eBay Australia has made no secret of its desire to encourage new goods over second-hand ones, but this is the strongest evidence yet: from September 22, fees for auctions will be raised to match those charged for Buy It Now options. In other words: eBay doesn't really want to run your stinking auctions no more.
Picture by David Goehring
On September 22, eBay will increase the percentage final value fee charged on auction listings from 5.25% to 7.9% — the same rate it already charges for fixed-price listings. eBay is quite up-front about wanting to switch people to fixed-price formats. In its press release, it proclaims:
The fee changes announced today are aimed at encouraging more professional and business sellers to list their stock in an eBay Store using the fixed price format/.
The sop to Joe and Juanita Average who just want to get unwanted stuff out of their garage — an option where an auction makes much more sense — is this: you'll be allowed to list up to 30 items a month with no insertion fees. That might sound tempting, but since you're now stuck with paying 7.9% of the value no matter what you're selling or how much for, eBay is likely to end up with a bigger chunk of your change most of the time.
Let's suppose you sell a lamp for $20, with a starting price of $0.99. Under the current system, you'll pay an insertion fee of 30 cents and a final value fee of $1.05, for a total of $1.35. Under the new system, you'll pay $1.58. That's not a massive difference, but it is a difference. And if the lamp happened to sell for $40, you'll be up for $3.16 rather than $2.40. Over a garage of items, those differences will add up.
The maximum final value fee is 'capped' at $49.95 for the first 30 transactions, but that doesn't help most people; a final value fee of $49.95 equates to selling an item at $632. When was the last time a non-professional seller flogged more than 30 items worth that much?
eBay is currently saying the changes are a trial, which it will make permanent from the end of the year if they're successful. So it might be time to protest.
eBay-bashing is often a professional sport, and I'm all for recognising useful initiatives, such as the recent deal with Australia Post. But this feels a little like unfair exploitation of power to me.
Realistically, if you want to sell off your household junk, eBay gets the biggest audience; most of the other alternatives have much less traffic. And now eBay has jacked up the cost for most casual sellers. Doesn't sound particularly fair or consumer-friendly to me. What are your thoughts?
Lifehacker's weekly Loaded column looks at better ways to manage (and stop worrying about) your money.