eBay revamps Checkout feature

Summary:The online auctioneer is fixing several glitches to its Checkout feature that has some sellers unpleased. But will irate sellers be satisfied?

eBay is fixing several technical glitches with its new Checkout feature but plans to keep the feature for now, despite complaints from some sellers.

Critics say they want a way to keep the Checkout service--which provides buyers with information such as shipping addresses and applicable taxes--off their auctions. eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove said the company was considering the requests: "It's premature on that one. That's one we will continue to review."

eBay launched the Checkout feature last week, saying it was designed to address one of the most common complaints of eBay buyers: What to do after they have won an auction. While it isn't required to close the deal, Checkout appears as a button after an auction closes. Initially, the site prompted buyers that they "should" use Checkout, but eBay has agreed to change the wording to tell buyers that they "may" use Checkout.

eBay is also fixing some early problems with the service, Pursglove said. Checkout was giving out sellers' payment addresses instead of their shipping addresses to buyers and automatically including buyers' phone numbers with the shipping information that is sent to sellers.

But the bigger issue for some people is whether it should be on their auctions at all. Many sellers say they already have systems in place similar to Checkout and the feature duplicates their efforts and results in additional, unnecessary e-mail. Sellers also complained about the privacy problems and that it isn't attached to a shopping cart, meaning there is no way to ring up multiple purchases.

"The only change eBay needs to make to make everybody happy is to make Checkout optional," said Rosalinda Baldwin, editor of The Auction Guild, an e-mail newsletter about the auction industry. "If it's such a great product, such a wonderful help, then buyers and sellers will opt into it."

Longtime eBay seller Michelle Carter, of Louisville, Ky., says she has decreased her listings on eBay by about 90 percent and moved much of her inventory over to Yahoo because of the Checkout situation.

"eBay's trying to fix Checkout, but eBay's not going to fix the one thing that everybody is complaining about: They say it's optional, and it's not," said Michelle Carter, a longtime eBay seller. It has become an emotional issue for Carter.

"They're solving the technical issues, but they're not solving the emotional issues."

Other sellers don't mind. Lorna Jackson, of Lima, Ohio, says she doesn't use Checkout--but she doesn't plan to leave eBay over it.

"I don't know why sellers are so upset about it," said Jackson, who has sold a variety of items on eBay since 1997. "I don't care one way or the other. The only thing it does for me is junk up my listings page."

Topics: Tech Industry

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