eBay fixes a leak



#41

and sellers who have been abusing the listing insertion fee will have some surprises in their next eBay statement - thanks to a new billing policy. That was the news I got today from an eBay staffer.

It will be interesting to see how long it takes you-know-who to cease and desist with the overpriced but-it-now auctions. Check his auctions - they've all been closing at full fare - with no buyer :) Flame on!


#42

I don't know why this was a "leak."

It was one good technique to keep the costs down.

The problem is that if you want to sell something expensive on ebay, and it doesn't come up to your minimum, you would like to get on with selling *something* but not get saddled with all that listing fee.

You really haven't done anyone a favor by bringing this "leak" to ebay's attention.

It hurts, rather than helps, me.


#43

Haven't you been following the Coburlin discussions?

This practice (of changing the price and item description at the last minute to save on fees) was abusing the auction model. If that was helping you, well good for you while it lasted.

For the rest of us, it was (a) annoying and (b) inflating prices.

I had to change my search patterns to exclude people who did this.

In summary, if I really think that used toothpick costs $500 , then by all means I can set up an auction for this amount. But if (surprise) there are no takers, I get to put my money (eBay fees) where my mouth is.

BTW you can still get away without paying large fees by specifying a high reserve for the auction, and a small initial amount. In this way you will not pay the fee if the item does not sell.
**vp

Edited: 8 Mar 2006, 10:16 p.m.


#44

Thank you, Randy, if you were the one who successfully lobbied for the policy fix.

And, "Amen!" to Vassilis and Mark.

I've never been an eBay seller, so I'm uninitiated. But, I would hope that the insertion fee would be based upon one of the following:

  1. Actual selling price
  2. Higher of the Starting Bid or Reserve if unsold
  3. BIN if no Starting Bid or Reserve

I also believe that every bona fide auction ought to have a Starting bid or Reserve that is no greater than, say, 80% of a BIN price. BIN-only could be relegated to separate categories.

I tend not to participate in Reserve auctions. It seems like a way to extract information about buyers (who bids and how much?) without being upfront about expectations of price.

-- KS


#45

The "Final Value Fee" handles the final selling price.

The "insertion fee' is the "ante" that you have to commit in order to use bandwidth.

The basic rationale behind insertion fees is that the higher the starting price, the less likely there will be a final value fee collected--in other words an incomplete sale. The fee for a high start is ebay's way of insuring that they collect something for the bandwitdh--regardless of sales.

Edited: 13 Mar 2006, 8:26 a.m.

#46

It certainly wasn't just me that brought it to their attention - it was probably several thousand other people as well as the practice was certainly not limited to HP calculators. I had given up after several emails with no response more than a year ago.

I simply asked the question today during a conversation that had nothing to do with P.T. Barnum* types when I was asked if there was anything else that eBay could do for me today - so I asked if the practice was in fact in keeping with eBay listing policy. The person said they would get an answer and call me back - which came about five minutes later when she reported the practice was against their listing policy and the technical loophole that had allowed it had been closed several days ago.

#47

Vassilis,
Who's Coburlin? I've been seeing this eBay ID bid all the time. Are there private discussions on eBay members; I'd be interested too.
Andreas


#48

Andreas Terzis wrote:
> Vassilis, Who's Coburlin? I've been seeing this eBay ID bid all
> the time.

Hi Andrea,

I have no idea who he is. I do not particularly care. For some time he really got on my nerves as I kept seeing these silly auctions for items priced at 2-3 times the prevailing price. Eventually technology saved me (I blacklisted him by including a parameter in my searches that excluded his username from displayed auctions).

>Are there private discussions on eBay members; I'd be interested too.
I am not aware of any private ones. There were many public discussion in the forum. If you do a Google search on Coburlin (limited to site hpmuseum.org) you will find them all. But they are not really interesting (just people, including me early on, complaining).


**vp

#49

Quote:
BTW you can still get away without paying large fees by specifying a high reserve for the auction, and a small initial amount. In this way you will not pay the fee if the item does not sell. **vp

Nope. You are incorrect on this point.
from ebay:

Quote:
All Reserve Price Auctions are subject to a Reserve Price Auction Fee that is refunded when you successfully complete your auction on eBay. If your item does not sell, this fee is not refunded.

So, if you use a reserve fee, there is *no* way to recoup it if the item does not sell. With a high starting price, at least you can re-use that insertion fee during the re-list.

Just to put this into perspective:

A $500 or more starting price has an insertion fee of $4.80, whereas a 99cent listing has an insertion fee of $0.20

I recently listed a violin--and it did not sell--but I was certainly not going to list it for 99 cents! I can re-list it, but it does not look promising. So I'll have to list something else to take its place during the re-list, to try to make that $4.80 useful for something.

I really don't see how this "leak" was "driving up prices." Sure, coburlin might repeatedly *ask* for a ridiculous amount, but that still doesn't mean he'll get it!

Edited: 9 Mar 2006, 9:35 a.m.


#50

I have no sympathy for individuals who list items with $500 minimum prices who complain about a $4.80 insertion fee.

I don't think that sellers should get a free re-list either.


#51

Mark,

Let me get this straight. You think that ebay should be free and easy for the buyers, but stick it to the sellers? You are kidding, right?

4.80 is not a lot by itself, but it adds up. Why shouldn't the sellers be able to relist? Is there something morally wrong with relisting? Jesus, it is a privately run list! If ebay wants to encourage sellers to "try again" what the hell is wrong with that!

So you think I should have to just eat listing fees left and right? Yeah, great idea. Real friendly idea. Why on earth would anybody even bother with ebay then?

Is this an HP forum, or some populist-socialist anti-business forum?


Edited: 9 Mar 2006, 4:17 p.m.


#52

I though Joe Edwards quit posting here...


#53

Who's Joe Edwards?

#54

Bill said:

Quote:
The problem is that if you want to sell something expensive on ebay, and it doesn't come up to your minimum, you would like to get on with selling *something* but not get saddled with all that listing fee.

Let's see if I've got this right: You want to use eBay's bandwidth to advertise your $500 listing in hopes of attracting an impulse buyer. Note I didn't say auction, because Buy-it-now is not an auction. Never mind that eBay is an auction site, as you want your minimum price, period. You don't want an auction, you want to sell something a price.

So now when your item hasn't sold, AFTER you've used eBay's bandwidth for 6 days and 11 hours to advertise your $500 for sale item, you change your auction to be a completely different item, valued at a $1.00 so you only have to pay $0.20 for that bandwidth instead of the $4.80 that eBay said they wanted to list your item at the price YOU wanted for it. Does that about sum up the situation?

Bill said:

Quote:
Is this an HP forum, or some populist-socialist anti-business forum?

Huh? Are you serious? So manipulating a loophole to cheat eBay out of revenue that you agreed to pay when you listed the item is a good, sound capitalistic practice?


#55

Go Randy, go Randy, go Randy. I second that response. I am tired of those hypocritical eBay sellers that think they can rule the world. This is an HP domain...

#56

Randy, you are really missing the point here. Ebay controls the "loopholes." They aren't loopholes if they work. The fact that changing the auction changed the listing fee is not my fault, nor any other sellers.

As for the "impulse buyer" business, you are just way out of line. If your house cost you $350,000, and it doesn't sell in 10 days, do you think it is unethical to wait longer before lowering the price? Same thing for low-activity "high-value" items. If I have a violin that I know a dealer will buy for $400, and I list it on ebay for $500, where's the crime? Ebay *offers* their bandwidth to me, and they set the rates. It is not my fault, nor any other sellers', if their software does not work as intended. If I decide that I would rather put something else up in its place--note that I have *paid* the listing fee already--and ebay has offered "relisting" and allows modification to the listing, including changing the listing--what on earth is the crime? Like I said, *ebay* offers relisting, ebay *allows* modification of the listing etc. I sold a viola on ebay for $800 once--with a bottom price of you guessed it--$800. One bidder. So I guess I should have listed it at 99 cents and "taken my chances"? Why would I do that? The buyer needs to do the research with regards to appropriate pricing. You can see from my feedback that the buyer of that viola was *very* happy.

Furthermore, ebay is *not* an auction site. They are a sales listing service. "Buy It Now" is one of *ebay's* services--it isn't an invention of the sellers'. They started out with an *auction" like system (though technically it really is not an auction in the same way that a traditional auction is) but have added these other services in order to increase their revenue. Do you think they would continue to offer BIN etc if it did not make money for them?

You are confusing me with coburlin (which I am not). If you are the Randy that I have known here for all these years, then you know me as well (I bought a 17bii from you, and a case for a voyager--probably 2 years ago). I think you are missing my tone of voice here--I am not trying to flame you! :-)


#57

I'm the same Randy that's been around here for several years, I just dropped the last name for privacy reasons when I created my MoHPC account. I don't see or sense this a a flame, only a discussion of ethics.

My very simplistic point is and will continue to be that loophole or not, a seller agrees to pay eBay a certain fee when listing an item up front. Their policies are quite clear and straight-forward. Because they had a flaw in their system, people have been cheating them out of revenue by manipulating the entire content of the auction so long as it was 12+ hours before the auction closed.

They fixed the flaw. I post it. You complain, with your reasons for reneging on a promise to pay for a service that was delivered per your terms. No matter what words you use and how you frame it, you'll never convince me it is was okay and justifiable to engage in the practice.

It was not my intent to engage in this kind of dialog when I made my original post. It was only after you made the second reply, (the socialist crack) which, quite honestly surprised me that I felt it necessary to explain the significance of what the one-not-to-be-named seller had been doing that irritated many here, myself included.

Shall we move on to more interesting things?

Edited: 10 Mar 2006, 9:25 a.m.

#58

Quote:
Randy, you are really missing the point here.

No, he is not missing the point. You are an self-admitted unethical seller.

Please post your eBay id so we know to avoid doing business with you.


#59

I was not an unethical seller. I merely openly used the feature, explicitly allowed by ebay, to modify your listing, if it has no bids. That ebay had a technical flaw is not my fault.


#60

Next thing you will tell us is you used indirect memory operations to access unauthorized registers in your HP-41C... how could you be so unethical ;-) I bet you even turned on the low battery indicator before the batteries ended.


#61

(David, I see your wink, but I am still puzzled by the attacks of others, so what follows below is directe more generally).

You know what, there must be some sort of disconnect here. I have *never* done anything will of purposeful to cheat ebay. I have followed there rules to the letter, paid my fees etc.

The fact that either their software was buggy, or their policies were inconsistent is not my fault! I never went in and said, "look, I can cheat ebay!" I merely looed at the policies and decided which mechanism of listing would be most cost-effective.

Where is the crime?

Did I do something unethical by following ebay rules?

Guys, this is crazy.

Can you show me *exactly* what you are describing? I am starting to think that I am defending someting that I never partricipated in--in other words, am I confusing the simple act of modifying a listing before closing, with some other tricky thing? Ebay not only allows mods to a listing; they encourage it!

Please describe the crime in detail before you haul off and say that I am unethical.

Edited: 12 Mar 2006, 12:57 p.m.

#62

Quote:
I don't know why this was a "leak."

It was one good technique to keep the costs down.


Quote:
That ebay had a technical flaw is not my fault.

It sounds like you've changed from calling it a "feature" to a flaw - correct? You might consider that your current argument is the one commonly made by spyware authors, crackers, spammers, ID thieves and burglars as an argument for their activities. I'm not equating any of them with you, but when you're using their argument, it's time to look for a different one I think. The fact that someone else left a hole, is just way to broad for your purpose.

If it was a technical flaw and is now fixed, then I think we're done.

#63

Bill stated to Mark Crispin,

Quote:
You think that ebay should be free and easy for the buyers, but stick it to the sellers?

$4.80 is not a lot by itself, but it adds up. Why shouldn't the sellers be able to relist? Is there something morally wrong with relisting?

So you think I should have to just eat listing fees left and right? .... Why on earth would anybody even bother with ebay then?


Randy (Sloyer?) has already rebutted the "philosophy" behind your post, so I won't bother. But here are my short answers:

  1. The eBay fees must be paid by someone, and it just makes more sense to hold the sellers responsible: They have the funds available after successful sales, and they have a more-extensive business agreement with eBay.

  2. Nothing is wrong with re-listing, but there's no reason to presume that repeated re-listings should be free to the seller.

  3. If an item is generally desirable, described accurately, priced reasonably, and offered for a sufficient amount of time, there's no reason to believe that it wouldn't sell on the initial listing.

-- KS


#64

Hi Karl,

(please see this as a friendly rebuttal:-)

First of all, I have no idea where you get the idea of "repeated relistings"--if there is yet another "loophole" it is one I was not aware of. Only one (1) relisting is possible for any initial listing--ebay software makes that happen automatically.

Your point number 3 is based on assumtptions and is not at all true nor reasonable for evey case. Ebay auctions are 10 days (unless you want to pay extra) and while the exposure is potentially huge, for many items the actual exposure to potentiual buyers is often extremely small. It just so happens that there is a really dynamic and active marketplace for calculators and so one might start to believe that it is *always* like that for *all* products--it is *not*.

Some things are listed to "test the waters." If you cannot find good data--not enough comparables--then being able to re-list with a different item, after you get no bidders, is just good business sense on ebay's part--it encourages sellers to try to sell new things, but without simply throwing money away.

Of course the sellers are paying for the service! 5% off the top, for every sale! (Less percent for big-ticket items). As well as the listing fee. Note that since the listing fee for a 99cent auction is 20cents but that for $500 is essentialy $5.00, ebay believes a couple of things:

1. That they "carrying cost" for their bandwidth is less than 20 cents per 10 days. (OK, I'm not using that term rigorously, but I think it is still essentially true).
2. That in order to encourage listing of expensive items, it is better to rely on final sale fees rather than listing fees.

Regards,

Bill


Edited: 10 Mar 2006, 9:01 a.m.


#65

Quote:
being able to re-list with a different item, after you get no bidders, is just good business sense on ebay's part--it encourages sellers to try to sell new things, but without simply throwing money away.

This is an excellent reason to lobby eBay into abolishing no-cost relisting: there are ethics-challenged individuals who abuse the privilege, and thus create an unfair market biased against the buyers.

Since the privilege is being abused, it needs to be revoked.


#66

Mark, you are lost. I think you totally misunderstand me here. Ebay has changed many of their policies over the years. It is confusing to keep track of all of them. As a seller, you have to do your best to use the features they offer to your advantage. Doing so is not unethical; it is part of the bargain ebay makes in order to attract business.

It seems that in your ideal world, the buyers would be in a paradoxical state of perpetual bliss--as there would be no sellers to buy from!

#67

I don't see the issue. List it at 99 cents and let the auction find the market price, or set the price above what most people will pay and pay for the privilege of either finding a sucker or not. Your choice.

Quote:
Is this an HP forum, or some populist-socialist anti-business forum?

This is from the guy who thinks that ebay doesn't deserve to get their cut for helping him maximize his own profit? Ebay wants to make as much money as possible too. Are you in favor of socialism for everyone but you?

#68

Bill Platt writes:

Quote:
Let me get this straight. You think that ebay should be free and easy for the buyers, but stick it to the sellers? You are kidding, right?

In case you haven't figured it out the buyers are the customers. For this very reason, the market is supposed to be "free and easy" for them.

Quote:
So you think I should have to just eat listing fees left and right? Yeah, great idea. Real friendly idea. Why on earth would anybody even bother with ebay then?

The listing fees are the lawful and proper fees that a seller pays for entry into the market. All reputable sellers pay those fees, with pleasure. They are part of the cost of doing business; they ensure your buyers that the seller is reputable; and ultimately those fees are paid by the buyer in the form of increased market price.

You, sir, by your own admission are not a reputable seller. Please post your eBay user ID here so that I can add you to my blocked seller blocked bidder lists. I do not want to do business with you, ever.

Quote:
Is this an HP forum, or some populist-socialist anti-business forum?

How dare you! You are the one who advocates unethical rip-offs of the market itself.

Hrupmh. Calling me a "socialist." What kind of drugs are you taking, boy?


#69

Mark, I have paid every fee that ebay has ever charged me. How is that unethical!!!!

Yes, buyers are the customers of the sellers. But from ebay's perpective, the *sellers* are the customers.

The socialist remark--I make it because you seem to miss the whole supply and demand thing. Gee, if a seller has any chancce of saving money, strike him down!


Edited: 11 Mar 2006, 6:19 p.m.

#70

If you really feel that if the item is worth that much, you should be pleased to pay the appropriate listing fees.

If, on the other hand, you set a buy-it-now only (or high-reserve auction) price at a ridiculous level, you deserve what you get if it doesn't sell. You take your chances; either you get the big bucks or you pay for your foolishness.

That's the way that a fair market works; everybody is on a level playing field. What you, Mr. Platt, seem to be saying is that you want the market tilted unfairly to benefit you and hurt your customers.


#71

So is Mr. Platt the seller that had all those auctions that we all wanted to bid on, where the reserve wasn't met?!@* Nice sleuth work boys...


#72

No, I am not coburlin.

Every calculator I have ever sold (and that is only a handful) was listed at 99 cents.

There is so much traffic in HP calculators that there is no reason to use a reserve or a high start---the market will take your offering to its fair price--as long as you do a proper job of listing it. In other words:

* Full Disclosure
* clear, accurate photos
* plain english
* no excuses like "my brother wanted me to sell this"
* reasonable shipping

Let's see...I've sold 3 HP32sii, a broken 48g, a 33s, and maybe one or two others. On the other hand, I've *bought* over $2,000 worth of these crazy things....

Edited: 9 Mar 2006, 9:40 a.m.


#73

If you actually conduct another search, there is another guy (who I meant in my previous posting) that sets a very high 'Buy it now' price and his listings never sell; at least they haven't, in the last month or so. When I have asked key questions of the sort 'has the calculator being rebuilt', or 'do the keys shake', he never answers!!! To the question 'can you please post any clearer pictures', he responded: 'the calculator has been packaged for shipping already'. CAVEAT EMPTOR!!!


#74

That is not me.

As I have stated already, I have only sold a handful of calculators. I like the darned things and find it hard to part with them. I have been selling other stuff. I always respond to questions from bidders and provide additional photos if requested!

There are a lot of sleazy listings out there--I just ignore them!

Edited: 10 Mar 2006, 9:02 a.m.

#75

Just out of curiosity Bill, did your 33s sell at a good price?


#76

Yes. I got $55 for it. I bought it for $40 (after rebate). I loaded a bunch of useful stuff with it, and fully described the workarounds for the bugs, had them printed up, and even some cool ALG stuff. I listed it at the right time (some months ahead of the Big Exam). I did not sell mine during the time when they were going for $200--when the Big Exam had made them a requirement, and Walmart had pre-released them and tehn taken them off the shelves. I could have made a lot of money then (but did not).

All of this is so ridiculously little compared to what I actually get *paid* that it really doesn't matter. I could by 10 33s every year and not really notice it...just to put it in perspective...

Edited: 10 Mar 2006, 1:12 p.m.

#77

Yeah, I've bought HP's worth $2000 myself in the last couple of months and returned about half of them due to crooked sellers on eBay. I'm getting tired of this. Statistically I'd say there are about 10% of honest sellers on eBay. And like most of us here, I have a list of them. What is it about taking people for a ride? Does it add excitement to the sellers' lives? Or do they make so much money that they keep deceiving people? Like a few other fellows here, I think from now on I'm gonna be very distrustful of any seller on eBay. Reputable ones don't hide behind their anonymity!


#78

Well, I only got a bad deal * once* in my calculator buying. You have to really do your reasearch. I read *every* feedback (up to 250 of them) for every seller that I bid on. I learned this the hard way fro mthe one that ripped me off.

I have had stuff come in bad--but the sellers have made adjustments and so that is fine with me.


#79

Does that mean partial refunds for the most part?

#80

I've deleted or prevented about 15 additional posts (on both sides) in this thread, which are more polarized and inflammatory than the ones currently showing. Obviously we're not converging on a consensus.

As I understand it, some ebay feature/bug/loophole has been removed. News reported. News understood. Some people like it. Some don't. If you want to argue it further, please contact ebay


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