Recently I was looking on eBay for a wireless IP-based security cam and I couldn’t help but notice some disturbing things going on with how some sellers were pricing their items. I am a long-time eBay user, I like eBay and in the spirit of loyal customer I decided to express my concerns to eBay by clicking on the Live Chat link (in the Contact Us section) only to find out that I was 14th in the queue with an estimated wait time of over 40 minutes. I knew the chances of getting someone on the other end of the chat session who would understand and provide a solution to my concerns was slim to nil but I was frustrated and determined to be heard.
About 45 minutes later an eBay representative activated my chat session and asked how he could help me today. I told him that my concern/issue was with sellers raising starting price/shipping costs for auction items to avoid a final action price less than the BuyItNow price from a listing from the same seller and for the same item. The result is to completely negate eBay auctions. (e.g. current web cam listing BuyItNow price $79.32 with free shipping, Auction listing for the same item and seller has a starting price of $26.44 and shipping cost of $52.89 which results in a non-auction.)
My second concern I explained was for low BuyItNow prices and very high shipping costs (e.g. current web cam listing – BuyItNow price $10.57 with shipping of $59.24.)
Thinking I had done a reasonably good job summarizing my concerns (since I had, had 45 minutes to draft my text in Wordpad while I waited) I was encouraged when the service representative asked for a couple of minutes to study my concerns. I thought to myself, what a great response this was going to be a productive chat session, my concerns were going to be heard.
As promised, a few minutes later some new text appeared in the chat window. It said “I’d be happy to help you understand how the buy it now option works.” What I thought, this was the reasoned response to my serious concerns about the decline of eBay. I knew how the BuyItNow option worked, my concern was about the increasingly broken business model as illustrated by my current shopping experience. If the purchase price of items on eBay was essentially fixed, I might as well return to shopping online at retail stores such as New Egg, NCIX and Tiger Direct. So much for trying to save eBay. I politely thanked my chat partner for his time, wished him a good day and yes, I went back to searching for a wireless IP-based security cam on eBay.
Steve Lafontaine writes about teleworking in Northern Ontario among other things. He is an information technology consultant, manager and professor. You can reach Steve using our Contact form.