Jeff Sexton

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Memo to eBay, Part V

Postage Due

Something I thought was very clever about eBay when it appeared was the self-policing nature of the site. Such schemes are common around the web today, but eBay's was one of the first I'd seen with such features. The search and, particularly, the rating system go a long way toward providing a buyer with the confidence to use eBay. This was especially important in the early days. Lately, some annoying trends have appeared that the system does not provide a good, clear way to discourage. One of these is price gouging on postage. For example, I recently received the following from a friend and fellow long-time eBay user:

"I was looking for a PCI USBII card for a pc at work. They are pretty cheap - like a few bucks. But some places were charging upwards of $20 to ship
them. There were like 1341 listed when I looked so I had to wade through a few pages of listings before I found one for a reasonable *shipping* price."

This problem is exacerbated by sellers that do not fill in the shipping costs fields in eBay's listing framework. Dealing with this problem would be simple and quick without eBay having to use any heavy-handed requirements, by once again returning to the buyer community. It is possible to include the listing postage in your search results. This helps, but it is not the default. It should be. In addition to the ability to exclude specific sellers, eBay should make a maximum shipping cost an advanced search option.

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