Former eBay seller DrSteveW's thoughts on eBay

Steve (eBay ID DrSteveW) wrote about the reasons for his company folding, today he shares his thoughts and opinions on some of the eBay changes that have taken place over the last year. I’ll say up front, some I agree with, some I disagree with, but that’s pretty much been par for the course between Steve and me over the years 😉 Let us know in comments which bits you agree with and where you disagree.

So in his own words…

….What’s going wrong with eBay

I guess I should introduce myself first, as some of you will not know who I am. My name is Steve Antony Williams, and I used to be the Managing Director of Limited, an ecommerce company responsible for the sale of DVDs, video games, music CDs and books via 3 websites and (at our peak) 14 eBay IDs, my main eBay ID having 106000 positive feedback. Whether you think my objective view on eBay’s problems is relevant and/or accurate or not is up to you decide ….

A quick note before I get started …. Some of what I will say here has been said before, so I realise some of my discourse will not be “original”.

1. 2008 was year of some major changes for eBay. A lot of the senior management left the organisation and shareholders reacted, as you would expect, and the share prices dropped; dipping as low as around $11.00 at one point. The new management has been less than “popular” and the new CEO John Donahoe came storming in with a “new broom” approach, determined to eBay stronger and more successful. eBay at this point saw Google’s relevance based search results as a good idea and came up with the idea of “best match”. Oh dear!

2. The Best Match search function. eBay’s best match sorts (supposedly) search results by relevance with the intention of giving the buyers the best possible match for what they are actually looking for. eBay (to my knowledge) have never revealed the exact criteria that best match uses or given sellers much help in intimating what would be the best strategies for sellers to use to show they are fairly represented. This is of course intrinsically unfair. Why? Because eBay is supposed to be a “level playing field” and on the grounds that all sellers are paying a listing fee then all seller’s listings should get a “fair bite of the cherry”.

Best match has a habit of only showing the cheapest options at the top (like Amazon’s marketplace) and favours listings with unique selling points such as free postage and packing (free shipping to any North Americans reading). Automatically non free P&P sellers are disadvantaged, DESPITE paying the same listing fees as a free P&P listing for the same product. Now I don’t deny this good for the buyers but it’s not good for the sellers and that’s more important (more on this area in later section 6). The best example of best match “favouritism” is free P&P but there are others ….

3. Compulsory free P&P. Now this is a real stupid idea in my opinion. Great for the buyers (perhaps), but not so great for the sellers. Because there’s no such thing as “free”. Royal Mail don’t give out free postage to their customers, and neither do any of the other postal services worldwide.

I’m going to use the DVD category here as an example of how this all works (or rather doesn’t work) on eBay. DVD was the first compulsory free P&P category to be announced at Small Business 2.0 in Autumn 2008 in London by Richard Ambrose. I would have liked to have told Richard exactly what I thought of the idea there and then but in my experience he is not a very approachable person and had (I say had as he has left eBay now) little time for eBay’s sellers, plus we all know eBay wouldn’t listen anyway.

Anyhow, DVDs are sold at fixed wholesale prices and each wholesale price has a corresponding recommended retail price (hereafter referred to as RRP). If you sell enough DVDs from a particular label or supplier you get what is called a “file discount”, so let’s find an example. The new(ish) DVD “Marley And Me” has a wholesale price from the manufacturer (20th Century Fox in this case) of £13.61 plus VAT (VAT is sales tax to the Americans), with an RRP of £19.99. So you pay £13.61 plus 15% (for the VAT) plus eBay’s listing fees, eBay’s ending fees, Paypal’s “cut”, the jiffy bag to post it in and so on. This exact same DVD is £11.98 from Amazon UK plus P&P. You do the mathematics.

Ok so we don’t all pay £13.61, Amazon obviously doesn’t. Your file discount “kicks in” and you pay £13.61 less a %. The key is how big this % is of course. We were big sellers, but even we only got 20% from Fox. £13.61 less 20% plus 15% is £12.52. This is before you even add eBay and Paypal fees. Harsh isn’t it ?? The most file discount I ever received from a label was 40% and that was very unusual. Even Amazon probably only gets 30% from Fox.

The bigger the movie label, the smaller the discount, as you can imagine. So you add all the eBay and Paypal fees and then almost straight away you’re priced out of the market BUT in some cases, with some labels, you can compete. UNTIL eBay introduce “free P&P”. There’s no such thing as free, so you add it to your item price and hey presto you stop selling DVDs …. As if the stupidity over free P&P on DVDs wasn’t enough they’ve introduced it to other categories, including computer accessories. Computer accessories don’t cost much to post right ? Well not if it’s an RJ45 cable, but you know how much it costs to post a laptop docking station (I bet Chris does !!).

All in all free P&P is buyer centric, but I believe it is actually counterproductive. Because all the sellers do is increase the item price, so suddenly it is no longer seen as “competitive”; because most sellers were already running on tight margins, adding free P&P is the “straw that breaks the camel’s back” for many sellers ….

4. Feedback. Oh dear, where to start on this one. Now I have had a bit of a reputation for leaving negative feedback in the past on my main eBay ID. On rare occasions I have left negative for some spurious reasons for buyers and with hindsight these may well not have been deserved. However, the vast majority of negative feedback I have left has been wholly deserved in my opinion. I still fail to see why non-paying bidders shouldn’t get negative feedback, ditto for time wasters, thieves, scammers and the like. Other eBay users should be kept informed, as long as the feedback is deserved and accurate.

Now I know this is a difficult area for eBay to intervene in, it is only people’s opinions and perceptions, after all. BUT a little common sense should be shown, if a buyer has essentially admitted they haven’t paid (“I told the seller i didn’t want it after all” or “my autistic son bidded by accident” etc) then any negative feedback these “buyers” (I use the word “buyers” loosely here) should be removed, end of story. Anyone who can’t prove they’ve paid, again they should lose the right to leave negative feedback.

Then there is the Detailed Seller Ratings (hereafter referred to as DSR’s), a complete dog’s breakfast of an idea in my opinion. The idea is buyers leave specific ratings for specific aspects of the “transaction”, such as postage cost, communications, item description etc. You leave ratings out of 5 for each aspect of the transaction, with 4 being good and 5 excellent etc. Which is a nice idea, perhaps, except eBay may kick you off the site if your DSR’s go below 4.3; hang on a minute I thought 4 was “good” ? More eBay stupidity. Oh and here’s the classic bit – Going back to free P&P, one of the rated aspects is P&P cost and buyers can give you a 1 out of 5 if they want, even if the P&P was free. Utter stupidity in my opinion.

The DSR’s are also used to calculate Powerseller fee discounts every month. Now this might just sound like a conspiracy theory, BUT many sellers will tell you the DSR’s have a nasty habit of going down and being “not quite good enough” when the monthly invoice from eBay is suddenly due. Surely not ?

5. Assorted eBay bugs and new “features”. As a seller I’ve not suffered from all of the issues that have been mentioned by other sellers, but there are a number of them. The sell your item form has been notoriously “flakey” and I understand the Markdown Manager has never worked properly since it was launched.

The site is also overloaded with scripts, bells and whistles and features sellers simply don’t want or need. It’s as if the programmers are trying to justify their jobs, well guys HOW ABOUT FIXING THE STUFF THAT DOESN’T WORK first ? How’s that for a radical idea ? As I understand from my friend Andy (he who lives in the middle of nowhere) eBay is no longer useable on dial-up. Heck we had a 4mbit (unshared) leased line and a 50mbit cable connection into my house and eBay was slow on BOTH connections. I even tried eBay via one of our servers (using remote desktop Manager) which was in Rackspace’s data centre in London (100mbit) and eBay STILL seemed sluggish. We have a term for this clogging up of sites and applications, called “bloatware”.

6. Who is the customer exactly ? I could go on for hours but the fundamental problem with eBay in my opinion is “who is the customer exactly ?”. Sellers are eBay’s customers. No matter how you look at it, or try to justify it the sellers are eBay’s customers NOT the buyers. The sellers pay the fees, and if eBay continue to come out with non seller friendly ideas in an attempt to attract buyers then the sellers will leave, simple as that. Whether eBay like it or not the seller is their customer and every little mistake eBay imposes upon the sellers is like another nail in the coffin.

Consider this. If you ran a market stall and the market manager came round and said “we’re putting a screen round your products and directing the customers to Joe Bloggs on the other stall because he’s cheaper” you’d be pretty annoyed right? The reality is market managers just go round and take the daily rent for your right to sell there, they don’t intervene in your pricing or try to tell you how to sell your products.

Until eBay starts listening to its sellers nothing will improve and eBay will, in my opinion, cease to exist.

– Steve

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Awesome points Steve, As a fellow full-time DVD trader on ebay, I totally agree with every point you make. Well put Steve ;-)

benbob • 16th July 2009 •

Steve, aren't you still trading in DVDs under other ebay id's including one with 130,000+ feedback and another selling pet housing??

benbob • 16th July 2009 •

Have to say I *do* know how much it costs to post a laptop docking station and the biggest issue isn't just giving free post with about eight quid included for carriage. It's that once carriage is included if someone wants to buy 2 or more they're paying the "included (not free)" carriage for each unit whilst I can still ship them together for the one courier fee. Bad for buyers and is basically hiding the true costs and removing the incentive to make multiple purchases.

Chris Dawson • 16th July 2009 •

While I've no doubt that there may be some (very few) listings that really are "Free P&P", we all know that it's being included. Given that this is the case, why do eBay not call it "Included P&P"? which is not only fair but accurate and not missleading the public? Well, I guess anyone knows why if they think about it. They think splashing Free P&P over the site will attract buyers, wrong. Then there's the bigger question, does anyone at the top in eBay come with experience from a real retail background?

Richard • 16th July 2009 •

Free P&P is simply ebay FVF gouging, everyone know that, and they don't give a monkies about what damage it can do to a business. For me, the issue is whether to try to "adapt and survive" all these changes or believe the pendulum model that things will always gravitate back to a sensible state. Ebay Express is a case in point - it starts up so do we move over or bet on it not working and sit tight? Things like Best Match, dodgy as they are, haven't gone away and the early adopters have benefited. But there is a bigger picture here: the big players like ebay and Tesco and the like have got an iron grip on the mechanics of the marketplace and are squeezing it for every last penny. All that will be left are them and a few quick footed niche players who have managed to stay out of range (for now). Difficult times :-(

Ellen Kunec • 16th July 2009 •

Agree for the most part on feedback and it proves once again that we (people of the same opinion) aren't all dodgy sellers that need to be run off the site.

Anyone who can’t prove they’ve paid, again they should lose the right to leave negative feedback.
I do believe buyers should be able to leave negative ratings even if they don't pay in certain circumstances. For instance if a seller refuses to accept payment or changes the details of the item. You end up with a buyer that didn't pay but shouldn't be silenced just for that reason. The current rule is something along the lines of the "if the comments undermine the UPI process" which seems fair and along the lines of the examples given. Good luck on getting eBay to actually look at the comments when they do meet that criteria. Disagree on the free postage issues (though I understand why you have that stance). As a seller I always hated getting into niche and suddenly finding everyone competing on price but inflating their S&H. Ultimately that would force me to follow suit or I couldn't sell my products. It leads to disgruntled buyers and cancelled listings. Forced free shipping takes that nightmare away.

ebuyerfb • 16th July 2009 •

Free P&P works for me. I have added postage cost onto the item price. It hasn't had any impact on the number customers making multiple purchases (increased profits). Customers are happy (DSR's up & positive comments in feedback.

Jimbo • 16th July 2009 •

Its an interesting read: some very valid points, some less so. The main issue that ebay has, imo, is a lack of direction. It seems to be flailing around trying to decide how / whether to compete with amazon with very little success. Amazon clearly took the fight to ebay with marketplace / third party listings, but had a very strong core business beforehand that was only going to be lightly damaged by opening up the platform to other sellers. Ebay is on the backfoot and it shows.

bicyclerubber • 16th July 2009 •

Some interesting points. Yesterday, you oulined how the suppliers and partners sounded the death knell of your company. Today, eBay gets a whacking with no punches pulled regarding its part in Retrowarez's downfall. I presume that part three will complete the case study and studiously and humbly reflect on the mistakes and errors, in a sprit of openess and balance, that the company and staff made that contributed to the winding up of Retrowarez?

Dan Wilson • 16th July 2009 •

Totally agree. As a full time media seller we naturally listed DVDs, but free postage is killing us. Our sales strategy to offer postal discount on multiple purchases with cross promotion to encourage sales collapsed once free postage was compulsory. This was our edge. We were getting as many multiple purchases as we were getting single item purchases. We invited our buyers to pick and choose and bring down the overall postage price by buying several items. We were even getting multiple mixed orders i.e. CD’s and DVD’s combinations. Free postage killed this overnight. We are now in the process of running down or transferring dvds to other platforms, and wont be listing them on ebay again. The reduction of listed items means that we need to consider downgrading our shop subscription. Great article – thanks for sharing. All the best for the future

Glenn • 16th July 2009 •

Interesting article. I have to agree that Best Match has changed the way we sell on eBay (#2). We used to be able to charge a decent mark up and offer an excellent service. Now, we only sell if we're the cheapest, which means we have been forced to use cheaper shipping methods etc. Not good for the customer. Steve, how do you feel about Play selling DVDs etc and being able to do so at cheaper prices due to not having to pay VAT?

Lino • 16th July 2009 •

Steve, thankyou for taking the time to share your thoughts and opinions with us all, I imagine at the moment it is hard for you to find anything positive to say about ebay. I've actually found some of ebays changes to have benefited our business, our fees are down based on DSR and PS discounts, best match has really boosted a lot of our lines, multiple listings is much simpler and more time efficient, markdown manager has been very useful and free P&P to our surprise has boosted sales. I am also looking forward to size and colour variations rolling out in all of our categories. But mostly when ebay started making so many changes last year and everyone started to jump up and down, I realised it was not wise to have all our eggs in one basket so we took the plunge into the Big River and are now doing very well there too! Steve, good luck for the future. Kate x

Kate & Jen • 16th July 2009 •

Some good points raised in this but it's just more evidence that you need to use ebay as 'advertising' then get the customers to visit your website. We now use ebay and amazon to gain regular customers to our website by giving them a lifetime discount. Don't make ebay or amazon your life, get a website and get trading that way, thats the biggest lesson I have learnt and alot of the points here prove thats the way to go! Stu

Stuart • 16th July 2009 •

just proves attending ebay Uni and channel advisor , being a powerseller board big noise etc is not good for business

still trading • 16th July 2009 •

"6. Who is the customer exactly?" Consider this - if you ran a market stall and the market stall manager allowed people to take people's money without supplying the goods or a refund, how long would the marketplace survive?

Taexalia • 16th July 2009 •

#15 That is the way that online sales take place. The buyer pays, then the goods are shipped. Surely you are not saying that something other than that should happen? ...perhaps I have misunderstood your post.

Bigpoppa • 16th July 2009 •

16. I think you have misunderstood my post. I agree - the customer pays and then the good should be shipped. If, for some reason, the goods are not shipped then the customer is entitled to a refund, no?

Taexalia • 16th July 2009 •

Of course. Unless that company has gone bust, then there is no-one to provide the refund. I guess you are talking about Retrowarez going under and leaving buyers without a refund or an item? Unfortunately that's what happens sometimes, do you think Woolworths went down with a clear balance sheet? ...and before you ask, yes I would feel the same if it was my money.

Bigpoppa • 16th July 2009 •

How is free postage killing DVD sellers? By my reckoning if you use PPI (as you should if you're a high volume seller) the cost of postage would be around 44p (Large Letter) with padded envelopes available for around 7p. So 50p is killing your business? I find that hard to believe even in the environment of small margins you're operating in. And Steve I remember Richard Ambrose making the point to you when free P&P was being introduced in DVD categories that you 'were ahead of the game and already offering free P&P on many products' so how come it's now ebay's fault when you were in the free P&P game already? And for those claiming P&P charges are simply hidden in the price I'd say 'bollocks'. I know some do and have to. (Laptop docking station an example) We don't add it on - we absorb the cost ourselves from the profit margin we have which is then obviously squeezed but we don't add it on. Do you think Amazon is adding postage to the price of everything they sell? No, of course they aren't. And the DVD Steve refers to (Marley And Me) is £11.98 INCLUDING free P&P - NOT plus P&P. So how's that not good for me as a buyer?

Andy • 17th July 2009 •

With internet sales at which point does the money cease to belong to the customers? Is it when payment is made or is it when goods are actually dispatched? I'm also looking forward to part 3.

Jimbo • 17th July 2009 •

I understand that Paypal are holding a reserve from some sellers, quite understandable when you see the amount of customers let down. . I had an 25000+fb ebay id go under approx 4 years ago(mobile phone covers, license to print money in the early days, but the market rapidly shifted away), but I made sure I kept on the right side of both Paypal and Ebay, learned from my mistakes and moved into varied, niche areas and have never looked back.You can make more money from a smaller base, without having to chase turnover.

hitch • 17th July 2009 •

If customers paid with a credit card they will be protected anyway even if a business goes bust! Stu

Stuart • 17th July 2009 •

I think you will find Stu the purchase cost has to be above £100.00 per transaction to be covered.

whirly • 17th July 2009 •

whirly you are wrong no matter how small the amount is but the likes of barclaycard dont want you to know....

J B • 17th July 2009 •

#3 J B are you sure that whirly is wrong?

Jimbo • 17th July 2009 •

I think the credit card companies act if your card has been cloned and used fraudulently. But IME for low value transactions that have gone wrong, they just tell you to resolve it with the vendor.

Ellen Kunec • 17th July 2009 •

Good points, pretty much as I guessed. Once again all the best for the future.

Big AL • 17th July 2009 •

Comment edited by moderator Steve may be unhappy with ebay, and I agree with him on all his points. But he is still trading successfully on ebay under [another ID], which sells several thousands of DVDs every month and with well over 2000 postitive feeback left every month, so he hasn't given up ebaying altogether.

elvis • 17th July 2009 •

Comment edited by moderator I know it's pretty hard to swallow BUT the Steve Williams who runs [another ID] is not me. A big coincidence I know but honestly, we're 2 different Steve Williams.

Steve Antony Williams • 17th July 2009 •

For the record point 6 was the main one, that to my mind is where eBay will always fail until they sort that out. Steve

Steve Antony Williams • 17th July 2009 •

Please do not involve the names of other eBay IDs/companies in this when they are nothing to do with "our" Dr Steve's trading? It's not fair on other sellers to do so. As per above, any other IDs will be removed from comments on this thread or the other one.

Sue Bailey • 17th July 2009 •

#27, What planet are you on. The firm you mention was one of Steve's biggest competitors. Your accusation is laughable.

Richard • 17th July 2009 •

#31 As much as it pains me to say, #27 appears to be correct. Any whois enquiry will show it so.

Bigpoppa • 17th July 2009 •

Sorry if I offended anybody. I support Steve all the way. I didn't mean for it to come across as an accusation or for it to have a negative effect. I meant the gesture as a positive one. The message was meant to come across positively showing that Steve still cares about customers (As others have been putting him down), and that he was still being successful on a different ebay id/company. I never knew it was a different person, so I apologise. Sorry Steve and to everyone else for getting my wires crossed but I hope this helps clarify it a little, as I did genuinly mean it to come across as a goodwill gesture.

elvis • 17th July 2009 •

^^ elvis good for you, owning up to an honest mistake. Wasn't there a Chris Dawson who bought up what remained of MFI? I never have problems like this :lol:

Ellen Kunec • 17th July 2009 •

Ellen, there was - and only yesterday, someone on one eBay forum said it was "our" Chris. For the record (do I really need to say this?!) it wasn't. I think it bears repeating: not every eBayer called Steve W. or even Steve Williams is "our" Dr Steve Williams.

Sue Bailey • 17th July 2009 •

#32, No a whois on that domain does not show what you suggest, quite the opposite in fact. Having known Dr Steve for a good number of years I can guarantee that he has nothing to do with said firm. At least two people on this thread owe Dr Steve a public appology for jumping to very wrong conclusions.

Richard • 17th July 2009 •

I apologised in no.33 Richard. Bigpoppa - It is a different person. I just got my wires crossed and hope I am forgiven.. After all, DrSteveW's full name is quite common

elvis • 17th July 2009 •

:lol: this is to much

whirly • 17th July 2009 •

when i was a studen I worked for a company that dealt with these claims...if its a pound or 100000 pounds does not make any difference think about it why would they only cover 100+ - any amount..they only thing I would say it has to be a credit card not debit or charge card..also if they belive its a commerical purchase its different but customers are covered from 0.1111 to 99999999999999999999

jb • 17th July 2009 •

#37: Sue I meant it as a joke, to diffuse the thing about the other Steve Williams and his ID. I did not mean to open up old sensitivities, sorry.

Ellen Kunec • 17th July 2009 •


whirly • 17th July 2009 •

The Steve Williams confusion has been going on for a while, both THE/Golds wholesaler reps have confused both of us over the years. For the record I virtually always call myself Steve Antony Williams.

Steve Antony Williams • 17th July 2009 •

#39 jb have a look at "section 75 of the consumer credit act" . Getting a bit confused, is this the correct Dr Steve ?

Jimbo • 17th July 2009 •

Hi All, My thoughs: Listings with 'free P&P' should have the P&P section of DSR's blanked, so it cannot be used. It's bad enough, having to pay fees on postage, le alone getting bashed for it. Many of our feedback commens state 'lighting del' & 'really fast' & 'immediate dispach', but we strugglte to keep above 4.65 in dispach time. We charge good value P&P. A 2LL (100g) post is .47p, we charge .72p. For the difference 25p, we have tp pay for packing (labour & packing material) print label & all admin etc Inc' Post office stuff. Additional items are rarely above 1/3rd more. We still struggle to maitain 4.64 in P&P. INR: Bloody nightmare. 1/2 of these come in AFTER, a feedback reminder is sent, strange that. We now make people send us an email vis the ebay message system that states 'they have not received the item & if it does arrive, they will tell us'. Funny how many don't coninue after being asked this. Comments above: 3...........Totally agree Chris. 4............If you write FREE & then include/charge for it, we could be taken to the law. Dangerous thng is the word 'free'. 6............In the UK, we have the lovely 'distant sellers act'. Technically, people can bid & buy what they like, & then say (if they can be bothered'), that they didn't want it afterall. There is nothing sellers can do about this & the only way to get the ebay fees refunded is in the resolution centre & some buyer cannot be bothered to do this eitherm or say i's our problem!!!!. Who looses..........sellers 13..........After the year of changes & NSP many sellers have gone. But you are right, The old saying 'all of your eggs in one basket' comes to mind as a warning. 19..........It has to be when the buyer receives the goods. Yes I realise sellers will say it is when they send the goods, but with Paypal's willingness to repay buyers, we will alway be the loosers. 20.........Totally agree. 23/24.....Dose it matter, paypal will do it for them. On he subject of INR. We all know what a pain these are, whether genuine or not. I have just put a suggestion to Ebay & Paypal, that they keep a file on INR claims. They would not be breaking any laws as only the street # & postcode & date would be retained. Over a rather short period of time thousands of details would be held. Thenm when a claim for INR is made, some ebay sellers could have access to the file to see what other claims have been filed, say in the last year. Access would be limited to say powersellers, but what do you all think. I know the Post office (UK) keep files on claims, but we all know the work required in claiming, sometimes (very often wih low value iems) it's sensible to just swallow the loss. But because claims are not made, their (PO) list is far from complete.

Gerry007 • 17th July 2009 •

The 'T' on the laptop not working well, sorry!!!!

Gerry007 • 17th July 2009 •

My Item 6, above @44 only applies to BIN sales, of course

Gerry007 • 17th July 2009 •

43 - Love that wrestling clip jimbo l :grin: Did you know there's another wrestler called Steve Williams. It's stone cold Steve Austins real name.

elvis • 17th July 2009 •

Steve Williams also played for Southampton many years ago :)

Steve Antony Williams • 17th July 2009 •

Blimey Steve, that's going back a while. Must be 25-30 years ago. Well remembered! (You're showing how old we are now Steve :oops: )

elvis • 17th July 2009 •

Yeah I'm a n old fart, 44 now, and boy don't I just feel it :)

Steve Antony Williams • 18th July 2009 •

Steve, sorry to hear of the demise of Retrowarez. However, in a similar situation, I would take personal responsibility and try to ensure refunds to all customers who lost out, even if it mean't paying out of my own pocket. Yes, big faceless companies go bust all the time, however this was a 3 or 4 person operation with a high profile face in the Ebay community. Ethics...

Al • 18th July 2009 •

#52 Al, how do you know I haven't tried to take personal responsibility ? I pumped thousands of pounds into the company to keep it up and running, but there comes a point when you have to look after number one. Some people here know just how much money I injected into the firm and believe me the loss of a couple of DVDs as a buyer is peanuts in comparison. Like I intimate there comes a point when to do any more is bring disaster on your own head; I have to consider my family and my own finances. Steve

Steve Antony Williams • 18th July 2009 •

Just a quick note to verify that the other 'Steve Williams' with the 130K+ feedbacks is me. We are not connected to Steve Anthony Williams, or Retrowarez in any way. I'm sorry to hear about Steve's demise, it could easily have happened to us, but luckily (hopefully not just by luck) we have come out of the other side and are trading strongly. Good luck with your future ventures Steve Steve @ SODVDS

The 'Other' Steve Williams • 21st July 2009 •

Ebay is a mess at the moment. Annoying pop ups when you sign out. Annoying before you leave did you miss this Java, tells everyone what someone has been searching for no good for presents then. Best match, well it is anything but best match I am one of the unlucky few that is being give a new search which is mostly TES with a smattering of BM thrown in, this is only happening on one machine in IE8 and no other browser. 3 Accounts selling identical items, identical prices, performing erraticlly dayily fluctuation in sales that have no explaination, for seven days one account has been performing badly, then suddenly (without any action from me) the roles reverse to an identical value. I'm not really in to the "eBay are out to get me" mob but I have to say it seems they are weighting the sales in some way, there cannot be any other reason. I also have feeling it has something to do with trying to keep everyone happy and not just the top 25 listing on page one (lets face it to make good sales you HAVE to be on page one) and the default is 25 best match. Im my cat roughly 1200 listing, in normal best match its always rough;y the same sellers + a few private auctions, cant be good for eBay.

FredDread • 22nd July 2009 •

Have you ever noticed how you will suddenly get a rush of orders from the same town?...strange that one.

Bigpoppa • 22nd July 2009 •

Mine come in batches, but they always have done I like to think its on recomendation :-) I am trading through it well 30% up year on year, but its costing me % to do it. I do think SteveW profile didn't help, and in a venue like ebay customer retention and satisfaction are very difficult, if you do it badly its very public.

FredDread • 22nd July 2009 •

#56, #57 - I had one day a couple of weeks back where ALL my buyers were called Jackie/Jacqui/Jack/Jacques etc. (except for one Julie). It's a conspiracy, I tell you :-D

Sue Bailey • 22nd July 2009 •

Shades of Glacierbay here. What I would like to see is not just a list of how events (many of which can be insured against / avoided with good management procedures) have conspired to destroy this business. I would like to see some reflection on how the business could have better survived these issues. At the end of the day it's not eBay's fault that Retrowares went down. I can still see many many thousands of DVD's selling on there. Presumably they all have to add in P+P and not all of them get a file discount, cheaper postal rates through PPI or savings on bulk jiffy purchases. Supplier issues are tough to deal with but can and should be guarded against. As for compensating buyers who lost out.....You can't compare money you lose when you risk it on a business venture to money a buyer pays in good faith for a product. When you 'pump' money into your company you KNOW you might lose the lot. A customer should KNOW they will either get the product or a refund. Personally, I would put this high on my priority list, even if it wasn't immediately possible.

Hannah B • 22nd July 2009 •

Unless you have been through it is very easy to judge others, the mental pressures are immense. A company going bust does not have to mean the previous owners are corrupt.

whirly • 22nd July 2009 •

It is very difficult when a business is floundering, even more so when it is a small business as it is far more personal. 58. I would love to know how it is being done, although I am not sure even eBay understand best match.

FredDread • 22nd July 2009 •

#60 I didn't say anybody was corrupt. It's sad when any business goes under and I can understand there must be huge pressure. All I was suggesting that rather than look for external reasons why this happened, maybe a look at the internals would be helpful not only to the ex. business owners but also to others. I don't mean to come across as over -critical. It's a very tough game out there at the moment, particularly with the lack of credit from banks and suppliers alike. Many businesses have had to radically alter their procedures, I know my company has. Some will not survive even if they are very well run. The point is that this is a scenario we had already thought about, before it happened. It pays to ask those questions before things happen. What if our no.1 supplier goes bust? What if eBay goes bust. What if our hosting goes bust? What if our courier doubles our rates and so on. I know that we started out on eBay in 2004 or so and one of the very first questions we asked is 'what if eBay goes bust or prevents us from selling on their site?'. So we built the business as a multi channel affair where eBay and the other third party sites are a small part of the overall. Shouldn't every seller do this? Putting the majority of your business in the hands of another company who can change policy on a whim is effectively waiting for it to happen.

Hannah B • 22nd July 2009 •

Yes, you're right. But eBay is unique in the fact that overnight, pretty much anyone with a pulse can build a business on eBay...But building it up via your own websites etc takes at least 12 months and that's if you really know what you are doing and have some cash/credit behind you. I think most people on here know that once the ball is rolling, you should start to build your own website and push sales through it any way you can.

Bigpoppa • 22nd July 2009 •

I wasn't refering to your post in particular.

whirly • 22nd July 2009 •

@ # 58 I forget the name but one time I three orders within a few days from three different people with the same first and last name. Two had the same spellings and the third had a slightly different spelling but pronounced the same. One of them asked me about the status of his order from a completely different email and I had to explain to him there were too many of him and he needed to tell me his userid before I could help.

ebuyerfb • 22nd July 2009 •