Saturday, 23 December 2006

Man spends £920 on marmite toast and pleads poverty

A Welsh man bid £920 on eBay for the pieces of toast decorated with miniature portraits made from Marmite. The toast decorated by artist Dermot Flynn had portraits of celebrities such as Gordon Ramsay, Simon Cowell and Margaret Thatcher. He said they were for his wife for Christmas and proceeds went to a good cause, children's charity Room 13.

That was at the beginning of December, now it emerges that Mr Withers has just been jailed for producing and selling counterfeit films such as the Lost series. Sixteen weeks in jail and 100 hours community service for his wife is the punishment for sales thought to be £5000 worth of fake DVDs. Pleading mitigating circumstances the excuse put forward was that they couple have a seventeen year old pregnant daughter and needed money to bring her back to England - strange that they still had a grand left over for what's little more than a loaf of bread and jar of marmite!


Hogmanay hogwash

Edinburgh's Hogmanay celebrations have become the latest event to complain about their tickets being sold on eBay. Council leisure chief Donald Anderson urged party-goers to buy their tickets through local channels, which have not sold out, rather than through eBay, where, claim the Council, tickets are up to three times as expensive. We say that if people are prepared to pay three times face value, the Council have underpriced their tickets.

A quick glance through eBay's listings, however, reveals a number of tickets at rather less than their £32.50 face value. We wonder if Edinburgh Council will be sensible enough to take all this on board and sell their own tickets on eBay next year?

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eBay and PayPal links for hacked accounts

"We will never request their password, account number or credit card number". Sound familiar? The sort of thing PayPal or eBay would say? Well perhaps, but in this case it's First Atlantic Federal Credit Union's turn to warn their customers not to respond to phishing scams. They're being targeted with offers of $100 to complete a survey.

Phishing is sending spoof emails with the aim of garnering user names and passwords, eBay and PayPal are natural targets as so many people have accounts, you're unlikely to fall for a spoof from a financial institution if you don't bank with them anyway.

eBay invest heavily in fraud protection with warnings all over the site. The eBay safety center is full of information security, as Get Safe Online, a joint initiative between the government, the Serious Organised Crime Unit and private sector which eBay sponsor. In addition the eBay toolbar (for IE) will warn you if you enter your eBay user name and password on a non-eBay site.

With Christmas just two days away a host of new users will rush to get online when they open up new computers and laptops. The last thing on their mind will be the possibility of getting scammed. In the event that your eBay account is hacked and taken over there is an eBay Live Help link for hijacked accounts. For help with PayPal in the UK call 0870 7307191 and in the US 1-402-935-2050

The golden rule is never click links in emails and enter your user name and password, always type the URL into your browser yourself and stay safe online.


Friday, 22 December 2006

No rest from the bidders

Thousands of people will spend part of Christmas Day indulging in the UK's favourite leisure activity - shopping, says the Telegraph. Some major retailers such as Currys, Comet, Halfords and Woolworths are beginning their sales on their websites on Christmas Day, and others such as Waterstones and MFI have already begun.

eBay sellers rushing to get their last few parcels out the door today might have been looking forward to a rest between now and next week's CLD, but we've always found listing over Christmas to be very worthwhile. If you can spare half an hour out of your Christmas Day to check emails and ASQs, you'll really wow the buyers. And we've heard that eBay's current series of adverts has "half a dozen" episodes; with only three having appeared so far, a new one to say that eBay's still open over Christmas has to be on the cards.


Three not-so-wise men

A former Army Staff Sergeant has been jailed for up to eighteen months for selling gun parts on eBay. The prosecutor said that, in the wrong hands, the parts could have been used to make decommissioned weapons serviceable again. eBay had already suspended the man's account for contravention of their own weapons policy.
eBay account: NARU

A 42-year-old Spokane [Washington, USA] man pleaded guilty today to nine federal charges that include stealing inventory from Sacred Heart Medical Center and earning more than $644,000 by selling those items on eBay.
eBay account: NARU

A Massachusetts man has been jailed for six and a half years for swindling US$225,000 out of eBay buyers. The man sold Superbowl tickets on the auction site, but failed either to provide the tickets or to refund his disappointed customers. While out on bail for this crime, the man apparently tried to sell non-existent Corvettes on fake second chance offers.


The tax man just bought me a new car

buyer's eyeIt's not often I find something new to do on eBay, but I did this week. For the first time I purchased a motor from eBay.

As mentioned in our post Accounting for your accountant purchasing a commercial vehicle would be advantageous from a tax perspective. At the busiest time of year in sales there was no time for running around garages to choose a motor so eBay motors was an obvious choice. However the purchase was not made directly through eBay.

eBay recently introduced a new listing format specifically for eBay motors called Classified Ad Format. Classified Ad Format allows sellers to list vehicles for a 28 day period at a fixed price, but the sale is completed off eBay in the same way as if you were buying from a traditional newspaper advert. The big advantage is that it's possible to search the whole country to find your ideal vehicle and that's exactly what I did!

Crewe is the place I found it, and yesterday saw me spending three hours on the train (passing the time reading Ben Elton's latest novel). The dealer collected me from the train station and after swiping my debit card (I'm sure that's not the best way to pay for a car!) I was on my way back south.

You might think travelling a couple of hundred miles to buy a car you've never seen is a bit of a risk, and normally it would be. However eBay does give you a lot of peace of mind. Firstly the motor I chose was offered for sale by a professional vehicle dealer displaying the Car Dealer Icon shown on the right. Also with Classified Ad Format the only way of completing the deal is to talk directly to the seller enabling you to ask for additional information to satisfy you regarding the transaction. It's not like bidding on an auction.

So the perfect motor for business use, plenty of space for stock or the odd delivery, still comfortable enough for long distance trips, and importantly seating for four! Best of all because this one was bought for business use the cost can be written off against tax

All in all a great buying experience, if you're looking for either a car for personal use or a commercial motor, eBay motors is a great place to buy from.

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Tuk Tuk or Tuc Tuc to a new motor on eBay

Tuctuc Ltd runs a fleet of twelve motorised rickshaws in Brighton. Routes cover the seafront from Hove to the Marina and into town to the train station. The twelve three-wheelers named after the distinctive sound they make (Tuc Tuc or Tuk Tuk) are now to be auctioned on eBay in the New Year and will be replaced with ten larger models.

This is a chance to own a really fun vehicle, perfect for dropping the kids off to school or a quick trip into town. Environmentally friendly running on natural gas they're a snip to park in the smallest of spaces, much more practical than a motorcycle and a lot less effort than a bicycle. Bidding is expected to be in excess of £5000 for these must have motors.

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How to sell your Christmas presents on eBay

Seven out of ten people would be hurt to see gifts they gave up for sale on eBay. So what are you going to do now with that hideous but oh-so-thoughtful item that even now is lurking under your Christmas tree? Follow our handy guide to gift reselling and you won't go wrong.

Have a secret ID

Never, never, NEVER let your family, friends or work colleagues find out your eBay ID. You don't want your boss to know about your penchant for Dilbert. You don't want your trendy friends to know about your Bridget Jones pants. And there might be a million things you don't want your mother to know about! If by some act of carelessness on your part, your eBay ID has become known, then register a new one; you can have as many as you like, all they need is different email addresses. Believe us, this will save you grief in the long-run.

Don't let your own home be visible in the photos

You will not be able to deny it's Auntie Doris's plaid pantaloons you're selling if your living room can be seen in the background of your photograph. Photograph larger items against a plain, neutral-coloured wall. For smaller items, a light tent makes your photographs so much better, or use a plain sheet.

Have a tidy out

Bored with mince pies, sherry and TV holiday specials already? Us too. Have a tidy out. That Des O'Connor CD won't show up nearly so badly if it's part of a job lot of discs you no longer listen to.

Leave it til Easter

Let's face it, by Easter, everyone's forgotten about Christmas. Give it a few months, and no one's going to spot your ingratitude, you undeserving traitor :-D

But if you really think eBay's a no-no...

Give it back to them next year

"I loved mine so much, I got you one just like it! Merry Christmas!"


Final Cheap Listing Day of 2006

eBay have released the details of the final Cheap Listing Day of the year. On Friday 29th December all Auction and BUY IT NOW listings (with a few exceptions) will qualify for 10p insertion fee. Listing upgrades will be charged at the normal rate.

Once again the UK has a decent lead time for the promotional listing rates. Admittedly Christmas is in the middle but there's technically four working days and a weekend's notice. This is a far longer lead time than the other sites give!


Thursday, 21 December 2006

Preapproved bidders feature removed in UK

We blogged a fortnight ago about the new message on the US buyer management page, notifying that from January, the preapproved bidder feature will be unavailable. The UK bidder management page now has the same message. There has still not been an official announcement of this change on either site; if I could have one wish for 2007, it might be that eBay would learn to communicate site changes more effectively.

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I'll be your bidder

Warren Hill's second go at selling his Velvet Underground acetate hasn't quite produced the spectacular $155k the fake bidder bid last week. Hopefully keeping this auction heavily restricted will at last produce a sale of this amazing piece of musical history, even if the $25,200 finishing price now looks like a restrained bargain!


Bad gift ideas

Two giant eyeballs donated by rock band Pink Floyd: these have already been sold, raising £16,500 for homeless charity Crisis.

Paris Hilton's knickers (allegedly): a bargain at US$2500.

Or maybe Ricky Martin's laptop is more to your taste?


eBay sellers "are confident and optimistic"

MarketBlast's Seller Confidence and Satisfaction Report for December 2006 looks at how eBay sellers feel about their businesses and their partnership with eBay. Though the sampling was tiny - just 316 sellers - the results are surprisingly positive. Some highlights:
  • full-time sellers are both happier and more confident than part-timers
  • the more core items you list, the more you sell
  • competing on price is probably not the best strategy
  • half of sellers characterise their business as growing
  • half of sellers are satisfied with their profitability (no indication as to whether this is the same half as those whose businesses are growing)
Apparently MB will be repeating the survey twice annually, so we look forward to seeing how things have changed in six months.


Jack Ma: "We did not beat eBay in the USA ... yet."

The Guardian considers the long line of western failures to crack the Chinese market. Jack Ma, whose bought Yahoo's Chinese operation last year, blames corporate culture for the failure: "Professional managers are making their bosses in the US happy, not the Chinese users."

Demanding instant success in China is pointless: "A lot of people assume that because of money, technology and branding, it will be a success. But the market can't be bought. You have to build little by little to get into the market - it's about people, and you need patience."

123 million Chinese people are online, the largest number in any country outside America, but just 10% of the population: it's obvious why western firms would want to cash in on such an enormous potential market. Ma's words ought to be a timely reminder that global trade can run in both directions.


Whitman "very committed to Paypal in China"

Meg Whitman has remained tight-lipped about the future of Paypal in China after Tuesday's revelations about the future of the auction platform. Refusing to comment on the rumoured tie-up with UMPay, an online payments vehicle owned by China Mobile and bank card provider China Unionpay, Whitman did acknowledge that coming legislation may make partnership unavoidable:

"We will see what the right thing to do is here in the People's Republic of China, I am aware of some of the pending government regulation around the need to find a local partner for a financial-services product," Whitman said.

"But we continue to invest in PayPal and the cross-border trade is very strong and the local trade is very strong, so we will see what happens over the next weeks and months, but we are very committed to PayPal in China."

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Cobb phish

As a special holiday gift for my friend Fruity, I'd like to share the lastest phishing email (fifteen copies received this morning). I have been known to say that the sheer volume of eBay phishes are just an indication of eBay's success, but I'm really not sure what to make of this one:

Bill Cobb, 1c listing week

Click the piccie to read the full, nauseatingly patronising but somehow familiar text.

Poor Bill: I bet he's really looking forward to the next Town Hall now.

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If we pay you enough will you sign up?

Marketworks announced that in conjunction with Google they have released twelve new standard templates for ecommerce websites. Customers can select from 12 new professionally designed storefront templates to instantly transform the look of their Google Checkout enabled storefronts. Previously, customers only had two choices for their storefronts; use a simplistic template that was obviously pre-designed or contract a designer to develop a professionally designed site. The new templates are highly customisable to match the owners own brand.

Nothing particularly surprising there, but what is amusing is to see that Marketworks are practically sucking up to Google

After Google recently approached Marketworks regarding developing a solution allowing it to extend Google Checkout to its customer base, Marketworks jumped on the opportunity. Marketworks immediately began developing a strategy for building and launching professionally-designed storefront templates that were pre-enabled with Google Checkout.

So does this mean they'd never have thought of customisable templates that were Checkout enabled if Google hadn't contacted them? Well so much for Marketworks, a more interesting read today is "Google Checkout's No PayPal Killer" which slates Checkout declaring "How unsurprising: Bribe people heavily, and they'll use your service." That pretty much sums it up, and Marketworks have fallen for it too

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Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Do not buy X-Factor Leona Lewis tickets on eBay!

The Sun reports today that people are buying tickets for the X-Factor Live tour on eBay paying up to a couple of hundred pounds a time! Truly amazing seeing as you can buy X-Factor Live tickets for just £25.00 for almost every show in the tour from the official website.

The X-Factor tour will include performances by the final eight acts including the winner Leona Lewis, the runner up Ray Quinn along with Eton Road, Robert, Ashley, The McDonald Brothers, Ben and Nikitta.


eBay - The most energetic brand of 2006

For the second year in a row eBay is top dog of the RKCR/Y&R brand energy survey beating Google in 6th place and Microsoft in 10th.

Experts claim a company with a strong brand is more likely to command greater market share, higher sale prices or more customer loyalty than would be justified by a bald comparison between its products and those of rivals.

Media companies, specifically broadcasters won five out of the top ten places and the FT uses this to justify Virgin and BSkyB's decision to enter the convergence market (television, internet, telephony and Voice over IP). Virgin and BSkyB are winning market share over more traditional telco's.

It just remains to say that whilst confirming eBay's position as a dynamic engaging brand RKCR/Y&R have one of the most annoying websites I've ever seen, it's a study in "Overuse of Flash is bad" all in itself!


DVD pirates must repay £25,000

A couple who made more than £25,000 selling pirate Disney DVDs on eBay and Amazon have been ordered to repay the money. Good news so far.

However, the couple's lawyer said they had now set up a business selling clothes on eBay. Why on earth have these people been allowed to continue trading? Sometimes eBay really do themselves no favours whatsoever.

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Parcelforce end eBay offer early

It was announced this morning that Parcelforce's discount offer to eBay sellers would be ended early, "due to unprecedented demand". If you still want a discounted delivery, plenty of sellers are still offering them.

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Gautam Thakar to report to Lorrie Norrington in another eBay management move

From January 1st 2007, Gautam Thakar (Country Manager, eBay India Marketplace) will become Senior Director of International Marketing at eBay. This will include cohesive marketing strategies across all international eBay sites, and driving traffic between sites. As one of the original Indian management team, he served as Marketing Director building the eBay brand and as Country Manager eBay India Marketplace with responsibility for the consumer-to-consumer business both within India and for international sales. Thaker will report to Lorrie Norrington, who as President of eBay International oversees strategic planning, development, and operations for eBay.

This leaves India's other country manager, Rajan Mehra who was formerly responsible for New Ventures & Payments in control of the entire eBay India business. The former country manager of eBay India, Avnish Bajaj, was promoted to Chairman, eBay India when Thaker and Mehra became joint Country Managers with split responsibilities. Bajaj remains as Chairman and is responsible for overall strategy in India, he was the founder of, which was acquired and became eBay India.


China : confirmed!

eBay's Chinese site carries the long-awaited announcement about their partnership with Tom Group:

Respected user:

Since June, 2003 the eBay note capital easy interest, the eBay easy interest always has been the China leading electronic commerce website, provides for the domestic buyer and a seller domestic trade and the foreign trade platform. In the past several years, your service development regarding us were count for much. Along with the Chinese market in the electronic commerce potential unceasing growth, eBay unceasingly is seeking the new opportunity to impel the on-line transaction to tread a new stair.

Today, we very happily to everybody announced eBay and Tom on-line already reached the agreement, establishes a joint venture, marches into the new growth stage for the Chinese fast growth electronic commerce and the motion commerce to lay the foundation.

Through the conformity both sides superiority, eBay Yi Qu and TOM on-line will collaborate in 2007 to make specially the brand-new transaction platform which will have custom-made for the Chinese market. The new transaction platform will take to the domestic buyer and seller are more on-line and the motion opportunity. In after the new transaction platform the line, you are invited to shift to the new platform. Before this, you certainly cannot come under the influence in the eBay Yi Qu transaction.

The new platform will manage by the local team, provides the better user experience, will let individual user and the small business users can gather in this platform carries on the transaction.

EBay will continue in China to carry on the service to expand, between promotion domestic seller and global buyer transaction. From now on we also will be able to have part of staffs to continue in China to support the transnational trade development.

We understood this future the transaction will have the certain influence to you, we will be making a brand-new on-line transaction platform, the future several months we can inform everybody newest progress as necessary. Will thank everybody the transaction and the hope continues from now on in ours platform in ours platform the transaction.

(Translation by Babelfish, but you get the idea!)

Interesting to see the emphasis being put in "you'll still be able to trade internationally, in fact it'll get even easier". Sellers in the rest of the world, whose fees have paid for eBay's Chinese antics and now appear to have paid Tom Group for their involvement in the new venture, might not feel so reassured.


Overwrought, over-stretched, over there

Tuesday, 19 December 2006

Skype virus spreads from Korea

The first Skype worm is on the loose according to an Internet security firm - Websense. As with most worms you're perfectly safe if you follow basic Internet security rules i.e. don't accept or open unknown attachments! Websense indicates the worm has the following actions:

* users receive messages via Skype Chat to download and run a file
* the filename is called sp.exe
* assuming the file is run it appears to drop and run a password stealing Trojan Horse
* the file also appears to run another set of code that uses Skype to propagate the original file
* the file is packed and has anti-debugging routines (NTKrnl Secure Suite packer)
* the file connects to a remote server for additional code
* the original site has been black holed and is not serving the code anymore
* the number of victims is still TBD
* the original infections appear to be in APAC region (Korea in particular)

Individuals should pay particular attention to their security but fortunately companies installing and using Skype have an advantage. The Business Version of Skype enables network administrators to disable file transfer to remove temptation from employees clicky fingers.

Finally the best advice as ever (once again) is never accept or open files if you don't know where they came from and what they contain! A great website with advice on staying safe online is Get Safe Online which eBay sponsor


More eBay categories with Skype buttons

Snow for Christmas in Dudley - Guaranteed!

A charity Auction-style listing on has netted £1,550 for ChildLine, a service for the NSPCC, as a buyer in Dudley has bought the promise of a personal White Christmas.

The sale, which promises the winning bidder 10 tonnes of snow delivered on Christmas eve, was organised by SNO!zone, the UK’s premier indoor REAL snow slopes.

The company will deliver the snow to be spread across the winning bidder’s garden to guarantee a winter wonderland for Christmas day – even down to a snowman in the winning bidder’s garden.

Richard Kanareck, eBay spokesperson added: “We all dream of a White Christmas. We are delighted that for someone, eBay and ChildLine have made that dream come true.”

ChildLine President and founder Esther Rantzen CBE, said: “This white Christmas will bring a lot of happiness to children and we are very grateful to the bidder for their generosity and hope that they enjoy their winter wonderland.”

The proceeds will help ChildLine reach its 20th birthday goal of £20m to help answer calls from at least another 1,000 children every day. The helpline has approximately 1,400 volunteer counsellors but there is still a huge demand for the service. Around 4,500 children across the UK call for help each day, but 2,000 are unable to get through to get the help they so desperately need and this can mean they continue to suffer untold pain.


Monday, 18 December 2006

Have you a first class postie?

So because it's Christmas, let's have something positive to say about Royal Mail for once. Their First Class People Awards are for posties "who are charity fundraisers in their spare time, or have performed a public-spirited act or dealt with an emergency while doing their deliveries." You can make nominations online, by telephone or even by mail, and entries must be received by 8th January.


"The worst deal ever in Chinese history"?

The source of recent rumours about eBay's activities in China has been quoted as "an insider". Now the email sent by that insider, allegedly an eBay Eachnet employee, has apparently been published.

EBay now abandons China and us, the loyal workers.
I am one of the many disgruntled Eachnet employee. I have suffered through the incompetence of Ebay leaders for many years. I admit I am greedy. I stay for money. But Ebay has screwed up our Company and in China.

Meg Whitman is Ebay Mao Zedong. No one dare tell her the truth. ... This deal will just put her down in history as China's worst businesswoman ever.

Copies of press releases alleged to be for release this week follow, giving details of a 49:51 deal with Tom Group to develop the Chinese auction site, and of Paypal's 33% stake in a new payments venture with UMPay, a leader in mobile payments in China.

Even The Wall Street Journal is now reporting this story; here's a more accessible and upbeat version from AP; it's going to be an interesting week, one way or another.


1200% of almost nothing is still almost nothing

"Sales via Google Checkout are up 1200% in Q4. WOW." exclaims Scott Wingo on his blog. "They admittedly started with a small base, but it's very interesting to see the growth presented this way. One has to wonder how long eBay's argument for not allowing Google Checkout will hold water that it is an "unproven system". Maybe when they overtake the Paypal transaction volume?" The big question is whether that's likely to happen, and if it does is Checkout desirable on eBay in the first place?

Many sellers already will do almost anything to persuade buyers not to pay with PayPal - reverse surcharging (discounting for all payment methods other than PayPal) was popularised when eBay outlawed surcharging for PayPal. Nochex, Cheques, Bank Transfer, Postal Orders, Merchant Account they cry, and yet overwhelming buyers vote with their feet and continue to use PayPal whenever the opportunity arises. Sure that's partly because it's a couple of clicks for an integrated solution but isn't that exactly what Google are promising? Sellers need to realise that if they start splitting payments between PayPal and Nochex, Checkout et al they're the ones that will lose. Sellers get discounts on PayPal for transactional volume and dropping down a level because you divert funds through another payment system could be cutting off your nose to spite your face.

So what is Checkout at the end of the day? It's certainly not a direct competitor to PayPal, it's more akin to an e-wallet

The electronic equivalent of a wallet for e-commerce transactions. Also called an "e-wallet," it holds credit card data and passwords for logging into Web sites. The wallet data may reside in the user's machine or on the servers of the wallet service. When stored in the client machine, the wallet may use a digital certificate that identifies the authorized card holder. Microsoft's Passport, Yahoo! Wallet and Gator's eWallet are examples of digital wallets."

If Microsoft et al failed with the digital wallet (or does anyone out there actually use it?) what makes you think Google Checkout is likely to succeed? In comparison PayPal is entrenched for eBay users and even if Checkout was allowed on the site take up by buyers is likely to be slow (consider usage of Nochex). Meanwhile PayPal continue to win merchant accounts - in the last year everything from Monster in the US and DHL, Loot, Napster, Sony, Betfair and Ladbrokes in the UK have become PayPal enabled.

Checkout is great for Google.... it helps lock adword users into the brand (or it would do if they weren't giving Checkout away for the next year anyway), but what counts is what buyers want. On eBay they have voted almost unilaterally for PayPal eschewing alternatives like Nochex. For other sites will buyers be tempted to sign up for Checkout or will they just go ahead and enter their credit card direct into the sellers online merchant account?

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Treasure still found on eBay

The British Museum has complained that antiquities are still being sold on eBay, despite a warning given to sellers that they could be acting illegally.

A month after we blogged the original story, a BM spokesperson said "The number of potential treasure finds for sale on eBay has not noticeably decreased since we began the monitoring process." Many sellers, whether truthfully or not, have claimed that they are selling items they have bought in good faith themselves. The law as it stands requires the discoverer of potential Treasure objects to report them, but doesn't confer a similar obligation on subsequent purchasers.

Though eBay has made the selling of antiquities very much more obvious than it has been in the past, they are neither the cause of nor the sole channel for this trade. eBay cannot be expected in these cases to act above or outside the law, by regulating sellers who are not acting illegally. If we as a country wish important artefacts to be saved for national collections and for study, rather than being sold off to private collectors and part of our heritage being lost, there is a clear and urgent need for new legislation.


RM announce price increases

Royal Mail have announced that the price of a first class stamp is to rise by 2p to 34p from next April, and that of a large letter by 4p to 48p. A 100g first class packet will now cost £1.09 and the fee for recorded delivery rises to 70p. Royal Mail state that these price increases mean that pricing reflects the "true cost" of mail delivery more closely.

Full details of the new tariff.


Forbes reports on eBay China and Tom Group

The rumour about eBay China selling Paypal Beibao to the Tom Group has now made it as far as Forbes. Whether that makes it any more likely to be true, of course, remains to be seen.


eBay wins in court, ticket sales allowed on eBay

eBay has won its court case against the Big Day Out in Australia, keeping the right for those holding tickets for the event to sell them on eBay. eBay took action regarding the warning Big Day Out organisers would cancel all tickets that had been resold online for profit. The judge agreed they "did not have reasonable grounds to make the representation that every ticket resold for profit would be cancelled"

Ticket sales are a strange area - there are never enough to go around, and if having purchased a ticket and subsequently you're unable to attend why shouldn't you resell it? If someone else is willing to pay many times what you paid is this really any of the event organisers business? All sellers on eBay are looking to make a profit on their purchases - that's what makes the economy tick.

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Sunday, 17 December 2006

Windows Live Expo no competion to eBay

I received the latest Windows Expo Live newsletter from Microsoft this week. It doesn't make me want to jump up and place listings on their site, in fact it concentrates on what they consider to be "fun", but which in reality is just bizarre!

We thought we'd kick it off with a funny listing by Expo user Scottrefun. We're excited that Expo is growing partly because we get to see more listings like that one, and include our own life observations.

So that's the fun stuff out of the way - what about the serious stuff? Well firstly I'm pleased to see that they have decided to implement PayPal in preference to Google Checkout. Hardly a surprising choice - the owners of MSN were hardly likely to put another search engines payment system in place and that's without all the reported problems with Checkout.

So, what have we been up to? Check these out: a new site design, comments on listings, the ability to send and receive payment with PayPal, featured listings, and over 300,000 new job listings, woah... And those are just the major updates! We also tightened up some little stuff and increased security through greater fraud detection. If you haven't noticed, go ahead and take a look!

It's interesting to note that they're working on fraud detection, security has always been a complaint with Microsoft products and problems in this area are the last thing they need.

All in all not particularly impressive, emphasis is on the community aspects of the site, and they haven't even managed to realise I have a UK registration but send me a US version of the email. Navigating from the US to the UK site isn't immediately obvious although clicking "home" does the trick.

I don't think eBay will be having sleepless nights just yet.


"8000% increase" in phishing

Banking trade body APACS has announced that there were 5,059 phishing incidents in the first six months of 2006. January to June 2005 saw just 312 reported incidents. APACS security chief Philip Whitaker said that the increase was largely down to better detection, but the FSA has said that it is "very concerned" about banking scams.

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'A guiding light' to fraud

The Observer have picked up the story about software to track feedback shilling that we blogged about last week, and post an intriguing clue as to how it might work correctly:

Transactions between accomplices and fraudsters create a pattern that sticks out like 'a guiding light', says one of the researchers. The clue is that members of one group have lots of transactions with members of a second group, but don't have transactions with members of their own group.

Of course, now they've published this information, all the fraudsters need to do is to change the pattern of how their IDs interact and presumably they can still fool the software.

Still, we'll be interested to test this one if it does get a public release.


Mail and the detectives

Royal Mail have been forced to hire an extra 3,000 workers to decipher bad handwriting on an estimated 400 million poorly labelled packages and envelopes. The temporary staff, known as 'address detectives', join 1400 permanent staff employed to decipher handwriting and try to match incorrect addresses with their intended recipients. According to Postwatch, five million Christmas cards are pulped every year because they are undeliverable and do not carry a return address.

An RM spokesman advised that "it is important that people properly address their Christmas cards and use the postcode." We think you'd be better off with a label printer!