eBay have confirmed that they are closing many European national offices, as Europe bears the brunt of their global cost-cutting exercise.
An eBay spokesman confirmed yesterday that European operations will now be centralised in just two offices: Richmond (UK) for marketplaces and Zurich (Switzerland) for marketing. Paris, Berlin and Milan will retain some PR and sales functions, as well as customer services; other national offices are being closed altogether except for their customer service desks.
eBay had announced in October that around 10% of their global workforce would be cut, with 1,000 permanent positions lost and many temporary contracts not renewed. They’re coy about exactly what percentage of this loss is being foisted on Europe, but we know that 77 out of 100 positions have gone from the eBay UK team based in Richmond. Assuming that similar losses are happening in Paris, Berlin and Milan, we can estimate that eBay Europe’s bigger national sites could easily account for 300 job losses, with perhaps another 100 or so from the smaller sites.
Morale amongst eBay staff – even those staying on – is reportedly the lowest it’s been for years. People who are being offered jobs in the new eBay Europe, are preferring to take the “generous” redundancy package. In the present economic climate, this speaks volumes.
eBay’s message is that these changes will not impact site users. Their announcements in October, translated into a dozen European languages, said as much, and they’re still saying it now. This is a company who thinks that the only way they impact their users is by the cut and paste answers their CS teams send out. Promises that national sites will not change aren’t likely to reassure eBay members who already complain that real support is impossible to get, that policies are made with no reference to the realities of trading on the site and that straight answers are rarely forthcoming from eBay staff. Fewer people and centralised management are not likely to improve any of these issues.