Looked at any G5 auctions recently? All dodgy, full spec G5’s with a bank transfer only payment, no pickup…
It has been a bad few days for eBay. Last week more than $12bn (£6.4bn) was wiped off the value of the dotcom auction house as it warned that its financial performance for 2005 is unlikely to live up to bullish expectations.
Now discontent is growing among its big traders, who are dismayed with recent price rises imposed by ebaby and alarmed about the reputation of the online marketplace.
The Professional eBay Sellers Alliance ( PESA) – a trade group for business merchants operating on eBay – reckon that the “integrity of the eBay marketplace is the single largest issue challenging their businesses on eBay”.
PESA represents “600 high-volume eBay sellers representing a wide variety of goods and services, PESA members currently generate over seventy million eBay transactions each year and over $1bn in annual eBay gross merchandise volume”. It is worried that “negative buyer experiences and the associated media coverage have created a strong caveat emptor mentality among shoppers when considering browsing eBay”.
A quick trawl of news stories in recent weeks reveals the PR problem facing eBay. Illegal items such as drugs and weapons can be sourced with little effort. Stolen – or non existent – goods are also up for sale, although eBay buyers often only find out to their cost when it’s too late.
Last year the British Museum called on eBay to pull listings for ancient artefacts after it warned that hundreds of items – which should be assessed first under the Treasure Act – were being offered for sale via the auction outfit.
One of the most damaging stories to hit eBay recently came after a judge sentenced a Leicester woman for flogging non-existent tickets to the Glastonbury music festival. Sentencing the former payroll clerk, Judge Richard Bray said: “There may be certain safeguards that I have not been told about, but that appears to be the case and you took advantage of that. These trusting people, they get on the internet and they ask for a ticket and they send a cheque without any knowledge of who they are sending it to. Provided you don’t have fraud against you on eBay, you are all right as a fraudster. You can get on and sell anything you like.”
Stories of fraud and illicit items may make some punters wary, but there is another issue that is causing concern. Whether real or perceived, there was at one time a sense that you could pick up a bargain on eBay. Unfortunately, the chances of that happening appear to be diminishing. As one eBay veteran told El Reg he’s been caught up in auctions on a number of occasions only to find that he’d paid over the odds for goods. Experiences like that have dented his enthusiasm for eBay.
What’s more, there are genuine concerns that eBay doesn’t seem to be acting to address the issues. Late last year eBay users in Spain threatened to boycott the service unless the company addressed their concerns. In the UK, eBay regulars are just as bothered at the way the operation is heading.
PESA stated: “We believe that eBay needs to implement policies that will prevent people with negative intentions from doing excessive damage to innocent shoppers. eBay should verify the address and identity of sellers as well as place restrictions on selling activity until certain criteria are met. A new seller should not have an issue providing a verifiable name and address before needing to list 50 plasma televisions or laptop computers.”