Tuesday, March 06, 2007

eBay Changes

The following is an extract reproduced with permission from an excellent newsletter ‘Shephard’s Confidential’ www.shephardsworld.co.uk and appeared in their latest newsletter.

As booksellers will no doubt be aware eBay have recently announced changes to their fees for listings in the Books, Comics & Magazines category 'designed to promote a greater volume of trade'. Sounds good, but the reality is that this means huge increases in fees for books selling for more than £10. In fact from 1 March the fees for selling a book for £100 with a starting price of £9.99 will nearly double!

Unhappy, I e-mailed eBay:

"As a seller of collectable books on eBay I was initially delighted to received your e-mail of 29 January 2007 in which you advised eBay sellers in the books, comics & magazines category of the changes in the fee structure 'designed to promote a greater volume of trade'. I naively assumed that this meant reductions in your fees but this is not so. In a typical week in January 2007 I sold 10 collectable books for a total of £349. All of these had been offered for the first time. I started my auctions at sensible prices as, whilst this meant I incurred higher initial fees, it also meant that my downside risk was, to a certain extent, protected. Under the current fee structure the initial fees for these 10 books were £5.90, the gallery fees £1.50 and the final value fees £16.54, a total of £23.94. Under the new fee structure the listing fees would have been £1.00, the gallery fees £1.50 and the final value fees £31.41, a total of £33.91. This represents a 41.5% increase. If I had started my auctions at lower prices the percentage increase would have been significantly higher. The 'auction example' on your Fee Changes page only shows reductions in total fees or very small increases. Of course, what you have cleverly done is to stop the auction example at a sale price of £10 as over this amount the small increases rapidly become large increases. I think this is very misleading.

I thought eBay was trying to move away from its 'car boot' image but clearly this is not the case - your new fee structure will encourage yet more low value items that have to be offered a number of times before they sell. I for one am not in this market and I think it highly likely that I will now go elsewhere to sell my books - the auction risk coupled with the high selling charges (I have calculated that for my typical week my selling fees including Paypal fees would be a whopping 13.7% under the new fee structure) are driving me away I'm afraid. I look forward to hearing from you."

And here is their bland, standard, disinterested non-reply:

"Thank you for contacting us regarding the price change. I'm happy to assist you with this.
I realize your concern in this situation. As custodians of the eBay marketplace we are always looking for ways to promote greater volumes of trade and a healthy supply and demand balance. It is our belief that the present changes will benefit the majority of eBay buyers and sellers. Our primary goal is to promote a vibrant and balanced marketplace. We hope that the present changes will do just that. And eBay obviously makes money when our sellers do! I hope this information answers your question.
Thank you for using eBay."

I'm seriously considering setting up an auction site dedicated to collectable books with reasonable charges. I think I'll call it Freebay. Any takers?

Gerald Baker