eBay Boycott Having An Effect? Listings Are Down 13%

USAToday says the eBay boycott over fee and policy changes has driven listings down as much as 13%:

Auction listings on eBay.com dropped some 13% since the strike started Feb. 18 to about 13 million items, according to third-party tracking sites such as dealscart.com and medved.net.

The boycott, amid slowing growth and intensifying competition from Amazon and Google, could presage a challenging year for John Donahoe, eBay’s incoming CEO, say analysts.

Like dozens of other boycotts against eBay the past few years, this protest is largely over pricing changes. Though many previous boycotts have fizzled after a few days, the most recent gained more attention through protest-related actions on YouTube and MySpace.

“If (eBay’s listings total) falls below 12 million, we’ve made a pretty good impact,” said Nancy Baughman, an eBay PowerSeller who deals antiques and collectibles. She is also co-author of a book on online auctions.

eBay held a special promotion that drove listings up temporarily at the beginning of the boycott, but it may not have been enough to compensate for the backlash. eBay says the fee and policy changes, which include barring sellers from leaving neutral or negative feedback on buyers, will stand.

Online auction listings down 13% in boycott of eBay [USAToday]

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  1. Parting says:

    Feedback change sucks. It’s easier to cope with undeserved bad feedback from a seller(you can protest it through ebay system), than being unable to leave negative feedback to dishonest buyer.

    Plus, now eBay wants 8% to 11% from whatever you sell. (Plus don’t forget PayPal charges you, too. And PayPal belongs to eBay). Compared to 5% before, that’s a ripoff.

    If anyone knows any alternative to eBay (besides craiglist), please mention it.

  2. shadow735 says:

    Ebay and Walmart = perfect marraige? Oh wait Evil will destroy itself, nevermind then…..

  3. Starfury says:

    I haven’t sold anything on eBay for a while. The sales fees cut into the profit margin on some items to the point it wasn’t worth it any more. I still shop there for games/miniatures but don’t buy nearly as often. Shipping rates from the sellers are getting way too high.

    Memory chip for my computer $10 WTF? Padded envelope and 3 stamps.

  4. Angryrider says:

    @Starfury: Yeah, I saw one seller who boldy stated that if the buyer pays more for shipping, then the seller doesn’t have to pay too much eBay fees.

  5. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

    I too have noticed shipping/handling fees getting higher and higher as sellers attempt to recoup the fees they’re being charged by eBay on to the customers. I recently was looking at a pair of earrings…I swear they weighed an ounce, if that, and the seller wanted $25 to ship regular ground USPS from California to British Columbia. Insane.

  6. pigeonpenelope says:

    13% is quite a lot. that must hurt.

  7. timmus says:

    Screw eBay. There’s some good stuff on there but the listings are becoming clogged with so much crap that reads like a laundry list of a warehouse inventory… pages and pages of “0 bids” with high starting prices. Plus they’re now in cahoots with Paypal. I’m starting to lose hope that there will be a day where a better auction site will come along.

  8. friendlynerd says:

    I remember Yahoo tried auctions a while back, and while they weren’t terrible, they never really had the exposure or name recognition of eBay. I hope someone can pull off a good competitor site soon but I have my doubts.

  9. fhic says:

    @chouchou: “Feedback change sucks. It’s easier to cope with undeserved bad feedback from a seller(you can protest it through ebay system), than being unable to leave negative feedback to dishonest buyer.”

    I disagree.

    I stopped using eBay after being forced to leave positive feedback before the seller would leave positive feedback for me. If I pay for the item and the seller ships it, they should leave feedback right then, not try to hold me hostage until I say nice things about them.

    And protesting bad feedback through the eBay system is useless. They have no clue about customer service.

  10. PigsnBacon says:

    well it’s not the same since everything is all handmade, but Etsy.com is a great site to get gifts and wonderful, better quality items like soap, clothes, jewelry, journals, shampoos, artwork, etc.

  11. pigeonpenelope says:

    @PigsnBacon: i love etsy! so many nice things.

  12. crabbyman6 says:

    What if instead of a boycott we organized a revolution to protest the seller feedback changes? Get as many buyers as you can to leave negative feedback with positive remarks to show how messed up the new system is. With absolutely no recourse on the seller’s end, maybe this would give ebay the hint that this unbalanced system doesn’t work any better than the old system. I don’t like the old system much, but it was at least a bit more balanced.

    Also, I agree with PigsnBacon, etsy is great for handmade stuff.

  13. statnut says:

    @fhic: Not entirely true. The transaction isnt done until you receive your item, and everyone is happy. Seller leaves you feedback, then you decide that you dont like that it took 2 weeks to get your item, and complain. Seller is left with little recourse to tell their story.

  14. Geekybiker says:

    @fhic: As a seller who has been held hostage by scam buyers I would say that the old way was best. Negative feedback has virtually no effect on a buyer, but lots on a seller. The incidence of scam buyers blackmailing sellers with negetive feedback will probably skyrocket.

  15. UpsetPanda says:

    @PigsnBacon: i wouldn’t say everything on etsy is quality, but you are supporting non-commercial artists who do it either as a hobby or do it to make a little bit of money. I’m thinking of putting a few of my art projects on there myself, though I don’t know how I feel about the posting fees.

  16. djhopscotch says:

    @statnut: I have had sellers directly state, positive feed back would only be left if i gave the seller positive feedback. It completely defeats the purpose of the buyer feedback.

  17. less_is_best says:

    I used to make some good cash on Ebay. I have not sold on Ebay for over a year now. They just take too much of my cash. I sell many other places. Sorry Ebay, as soon as they became FEbay I just quit using them. Until other sellers quit selling Ebay will continue to have personal trainers, golf instructors, free lunches in the Ebay cafeteria etc. Google is the same way. If Ebay loses market you know those amenities get cut first, not the stockholders profit. THE HORROR!

  18. shadow735 says:

    @fhic: not so I changed my feedback policy because 50% of the people that bought form me never left me feedback, I have never had to leave negative feedback for a buyer. I value my customers and let them know that should anything go wrong to contact me so I can fix it.
    Not all sellers are jerks.
    I value customer service because I treat my customers as I would want to be treated.
    Still ebay fees are getting out of control. I will probably be going to etsy soon.

  19. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

    Power Sellers Unite has a listing of alternative auction places, as well as a message board for those who are participating in the boycott.

    [powersellersunite.com]

  20. shadow735 says:

    99% of my stuff is custom tooled, formed leather products. ebay and paypal take about 15% of my profits. Its all good because once I redo my web site I will have a online store but then I will have advertizing costs. I guess in the end I get stuck with excessive costs.
    only reason I stick with ebay is for exposure. Actually I have gotten a lot of business due to myspace and people going from my profile to my ebay store.
    Thanks Myspace!!

  21. Alex Morse says:

    I must be an idiot. When I have some system or regulation cause me to not make as much as I need to on a product, I raise my prices.

    I know the response: Then the other sellers will get the business and not me.

    Yes, they certainly will, if they can manage to sell at a lower price with similar quality. Tends to be how things work.

  22. pigeonpenelope says:

    @shadow735: very smart. you’ll get more money selling from your own site. sure the starting costs of the site can be harsh but the long term is quite profitable.

  23. shadow735 says:

    @pigeonpenelope: Its not so much the starting costs if you know HTML and such, I am currently enrolled in HTML classes just got Dreamweaver for $200 student discount so I will be redoing my own site with online store, the costs come in the advertising dept. My leather stuff is fantasy, goth, monster, evil, and Pirate, movie stuff, along with a bunch of other deviations so I would have to place adds in those type of magazines so on average its $100 per mag so it can get pricey, but in the end it comes back.
    I am vending my first pirate faire in calf as well. this is all from my own income no loans and such so its hard but with work and dedication I will be free of Ebay soon heh heh.

  24. DeltaPurser says:

    Well, eBay has got all these sellers by their balls, considering that there is NO comparable alternative… They basically have a monopoly on online auctions, and as such, they can do whatever-the-hell-they-want-to.

  25. BoorRichard says:

    The new rules have been great for me as a buyer. Not so much this latest round — it will be a while before this destroys ebay completely — but the one before it, with the five-star feedback system. I buy something every week, and over time, I’d say for sure (1) S&H charges have dropped, because sellers need a very high average in all four categories or ebay hits them in the wallet, and (2) communication has improved. Sellers are WAY more courteous. I get emails from everyone now – “thanks for buying” — “your item is packed” — “your item has shipped” — etc. which is great. I am also getting ripped off a lot less.

    Put simply, ebay is busting the balls of the sellers and I appreciate it, even if this golden age kills ebays because sellers have to do so much more work for less money.

    If anything, ebay should be cutting their fees to better pay their employees/partners for all this ball-busting.

  26. Botch says:

    As an occasionally seller on eBay, I would like to have more sympathy for the sellers, I really would. But unfortunately as a buyer I have too many times been held hostage by sellers who refuse to leave feedback until the buyers do, and if I leave negative or even neutral feedback, I am vindictively rewarded with the same feedback, even if I did nothing wrong.

    There must be a better system than either the old one, or the new one eBay is putting in place. But please at least admit that the old one is broken.

  27. shadow735 says:

    @Botch: as a seller I have often been left alone in the dark after I have given good service, made a quality product, shipped it timely and left positive feedback but never recieved feedback in return.

    so now I require feedback to be left after the customer is satisfied with their purchase before I will leave feedback. I have never left negative feedback nor recieved it.

    Customer satisfaction is #1 to me hence my 100% feedback score.

  28. homerjay says:

    As one who is just shy of powerseller status, I always leave feedback upon shipping. I communicate with my buyers. I don’t worry about the feedback that they’re going to leave because I don’t try to scam buyers and expect either no feedback or positive feedback.

    That being said, I’ve had buyers scam me and at this point there’s nothing I can do about that. I raised my prices when the fee hike went into effect and I listed in the auctions for two weeks before the hike that I would be raising prices and why.

    Unless ebay can find other ways to increase revenue, they’re going to use cop-outs like this again and again.

    if you’re selling the same thing a thousand other people are selling then you’ve got trouble. If you’ve found a way to cut yourself a niche like I have, then its much less of a concern.

  29. memphis9 says:

    Agree with Botch and BoorRichard. I do think that there needs to be MORE in place to protect the seller now with the feedback change, and I say that as a buyer, but the main reason I don’t buy more on eBay is that the feedback system is speculative. Where I see a seemingly reasonable neg, I estimate it may represent 10, 20, 30 who did not (deservedly)neg or even leave *any* FB because they didn’t choose to “take the hit”.

    It is not the sellers who keep eBay in business, it’s the buyers, who keep eBay AND the sellers in business. I have had the opportunity to do business with traders who have set up their own storefront post-eBay, and I have to admit that excepting a few very exceptional merchants, the edge goes to to the seller who has to account in some public, viewable way for their customer service — and that’s even under the old, “hobbled” FB system.

    The consumer economy is stalling and I think a lot of sellers who decide to strike out on their own may end up coming back if it becomes apparent that buyer confidence in a system that sellers may well hate, nonetheless makes the difference in terms of making a sale. I’d like nothing better than to see more successful (and less extortion-ary) alternatives to eBay — yay, Etsy!– but I’ll bet that any SUCCESSFUL alternative will ultimately have to be just as much of a “ball buster” with the sellers or they won’t attract an increasingly cautious pool of buyers.

    Same sentiment towards those sellers who would like to do away with sniping — take away all the fun of true, un-rigged bargain hunting and what do you have – a seller’s paradise, policy-wise? Or a big, echoing, and largely abandoned virtual mall?

  30. Parting says:

    @memphis9: It’s not as much as the feedback change that is annoying, it’s the final value fees that went up. Now eBay gets a good 10% of the item value + PayPal will take another 5%. It can add up very quickly.

    eBay is raising cost/transaction, but does NOTHING to make shopping more pleasant.

    As a buyer, I despise PayPal! Their requests, for reimbursement due to defective item are ridiculous. They protect seller by requesting that the item HAS to be returned at buyer’s expense, with tracking number. (Tracking to countries like China is too expensive, it can easily cost several hundred dollars). And no tracking, no reimbursment if the seller is dishonest.

  31. Parting says:

    @fhic: I got scammed twice, as an occasional seller. My only protection is the feedback. If the seller had any recourse against scammers, feedback would not be a problem. Most of my buyers actually read listings before bidding.

  32. Parting says:

    @chouchou: Next time, if the item is defective, I won’t have any choice but to ”scam” PayPal by telling that I never received the item. (I lost 40$ for a piece of junk that wouldn’t work, and the seller would pretend that he never received it.)

  33. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    We sell a very specific brand of training DVDs on eBay. We used to sell them for $49.95 plus $4.95 shipping and handling. We send them first class in an envelope and it costs us $1.98 to send them. Now we sell them for $19.95 and charge $24.95 for shipping and handling. It still costs us $1.98. We are very upfront with people that we are doing this solely to skirt eBay’s ridiculous fees. At the end of the day, buyers are paying us LESS than they would have a year ago when we only charged $4.95 for shipping and handling. And if they don’t like it they don’t have to buy it from us. For these items we are the only game in town. MWAH MWAH MWAH!!!

  34. BobbyMike says:

    We’ve been selling vintage millinery trims on Ebay since about 1999, before that we sent photo albums out after calling potential clients cold (yuck).

    For us there’s not another show in town, with Ebay we reach a world wide audience of custom hat makers, costumers, etc. We have clients in Japan, Europe, Australia, and on and on. I can’t think of another venue where we could reach that audience. Hosting our own website could be an option, but then we would have to figure out how to drive traffic to it.

    We don’t like the feedback system (even though we’ve only had one negative feedback) because it’s so random. Even as Powersellers we still haven’t figured out whether or not we’ll do better, worse, or the same with the changes.

  35. SirKeats says:

    the feedback change is absolutely fair. a mega-seller with 1000+ feedbacks taking a ding when they screw a buyer means nothing. it’s not even noticeable in their score. however, the common joe buying an item here or there with 5, 10, 15, 20 feedback (whatever low number it may be) getting retribution feedback because they left an honest feedback for a mega-seller who screwed them over makes a huge difference.

    ebay changes too much, what with their insertion fees and their paypal income, but i applaud them for sticking to their guns with the feedback thing.

  36. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    Open a Yahoo! Store. Don’t mess around with building your own online store. There are plenty of turnkey packages out there that will let you build your own store without having to be an HTML master. Knowing HTML will greatly help, dont’ get me wrong. But you don’t have to wait to master Dreamweaver.@shadow735:

  37. mycroft2000 says:

    A big problem for international sellers who who sell mostly to the States is the weak American dollar. I’m Canadian, and I used to sell quite a lot of second-hand books on eBay. For most of my sales, my entire profit was pretty much the currency exchange, which was pretty good when a US dollar was worth C$1.40. But now that the currencies are even, this is one hobby I’ve given up, as the eBay and PayPal fees would pretty much ensure that I’d be selling at a loss, which really isn’t much fun.

    I really think that there’ll be some real competition in this field before too long.

  38. BamAlmighty says:

    Can’t forget how Ebay is dinging sellers with less than 100 feedback, by holding their paypal funds for 21 days after auction closes, pending various factors.

    Considering everything else… the feedback system, raising the final value fees, I am willing to bet Paypal will be raising their fees by next fall.

  39. rockergal says:

    the only annoying thing is that the occasional ebay seller will not sell their “goodies” on ebay because the fees are getting extreme.

  40. donovanr says:

    A simple solution would be that the seller has to leave feedback first. Only then could the buyer leave feedback. If the seller doesn’t leave feedback in a short time then they lose the ability to do so. Thus no retributions through feedback.

  41. daniinpa says:

    @donovanr: I agree that it might make more sense to require the seller to leave feedback first. I am a buyer who was burned by a scamming power-seller. I was new to ebay and it was only my second transaction. After 6 weeks of receiving nothing but one foul email from the seller (in response to my email asking where the item was), I left a negative feedback.

    I didn’t know it was all some stupid game; I just thought that this was what the feedback system was for. I then was hit with a negative feedback saying I paid late (which I could do nothing about, even though it wasn’t true and I could prove that, but Ebay doesn’t care about inaccurate feedback). I left a response but it doesn’t matter.

    Now here was my real mistake. The seller turned around and “generously” offered me something called “Mutually Withdrawn Feedback”. Being new to the game, I refused to withdraw my feedback about the seller. I was being blackmailed and I didn’t accept. I guess I should have.

    So now I have a 50% rating and I’ve never bought anything at Ebay again, even though this was years ago. I did finally receive my item after waiting two months. I’m sympathetic to all of the sellers who say they have no recourse against bad buyers, but quite frankly, there is a power imbalance and I’m happy Ebay is trying to rectify it.

    Ebay should not raise fees without improving service. This is the cause of many a business going down.

  42. deadlizard says:

    One item I sold recently on eBay for $10 had a $4 fee for posting, an additional $1.65 charge for the sale, plus 80¢ Paypal fee. In short, eBay took $6.45 out of my $10. Tell me how can you get more ripped off than that. There are alternatives to eBay: Right now Amazon can benefit for the people fleeing feeBay and it’s just a matter of time Google and Yahoo take off. Craigslist is not a bad option either.

  43. mike says:

    @Starfury: Most sellers have figured out that eBay doesn’t take a cut of the shipping costs. So most sellers make that incredibly high to balance the commission that ebay makes.

  44. jchabotte says:

    Buyer sucked A$$!! Didn’t pay within specify time! Wouldn’t sell to again!! A+++++!!!

  45. Greeper says:

    I hated the feedback system. Sellers hsuold be able to leave feedback for 5 days or so after shipping, and that’s it, and of course be able to reply to negative feedback. But most Sellers don’t leave feedback until you do, so twice this year I waited until the last hour of the last day of feedback and left the truth, preventing them from dinging me.

  46. Greeper says:

    Oh, one more thing, if you complain to Ebay about shipping costs they will block the seller. THey have some sort of matrix to determine if shipping fees are reasonable, but since they don’t get a cut of shipping, if a seller tries to hedge by lowering price and uppping shipping, they will notice

  47. Starfury says:

    @sohmc: If I start selling stuff again I’ll charge more for shipping and take my profit from that.

    My wife bought soccer cleats for the kids once, .01 for the shoes and $9.99 shipping. I always look at the total price when buying online anymore.

  48. Eilonwynn says:

    @Neecy: re: shipping charges to US – That amount probably was reasonably accurate – it’s terribly expensive to ship stuff from the US to canada – that’s why Amazon.com won’t do it.

  49. Eilonwynn says:

    I’m a part of a company that falls under the mid-level powerseller range, with fifty thousand odd positive feedback and 400 odd negative. The 400 are people that no matter what we do, we can’t please. Period. And falling all over ourselves to please some of these people just doesn’t work. We’ve had guys request money back, free shipping, etc – and that they’ll neg if we don’t. Fine. We also very rarely leave negative feedback for others. Our policy, after speaking on the phone with an eBay rep (you get to do that as a powerseller), is that we leave feedback once we’ve heard that the buyer has received their item okay. If they didn’t, then we at least want the opportunity to make it right before negative feedbacks are exchanged – and sometimes, the item has simply gotten lost, and it’s the fault of neither the buyer nor the seller. (An item we shipped in october was “lost” by canada post en route to the southern US and took until december to get there. When it did, postmarks were clearly intact showing it had taken a route to australia for a time). You can’t mandate that one side leave feedback “first” – each seller needs to set this on their own.

    As far as fees – We had a number of auctions cancelled last year for “unreasonable shipping fees” – Our rate for international registered / Insured is $12. Canada Post actually charges MORE than this – no company charges less. eBay needs to look more at the needs of the seller – bottom line, it is the fees the seller pays which pay the bills at eBay, and they need to be reminded of this fact.

  50. HARK says:

    Sorry, I have to refute that.

    As a Power BUYER (a person who regularly purchases items that cost over $1,000) I have to say that eBay and PayPal are RIGGED to protect their power sellers and do nothing to protect INNOCENT customers. I have been ripped off and lied to by at least two (2) power sellers and never got any help in dispute resolution, not to mention the many times I’ve been ripped off my newbies.

    I am boycotting eBay because of their terrible bias towards protecting sellers at the expense of buyers. Believe me, I spent over $60,000 on eBay last year – its the sellers that need me…not the other way around.

  51. WRXChick says:

    @daniinpa: I’m one of those sellers who has been scammed by a buyer, after the initial purchase went well. Because they paid for the item, I couldn’t report them as a non-paying bidder, and could only use feedback to warn other sellers of this buyer’s behavior. It goes both ways – I look at my bidders’ feedback as the auctions progress, in case I need to cancel a bid from a scammer. Sadly, the scammers are about to have free rein on eBay, and I’m about to stop selling there after being a member for several years. And, well, without mom & pop sellers, you might as well drive to your local Wal Mart, because all that is going to be left on eBay is Chinese imports.

  52. WRXChick says:

    @stanfrombrooklyn: I managed a Yahoo store for a company for several years, and have just been told we will be converting to Amazon later this year. While Yahoo may be easy to implement, it’s not easy to make it look like a high quality site, which is what this company wanted. We could probably build an online store site for them, but they need the exposure that an Amazon offers.

  53. brandymb says:

    Try http://www.ioffer.com. Beats FeEbay to pieces.

  54. morsteen says:

    yeah I remember the good old days when you didn’t even pay a listing fee! let alone a final value fee, let alone an insertion fee. Godamn ebay sucks now. You can’t make any money off anything anymore. The more you sell it for the higher the fees! On top of that then paypal has fees too!? Shit ain’t even worth it anymore. There’s gotta be a legit auction site out there that operates like ebay used to before it got too greedy.

  55. writerswriter says:

    I purchased three items last year (2007); a car, a musical instrument, and land. The first two purchases went well but the last purchase was a manipulation of the ebay system that left me with a misrepresented product and no recourse through ebay policies, paypal policies, or my credit card ($1,150). The Seller held the documents until the “recourse” opportunities had expired. I left some comments in the ebay chat room, only stating the state where the land is located. Shortly, I was “banned” from ebay for a period of time. Also, the Seller was clearly dragging her feet and, when I protested to her about the details of the purchase, threatened me with a lawsuit. There is no such thing as “people” behind ebay or paypal. This land is unusable and is the subject of various fraud schemes. Now, I only look for musical instruments on ebay.

  56. amilcarsanchez says:

    @chouchou:

    I have been trying onlineauction.com is 8 a month flat, i urge everyone that sells on ebay to post all they have there too and spend the 16 or 32 dollars for 2 to 4 months and do something about the ebay issue.