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eBay Exposed

Updated on October 11, 2008

The Birth of eBay

The online auction Web site, eBay, was founded in San Jose, California, on September 3, 1995, by Pierre Omidyar, a French-born computer programmer of Iranian descent. eBay was originally known as AuctionWeb.

The very first item sold on eBay was a broken laser pointer for $14.83. Unable to believe his eyes, Omidyar contacted the winning bidder to ask if he understood that the laser pointer was broken. The buyer responded via email, "I'm a collector of broken laser pointers."

And so was born the trading post for weird and wonderful items of every kind. In recent years, water that was said to have been left in a cup Elvis Presley once drank from was sold on eBay for $455. The few tablespoons came from a plastic cup Presley sipped at a concert in North Carolina in 1977. A Coventry University student got £1.20 on eBay for a single cornflake. A group of four men from Australia auctioned themselves on eBay to spend the weekend with the promise of "beers, snacks, good conversation and a hell of a lot of laughs" for AU$1,300.

The company now known as eBay officially changed the name of its service from AuctionWeb to eBay in September 1997. Originally, the site belonged to Echo Bay Technology Group, Omidyar's consulting firm. Omidyar had tried to register the domain name ,but found it already taken by the Echo Bay Mines, a gold mining company. His second choice was, sufficiently neutral to make the transition from consulting to auction platform reasonably seamless.

The eBay logo at a conference in Asia. Photo by LiewCF.
The eBay logo at a conference in Asia. Photo by LiewCF.

The eBay Song

Top eBay Categories for 2008

Based on eBay's Q1-08 gross merchandise volume report, the following categories delivered $1 billion or more in worldwide annualized gross merchandise volume for eBay:

eBay Motors at $18.0 billion

Consumer Electronics at $5.8 billion

Computers at $4.2 billion

Clothing & Accessories at $5.3 billion

Home & Garden at $4.2 billion

Collectibles at $2.8 billion

Books/Music/Movies at $3.5 billion

Sports at $2.9 billion

Business & Industrial at $2.6 billion

Toys at $2.4 billion

Jewelry & Watches at $2.3 billion

Cameras & Photo at $1.7 billion

Antiques & Art at $1.5 billion

Coins & Stamps at $1.4 billion

Tickets & Travel at $1.5 billion

Photos are very important in eBay listings - make sure you take photos to show off your listed items in the best possible light.
Photos are very important in eBay listings - make sure you take photos to show off your listed items in the best possible light.

eBay Grows and Grows

eBay grew by leaps and bounds. Ten years after its inception, in a survey conducted by AC Neilson on behalf of eBay, more than 724,000 Americans reported that eBay is their primary or secondary source of income. Another 1.5 million individuals said they supplemented their income by selling on eBay.

eBay went public on September 21, 1998, and both Omidyar and his first employee, Jeffrey Skoll, became instant billionaires. eBay purchased PayPal on October 14, 2002, and also owns Skype, StubHub,,, and various other businesses. eBay also has minority interests in a number of businesses, such as eBay's 28.4% ownership of Craigslist - this percentage is currently the subject of a dispute, after Craigslist's board of directors ratified an arrangement which would unilaterally dilute eBay's holding by 10%.

Today, PayPal has 149 million registered users and is accepted by millions of merchants worldwide - on and off eBay. PayPal's Q1 2008 global total payment volume of $14.4 billion accounted for nearly 9 percent of worldwide eCommerce.

Given the strength of PayPal's competitive position, is it really necessary for eBay to prop it up by requiring eBay sellers to offer PayPal as an option, and by attempting to make PayPal the only acceptable form of payment in Australia and the UK?

The history of eBay is littered with controversy and similarly dubious business practices. For example, the story that eBay was founded to help Omidyar's fiancée trade PEZ Candy dispensers was fabricated by a public relations manager in 1997 to interest the media. (This particular wrinkle was revealed in Adam Cohen's 2002 book "The Perfect Store: Inside eBay" and later confirmed by eBay.)

On July 28, 2003, eBay and its subsidiary PayPal agreed to pay a $10 million fine to settle allegations that they aided illegal offshore and online gambling. These offenses occurred prior to eBay's purchase of PayPal.

An investigation by The Sunday Times in January 2007 uncovered substantial evidence of shill bidding on eBay. In late 2006, eBay effected a policy change which resulting in eBay showing less information about eBay bidders once auctions reached a certain value. This policy has been criticized for making shill bidding much harder to detect on eBay, to the potential disadvantage of eBay buyers and significant advantage to unethical eBay sellers, who may artificially inflate the price of an auction by bidding on their own eBay listings.

Not all the shady practices are eBay's own - eBay buyers and eBay sellers have had their share of publicity for bad behaviour.

In May 2000, eBay seller Kenneth Walton auctioned an oil painting on eBay for $135,805, due to speculation that it might be the work of California modernist Richard Diebenkorn. Walton pretended to know nothing about art and claimed to be surprised by the price the painting fetched, and the auction attracted international media attention.

In several investigative reports by The New York Times, it was revealed that Walton was in fact an experienced eBay art dealer with several unhappy customers, and that he had colluded with two other eBay sellers to bid up each other's auctions. The Times described this as a "shill bidding ring". Walton and his cohorts were banned from eBay and subsequently pleaded guilty to fraud after a threat by the federal government of the first ever prosecution for shill bidding on eBay.

eBay Statistics for March 31, 2008

There were 647 million new listings added to worldwide in Q1-08.

In Q1-08, eBay's gross merchandise volume (GMV), the total value of all successfully closed items on eBay Inc.'s trading platforms, was $16.0 billion.

This means that users worldwide trade $2,040 worth of goods on the site every second.

At any given time, there are approximately 115.3 million eBay listings worldwide, and approximately 6.9 million eBay listings are added per day.

Fraud on eBay

Frauds that can be committed by eBay sellers include:

* receiving payment and not shipping merchandise;

* shipping items other than those described;

* giving a deliberately misleading description in the eBay listing;

* knowingly and deliberately shipping faulty merchandise;

* selling counterfeit or bootleg merchandise on eBay;

* knowingly selling stolen goods on eBay;

* inflating total bid amounts by bidding on their own eBay auction with "shill" account(s);

* misrepresenting the cost of shipping; and

* shipping at a slower service than that paid for.

Frauds that can be committed by eBay buyers include:

* PayPal fraud, namely filing false shipping damage claim with the shipping company and with PayPal;

* credit card fraud, in the form of both stolen credit cards and fraudulent chargebacks;

* receiving merchandise and claiming otherwise;

* returning items other than received; and

* the buyer sending a forged payment-service e-mail that states that the buyer has made a payment to the seller's account (an unsuspecting seller may ship the item before realizing that the e-mail was forged).

eBay At A Glance, April 21, 2008

Market capitalisation $39.23 billion.

Revenue 8.1 billion.

Profit margin 5.32%.

EBITDA $2.71 billion.

Quarterly earnings growth (year on year) 21.9%.

Remember how important those photos are in your eBay listings? Shoot your item against a plain background.
Remember how important those photos are in your eBay listings? Shoot your item against a plain background.

You Know You Are A Cultural Icon When ...

...churches assume passers-by know your brand and what your business does!
...churches assume passers-by know your brand and what your business does!

The Growth of eBay

In the first six months of 2005, eBay members in the U.S. sold merchandise worth approximately $10.6 billion. In 2007, eBay members sold merchandise worth nearly $60 billion - a tripling of volumes in just two years. The domain attracted at least 902 million visitors annually by 2008 according to a study. eBay has worked to improve the experience for the eBAy user, introducing features such as My eBay pages, groups and eBay blogs.

With a presence in 39 markets, including the U.S., and approximately 84 million active users worldwide, eBay has shaped the face of Internet commerce. In 2007, the total value of sold items on eBay's trading platforms was nearly $60 billion. This means that eBay users worldwide trade more than $1,900 worth of goods on the site every second.

Difficult economic times are no threat to eBay. According to a survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of eBay in 2008, Americans are cutting back on spending in general, but 42 percent of U.S. adults are currently turning to sites like eBay to save money on purchases, ensuring that eBay's income from fees on transactions will continue to be strong.

The eBay survey by Harris Interactive also found that one in 10 U.S. adults (11 percent) is currently selling personal or household items to generate extra cash, with the majority (59 percent) doing so via online sales or auction sites like eBay. Additionally, 30 percent of all adults say they are likely to sell their personal or household items over the next three months to earn extra cash.

Marsha Collier, eBay selling expert and author of the book "eBay for Dummies", said in a recent press release that "a recent eBay/Nielsen survey discovered that the average U.S. household has 52 unused items around the house originally worth $3,100, meaning almost everyone can find existing unused items they can sell to generate additional income. When the going gets tough, the tough sell on eBay!"

Panic selling of gas-guzzling vehicles also pays into eBay's hands, via the wholly-owned subsidiary site, eBay Motors announced recently that its three millionth passenger vehicle had sold in the U.S. Sales volumes are forecast to rise.

On January 29, 2008, a series of new policy changes were announced including an increase in the final value fee and a decrease in the listing fee (when averaged out, the fees actually cost sellers more). This policy was designed to curb the practice some eBay sellers had adopted of listing items worth thousands at a starting price of $0.99, thus paying the minimum listing fee.

Among the more controversial moves in 2008 was the announcement that sellers would soon only be able to leave positive feedback for buyers, and would no longer have the ability to provide negative or neutral ratings regardless of the experience.

The January 2008 policies also give greater benefits to higher volume sellers. eBay now explicitly gives higher volume "Powersellers" a 5% to 15% discount on the final value fees. These sellers can also receive better terms on shipping costs and preferential positioning in search results.

The eBay Home Page

2007 Top 10 eBay selling markets

Here is a snapshot of the top-10 eBay selling markets last year by rank:

1. Los Angeles-Long Beach, California - 196,089 eBay sellers in Los Angeles sold 24,051,645 items for a total of $1,396,037,518. Best-selling categories for Los Angeles sellers were cell phones and their accessories as well as clothing and accessories.

2. New York - 158,859 New York City eBay sellers sold 12,621,651 items for a total of $1,045,503,913. Best-selling categories for New York sellers were jewelry, gems, watches and clothing and accessories.

3. Chicago - eBay sellers numbering 172,972 in Chicago sold 10,229,844 items for a total of $908,708,440. Best-selling categories for Chicago sellers included toys and sports memorabilia.

4. Philadelphia - 120,900 Philadelphia eBay sellers, 7,069,212 items, for a total of $584,383,915 - collectibles and toys.

5. Dallas - 85,484 Dallas eBay sellers, 5,003,292 items, a total of $754,493,210. Best-selling categories for Dallas eBay sellers included jewelry, gems and watches, and clothing and accessories. Dallas eBay sellers also made more money on sales of cars and trucks than did eBay sellers in any other top-10 U.S. seller market.

6. Orange County, California - 75,486 Orange County eBay sellers sold 6,945,490 items for a total of $636,654,084. Best-selling categories for Orange County sellers were auto parts and cell phones and accessories. Of course, these eBay sellers could be combined with the L.A. eBay sellers to make the greater L.A. area eBay's super-seller zone, accounting for almost $2 billion in gross mechandise revenue.

7. Washington, D.C. - 112,462 D.C. eBay sellers, 5,024,888 items, $393,720,726 - books and toys.

8. Houston - 76,450 Houston eBay sellers, 4,297,389 items, $528,872,858 - health and beauty, and collectibles.

9. Nassau-Suffolk, New York - 70,714 Nassau-Suffolk eBay sellers, 5,396,880 items, $400,253,200. Sports memorabilia and health and beauty were best-selling categories here.

10. Fort Lauderdale, Florida - 39,623 Fort Lauderdale eBay sellers, 2,838,954 items, $631,845,063 -. home furnishings and auto parts.

The Virgin Mary as a cheese sandwich.
The Virgin Mary as a cheese sandwich.
Hornet jet
Hornet jet
Aircraft carrier.
Aircraft carrier.
Channel tunnel boring machine.
Channel tunnel boring machine.
New Zealand
New Zealand

Just A Few Of The Many Unusual eBay Listings

Bridgeville, California (pop. 25) was the first town to be sold on eBay in 2002, and has been up for sale on eBay 3 times since.

In February 2004, a scrapped F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet was listed on eBay by Mike Landa, of Landa and Associates, with a starting bid of $1,000,000. The auction ended without a sale because nobody could come up with the money.

A seaworthy 16,000-ton aircraft carrier, formerly the British HMS Vengeance, was listed on eBay early in 2004. The auction was removed when eBay determined that the vessel qualified as ordnance, even though all weapons systems had been removed.

In 2004, a partially-eaten, 10-year-old grilled cheese sandwich said to bear the image of the Virgin Mary sold on eBay for $28,000.

One of the tunnel boring machines involved in the construction of the Channel Tunnel was auctioned on eBay in 2004.

A man from Brisbane, Australia, attempted to sell New Zealand on eBay at a starting price of $.01AUD. The price had risen to $3,000 before eBay closed the auction. An Australian newspaper reported in December of 2004 that a single piece of the Kellogg's breakfast cereal Nutri-Grain sold on eBay for AUD$1,035 because it happened to bear a slight resemblance to the character E.T. from the Steven Spielberg movie. Apparently the seller went on to make even more money in relation to the eBay sale for his appearance on a nationally televised current affairs program, money of which eBay was unable to claim a percentage.

In June of 2005, the wife of Tim Shaw, a British radio DJ on Kerrang! 105.2, sold Tim's Lotus Esprit sports car on eBAywith a Buy It Now price of 50 pence after she heard him flirting with model Jodie Marsh on air. The car was sold within 5 minutes, and it was requested that the buyer pick it up the same day.

In May of 2005, a Volkswagen Golf that had previously been registered to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (better known as Pope Benedict XVI) was sold on eBay's German site for €188,938.88 ($277,171.12 USD). The winning bid was made by the online casino, known for their outrageous eBay purchases.

In late November 2005, the original Hollywood Sign was sold on eBay for $450,400.

In January of 2006, a British man named Leigh Knight, sold an unwanted Brussels sprout left over from his Christmas dinner for £1550 on eBay in aid of cancer research.

In May of 2006, a Chinese businessman named Zhang Cheng bought a former Czech Air Force MIG-21 fighter jet on eBay from a seller in the United States, for $24,730.

In January of 2007, another cooked, uneaten Brussel Sprout was sold on eBay, this one for over £15,000 ($29,000). In February of 2007, after Britney Spears shaved all of her hair off in a Los Angeles salon, the hair was listed on eBay for $1million USD before the listing was taken down.

In January of 2008, four golf balls were auctioned on eBay after being surgically removed from a carpet python. The story attracted considerable international attention and the balls eventually sold for around $1,400. The python recovered and was released.

In May of 2008, Paul Osborn of UK puts his wife Sharon for sale in eBay alleging that she had an affair with a coworker. Also in May, the China Daily reported that a German couple were being investigated by authorities after listing their baby boy on eBay with a starting price of 1 euro. Despite the mother's plea that it had been a joke, the baby was taken from the parents and put into care.

Images: Wikipedia, porkchoprules, irina slutsky, ninja06, squeakymarmot, danielbroche, waffler

eBay HQ
eBay HQ
eBay North campus - PayPal HQ.
eBay North campus - PayPal HQ.
The new Monopoly for the 21st Century.
The new Monopoly for the 21st Century.


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Одним из способов сократить видимые морщины являются инъекции гиалуроновой кислоты. К «уколам красоты» многие женщины обычно относятся скептически, вспоминая страшные картинки изуродованных неуёмным использованием ботокса лиц. В действительности, с ботоксом препараты гиалуроновой кислоты роднит только способ доставки в ткани - с помощью шприца.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      К сожалению, в этом исследовании было обращено мало внимания на диаграмму сжатия стали; предел туши был определен при испытаниях нормальных образцов на растяжение и оказался равным 34 Петросянов. Крайне низким оказался предел пропорциональности— 21 Петросянов, что являлось особенностью испытанной стали. По-видимому, эта сталь не имела площадки туши.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      My partner and i employed to receive high on existence but recently I have developed a new weight.

    • magnoliazz profile image


      9 years ago from Wisconsin

      Very well written and informative hub!

      I love Ebay! I never had a bad experience, and I have been shopping there since it started!

      No matter what you want, you can get it for a lot less at Ebay!

    • U Neek profile image

      U Neek 

      9 years ago from Georgia, USA

      I love trading on ebay and very much enjoyed your informative hub.

    • glendoncaba profile image


      9 years ago from Somewhere in the hubverse

      Wow! So much research. And due diligence. Great work.

    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Yes, darkside, developing something and sellng it to a bigger player is often a lucrative move! I remember, too ...

    • darkside profile image


      10 years ago from Australia

      Fantastic information and well presented! I could see this in the Sunday Magazine that comes with the Sunday paper.

      Not sure if you remember or knew of, I used to buy stuff off there. It was started by Mark Coyne. He was the captain of the St George Dragons and played for Queensland and also Australia in the Rugby League. He eventually sold to Ebay. I can't remember exactly when or for how much. But I imagine Coyne wouldn't be short of coin now.

    • LondonGirl profile image


      10 years ago from London

      fantastic hub, great info and pictures! I agree, ebay needs competition.

    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks, Vondoom - I agree - here's hoping the forces of market competition came to bear!

    • Vondoom profile image


      10 years ago from Williamsburg, Ky

      Fantastic Hub, What a great read, I knew about a lot of the other business's that ebay owns, but like many others I was surprised to learn that they own stumble upon. I must agree with all the comments made here. And I too, hope google or amazon will take the lead in building their owe auction sites and hopefully giving ebay some real competition. They truly need some to bring them back into reality when it comes to the sellers.

    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks, Wise_Observer, glad to have you as a reader.

    • profile image


      11 years ago from USA

      You have done an outstanding job! Great research, and readability. It was informative, as well as interesting to read. I look forward to reading more Hubs by you.

    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks, rhemken! It is hard to keep a culture going as a business expands.

    • rhemken profile image


      11 years ago from N California USA

      Truly an informative hub... my second visit. The first was interrupted by a radio call.

      Seems like as things expand they loose their original value along the way. I feel this is happening with ebay.

      Nice job and I envy your writing skills.

    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks, Earthspawn!

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      What a fun read!! Kudo's to you!

    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      You remind me a little of David squaring up at Goliath, Philip - may the final result be a similar upset!

      I have just finished reading that eBay have declined to sign the Australian Code of Conduct for accepting Electronic Funds Transfer payments, which all the banks and financial institutions use to set their policies in term of consumer protection for consumers using the EFT services.

      eBay says that since the Code of Conduct is voluntary, eBay doesn't have to sign up to it.

      Interesting position to take, especially since "consumer protection" was their ostensible reason for wanting to force all sellers to use PayPal only in the first place.

    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      I guess they will aim for a softer target next time, in the hopes of lining up some precedents of having consumer protection authorities roll over and let them do it.

      Perhaps they should start by putting it through in countries where a well-placed bribe is all it takes ...

    • Eric Graudins profile image

      Eric Graudins 

      11 years ago from Australia

      EBay has realised that they are not going to get their "Paypal only" payment system through the ACCC.

      They have just announced that they will continue to accept all current forms of payment in Australia. (Source: "Australian" newspaper)

       Lets see whether they will now bin this idea, or continue with their plans to introduce it in other countries, given that their strategy probably was "If we can get this through in Australia, we should be able to get it through anywhere.

    • 02SmithA profile image


      11 years ago from Ohio

      Talk about packed full of information. Great stuff!

    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      The Monopoly board was on Flickr, Anja - most of the images were. There is a list of Flickr user ids at the bottom of the text in my Hub, or you can search Flickr for Creative Commons licensed images tagged "Monopoly".

    • profile image

      Anja Atkinson 

      11 years ago

      Great's just crazy what people will buy and sell, and pay entertaining. So much of this info about ebay was news to me...very enjoyable read. Where on earth did you find that monopoly board?...just fabulous.


    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Yes, the system is definitely far from perfect, FABFREEBIES. Good luck with it ...

    • FABFREEBIES profile image


      11 years ago from OREGON

      I like your article on ebay. I have been selling on ebay for years. But....the true test of my relience and the word love is fading. Feedback system now is awful. It seem that buyers are letting it go to there head. They can ruin your reputation over 1.00. jeesh

    • AndyBaker profile image


      11 years ago from UK

      Fascinating information - thanks so much for posting.

    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks, RUTHIE17.

      Well, we just got an email from eBay saying they are "postponing" the switch to PayPal-only until the ACCC review is completed. It seems they are starting to get the idea that they may not be allowed to implement it here.

      The Australian government has many flaws, but in the are of strong consumer protection legislation and enforcement, you have to love the Aussies. They side with the little guys a lot of the time.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Just found this Hub--EXCELLENT!!  As usual!  Thumbs up!!

      No matter how you look at it, it just seems a little shady that Ebay and PayPal are one and the same and together have made a no win situation for the seller.  It's the sellers that are keeping them in business but they seem to care more about  their bank account now than anything else.  It's probably not going to make any difference at this point (they're to rich and powerful) just like Microsoft, the utility companies, credit card companies and of course, the gasoline companies. 

      It's all "Take it or leave it. We're the BIG GUYS and you're the little guys. So what are you going to do about it?!"

    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Yes, you know you are a cultural icon when churches put you on their billboards!

    • Cassandra Senior profile image

      Cassandra Senior 

      11 years ago from Illinois

      Very nice and comprehensive. Love the pictures...especially the Jesus sign!

    • esocial profile image


      11 years ago from California

      Excellent eBay info! Awesome facts - and pics - here :)

    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Dang, I blinked and missed it :)

    • ProCW profile image


      11 years ago from South Carolina

      Glad to see that it's back up to 100!

    • ProCW profile image


      11 years ago from South Carolina

      Yup... thumbs up!


    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks Mon and Mark - it does give one pause, especially all the stories about people having their accounts closed and the money in them stolen by PayPal, with little or no explanation and no right of appeal.

    • Mark Bennett profile image

      Mark Bennett 

      11 years ago from Citizen of the Globe

      It's enough to make one consider returning to self-sufficiency and barter, really, all these dodgy dealings.

    • monitor profile image


      11 years ago from The world.

      This is an excellent hub filled with a wealth of information and history on ebay, Inspirepub! I can just imagine how long it took to put this together. It's quite shocking to see all the shady practices that ebay sellers and buyers get up to so this type of hub is very important for making people aware of the potential dangers when dealing on that site. Knowledge is power so I'm sure that anyone who reads this article will thank you for sharing what you know about the darker side of ebay.

      Your fan.


    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Oh, yes, the eBay song is FABULOUS, isn't it?

    • gjcody profile image


      11 years ago

      This is a very comprehensive hub. I enjoyed reading all the information...thank you for the great research ....the song rocks!!! My best to you!

    • Louie Jerome profile image

      Louie Jerome 

      11 years ago from UK

      Excellent hub. Love the Ebay song!

    • profile image

      CR Ranches 

      11 years ago

      A great hub with lots of information. I loved the part where you mention some of the crazy things that have sold on ebay for outrageous amounts. thanks.

    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks, guys - it's a fascinating development, really, the way eBay has come to dominate the online auction market. Worth researching, because the numbers are so mind-bogglingly huge.

    • TheCynosure profile image


      11 years ago from India

      Amazing effort. Cheers !! You have done a lot of research on ebay.

    • terenceyap07 profile image


      11 years ago from Singapore

      You must have done a lot of research on this subject. Well done!!!

    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks Prasad - yes, it seems to be a hot topic, indeed ...

    • prasadjain profile image


      11 years ago from Tumkur

      So much about eBay? My god! And the reactions are equally important to the main article.Grand one!

    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      eBay prohibits "excessive" shipping charges - $50 for a memory card is definitely excessive! Unless it is being hand delivered on a sliver tray by a butler ...

      If someone complains to eBay that a seller is charging excessive shipping they will look into it - or pre-emptively cancel the seller's account.

    • Eric Graudins profile image

      Eric Graudins 

      11 years ago from Australia

      @privateeye2500 - You can't really blame EBay for the shipping charges. These are set by the seller.

      But you're right that some people make their money from shipping fees.

      Would you believe one guy was selling a memory card, and shipping was over $50.

      So it's definitely buyer beware when it comes to shipping. If you think you're getting ripped off - don't bid.

    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks, Privateye - I am not a reporter as such, but I am a writer-for-hire. All offers considered ...

      I agree with you that $26 seems like a lot - we agonise over charging $6.50, LOL.

      Mind you, if you are paying staff to do your packing, wrapping, and taking things to the post office, it is incredible how much it really can cost. We don't think to count the value of our time if we do that part ourselves, but once you are paying someone else to do things, you really do have to, or you end up losing money.

      PR: wait... I: wait... L: wait... LD: wait... I: wait...wait...

    • privateye2500 profile image


      11 years ago from Canada, USA, London

      Awesome - total thumbs up!

      If all your hubs are this good you simply NEED to be a reporter (if you are not one already!!)

      My biggest beef with ebay is the shipping mark-up; it's alright I guess when I bought a cheapo guitar for.99cents and paid 39.99 shipping - I KNEW that was how they were making money selling the instruments.

      BUT, when an item is rightly priced and I paid 26.00 shipping & handling for a batch of toys and when they arrive the actual cost for shipping was under 7 dollars! Well, come on!

      Keep up the great work!

    • MrMarmalade profile image


      11 years ago from Sydney

      Obviously on my negative markings on their questions. Like would I reccommend a friend Not Like, was my reply. Plus Not scoring high on the other questions.

      I will see what they come back with.

      I will let you know.

    • profile image


      11 years ago from Portugal

      Congratulations!!! You've dun a great hub.... there's here all the history of eBay. I've liked a lot.... Kiss

    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Interesting, Mr Marmalade - do you know what they were unhappy about? I'd love to get updates on how they respond.

    • MrMarmalade profile image


      11 years ago from Sydney

      Second comment. I must like your hub.

      Have just finished a questionaire from Ebay. At the end, They appeared a little unhappy with some of my comments. They told me in the survey, they would like to come back to me.

    • compu-smart profile image


      11 years ago from London UK


      Excellent work here Inspirehub and lots of fun information..

      Ebay must be the # one company that is mentioed all the time here in the UK, such as yesterday, on a show where the star blew his nose after placing a 5 inch nail up it and immedietly held it up and said Ebay which made everyone laugh!

    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Well, organised living, you may be right. Although, some companies manage to stay in business while delivering legendary levels of abysmal service and customer abuse. Look at Microsoft, for example.

      We can but wait and see ...

    • organized living profile image

      Adrian Walker 

      11 years ago from Magnolia, AR

      Another excellent hub. This one pretty much sums up the state of play in the online auction giant eBay. The fragmentation of which cannot be far off if it continues it's global campaign to upset it's customer base.

    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks, twohandtouch, glad you liked it.

    • twohandtouch profile image


      11 years ago from Everywhere!

      Like everyone else, wanted to say "great hub"

      I'm especially grateful for the information about how ebay got its name... it's a running joke among my friends that you can name a website just about anything 'cause what does ebay mean anyway?!

      kudos on a job well done.

    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Sorry, John, I'm not sure what you mean by that.

    • profile image

      john schmit 

      11 years ago

      But paypal is valid in India.

    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      That's all well and good, but one of hte appealing aspects of eBay is that it gives sellers who live in Australie access to the US market. Find yourself a drop-shipper who deliver in the US, and 50% of all internet users are your oyster.

      I can only hope that Australians voting with their feet will convince eBay not to roll out these changes globally, but really I think the only answer is for Google or Amazon to launch a seller-friendly auction platform.

      Only genuine competition will force eBay (and PayPal) to improve its customer service and stakeholder relationship management. At this point, the only reason a lot of people still use them is purely the lack of a viable alternative.

    • Eric Graudins profile image

      Eric Graudins 

      11 years ago from Australia

      Looks like things are hotting up on the EBay alternative scene in Australia.

      Jumbuck has purchased online auction site OzTion, after a surge in businesscaused by people leaving EBay in droves.

      Oztion general manager and co-founder Philip Druce recently said the number of new members joining Oztion each day had jumped 165 per cent, and "the number of new seller accounts being opened daily has increased 300 per cent".

      Oztion expects their business to at least double in the next 12 months.

    • lewgard profile image

      Kathleen Lewis 

      11 years ago from Southern Michigan

      Oh my goodness, what a great Hub! You have put a lot of work in here - thank you!. I have purchased on eBay several times and fortunately have not gotten burned...yet.

    • Fotos4web profile image

      Keith Jones 

      11 years ago from Ring of Kerry Ireland

      Great Hub with fascinating information.

      I love the weird section of ebay though and there is always something interesting there !


    • VioletSun profile image


      11 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      This is a very professionally done and informative article on Ebay. You could be selling this to a business publication!

      I value my Paypal account, however, its good for the buyer, not necessarily for the seller. My sister was a power seller for a while, and her Paypal was in good standing for years- so she decided to incorporate Paypal with her website- she came across a nasty customer who reported her to Paypal for non delivery, while the item had been lost in the mail. Long story short- Paypal froze her account and her money, and it affected her auctions in Ebay as well... took over a month for them to resolve the issue. As sis says customer service are not trained to understand or respond with clarity to  the challenges business owners may face, and are as Eric commented, very rude.  

    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Aaah, it's the business consulting background ;)

    • Sally's Trove profile image


      11 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      You are very good at reading ambiguity! :)

    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Very good point, Sally's Trove - the wording is a bit ambiguous, but basically it sounds like eBay wants to be a "closed shop" with no outbound links, even from Guides, Reviews and "About Me" pages.

      Let's all pray that Amazon launches an auction site!

    • Sally's Trove profile image


      11 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Jenny, perhaps you opened up a can of worms with your thoughtful title.

      What does it mean to be exposed? Some people (or companies) go from day to day never knowing that a moment of lack of vigilance will leave them vulnerable. So, someone catches them in a compromising position. Then? Exposure.

      eBay started out as a funky way to trade in the Internet marketplace, encouraging a kind of rebel without a cause mentality, where anything goes. And anything did.

      In recent times, the spirit of that free trade attitude succumbed to corporate strictures and shareholder gains and losses. And although eBay's gone through its scandals, it still makes money. It had a good idea, and it is still the premier auction market for online trading. However, it is now clamping down on the *free* trade principle, in subjugation to its shareholders, and perhaps as a result of its inflated image of itself, by restricting both buyers and sellers from engaging in the Internet community through the freedom of being able to share information and direction, meaning the freedom to link where ever you want from your position on eBay.

      Not to belabor my comment...for those of you who are engaged with eBay, either as sellers or buyers, take a look at the May 19 announcement regarding policy changes about what sites you may or may not link to through your forum posts, *about me* pages, reviews and guides, and listings.

      If you want to follow this issue, you can link to this forum (because it's OK to link from here to eBay, but maybe not the other way around...):

      As for *eBay Exposed*, eBay's latest major exposure could be coming from its current and former sellers and buyers, not necessarily from a government watchdog agency, class action suit, or negative press. Sometimes you just have to have an intimate relationship (like being in bed, or trading money) with someone, believe the lies and deceits, and then, if you are lucky, come to an understanding of their questionable motives. Then you can expose them.

      Feeling creepy and crawly now, worms all over.

    • Mike Goodchild profile image

      Mike Goodchild 

      11 years ago from Dartford

      Brilliant hub - Backed up with some good facts - I have sold on Ebay in the UK for years and think that you have to be very careful not to infringe thier long list of Rules and Regs otherwise they can and will delete your account and all of your hard earned posetive feedback - Be warned.

    • MrMarmalade profile image


      11 years ago from Sydney

      I have one neutral report for an Item that had several photos, good description and money back return and i paid extra money (Not charged0 to get it to another State two days before Xmas. The item was labeled miniature. In may 2008 Ebay took 1% off my 100% for a neutral comment.

      Telstra is bring the Trading Post to be a force. Of course no international reaction to the Trading post. i have to agree with Eric.

      I think you have created a great Hub. I must admit I enjoyed Ebay now disturbed. Have belonged to Paypal since I started, they are at least quick. Charge like wounded bulls ;

      Great hub thank you.

    • kumar_27 profile image


      11 years ago

      Thank you for joining my site......I hope we can share ideas.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Congrats on creating this Hub -- very nice work. EBay has made a series of moves or stumbles (which one depends on your point of view) that has sellers up in arms. All this controversy will (ultimately) be good for its biz. The only thing I don't like is making PayPal the sole payment choice. My advice - if you're a seller - don't jump ship! Problems create opportunities and there are far more opportunities on eBay now.

    • Rob Jundt profile image

      Rob Jundt 

      11 years ago from Midwest USA

      All the other comments here are true. This is one great hub. Nice, nice, nice work.

    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks to Lucyxford, who Stumbled this Hub:

    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Wow, this has certainly tuched a nerve or two!

      Good advice, funnebone - always have a paper trail.

      @Eric *blush* why, thank you ...

      And yes to all who mentioned them, I loved some of the images - people are wonderful, aren't they? What were they thinking ... ?

      @funnebone - maybe I should create one, then ;) We are currently selling household junk on eBay anyway. Hmm - maybe I should have put my own seller ID in the eBay capsule, LOL.

    • funnebone profile image


      11 years ago from Philadelphia Pa

      If they sold an Inspirepub neck charm on Ebay I would buy one cause you rock gf

    • The How To Hub profile image

      The How To Hub 

      11 years ago from Australia

      Great hub! Who ever would have thought that learning about the history of EBAY would be interesting....thanks Inspirepub for making this such a good read.

      Love the images : )

    • funnebone profile image


      11 years ago from Philadelphia Pa

      A very good Hub. Sally made a great point about how Ebay treats sellers. I was selling on Ebay but got tired of being taken advantage of by both Ebay and Paypal. Some points to note:

      Ebay owns paypal but they deny any working relationship when you have a problem with one or the other UNTIL one suspends you and then the other often does too. It is perhaps the biggest scam the world has ever seen.

      Ebay raises fees aat a rate that far outpaces any improvement on the site and the formula becomes cumbersome to figure out.

      For those of you who have never sold using paypal, beware!!!!!!!!!!!!11

      Paypal requires that your items be tracked through either the usps or ups. As far as the usps there is no tracking to overseas destinations unless you use global priority and this makes shipping safely almost impossible. If you do not have a delivery reciept number that paypal can access on the internet and only on the internet, you are screwed. I have had this happen twice for large value items.

      Paypal also requires you to keep the delivery number for 3 months. If you ship using paypal this is fine, but if you dont ship through them and soeone claims in two months that they didnt get their item, youre screwed again

      All someone has to do is file a claim and palpay takes the money out of your account! They dont investigate first, they just take it out and make you prove you sent the item. Dont bother trying to call them, the reps are robots

      As you can see I hate Paypal and ebay. There are lawsuits against paypal and even websites devoted to how to cheat people using paypal.

      For those of considering selling on ebay and accepting your research and cover your but.

    • Eric Graudins profile image

      Eric Graudins 

      11 years ago from Australia

      @ zylla3phillipines:

      Yes, the inability of sellers to leave feedback against deadbeat buyers was certainly implied in my comments.

      @ Sally:

      It will be interesting to see if the Paypal thing gets approval by the Australian Trade Practices Commisisons. As I see it, it's certainly a restraint of trade, and therefore should be denied.

      However, if it gets through, then there's no real impediment to roll this out across the world - as the Australian legislation is about the toughest.

      I don't know of any viable EBay copetitors elsewhere in the world, but Australian online auctions site will certainly pick up some business from unhappy EBayers.

      Australia's "Trading Post" weekly newspaper for second hand items for sale "The Trading Post" is setting up an online auction facility. This could take off, as TP has a well established national user base, and sufficient resources to provide a viable EBay alternative in Australia.

      And @ Jenny - Awesome pic of you in THAT hub!

    • Sally's Trove profile image


      11 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Jenny, wonderful hub, as all have said.

      I'd like to address Eric's comment:

      *Many customers complain of arrogant attitudes and extremely poor customer relations practices of both of these companies. It will be interesting to see if this translates into a groundswell away from EBay, and the rise of an alternative on line auction system*

      What eBay has failed consistently to take into account is that the sellers are their customers, not the buyers. eBay has continuously alienated sellers through a disregard of sellers' input. However, sellers continue to stay, because there is no meaningful eBay competitor. (There has been a powerful movement to encourage google to set up an online auction venue.)

      I, too, will be watching the eBay AU requirement that all payments are made through PayPal. The Monopoly illustration in your hub says it all. Under the proposed requirement, not only would eBay sell the products, it would also require payment through its wholly owned banking system, thereby eliminating finance competition within its commerce arena. Very interesting.

      Well done!

    • embitca profile image


      11 years ago from Boston

      Seriously Great hub, Jenny! And wow, I knew about some of the other businesses that Ebay owns, but I had no idea they owned Stumbleupon. I would love to know what the reasoning was for buying it.

      Also, I love your use of photos to illustrate your points. Hehehe.

    • zylla3philippines profile image


      11 years ago from Anaheim, CA

      Fantabulous work from text to graphics...not to mention my word of the day--'shilling'.

      Anyone that deals with eBay must surely have encountered some of the mishaps you mentioned. I might have a couple of things to add to them, but the one I'll mention that bugs my husband is the feedback part where seller cannot leave a negative comment for buyer--not certain if this is related to what Eric mentioned about feedback policies.

      Scary how some can be this powerful...don't know though how to live in this modern times without contributing to it.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 

      11 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Perfectly wonderful! Entertaining and lots of great info. Thumbs up!

    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks, Lady Luck, and a big THANK YOU to funride for Digging this Hub!


    • lady luck profile image

      lady luck 

      11 years ago from Boston

      I ENJOYED this thoroughly. I didn't even consider the fact that ebay was being so scanadalous, but it totally makes sense. I also didn't know Ebay owned all of those other businesses (especially Stumbleupon!)

      Speaking of, This is def. worthy of getting social bookmarked!

    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks, everyone! Glad you enjoyed it. I did enjoy putting it together ...

    • Whitney05 profile image


      11 years ago from Georgia

      Wow there's a lot of research behind this hub. A+ ha.

    • Bonnie Ramsey profile image

      Bonnie Ramsey 

      11 years ago from United States

      Great hub, Jenny! You really did your research on this one! Lots of info here and seems to be more in the works!


    • profile image

      catherine behan 

      11 years ago

      Thanks for this info, Jenny. I have had mied success on Ebay but mostly positive experiences. It pays to be mindful when approaching online sales and your hub points out things to be aware of that I might not have before! Catherine

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Another great one from the Queen of Hubs! Very interesting information -- I had no idea!

    • Misha profile image


      11 years ago from DC Area

      LOl Jenny, excellent choice of photos and very nice composition! Does not mean the text is bad - I just kinda take highest quality text of yours for granted already. :)

    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      I think it was the embroidered shirt, Mark. It's hard to look past the embroidery on all the exposed skin, though, isn't it?

      Same with the jungle print jumpsuit lady - count the distractions in that picture to stop you looking at the jumpsuit itself!

    • Mark Bennett profile image

      Mark Bennett 

      11 years ago from Citizen of the Globe

      Love the photo of Lydia the Tattooed Lady - what was the item she was selling, anyway?

      eBay has certainly become a household word. I had no idea they owned so many other websites. And PayPal handles so much of the world's ecommerce.

      It's a little scary, when you put it all together, isn't it?

      eBay may well be the next Microsoft- style monopolist.

    • Inspirepub profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      I am watching the situation in Australia with great interest, but that whole issue is a Hub's worth of information on its own!

      It will be interesting to see whether eBay are allowed to force people from direct transfer to PayPal - on the face of it, the ACCC should put a stop to it, but you never can tell with large corporate interests ...

    • funride profile image

      Ricardo Nunes 

      11 years ago from Portugal

      Wow what a great hub! I loved to read it and learn about Ebay history.

    • Lissie profile image

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 

      11 years ago from New Zealand

      It will be interesting to see whether the paypal debacle gets past the Australian anti-competitive watch dog Excellent hub Jenny lots of info here I didnt know!

    • freddiecook profile image


      11 years ago from Ireland

      Wow - where did you find the time to gather all this info?

      Nicely done!

      freddiecook (dave) - My Golf site

    • Eric Graudins profile image

      Eric Graudins 

      11 years ago from Australia

      Congratulations on an excellent Hub. Well researched, and comprehensive.

      Apart from the fee increases and changes to feedback policies, EBay has recently made a couple of very controversial decisions.

      Firstly, they have banned the sale of digital items. This has caused the shutdown of many businesses, many selling junk E-Books for a few cents. Unfortunately this has also affected sellers of higher quality digital items.

      Another policy that will soon be felt around the world is the compulsory use of Paypal for payment of items, because EBay says it will offer more protection to buyers.

      This is being trialled in Australia first, with the intention of implementing it in other countries.

      As Paypal is owned by EBay, this move has been seen more as a move to increase profits, rather than providing any benefit to sellers. About the only effect on sellers will be to force them to pay yet more fees on every sale they make.

      Many customers complain of arrogant attitudes and extremely poor customer relations practices of both of these companies.

      It will be interesting to see if this translates into a groundswell away from EBay, and the rise of an alternative on line auction system.


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