eBay Should Treat Users As If It Had Some Competition For Them

from the or-they-could-just-go-on-jacking-up-fees dept

Almost anytime we write anything about eBay, we get comments from frustrated users of the site complaining about some aspect of the company's practices. But so strong is the company's monopoly that no competitor has been able to make a dent in its business. Even the regular fee increases that it foists on its users haven't done much to turn people away. It's not surprising then that a group of angry customers are planning a symbolic one-day boycott of the company. They're upset at the company's recent price hikes, but, alas, not so upset they're willing (or able) to ditch the company for more than a day. The situation feels similar to Microsoft in the 90's. People always complained about their products, but because its position was so strong, it had little incentive to address these frustrations. eBay can keep exploiting its monopoly by raising prices or doing little to ease frustration, but in so doing it's only increasing the impetus for a competitor to work around it. And when a genuine alternative emerges, its frustrated base will be eager to ditch it.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Sanguine Dream, 15 Aug 2006 @ 12:20pm

    Well...

    I'm only a buyer on eBay so this isnt too big a deal to me. But as a buyer I have to say that I wish bid sniping could be banned. In a real auction if a counter-bid is made the time of aution is extended to give chance for another counter-bid. This is the reason why I only buy from eBay 1-3 times a year. And even then its as a last resort when I can't find what I seek elsewhere. And no price isn't always the issue sometimes I literally can't find the item elsewhere or the store that sells it is too far away.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Simon, 15 Aug 2006 @ 12:30pm

      Re: Well...

      Why is bid sniping a problem? Don't you just enter the amount you're willing pay and be done with it? You will only get 'sniped' if they enter a higher bid than you, which means they were willing to pay more.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Sanguine Dream, 15 Aug 2006 @ 12:35pm

        Re: Re: Well...

        The same reason when you go to an auction house you don't open with you absolute maximum bid.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Mousky, 15 Aug 2006 @ 12:47pm

          Re: Re: Re: Well...

          First, since people can bid for items, eBay is a real auction. Second, you don't open with your maximum bid in eBay - you only enter in your maximum bid. The system will process your bid and increase it by the increment for that price range. Only you and the eBay server know what your max bid. No one else does. It's not that different from an auction house - you decide before the auction what your maximum is. In fact, there is nothing saying you have to enter your absolute maximum bid - you could enter half that value or whatever you feel like.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Araemo, 15 Aug 2006 @ 12:57pm

        Re: Re: Well...

        Because, if someone beats your bid by 1 freaking dollar(or whatever the minimum increment on a particular auction is) because they sniped at the last second, it can be annoying.

        Usually, people's 'maximum' price is elastic. That is, they might think its $20, but if they see someone else bid $21, they might be willing to go as high as $25, but only because there is percieved demand.

        Many people don't use ebay's auto-bidding because its very seller-friendly. ;P The way to get low prices is bidding low.. even if you're willing to pay more, why should you throw away money if you can get it cheaper?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Oliver Wendell Jones, 15 Aug 2006 @ 2:40pm

          Re: Re: Re: Well...

          This is a common complaint amongst most people who are used to ebay.

          I've heard many people complain "I got beat by only $1, I would have raised my bid by $2 more to have won" to which I respond "if you were truly willing to go $2 higher, then why didn't you factor that into your maximum bid?"

          If an item is worth $50 to you, then bid $50 - don't bid $25 and then gripe when someone else gets it for $26 at the last minute - go ahead, bid the amount you are actually willing to pay and then come back when the auction is ended - either you win the item at the price you're willing to pay, or else it sold for more than you were willing to pay.

          Good rule of thumb for ebay or any auction - don't get wrapped up in the excitement and *don't* develop a sense of ownership - don't bid on an item early on and then start feeling like it's yours - people get very possessive and will start bidding higher and higher to keep "their" item from going to someone else. Often times people will pay more than suggested retail price!

          I went to a live auction this weekend - they were selling a 1986 Mercury Grand Marquis with 25K original miles on it, the A/C didn't work and it needed a muffler- Kelly Blue Book values that car at a little over $1200 with no problems and in excellent condition - the auctioneer started the bidding at $7500 (WTF?!?!?) and slowly worked his way down to $2000 and someone bid! At that point I walked away and as I was getting in my vehicle I could still hear the auctioneer saying "I've got $2600, can I get $2700?" for a car that was worth less than half that amount...

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous, 15 Aug 2006 @ 3:39pm

      Re: Well...

      Sniping is the only way to protect yourself from the masses of clueless idiot bidders on eBay who don't know what to bid on unless they see what other people are bidding on. By not showing what you are bidding on, you protect your investment in time and effort that you spent finding the best auction to bid on. If you don't snipe you can easily end up paying ten times as much for an item. Sites like www.auctionsniper.com make it easy and with auction groups you can effectively tell it to bid on several auctions until it actually wins one. This is useful when there is a lot of competition from other buyers for a particular item like a popular model of digital camera or soemthing. Extending the time at the end of the auction might be better for sellers, but it would be much worse for buyers on eBay. Just my $0.02.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Aug 2006 @ 12:52pm

    I never understood sniping..

    So I asked some sellers about it.

    It goes like this. With proxy bidding, your poker hand is shown immediately as soon as someone else bids above your bid. Then they can decide if they want to raise their proxy bix. (so can 500 other people.)

    People DO raise their proxy bids when they lose. Its human nature. They even get notification that they were outbid by eBay just so they know they can go in and bid again.

    Now lets pretend that there is no proxy bidding, and there is nothing but sniping (using a bot to place your bid for you, one second before auction close).

    In that scenario people stick to whatever they put into the sniping bot. Because as soon as the snipe results are out, the auction is closed. That turns the public auction into a blind auction (where everyone gets to place one bid, and you dont ever get to see any results until the auction is over).

    So sniping does the exact same thing as proxy bidding, but does so without disclosure (and recourse).

    I'm with that other guy, I think sniping is bad for everyone (except those few that use it).

    But I dont think it should be banned. I think instead that eBay should extend the auction for at least one hour after the last bid was placed. That will force disclosure of all the sniped bids, and make the effort silly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Mousky, 15 Aug 2006 @ 1:14pm

      Re: I never understood sniping..

      I think instead that eBay should extend the auction for at least one hour after the last bid was placed. That will force disclosure of all the sniped bids, and make the effort silly

      Are you saying that no new bids would be allowed after the official end of the auction, but that all proxy/sniped bids made before the end would play out until there is a single highest bidder?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Aug 2006 @ 1:19pm

        Re: Re: I never understood sniping..

        "Are you saying that ...."

        No, I'm saying extend the auction up to an hour every time a bid is placed, if the auction is currently destined to close in less than one hour.

        Obviously the "hour" is arbitrary, but it seemed like a good amount of time to me. They could of course, allow the seller to set that amount of time (within reason).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Mousky, 15 Aug 2006 @ 1:36pm

          Re: Re: Re: I never understood sniping..

          That is a little clearer - you did not mention the part about the auction closing in less than one hour in your original post. I'm not sure how extending the auction by one hour (or whatever time) will render sniping "silly"? The only way I could see this working is if the time extension is kept secret.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Botch, 15 Aug 2006 @ 1:37pm

          Re: Re: Re: I never understood sniping..

          I fully agree with Anonymous Coward's idea (I had proposed it aloud to friends before). Sellers should have the option to have their auctions be extended by 1 hour (or so) from the last bid. It can truly benefit the seller, because it gives original bidders a chance to reflect and possibly re-bid. The seller is already making as much as the sniper's "winning" bid, it can only go up from there. I salute the idea!

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Mousky, 15 Aug 2006 @ 1:53pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I never understood sniping..

            I don't discount the idea. In fact, I would argue that the auction should end, say one minute or some random yet small period of time, after the highest bid. I just didn't understand the whole notion of making sniping "silly".

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2006 @ 10:45am

      Re: I never understood sniping..

      Probably wouldn't change things a whole lot..well it might if the extended time was randomly selected by an uninterested party (do we know one?) Ebay wants items to go for the higher prices and the pandamonium that happens at the end of an auction seems to work in favor of that. Also, heart attacks will soar if snipers are disallowed somehow. Hah

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mousky, 15 Aug 2006 @ 12:57pm

    Rambling Low for Techdirt

    What monopoly do you speak of Joe? Last I looked, eBay has plenty of competitors both in the auction and non-auction world. The connection to the Microsoft of the 90s is tenous at best. Just because the majority of users are happy with eBay, does not make it a monopoly. What's next? Google a monopoly?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mousky is an Idiot, 15 Aug 2006 @ 1:11pm

    It IS a monopoly

    You really ought to review the deffinition of "Monopoly" - a market in which there are many buyers but only one seller (in this case, many users and only one provider).

    Functionally, there is no auction site that competes with eBay (and no, a local auction house does NOT compete with eBay). No one comes within a thousandth of the volume eBay handles, nor the wide variety of markets it targets.

    And no, Google doesn't have a monopoly, they have a majority. MSN and Yahoo still handle respectable, double-diget percentages of the market.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Mousky, 15 Aug 2006 @ 1:29pm

      Re: It IS a monopoly

      Provide me with an example of a high barrier to entry in the online auction sector and maybe, just maybe, I'll take your post under advisement. Just because eBay dominates a sector does not make it a monopoly. There has to be high barrier to entry. What is preventing Yahoo or Microsoft or Google or anyone from creating a competitive alternative online auction system? The three companies I mentioned have deep financial pockets. They have plenty of computing power and plenty of bandwidth capacity. They all have plenty of programmers. So what is the high barrier to entry?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        dave, 15 Aug 2006 @ 1:40pm

        Re: Re: It IS a monopoly

        Monopoly has nothing to do with a high barrier to entry.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Aug 2006 @ 1:42pm

          Re: Re: Re: It IS a monopoly

          What are you talking about? If barriers to entry are sufficiently high then there will be no competitors and the original firm will be a monopoly. They are intimately related.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            dave, 15 Aug 2006 @ 1:54pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: It IS a monopoly

            yes - but you can have low barriers to entry and still be a monopoly. I would argue that eBay and google are examples of this. It's pretty easy to launch an online auction or search company...
            It's not like other industries where there are insane R&D or capital costs required before a new competitor can bring a product to market

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Mousky, 15 Aug 2006 @ 1:51pm

          Re: Re: Re: It IS a monopoly

          You are kidding right? A high barrier to entry is one of the cornerstones of a monopoly. If it costs a lot of money to enter and compete in a sector, most businesses are unlikely to compete in that sector.

          A high barrier to entry is often cited as a reason for the lack of competition in the broadband market - it's been mentioned on techdirt numerous times. It's fairly expensive for a broadband competitor to run cable to every household and business in an urban area, especially if not every household or business will sign up with the company. That is a high barrier to entry and one of the reasons the incumbent telcos have a large share of the broadband market.

          So tell me what the high barrier to entry in the online auction sector is? If there is no high barrier to entry, meaning anyone can start an online auction company with minimal resources, what is preventing others from competing?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Aug 2006 @ 1:40pm

        Re: Re: It IS a monopoly

        Most people are actually counting a barrier to success as a barrier to entry. A product marginally better with a zero entry cost cannot succeed because it takes an incredible amount of superiority to start attacking the network effects of the current 'monopolist'. Their thinking is that a situation where a better product could be created, but will definitely fail, is monopolistic and broken. They do not realize that this is a just a prisoner's dilemma. If everyone would move to the new, marginally superior product all at once, then it would be able to succeed. But there is no incentive for anyone to move before anyone else and no way to get everyone to move at once. And unfortunately the prisoner's dilemma cannot be beaten in cases such as these.

        So maybe its not technically a monopoly, but it walks like one and quacks like one.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Mousky, 15 Aug 2006 @ 1:59pm

          Re: Re: Re: It IS a monopoly

          I can buy into your argument, since that is the only barrier I can think of. Other than charging substantially lower fees (which I doubt is sustainable in the long run) or offering something that is technically better or has more innovative options, people are unlikely to move to the competition. A small percentage will moan and groan about this and that, but in the end, they will stay with eBay. Let's blame the complainers not eBay for it's facsimile of a monopoly ;)

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            cows, 15 Aug 2006 @ 3:10pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: It IS a monopoly

            Mousky:

            There IS a high barrier to entry in the online auction industry: a critical mass of users. I think other posters referenced this fact when they mentioned network effects.

            When you say there aren't any, you're thinking in textbook economy terms: there's a high barrier to entry in the diamond industry because you need a mine and all the equipment that goes along with it. There's a high barrier to entry in the auto industry because you need experienced auto engineers and expensive auto plants.

            But these are all tangible examples of barriers to entry. The prime barrier to entry that the online auction business presents is intangible: it's the selection and availability of a wide range of goods, as well as a large population of prospective buyers. If an auction site didn't offer that, I wouldn't buy/sell my stuff on there. In essence, eBay's customers/users are its primary assets.

            Of course, I do understand where you're coming from. Any shmo can put up an auction website and technically "participate" in the online auction provider industry. So in that sense, there are few barriers to entry. But I argue that a startup like that would be uncompetitive because it has a low user base, and therefore would not have really "entered" the business.

            I guess my point is that with social internet services, your users are your assets, because of the network effects they generate. The requirement of having a substantial user base is a valid barrier to entry in these scenarios.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Mike (profile), 15 Aug 2006 @ 3:45pm

        Re: Re: It IS a monopoly

        Provide me with an example of a high barrier to entry in the online auction sector and maybe, just maybe, I'll take your post under advisement.

        Um. The entire community of buyers and sellers is the barrier to entry. You can't copy that overnight.

        What is preventing Yahoo or Microsoft or Google or anyone from creating a competitive alternative online auction system?

        Yahoo HAD an auction system. And it didn't even have the fees that eBay had. What happened? Not enough users and it shut down. Turns out that big community of users really is pretty tricky to create -- even for a site like Yahoo. Seems like a pretty big barrier.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Aug 2006 @ 4:05pm

          Re: Re: Re: It IS a monopoly

          But some people dont credit this as a barrier to entry. It feels akin to saying you cant enter the consumer electronics industry because you cant pay your engineers because nobody buys your products. If nobody buys your auction services products, then you dont have the resources (not money, in this case, but users) to run your business. And this is construed as a barrier to entry? Isnt it just that your business sucks?

          The important point in trying to explain this to people is that ebay has a resource that can't be bought by other firms at any price: users. The only way to enter the market is by getting those users some other way, which requires more ingenuity than ebay needs to have. That means that new firms actually have higher barriers to entry in the form of needing to develop such a vastly superior product that it can overcome ebay's network effects. This way, the users look like a consequence of success, and not a cause, which sits better in some people's minds.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Mousky, 15 Aug 2006 @ 6:16pm

          Re: Re: Re: It IS a monopoly

          Come on Mike, most businesses cannot 'copy' anything 'overnight'. It takes time to build up a business. I'm not buying into this 'community of buyers and sellers' argument as a high barrier to entry. So eBay built a better mousetrap. Does that make them evil? Like I said being a monopoly is one thing. Abusing that monopoly power is another.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Mike (profile), 15 Aug 2006 @ 6:46pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: It IS a monopoly

            I'm not buying into this 'community of buyers and sellers' argument as a high barrier to entry.

            The why hasn't anyone else been able to do it?

            So eBay built a better mousetrap. Does that make them evil?

            Who said they were evil? All the post said was that if they kept this up it would make it easier for others to enter the market (because eBayers would actively be looking to jump to a new community) -- and could cause them a lot of problems.

            It's not that hard to figure out. eBay has been able to maintain its market position because it has such a big community who stick to eBay. However, if they continue to piss off users, those users will actively look for alternatives.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Aug 2006 @ 1:28pm

    There are alternatives . . . They're just not grea

    The time is near, or perhaps already here for many folks. The latest target of their price hikes was the eBay Stores. In the past, stores were owned primarily by larger volume sellers. After a change made in January that brought them greater visibility, eBay stores were purchased by many more users.
    The crux of it was: for two cents, you could list an item for 30 days at a fixed rate ("Buy It Now"). You had to pay a monthly fee to maintain the store, and the final value fee was higher than a traditional listing. But it was very useful for selling things like obscure parts and other items that may require more time to sell.
    After the rate increase, it's no longer economical to own an eBay store. Those who stick around will probably raise their prices, which will hurt buyers.

    As someone who was pulled in by the eBay store idea, I learned something...surprise...much of the traffic from the store didn't actually start on eBay. It came from Froogle/Google.
    Over the last two weeks, I started using Google Base. It's not great, but it's tolerable.
    I'm in the process of setting up a store and I'm finding that the price I paid for the eBay store is equitable to that of a reasonable hosting package, SSL certificate and Google Checkout. And the fees are dramatically less (2%, period).
    It's not an option for everybody, but it is probably an option for existing Power Sellers. If they lose enough of their large volume sellers, the site will have less appeal.

    Interestingly, it is about the right time for player like Google to step in and leverage its existing user base. A bit of work with Google Base could probably net a good enough user experience... there's already plenty of products, they're just painful to find.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Aug 2006 @ 1:44pm

    more importantly...

    what the hell is a one day boycott from a group consisting of a small percentage of ebay users going to accomplish? nothing at all... do they think ebay is going to percieve this as a threat or head any kind of "message" they're trying to send by doing so? not at all... most likely this would only add to ebays self-inflated ego that they can do whatever they want without any significant recourse.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Casual User, 15 Aug 2006 @ 1:53pm

    eBay's UI sucks

    If there were "true" competition, eBay would make a more intuitive and less cluttered UI. Setting up to sell an item is very tedious and confusing, and I'm a techie guy (software engineer). There are other auction sites with better/easier UI, but they don't have the marketplace that eBay has.

    Maybe online auctions should go the way of open source. The marketplace is open to all auction sites, but the auction site provides its value add through its interface and added sevices. But like Microsoft, eBay would be crazy stupid to let go their hold on the dominating marketplace.

    Think of it like email and search. You have lots of providers, but they all interact with shared content/users/market/etc.

    The auction sites would still charge for placing items up for sale, but now the pricing would be based on a competitive market.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Aug 2006 @ 1:55pm

      Re: eBay's UI sucks

      ebay's UI rocks. different strokes for different folks. you would have that with a competing auction site, and its ok to want competition for the sake of a different ui, but i wont let you say that the current situation is disgraceful because there is only a bad ui. i think its great.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bob, 15 Aug 2006 @ 1:53pm

    buyers

    It'll all end in tears anyway. The sellers just pass the increases on to the buyer, (and call it shipping charges)and the buyer goes to some other little auction site to get it for cheaper. It catches on and then ebay sellers move there too. Eventually the small site becomes a big one and raises it's fees.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Renee, 15 Aug 2006 @ 1:54pm

    Ebay, Microsoft

    Competing with, or, being heard as a frustrated consumer by Ebay or Microsoft, is like buying a home in the San Francisco Bay Area, next to impossible!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Kyle, 15 Aug 2006 @ 1:54pm

    If these people are against E-bay, doesn't it make sense to just stop using it alltogether, instead of just a day. I plan to boycott. To show my dismay, i will end all of my auctions at midnight on one day, and then, for an ENTIRE 24 hours, after a day of biting my nails, i will be relieved to put my auctions back up. There are still newspapers to sell things... Try that

    Just an idea

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John Q Public, 15 Aug 2006 @ 1:56pm

    your Bias is showing

    You can debate the monopoly issue all you want, but that's a very biased article, and the choice of the term "monopoly"
    demontrates that as much as the title.

    "eBay should ...." who are you to advise what a successful business "should" do? Are you more successful? Have you developed a more profitable business model? A little objectivity goes much farther, and can make your point without being offensive.

    Business is about PROFIT, not charity. As a consumer, you have the option not to use it, ie. boycott. But to say, "eBay should ... blah blah blah ... because they have a monopoly.... blah blah ... and they exploit .... blah" makes you sound like a whining teenager "its not fair, because I don't like it, and they have too much money and I don't have enough, and its not fair"

    Move to France, or China, or Cuba, or some other country that values the socially needy over life, liberty, and the pursuit of happieness (ie money).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      ted, 15 Aug 2006 @ 4:33pm

      Re: your Bias is showing EBAY ROCKS!!!

      Ebay is awesome, bid sniping is awesome! Whining is for babies, welfare recipients, and other intitlement sufferers. Often you get neophytes complaining about things they have little understanding of. These people aren't willing, or don't have the capacity to understand the issue in depth, to understand the up as well as the down side. Therefore they only see how something adversely effects them. Boo Hoo, you lost your auction by $1. Obviously someone was willing to pay AT LEAST $1 more (and possibly $200, $2000, or $2 million more) than you. If you were willing to pay more than you should have bid more in the beginning, in the last minute, or used a snipe service. In any event, if you had the high bid at some point you owned that product until someone was willing to pay MORE THAN YOU. Bid snipers bid what they are willing to pay and hope for a deal. To learn more about this go to snipe myths at moyen dot org: www.moyen.org/snipe/myths.html

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Aug 2006 @ 2:16pm

    The cost of a computer has gone down, the cost of an Internet connection has gone down (for the most part), the cost of the software to run an auction site is small. eBay's service hasn't changed that much It would seem that other than electricity, there is very little to justify an increase in expense. When a company can raise its prices "because it can" there is concern that competition doesn't exist.

    Yahoo did try an auction site for a while. They were offering it for free (no fees). It closed down. Pity, I was hoping it would grow to the point to be a viable alternative to eBay. I think the competition would have inspired some improvements.

    As far as sniping. I love it, I think it is a great way to get a good price on things. Course I love "Buy it Now," often a great way to get a good deal an avoid the rush at the end that drives the price up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John Q Public, 15 Aug 2006 @ 2:29pm

    profit does not need to be justified

    You have no business telling a company how much money they are allowed to make. You can guess all you want about the cost of running eBay, the bottom line is, they can, and should, charge as much as the market will allow.

    That will spur competition, because somewhere someone will see a niche they can exploit, for their own profit.

    Are you going to bitch when you have to pay for Craig's List one day? It's only a matter of time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    EasyJim, 15 Aug 2006 @ 2:37pm

    Interesting premise that eBay should treat their users, like, well, customers. Personally, I have grown very lukewarm towards eBay after realizing that half of the $15 I made selling an item went to eBay and PayPal fees.

    At this point, I’d prefer to send out an email to my coworkers offering my iPod than to put it on eBay.

    It would be a smart move if eBay recognized that it already does have competition: instead of selling on eBay, I can send out an email to my coworkers, or I can donate it to Goodwill, or I can sell it cheap to family or a friend, or I can (gasp!) just not sell it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Howard Lee Harkness (profile), 15 Aug 2006 @ 2:37pm

    eBay strike? Yawn...

    Ebay is going to yawn away the 'strike', and with the current listing sale, the numbers will increase anyway. Plus, all those Tuesday 'strikers' will be back on Wednesday. What eBay really needs is some viable competition.

    Google, maybe? Google is going to do whatever Google wants, on their own schedule, just like they have always done to date. I seriously doubt that the current "petition" is going to have any effect at all.

    Meanwhile, there are dozens of viable places to sell other than eBay. Most of the junk sold on eBay isn't really well-suited to the auction format, anyway, and there are several non-auction listing sites. My current favorite is Blujay. I don't sell as much stuff there as on eBay, but I get to keep more of what I make, and it's a lot less hassle. I'm currently pruning back my eBay listings to concentrate on other sites, and I have a little sales-blurb that I send with every eBay order that I ship telling the customer about the better deals they will be able to find on Blujay. That's how to impact eBay; word of mouth, one customer at a time.

    For auction sites, check out OnlineAuction.com or ebid.com -- both are growing steadily, and are already a substantial fraction of the size of eBay.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      John Q Public, 15 Aug 2006 @ 2:45pm

      Re: eBay strike? Yawn...

      THANK YOU Howard! That's how it is done!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Mousky, 15 Aug 2006 @ 6:26pm

      Re: eBay strike? Yawn...

      The online bulletin board in my workplace is a very active place to buy and sell goods, ask about services and so forth. I've had success selling goods through various for.sale newsgroups. eBay has plenty of competition. They may not be auction sites, but they are competition. That's why I'm not buying into this monopoly argument.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Steve Jones, 15 Aug 2006 @ 2:43pm

    Doesn't ebay own all the patents?

    Haven't I read article after article about ebay suing everyone under the sun that tries to open a auction site even remotely like ebay?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    cows, 15 Aug 2006 @ 3:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: It IS a monopoly

    Nevermind my argument; Wikipedia already cites network effects as an example of a barrier to entry:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barriers_to_entry

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    James, 15 Aug 2006 @ 4:01pm

    sniping

    Sniping is a way to prevent those who get emotional about the auction from bidding higher than they were originally willing to pay when they are outbid. I have LOST auctions even when sniping but I don't think "if I just could have bid ten more dollars i would have won." I choose a high bid rationally and let the auction ride. If I win, great, if not, oh well. At least i did not drive up the bidding before the end of the auction.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sharon Leeds, 15 Aug 2006 @ 4:06pm

    eBay Stores

    I have an eBay store with a niche market. Tried the biggest competitors like the Big O without success. After the fee increase announcement, looked at all the alternatives. eBay may not be a monopoly but it is the big guy on the block. There is no other market that has the volume and exposure of eBay. Despite eBay dipping further into my profits, I am staying but removing my less profitable lines of product.

    Re: Sniping - greatest tool ever created. I predetermine what I am willing to pay for an item, set my snipe, and forget about the auction until it closes. If my snipe wins, great. If not, I have not paid more than I was willing to pay.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    SkepticBlue, 15 Aug 2006 @ 4:40pm

    Sniping

    The "I lost by only $1" is a dumb complaint -- you have no idea what the winner's maximum bid was and the automatic bidding program will bid only as much as needed (up to the maximum) to keep one at the top.

    I buy several items a year on eBay and use sniping on every one of them. I decide my maximum bid and submit it myself with about 5 seconds remaining in the auction. I have only one shot. The auction is blind to me the last 10-15 seconds. If other snipers have pushed the bidding higher than mine in those seconds, my bid will be rejected and not show as a bid. If not, my bid will be taken and then it becomes a choice of maximum bids whether from the previous high bidder or the snipers. If I win, it will be by the minimum increment, and I'll have paid a fair auction price, since I outbid everybody else. If I lose, the winner will also have paid a fair auction price, since he offered more than anybody else. The high bidder going into the last minute of an auction often wins, because his maximum bid is higher than the snipers want to pay.

    If you can't make up your mind what your maximum bid should be, please don't complain to me. What you're complaining about, really, is that you don't have enough information -- you want to know what other people are going to bid before you decide. Tough. That's the reason I use sniping. I don't want to give you ANY information about my interest in the auction. If you outbid me, fine -- I have no regrets, since I already decided I wouldn't pay more. But I can't think of any reason I should want to help you figure out your bid by making my bid earlier.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Larry Mackey, 15 Aug 2006 @ 5:08pm

    Ebay Frustrations

    My Frustration factor with Ebay does not seem to be with the Humans that I try and interface with (most attempts have been lost causes)

    My most recent was attempting to get a list of email addresses that ebay uses so I can put EBay on my safe users list for spam filtering. Five attempts at explaining the request have resulted in five emails from EBay that all but repeat themselves

    Makes you wonder if a human even reads the emails or if everything is a machine at EBay

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Linda Frazier, 25 Aug 2006 @ 2:13pm

      Re: Ebay Frustrations

      Yes, they actually do comment when it benefits them....I have been an idiot who trusted several people who by telephone told me they would definitely pay me but needed the item they won in a big hurry so I did mail and their pending payment was canceled and/or I did not get their check. Ebay did nothing to help me and took so long in doing their "investigation" that I could not leave any feedback to warn anyone about the people who did that to me. I have gotton bad products and the wrong color from what was listed and never complained because I am not that picky but those people who deliberately lie just get away with it and keep on going. The latest incident got "me" suspended from ebay for not knowing how to list ALL OF A SUDDEN after hundreds of positive lisings while they investigate my listings that were duplicated by a faulty problem that their I.T. people created. So they really do go their way or the highway! They had a really bad program dedicated to them on MS NBC not too long ago did anyone see it? The CEO is nasty and ebay really has no personality because of her. I wished Bill Gates would create his own buy/sell auction site that would of course become BIGGER than ebay because he can afford it and does have a true interest in the "people". Take Care, Linda

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Louis Barnett, 15 Aug 2006 @ 5:10pm

    E-bay

    The only way to stop E-bay is for some big Corporation or a person who has more money to step up and set up an Auction website to compete.E-Bay makes money and anyone who is willing to put in the effort and time can do it. The only question is does anyone want to do it.I say Yes someone must want to made money besides buying real eastate.Donald Trupp would be perfect he has a big mouth let him prove himself instead of always as coming off as a phony.Someone please step up and bring E-bay to it's knee's.Someone has to knock E-bay off it's high horse

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Orangey Orange, 15 Aug 2006 @ 5:31pm

    I like e-Bay and have no complaints toward it as a company. I do complain about the buyers on it though. Time after time, I've seen various items such as laptops that have great prices, then 20 minutes before the auction is over, the price jumps $150+. If these idiots would just wait until the last few minutes of the auction, they and everyone else would get a better deal. One auction I just finished watching jumped $500 in the last 20 minutes for an item that was nothing unique or spectacular. Boycott the stupid users, not the company!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Don, 15 Aug 2006 @ 7:06pm

    alternative site

    There is a newly launched alternative to ebay. This site is http://www.freesell.com/. Some of the largest sellers on ebay got together and decided to form a website that only charged the seller 1% as opposed to over 7% as a commission. It is being heavily promoted, and will make a dent in ebay's market share simply because the people developing the site comprise a large portion of ebay's overall sales. You should check it out if you have any issues with ebay.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jack, 15 Aug 2006 @ 7:14pm

    Trademe to rule the world

    ebay has no place in New Zealand because www.trademe.co.nz is too popular. I wonder if they could globalize?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jack, 15 Aug 2006 @ 8:18pm

    Trademe to rule the world

    ebay has no place in New Zealand because www.trademe.co.nz is too popular. I wonder if they could globalize?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Aug 2006 @ 9:50pm

      Re: Trademe to rule the world

      Word has it that Fairfax (the publishing company) is going to open trademe.com.au but it remains to be seen. I'm sure that many people would welcome it in Australia, where eBay has held a stranglehold on the Australian market for some time.

      In the meantime, there's always oztion.com.au which has enjoyed an increase in membership of around 13,000+ members in the past few weeks. Not bad for a country with only 20million people in it...

      With any luck, Australia will become like NZ, where eBay is a second rate second best.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    simon, 15 Aug 2006 @ 9:44pm

    going back to the first few use ebay live its new and work like a real auction

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rebecca, 13 Sep 2006 @ 3:43am

    More Options Needed!!!

    Hi there, I'm from NZ and have moved to WA recently. I have been very happily using trademe.co.nz for over a year now. I have never had any problems and its an awesome site. Now that it has been bought by an australian company I am stunned to find that it is not also operating in Australia. Please set it up here as soon as possible. I would never be interested in trading with an american site as the exchange rates, postage, delivery times etc put me off. However having access to a Australian wide site would be awesome.
    Especially since you have such a huge population to support it. Please, please, please get trademe.com.au up and running ASAP! Cheers, Rebecca. :-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mark Sanders, 25 Sep 2006 @ 2:35am

    Ebays monopoly

    Lets all end Ebays bad .. overcharging Monopoly. use other sites like www.ecrater.com.. no charges at all.
    EBAY Sucks

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mark Sanders, 25 Sep 2006 @ 2:40am

    Ebays monopoly

    Lets all end Ebays bad .. overcharging Monopoly. use other sites like www.ecrater.com.. no charges at all.
    EBAY Sucks

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    jminer, 27 Sep 2006 @ 10:35am

    How to get a big companies attention.

    Convince IRS to demand ebay activities (profits) be taxed at coporate level and individual level as well.

    State taxes should be collected...all/most other retailers selling into various states are required to collect taxes for items sold and paid to the various states.

    Get the Fair Trades Commission off their behinds and looking into business practice such as who can and who can't use ebay's services and who decides.

    Just a couple of thoughts ...right or wrong...free county?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    George, 17 Oct 2006 @ 5:22am

    If ebay thinks that you are doing something that is not on the up an up they just shut you down. They do not ask you anything they just automaticaly think they know everything. A friend of mine did not have a phone at the time and she used my phone number to sign up to ebay because you needed a phone to be a member. and then she seen something that i had up for sale and she bought it from me and i got shut down because they said that i was doing something wrong. Because of those assholes I have been put in a very bad possition. I just wish there was a class action law suite happening out there against ebay for the injustices that they do to people and ruin thier lives. Ebay has started to loose registrants because of there ways and they are going to keep on loosing people because they will never treat people very well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Liz, 19 Oct 2006 @ 5:18am

    e-bay

    Here, here!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Koolio, 12 Dec 2006 @ 3:17pm

    eBay Policies Need to Change!

    I've recently been VERY FRUSTRATED with eBay (as a seller). Now, I don't sell things on eBay as a business - I just sell things I no longer use (usually, electronic gadgets). Anyways, I listed a Sony PS3 auction, twice, and both times, the winning bidder was using a stolen account (one of those Nigeria a**holes). Well, when this happens, eBay DELETES my auction so I can't even do the "Second Chance Offer" to a legitimate bidder. And, when I have sent the Second Chance Offer, they still delete my auction. So, the other bidder sees a second chance offer but can't actually buy it from me (or thinks I'm a shady seller). So, twice, now, eBay has screwed me from selling my PS3.

    And, to top it off, they still charged me the listing fee! Eventually, I got them to reverse the charge but I shouldn't have to ask them to do it! These types of policies/practices will hopefully allow a competitor to kill eBay.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ebay Alternative, 8 Mar 2008 @ 9:16am

    I think people need to get serious about there frustration with ebay and start using other auction sites. One site with great potential is Online Auction Exchange with no listing fees and seller verification this could be a great site to give ebay a wake up call. If we all ban together we can bring the beast down

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Show Now: Takedown
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.