Online auctions: Ebay developments

04 February 2009
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Mark Nolan looks at how Ebay is adapting in the world of online auctions. ...

Yet another massive raft of changes at the world’s online swapmeet, too many to cover in one go but the most significant is that Ebay shop listings are now featuring in the main search. This has got to be better than the half-baked idea of providing shop space but making the seller do the work to drive buyers to the shop. The sting in the tail is the increase in the monthly payment from £6 to £15, while a featured shop, which attracts lower individual fees, is now £50.

Many sellers with shops have spent a lot of time getting their listings up and there was considerable pain and confusion while they adjusted to the new format. The Ebay fee structure is now so complex that it is virtually impossible to work out your bill in advance, but sellers are reporting that the changes have helped to shift slower moving shop items without too much of a corresponding rise in fees.

Meanwhile, presumably in an effort to drive counterfeits off the site, a friend who collects and sells handbags from certain well known brand name (Loowee Veeton I think she said) has been told she can’t list any more handbags for the time being. No reason why or how long she has to wait. It seems premium brands don’t want their products being sold on Ebay even if they are genuine.

As the terms and conditions get more Byzantine, so do the rules. It’s undeniably harder to stay on the right side, and retribution can be swift. I recently fell foul of Ebay regulations m’self. Wanted to create a bit of urgency so I tried the ‘advertised elsewhere reserve the right to withdraw’ schtick and got the auction pulled for inappropriate seller terms. It had a decent bid on at the time. Fortunately I’d noted the bidder’s username (another luxury soon to disappear) so I overlaid the description and pics on a similar underperforming listing, sent a message through Ebay’s mail system and went on to sell the thing. So although you are allowed to pull an auction, you’re not allowed to say you might. Unless it’s a motor vehicle. Hmm, multiple rules, contradictory announcements, complex fee structure; welcome to another day at the office.

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