Media reaction to private seller fee increases

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There’s been some interesting media coverage of eBay’s announcement to raise fees for private sellers. The Metro led with the headline “eBay’s plan to raise sales fees could leave sellers out of pocket“.

The phrase “could leave sellers out of pocket” is a tad misleading. Sellers will only pay fees if they make a sale and they’ll pocket 90% of the sale price (less of course listing and PayPal fees), so quite how they “could” be out of pocket is a mystery. “Private sellers will pay higher fees in future” is more accurate.

There’s a few things worth considering:

  • Private sellers who use auctions aren’t affected by the fee increase. (Private sellers are incentivised to use auctions with free insertion fees and an abundance of free listing days.)
  • The fee rise isn’t that much for items up to £50.00, old fees were 9%, new fees are 10%. Is £5.00 instead of £4.50 from a £50.00 sale really going to make that much of a difference?
  • The fees are still capped at £40.00 and now match the fees structure for auctions.
  • Surely making a (admittedly smaller) return on your unwanted items is better than simply donating them to a charity shop? Private sellers naturally don’t have to count the cost of buying the item as “buying to sell” would make them a business.

      The Metro also has a quote from eBay saying “does not affect the 180,000 small- to medium-size businesses and entrepreneurs trading professionally on eBay”… That might be because they’ve already put up fees for professional sellers, but you have to admire eBay’s spin doctors!

      So do you think that a small fee increase for low value and considerably larger increase for high value fixed price listings will deter private sellers? Will most private sellers even notice that the fees have changed for fixed price listings?

7 Responses

  1. Someone has to pay for the Outlets…

    I suspect that it is the private and small sellers that are footing the bill.

    Consider the amount of money Ebay have been spending so that companies like Tesco and Argos can list their returns on Ebay over the last few years (why they think Tesco’s returns are so desirable I am not quite sure).

    Consider also that to bring them here, these companies are probably getting a very cheap lunch.

    That cost has to be covered.

    If that is the case, then Ebay are robbing the poor to feed the rich.

    That is never good business practice long term.

    Mind you corporations have been successfully doing that for many years and as the current management seem to only want corporate clients, I suppose it makes some kind of corporate sense…

  2. I suspect that the fees that eBay take from outlets both for listing and for final value may be very very low indeed.

    Is it not all about the PayPal?

  3. I suspect that many of us believe that ebay is favouring corporate clients and the level playing field no longer exists. I don’t know if ever existed.

    However favouring corporate clients is completely different to a desire to remove small to medium business sellers, an opinion I have read on several occasions. As a small business seller I do feel that ebay has lost interest in sellers like me. But then I read post like this one and combine it with all the free listing days it seems that ebay are still actively looking to encourage private sellers to list.

    There are therefore three separate categories of sellers
    1. Private
    2. Small to medium
    3. Corporate clients
    Is there any evidence that eBay want to exclude small to medium sellers or is this just an urban myth and paranoia?

    I have no idea how these percentages of sellers break down and neither do I know which band of seller sells the most. Is the sell through rate of Small to medium sellers so low that eBay have lost interest in Small to medium sellers and believe Private and Corporate clients are the way forward?

  4. “Ebay are robbing the poor to feed the rich”

    eBay are using the same tactics employed by politicians without having any of the political skills to sell the ideas.

    The real issue is that small and medium sized eBay sellers do not have a unity type organisation to which they can subscribe to and are not able to unite in large enough numbers to hurt eBay.

    If a fee charging organisation was set up to protect the interests of sellers how many sellers would actually join?

    Not many I guess.

    If 80% of eBay sellers where members of a unity style organisation then eBay might become be a different animal.

    Until such time eBay are entirely free to do their own thing and are indeed doing their own thing!

    eBay should look at the history books and ask themselves what inevitably happens when you attempt to raise fees from the rich.

    The rich have enough clout to do their own thing. Do they really need eBay long term?

    In fact does anybody!

  5. “Surely making a (admittedly smaller) return on your unwanted items is better than simply donating them to a charity shop?” Sorry Chris, I disagree on this one – I’d far rather give my private junk to a charity shop or freegle it any day than put it on ebay and that is exactly what I do with most of it.

    However, it isn’t the fees that put me off, it’s the thought of all the time & likely hassle involved in listing on ebay and any subsequent transations…

    Amazon marketplace doesn’t work for everything, but it is so much simpler in comparison.

  6. Personally I give lots of unwanted items to charity shops.
    Many of the unwanted items don’t fill the profile of my shop and when you sell something second hand there is very often a difference in the seller’s appraisal and the buyers, because the assessment will always be subjective.
    If I could sell these items on a completely separate (non linked account) under a different ID I might reconsider selling them, but I would still give away most of the items to charity shops because the time and effort involved doesn’t justify the return.

    Those items I would list would be ‘Fun items’. Odd and unusual items which might or might not sell but provide a bit of interest from listing my regular products.

    I would happily sell unwanted products for charity on a separate ID, but there is always the danger that if that account gets suspended then my main account also gets suspended.
    It’s a real shame that business sellers can not also have private accounts without risk to to their main accounts. I started off selling unwanted items and still have things to clear, but dare not list them for fear of the linked account policy.

  7. “Surely making a (admittedly smaller) return on your unwanted items is better than simply donating them to a charity shop?”

    I find that incredibly distasteful Chris – you’re implying you’d rather make any amount of money than give items to charity, heaven forbid.

    I also don’t think this article is particularly impartial and is written for ebay’s defence for some reason!


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