Tuesday, January 18, 2005

EBAY FEE INCREASE EDITORIAL

On 18 Feb 2005 ebaY will increase fees on some of their sites,
including ebaY US, ebaY Canada, ebaY United Kingdom, ebaY
Australia, ebaY Spain, ebaY Netherlands, ebaY Switzerland,
ebaY Germany and ebaY Austria. We have provided some
info on the increases for the ebaY US, CA, UK and AU sites.
Please visit the appropriate announcement boards if you need
information about the fee increases on ebaY Spain,
Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Austria.

**********
ebaY US is once again raising its fees to sellers, with many
increases in the 50 to 100% range. This fee increase is not
surprising since ebaY wants their stockholders and
potential stockholders to continue to buy ebaY stock, and fee
increases look good to stockholders. ebaY wants the public to
keep buying stock, so that the ebaY insiders can continue to
cash out their stock holdings. In 2004 ebaY insiders
cashed out $7,846,507,701.00 in stock (yes folks that is
7.85 Billion in the pockets of ebaY insiders). This is nothing
unusual, as ebaY insiders have been cashing out their stock
as fast as they can, since they were first allowed to do so.

For more insider info -
Major Stock Holders
http://finance.yahoo.com/q/mh?s=EBAY
Insider Transactions
http://finance.yahoo.com/q/it?s=ebay

As usual, the ebaY boards and chat boards across the online auction
and trading industry (OAI/OTI) are filled with outraged sellers
screaming about the price increases. Once again we will repeat
what we at TAG have been saying for the past 6 years. What
sellers can't be made to realize, is that the power to change the
industry rests with themselves, as ebaY will charge the sellers
whatever the sellers ALLOW ebaY to charge them. All it takes is for
sellers to move a sufficient number of listings to other OAI/OTI
sites, and break the ebaY monopoly. The buyers will follow the
sellers. If sites other than ebaY have what the buyers want, that
is where the buyers will go. If enough sites develop viable markets,
someone (Google?) will come along with an improved meta search engine
(the technology has been around for over 4 years to do this but was
never perfected) that searches all these sites, and updates in real
time, so buyers can search the net for items they want,
and sellers will be free to list wherever they want.

Petitions, one day "strikes", boycotts etc are all useless
and foolish. They have no impact on ebaY and do nothing to
expand the industry. So far they have all failed, and done
nothing but reinforce ebaY's arrogance. ebaY will sit back and
let the sellers moan and groan about the increase, maybe even
make some small concessions, and then go about
their business, confident that the sellers will NOT act to change the
industry. ebaY will continue to raise fees as long as the sellers
knuckle under and pay the fees. What will change the industry,
is sellers selling on what we at TAG call VOTE sites (venues other
than ebaY).

Here is what sellers can do to change the face of the OAI/OTI
permanently, which will mean more competition, hence lower
charges to sellers, and better customer service for
those who use OAI/OTI sites.

As individuals ˆ Build your own website and use it as the hub to
link to places you sell online. There are many very inexpensive
web site hosts, and most ISPs provide free server
space for web sites. Search Google for page templates, learn basic
HTML (many sites are available online to teach the basics for free),
use a site that has templates, or hire someone to build you a
simple site. Get your site indexed on Froogle. This is free, and
you can sign up here - http://snipurl.com/c27j Email every past
customer, thanking them for their business and telling them
where you are currently listing and offer them incentives to buy
from you from your website or from the VOTE site(s) you are using.

As organized groups ˆ there are lots of OAI/OTI chat boards, on
ebaY and off, and frequent communication between sellers of
same or similar items. Start a chat group OFF ebaY, such as on
Topica.com, Google Groups or Yahoo Groups, or on one of the
OAI/OTI bulletin board systems, and email sellers in your category,
inviting them to join your effort to move your entire category to a
VOTE site. Agree on a site, and have everyone participating email
all their past customers and tell those customers where the category
is now located. Put up a group webpage, and provide links to the
group member websites and VOTE site listings. As a group, you
can even pool some resources and advertise in a trade paper or
magazine for your category, or buy some banner ad space online.
Work together as a community and you will all benefit together as a
community.

You do not have to stop selling on ebaY. USE ebaY (as opposed to
letting ebaY use you) as a way to build your customer base. There
are ways to do this that are still ebaY legal, such as including
offers and incentives for purchases made on the VOTE sites you
are selling on, in every email you send out. Include your email
address prominently in every listing on ebaY, so potential buyers
can contact you directly, without having ebaY looking over
your (and their) shoulder. Encourage potential buyers to contact you
via email. Build opt in mailing lists of customers, via your emails,
and include incentives in your list mailings. Send a coupon in every
package you send out, offering incentives to customers who buy
from you either from your website or from a VOTE site.

When you use ebaY, do not use the extras. List 7 day auctions,
don't use gallery, don't use BIN, and close your ebaY store.
If enough sellers do this, ebaY will have to back off these
fee increases. TAG still holds that gallery is now and has always
been a waste of money, and anecdotal evidence from sellers is
that when they stop using gallery, their sell through does not
change. ebaY has been very successful at brainwashing sellers into
believing whatever ebaY tells them is true, including that the world
of online auctions and trading only exists on ebaY. It is time the
sellers took control of the industry back from ebaY.

For those of you who are just going to moan and complain and once
again knuckle under anyway, who want to do something that makes
you feel as if you did not take this increase lying down, even if it
really means nothing, here are some links to petitions, and boycott/
strike sites.

Anti Fee increase petition -
http://www.petitiononline.com/ebayfee/

Boycott/Strike page -
http://www.nolistingday.com/
There are also posts about not listing 1-18 Feb 05.

Protest auctions -
http://snipurl.com/c2fz
http://snipurl.com/c2gc
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=6505708303

Rate Meg Whitman's performance -
http://www.forbes.com/2003/05/01/cx_ceointernetpoll.html

************************************************************
VENUES OTHER THAN EBAY (VOTE)
************************************************************
Several of these are sites that have been around for a few years,
have stable working sites, with tools that give the seller the
ability to easily transfer feedback and/or auctions from ebaY
to their site. These sites have been dedicated to giving online
sellers alternatives, but have not had sufficient participation by
sellers to give buyers enough merchandise to look for. If sellers
move around 3 million listings to each of these sites, ebaY's
shelves will be pretty bare and the sellers will go to these sites
to find what they want.

There are hundreds of online auction and trading sites on the net.
Search Google if what you want is not in this list. These are the
ones with the most traffic (as far as we know) and the ones we
have heard about most frequently.

Here are a few VOTE sites listed alphabetically-

GENERAL MERCHANDISE ˆ

Amazon Marketplace ˆ Though Amazon also has auctions and Z-Shops,
they are a mere adjunct to their Merchant Marketplace, and much
marginalized by Amazon. The Amazon Marketplace is very dynamic
and provides sellers an ever expanding way to sell fixed price
merchandise. When a buyer searches Amazon for an item, the retail
item comes up, but links also come up to Merchant Marketplace items
new and used. Listing in the Marketplace is free. Final Value Fees
are 99 cents plus 6-15% depending on the item. Amazon has chat
boards and a toll free customer service number, though their CS
can be a frustrating experience for sellers.
Selling on Amazon - http://snipurl.com/c45c
Marketplace Overview - http://snipurl.com/c44r
Marketplace - http://snipurl.com/c44o
Marketplace fees and explanation - http://snipurl.com/c44w
Pro Merchant accounts $39.99 per month, includes free Z Shop, Free
Auction listings. 99 cent Marketplace fee waived and more -
http://snipurl.com/c453

Bidville.Com ˆ auction site has approx 3 million listings (though
it is more like 2 million real listings, since over a million
listings are sports cards and records listed by 2 or 3 sellers)
There are no listing fees, final value fees are reasonable and
can be found at http://www.bidville.com/help/newfsf.html
Bidville also has stores with a basic store fee at $5. a month and
final value fees for sold items. Other store fees and options are at
http://www.bidville.com/storefront/fees.html
Sellers can import their ebaY feedback number from their Bidville
Trackpal page, but there is no auction import tool that we could
find. Random spot check shows a sell through rate of approx 23%
The search engine leaves much to be desired in that it is slow, only
returns a max of 2,000 items, and often does not complete the
search but gives a "timed out" message. Customer service is
believed to be responsive, and has good community boards.
http://www.bidville.com

ePier.Com - auction site has approx 145,000 listings. Full
feature stores (more like a mini website) have email and image
hosting, for $12.95/mo or $99. per year plus a final value
fee on sold items - http://www.epier.com/AdvancedStores/default.asp
There are no listing fees, final value fees are reasonable and can be
found at http://www.epier.com/pricing.asp
The search engine works fairly well as to speed, but we could not
get past auctions to show up, nor get the listings to sort. We were
not able to determine a sell through rate. ePier has a bulk upload
tool, but no import tool to move items from ebaY to ePier. In the
past customer service has been variable, as have the community
boards. http://www.epier.com/

iOffer.Com - negotiation site with approx 377,000 listing and
extensive wanted item section. Has good search engine, feedback
and auction import tool called Mr Grabber. Does not have
completed item information so no way to determine sell
through rate. Listing is free, stores are free, and the final value
fees are reasonable -
http://www.ioffer.com/help/feesNCreditPolicy.jsp?showTopBottom=false
Customer service is believed to be responsive, and has good community
boards. http://www.ioffer.com

Overstock Auctions - The newest site on the scene, this is a
general merchandise auction site, has approx 30,000 listings. With a
wide customer base for their Overstock merchandise, this company
is also doing the most advertising of their auctions. Overstock
has listing and final value fees that may be viewed at -
http://snipurl.com/c3gl
There is no completed item search but anecdotally sellers report an
approx 7% sell through rate. Customer service is good with a toll
free number to call for help. Chat boards appear friendly, with
Overstock personnel stopping by to help users.
http://auctions.overstock.com/

SellYourItem.Com - auction site, has approx 58,000 listings. Sell
through is at around 5%. Listing is currently free, and final value
fees are reasonable -
http://www.sellyouritem.com/SellersFAQ.html#cost
SellYourItem does not have stores, but does have an auction import
tool. Both customer service and the community boards are rated
very highly. The boards also include a board where users can post
items and get help from other users to identify what it is. The
search engine works well.
http://www.sellyouritem.com/index.html

Yahoo Auctions - auction site, has approx 200,000 listings. Sell
through is at around 10%. Yahoo Auctions has chat boards that
are ok. Their customer service is as bad as ebaY's, and that is
saying much. Their site generally runs very well, and has good
tools and features. http://auctions.yahoo.com/

NICHE SITES

ADULT/SEX/PORN/FETISH (Please don't look if you find this stuff
offensive)
4BidN - Brand new, only a handful of listings, currently no
listing or final value fees. http://4bidn.com

Naughty bids - 10 cent listing and final value fees -
http://www.naughtybids.com/faqs.aspx#
http://www.naughtybids.com/

ANTIQUE MALLS
TIAS - one of the oldest and best established online trading
sites (comes up 5th on Google search for antiques). Fixed
price stores $34.95 minimum price or 10% commission on
sales, whichever is greater. Can also upload items to auction
for a 2% commission (on top of auction site fees). See through
is unknown. Site claims over 570,000 listings. Programs are a
bit complex, for more info go to -
http://www.tias.com/makeashop/index.cgi?groupKey=1&page=fees.html

Ruby Lane - well established online trading site (comes up 12th
on Google search for antiques).. Fixed price stores Fee system
is complex, more info at-
http://www.rubylane.com/info/aboutshops.html#costs

AUTOMOBILES
AutoTrader ˆ $15. online classified ad, $27- $54. for combination
Ad in Auto Trader Magazine and on AutoTrader.com
http://www.autotrader.com/

CarsDirect - $25. to list a car For more details -
http://www.carsdirect.com/sell_cars/faq
http://www.carsdirect.com/sell_cars/home
http://www.carsdirect.com

BOOKS -
Abe Books ˆ Fixed Price listings, with monthly subscription fee -
$25 minimum, 8% final value fee and 5.5% charge card fee if you
don't have your own method of accepting charge cards.
http://www.abebooks.com/
Seller info - http://www.abebooks.com/docs/Sell/

AB Bookman - http://www.abbookman.com/
Auctions ˆ Currently completely free
http://www.abbookauction.com/auction/auction.asp
Books Wanted - http://snipurl.com/c4fi
Books fixed price listings- $10 minimum book value to list, 25 cent
fee for 90 days, currently no final value fee -
http://www.collectorsbookmarket.com/Mart/Mart.asp

Alibris - Fixed Price listings 20% final value fee on books $499. and
under. Seller info - http://sellers.alibris.com/why.cfm
http://www.alibris.com/

GUNS AND AMMO
AuctionArms No listing fee, final value fees are at-
http://www.auctionarms.com/help/fees.cfm
Approx 34% sell through. Lots of bids.
http://www.auctionarms.com/

PAGAN
ePagan - listing and final value fees are currently free
http://epaganauction.com/

eWitch - listing is free, 3.5% final value fee
http://www.e-witch.com/

AuctionWitch - listing is free, 2% final value fee
http://www.auctionwitch.com/

POSTCARDS AND EPHEMERA
Playle - 76,000 postcards, Ephemera, Stamps, Postal Covers.
Listing and final value fees with unlimited free relists in
postcards and other paper categories. Free listing in
Antiques and Collectible, Stamps and Postal Cover cats. Dealer
flat fee monthly packages. Sell through in the 30% range but
over 50% in some sub categories.
Fees - http://www.playle.com/accounts.php3
http://www.playle.com/browse.html

POULTRY/EGGS
EggBid - listing is free, final value fees 10% to 1.5%, 40% sell
through. Fees at -
http://www.eggbid.com/help/fee_schedule.cfm
http://www.eggbid.com/

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi fellow ebayers:

I am writing to ask for your support in our fight against ebay's 50% fee increase. The situation is not hopeless. We do have a voice. I trade on ebay as wberthin with (984) feedback and no negatives. I have a solid ebay reputation ... and I am lucky. For me ebay is just a "hobby". I don't need ebay. If I never sold another item on ebay it would not be the end of the world. BUT ... I regognize that not all of my ebay collegues are so lucky. These fee hikes cut deep. Many loyal ebay customers are being put right out of business. We deserve better. This is wrong. We, the sellers, made ebay the success that it is today. Now we are being thrown out with the trash. Are we going to sit back and take it?

I am willing to put my reputation on the line to fight back. Are you? This is just unacceptable. We do have an alternative. We can form a "ebay seller's trade union". We can go "on strike" and refuse to list anything until ebay agrees to our terms.

What are our terms? Consider this:

1. All ebay fees must be returned to 2004 levels immediately.

2. No one is allowed to sell on ebay if they are not a member of our union.

3. 10% of all ebay fees must be paid by ebay to our union to finance are activities.

If ebay refuses ... well we call a strike and refuse to list anything. That would work if 50% or 75% of all sellers were on side. Let's get our act together. I am not talking about a one day strike. You have to be ready to survive 30 or 60 ... maybe even 90 days. It will be hard, but we will break their back. They cannot afford to loose us all. Not for that long. They would have to listen.

Maybe I am a crazy dreamer. Maybe ebay has pushed me too far. Maybe you have been pushed you too far as well?

We need your support. Please email me and let me know if you are onside. Individually we are nothing. Together we are everything!

Wayne Berthin
wberthin@realtyserver.com
trade4stamps@hotmail.com