eBay sellers to strike

Angry reaction to pricing changes prompt users to threaten to stop selling on site
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Changes to the way that online auction site eBay handles transactions have been met with hostility by sellers, with many threatening a week long strike if the firm does not repeal them.

On Wednesday, the company announced that it would be altering the way that it charges people selling wares on the site. Previously, people were charged a flat fee regardless of whether their listing sold.

The new system will see traders pay a minimal fee to list their items, as well as a further fee if it sells. CEO-elect John Donahoe has described it as a 'fairer' to sellers when he announced it earlier this week.

"[They will] prefer this structure, as it lowers their risk if an item doesn't sell," he said speaking at the company's third annual eCommerce Forum in Washington. "Put simply, we will make more of our money when sellers are successful."

However, it is that last part that eBay sellers are angry about, with some describing it as a 'tax on being successful'. It has angered many so much that they are considering striking for one week after the changes come in.

"Why punish people that actually sell stuff by charging them higher fees? Isn't this kind of a negative reinforcement?" said Joan on the AuctionBytes blog.

Sellers have also been venting their feelings via the official eBay forum. "I read about the strike on the other boards, so I think the message is spreading," said user mrskillion. "We have just been left powerless. We need to take back a little bit. If we all band together eBay will notice. I believe that completely."

EBay has been quick to respond though, with spokesperson Usher Lieberman saying: "eBay has always had a very passionate community and our members do not hesitate to tell us how they feel.

"Over the past week we have presented them with a tremendous amount of bold changes and initiatives and they have a lot to absorb. If our community was not reacting loudly to what we've announced, that would have been a real surprise and something to be concerned about."

However, strike may be the least of the online auction's worries. The changes, which had originally be implanted to combat defection from the site to rivals like Amazon's marketplace appear to have backfired.

Seller Cosmic-King said: "I am a long-time power seller with a peak of 2,000 listings down to under 200 listings. I thought this was supposed to be good news but this is more of the same. I will continue to remove my business from eBay. Besides, I now do over triple the business on Amazon."

However, analyst Tim Boyd from American Technology Research was less than sympathetic. "These are the same sellers who have been whining for three years about wanting to pay only for performance," he said. "I am so sick of listening to these guys [complaining about this].

That's all they do is [complain]. Let them strike. Someone will step in and take their place. EBay did not raise its fees, it slashed its insertions fees and raised the final value fees, and for some sellers – some sellers – it amounts to a fee increase."

He highlighted one of the main issues eBay is facing is that rivals like Amazon do not charge upfront to list items, only when they are sold. It found itself losing volume and sales and had to act.

"Amazon only charged people when [they sold something]," Boyd said. "Sellers really liked that because they only paid when they got something. But 60 per cent of the pay out to eBay was upfront, and you didn't know if you were going to get anything and sellers didn't like that.

"It made it real nervous, and I think as eBay lost traffic share it was put in a pickle where it had to become more like Amazon to draw some sellers back and to draw some inventory back."

Source: PCWorld

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