eBay in the US and Canada are launching an “Unpaid Item Protection Program“, designed to refund listing enhancement fees, if an auction results in an unpaid item.
Losing feature fees has long been a bone of contention for sellers, listing fees have been refunded if the item was sold successfully on a relist. With feature fees of up to Â£19.95 for Featured Plus listings it’s understandable sellers want enhancement fees refunded for void sales.
The pilot is limited to US/Canadian PowerSellers for Auction or Auction with Buy It Now items only. Shipping costs must be reasonable and PayPal accepted for payment. The pilot will run from now until the end of the year.
The program is not perfect however, excluding Buy It Now items may prove to be a mistake. The reason given is that immediate payment can be selected for these items. What eBay seem to have failed to realise is that insisting on immediate payments actually decreases sales!
Buyers can’t make multiple purchases and have combined shipping discounts. Buyers don’t want to make separate payments for each line item they choose from a sellers shop. Most of all sellers don’t want to have twenty separate payments (incurring a 20p PayPal fee on each) because a buyer selects twenty Â£1.00 paperback books to buy.
Using immediate payment to avoid the occasional non paying bidder loses more sales than most sellers can afford. The only way around this issue is if eBay were to introduce a shopping cart as they have on eBay India.
eBay have continually stated that they want to reinvigorate the core and bring back auctions. The immediate reaction of sellers who realise feature fees aren’t refundable on fixed price listings will be to list auction start price Â£49.99 with Buy It Now of Â£50.00. As Patrick Byrne of Overstock once said “Folks, that is not an auction, that is a classified ad. Our real auctions have disappeared under an ocean of such classified ads, which destroys closing rates for everyone.” Sellers won’t care though, a couple of unpaid item Buy It Now’s and they’ll soon catch on. 🙁
Now it may seem I’ve not been particularly enthusiastic about this new program, that’s not the case. Any wasted fees from unpaid items that are returned to sellers are welcome. It will also be a great (and one of the first real) benefits of being a PowerSeller. When the program moves from pilot to policy and rolled out worldwide I’d just like to see fixed price listings included.