Whatever happened to eBay?

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Mimi Jackson has been an eBay member, buyer and occasional seller for eight years. She’s not a professional seller, but someone who has enjoyed buying and selling, finding unusual objects and some bargains. Here she reflects on some of eBay’s recent changes and the effect they will have on her use of the site.

I have been a faithful member of, and true believer in eBay for about 8 years now. I have sold some things I thought could fetch a good price, and I have even built my collection of late 1800’s sewing, craft and etiquette books mostly by surfing ebay. Many of the books were lovely little gems from someone’s grandmother’s attic, or some dusty corner of a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. eBay has allowed me to find the things I never would have otherwise found, and connect with people I would never otherwise meet. It has allowed me to fanatically pursue and satisfy such a specific, quirky, and rare interest… affordably!

Now, I fear, that era is coming to an end.

I always thought that eBay was founded on the idea that people are basically good and honest, and are happy to exchange unwanted/extra goods for money, when mutually beneficial.

Just this week, I decided to sell an old Lenox China (Ceramic Arts Company, c. 1900) sugar bowl that we’ve been keeping, simply because it is beautiful. After I noticed the markings on the bottom, a bit of internet research showed that it might be quite a bit more valuable than I realized, and I decided that it might be better off in the hands of a collector.

So I took pictures, and got ready to list it on eBay. After signing in, I saw that due to my “limited” transaction history with eBay ( Me? 8 years? More than 50 transactions?), I would be required to accept Paypal as a payment option, and that the payment would be held until proof of delivery or positive feedback. Uh… okay… but, wait a second… I’m dealing honestly here… what if the buyer isn’t?

Many of my favorite purchases have come from people who aren’t sophisticated eBayers. It seems they just had a trunk of old stuff to clear out, and a need for some cash, in many cases. eBay won’t get those sellers (who are important!) with these new rules. Who wants the hassle of these new restrictions for something that might not even attract a good price? That leaves eBay selling to the businesspeople, those who know have more valuable items to sell, and those who are strapped for cash.

The whole idea of getting a good deal on eBay, in my opinion, relied on the fact that selling was cheap and easy, and that both parties were willing to take a bit of a risk, trusting someone they’ve never met to pay or ship as promised. In my case, I haven’t ever had a problem that wasn’t satisfactorily resolved, and have gotten some phenomenal deals, just because I bid on the right thing at the right time.

Okay, so I can see that there are some items on eBay that look too good to be true, and clearly there are dishonest sellers and buyers lurking about, but can’t we tolerate a bit of that for the greater good?

First posted on Mimi’s blog and reproduced with permission.

4 Responses

  1. It’s sad but it’s just another way of driving out the small seller.

    They are gradually killing the one thing that made eBay unique, the ability to find the unusual.

    Sellers like Mimi shouldn’t be discarded because if they are, the items they would have sold don’t appear. If the items stop appearing, the buyers will give up looking.

    I haven’t tried selling on my private ID since the new feedback changes and my percentage went down to 94%, but if I hit the same problem then I’ll not sell again on that account.

  2. Welcome to the eBay they promised us! Soon to be unrecognisable from what you knew.

  3. “a bit of internet research showed that it might be quite a bit more valuable than I realized”

    Ok, its none of my business, but what kinda price where you starting this item at? as you stated you dont sell that much, they all of a sudden your listing a valuable item, this is why ebay/paypal would hold the payment.

    when a payment is on hold, its not that the buyer has not paid, they have, paypal are just holding it until either 21 days pass without a claim, or the buyer leaves you a pos.

    Personally, i dont mind this new policy, as if your part of paypals expanded seller protection, you will also be covered if the buyer tries to pull a fast one!!!

  4. “Mimi” here…

    The item wouldn’t even be considered that valuable – I assume around $100 (US) or so, since it is only a piece from a set. But who knows, since it is pretty rare, I think. But it simply sat in a kitchen cupboard at my house, because it was pretty. Better off in someone else’s hands, from my point of view. We’re not talking any significant sum here… and it only fetched about $80 (US) anyway, bringing it in under the $100 I thought it would probably attract. So, in my case, Ebay didn’t hold the payment after all (under $100), but would have if a few more people had bid…

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