Thursday, December 04, 2008

eBay is Afraid of Big Box Retailers!

If you have been following my recent post on "price fixing" and eBay's efforts at getting a Supreme Court ruling over-turned you will get a kick out of this video clip which can be found at protectconsumerchoice.org




eBay is complaining that the Big Box retailers want to shutdown eBay, yet eBay has been courting some of these very same retailers to become Diamond sellers on the platform. I'm sorry but eBay can't even get it's message straight.
  • The Leegin Ruling, which eBay wants to get over-turned is currently protecting manufacturers who want to protect the value of their product with MAP (minimum advertised price) They should have the right to protect the value of their product.
  • eBay wants the government to repeal the ruling because they can't even prevent some of these manufacturers from abusing the VeRO (Verified Rights Owner) program. Which is their job.
  • eBay is courting large Internet 500 retailers to begin selling on the site and offering deals on fees, while not offering anything to existing sellers except for lip-service.
  • Now the video above is blaming Big Box Retailers for wanting to shut eBay down. 
Just watch the video; eBay wants protection from the very companies they are bringing onto the site and by doing this they are playing out the scenario in the video on eBay itself.

Who is running this company? 

Just my 15%

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is the funniest thing I have ever seen -- eBay complaining about the heavy-handed attacks of the Big Guys!

After reading about how they were basically forced to take on Pay Pal, which is about the only good decision they have made in 6+ years, I have come to realize that eBay has survived not because of, but despite of its management. Everyone else has done the heavy lifting while management played with found money.

eBay has spent so much time making villains out of its Sellers they now expect people to believe this? Wall St is on to them, Main St is on to them -- who's left to blame!

In the black and white world of eBay's Boardroom I would love to see them explaining all of this to the shareholders who have lost millions.

Everyone was a genius when the economy was living on borrowed money. Now let's see who the really smart, hardworking people will turn out to be...my guess is, as always, its going to be the Small Businessman and the hard working people of this country and, as usual, the jokers at the top will be exposed.

Can't wait until the teach the eBay Donahue story in MBA classes.

Jim S. said...

Re: "They should have the right to protect the value of their product."

Randy,

I disagree. And, I appreciate eBay taking a stand against MAP pricing because as a smaller seller I don't have the resources to do it.

IMO, it's not about protecting the (manufacturer's perceived) value of the product, it's about attempts to restrict (internet - specifically eBay/Amazon) selling competition. If you have a site with a shopping cart, there are creative ways to handle MAP pricing. If you don't, you options are extremely limited.

Anonymous said...

Pot, meet kettle! They are out on a limb with that one.

But it will fly- people like all the pretty pictures, and like all ebay PR, it's slick, slick, slick. It will have them believing.

And you wonder why I fleamarket...

Kids Coats said...

I can't believe eBay implied that they could go out of business. That's a risky slope to step on just to help your cause in Washington.

I see a 60 minutes episode in the making. eBay agrees to the 60 minute segment thinking it will help their cause. Then when it airs, all the small businesses that the Diamond sellers pushed off eBay make eBay look like a bully. eBay instantly becomes public enemy number one and accelerates its demise.

An investigative journalist would be too smart to be played by eBay public relations spin.

Randy Smythe said...

Jim S,

I believe manufacturers should have the right to protect their brands but they should not be allowed to abuse the system.

They are using VeRO which has nothing to do with price to go after small sellers who break MAP that is abusing the system and eBay just says our hands are tied.

Small sellers need protection and they had it for many years. The new management team doesn't want to protect sellers they want to protect jobs.

Anonymous said...

These diamond sellers, other than Buy, are not doing good. Smartbargains has 11 positive and 3 neg feedbacks. Their stars are atrocious. How long will Ebay let them stay on at the rate they're going. Any other seller would have been shut completely down, as well they should be.

I just don't understand what Ebay is doing. Any clue?

My sales have been really good, but who knows if I have any future on Ebay??? If any of us small sellers do??? Every day it's something new and usually bad.

Randy Smythe said...

Anonymous,

I'm glad your sales have been real good, some categories are doing better than others.

The new Diamonds are at a huge disadvantage compared to Buy.com becaus Buy was able to remain anonymous for close to 6 months while they built up feedback and learned the system. Nobody was targeting them until news of the deal broke. BTW, the first 6 months of their time on eBay was under the same rules as everybody else.

The new Diamonds who get identified don't get a chance to figure things out.

Ref said...

I think the argument on the protect consumer choice website is valid, but it's extremely laughable that eBay is trying to portray themselves as the champion of the "little guy".

If you took the ecommerce world and teleported it into the "brick and mortar" world, Buy.Com would be the "Big Box" retailer that they are trying to villainize.

Big Box retailers like Walmart and BestBuy are raking it in on their websites. This isn't about Big Box brick-and-mortar against small internet sellers, this is about big sellers vs. small sellers, period.

The big box stores don't want to kill ecommerce, they want to have a bigger piece of the pie. eBay is no friend of the small seller. I don't care how slick their PR campaign is, eBay has already alienated most of their base.

2009 or Bust! said...

Who are the Diamond Sellers now - is there a list of them?

Also, re VeRO -- it is a joke and it is totally abused to kill competition. eBay "says" their hands are tied, yet they do review the cases - huh? I know that for a fact and I can prove it.

What's really scary is if you read the VeRO pages, how many of them are claiming trademarks they do not have. Their idea is basically, come sue us if you want.

Get too big and the competition can abuse VeRO to put you out for good, no recourse.

Also, I can guarantee you that Buy, etc. do not face the same suspensions that other sellers do for violations. Really sad and creepy -- so much for the level playing field.

These Bain Capital people that believe that downsizing, layoffs, shipping jobs overseas and offshore tax breaks will somehow help everyone -- yeah right!!

Our eBay sales down, our site sales skyrocketing due to Google, etc. At this point I would pay more to sell through Google just not to deal with the random heavy hammer of the eBay gods.

BTW, we are Power Sellers with near 100% and 4.9+ DSRS - eBay, we know you "hear us" but are you listening eBay? My guess is when the highest profile of your recent layoffs are the customer service people that you had been using to sell your new policies, the answer is a big NO.


If we, and so many other real businesses (the small businesses that run this country) are becoming so dis-enfranchised, maybe it is time to take a look at what you are doing and more importantly -- how you are doing it.

How can I be making so much money and feel so bad about eBay?

Randy Smythe said...

Ref and 2009 or Bust,

Amen!

2009 or Bust! said...

eBay needs to get over the fact that they have classified non-Diamond level sellers as rambunctious "noise" and realize that they eBay is becoming a very bad version of Amazon (hey -- where is the shopping cart on the worlds biggest open market, are you kidding?) and if they o try to become Amazon, they will indeed be in serious jeopardy.

How do they justify any of their nonsense to the shareholders? Perhaps we should start a fund to buy enough shares to put Randy on the board so he can make some real "noise"

Anonymous said...

As someone with close friends who work for eBay, I can say with great confidence that eBay does and has turned a blind eye to numerous policy violations (VeRO and otherwise) regarding Buy.Com.

It's no secret among the Trust and Safety crew at eBay. If there were ever a trial and TnS employees were called to testify, the proof would be total and complete.

Jim S. said...

I believe manufacturers should have the right to protect their brands but they should not be allowed to abuse the system.

They are using VeRO which has nothing to do with price to go after small sellers who break MAP that is abusing the system and eBay just says our hands are tied.


Randy,

With regards to VeRO, I would agree with you but I think that's a somewhat separate issue than a distributor requiring me to sign a manufacturer's MAP policy in order to be able to purchase the product for resale, with the threat of not being allowed to purchase the merchandise if I refuse, or violate the agreement.

I still do not think MAP pricing benefits the buyer or the internet seller, only the B&M stores.

Randy Smythe said...

Jim,

We will probably continue to disagree on this. I do not like being told I can't sell something for whatever price I choose or risk losing my ability to sell these items, but as a manufacturer, I have every right to protect my brand.

We should be maintaining the value of brands as sellers because it allows us to have an edge against the competition. Look at Zappos, they don't have any concerns in this area because they don't discount.

If MAP rules are voided, the small guy will no recourse and the discounters will do to the web what they have done on Main street, this may be good for the consumers wallet but what you get instead is less quality, worse service and product brands that don't have any value.

It appears to me there is a way to strike a balance that achieves protections for all parties.

ms.pat said...

What an outright crock! Ebay is really good at trotting out the plight of small sellers - while it kicks and beats them when nobody is looking! These guys are so outright arrogant, ignorant and stupid its amazing they have enough mentality to even find their way to work each morning! ....and if you have time....I might tell you how I really feel!

John Paul said...

eBay is showing us small sellers everyday how they don't care about us with there daily deals promotion. Big companies with 1000s of a product at a low price for the day and free shipping right smack on the eBay homepage and at the top of the results page.

Why hasn't eBay contacted me to see if I had any daily deals to offer on there home page.

I feel bad for people trying to sell the same item. Might as well remove it if it ends anytime soon and eat the listing fees and re-list it tommorrow.

Ginny said...

I watched the video twice. What a crock! Choice for small businesses? Like the choice of Paypal? How is it that an anti-trust group is concerned about poor little ebay? Poor little Paypal pushing ebay?

Is the anti-trust group really an anti-trust group? The cynic in me says that it is easy to give yourself a good sounding group name and buy a domain and set up a website and say that you are whomever it is that you want to say you are. Who paid for the sites, bought the names, designed the sites?

Ginny

Randy Smythe said...

Ginny,

The Antitrust organization is an actual organization. I've emailed back and forth with the President of the organization.

Check my latest post.

permacrisis said...

Seems I need to switch the brand of airplane glue I'm sniffing. Ebay's gotten ahold of the real powerful stuff!

For the sake of the small sellers? Which ones, the ones with ribs showing from protracted periods of not eating? (Eating shipping doesn't count.)

On the old ebay this would have never been an issue as it truly was just a venue. Each seller was singly responsible for their listings. But on this topsy-turvy Bain-meets-Communism socialized medicine ebay, that argument won't wash.

Don't cry for ebay- they started it.

(And knowing them, their legal department probably lifts entire phrases from the Seller Central boards, and pastes them into their MAP protest letters.)

Ginny said...

permacrisis wrote: "(And knowing them, their legal department probably lifts entire phrases from the Seller Central boards, and pastes them into their MAP protest letters.)"

LOL
You're probably right! Unless somehow that hadn't occurred to them so if they haven't done it yet, they might do it right after reading what you wrote.

Ginny said...

Randy,

After looking at the website, I decided that it must be a real organization before reading your response. Being the cynic that I am though, I still don't know if their agenda is truly for the little guy or if it is warped in any way by involvement with companies in ways that are not visible to the public. It is remarkable to me that they are involved with ebay whose primary goal over the last two years has been to maximise the success of big companies on ebay over the success of the small sellers.

It's like watching the cat try to convince the SPCA and the rest of the world that they are trying to help the little birds fly better. That isn't a perfect comparison but it will have to do for now.

Ginny said...

In researching the domain name: protectconsumerchoice.org, I see that the registrant name is APCO Worldwide. Info on APCO Worldwide from sourcewatch.org: http://tinyurl.com/2mthbq

The domain name, protectconsumerchoice.org was registered on Nov. 20, 2008 with an expiration date of Nov. 20, 2009. I guess they didn't want to pay for more years than that currently? Times are tough after all! Wouldn't want to invest too much in the domain.

From sourcewatch.org regarding the goals of APCO Worldwide:

""Core services include corporate, investor and internal communication, crisis management, issue management, government relations, litigation communication, media relations, coalition building, opinion research, market entry, corporate social responsibility and online communication," it states on its website. The website calls the firm a "global communication consultancy" specializing in "influencing decisionmakers and shaping public opinion by crafting compelling messages and recruiting effective allies."

Ginny said...

This is worth citing from the sourcewatch.org link @ http://tinyurl.com/2mthbq:

"APCO specializes in helping corporations advance their goals by manipulating legislators, and drafting and advancing model legislation and regulations. Key tools A&P uses include the creation of business coalitions and fake, corporate-funded "grassroots" groups tailored to specific issues."

I think that is VERY interesting reading.

BTW didn't you mention that your blog was getting visited by a lot of lawyer types lately? APCO is heavily involved with lawyer types.

Ginny said...

If protectconsumerchoice.org is meant to be a public relations effort on behalf of ebay by APCO, chances are that its being mentioned on your blog is not what they had in mind!

But then some people don't care as long as their name is spelled right. Ebay, ebay, ebay. That's not hard to spell.

Randy Smythe said...

Ginny,

I think we need to make it clear that APCO put together the event in DC and the protectconsumerchoice.org website and that AAI (American Antitrust Institute) was part of the Dog and Pony show.

I don't believe AAI is associated with APCO other than for this one event. In fact APCO got me involved in this with an invite to a conference call with eBay VP Tod Cohen.

I probably won't be invited back.

Ginny said...

From what I could see online about the Foer family (Albert Foer who runs AAI), they look like nice folk.

http://www.observer.com/node/36410

Maybe they'd be interested in ebay's pushing the use of Paypal? If anyone would be interested, I'd think that the AAI would . . . or should be.

ms.pat said...

A bit about Vero - it is just about the only defense the arts categories has. Its not secret that sellers will steal images right from the artist's listing, print them on canvas and sell them as original paintings. Its also no secret that 99 out of 100 of these sellers come from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, etc. Ebay looks the other way no matter how many times these thieves are reported. The few who get caught get caught only thru Vero - and then they're back the next day - different seller's ID - same stolen paintings. We desperately need some action directly from Ebay - as in "time sensitive" from the old days. Buyers are duped right and left - Ebay rakes in the fees so doesn't care. Only Vero can help but they are generally too slow and too late to stop these sales. Vero has a real purpose - its just not being utilized properly and can't act quickly enough.

Anonymous said...

In this case Randy -- Your 15% is vakued at about .15% --

The MAP pricing regulations have the potential to be far more a problem to small sellers than to eBAY itself

While I certainly understand the need at a manufacturing level for some top end price control the statutes are far to broad and do no more than protect larger the larger Biz by reinforcing their strengths - namely volume ability.

The tradeoff in accomplishing this is the throttling of small seller advantages within the cost of service line items which offsets volume buying to some degree.

OST

Randy Smythe said...

Anonymous,

Everybody comes at this from a different perspective. I manufactured a product (a video series) and in order for me to maintain the value of the information, I had to require resellers not sell it for less than a certain price. If they did I would no longer sell to them.

Unfortunately a blog discussion doesn't allow us to debate this more effectively.