that, if a seller feels that any of
the ebaY outages and glitches appears to have negatively
impacted the sale of any of their auctions or listings of any type,
request refunds. Don't pay for service if you don't receive it.

TO REQUEST REFUNDS from ebaY go to
Don't take NO for an answer, keep requesting until you get them.
If you don't get your refunds, complain to the BBB Online at
And also file a complaint with the FTC

Pink Quote of the Day I - In a chat about unfair, unjust and
inconsistent rulings on ebaY, ew-@ebay.com said on 26 Mar
at 10:00 PT, "Yeah, I am back. Vegas was nice, thanks for
asking! I am going the rounds about this guy. I agree with
oldcarnut that the rules should be enforced the same way for
every member. Imagine how our society would work if speeding
tickets were only handed out to the middle class, or only poor
people could be arrested for murder. The rules on eBay should
be enforced fairly without bias. However, I am hitting some pretty
hard resistance from Account Managers and some of the Motors
team to the enforcement of this new policy with regard to high
volume motors vehicle sellers. I will keep you updated on my
progress.~Ewan~" http://snurl.com/18kd
Idealistic, but nowhere near approaching ebaY reality.

PQOD II - In an article about rampant fraud on ebaY and how
little ebaY does about it, "EBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove said
the company's Fraud Automated Detection Engine, or FADE, was
never meant as a panacea. "The reality is that no single tool is
going to be able to eliminate fraud in the off-line world or the
online world," said Pursglove, who would not discuss specifics
of the Arizona case. EBay maintains that less than
one-one-hundredth of 1 percent of all listings are fraudulent.
Chief Executive Meg Whitman introduced FADE in June and
promised it would make "major strides" combatting fraud. The
company has also forged closer ties to police officials, the U.S.
Postal Service and international delivery services." Another case
of lots of talk and no real action.   And actions speak louder than
words. http://snurl.com/18y4

PQOD III - In response to users protesting the report button on
the DNF board, and how that button goes against every principle
ebaY was allegedly founded on, and still claims to be their
guiding light, sco-@ebay.com said on 27 Mar 03 at 11:36:50
PT, " ...1 last thought. We do believe that people are basically
good, and that an honest open enviorment will benefit everyone
The report button is there so that we can take action against
posts that violate the board usage policy. When members spam
multiple boards with porn pictures, advertising and whatnot, we
are able to take swift and just action. Action will only be taken
against posts that violate our policies. I hope that this helps
Scooch" In less than one month this statement would be shown
to be a complete lie, and the button used to attempt to silence
criticism on the DNF. Users knew exactly what this button was
for, a fascist way to control dissent and criticism of ebaY.

Board Quote of the Day I Posted by marginally*marginal on 24
Mar at 07:09:39 PT, "... eBay's Number ONE priority is making the
majority stock holders rich. Anything else is secondary, and
generally accidental.

BQOD II - Posted by marginally*marginal on 24 Mar at 21:07:22
PT,"eBay isn't a software engineering company. It never has
been. They are a venue designed to make money for the majority
stockholders. The coders are there to enhance the revenue by
adding features that are revenue generators. In the process, they
break perfectly functional software in order to make room for
revenue enhancements mandated by the management. It's
pathetic, but that's the reality." and on 29 Mar at 14:23:10 PT, "...
I'd say that DNF is a chaotic anarchy, but it's not that organized.
We discuss new features *constantly*, however, NOT 24/7. Bugs
are SO common on eBay, and have been on-going for SO long,
they don't qualify as a new feature. What you are experiencing is
what we call in the software engineering business a "kludge".
eBay coders do NOT test their code before making it hot, they
just slop it up onto the site and then try to put out the fires that
are burning the hottest. eBay is basically a marketing vehicle
designed to enable the majority stockholders to bail out of as
many stock options as the law allows while providing the
minimum service required to maintain the current stock price
level. They are NOT software engineers, they do NOT write
software professionally. It's just a hobby with them, as you can
plainly see by the way their code looks. But, you can work around
it, you just need to substitute the HTML codes for the quotes in
your HTML, and then you won't have that problem any more."

BQOD III - In a conversations about sales decreasing on ebaY
but increasing on seller websites, vintagecat said on 26 Mar at
19:46:29 PT, "Just got an email from a website customer, asking
to be added to our update list. Here is what she says and many
more of my customers feel the same: "I would definitely like to be
notified for your website updates so add me to your list! I am
avoiding eBay at all costs, so please don't add me to that list!"
View her Victoriana at http://www.vintagecat.com/

BQOD IV - In another conversations about inconsistent rule
enforcement, marginally*marginal said on 30 Mar at 11:12:50 PT
said, "the reality is that eBay changes its mind *constantly*. The
rules stay the same, all they are, are generic vague guidelines.
The *trick* is what I call "The Whim Of The Week", which is a
reinterpretation of the rules to some arbitrary and nonsensical
distortion of the original intent of the rule. What was "OK" last
week is grounds for sanction today. We've had two regulars who
are basically harmless suspended for using HTML, posting gifs
or hyperlinks. You do the math." View his listings on
SellYourItem.Com at -

BQOD V - There was more conversation about users leaving,
svantiques said on 30 Mar at 13:57:54 PT, "So many people
have told me that they have given up Ebay. Some because it's
gotten too difficult to use and understand for the occasional user,
some because they have been burned by less-than-honest
sellers, some because they've had their IDs stolen and it left a
bad taste, and some because they hear so many horror stories
that they are afraid to use it. I think all of these things are
starting to really hurt."
View her listings on SellYourItem.Com at -

BQOD VI - In a conversation about how fast ebaY is abandoning
all concept of community, formerly007 said on 31 Mar at
22:15:42 PT, "... I understand that and also your point. *But* I was
present at Ebay Live 2002. Meg insisted in her speech that they
were taking a new direction and getting back to basics. She said
they were going to listen to members. NOW I must be *out of the
loop* as far as who those members were *and also* what their
concerns were. OR she made the mistake of giving a basic lip
service speech, which she never meant to be taken literally. I
specifically went to hear her vision for the future. I am very
disappointed in everything that has transpired since Ebay Live

At the end of March, ebaY moved their chat boards to their
LiveWorld subcontractor. On Wed 23 Apr, ebaY users on the
ebaY Discuss new Features board discovered an act of gross
negligence in security on ebaY's board subcontractor
LiveWorld's site. It turned out that LiveWorld was posting all of
their moderator report records about ebaY board posters on a
publicly accessible board. These records were of those ebaY
board posters who had been reported by other users (snitches).
All records were available to anyone who wanted to look at them,
being completely accessible with no protection at all, not even a
default index page. They contained the User ID, email address,
IP address, reported post, User ID of the snitch and comments
block. The User ID of both the snitch and the victim has links to
a summary page on each of them with how many posts they had
reported, how many of their posts had been reported, how many
reports had been investigated and how many warnings they had
received. The link to the URL was posted on the DNF by a user
who found it in her records of visitors to her website. When the
folks on the DNF realized what it was, and how it was an open
door to email harvesters, they scrolled it off the board. In thanks
for discovering this security breach, ebaY suspended the posting
rights of all the users logged into the board during the 40
minutes the link was on the board, and threatened them all with
removal from ebaY, and criminal prosecution, if ebaY could find
a law that was broken by accessing a publicly available website.
Since it appears this gross negligence has been in place since
LiveWorld took over the ebaY threaded boards over a year ago, it
might partially explain how spammers and scammers are
getting the email addresses of ebaY users who only use a User
ID on ebaY and have an email address exclusively used on
ebaY. For full details of the incident including a sample of the
snitch page report, go to
Read the MSNBC article on this incident by award winning online
auction reporter Bob Sullivan at -

ebaY owned PayPal will no longer allow their payment system to
be used for Adult or Mature Audience items.   At first PayPal tried
to allow acceptance of their payment system on ebaY listed
mature audience items only, but an antitrust suit filed by adult
selling site RCI, quickly changed ebaY/PayPal's mind. "PayPal
has taken a clear step back from its original position, which we
believe was an attempt to eliminate competition and help eBay
monopolize this segment of the online auction market.", said
RCI attorney Max Tribble. Article at -
This change becomes effective on 12 June 03. For more
information about this change, go to -
To view other recent changes to PayPal's Acceptable Use Policy
go to - http://snurl.com/18y2

This change in policy delayed the effective date in the new user
agreement and privacy policy PayPal announced last month.
The effective date for customers signed up before 7 Feb 03 is
now 4 Jun 03. You can use PayPal to send or receive payments
for tangible adult products and services until 12 Jun 03. If you
registered through PayPal's digital adult merchant process, you
can use PayPal to process payments on intangible goods until
12 May 03. "Intangible Goods" includes digital adult products
and services, including online photos, streaming video and
phone or other audio services.

According to ebaY's SEC filings, PayPal may also be in trouble
with federal prosecutors, who are claiming ebaY's PayPal's
operation violated a part of the USA Patriot Act that deals with
transmission of funds connected to criminal activity by doing
business with gambling websites. PayPal might have to forfeit
the amounts it received in connection with such activities, and it
also might be subject to criminal liability.

ebaY announced that they have changed their user agreement
and privacy policy. These changes will take effect on 25 May
2003 for users who registered before 8 Apr 03. In brief the
changes to the policy for people trying to make legal claims
against ebaY are good, though forced on ebaY by a judges ruling
against PayPal last year, and the privacy policy changes are so
bad that complaints have been filed against ebaY by watchdog
companies such as SpamBusters. TAG will do a line by line
comparison and get it up on the website prior to the agreement
going into effect.

For ebaY's interpretation of the changes go to -

To see the revised User Agreement, please go to -

For more information, and the FAQs go to -

For ebaY's version of the changes in the Privacy Policy go to -

To see the revised Privacy Policy go to -

ebaY has once again aided and abetted email scammers, no
matter how unwittingly. When ebaY sent out their email recently,
announcing the change in the user agreement, the link to the
user agreement and privacy policy was a redirected URL. The
URL that showed in the email was just like those used by
scammers, it appears as one link in the email but actually lead
to another link . What users saw in the email was - "To see the
revised Privacy Policy, please go to
http://pages.ebay.com/help/community/png-priv.html". What was
actually hidden in the code was -
Since their are so many scams involving clickable links, it is
ebaY's responsibility to, at the least, distinguish their methods
from those of the con artists, so that users can say, "I know this
email must be a scam because ebaY would never send such an
TAG also wonders why all links to the User Agreement lead
through ebaY's advertising partner Mediaplex, and what kinds of
cookies, lighthouses, null gifs and other spyware tools are being
planted in users computers. It is now definitely unsafe to use
ebaY without protection such as ad aware, zone alarm and other
screening software.

The patent infringement lawsuit against ebaY is now in court. In
MercExchange VS ebaY, patent holder Tom Woolston is suing
ebaY for infringing his patents. As the case progressed through
the pretrial processes, the Judge disallowed the auction patent
in the current case, so what is being heard is the fixed price
patent violation suit. The trial is expected to last three weeks.
There are several articles on the case -

In another unwritten rule change, it appears that ebaY now wants
the hyperlinks that they have approved for inclusion in auctions to
be a text link only and not the full URL. For example, you can say
"Click HERE for the history of the Minox camera as used by the
CIA", (with the Click HERE being a live clickable link) BUT, you
can NOT have "Visit
http://www.cia.gov/cia/information/artifacts/minox.htm for a history
of the Minox as used by the CIA." In other words, it is OK to put a
blind link in, but NOT okay to put in the URL.

To enforce this it appears ebaY is screening for text in the
auction description box that has the TEXT "http", and then ending
the auctions where it appears. As is always true with ebaY, they
are not consistent with this policy.   And as is often true with
ebaY, this is NOT what their user agreement says, but this is
what they are enforcing...as it takes their fancy

ebaY has changed their Compilation and Informational Media
policy in an attempt to clarify their guidelines on listings that
offer information on how to obtain free items or listings that offer
information about wholesale sources for sale off ebaY.
* Any listing that offers general wholesale items may not use any
specific brand names or keywords in the title.
* Keywords that relate to a specific item may not be used in a title
unless the listing is for that item.
* The listing may not offer information on how to buy or get
specific items for free outside of ebaY.

For more info on the compilation policy go to -

A recent review of several ebaY sites yielded the information that
ebaY shows different "Contact times" on different sites -
AU Buyer and seller should contact each other within 5 business
US Buyer and seller should contact each other within 3 business
CA Buyer and seller should contact each other within 3
DE no time frame designated only Prompt contact
UK Buyer and seller should contact each other within 3 business
ES Buyer and seller should contact each other within 3 business

This is a problem for the AU site, since many items listed on the
Australian site are available for sale in the US - so there could be
two different contact rule/expectations for the different sites. Why
these are not all the same is a mystery.

ebaY has made changes to the My ebaY tool so that it now -
*Displays Seller ID and current price, including Buy It Now price,
in the Items I’m Watching table
*Shows the status of items for which you have already left
feedback in the Items I’ve Won and Items I’ve Sold tables
(Feedback status for multiple quantity auctions will still only
show status on the purchase history page)
*Displays price and totals of items in the Bidding and Selling
*Automatically saves preferences for sorting on each of the
Bidding and Selling tables
*Adds a Reserve Price column to the Selling tables and a My Max
Bid column to the Bidding table
*Displays the status and totals for Dutch (multi-quantity) auctions

ebaY Motors users can now order Vehicle History Reports which:
*Cost 4.99 for one report, and $9.99 for 10 reports.
*Contain every valid VIN on a passenger vehicle, 1981 and
newer, hotlinked to the Vehicle History Report page.
*Are provided by AutoCheck and their National Vehicle Database.

ebaY has added a monthly payment calculator on all item listing
pages for passenger vehicles on ebaY Motors. The calculator
will help estimate monthly payments for a loan for the purchase
of a passenger vehicle. You can adjust the final purchase price,
Annualized Percentage Rate (APR), duration of the loan, and
down payment amount, and is designed to help estimate the
affordability of a particular vehicle. You also can find it on the
bottom of the View Item page at -

The Billpoint payment service will be discontinued on 30 Apr 03.
ebaY will end listings that offer Billpoint as the ONLY payment
method, and credit back the listing fees.
View Billpoint System Alerts by logging into your Billpoint account
at www.billpoint.com. The www.billpoint.com site will be shut
down on 30 Apr 03, and access to your Billpoint Account
Summary will no longer be available. You should download your
Billpoint payment history if you wish to keep a record of your
transactions. Billpoint customer inquiries after 30 Apr 03 may be
sent to custom-@billpoint.com and will be re-directed to
another ebaY help desk.

ebaY categories have changes in their never ending cycle of
changes. To provide category structure feedback go to -

-BOOKS new History categories devoted to the many regions of
the United States. New categories in Antiquarian, Pet Care, and
Hobbies & Crafts books.
-BUSINESS & INDUSTRIAL new categories in Construction and
-CLOTHING & ACCESSORIES expanded Wholesale and Mixed
Lots categories for men, women, and children.
-COINS new categories for specific currencies and time periods.
In the Coins: US category, new categories for Morgan Dollars
(1878-1921), Washington 50 States Quarters (1932-98) and
Bullion: Gold.
-COLLECTIBLES new Vintage Sewing categories. Buttons
categorized by material. Decorative Collectibles has new
categories of Figurines and Music Boxes.
*Animation Art & Photo Images has been separated into
Animation Art, Characters and Photographic Images; Pin Up has
been moved to Postcards & Paper
*Animation Art, Characters - Japanese, Anime has been
separated from categories within Animation Characters
*Furnishings & Tools has been separated into Furniture,
Appliances & Fans and Tools, Hardware & Locks; the Insulators
category has been moved underneath Bottles
*Decorative Collectibles – new categories have been created, in
particular within Hallmark and Longaberger
*Historical Memorabilia – new categories have been created
*Pop Culture has been separated into Pez, Keychains, Promo
Glasses and Pinbacks, Nodders, Lunchboxes
-ELECTRONICS & COMPUTERS phone accessories listed by
phone model, new categories in Desktop and Laptop PCs and
-HOME Crafting and Art Supplies categories have moved here
from Toys & Hobbies. New categories in Building Materials,
Lawn & Garden, and Tools.
-MOVIES & TELEVISION expanded genre categories
-MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS new category for Instruction Books,
CDs, Videos for each family of instruments. New categories
under Cables, Microphones, Mixers, and Multi-Track Recorders.
-SPORTS New categories for Bikes and Parts in BMX, Mountain,
and Road groupings
-EVERYTHING ELSE new brand categories in Health & Beauty
and new Wholesale categories.

ebaY has changed the Cell Phones & Services category on
ebaY. Wireless is on the home page under Electronics &
Computers, which links to a new Cell Phones & Services portal
page. You can view this page by going to -

ebaY is selling Wireless Activation for ebaY, Provided by
InPhonic. Through this program, new service plans are available
nationwide for new and used cell phones bought on ebaY. Cell
phone buyers can find service plans at www.ebay.com/activation.
Cell phone sellers can go to - www.ebay.com/wirelessactivation.
Sellers can earn $10 per successful activation referral.   
InPhonic, will also handle customer support.

The Real Estate category on ebaY currently offers binding
auctions on listings localized in three states: New York,
California and Texas. On 8 May 03 ebaY will expand this
program so that binding auctions apply to properties localized in
all 50 states (including the District of Columbia). Binding
auctions will appear within the Land, Timeshare, Residential
and Commercial categories. For more info go to -

Fees have also changed as follows -
For the Timeshares and Land categories:
*For 3, 5, 7, and 10-day binding auction and Fixed Price listings,
Insertion fees will be $35, and Final Value Fees will be $35.
*For 30-day binding auction and Fixed Price listings, Insertion
fees will be $50, and Final Value Fees will be $35.
*For 3, 5, 7, and 10-day non-binding auction and Fixed Price
listings, Insertion fees will be $35. For 30-day non-binding
auction and Fixed Price listings, Insertion fees will be $50. No
Final Value Fees will be charged.
*For 30-day Ad format listings, Insertion fees will be $150. For
90-day Ad format listings, Insertion fees will be $300. No Final
Value Fees apply.

For the Residential and Commercial categories:
*For all binding auctions, regardless of length, insertion fees will
remain the same. The Final Value Fee will be removed.
*For all non-binding auction and Fixed Price listings, there are no
changes to pricing.
*For Ad format listings, there are no changes to pricing.

ebaY will now charge Value Added Tax (VAT) in the UK and all
Europe. New regulations in the European Union about the
collection of VAT on digital services mean that ebaY will begin to
collect VAT on their seller fees beginning 1 Jul 03. These taxes
apply to all seller fees paid to ebaY, including insertion fees and
final value fees, by sellers who reside in the European Union.
Business sellers who have VAT registration numbers will not be
charged VAT on ebaY fees. ebaY does not yet know how they
will implement this or how sellers can submit information to
avoid being charged VAT on ebaY fees.

Certain former ebaY sellers who are no longer selling received
an offer from ebaY of a $10 credit towards listing fees. This
ends 30 April.

As predicted ebaY is lowering the price for ebaY Live in Orlando
Florida 26 - 28 Jun 03. If you sign up before 31 May, the fee for
one or two people is $45, instead of the $60 registration fee
ebaY was charging. This is still $20. higher than last year, and
$45 dollars more than ebaY should be charging their users who
already pay a sufficient amount in fees to easily justify this as a
freebee. To receive the discount use the promo code AB15.

An even better price for this event can be obtained by Half.Com
sellers. These sellers were sent an email that offered free
registration when you use the promotional code "FOBS". For
those of you quick off the mark, nip in before ebaY changes this,
use you ebaY User ID and register for FREE, if you sell on
Half.Com or not. Go to
and use the promotional code "FOBS" when registering."

PayPal has also reduced the price on their conference on 8,9
May. The fee was initially $300. and has been reduced to $99 for
attendees who pre-register.
To register or view the conference agenda and sessions, go to -
(TAG checked with PayPal and this is a legitimate link)

A free downloadable tool to sort negative feedback, available for
windows based machines-

You can search ebaY via keywords at this link

ebaY has added an HTML Text Editor. This optional feature is
designed to help sellers create and edit text without having to
learn HTML. This feature works similarly to a word processing
software program where you can format your text in a number of

The HTML Text Editor is now available on Sell Your Item Form
2.0 and is free. You can find the HTML Text Editor in Step 2, "Title
& Description", of the SYI2.0 by clicking on the HTML Text Editor
link above the description box.   For more info go to -

ebaY has added a feature called Suggested Categories.
Suggested Categories is a free optional feature to help sellers
find a category for their item. Suggested Categories allows
sellers to choose from a list of suggested categories to list their
item in by entering keywords that describe their item on the
Category page of the Sell Your Item form.

The fee for Seller's Assistant Basic is going up to $9.99/month
starting in May. This will allow you to subscribe to ebaY's Selling
Manager at no extra charge. If you decide to subscribe just to
Selling Manager, you will be charged the regular flat fee of $4.99
a month.

For more info about Selling Manager go to -
To unsubscribe from Seller's Assistant Basic go to -

To get a FREE listing tool try -

ebaY has added a new page to the leave feedback tools. This
allows users to leave feedback for specific items through this
new page for as long as the items are available on the site, by
using the item number. Of course, you can also just search for
the item by item number and leave feedback from listing page.
This new page may be found in the Help pages under Feedback
Forum, or by going to - http://snurl.com/18xt

Not just a venue
email us - tag@theauctionguild.com
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