I attended the Town Hall with the eBay
representative at Stampshow today, here is my summary from the notes I took
So Daniel went into the den with the lions today. I was expecting demands for blood given many of the comments I have seen in this and other forums, and even moreso after the rep, before the talk began when asked what he collected, admitted that he had only been in charge of the Stamp section for a year and did not collect stamps, yet. But to be honest, the eBay
representative handled himself well, was very open to listening to the issues that those in the audience (and it was a pretty decent crowd, at least for the first half of the town hall). Most of the people in the town hall meeting were people who sold on eBay
, only a few (myself included) would be considered more as buyers than sellers, so much of the discussion revolved around the seller experience on eBay
- before the talk even began one person in the audience said to the eBay
rep "You know that your company is responsible for placing many stamp dealers out of business." Talk about going for the jugular right at the start. eBay
rep pointed out that, while he agreed that many brick and mortar dealers may have lost business due to the rise of eBay
and other online retail sites, it also allowed many dealers access to a worldwide audience that before the rise of the internet revolution they would never have reached. Most in the audience seemed to agree with that statement.
- One of the first complaints about eBay
brought up was the sense that eBay
was "heavy handed" in how it treated sellers, and that there was little recourse for sellers if eBay
noted something negative brought up against the seller by the buyers. eBay
rep said that there is an appeals process and that if the seller can provide documentary proof that they did everything in the transaction correctly, then eBay
should side with the sellers and not the buyers. Not sure how well that sat with the audience, sounded to me a bit like eBay
does assume more that the seller is at fault rather than the buyer, and the burden of proof is weighed heavily towards the seller.
- Another common complaint brought up was that eBay
's various fees and charges were making it very hard to be a successful seller, especially in regards to the current structure of rates for various numbers of listings one has in their stores. eBay
rep said that there are plans to look at the pricing structure for listings on eBay
, apparently this is a common issue among many of the retail divisions.
- A good amount of time was spent talking about the recent decision by the US Supreme Court to require online retail sites such as eBay
to start collecting sales taxes for inter-state transactions. eBay
rep said the company is working with Congress to create a legal structure so that the process is not hugely cumbersome for either eBay
or its sellers, including calling for some sort of minimum threshold of sales before tax would need to be collected.
- The related question of the Australian VAT came up, and questions as to how would that show up in the accounting of American sellers who sell to Australian clients. Fear was that the extra 10% might be shown as income to the seller, which of course might make it liable to taxation in the USA. eBay
rep says they are working on a system to make sure that Australian VAT collected by eBay
is not seen as part of seller's profits.
- APS executive director Scott English was as the town hall and he spoke up about greater cooperation between eBay
and the American Philatelic Society being in the works. eBay
sponsered the computer app developed for Stampshow '18 to remind attendees of the various events happening during the course of the show, and English intimated that more cooperation between eBay
and the APS may be in the works, but no details were mentioned.
- Seller raised interesting question about whether there was anything eBay
could do to reduce the number of "old listings" that are still active after extended periods of time but have not sold for whatever reason (due to set price for example). eBay
rep said that the system does have triggers to send "encouragement" to sellers who have product not moving to "reconsider" the price they are asking, and that listing order is determined by a combination (if I understood correctly) of dealer ranking and how many views an item is drawing over a period of time.
- I asked about the blanket embargo of listing any stamps from Cuba, Iran etc and if there was anything eBay
could do to make it possible for dealers to list material pre-embargo. eBay
rep said that due to the nature of the embargo, they would have to employ people to vet every listing of items from the various embargoed places to ensure that the items were indeed pre-embargo in the USA, and that eBay
did not have the resources to do that kind of vetting to ensure they remained within the law. (Cue me thinking to myself, a billion-dollar company doesn't have the resources to train a few people to vet these items????)
- Question re watermarking of images, would it be possible to create a way to be able to apply a personal watermark to images you upload to ensure those images do not get used by other sellers. eBay
rep says that eBay
is not fond of watermarked images, that especially on mobile apps they tend to affect the resolution of the image for those viewing it, so for technical reasons they discourage watermarks. I was going to raise the issue of how watermarks might be helpful in reducing the number of fraudulent listings by sellers claiming to have items but then not having them and disappearing with money before being found out but I got overtalked by people with questions that took the conversation in other directions.
- last major issue discussed was tracking - would it be possible in the future to have a tiered system so that lower value items would not have to incur a tracking cost, or a buyer be able to choose not to have tracking at their own risk. eBay
rep said perhaps having a minimum threshold before requiring a seller charge a tracking fee for an item might be feasible. Related issue regarding registered mail as an alternative to the tracking, especially for overseas sales to nations that many package delivery companies will not deliver to. eBay
rep said he would have to look into it as he did not know if that was a possible alternative.
Overall it was an interesting town meeting. Was not all sellers "whining" about how eBay
is anti-seller and always taking the side of the buyer in case of a dispute Overall I think it was quite a fruitful exchange and hopefully the eBay
representative will take back some of this feedback he received to help address the concerns raised.