Ebay Puts More Lipstick on a Pig

Posted on October 15, 2009. Filed under: eBay | Tags: , , , |

Recently, AuctionBytes posted a  blog article about eBay’s job opening for the new position of Director of Seller Engagment, Marketplaces.  Part of this new employees’ job responsibilities will be to  “create and execute programs designed increase visibility for eBay sellers in the media” and “identify eBay sellers who have a uniquely eBay story to tell and work with the media relations team to generate exposure for them in the media”.
I’m sure this position was created to counter the many eBay sellers who have been reporting less than favorable eBay experiences in the media, on blogs, and on chat boards.  While I understand why eBay has created this new position, I see many problems with eBay creating this new job and the implications.

The first thing I thought of when I read the job description was that eBay was trying to put on a good public face by presenting to the public a positive spin on things rather than working to actually fix the problems on the eBay platform.  It would seem to make more sense to fix the problems and then eBay would not have to “go looking” for the positive stories.  Stories of the “great eBay experience” would instead be told across the internet by hundreds and thousands of individual sellers.

The second issue with eBay trying to find unique sellers to tell their story is that any seller who appears in the media telling a positive story will be scrutinized by other eBay sellers.  There are so many eBay sellers who are suffering, really really suffering, and know just how bad things are on the eBay platform.  And these sellers are suspicious of anyone who has a “good” eBay story to tell.  

For example, a recent story in the media (CNN Money) resulted in the featured seller being accused of all sorts of inaccuries as well as being accused of causing harm to other sellers.  In the article, the seller did not give out her eBay IDs but other eBay members used her real name and backtracked to her eBay IDs through some basic internet investigative techniques.  Pictures posted online under the seller’s name were linked to her eBay IDs and the seller had also posted on community forum boards so that it was not difficult to figure out her selling IDs.  And the seller in the article had even been NARU for a short time on one of her eBay IDs. 

The CNN article comments section became so filled with details of the seller’s less-than-positive actions on eBay that CNN removed all comments and discontinued allowing comments on the article. 

The original article was titled Doc Makes More Cash Selling Clothes on eBay and there is also a video titled Mom Makes Six Figures on eBay

In response, an article was written titled CNN Article Flawed, Draws Fire in which the author of the article states “A CNN article about a Hiawatha doctor who sells clothing on eBay has some inaccuracies and is drawing fire from other sellers on the online auction site.”  According to the author of the article, the doctor does not actually practice medicine in the clinic where she said she does.  Also, the doctor declined to clarify whether she had sales of $120,000 in 2008 or whether that was the amount of her net profit.  And, finally, the doctor declined to confirm the identity of her eBay business.

I am very “pro-seller” and I am always happy to hear about sellers who are successful ecommerce merchants.  It really doesn’t matter to me whether an online seller finds success selling on eBay or Amazon or Bonanzle or Etsy or their own website or anywhere else for that matter.  I am truly happy for any eBay seller who has a great success story to tell.  And I wish the new eBay Director of Seller Engagement well.  I am concerned, however, that eBay is going to make things worse by putting out in the media those sellers who have not been properly vetted and that any seller who truly deserves to be featured will end up being put under the microscrope by a mob of angry eBay sellers.

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10 Responses to “Ebay Puts More Lipstick on a Pig”

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I too have been selling on eBay since practically its inception. Once I was very eager, but over the years doing so has become only “necessary”. Of course, diminishing profits has alot to do with it, but most of it has everything to do with how difficult it has become for both sides of the selling equation to use the system which detracts from all benefits derived. Highlighting the actual validated properly researched “good” eBay stories that are indeed meaningful will be looking for the needle in the haystack…viewing the minimum qualifications for the job I am sure the pay will be commensurate with the actual board room expectations.

Common Sense: eBay sellers who are doing “well” do not have or probably don’t feel the desire to advertise how “good” it is. I wouldn’t. Nor would or should I have the time to go telling people about it. Proactive positive reporting would be circumspect at best. Induced postive reporting will definitely hold no water. The emperor has long since lost its clothes, but it sure is having a difficult time admitting it…so instead it will hire a new public relations czar to cover its exposed posterior. Get a grip eBay and start remembering from where you came and whose loyalty you really need…the people who advertise about you for free!

Alas, I hold out hope. But, as one Army general wrote, hope is not a method. We hold eBay up to such high standards that it will never achieve because it never had high foundation standards in the first place. Its foundations were based solely on how much profit each seller could get easily without the costs of a brick and mortar store and/or a weekend stint at the flea market…to sell your cherished once valuable goods, or once “rare” goods. With all that gone, there is no foundation upon which to return. Just fancy buildings, fancy titles, fancy cars, and fancy homes with large mortgages requiring payments on loans now. Perhaps we all need to get a grip.

Please fact check before you publish. That’s the same thing CNN is/was ‘guilty’ of on several levels.

You have the timeline of the situation incorrect. On September 11, 2009, a seller with over 3000 feedback posted to the CAB that she’d gotten her first neg and that it was unwarranted. First neg in over 3000 transactions; this is and was a good seller.

The board put their collective heads together that day and the few days afterwards last month and discovered the full situation. It was not done in ‘retailiation’ for good publicity she’d gotten from CNN. We’d love it if someone could actually say something good about ebay.

In the discussion, it was discovered that the doctor had done the same thing to another boardie and that some of the board members had some of the doctor’s multiple IDs on their Blocked Bidder List, a list of buyers IDs we can block from ever bidding on or buying any of our items.

Again, no ‘close scrutiny’ was done as a result of the publicity – including none by CNN apparently since the clinic said the ‘doctor’ does not practice medicine there.

The bottom line is both sellers and buyers would like an honest auction venue on the net.

While YOU would obviously not scrutinize the seller because of the good press they received, there are plenty of others who would and who did.

On the eBay boards, most of the threads about this topic are being pulled but there are still a few up and in those threads you can read what I read — for example, one eBay member stated that they want to know her IDs so that they can stalk her. Yes, the poster on the thread used the words “stalk her”. The information is right there on the boards for you to read as I do and in the blog I state my opinion and that is that I’m concerned about sellers who agree to be put out in the spotlight.

While most ecommerce sellers are reasonable, there are some eBay sellers (both current and former sellers) who are hell bent on making life difficult for anyone who has something positive to say about eBay. Do I agree with their tactics? Absolutely positively not. However, just because I don’t think it’s right doesn’t mean that I choose to ignore that it exists. Can I change it? Unfortunately not. If I could change it I would do more than just write about my “opinions” and “concerns”.

There are mobs of angry eBay sellers out there. Just because you personally are not part of those mobs and do not associate with them doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

I pity any seller who is chosen and agrees to be put out in the media as an example of someone who is having a good eBay experience. That is my opinion. I wish it weren’t so.

Gross sales on ebay are meaningless. All that matters is the true, NET profits.
How much does an ebay seller earn for their time when all expenses are deducted?

In 2009, it is pretty easy to dispell false ebay “success” stories.

There is nothing positive to be gained from making a sport out of being negative.

But if ebay chooses to be a “snake-oil salesmen”, promising false hopes, it just makes sense for some sellers, (as a point of civic duty to their fellow sellers) to reveal some of ebay’s PR inaccuracies and tall tales….

Show me the sellers P & L statement, show me that they aren’t living on cash flow only, show me that they aren’t really living on other income/resources and just doing ebay “business” as a hobby….

Great essay, as usual Brews. You are a very balanced writer.

I agree with you about sellers wanting to avoid any good publicity. I’m often shocked by the vitriol and just plain maliciousness I hear directed at anyone who says anything positive about eBay. Every time I post anything remotely positive about the site on an AuctionBytes forum, I’m immediately flamed by the angry anti-eBay crowd. I would *never* want my information exposed in the media or any other public forum, since those people are kind of scary and would probably try to harm my business.

Another issue is that a seller who is successful is inviting more competition once their “winning formula” is revealed. There are always plenty of people who don’t bother with their own ideas and simply ride the coattails of others’ successes — hmmm, this might be one source of some of those angry ex-ebayers… Again, I don’t think most sellers would want to risk this happening to their businesses.

“identify eBay sellers who have a uniquely eBay story to tell and work with the media relations team to generate exposure for them in the media”.

It’s normal human nature to put that ‘best foot forward.’ This being eBay 2.0 alpha though, they feel compelled to put ‘best feet forward’, and end up falling down in the process. As in the typical seller examples eBay pushes out, are the folks in a packed room jumping up and down and shouting “Pick Me Not Those Failures!”.

It’s never dedicated sellers like (edited; I love sta***) pierre*****, who is a stand up seller with superb service. Or one with a sense of humor and lovable icon like sojo****.

More often than not the it’s the clothing, electronics, tire, tool, etal guy/gal, that proclaims they can do it so anyone can succeed. Why sell anywhere else but eBay? Only failures can’t succeed on eBay. Ad Nauseum.

Sorry eBay. I (we) have zero interest in listening to cheerleaders for business. Show that casual to full time someone (or group) who takes what they do seriously* AND respects the people they deal with, then we’ll listen.

* Doesn’t mean without fun or humor. i.e. Games can be played seriously, but that doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy them.

.

“I’ve been critical of eBay to the degree that which I honestly thought they might consider yanking my user Id. At the same time, I also have a reverance and a debt owed to the site for many things”
AuctionWally

Hi,

Aside: how come the comments here are rather “unsigned”, or with made up names?

so far, I see comments by
Two Cents
unknown
Dan
Tula
negmeg (auctionwally?)

Is this an indication of how dangerous a little exposure can be? LOL

Btw: negmeg… wasnt’ pierre****** chosen in past as spokesperson for ebay meets & promos ?

Vince, interesting observation about anonymous comments on this particular blog post. I don’t require folks to prove their identity in order to comment. People are free to agree or disagree on my blog as long as they don’t curse. Not everybody who comments here is a glory hound who posts for the purpose of putting a link to their website.

Knock nock …. peers cautiously around the door.
Ummm, maybe I should … on the other hand … or maybe …. (dithering madly)

At the risk of sounding like an old crow cawing “Those were the days” and “It didn’t use to be like this” it is the truth. It wasn’t like this on eBay before.

There was a time when you posted on the Answer Center with your selling ID and would sometimes get sales, I know I bought some good stuff from AC posters.

I think it started getting ugly when eBay made it very obvious that part-time, casual and low ASP sellers were not even considered sellers. The contempt was there at the top and rapidly ran downhill just like the sh*t it was.

Setting seller against seller destroyed the community, I am sure divide and conquer was the psychological strategy and it worked, fast. Next buyers were given the power to destroy small sellers and a lot of animosity was generated. I don’t think that was done purposefully though, it was the result of mind numbing ignorance and I was gone by then because ignorant I am not.

There are geographic and freight cost limitations to what product I can sell and I have never had to support myself as an eBay seller. But I was a good one and when eBay became so expensive that they were making a higher percentage per sale than I did, it was time to move on.

If eBay had not spent so much effort in divisive tactics the community would still be doing what they always did – promoting ‘our’ venue. When the playing field was no longer level and search was manipulated in favor of listing volume (not sellthrough) just quantity over quality, they took that pride and ownership away.

They lost and are still losing more than we did.

I say this in full personal knowledge of more than one disabled seller who lost their ability to support themselves, their self respect, their business, & their home.

Henrietta

It’s true that had ebay played their cards right, this recession would have been all the advertising they needed.


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