eBay Fee and Feedback Change is Part of Doing Business: Devil’s Advocate View

There seems to be quite a ruckus in the eBay seller community regarding the recent decision by the company to restructure fees and change policies relating to buyer feedback. An article currently in Associated Content by a seller stated they felt “betrayed and confused” by the changes, and it will cause them to stop selling inexpensive items on eBay. As a fellow seller for the past six years, I believe these concerns are nonsense.

With respect to the fees, the primary changes are as follows:

* The final sales fee charged by the company will increase from 5.75% to 8.75%.

* Gallery fees, which had been $.35, will now be free.

* The listing fees will be reduced by $.05 per listing, no matter what price range applies to the item.


This means that any item which sells for $13 or less is beneficial to the seller. How is this the case? The final listing fee for a $13 item will increase by $.39. With the savings of $.40 from the change in gallery and listing fees, the seller is a penny richer. Therefore, this policy will not cause any seller of inexpensive products to stop listing them, as the above mentioned author indicated.

For higher priced items, sure, the seller is now being charged more. Let’s say the final listing amount is $25. The applicable final sales fee is now $2.19 (as opposed to $1.44 under the old system), or an increase of $.75. The seller is now out $.35, after the gallery and listing fee difference. If you as seller are concerned about this, simply raise the shipping and handling fee charged to the buyer by $.35. Do you think a buyer would complain about being charged $5.00 shipping instead of $4.65?

I know, I know….about 65% of you are saying how unethical this is right now. Well, this is simply the way capitalism works, and the practice employed by any company in the world which ships products. Even printers of Bibles, Korans, and Torahs will do this when shipping. Companies are in the business of making money, not having their profits chipped away to nil. Remember, the fee charged to buyers is Shipping and Handling. The “and Handling” could mean the price of the box, gas to get to the Post Office, a band-aid for a paper cut on the envelope, or a plethora of other items.

Moving along to the changes in feedback, sellers can now only leave positive comments for buyers. The main complaint from sellers is they should be able to leave negative feedback to deadbeat buyers (buyers that win an auction and do not pay). This certainly is a legitimate concern, but eBay states that neutral or negative feedback left by a non-paying bidder will be removed from the seller’s comments.

I have conservatively sold 300 items on eBay in the past six years and have only come across one non-paying bidder. There have also been many occasions in which a bidder with a terrible rating has helped to bid up my items, only to lose out at the end of an auction.

The truth is sellers want the option of giving a dissatisfied buyer retaliatory negative feedback. I have seen this multiple times in buyers’ feedback. For example, I recall one instance in which a buyer left a seller a neutral rating because it took three weeks to receive the package. The seller promptly gave that buyer a negative saying something to the effect of, “THE BIN LADEN OF EBAY. AVOID THIS BUYER”. That is like going to a restaurant, paying the bill, mentioning the food was a little cold and the server was slow – and then having the cook slap you in the face with a fish and the waiter throw you out of the place like Nick threw George Bailey out of his bar in “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Isn’t it the goal of any business to satisfy their customers and earn their trust?


The simple fact is the US is in a recession and eBay is trying to maximize their profits. I cannot begrudge them for that. I am sure that anyone who has ever used eBay will attest they are better off than before it was created. As a seller, I have been able to make money selling old stuff from my house, and as a buyer I have found a vintage 1970 GI Joe helicopter in its original box. I would have had to go to about 80 million garage sales before I found that treasure…and by the time I got there, I’d be dead. Happy bidding….thanks for looking!