Sunday, July 13, 2008

eBay - Equal Opportunity "Pisser Offer!"

Sorry for that title, but as I hear from both sellers and buyers and read thread after thread and comment after comment on my favorite blogs, it has become ever so clear that eBay is basically pissing everybody off -- well that's not entirely true there are several groups that are happy.

First those that are "Pissed Off":
  • First we have the sellers, with well documented complaints about the changes being made.

    Sure eBay back-tracked somewhat on the feedback issue, but the consensus is; the reason for that move was not so much listening to their users, as it was saving their Power Sellers numbers. [I am so cynical]
  • Finding 2.0 and "Best Match" are starting to "piss off" buyers. I'm hearing "why fix something that wasn't broken" every single day now, from both Buyer and Seller and when Finding 2.0 is made the default in August you are going to hear a completely different group of complainers; "buyers".

    Veteran eBay buyers have already figured out how to make eBay work for them, they don't need eBay telling them what they should see in search. Newbies will look at the new Finding 2.0 and just say huh?
  • "Long" Investors are "pissed off" (though they don't go public with the anger) the share price just sits there and even after eBay beats Wall Streets estimates next week, the share price will continue to just sit there.

    PayPal, Skype, StubHub and the Non-GMV business are all growing but the Marketplace business is just treading water. Until the company is no longer called eBay and is considered much more than just an auction business, the stock will just sit there.
  • Employees are "pissed off", there are few old-guard employees still with the company and the new employees are already tired of all the whining and wondering what they got themselves into.

    eBay compensation is heavily geared toward stock options, so how long will these employees stay in this environment, knowing that their strike price is less than the actual share price.
  • Vendors are "pissed off" because many of them are dependent on eBay for a large portion of their business and there is no longer any growth in that channel.
  • Manufacturers are "pissed off" and suing eBay to keep their product off the site.
  • If I had to guess, eBay executives are "pissed off" that nobody gives them a break.

Now for those that are happy:

  • Competitors, who've seen an opening for the first time ever.
  • Bloggers and the Media who are happy to write about all this trouble; negative stories always get more run. I guarantee you nobody would be reading my blog if it was all "peaches and cream".
  • Lawyers are happy, as they line-up to sue eBay. In fact one of my very regular readers is with a major litigation firm in Washington DC.
  • Regulators and Government Agencies are happy that they can step in and protect the consumer and eBay has opened the door for them to step in.
  • Short Sellers are happy because they can profit from all the unrest.
  • Consultants (ie. Bain & Company) are happy because they've got a nice revenue source in eBay.

Let me be clear, the current leadership team is not wholly responsible for these problems. Many of these problems began back in [2006] while Meg, Bill and Company were still in charge, but Meg has been able to distance herself from all that trouble by bringing in her surrogate in John Donahoe. So I would imagine even John Donahoe is "pissed off" a little.

Just my 12%


ms.pat said...

LOL I can't imagine Donahoe is "pissed off" - he has rather a "doe in the headlights" expression these days. I suppose all those dreams of becoming "strip mall Johnny" didn't include all the work, all the dodging of verbal bullets and all the pure hate coming from sellers. I know, he's making millions, and that's exactly what they'd have to pay me to take his position.

I just wonder what its all about? Do they really feel being a half-a**ed Amazon is going to be the end of all their problems? The can of worms they opened is likely to be with them for years even if they cleared out ALL the sellers and went straight retail. Nobody trusts them...the word on the web is they are the most hated company on the internet. Wow! wonder what Pierre thinks about that? Could they pay him enough? I guess everyone DOES have their price.

PS: good luck to all the other venues and all the lawyers who are lined up - pick the beast clean! I'd say its a well-earned end.

nadine said...

Let me be clear, the current leadership team is not wholly responsible for these problems. Many of these problems began back in 2004 while Meg, Bill and Company were still in charge, but Meg has been able to distance herself from all that trouble by bringing in her surrogate in John Donahoe

You're going to have to remind me, Randy, what problems were they trying to fix back in 2004? They were still growing nicely back then.

Randy Smythe said...


Good catch, I meant 2006. My problems started in 2004.


ms.pat said...

In 2004 they began to get rid of the "auction look" doing away with Going Going gone and coming out with front and rear loading feature plus listings - money, money, money! The FP's weren't noticeable in every category - they ruined arts, electronics, computers, etc.

The artists protested that for over a year - I even tried to get some answers at Ebay Live 2004. Of course, they lied and said they were going to "fix it".

David said...

Randy have you tried out finding 2.0 yet?

Here is something that I think might cause sellers (and buyers) to complain.

Maybe it's just me but they got rid of the drop down box where you can select "best match" "time ending soonest", etc.. and they make it so it's a little harder to find.

Do they really expect buyers to sort through hundreds or thousands of search results to find what they are looking for?

nadine said...

pat, I remember 2004 as the year they suddenly took away all the subcategories in Pottery and Glass overnight, and replaced them with an Item Specifics system that was so badly thought out, it looked like some undergrad had designed it during an all-nighter. Nobody could find anything.

After about six weeks of concerted screaming, ebay finally admitted they had screwed that one up and put back the categories.

I wonder if they would admit as much today?

Anonymous said...

It really is all about trust. Ebay does not trust buyers to know what they are looking for. The new auto spell check and similar item suggestions in search are comically inaccurate. This is a real black eye to ebay.

And obviously we know what ebay thinks of it's sellers.

ms.pat said...

nadine - yes, that was the year it all started...and it hasn't stopped since. Now I read has 5 million listings on ebay - its in today's news. That leaves a little over 9,000,000 regular sellers. A giant chunk of sellers left - and I knew it - I just couldnt account for the sudden drops in listings that went right back up to over 14 million each time. Of course, it was filling in the listings. The writing is on the wall and anyone who can't see it is just plain deluding themselves.

Randy Smythe said...


That 5 million listing number is a total number of listings since the first of the year, not current listings.


eBay really does think they know better. They realy on survey data and make assumptions. They are responsible for the poor "buyer experience"

ms.pat said...

randy - with a sell-thru rate of less than 3 percent I imagine most of those 5 million listings are still running ;-)

grinderguy said...

You forgot to mention the pissed off affiliates who promote eBay and generate traffic for them, hoping for a bit of loose change in a commission. Our cookie (which let's eBay know who brought in the customer) is now being overwritten by Auctiva. Their "free" picture service widgets and "other items" widget plant their own cookie, replacing ours. They steal our commission after we sent the customer to eBay.
Auctiva admits to it and eBay knows about it. If a lowly affiliate such as myself were to use the same blackhat tactic, we'd be thrown out of the ePN program.

Anonymous said...

Randy, as a former eBay employee and former gold powerseller, I have to say you hit the nail right on the head with this post!