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eBay backtracks as it cuts some fees

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ebaywatch logoeBay is cutting some of the fees it charges sellers in the US and Canada after being stung by criticism over recent price hikes. Less than a month after eBay announced new fees would be introduced from 18 February has reined back some of its proposals after "listening to you, our Community".

In an email to customers, eBay North America president Bill Cobb promised to improve customer support, banish annoying and meaningless automated responses and cut fees for listing some items.

Wrote Cobb: "Within the next 90 days, we'll shut down most of our automated email responses. Our users will get a 'real' email response to their questions - you'll hear from a human being who will try to help you with your problem or question right off the bat. We will only use auto responses to acknowledge receipt of spam or policy violation reports.

"To reward our eBay Stores sellers, we'll be crediting $15.95 - a month's Basic Stores subscription - in May to all sellers who operated an eBay Store for the month of April.

"We also want to do something for the rest of our sellers. I'm happy to announce that effective at midnight tonight [Sunday], eBay.com and eBay.ca will reduce minimum insertion fees for Auction-Style listings, Fixed Price, Motors Non-Vehicle and B&I non-Capital Equipment Categories from 30 cents to 25 cents (CA$0.35 to CA$0.30)."

It's too early to say how Cobb's concessions will be received among eBay regulars, although the firm's climb-down might give others the confidence to press for more changes into the running of the marketplace.

Many were furious at the original size of the increases and the effect on their profit margins. Other auction sites used the price hike to plug their own services amid speculation of widespread defections.

PESA (the Professional Ebay Sellers Association) - a trade group that claims to represent more than 600 of the largest sellers - was "dismayed" at the original decision and warned that its sellers would have to pay 22 per cent more in commission.

"While sellers may compensate for the fee change by raising prices, the effect on the marketplace will be that buyers will not find as many attractive offers as in the past. The fee changes will boost eBay revenue in the short-term; however, the long-term vibrancy of the eBay marketplace is diminished," it said. ®

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