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UK and US eBay sellers take action over price hikes

If not on strike, on route to Google

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Around 100 of eBay's "Shop" sellers went out on strike yesterday in protest at the company's decision to raise the amount it charges to sell items on its site. More than 500 have signed a petition in protest.

Further changes, this time to the way search results are listed, have also caused upset. Traders say it makes them harder to find, but eBay argues that by prioritising individual sellers over businesses, it is improving the buyers' experience.

The changes mean sellers are now charged between three and 11 pence to list an item on the site, up from a flat rate of three pence per item. In addition, the sellers pay eBay up to 10 per cent of the sale price. Some say that the increase will drive them out of business.

While the sellers in the UK go on strike, in the States, they are egging on the competition instead.

A US group of online merchants has sent an open letter to search site Google, begging it to open a rival online auction house. They have set up a Google Group, and describe themselves as "eBay store owners who have been "dismissed" by eBay through extreme rate hikes".

"We are searching everywhere for a new 'home' and Google is the ONLY name on the Internet which we feel would be totally trustworthy and would actually get auction traffic and get it quickly," they write.

They argue that they are the victims of their own success, because they have drawn business away from the individual sellers auctioning, rather than selling goods.

They conclude: "In effect, eBay is simultaneously encouraging sellers to open an eBay store while at the same time discouraging them from listing merchandise by increasing their listing fees. These mixed signals have left many sellers confused and desperate for a place to sell their merchandise outside of eBay."

eBay in the UK said that while it wanted to listen to its customers, it was not too concerned about the strike action, pointing out that many thousands of people are registered as eBay sellers in the UK. ®

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