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TAGnotes Sun 6 Feb 2005 Vol 6 Number 3 Issue 456

The Auction Guild Notes Sun 6 Feb 2005

VOTE (Venues Other Than ebaY) SITES

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As TAG predicted in issue 454 on 18 Jan 05, ebaY is making some
concessions to attempt to quell the seller outrage about the ebaY
price increases. Bill Cobb, the new president of ebaY North
America, posted a message to the ebaY announcement board
at 10:03:36 PT on 6 Feb. In the message Mr Cobb said that ebaY
was hearing the sellers loud and clear. TAG thinks the only thing
anyone at ebaY is hearing is the crashing sound of their stock,
started by ebaY coming in under predictions for the quarter, and
escalated by the press reporting on the loud and vociferous
objections of users to the unjustified price increases
on some listing fees, monthly store rentals, store final value fees,
and other increases. Why has Mr Cobb’s hearing suddenly
improved? He has been with ebaY for years and has been deaf
to the “community”. What changed?

As a sop to sellers, ebaY US and CA will credit a one month fee in
May of $15.95 to sellers who have a store open in the month of
April. In addition, effective 7 Feb 05, ebaY will reduce the fee on
listings that start at 99 cents or less, taking the fee down 5 cents
from 30 cents to 25 cents (CA$0.35 to CA$0.30). Or was this a
direct discount on this so called level playing field to ebaY’s
number one feedback holder? If so, more power to you Jay
and Marie.

ebaY also says that starting 1 April, they will provide customer
support via phone to sellers who have stores, and in the next
90 days, dump their automated email idiot response system.
Unless ebaY spends some money on training and improving
The quality of their CS reps, there wont be much improvement
over the automated system, or the current non support received
via their power seller phone support.

Mr Cobb concluded his message by providing his ebaY email address
bill-@ebay.com, saying, “eBay has never stopped listening to
our users and we never will.” Unfortunately, as TAG sees it, if
he believes this he is a fool, and if he doesn’t he is just
spouting the same old garbage Meg does, but this his own version,
corn on the Cobb. Actions speak louder than words, and if Mr Cobb
thinks this is sufficient action to right what is wrong at ebaY, he
is mistaken. It remains to be seen if sellers will accept this
KY Jelly equivalent as sufficient action to stop their complaints and
moves to VOTE sites. Remember, it is the sellers who give ebaY
permission to charge whatever the seller will bear, and until sellers
take control of the market, by listing 3 million items on a VOTE
site, nothing will really change in the online auction and trading

Pink Quote of the Day I – A seller suggested that ebaY fix
something that wasbroken, the problem being that shipping details
when quoting USPS showed as "Available only in the US" despite the
designation of "will ship worldwide" within the main body of the
listing, causing much confusion for his buyers. He received the
following response from Lunetra T at ebaY on 3 Feb 05,
“Thank you for taking the time to write to us with your concerns.
I am happy to assist you further. We are always pleased to hear from
our users and welcome your comments regarding eBay's products
and services. However, our long-standing company policy does not
allow us to accept or consider ideas, suggestions, proposals, or
materials other than those that we have specifically requested. We
hope you will understand that it is the intent of this policy to
avoid the possibility of future misunderstandings when new
products, services and features developed internally by eBay
employees might be similar or even identical to your idea. If,
despite our request, you send us an unsolicited suggestion, idea,
proposal or other material, or at our request send us a comment
or suggestion to improve the eBay site or add a new category (e.g.,
through our suggestion box, customer support Webforms,
discussion boards etc.) (collectively, the "Submission"), eBay will
consider the Submission to be non-confidential and non-
proprietary. eBay shall have no obligations concerning the
Submission, contractual or otherwise (including but not limited
to an obligation to keep the Submission confidential), and shall
not be liable for any use or disclosure of any Submission. eBay
shall be entitled to unrestricted use of the Submissions for any
purpose whatsoever, commercial or otherwise, without
compensation to you.” TAG guesses that ebaY has been
pursued and lost a few cases where they stole ideas and did not
properly compensate for the idea. But it is novel that such
suggestions to fix what is broken on the site would be comparable.

PQOD II – TAG could not resist sharing more of the corn on the
Cobb, “Since becoming the President of eBay North America in
December, I've spent a lot of time listening to you, our
Community. There's a lot on your minds right now.” TAG says,
yes lots, like sellers being forced out of business because of
ebaY’s oligopoly. “We're listening to everything you have to
say.” because you can’t stand the devaluation of your stock
options. “eBay has become a hugely successful marketplace
as a result of the innovation, enthusiasm and hard work of our
Community.” But you are using price increases to put out of
business those you consider “marginal sellers”, the ones who
helped create this site, and on whose backs it was built, with
only ebaY insiders reaping the rewards, putting the lie to
the word “community”. In a community all benefit from a rise
in profits. On ebaY it is an inverse relationship. “To reward
our eBay Stores sellers, we'll be crediting $15.95 – a month's
Basic Stores subscription – in May to all sellers who operated an
eBay Store for the month of April.” Well that might help stem
the blood letting of store closures, at least for a month or two,
maybe enough to get ebaY through the second quarter
without another major stock loss.

PQOD III – And some “Classic” corn on the Cobb from a
2002 article, “At a recent meeting with a dozen disgruntled
customers, eBay director of marketing Bill Cobb admitted
that communication between the company and its users is
spotty, and added that a better way will be devised soon.”
In the last issue of TAGnotes TAG was looking to have “is”
defined, this issue it is “soon”.
For the whole article go to -

PQOD IV – On 6 Feb 05 at 12:05 PT mc-@ebay.com said, “…
Keeping the site stable and open for business is our top priority.
99.9+% uptime is testament to that fact. If there's a particular
feature that's not working for you, let me know and I will
check on it with the technical team.” Unfortunately translating
ebaYspeak to English means at least one feature or another on
the site works 99.9% of the time, a different definition than
anyone else on the net uses.

Board Quote of the Day 1 – received by TAG via email is answer to
our question, What is a special duration fee?, "Special Duration Fee"
is a special fee for any auction that stays around long enough to
be viewed by anyone before "access to this particular category or
item has been blocked due to legal restrictions in your home country"

BQOD 2 - Phone support satire posted by chunkypunkys on 6Feb05 at
10:37 PT, “Thank you for calling eBay seller support! Your call
is important to us. Your estimated wait time is currently 31 days,
17 hours, and 12 minutes. Please listen to our scintillating music
while you wait and please don't hang up so you don't lose your
place in our queue. Thank you.”

BQOD 3 - Commenting on the postings by Mr Cobb, pierrelebel said on
6Feb05 at 11:06 PT, "One of the great things about eBay is the candor
and passion of our Community." I wish the same thing could be said
of eBay's staff and management"

BQOD 4 – A sad but true statement posted by azsoftwareforless on
6Feb05 at 11:23 PT, "Sorry folks, eBay has shown us toooooo many
times they are not worthy of our faith or trust. With eBay's
reputation in the billing dept., I can only imagine how accurate the
free month will turn out! Will store phone support be as useful as PS
phone support or "Live" help? Nice PR stunt though...

BQOD 5 – Posted by beadhappys on 6Feb05 on 01:37 PT, “I think
Max on the Bidding Board said it best: "I believe the technical
business term for this stunning announcement is called:
Running Scared""

ebaY snipers have reported a new problem with sniping on ebaY
(sniping is the art of placing bids in the last seconds of an
auction, done manually or via sniping programs). First reported
on 22Jan05 it appears that ebaY is periodically adding another
page after a bid has been inputted but before the bid is finalized.   
This page says “Buying Reminder Safe Trading Tips Always check
the seller’s feedback rating. Avoid sellers that only accept
payment via wire transfer (such as Western Union) or MoneyGram,
which sends funds instantly from storefront locations and by phone.
Pay with confidence. Click here to learn about buyer protection
for various methods of payment. Please click here for more safe
trading tips.” This slows down the manual sniper, and until
coding changes are made, will stop snipe programs cold.

It appears that ebaY has finally fixed the non paying bidder dispute
resolution console. This has been broken since the beginning of
Dec, preventing sellers from closing their disputes and receiving
the final value fee refunds. It is unknown how much money ebaY
was able to quietly pocket for sellers who did not know what to do
about the problem, and since the problem lasted more than 60
days, may no longer be able get their refunds.

ebaY Us, CA, AU etc, sent out millions of “clarification”
emails to explain to their users what the fee increases really
meant. TAG sees that ebaY thinks their users are idiots and
can’t understand what ebaY is saying, or maybe they were just
astounded that sellers could react so violently to what ebaY
sees as a minor price increase, just as they never
understood Pierre’s “just a dollar”. Unfortunately what
ebaY continues to fail to realize is that the fee increase comes
on top of ever increasing site failure, months of billing
problems, unusable item specifics (something TAG always
thought would be a nightmare) that have ruined categories
such as shoes, books and pottery (those these were finally
withdrawn), and endless changes, all poorly implemented. ebaY
does not yet feel that this fee increase was the straw that broke
the camels back, it remains to be seen if the sellers feel that way.

In addition, ebaY “clarified” why they accidentally charged
sellers the increased store fee a month earlier than they were
supposed to, but promised to eventually fix this error by
prorating and adjustments. Of course now that ebaY is throwing in a
$15.95 credit in May, it will be months before sellers can figure
out if their bills were ever charged correctly, or maybe ebaY
will once again just quietly pocket the money, and force the
sellers to ask for it, when and if they figure out their money was

TAG has found that some sites on ebaY Live auctions use shill
bidding techniques to “protect” their seller’s reserve
prices. This practice is approved by ebaY, and has to be
stated, however obliquely, in the catalog posted on the ebaY
site. The language used by one site (GoAntiques) said, "The
Auctioneer will also be responsible for protecting the reserve
of the seller which will also be displayed as an "Auction Floor
bid"." When queried about this, GoAntiques said, "we allow
our sellers to set a RESERVE price without a fee attached.
The Auctioneer places bids throughout the sale process for
the seller (called floor bids) to push the bidders past the
RESERVE. If you are watching a live auction, a floor bid can
either be an absentee bid from a buyer not present, or the
Auctioneer attempting to push the bids higher."

TAG asked ebaY if this shill bidding was legal on ebaY and were told,
“I understand your confusion over this. I, too, thought that
this was Shill bidding when I first started working in Live
Auctions. However, this is not Shill Bidding and is how the
Auctioneer protects the Reserve for the Seller. Only on the Live
Auction site is this allowed.

These Live Auctions are monitored very well by the Auctioneer at the
site and also by their state government. If they were to bid on
their own items, they would have their license revoked, reputation
ruined, and be basically out of business. eBay doesn't know if these
are Floorbids or if they are the Auctioneer's bids. We rely on the
governing body that oversees them to monitor all of this. However,
I can say that Live Auctions is a very safe place to bid because of
all of this regulation.”

Since state laws vary on such bidding practices by Auctioneers, this
may well be illegal, since ebaY sales are interstate.

So on live auctions, the fox is watching the hen house, shill bidding
is OK, and the buyer really needs to read the fine print before they
do any bidding.

PayPal users in the European Economic Union are getting a fee
reduction for cross border PayPal Payments by 1/2 of a percent
(.5%) For example if a standard rate of 3.9% + 0.35€
previously applied to this transaction, the seller would be required
to pay a rate of 3.4% + 0.34€.

Starting 11 Mar 05 ebaY/PayPal is reducing the PayPal preferred
rewards program will to 1% cash back for all new PayPal preferred
members on debit card transactions that do not require a PIN.
Existing PayPal preferred members prior to 11 March will continue
to receive 1.5% cash back on such transactions as long as they
remain PayPal preferred members in good standing.

Starting 11 Mar 05 ebaY/PayPal is changing the PayPal seller
protection policy. In order to receive seller protection for items
under $250.00 US, sellers will have to provide proof of
delivery as proof of shipping is no longer sufficient. Payments
above $250.00 US still require a delivery signature. The proof of
delivery must be trackable online. Proof of delivery” should
show that the address shipped to corresponds to the address
on the transaction details page.

On 11 Mar 05 ebaY/PayPal is ending the PayPal merchant sales reports.
In addition ebaY/PayPal is making a multitude of changes they call
minor formatting and grammatical. ebaY has also changed the
number of days in which users can file a claim from thirty to
forty five and changed the number of claims awarded per year from two
to three in the U.S., Canadian, Swiss, German and European versions
of the Buyer Protection policy. Changed thirty days to forty-five
days, and made minor grammatical and formatting changes, in
all versions of the Money Back Guarantee policy. These changes
apply to all the international sites, and all changes may be viewed
in full on the PayPal site. ebaY is adding buyer protection to
France, Italy, and Australia.

Yahoo Japan is being sued by buyers who say they are victims of
internet auction fraud. The lawsuit will seek compensation for their
monetary losses and improvements in the auction system. More
than 190 people from around Japan have indicated their intention
to take part in the suit, to be filed with the Nagoya District Court
possibly in March, claiming their damages total more than 18
million yen. For the full article go to
TAG emailed the Asian news service and asked if they could get us a
link or email address to contact the people or lawyer filing the
lawsuit, so they could join the suit. We have not heard from the
site yet.

Bidville contact information for problems – email
servi-@bidville.com You can call Bidville customer
support during regular business hours M-F 9-5 at
727-442-9669 Bidville also has a help board for questions
relating to membership,etc.

eBid.co.uk has become uk.eBid.tv and has added a US site at
http://us.ebid.tv The UK site has approx 130,000 listings
and the US site 5700 (has been open a few days). There are
currently no listing or final value fees, only some special
feature fees.

UK - http://uk.ebid.tv/indexmain.php?from=
US - http://us.ebid.tv/indexmain.php?from=

sterlingbidz.com – though billed as a general merchandise site is
in reality a niche site for coins and stamps with not much else
listed. There are only a few hundred listings, but it appears
that there is bidding activity on most items in the coins and
stamps listings by a few bidders.


Sites that are new and/or have not much going on –

Auctionpie.com http://www.auctionpie.com/

Bid-alot.com is a small general merchandise site with less than 5,000
listings that requires all sellers and buyers to have verified PayPal
accounts (not something TAG feels is a good idea). No listing
fees, seller pays a final value fee of 3%. Feedback is per sale, not
unique buyer. Reported to have excellent customer service, has
chat boards but they are pretty quiet. The site is planning changes
in March including server upgrades and dropping the final value
fee to 2%. No sign of bids or sales.

Bidchaser.com Has some stores, but no auction listings we could find.

bidmonkey.com has listings but no sign of bids or sales.

Approx 47,000 listings Top item 401 bids approx 8% of items listed
have at least 1 bid. There is no way to determine sell through as
there is no completed search.

Currently Overstock Auctions does not allow sellers from outside the
US to sell on Overstock Auctions US. TAG recently noticed that the
retail side of Overstock is now allowing buyer from outside the
US, so we hope the auction side follows suit soon for buyers and
sellers. This is something that needs to be corrected STAT.


Have any information for us? email us at
TAG Subscribers often contribute information reported on in
TAGnotes. Visit their auctions or websites.

TAGassist Contributors

Montana Links http://www.MontanaLinks.com

RainbowCraft http://stores.ebay.co.uk/Rainbowcraft-Gifts-and-Novelties

Village Lane Books http:://www.villagelanebooks.com

BSNE Gifts http://www.bnse.biz

SUN CAT http://www.yardsalenet.net/users/user.bv? username=SunCat
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