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eBay? I Wish There Was Another Way
Are You Disillusioned with Ebay?
Member Name: Zmugzy
Are You Disillusioned with Ebay?
Date: 04/08/09, updated on 13/04/13 (231 review reads)
Advantages: Everyone uses it.
Disadvantages: Rips off the small time seller
I joined eBay about four years ago but until the last few months I had only sold a handful of items. Their complicated fee system had always put me off. However, every now and again I get an email from them inviting me to participate in special one day promotions whereby you can list auction items for free no matter what the initial auction price (you usually have to pay an insertion fee for items with an auction starting price of higher than 99p). I decided to take advantage of one of these offers in June. It gave me the opportunity to list a few more expensive items and kind of test the market to see if there was actually any demand for them out there. Although I didn't sell any of these expensive items, once again I got the eBay bug and subsequent to the special offer, started to list a lot of smaller items in the normal 99p auctions. I managed to sell quite a few things that were definitely on the way to the dustbin or the recycling dump, but through this recent eBay experience I've come to understand why so many sellers are becoming sick of the site and wishing there was an alternative auction website.
EBay clearly dominates the online auction market. This does have some advantages for sellers as it is generally the first place people go to search for bargains and take part in auctions. I have tried eBid but there's still very little action there in my experience. I've also sold the odd item on Gumtree but they use a very cumbersome selling system and it's very difficult to get noticed unless you pay a very large sum which makes selling low value items non-viable. Ebay therefore continues to be the only viable option for many people.
The worst thing about eBay for sellers is that they force you to offer PayPal as a method of payment. This allows them to effectively charge you twice for selling the same item. If you sell something on eBay you not only have to cover the 10% final fee cut (plus any insertion and add on fees), you also have to take into account the charges incurred through using PayPal. If you receive your payment via PayPal they not only will they charge you 20p per transaction (this is a lot if you're only selling low value items), but they also take a further 3.4% out of the item's final value as well as 3.4% of the postage costs you're charging the buyer. I'm pretty certain that there must be a lot of casual sellers on eBay who don't realise they're probably not making any money at all on the items they sell because of the stealth-like nature of the fee system both on eBay and PayPal.
Of course if you're an established business with a turnover of over £1500 a month, then the percentages you get charged will go down, but if you're a small trader just starting off you get hammered. At one time I had considered having a shop on eBay, but when they more than doubled the price from £6 per month to £15 a month that idea went out the window.
Another problem with PayPal (and therefore eBay) is that they tend to favour the buyer. I recently had a payment reversed due to a buyers credit card running out. It was all innocent stuff and I had a good communication and understanding with the buyer throughout. However, trying to communicate with PayPal was another matter. The buyer had received the item and was happy with it and was willing to pay, but trying to get the message across to PayPal seemed an impossible task. I experienced their dreadful automated telephone system before eventually getting through to a female human being in the Philippines (I asked where she was from). The only way I could resolve the matter was to send them a fax of my certificate of posting... yes, a fax... what decade are they living in? The 1980s? This whole experience didn't cause me much stress as the item I sold was of little value but I could imagine the headache this would cause someone selling a very expensive product.
A further major gripe for sellers is that you have to put up with trivial negative comments from buyers but as a seller you can no longer leave negative or neutral feedback about a buyer - for example, someone who bids and refuses to pay, or delays payment. This simply does not make sense and is bound to continue to upet many sellers using the site - it takes two to tango and eBay needs sellers as much as buyers. Both should be treated with the same respect.
And one final irritating thing that I've discovered this last month is eBay's relatively new policy of forcing sellers to offer free postage. On certain items you have no choice but to put a zero in the postage box when listing your item. At present I've managed to get round this by clearly stating in the item description that I will charge postage no matter what. Most buyers are understanding but it is a little confusing and it does give another opportunity for some narky sod to use it as an excuse and leave you negative feedback about the postage costs. It seems that eBay doesn't seem to like it if sellers charge more for postage than the actual costs of the stamps. They don't seem to realise that the postage charge is made not only for the stamp, but also to cover the cost of the packaging, the time, care and attention of wrapping the item, the walk to the post office in the pouring rain and the experience of getting bullied by old ladies whilst waiting in the queue at the post office.
I long for another auction site that is truly aimed at the small business seller and those individuals who just want to the opportunity to off load their unwanted possessions and make a few extra bucks now and again.
Summary: eBay is alienating sellers