Hello again everyone. Are you ready for the latest? It’s been a while since my last post and I see that everyone who has voted on my past articles thus far has agreed with what they’ve read. This is of course no surprise to me since the facts are crystal clear. But further still, the goal to turn Ebay into Ebazon continues.

In this part, I am going to open on a positive note for Ebay. It seems that they’ve seen the light and corrected one of their big mistakes, that being the neutrals having been counted as negatives. That is no longer the case since they’ve now reversed that decision and have supposedly made adjustments to feedbacks across the board for all users. But this correction is quickly overshadowed by what they have yet to repair from the damage done with the new series of policy changes this year.

And since my last part three article, Australia did win their case against a forced Paypal only World. Congratulations should be in order. Or should they? Let’s take a look at that again. The ACCC prevented Ebay from forcing Paypal to be the exclusive payment service in Australia BUT, I believe that they should have read the fine print. As part of the agreement, Ebay is still being allowed to force all sellers to offer Paypal anyway! Now I know you’re thinking, “what do you mean, Paypal lost, right?” Not in my opinion, they didn’t. My theory is that Ebay/Paypal knew right from the start that they would never get away with a Paypal only World over there. I believe that the objective was to use that as a smoke screen to detract from what they really meant to do which was to force everyone into offering Paypal as a means to pay side by side with other payment forms. This means that if you sell in Australia, you have to use the Paypal service, or you don’t sell on the Australian site! This also means that if you sell in the US, you need to accept Paypal from buyers in Australia or your items don’t get seen by the Australian buyers because Ebay blocks their visibility on the Australian site. The same situation has already existed with the UK. And if this didn’t tick off many of the Australian sellers, then the topic in my next paragraph certainly did, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

Ebay has eliminated the use of all paper payments. Only Paypal, Propay or a seller’s merchant account will now be allowed. Propay, for the time being, is a privately owned company that works in a similar fashion as Paypal does. And only if a buyer requests the right to use a check or money order, will Ebay allow sellers to accept them. But they won’t allow sellers to offer them. My concern is that as time goes on and Propay becomes more widely used within the Ebay community, whether or not Ebay will decide to just buy them as well like they did with Paypal when it was a third party affiliate. I would like to see what the details of that agreement between Ebay and Propay actually are. If Propay starts to out do Paypal, don’t you think that Ebay will get concerned? If this is a third party setup, why isn’t Google or other third party payment types being allowed to join in on the fun? Ebay has been quoted in the past as saying that’s because companies like Google Checkout are their competitors. But isn’t Propay a competitor too? I don’t believe for a minute that Ebay/Paypal want to lose money to another competitor unless there is a long term goal in mind that benefits them in some way. Is it possible that this could be a way to incorporate an outside payment source into Ebay with a predetermined idea to make it look as though Ebay is allowing a company other that Paypal as a payment source? They haven’t done it yet, but I don’t put it past Ebay to force sellers the use of their merchant account only if they go through either Paypal or Propay. Then claims of a monopoly would seem groundless being that Propay is not owned by Ebay. At least until the plan to ultimately wind up buying Propay at a later date comes to pass. This is all hypothetical of course and I probably do sound paranoid, don’t I? Well, the only answer I have for someone that thinks that is, after having read all the previous parts of this series, you still think that, then I am. It would certainly go without saying that my opinion is not unfounded. Time will tell. 😉

How many of you caught this story in Australia regarding hundreds of Paypal users being denied the ability to make use of the Paypal buyer protection plan that they promote so convincingly? This is relevant for ALL Paypal users anywhere in the World…

Ebay’s 7th largest seller, EBS known as “EBusiness Suppliers” tanked in July and with them went nearly four thousand Ebay user’s goods for payment, about 2500 of which paid for these goods using Paypal. This worked out to the tune of around 1.7 Million dollars! You can imagine the outcry from these people just after fighting Ebay over the very reason they wanted to prevent a mandate for the exclusive use of Paypal to begin with. These Ebay users were told by Paypal that there would be a special fund set up to pay the people that never received their goods or refunds. However, as has been consistently the case, Paypal/Ebay misled their users yet again when it turned out that all that came out of this promise was a poorly conceived way to try to further promote Paypal of the false benefits that they offer. All through the months of May, June & July, EBS collected monies from Ebay users on goods that they didn’t have, most having been sourced from China. Then on July 23rd, EBS went into liquidation and it soon became apparent that the newly promoted $20,000 Paypal protection plan was worthless! When you sign up with Paypal, the fine print requires that the funds to pay a claim must be sourced from the seller’s Paypal account. Paypal declared that they were unable to make good because of this and all these people who were promised protection were being told that they would get nothing. But yet Ebay & Paypal profited from every transaction with the fees that they charged from all of these sales.

To make things worse, EBS was being allowed by Ebay to break the terms of the Paypal user agreement for YEARS by offering 30 days pre sale terms where only 20 days were allowed when Paypal was being offered. Ebay/Paypal should never have allowed EBS to do business in such a way that voided the Paypal Buyer Protection Policy. It was even reported that Ebay/Paypal were WARNED of the breaching of the Buyer Protection Policy and failed to act during all of that time to stop it. This further shows how they protect the larger sellers and cut deals overlooking such critical policy infractions. Had a complaint come from a single user about a much smaller seller, that seller would have been more then likely reprimanded with action taken against them immediately, but not so when it comes to the 7th largest seller on the site!

Some people are getting refunds from Paypal now, but not all. And it seems that after all this time, here we are into November, and still Ebay/Paypal are dodging paying many of these people, some that are out thousands of dollars each. And some who were paid most recently had to wait for a major news story on ABC’s 7:30 report before it happened.   

An issue of such severity after numerous warnings by their own users of such policy infractions by the 7th largest seller on the site is not the kind of thing that builds trust and safety between Ebay/Paypal and it’s users. And it is this consistent thread of mistrust and unsafe feeling that we focus on today that many Ebay users continue to experience.

One of the more disturbing issues now having been confirmed as another policy change is with regard to the DSR rating system. As many of you know, the DSR star rating system is there to provide the ability for a buyer to rate a seller in 4 categories with from 1 to 5 stars for each after a transaction has been completed. Below shows the four categories. Next to that is the rating description for what four stars means according to Ebay. This is what Ebay actively tells buyers when rating a seller:

1. Description — **** = Accurate
2. Communication — **** = Satisfied
3. Shipping — **** = Quickly
4. Charges — **** = Reasonable

Accurate – Satisfied – Quickly – Reasonable. The last time I checked a dictionary, these words all meant GOOD things. But yet, the World according to Ebay says in so many words, that if buyers were to constantly rate you this way, you FAIL!! Not only do you fail, but you will be prevented from selling any additional items on their site. Why?? That’s because Ebay originally announced that they would be mandating a policy for sellers that says you need to have a no less than 4.3 star rating in ALL four categories or your account will not be allowed to list anymore! Part of the announcement went like this…  Minimum 4.3 on all DSRs: The vast majority of eBay sellers—some 96%—are well above this threshold. To protect the interests of all these sellers, starting November 1 we’ll no longer allow the few who don’t deliver on basic standards of customer satisfaction to sell on eBay. Is it me, or does this reek of arrogance? Who the heck are these people inside Ebay to determine at any one given time that 4% of all Ebay users are to be punished as though they are committing a felony? The fact is that they don’t know what 4% are not above the 96% threshold that they plan to set. The fact is that this 4% probably varies from time to time and is not always the same people. It is probably a harmless standard that just happens to exist for the most part due to unfortunate and inconvenient timing for ALL sellers. Now if they had a system that could determine that a particular seller or group of sellers were consistently under the threshold within that 4%, then I can see acting against them, but NOT to the severity that they feel is correct. I’ll explain why in a minute. It would seem yet AGAIN, that Ebay continues to judge people based on a general number that for the most part misses the mark for what they’re trying to accomplish! Or is it that what they are really trying to accomplish is not what the rest of us are being told? Again, I will explain.

Since news of this policy hit the airwaves, sellers have been screaming about it! That’s probably the reason why Ebay has now split this into TWO categories. A rating of 4.3 will get you restricted now and a NEW rating of 4.1 will stop you from listing. Even so, Im not going to waste anymore time explaining why this won’t work because it simply doesn’t need an explanation. But what I will do is ask a few questions that come to mind… Does anyone out there think that Ebay is perfect? Anyone? Does anyone out there think that anyone is perfect?? Well, if you want to keep your job selling on Ebay, you’d better be FIVE STAR perfect across the board in all areas, otherwise, you’re gone! All you’re going to do with this policy is piss people off consistently, imposing restrictions on a rolling 4% set of new sellers each time, most of which are probably reputable people that have been dealt an unfortunate and non-consistent set of circumstances. It is clear with policies like this that Ebay expects more out of it’s users than humanly possible and as always, they set these expectations based on numbers that don’t prove a damn thing! While there are many available, Im not going to offer a solution to this problem because it’s clear to me that Ebay has a set goal in mind.

So… let me offer a dimension of probability… Ebay already had a Seller Nonperformance Policy in place which restricted and or suspended sellers that didn’t measure up to buyer satisfaction. And that policy was based on buyers either leaving LOW star ratings, opening disputes, or leaving negative feedbacks. Based on what Ebay clearly states is a very low 4% of sellers not in compliance with this DSR star ratings issue, and keeping in mind that this 4% is probably not always the same users, it would seem clear that sellers who truly create a bad buyer experience would already be accounted for under the Seller Nonperformance Policy as it was making these new DSR ratings restrictions quite unnecessary. So then why the need to further amend this policy against sellers on their DSRs with added number restrictions? The answer is quite clearly SHIPPING & HANDLING COSTS!

If you review seller’s DSRs based on the US site, you will find that the vast majority of them have the lowest ratings in the “Shipping Costs” category. If you review the top seller DSR ratings on the SellerDomeBlog, you will find that these details are confirmed not to mention that Ebay has also stated this. It is for this reason that Ebay feels the need to do whatever it takes to raise this star rated category even if it means getting rid of good reputable sellers which is PRECISELY what they are doing!

Consider the sellers that have the following scenario… 99% feedback or higher with over 3,000 ratings, no open disputes and a 4.8-4.9 or higher stars rating on all categories except the shipping costs category at 4.5. It wouldn’t take much for that 4.5 rating to drop below the Ebay standard, putting any given seller with a record like this in jeopardy. Even if a few more buyers posted star ratings of 4 in that seller’s shipping costs category, thats all it will take for that seller to be restricted from listing.

If a seller is not able to afford to lower shipping costs or offer them for FREE, how would it be possible for a seller to dig him or herself out of a hole in order to raise the stars high enough to be reinstated?! If the ONLY bad star lies in the shipping costs category which has been clearly established as being the one clear category that is in fact the lowest ratings wise amongst ALL sellers, how will a seller be able to continue? The answer is that he or she won’t! Ebay is saying to a seller in this case, one with a 99% positive feedback rating and star ratings that exceed Ebay’s standards in ALL areas except the shipping costs, that because the buyers have rated that seller’s shipping & handling costs as being what in Ebay’s own words is considered to be REASONABLE at 4 stars, that they are being kicked off the site! Let me REPEAT that. If buyer’s rate your shipping costs as REASONABLE, you will be restricted! This is NOT a proper way to act towards sellers that pay fees to use the site. What this is, is the most blatant form of ignorance known to man.

And now that I’m on the subject and have drawn close attention to why Ebay has now mandated a minimum star rating in this area, we’ve got to talk about this “FREE SHIPPING” thing that they are trying to force sellers to incorporate into their selling model.

First I need to say, the last time I checked with my carrier, the cost of shipping wasn’t FREE. I don’t think it has ever been. OK, so now that we have that established, who is paying for the shipping if Im offering it for free? I damn well know it’s not Ebay, oddly enough since they’re the ones who want all the sellers to offer it. No, what they want sellers to do, is to either increase the price of the item to make up for it or loose money. The thing is, by increasing the item price, they lose even MORE money! Remember, Ebay wants buyers to think that this is a great place to shop at all costs, except their own of course. Consider this… A buyer makes a single purchase with free shipping, but in reality, they ARE paying the shipping because of the item’s price increase to make up for it to the seller. Ebay is not only forcing sellers to deviously mislead buyers, and I’ll explain what I mean by forcing in just a second, but they make a profit on the cost of the listing and sales fees on the item’s price increase. That is to say that they make a profit from the shipping & handling amount! Now dig this! It’s not OK for a SELLER to make a profit from the shipping & handling but it IS OK for EBAY to?? If a seller pulled that crap, they’d get thrown off the site, but Ebay can do it as often as they like and that’s OK. A seller would be out even more money offering FREE shipping than if he had been HONEST to the buyer about the itemized cost of what they’re buying with shipping/handling being additional. If Ebay wants everyone to offer FREE shipping so badly, why don’t THEY pay for it?! If they want to make money off of it at a seller’s expense, why shouldn’t they?

Here are three more points I need to make on this subject… Number one, when we talk about FREE shipping, there are no rules really. It is not right or wrong to charge or not charge for shipping, it all depends upon how you see it and whether or not you can afford it based on how you run your business and cost of overhead. But practically speaking, most people cannot afford to offer shipping for free in today’s economy. Especially those running small businesses. I mean let’s face it, you’ve got packing materials, vehicle wear & tear, the price of gas and for those who have a work force, labor to pay to pack these items, etc., not to mention trying to stay competitive with the prices of the items you sell. I make this point because the decision to offer FREE shipping is based on your ability as an individual or business to be able to financially afford it. And that will be different from one seller to the next. You can’t be white washing everyone with bonus incentives or lack of equal services just because you choose to agree or not agree to these terms.

Point number two…If you want to offer FREE shipping but can’t truly afford it like most people, then you must keep in mind that creating a free shipping model by incorporating that cost into the price of the items needs to be done for EVERY item. This means that sellers have to increase the prices of ALL items that they offer to pay for this “FREE” shipping idea across the board. And that means that sellers wont be offering a shipping discount on multiple purchases to a single buyer because according to this model, there’s no shipping costs to begin with! You do see where Im headed with this, right? If not, consider this… Take a buyer that buys MULTIPLE items from a seller. He pays FULL shipping costs for ALL items with absolutely NO discount. How is this better for a buyer?! An educated buyer will steer clear of a seller’s items due to the increased item prices. An educated buyer will actually buy from that seller’s competitor instead, one who sells his items for less money and offers a shipping discount for multiple purchases! So in this case scenario, the seller loses business because he offered “FREE” shipping! How is that good for the seller? And so if neither the buyer or the seller benefits from all this, who does?? You already know the answer to that question. Ebay encourages cheating a buyer in such a way to offer false free shipping costs which will almost NEVER truly be free, lets face it. In the process, they take even more money from the seller while simultaneously taking away the option for a buyer to get a shipping discount. Who thinks this stuff up?! They must REALLY take people for absolute idiots!

The final point to make about the FREE shipping model is that like other policies Ebay has improperly thought out, and you’ll remember me mentioning in the first paragraph on this topic that I would explain how Ebay is trying to force sellers to go with FREE shipping, they now use this as a way to increase or decrease visibility for a seller’s items to be seen on the site! They set this policy up in a way that penalizes sellers so that if they don’t comply, then they stand to loose out on incentive bonuses. They make it look like they’re giving you something in their right hand while they take away your basic rights with the left. Offer FREE shipping and we’ll give your items preferential treatment, they say. How unfair is this?! They do this without understanding the psychological impact. Owner’s of businesses do NOT want to be told what to do and how to run their business, not alone have a policy like this dangled in front of them like a lollipop in front of some 4 year old kid in an attempt to get them to comply. But if you don’t comply, then you are treated as second class compared to larger businesses or corporations that may be able to afford such policies. So even though ALL sellers pay the same fees, they are not all treated the same!

The bottom line is that things like this should be left up to the business owner to decide with no consequences for whatever decision is made. What a seller is able or unable to afford to offer their customers is up to that individual seller, not Ebay. It isn’t right that Ebay relieve the buyers completely of the responsibilities of making their own decisions as to what is right or wrong. Buyers will have their own opinions anyway, they don’t need Ebay to decide for them on every little thing. In the end, the seller will be judged fairly enough by Ebay’s Seller Nonperformance Policy that was implemented for that purpose. But they feel that this is not good enough. So time and time again, Ebay meddles in places that they shouldn’t. The phrase is as old as the 1700’s 13 colonies one cent piece that it was first coined on… “Mind your business.” It would seem that Ebay is minding everyone else’s but theirs.

While I have mentioned this in past articles, I would like and will continue to point out the unfairness of the feedback system. Now that months have past since the change of no consequence for a buyer being unfair to a seller, I just wanted to ask you now to take a look at the feedback of a buyer. Any buyer but especially those that have signed on since the “No negatives for buyers” policy was implemented several months ago. Don’t they have such GREAT positive feedback percentages?! WOW! Such angels of God! Oh, wait a minute, Im sorry, that’s because they can’t GET a negative from a seller anymore. That’s right, lost my head there for a sec. 😉 Im joking of course, but you do see what Im saying, right? WHAT is the point of a buyer’s feedback rating??? Can anybody tell me this? What is the point?! Perhaps it’s a type of facade that Ebay wants for buyers to have so that other buyers will see how no one ever complains about them. Buy on Ebay where everyone loves you. Do whatever you want because you have NOTHING to fear!! All you’ve got to do is place a cape on the buyer’s back and they’re all set! The whole thing is just ridiculous!

But now, just imagine this feedback policy 5 or 10 years from now, after all the new users have grown up and what few old users are still using Ebay. And I don’t mean that last comment facetiously. NO buyer will have a bad mark or comment said about them. So how do bad buyers get recognized? From what I can see, they don’t. But according to Ebay, though reports received from sellers, is how. But unfortunately for sellers, the line Ebay draws for what is a punishable offense falls far short of what it takes for just a few untimely negatives or bad DSRs from unfair buyers to get a seller thrown off the site. And even though Ebay has seen fit to enable another upcoming policy amendment of allowing a seller to request that a buyer remove a negative feedback, there is no guarantee that the buyer will take part and certainly no way that a seller will be able to see that that same buyer’s DSR rating that could hurt him just as much if not more. Unfairly handed out negatives will still happen because no matter what Ebay does, people will still act without thinking or out of frustration for their own incompetence. Ebay stated that when they started this no negatives for buyers crap months ago that they would manually remove negatives that were being handed out unfairly but that is NOT what is happening. They don’t remove negatives because they still stand behind the absolutely ridiculous idea that they’re a venue. And if you agree with that, then I think that you should be reading part three of this series before you continue here.

It turns out to be so convenient for them that by denying the removal of negatives, Ebay keeps many sellers pinned down to just below what would put them in a category that would cost Ebay money based on their incentive offerings. This whole feedback deal is NOT in the name of trust OR safety. It is in the name of greed and deceit. In other words, Ebay is doing whatever it can to hang on to what buyers they have left and promoting through ANY means possible, even those that destroy people’s lives, the idea that Ebay is a great place for buyers to be. Tell that to the buyers that can’t find things the way they used to be able to with this new “Best Match” search result that’s ruined the way people find items now. Tell that to the buyers that feel insecure about handing out their credit card information on the Internet who now no longer have the clear option to pay by check or money order, yet another of Ebay’s schemes to shove Paypal down everyone’s throats in my opinion. Tell that to the buyers in Australia that were affected by the EBS bust!

So, has anyone looked at Ebay stock lately? 🙂 Have you compared it from today to a year ago or say just 6 months ago? If you own it, I’ll bet you have. And I’ll also bet that you’re not that happy. But for those who still think that it’s the economy pushing it’s price down, consider this….. I understand that it would be a bit unfair to compare Ebay to the overall stock market in terms of how much it’s lost in the last year since after all, the market is made up of many different types of businesses that react in different ways when times get difficult. So to give Ebay a fair advantage instead, I’ll just compare them to the model that Donahoe is shooting for, that being Amazon. 😉

One year ago, Amazon was at $90 a share. Today they are at $50, a drop of 44%. One year ago, Ebay was at $37 a share. Today, they are at $15, a drop of nearly 60%. Ebay stock has tanked 16% more than it’s competitor in that time! But here’s where it gets even more interesting… Starting April of 2008 when all these new policy changes started taking place, Ebay’s stock has dropped from $33 to $15, a difference of nearly 55% while Amazon has fallen from $76 to $57, a difference of only 25%. Ebay stock has dropped 30% MORE than Amazon even after being given eight months to recover from policy changes that began in April. That means that their stock is dropping at a greater pace than Amazon under the same conditions and even more so when compared to the time frame of the new Ebay policy changes. These are two similar companies that are fighting in the same environment under the same conditions over the same period of time. If this doesn’t sum up what’s been outlined in all four parts of this series, nothing does. It’s not the economy!

Oh, and before I forget, a little something for the businesses that are using the VERO program that Ebay has set up for them…. Understand that not ALL sellers that are selling products on Ebay are doing it to maliciously infringe on your copyrights! Also understand that when you make the decision to report a listing to Ebay, you won’t be able to hide behind a computer keyboard if your report ends up unfairly restricting or suspending a reputable seller to the point of causing them financial loss.

For those of you who don’t know about this, Ebay allows businesses with copyrights to report sellers who they feel are stealing or otherwise infringing upon copyrighted logos, images, etc., that these businesses own. But what in many cases happens is that sellers can be doing something with absolutely NO harm intended. The business reporting the offense does not see that when a seller is warned, this goes on their record. And ill-conceived warnings do have the capability to cause a seller’s account serious harm. This is why these businesses should think about the possibility of sending an email to a seller BEFORE telling Ebay about it because once the damage is done, it could actually wind up causing more damage to the business than the infringement that they believed to be protecting themselves against. Just keep in mind that Ebay punishes it’s sellers based on an automated computer system. And those PCs have no remorse.

Here’s a good one, an extra little tid bit… It didn’t take a political genius to know who NOT to vote for in the presidential election. According to John McCain, Meg Whitman, Ebay’s former CEO has proven herself to fit the position of being Secretary of the United States Treasury! Or at the very least an important part of his cabinet to lead the country. LOLOLOL! Excuse me, Im sorry. Hold on a sec while I pick myself up off the floor! I am now certain that Mr. McCain has no idea how to use a computer. If he did, he would have known with just a few clicks of a mouse that his recommendation had set up a facade of a platform for tens of thousands of people who gave their all into a business opportunity only to be sent through a slaughter house as a reward for their years of hard work and investment. The opportunity that John McCain believes Meg has given to Ebay’s users has ultimately tortured tens of thousands of them to a slow death. Then after having personally groomed the Master of Disaster, John Donahoe, to nail the coffin shut, she cashes in her Ebay stock just prior to it’s collapse leaving on her very own silver lining. Mr. Donahoe goes on to lay off hundreds of company employees and ruins thousands of people’s small businesses. Yeah, a real model of consistency if you ask me, Mr. McCain. Just what this country needs. UN….REAL!

OK, that’s it for now, but Ive got to explain one more thing before I go. Ya know, I go back and read my own articles. I say to myself, geeze, people are going to think all I am is an Ebay basher. Not true! I think Ebay is, or dare I say was a GREAT place to buy and sell. And I truly believe that it can be that again. But right now, the new CEO, John Donahoe’s ideas are NOT what is right for Ebay’s users. They have no one at the top on the inside who truly understands the affects of the policies they create because none of them use their own site to make a living! His team of policy makers has placed it’s users in a position to either leave the site when times get tough, or go at each other’s throats. There is going to be many more hostile communications between users as a result. Hiding the DSR stars will not prevent this from happening. The aggravation caused to buyers from this alone has the potential to be even more damaging than the ability of a seller to leave a buyer a negative feedback. And the unfairness that is dished out to the sellers will cause them to add to the record number of sites, blogs and posts that are dedicated to putting out the word on such activity. No options to the sellers anymore forces many of them to become smarter! It’s these smarter sellers that will hurt Ebay the most. It is no mystery why other smaller sales venues are doing much better over these last 12 months. Don’t expect all of them to stay small forever. These are things that Donahoe and his team will never understand and if they do, then they just don’t care. But to get back to my point in this paragraph is to tell you that Im not posting these articles to be malicious or one sided. I am trying to bring to light what is wrong with these policies and to show the most important people the reasons WHY this needs to change. The words trust and safety have lost their true meaning with the sellers and buyers of this site. It’s the stock holders that need to see this. They’re the ones that have the power to send the only message that will make the head’s of this company sit up and listen.


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