[OT] TAS continues to screw sellers



#9

Lately TAS has been changing their seller fee policies to line their greedy pockets at the expense of sellers. I recently sold some items on TAS, and discovered that the final sale price fee has been increased to a 9% flat rate, regardless of the amount of the sale. Previously, it was a decreasing scale based on the sale price, such that it was much less than it is now. Anyway, I received a new "good news" message from TAS stating that they are further changing their policies, as follows:

"Also, because we know buyers take into consideration the total cost of an item, also starting April 19, to encourage sellers to keep shipping costs low, the Final Value Fee will be applied to the total amount of the sale--including shipping."

So now, they are charging a fee for what is actually a cost to the seller. This will be especially damaging to sellers shipping large items or shipping internationally, where the costs are much higher. For example, an HP-81 sold recently to a buyer in Europe, and I suspect the shipping costs exceeded $100, which translates into an additional $9 in TAS fees. Now, I realize that TAS will claim that sellers have been inflating shipping costs, while reducing BIN prices in order to reduce TAS fees, but in reality this is rarely the case, since most sellers such as myself simply use the shipping calculator to determine actual postage and don't charge any additional handling fees.

Basically, this discourages international selling, since any potential increase in sale price will be offset by increased TAS fees. It also discourages no reserve auctions with low start prices, and leaves the buyer with mostly high priced BIN "auctions" from the likes of Mr. C. It is interesting that TAS has also amended their policies to waive initial listing price fee, further encouraging sellers to list their items at high BIN prices.

"Starting April 19, you'll be able to list your items Auction-style FREE, at any start price, up to 50 listings a month. Plus you can add the Buy It Now option to these listings FREE to grab buyers in a hurry. Set the price you want and sell it fast! This is not a limited-time special but a change in eBay Standard fees to help you list more for FREE all the time--even those high ticket items! Pay only if your item sells."

So what this means is that if the items I have now listed in the MoHPC classifieds don't sell, I will list them at higher prices on TAS and won't ship internationally. In the past I sold NR and with a low start price, but no more. I have sold several calcs privately to forum members, and it worked out very well for both of us, so hopefully I won't have to deal with TAS anymore.


#10

Within 3 years, Ebay will no longer be the Auction site of popular culture. It isn't an auction now, at all. Someone else will come in and fill the void.

The beauty of this is that Ebay doesn't think they will lose their position. Yahoo didn't think they'd lose theirs, either....


#11

They are out of control. Listing fees, final value fees, paypal fees, which they own anyway, and now they want a cut from the money I needed to ship something? That is pretty insane.
Craigslist may be a decent alternative for selling some items, but of course doesn't get enough visibility for specialized items like HP calculators. If all the Craigslists could be searched at once and people would state whether they wanted to ship or just deal locally activity would explode.


#12

All I see happening is sellers being forced to charge flat rates to ship items and rolling the TAS costs into it, so the buyer will wind up paying more for shipping... Wonderful.


#13

Regardless, both seller and buyer are getting the short end of the stick, and eBay gets to line their pockets w/o providing any value added. It's kind of like dealing with a commission stock broker; they make money at both ends of the deal regardless of whether you make or lose money. I don't buy very much from their stores, because most of the time I can find the same item elsewhere for less from an online vendor not affiliated with them that doesn't have to absorb all the fees, not to mention PayPal.


#14

Quote:
It's kind of like dealing with a commission stock broker; they make money at both ends of the deal regardless of whether you make or lose money

are you wanting to suggest that if you make a loss on an auction, then the auction site should bear some of that loss?

i must admit that the continual whinging and whining about "TAS" is staring to get a little tedious. they charge a fraction of the fees that a 'bricks and mortar' auction house would charge. and as a seller, one can always VOTE WITH YOUR FEET by simply choosing to not list your wares. nowhere do i see a "TAS" employee holding a gun to anyone's head forcing them to list items.

as an aside, i am personally EXTREMELY pleased to see auction fees extended to cover the postage component. i am currently purchasing (new) items out of china and reselling locally... one item i deal in has a list price of us$1, with us$8 shipping, while the same item can also be purchased via buy-it-now for us$10 with free shipping. clearly a little sleight-of-hand going on there, the raw manufacturing cost of said item well exceeds the us$1 sale price.

sellers need to realize that "TAS" is a business that provides a pretty amazing and unique service. they have opened up whole new markets to buyers and sellers alike, and unshackled everyone from the tyrannical fees charged by 'bricks and mortar' auction houses that would often exceed 30%.

if any buyer or seller is unhappy, simply choose to not partake. if you are a seller, bump up your reserve price by 10% or so to cover the fees. better still, try holding your breath until you turn blue!!


#15

You need to take a course in reading comprehension.

First off, neither I nor most amateur sellers seek to make a profit on shipping fees. We charge the actual cost and don't charge a handling fee, so if anything we lose money in the process, what with packing supplies and gas driving to the post office.

Second, my auctions are all "no reserve" and start at a low price, so I'm at the mercy of the bidders as to the final sale price. Ebay charges a hefty listing fee for reserve price auctions, so even if your item doesn't sell, you pay a significant fee.

Third, brick and mortar auction houses have a significant overhead that eBay doesn't. So, to compare any brick and mortar retailer to an online store is just plain ignorant. This is why all online retailers can provide goods and services at a substantial savings to consumers.

There is nothing amazing about eBay. They are simply another monopoly that has taken advantage of their current position to gouge their users. But you are correct about one thing; I won't use them anymore. Oh, and I don't visit Walmarts either.


#16

Quote:
There is nothing amazing about eBay. They are simply another monopoly that has taken advantage of their current position to gouge their users.

that would be a monopoly that exists because nobody else has stepped in to provide a better service at a better price? again, i don't see EBAY squashing competition, using standover tactics, or hiding behind government regulation. all i see is a company providing a comprehensive service at a quite modest price, a service that no other company in the whole wide world has been able to better.

if any seller of vintage HP calculators is unhappy, i can see no reason why they can not simply VOTE WITH THEIR FEET and freely choose to not sell their wares through said site. after all, they can get so much better prices by selling elsewhere! or not.


#17

Quote:
they can get so much better prices by selling elsewhere!

Indeed, that has been my recent actual experience.

Sounds to me like you're a shill for ebaby.


#18

He ain't a shill--he's just being frank.

Seriously, we have only ourselves to blame (collectively) for ebay's success...

Comparison:
Why is google the "only" search engine?
Because most people stopped using Lycos, Alta Vista and Yahoo within one year of Google's remarkable early rise.


#19

Until recently, eBay fees were reasonable, which is why I and others happily used them. eBay has always been profitable, and they didn't need to raise their fees dramatically in order to make a reasonable profit. Once they established themselves as the sole widely used service of their type, they took advantage of this to make these dramatic fee increases. To provide a numerical example, let's say I sell a calculator for $200, and then ship it to Europe USPS priority mail medium flat rate box insured for an actual cost to me of $50. Under the old eBay fee structure, the eBay sale fee would be $8.31, whereas under the new fee structure it will be $22.50, or a 270% increase. More notable, since part of the fee is based on a cost, the new fee represents 11.3% of the profit, whereas before it was 4.2%. Add in the eBay PayPal fee ($7.50), and the effective fee rises to 15%. Now the Kiwi can argue that this is reasonable because of some skewed comparison with brick and mortar auction houses or whatever, but for me it is not, and so as I stated before I choose to walk away.


#20

Quote:
Until recently, eBay fees were reasonable...

I question the validity of some of the assertions in this thread. Remember the collective fees depend on many things including annual sales, monthly sales, store type, merchant account type, buyers ratings, listing category, final price, starting price, additions, listing time, etc... You're quoting worse case and calling that an "numerical example". It's not representative of what is happening at ebay.

Ebay/paypal fees have steadily dropped for me from 10% in 2009 to 8% in 2011- the cheapest they've been for over half a decade. If you take into account buyer-incentive programs like Ebay BUCKS program they started in 2010, and paypal cash back credit cards the effective rate slides below 6%. How is that unreasonable??

There are two things I agree with, which are not mentioned much above:

1)The ebay fee structure has become very complex, paralleling the US IRS tax structure in number of categories, tables, exceptions, credits, additions, etc.. This is not helpful for anyone.

2)The current (and likely proposed) fee/incentive structure is skewed to benefit large sellers (>$1000 monthly sales) more than occasional sellers.

Annual ebay fee changes, combined with the frequent change in US Post Office cost/policy structure make it very difficult for infrequent sellers satisfy buyers demands regarding packaging, shipping times, and accurate cost estimates for postage.

There's Amazon for those considering an alternative. ETSY also stands out among non-Ebay sites, though for pre-owned goods both companies have a fraction of the audience commanded by the San Jose hegemony.


#21

I think you hit the nail on the head, when you state that eBay is totally skewed towards high volume high $ sellers. As you can tell from my example, my fees have more than doubled since I began selling about 5 years ago. This is not conjecture, but hard numerical fact. Frankly, I'm more offended by the concept of taxing someone on an expense (charging a fee for a shipping cost), than the actual fee itself. If they are genuinly trying to crack down on shipping cost fraud ($10 shipping on a $1 item), then why not apply this only to fixed shipping rates, and exempt calculated rates only if the seller actual pays for the shipping through PayPal for the stated and charged shipping method. I'm sure eBay management knows perfectly well what they are doing, and are trying to bury the fee increase under the moniker of shipping honesty. If they had simply come out and said that the sale price fee was being increased to say 10% without all this obfuscation, then it would be a little bit easier to swallow. Anyways, I'm seeking out alternatives, since I really don't want to deal with such duplicity, and if that means that it takes me longer to sell my vintage calcs then so be it.

Just one more thought. I contacted another seller of vintage HP calcs and custom replacement parts as to his thoughts on this, and this was his reply:

"I don't sell much anymore and probably won't for much longer. They are going after the people who charge outrageous shipping charges (then charge next to nothing for the item) to avoid the final value fee. The rest of us get to pay."

Now, I can tell you that this person is one of the most honest and valuable sellers that I've known, and that his leaving will be a great loss to the vintage calculator collector community. Some of my very finest acquisitions were from him, and all at very reasonable prices. Hopefully, he will still be willing to sell parts privately. Otherwise, I fear this is all we may be left with in the future:

HP-45 on TAS

Edited: 18 Mar 2011, 8:24 p.m.


#22

I agree and just thought of a few more examples that really upset me.

Recently I was trying to help a friend who needed a TI-83 for a class, so I was looking on TAS. I saw one guy selling 2 of them, separately, for $0.99, but with $74.99 shipping. I reported these auctions and then watched what would happen, which was nothing. I reported them again a few days later, and again, nothing. Ebay is either lazy or incompetent when it comes to policing these kind of people and their auctions, so now it seems they will just push through an unfair policy to make sure they get their money. It's pathetic.

Also, don't forget that TAS limits shipping charges in many categories. I have sold some video game systems for example and there are limits for those types of items, and I'm sure other categories as well. There is no way to tack on some extra to cover the ebay fees there, you will just get screwed.

Edited: 19 Mar 2011, 3:35 p.m.

#23

Quote:
Sounds to me like you're a shill for ebaby.

not at all - i just use their site and find it incredibly useful, and for the rock-solid service they provide the fees are extremely reasonable.

'bricks and mortar' auction houses tend to charge around 20-30% in fees these days, made up of selling fee, commission, and a buyer premium. ebay allows me to buy items from around the world, while via paypal they handle the payment for me (including currency conversion across boarders), and to boot they even provide a guarantee service too. literally, i can complete a transaction that spans the globe in less than 60 seconds.

i tend to avoid buying goods from america, as american sellers (with one or two notable exceptions) seem to charge quite ridiculous postage fees - and when the item arrives from america, the postage marked on the package is usually substantially lower than what the seller charged.

on the other hand, out of china the postage costs are minimal, and often 'free'. parts of europe are also pretty cheap for postage, and they have good supplies of old HP calculators.

there are a small number of 'pioneering' companies that have transformed the landscape for the consumer:

ebay

amazon

trademe (in new zealand)

each have opened up otherwise unavailable markets, and at a cost unheard of before the advent of the internet. 99.9% of consumers and merchants are extremely happy with the variety of goods now available and substantially cheaper costs, they don't begrudge the likes of ebay taking a cut.

it is only a very small number who complain incessantly over the fact that these companies are successful - and that is the crux of the complaints. it irks me.

Edited: 18 Mar 2011, 9:42 a.m.


#24

Quote:
parts of europe are also pretty cheap for postage, and they have good supplies of old HP calculators.

Penny wise and pound foolish. HP calcs usually are much more expensive and in poorer condition from European sources than from the USA.

Quote:
on the other hand, out of china the postage costs are minimal, and often 'free'.

Good luck buying vintage HP calcs from China.


#25

Quote:
HP calcs usually are much more expensive and in poorer condition from European sources than from the USA.
I'd say it's the other way round. Seriously, there are very nice calcs offered in Europe and USA, but you can also get wrecks on both sides of the atlantic sea.
#26

If you just quote the actual shipping quotes, accepting payments via PayPal mean an overall loss for you (ever been), since the payment fee has been calculated on $itemprice+$shipping. You should have quoted $itemprice+$shipping+$paypalfeeforshipping to cover your costs.

Your new calculation needs to include the ebay-fee too, i.e. the above+$ebayfeeforshipping.


I think the new calculation is very understandable from ebays point of view, from the sellers point of view, it simply sucks to have fees added twice to the shipping costs - but I cannot come up with a clever solution to avoid the general adding of a fee without allowing "ebay sales fee fraud" (aka low item price, high shipping costs).
Maybe it's a little piece of gear towards becoming a shipping agent - in Germany, DHL and Deutsche Post are very tightly integrated into the sales process...


#27

Quote:
I cannot come up with a clever solution to avoid the general adding of a fee without allowing "ebay sales fee fraud" (aka low item price, high shipping costs).

This tactic is only used in fixed price style (Buy it Now) listings, and you rarely if ever see ordinary citizen amateur sellers such as myself doing this. The typical listing is an auction style with the shipping fees calculated automatically, based on the service, such that the shipping amount is the actual cost to the seller. Also, most sellers, be they amateur or pro, do not use this tactic. If this is Ebay's rationale, then they are just using it as an excuse to extort additional fees from all sellers, whether they are honest or not. As I stated above, this will hurt especially with international sales, where shipping costs are much higher. So all you fine folks in Europe are going to find it even more difficult to obtain HP calcs from sellers in the USA, unless of course you are wise enough to buy them through the MoHPC classifieds.

#28

Quote:
Within 3 years, Ebay will no longer be the Auction site of popular culture. It isn't an auction now, at all. Someone else will come in and fill the void.

I wish I could believe you are right. But I don't think this will happen any more than I think something will replace Walmart or Microsoft.

We (American) consumers are complicit in the near monopoly of all of the above, because of our own choices.

We go to eB** because we think we'll get more money selling or have more choices buying. We're rewarded with "policies to line their greedy pockets."

We go to Walmart for the cheap prices, and we're rewarded with nothing but Chinese junk to buy, and loss of jobs to China to boot.

Maybe Clinton was right all along in trying to bust Microsoft.

Edited: 17 Mar 2011, 9:49 p.m.


#29

Quote:
I wish I could believe you are right. But I don't think this will happen any more than I think something will replace Walmart or Microsoft.

30 years ago, you might have said Woolworths and Digital Equipment Corporation.

I tend to agree that ebay is in danger of pricing themselves out of the market. Don't bricks and mortar auction houses typically charge 10%? I suspect that someone will pop up to take some of ebay's business. That will force them to lower their fees.


#30

Quote:
30 years ago, you might have said Woolworths and Digital Equipment Corporation.

I take your point.
Quote:
I suspect that someone will pop up to take some of ebay's business. That will force them to lower their fees.

Some have tried and largely failed. We now have eBid. A quick check revealed a whopping 6 listings for the search "HP calculator."
#31

I've been wondering for a while now, I even tried doing a Google search, but I still don't know what TAS stand for. Will anyone explain what it stands for? Thank you. :)


#32

The Auction Site. It appears e**Y is considered a bad word here.

#33

It stands for The Auction Site. I think someone on this forum coined the term to avoid mentioning the evil name itself.


#34

Haha, that's awesome. Thank you all. :)

#35

Michael, Bill;
A friend used to be into buying/selling/collecting/building/playing-with/designing Lego stuff. His opinion of ebaby was not too high, but it doesn't matter to Lego folks. They have something called bricklink. It was written by a Lego guy (who is no longer alive) and it exists for their community. It made enough profit to keep running and John said it is still running and owned by his family. I remember asking about it and while it didn't seem perfect for the calculator sales market, it looked way better than eblay. He said that some folks had made offers to license the software but the writer didn't want to do that (!?!?!?) Maybe his heirs would. Just taking the bloodsucking mercenary robber-baron aspect out of the system would improve it.

#36

wow this is shocking, and just as I am getting ready to sell a large chunk of my collection! unfortunately, this has been here already in the past and had no effect, see these threads from 3 years ago:

Outcry over new listing fees CNN Money 2008

EBay rivals circle vulnerable auctions kingpin CNN Money 2008


#37

Have you tried using the MoHPC classifieds? I've already sold several HP calcs to forum members, and we're all satisfied. The worst that can happen is that you don't get any interest, but the ads are free, so you can't lose anything other than time. I recently sold 3 on TAS, but the sale price on 2 of them was shockingly low, so the market seems weak at this time anyway. Had I listed them BIN, then they probably wouldn't have sold anyway. Unless you have something super rare like an HP-70, I don't see a lot of opportunity on TAS at this time.


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