eBay sellers strike planned

The online auction site faces the prospect of its UK customers going on strike this week over recent changes

A group of eBay traders has called a one-day strike for Tuesday 15 August claiming that the auction site has made listings less visible and raised fees for bulk sellers.

Before the start of this month, search results from eBay shops were displayed at the end of all Search and Browse results on eBay. But the online auctioneer has changed its presentation, so shop results are only shown when there are a small number of items listed by other sellers.

This policy was announced in late July and implemented on 2 August. "Although there is a huge spectrum of opinion from sellers of all kinds, and differences across categories, it has become clear to us that the buyer experience has been impaired by the huge number of Shop listings that are made available to them when they Search or Browse. Many buyers have explained to us that they simply cannot find what they want to buy easily and quickly," said eBay at the time.

The auction site also raised some of the fees it charges sellers.

Sellers believe the moves are an attempt to drive them off eBay and onto eBay Express, which was also launched in July and is for people who want to sell goods at a fixed price.

Ebay UK's small-business manager Azita Qadri told ZDNet UK in July that online shop owners would be encouraged to list items on both sites. But many eBay users have protested about the direction the site is taking, in posts on the auction site's online forums.

"I only just opened my shop... and now the fees, and this way they have changed the order of the auctions, is going to wipe out any little profit we make," wrote one user."We will be closing our shops next month and as a result listing less in the normal auctions due to the high fees."

Another user warned that: "For sellers it will cost us more, and for buyers they will end up having to pay more as sellers put fees up to compensate."

Rosie Johnson of the eBay PowerSeller Team responded to these complaints by explaining that: "The reason they [the seller fees] have increased is not to increase eBay's revenue but to encourage members to move from using shop listings to using the normal core listings. This is because around 90 percent of all successful listings are core listings, however around 80 percent of all listings on the site are shop listings. This is a lot of wasted space on the site."

It's not clear how many shops will take part in Tuesday's strike, but a petition set up to protest against eBay UK's changes has attracted support from over 500 people.

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