eBay Drove Me Away, But Now They Are Caving To Small Seller Needs

What you are about to read is based on my experience, some web research, and an email I received from eBay containing this link:


When eBay acquired PayPal, I feared the good times were over. I have occasionally been selling / reselling collectibles and comics on eBay to support my own collecting habits. I've been a member of the site for over 10 years now, and began selling 3-4 years ago. At that time, sellers could accept personal checks or money orders, insurance was optional, and listing fees were high.

In the last year or two, eBay changed their selling policies several times to help prevent fraudulent sellers and buyers from taking advantage of people. I was involved in at least two disputes with fraudulent sellers that I was able to resolve with PayPal prior to these changes, and I think eBay had the right intentions when it came to trying to protect its users. Unfortunately, good intentions often pave the road to someplace unpleasant.

The first convenience to go was the option to accept personal checks or money orders. This used to account for 40% of my sales. I saw a huge drop-off on low priced item sales. PayPal and pay at pick up are now basically the only options for small sellers. I have also heard horror stories for years about PayPal freezing accounts, but I have to say that I was lucky to never experience that. Other folks were not so lucky, and eBay's changes contributed to their disillusionment with the whole marketplace.

Then, eBay started requiring sellers to either offer insurance or not. It was no longer optional for buyers or sellers. I've also had to deal with USPS insurance claims as a buyer, and my issues were resolved successfully. I see the merit in this for idiots like me who occasionally forget to add insurance and then have a seller ship ceramics in thin newspaper. I learned that lesson the hard way as a buyer and changed my ways.

For sellers, this change bumped up shipping and handling charges if they required insurance (and any reputable seller dealing in collectibles usually does require it). These sellers were then subject to lower search rankings because their charges are inaccurately compared to sellers who don't offer insurance. I received the warning message several times while listing that my item seemed to have a shipping price higher than normal for the category. My internal response was "yes, because I pack my items securely, which adds weight, which adds money, and I require insurance". The number one question I have received as a seller is "can you ship it cheaper?" With postage increases and the current economic conditions, this also made being a seller a rough road to travel. Customs changes in the last two years by USPS have made international sales a living nightmare and driven me out of selling outside of the US.

Later, eBay tried to help small sellers like me by offering free listing incentives to increase listings. After reaching a predetermined number, or listing in an ineligible category, listings fees reverted to the normal pricing scheme. eBay also offered listing discounts. It really didn't help sellers much because they only took the risk of a "no-buy" listing fee away for a few items or categories. The changes did nothing for items that sold, because they also took a larger percentage of the sale on these listings out of the back-end of the transaction through their Final Value Fee.

My sales steadily declined. Listing items became a hassle for the small profits (losses in many cases) I was receiving. Disillusioned, I began searching for other selling options.

Amazon.com catered to a more financially sound clientele, but my products do not really fit in their successful seller schema (people with media to get rid of - consider Amazon your happy place). eBay had already burdened me with less options, more up-front decisions, and buyers became more aggressive in nasty emailing about shipping, timing, and changes as a result of eBay's changes. So, I found a new site to sell on called Bonanzle.

Last week, I set up a booth at Bonanzle because they have no listing fees or durations. They also provide the option to post items as freebies to entice buyers to purchase from your booth and select their own bonus gifts. The listing form is ridiculously easy to use, and they allow insurance to be optional, and they allow PayPal, money orders, and Google Checkout for payments.

Today, I receive an email from eBay with the link provided at the beginning of this post. eBay has decided to make listing less risky and costly for small sellers by allowing 100 free listings per month subject to terms and conditions on their site. Why would they do this? Well, Bonanzle has experienced remarkable growth over the last year and is being highly recommended by reviewers as a sound alternative to eBay.

I think Bonanzle's growth and the growth of other marketplace providers is directly contributing to eBay's sudden change in policy regarding listing fees. eBay has always been consistent since inception about getting money upfront whether your item sells or not. I think eBay is finally caving to seller demands due to small sellers flocking to alternative web solutions, like Bonanzle. Falling returns (check eBay's year end report), growth of alternative sites, and the trend of eBay becoming merely a resale site for items purchased directly from Asia is forcing eBay to give up on some of their founding principles and policies and seek new ways to lure sellers to their website.

As a small seller, I am not yet completely wooed. eBay still needs to up the ante to get completely back into my good graces. However, I think they might finally be headed in the right direction and I am looking forward to seeing what other changes lie ahead.


“If you don’t turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else’s story.” – The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents