If you own a business that sells on eBay, this won’t be news to you. If you’re everyone else – you may not know.
eBay has changed more as a company over the past 5 years than most people realize. Ask someone 5 years ago what eBay did – they’d probably say they sell used stuff. Ask that same person now and the person’s response would probably be the same. However there are some hard line changes that eBay has made that has changed the marketplace forever.
What are the changes you ask? You almost have to ask where to start… eBay 5 years ago was a robust service for individuals and small businesses to sell items. Both parties were equal partners in the transaction and their feedback system reflected that. Meaning every item you bought or sold, you could tell the world if they were a good buyer and a good seller. It helped create a community and feedback was seen as a true measure of a buyer and of a seller. If someone was scamming – everyone knew about it. Then something changed, the eBay CEO stepped down and someone else took over. Literally everything is different now. The first is the brand – eBay started to leverage what they had in what a most consider an illegal (or at least immoral manner). The transaction is no longer between the person selling it and buying it, it is between eBay and the buyer. eBay controls the seller and has their full authority to refund a buyer fully (with the seller’s money), and the buyer can keep the item. Seller’s can’t leave feedback for buyers and eBay guarantee’s every purchase a buyer makes (with the seller’s money). eBay forces sellers to use Paypal, which they own, and Paypal works along side with eBay to make sure all their policies are followed.
Like I said, there are too many changes to go over, but here are a few highlights. Are you a new seller on eBay? Welcome! However anything you sell Paypal will be holding your money for 21 days. Oh, and you have a selling limit of X items per month or X dollars in value per month. eBay changes X based on how they’re feeling that month. If you’re selling too much, Paypal will decide to hold a rolling reserve on all your money. The rolling reserve is typically 30 days of sales. So as $1 comes in, $1 is held. 30 days pass, another $1 comes in, $1 is held and then $1 is released. The reserve is always held, so for ever $2 you sell they’ll continue to keep $1 (unless you stop selling). eBay has rules on what you can list and what you can’t, but there are literally hundreds of thousands of categories of goods on eBay, so eBay has rules that you will never know about until you break them. And once you break them you get landlord-like emails of “do this again and we will shut down your account.” eBay has several secret programs (try googling VeRO) that they don’t deny but they will never tell you the rules for. If you break too many rules, you’re out forever. They track IP addresses, cookies, & flash cookies to make sure they know who you are, what you’re looking at, and that you don’t have more than 1 eBay account. If they don’t like what they see, you’re shut down (forever).
Meanwhile rules will not apply to the big players; people regularly complain that big retailers who have eBay presences will have feedback that should get them suspended or dequalified for certain programs. eBay wants these guys – in fact for a brief period their new slogan was “Find it new, find it on eBay.”
When eBay first started the transition people equated what they were doing to New Coke – trying to change what literally made them a company, for really no good reason (read, just a financial one). eBay has instead transformed themselves into the Secret New Coke, in that they have changed. But everyone buying it can’t taste the difference.