Saturday, 9 December 2006

Preapproved bidders, deapproved

Auctionbytes points out that it appears that from January, the preapproved bidder feature will no longer be available. There has been no other official announcement of this change; the UK version of the same page makes no mention of it, so UK sellers might be forgiven for thinking they won't be affected, for the time being, at least.

We'd be happy to see the back of this feature. Habitually it's used by scammers and those seeking an off-eBay sale: "please contact me to be added to the approved bidder list", and then oops, the item is no longer for sale. Or it's used as a sign post listing to pull buyers into an eBay shop, or an off-eBay website: you can't bid, because the seller isn't selling anything.

Occasionally it's used by paranoid sellers, when it's just a frustration for bidders: I want to bid *now*, not wait for you to check your email, run through whatever crazy checks you want to do to see if I'm good enough to bid on your precious thing, and then approve me. You know what, in that time, dear seller, I've Bought It Now elsewhere anyway.

For those who need a little protection for their auctions, and sadly auction wrecking does happen, there are plenty of other tools to do the same job: buyer blocks for those with no credit card on file, no Paypal account or who are bidding on multiple items from the same seller, or even requiring immediate payment by Paypal for the sale to take place, are much more effective ways to protect against rogue bidders.


Another management appointment at eBay

As part of eBay's far reaching management changes eBay Strategies report Michael Linton (formerly CMO of BestBuy) is coming to eBay to run the non-core parts of eBay: Motors, Stores/Shops, Express and ProStores. Linton will report to Bill Cobb and work with Gary Briggs, senior VP-chief marketing officer. It's a big step into the auction world and with parts in motors being the fastest growing category on eBay (sell through rate is one per second) a retailers experience makes sense. Express and ProStores could do with a boost, it's no secret that Express is growing much slower than sellers would like.

Along with the news of Philipp Justus moving to San José to oversee the auction business and the appointment of Dr. Daniel Lee as General Manager for their China Development Center in Shanghai, news of the management changes is slow to be announced. We are still expecting several significant appointments in some of eBay's fastest growing sectors to be announced in the near future.

As eBay move towards the new year they are realigning their management to focus on driving business forward in 2007. Putting decision making power in the hands of key leaders who align their attention to the buyers or sellers experience of the site can only be a good move and hopefully avoid debacles such as the shop inventory changes made and reversed in 2006.

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Queen Mother's Daimler auctioned

Auctioning4u are selling the Queen Mother's Daimler on eBay.

I love this listing. As well as being for an absolutely gorgeous car, it's such a great example of not being afraid to put all the necessary information there in your auction, and how to lay it out so that it's really easy to read. They've got pictures of every possible bit of the car, and a fantastic widget describing its few imperfections: something like that would be a great feature for eBay Motors themselves to launch.

Glad to see it's free of HP :-D


Thousands of Post Offices to close

Royal Mail are to announce the closure of thousands of Post Offices this week, with rural locations likely to be hardest hit. The announcements will be made on Thursday.

The current network of around 14,000 POs made a lost of £111m in 2005, despite receiving £150m in government subsidies. Postcomm estimate that only 1500 of the 8000 rural offices make money. It's expected that the closure of between 2500 and 7000 offices, phased over several years, will be announced.

Ironically for eBay sellers, Colin Baker, the general secretary of the National Federation of Subpostmasters, blamed his members' plight on more people shopping on the internet.

A DTI spokesman said that the government recognises the social role of Post Offices in rural communities, but that the current size of the network was unsustainable.

Via the BBC, which has information for those fighting to keep their Post Office open.


Friday, 8 December 2006

Wii Wiilly Wiinky

There's no point Wee Willy Winky running through the town to make sure the children are in bed this Christmas. Yet again the hottest games consoles are in such short supply, they won't be in stockings this year without paying silly money.

Several major retailers have failed to secure sufficient supplies of the Nintendo Wii even to fulfil preorders, leading to a bidding frenzy on eBay. Richard Ambrose of eBay said:

We expect the trading of Nintendo Wii on eBay to be fast and furious in the coming weeks. If previous console launches are anything to go by, like the XBox360 last year, we can expect a large volume of Wii sales on as high street stocks run low and parents under pressure try to find the must-have present to put under the tree.

Of course with the Europe-wide shortage and failure even to fulfil preorders, prices will be pushed to astronomical levels. Priced at £179.00 the Nintendo Wii is already selling for over £700.00 on eBay. As more people fail to secure delivery of their preorder, the only way is up for prices. Our advice is to wait until next year when supply is more plentiful, and find your little ones something else for Christmas.


How not to answer an ASQ

As we draw ever nearer to Christmas and sellers' time is at a premium, nothing is more of a pain than eBay's "Ask Seller a Question" (ASQ) feature. Ensure that your buyers don't make too much use of it with our handy hints:

1. Most ASQs can be dealt with with one sentence: "go read the auction". If you're feeling especially patronising, "please go read the auction and then let me know if you still have a question" is nice.

2. Never respond in a timely manner. Your buyer needs to understand that they are not your only customer. If they are demanding about replies to email, how much worse they will be about delivery times! If you ignore them long enough, maybe they'll go away.

3. Instant replies are essential. No matter how angry, tired or drunk you are, fire off a response the second your ASQ arrives. If the numpty question has angered you, your buyer should know this: maybe they'll think better of their idiocy next time.

4. Stick with email at all times. You didn't become an eBay seller to have to use the telephone, right? If your buyer is dumb enough to be using AOL or Hotmail and not have sorted their spam settings out, it's not your problem if they're not receiving your mails.

5. If you can possibly take it as an insult, you should. Buyers are mostly keyboard heroes who like nothing better than to start fights with sellers. You have two tools to deal with this: negative feedback and your blocked bidder list. Use them. Especially on buyers with previously 100% positive feedback.

Finally, when you've done all this, you should go onto an eBay message board and start a thread about it. That will garner you many more eager buyers.

Inspired by Web Worker Daily's How to Screw Up an Email Negotiation.


I'm a piece of celebrity memorabilia...

Myleene Klass's bikini has been sold for £7,000 in aid of Farepack victims. For post-sale gawping purposes, here's the auction.

An auction for a John Wayne Gacy pen was removed from eBay under the offensive materials policy. If you have murder memorabilia to sell, you need a specialist auction site, which has some truly terrifying items, such as this portrait of Jennifer Aniston by serial killer Alfred Gaynor.

Walt Disney's birthplace is up for auction on eBay. The vendor said she was selling on eBay "because we feel there is someone out there that might be able to take the building to the next step and do something with the historical significance." Nothing to do with getting shed loads of money then?


Best. Spoof. Ever.

Rather amusing read for a Friday lunchtime.


PayPal winning over google

Cramer (of CNBC) thinks PayPal is still winning over Google Checkout, this despite Google giving the service free of transaction fees for the next year. In a change of position he recommends buying eBay stock as it's undervalued.

Crammer also likes yet another reason the group (who's day to day operations were taken over in July by Josh Silverman back in July) is becoming more and more important to the eBay group as a whole. This is one area of eBay's portfolio worth watching with business reportedly up this quarter by some 40% compared to last year.

PayPal success,, a deal with Yahoo and along with some $3.2B in the bank have convinced the analysts that eBay is ending the year in fine shape and stocks are undervalued.

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Another end of year list

eBay is the fifth most popular site on the internet. According to Seeking Alpha, eBay's unique visitor numbers are exceeded only by hits on Yahoo, Google, AOL and MSN. eBay is one of only two ecommerce sites in the top ten, way ahead of Amazon at number ten.

Paypal, who were in the top twenty last year, have fallen out, though their site traffic has actually increased.

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Thursday, 7 December 2006

Beauty advice : don't flog your freebies

Molly Friedman, assistant editor of Allure, has been fired for selling beauty supplies meant for the magazine on eBay. Recently promoted, Friedman had apparently been contacting manufacturers requesting new products, which she then sold on the auction site rather than putting them in the magazine.

Via Greenslade.


Windows Live Expo exposed

Microsoft have expanded Beta testing of Windows Live Expo and opened it up to the general public. This means you no longer need an invitation or be on a waiting list to log on and take a look around. So what's Expo all about? According to Microsoft:

With Expo you can:
Trade exclusively with those you trust, like your colleagues or schoolmates, using Expo Communities.
Search for items locally or across the UK using the integrated Windows Live Local maps.
List items quickly and easily, and most importantly, for free

Well it all sounds great at first glance, but my friends and colleagues know what I do and ask me if they want to buy from me. Of course it'll be great for large companies to be able to build communities for their employees or for schools to effectively run swap shops for pupils.

It's not just about buying and selling though - Windows Live Expo is more of a competitor to gumtree than the eBay core site. Gumtree is eBay's online version of your local papers free ads, although items for sale on Expo are organised according to category rather than as with Gumtree by date of posting. This does at least make it easier to browse, Gumtree has no sort options other than keyword search.

As Expo is still in Beta finding people listing links for games consoles (albeit for free) doesn't fill me with confidence. All in all it's worth signing up for to reserve your user id, but I wouldn't waste time on it yet.


eBay Oz fights back on ticket sales

eBay are to sue organisers of Australia's Big Day Out concert for cancelling tickets sold online.

Promotors have cancelled tickets known to have been sold online, in accordance with a warning given to original buyers. They argue that eBay's easily accessible market place encourages ticket holders to resell their tickets way above face value. Tickets for the Big Day Out were originally sold out in record time; it seems like just a very simple case of too little supply for too much demand. Would you like to go and see your favourite band, or make a big wad of cash just after Christmas? It's a tough call.

I'm left feeling that it must be jealousy on the part of the promotors. If they sell huge blocks of tickets to touts early on, they're guaranteed their cash for the gig, and the touts are taking the risk for them that the tickets may not sell at all. I'm imagining some suited exective looking green-faced at eBay's completed auctions and thinking of all the money that could have been his. If they don't like this scenario, it'd be simple enough to restrict the number of tickets sold to any one person, something that some promotors are now doing.

But to say that Joe Public can't pass on a ticket to a mate, can't sell it to a bloke in the pub, or can't auction it on eBay is just ridiculous. All that eBay have done is to make overt something that has been happening for decades. Instead of having to deal with a tout outside the venue, fans can now buy the ticket from the comfort of their living room: who can blame them for preferring that?

Of course, what concert promotors never seem to quite explain is why ticket holders *shouldn't* sell their tickets for way above face value. There is usually some mention of 'preventing genuine fans from seeing the musicians'. I think to pay triple face value to someone you've never met for a concert ticket, you'd have to be a very devoted fan indeed.

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"Safeguarding Members IDs is not a licence to shill"

Sean_Coolness has been an eBay member since 2001, and describes himself as "addicted". Specialising in motorcycles, he feels strongly that eBay should do everything they can to protect his customers from the fake 'second chance offers' which have left too many people with no goods and no money. Here are his thoughts.

Let me first say that I totally agree with eBay's new Safeguarding Members' IDs policy, because it stops fake second chance offers dead!

Sellers of high value items, like myself, suffer greatly from scammers sending out fake second chance offers to underbidders. The scammers had the underbidders' IDs from the items bid history, and could see just how much that person had bid. So it was pretty easy for them to send out a fake email which looked identical to eBay's own. Too many people have fallen foul of this, and enough of them, sellers and bidders alike, have complained about it that eBay have finally taken action.

This is a controversial decision which many think gives the seller greater scope for shill bidding. This simply isn't true.

bid history screenshot
click for full screenshot
In the new style bid history, there is a link to each bidders' bid history, showing their activity not just with the current seller, but with any seller. So if a seller is using a second account to push up the price, which is what shill bidding is all about, it will show. You can see how many times the bidder has bid on this seller's items, how many other sellers' items they have bid on, and other such information which was previously hard work to compile from the various searches available in advanced search.

bid history screenshot
click for full screenshot
In fact, a glance you can see the whole bidding activity of the bidder, and in far more detail than previously readily available. Coupled with eBay stopping private feedback, this actually reduces the scope for dodgy sellers to push prices up by shill bidding.

It has also been said by others that shill bidding is a "lesser" crime than fake second chance offers, as people who enter their maximum bid, and stick to it, can't be pushed higher by shill bidding. Where as with fake second chance offers, people have been ripped off for hundreds and even thousand of pounds. I'm not so sure I agree with this, but I do understand the sentiments.

So, with the bidder's identity hidden from general view, is it still possible to see if a seller is shill bidding, or getting a mate to regularly bid up their auctions? The answer is basically yes:

1) Using the link provided by eBay you can see how many different items and the number of sellers the bidder has bid on. If the bidder has only ever bid on one seller's auctions, but has bid on many different items, you can draw your own conclusion.

2) If a high value item is re-listed a good number of times, I would suspect the dodgy seller has "won" their own item in their efforts to push the price higher than genuine bidders are willing to pay. Remember there are a number of legitimate reasons why a seller has to re-list an item once or twice, so this isn't a hard and fast rule.

3) Common sense. Never underestimate your gut feeling.

Finally, not all sellers of 99p no reserve auctions are dodgy sellers; some of us use it as a sales pitch to generate more interest in our items :-)


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Wednesday, 6 December 2006

Philipp Justus leaves the problem child behind

Philipp Justus moves to San Jose to oversee the future of eBay's auction business and leaves behind the German site which Seeking Alpha today described as "quickly overtaking the US as eBay Marketplaces problem child". Whilst US business has grown slower than International Germany the second biggest eBay territory is experiencing the slowest growth. It should be noted that the UK have the highest GMV per capita in the eBay world so in theory there is the least room for expansion. We believe when the Q4 figures are released this will prove the opposite and that the UK will be impressive compared to the other territories.

Whilst Justus' career at eBay started in Germany his latest role covered Europe. Growing Germany to the largest marketplace outside the US is undoubtably an achievement, but it's the UK where the eyes of management turn to see growth today


Overstock washes more dirty linen

After the first open letter posted on the Overstock forums, CEO Patrick Byrne posts another. It's not only an attempt to pour oil on troubled waters, but an appeal to users of the site to suggest improvements. Along with this backtracking, delaying and suddenly asking for confirmation on policies he'd said were a done deal only serve to muddy the waters further.

It's often a complaint about eBay that they aren't contactable, that they don't listen, that the "consultations with the community" aren't visible, but in practice if the actions on Overstock are the alternative, I'm glad eBay are the way they are. As a seller and buyer I like to know where I am. I want a stable selling environment. I want management of the site that don't justify their employees based on their personal lives. Above all I actually like eBay keeping a professional stance and not getting drawn into squabbling with sellers and buyers.

Here's to Doug and his team!

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Channel Advisor now available for Irish eBayers

Channel Advisor have made their auction management software compatible with eBay's Irish site. Channel Advisor software helps to automate aspects of online selling across the online spectrum, so for example can help sellers trading on multiple platforms.

Though was only launched in June last year, at that time there were already 200,000 Irish registered members using other sites. eBay's figures show that an Irish seller sells something every minute, and Irish buyers buy an item every 20 seconds: clearly there's plenty of scope for domestic sellers to keep buyers closer to home.

We'd also like to congratulate CA on their seriously impressive $10m GMV day on Monday.

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Tougher penalties for pirates

Music and film pirates should face ten year jail sentences, says a new report. Former newspaper editor Andrew Gowers has made a number of proposals to toughen up protection of the entertainment industry's intellectual property, but suggests that purely personal format swapping, like transferring CDs to an MP3 player should be made legal.

Gowings report estimated that up to 20% of the industry's turnover is lost due to piracy. It was welcomed by the Chancellor, who has announced an extra £5million to fund more action in this area by Trading Standards' officers.


Buy it now

eBay have made 24/7 Wall Street's top ten most undervalued stocks list:

According to Yahoo!Finance, the price target for EBay's shares is as high as $45 among the 19 analysts listed by Thomson/First Call as covering the company. And, that would not even take it back to its 12-month high.

*That's* what I want for Christmas :-D


Google extend free Checkout promotion

Google have announced that Checkout payments will be processed free of charge until the end of 2007. This is fantastic news for merchants with their own websites, effectively increasing their income by 2%.

Not so nice for eBay sellers, of course, who are prohibited from offering Google Checkout. This can only make it more tempting for eBayers to try to push their buyers to Checkout 'behind the scenes': not only will that damage Paypal's profits, it will damage buyer confidence. We all know that the majority of eBay buyers like the integration of Paypal with the site, and the security that Paypal offers them. With a strong incentive from Google now for sellers to try to undermine that, eBay should really wake up and try to do something that will benefit all parties, and allow Checkout on to the site.

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In the beginning, there was Graham...

Back in 1996, gf-attic registered on eBay, one of the earliest people in the UK to do so. He soon became the UK's first powerseller, and he still trades on the site today. eBay celebrated his achievement with a birthday cake. Here he reflects on his ten years' trading.

Things were pretty tough in the UK antique trade a decade ago. The mainstay of most British dealers, the foreign trade, had stopped coming and it was clear that the nostalgia boom of the 1980s was well and truly over.

I'd already lived on fat for a couple of years and it was almost in desperation that I signed up for eBay's new fangled auction-on-line service.

Ten years later I'm still there.

And it's been an easy ride with my customers.

I reasoned early on that asking a buyer to send money to a foreign country to someone they didn't know for something they hadn't seen wasn't going to work without building some trust. I started taking part in collector groups, especially for sewing related subjects and soon started dedicated forums where I could field questions about sewing machines.

It's worked. In those 10 years I've not had a single negative feedback and, more importantly not a single non-paying buyer. Got my first neutral last week just in time for my 10th anniversary.

This isn't all due to my business practices – a lot is a result of my customers being in that middle age to senior comfort range that insurance companies love so much. But this does mean that are not always too savvy in the ways of e-commerce and a lot of hand holding is required.

Most customers are American and so I list on the US site and in US dollars and am happy to take personal checks. The prospect of paying for international shipping is solved by simply not charging for it. OK, FREE shipping isn't really free, it's built into the reserve/starting price but it's a real attraction to Mr and Mrs Middle America.

And there's nothing ambiguous about my terms and conditions. There can't be — I haven't got any. They pay, I send. It's as simple at that.

Graham Forsdyke aka gf-attic

gf-attic's 10th anniversary cake from eBay

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Rags to riches on eBay

Imagine wandering around the market or going to a car boot sale at the weekend and picking up an item for a few pence. You get home and list it on eBay and it sells for tens of thousands of pounds - well that's what's happening to Warren Hill of Montreal! He picked up a rare recording of the Velvet Underground for just 75 cents and bidding is now up to $128,600.00

The music on the record dates from a 1966 recording at Scepter Studios in New York, overseen by Warhol. Rather than a commercially pressed album, it is a fragile acetate cut in the studio so the musicians could review the day's work at home.

Next time you go to the carboot sale keep your eyes open, it just might happen to you too!


How to stop phishing

F-secure make a very good point in their open letter to domain registrars:

Are you sure you want people to be able to register any domain name? Even when the name is obviously going to be used for phishing? Like, say, somebody is trying to register a .com domain with the words "ebay" and "sign-in" in it? Isn't it pretty obvious that something might be going on here?

You'd think a filter on the more obvious phishing targets - eBay and Paypal probably being the two biggest - would make sense for everyone.


Bags, ladies

Tuesday, 5 December 2006

Another RM strike looms

Almost 1000 Royal Mail workers in Bristol are to be balloted on industrial action, after negotiations over the use of a new parcel-sorting machine broke down. If the vote is in favour of strike action, a week's notice will have to be given of any stoppages. An RM spokesman said "we do have robust contingency plans in place if needed."

Via the BBC.


A phone in the hand

"First Daughter" Barbara Bush's stolen mobile phone was briefly for sale on eBay Argentina yesterday. The seller also promised a bonus feature: 'the phone you bought will be delivered to your house by Osama Bin Laden in person.'

The lucky winner of the auction could have been the proud posessor of phone numbers for Paris Hilton and Michael Jackson as well as Barbara's presidential father and grandfather, but the phone has now been withdrawn from sale.


Changes announced in China

eBay yesterday announced the appointment of Dr. Daniel Lee as General Manager for their China Development Center in Shanghai. Most recently having served as Chief Technology Officer for Yahoo, Dr. Lee will be overseeing the expansion of the CDC, developing various projects for the global eBay platform.

Does this indicate eBay's longer term commitment to their Chinese operations in general? We think predictions that they're about to pull out altogether are probably premature.

It does, however, leave us wondering about the other changes in eBay's top ranks. German sources (in English) are still reporting Philipp Justus' elevation to eBay HQ, but there seems to be a distinct lack of news coming out of San José at the moment.

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Three steps to succeed on eBay

Businesspundit offers The Top 5 Reasons You Don't Need 4 Easy Ways to Start Your Own Business.

It's a truism that it's easy to get started in business on eBay. Just because it was easy to start doesn't mean it's going to be easy to continue, easy to make a real, long-term profit (that includes enough to pay your tax bill), easy to succeed. Amazon is filled with books that promise to tell you "powerseller secrets", the internet littered with "five steps to eBay success" articles, as though there's a kind of magic formula that you just need to follow and you'll be a millionaire by Christmas, Rodney.

Well, here's my three-step plan to eBay success:
  1. Buy cheap
  2. Sell as expensive as you can
  3. Keep doing it
Step three is where most people fall down.

If you're now looking crossly at the screen, or going "duh, that's obvious, where's her insight?", then may I humbly suggest you stop falling for the hype about magic formulae? There isn't a special secret to riches, there's only hard work, and lots of it. But when it's all for yourself, even hard work can feel magic.


Inappropriate links undermine the trust and legitimacy of eBay’s marketplace

"Inappropriate links undermine the trust and legitimacy of eBay’s marketplace" is a direct quote from eBay's own policies. It has always been a given that links that permit off site sales were forbidden, but that's all changed adverts have now started to appear on eBay, but only in certain categories. Not a problem you might think, but they're appearing in search results and pushing products relevant to the search criteria and worse are clickable to ecommerce vendors own websites. The display below was from a search for new sewing machines. advert on eBay

It is understandable that eBay would want to cross promote it's platforms. It's perfectly natural that sellers on eBay may want to pay to have their items featured on as well as eBay, however the reverse doesn't hold true. Sellers on eBay have to pay to have listings appear in search results and many are still smarting from the reduced visibility of shop inventory format listings. Now adverts are appearing at the bottom of listings that have paid nothing to appear in search results, pay no eBay fees and direct eBay buyers to off eBay venues.

Taking buyers off eBay brings up a host of issues - Why are eBay sending buyers to competing sites for example amazon? Does this make good business sense? What about directing them from eBay to virtually unknown sites? What about trust and safety? eBay have always promoted on eBay transactions to be safe with feedback, buyer protection and dispute resolution. A buyer clicking through direct to a merchant website can legitimately claim their purchase was through eBay, although it's certainly off eBay.

This seems to be madness, eBay pay millions to attract customers, why would they want to let them go? Currently only a few categories appear to be infected with adverts - we'd rather they weren't there at all. Promote the fact that eBay have other platforms by all means, but if sellers can't have links to their own ecommerce platforms then for all the same reasons shouldn't have direct links to vendors on eBay either.

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Monday, 4 December 2006

Boxing clever!

A delivery took me by surprise this week, I ordered more than I realised. No it's not stock for sale, it's packaging. My packaging store is just about full to the roof now with packaging boxes, bubblewrap, jiffy bags and parcel tape.

Buying packaging is one of those things I dislike - mainly because I'm convinced that most of it ends up in the trash when it gets to the recipient. The important thing is when buying packaging (as with most products) is that the more you buy the more cost effective it becomes. This is especially true with packaging because of it's bulk - carriage is often the same price to order one box of jiffy bags as it is to order three or four. Rolls of bubblewrap are always expensive to ship and to lower the cost I order by the truck load. This latest delivery was for four pallets of boxes and thirty rolls of bubblewrap - sending my own courier in becomes worthwhile as it's a full load anyway.

If you buy packaging then buy as much at a time as you can comfortably order. There really is no point buying a single box of jiffies each month when you can buy six boxes twice a year and pay the same carriage as you would for one. Just make sure that you have ample room to store it when it arrives!


Protect yourself against BCPD

We're rather amused by eBay Singapore's Christmas campaign against Bad Christmas Present Disorder. "Log on to eBay and buy yourself the present you really want" is a great message... I just wonder if those are shots of a new site design we can expect any time soon?

buy on eBay sell on eBay


DVD pirate jailed

A man who sold pirate DVDs on eBay has been jailed for six months and fined £55,000.

Fact director Kieron Sharp said he hoped the fine would send "a strong message to those using auction sites such as eBay that they are not immune from prosecution and further action should they trade in counterfeit goods".

The counterfeit DVDs were produced in the Far East without any regional coding so that they could be sold worldwide.

Via the BBC.


This notice is not worth noticing

Seth Godin ponders why anyone would put up an "Under New Management" sign, calling it "a vivid symbol of the ego-centric nature of most marketing".

The most stupid (non-)marketing notice I ever saw was in a newsagents in Lyme Regis. The shop had a huge postcard display, obviously aimed at the thousands of holidaymakers in the town, which was topped off with a notice: Sorry, we do not sell stamps. I stood there in open-mouthed wonder that, if you get asked for stamps so often that you have to put up a notice about it, you wouldn't stock the stamps in the first place.

When I first started selling for myself on eBay, I made it a rule that if one customer asked me to get something for them, I always would. It was a great way to expand my inventory to what I knew people actually wanted to buy, and in some cases, what they just couldn't get anywhere else. Why send your customers sniffing round your competition when they could buy the complete package from you.


Happier December in Devon

A 24 hour postal strike due to begin at an Exeter sorting office has been called off.

"We are very close to an agreement and we trust that the Royal Mail will see our actions in a positive climate and put an end to uncertainty for the public and for our members," said a union spokesman.

Amen to that.


Get it Fast in time for Christmas in full swing

Following our prompt to add 'Get it Fast' to your eBay listings last week, the promotion to buyers is in full swing. From the home page buyers are directed to a custom Christmas Get it Fast search page. With two days of cheap listings to come this week it's an ideal time to attract even more Christmas shoppers by ensuring your listings appear in 'Get it Fast' search results.

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Sunday, 3 December 2006

CLD for Christmas on eBay UK

As we predicted, there's another Cheap Listing Day this week for eBay UK - except it's two days. List at fixed price this Wednesday or Thursday for just 10p and clear some stock for Christmas.


Fluff and drivel

A medical school's 200 year old mummy has turned up on eBay. It began its second life by being body-snatched in Scotland, and was then taken to the University of Maryland by the snatcher's brother. It got rescued from a Detroit school building which was being demolished, apparently by a friend of the eBay seller. As the auction has been pulled for falling foul of eBay's rules against the sale of human body parts, it's now on its way back to Maryland.

A broken laptop sells on eBay and becomes a star of the show 'Heroes'. The seller's write-up is probably the best part of this story.

A Welsh man has spent £920 on ten toast-and-marmite portraits of celebrities we love to hate. Baroness Thatcher, Charlotte Church and Simon Cowell, amongst others, were created by artist Dermot Flynn, and sold on eBay. Caterer Wayne Withers intends to give them to his wife for Christmas. He said, "I think she's pleased".

And finally, you can bid on a ten-minute Skype call with one of sixteen American celebrities, in aid of the Young Storytellers Foundation.


Ticket swindler jailed

A conman who sold non-existent concert tickets on eBay and then tried to bribe his customers not to go to the police, has been jailed. Adam Cuthbertson's lawyer pointed to his guilty plea, and the fact that he had refunded all of his victims, as reasons to be lenient with the crook.

But Judge Charles Fox took a dim view of the deception between May and November 2005, telling him people like him could cause internet users to lose faith in sites like eBay. ... Spokesman for eBay Gareth Streeter said: "We worked with the South Wales Police on this case. As this case demonstrates, eBay is one of the worst places to sell illegally, due to the open and transparent nature of the listings and the traceability of the transactions which take place.

Cuthbertson had used a variety of different IDs on the site, re-registering with a new name each time eBay had banned him. When his victims complained, he refunded them and offered £50 compensation if they would drop their complaints.

Labels: , put the Christmas decorations up! have stolen the lead in the race for eBay sites to prepare for Christmas. All sites are busy with Christmas themed front pages designed to entice buyers to purchase. have gone one further with a santa hat on the eBay logo on the home page


eBay spot on with 'Free Shipping' promotion

According to Josh Silverman, General Manager of, "There's more competition among online merchants than ever which is great for shoppers as many of them are rolling out more incentives and discounts this year. In fact, according to our research, 20 of the top 50 merchants ranked by Internet Retailer are offering shoppers free shipping this holiday." It's good to know that both and got it right with their promotions to encourage sellers to offer free shipping and to promote the auctions to buyers inspite of those sellers who decryed the move. was created with a merger of DealTime and Epinions in April 2003. The site is dedicated to delivering the world's ultimate shopping experience, where people use the power of information to make the best shopping decisions. With their new branding as DoorOne in the UK they are going from strength to strength with traffic on the US Cyber Monday (traditionally the start of the shopping season) up 40%.

As an eBay company some eBay Express listings are now appearing on on a trial basis. This allows eBay Express sellers to reach an even wider audience at no extra cost and to help attract new buyers to visit and purchase from eBay Express.

Many sellers are concerned that shopping comparison sites encourage buyers simply to choose the cheapest product available but Silverman states "only around 20 percent of our shoppers click on the lowest-priced items, indicating each shopper's priority isn’t always to find the lowest price". That has to be reassuring and an added incentive to offer extras whether it be product, service, free shipping or a trusted brand.

According to a document by e-consultancy, shopping comparison sites continue to grow at 30% year on year so and DoorOne will be increasingly important to the eBay portfolio of companies.

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$2 Pound tempts shoppers to

The Guardian has a nice piece about how the weak dollar is making shopping on more attractive for British shoppers this Christmas. Some good advice there: check the shipping fees *before* you bid, allow for VAT and import duties being charged, and allow plenty of postage time before Christmas. In fact, make life easy for yourself and shop on eBay UK instead :D

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