Saturday, May 17, 2008

Techie Saturday: Fair play returns for eBay sellers

Laurie Borden wrote to me this week - to tell me about a new website based service for artists (and others) who are still selling on eBay.

eBay recently announced a change in the rules which caused an absolute storm of protests from eBay sellers which was reported in the national press. Sellers were very agitated about the fact they would no longer be allowed to leave negative feedback about bidders who messed about or didn't 'play fair' (see What happens when you annoy eBay sellers).

Fabio #2
coloured pencils on Saunders Waterford

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Well the changes come into effect in May - and Laurie is an ex-powerseller on eBay who is taking a stand on the matter!

She is introducing a new service which is specifically designed to address the problem caused by eBay preventing negative feedback about bidders circulating amongst sellers on eBay. It's called RepXchange, short for Reputation Exchange.
When selling on eBay, you rely on fair trade. For those who choose to make selling on eBay your business & livelihood, you understand the rules of the game. You have customers who bring you merchandise; you then have to research it, write about it, photograph it, price it, post it, answer questions of potential buyers, ship it and then pray that the buyer is happy so that they leave you positive feedback. As an ex-power seller, I can attest that the process is incredibly time consuming and quite a bit of work. As a seller, that’s your end of the bargain. Getting fair feedback has been what equalizes the process and creates fair trade (aka, Karma) and keeps you in the selling game.

.....eBay has decided to remove fair play from the fair trade business. They have decided that the customer isn’t just “always right” but has the power, if they so deem, to hurt the seller without any repercussions. Again, some sellers deserve this treatment, but for the most part, they don’t.

That’s why we created - as a way to bring fairness and transparency back into selling on eBay. With this site, you can (for FREE) share and download custom blocked bidders lists that will help protect you against bad bidders. Email us and let us know what you think. We’re always looking for better ways to improve the service.

Our email is: info(at)repxchange .com
Fair Play Blog - Where is the Karma for good eBay sellers?
On Wednesday they went live and you can now take a test drive at and give them feedback on your experience. There is a very helpful FAQs page plus an associated Fair Trader Auction Edition Blog

I took a good look at the site and it seemed to me to be well designed, consumer oriented and business-like - although obviously only time will tell if this is the case. It also does not appear to be about making money in a direct way so much as benefiting a community of eBay sellers through a process of reciprocity.

We fully confess that the site is not perfect, flashy or slick, however it’s free and we hope that at least in the short term, it’ll do the job. We expect the beta period to uncover both technical and potential legal challenges (although we don’t foresee any) that we’ll have to deal with and we welcome any advice and criticism as long as the dialogue remains focused on improving the lives and profitability of eBay sellers everywhere.

I encourage sellers to sign up and take it for a test drive and tell us what you think!
Fair Play Blog

My initial impression from the overall approach which has been adopted was that they seem to have done their homework and checked out the basics relating to the fine print of membership agreements with eBay and the scope to download and move data from one site to the other.

Legal challenges strike me as being the only thing which I can think of which might scupper what otherwise seems to be a very practical response. When I queried this with Laurie she assured me that they have reviewed eBay agreements in detail and are not proposing that the website itself will download any data from eBay.
The service simply accepts manual entry of blocked bidder IDs that sellers have collected at their own discretion, which is rightfully the property of the sellers. Although eBay allows sellers to maintain a list of blocked bidders, eBay doesn't claim to own this data anywhere in the agreements we have reviewed, nor does it state that this information is non-transferable.
Laurie Borden
Of course, the reality is that eBay sellers have always exchanged information about problem bidders in order to avoid the grief and wasted time and money that they can represent. I've seen it happen in forums and heard about it happening in e-mails. I can imagine this new service could become a popular way of continuing this existing practice.

As well as reading more about the new service on their new linked blog Fair Trade: Auction Edition this also includes Video demos of RepXchange.

All sellers on eBay with better than a 98% feedback rating are eligible to join and use this site for free.

Leave a comment below if you take it for a test drive and want to provide any feedback.

1 comment:

Lindsay said...

This portrait is beautiful. Your use of color makes it shimmer.

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