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eBay boycott results in mixed feedback

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Today marks the end of a week-long boycott of eBay from a semi-organized group of "power sellers" who feel shortchanged over recent pricing changes.

eBay announced late last month it would charge auctioneers between 25 and 50 per cent less to list their items on the site — but then take a larger slice of fees when the item actually sells. The company indignantly insists the move will benefit its sellers overall, but many of those with a high sales rate on their auctions are unhappy. eBay is also killing the ability for sellers to submit negative feedback on their customers.

For the moment, the results of the protest are unclear and of course, disputed. Online auction trackers such as PowerSellersUnite and Medved indicate eBay's total auction listings dropped as much as 13 per cent over the week — but sellers claiming victory may be jumping the gun.

eBay's listing figures tend to fluctuate widely from week to week even at the best of times. The site's listing drop to just under 13 million auctions could be a result of the protest. Or it could also just be a return to normalcy. Just the week before on February 13, eBay ran a one-day discount listing promotion that pushed listings up to about 15.9 million listings from numbers hovering around just 12.5 million.

At one end of the argument, boycott organizers say their temporary exodus worked. Some are even pushing to extend their absence from eBay until March 9th to hit the company's pocketbooks harder.

Meanwhile, dean of eBay Education Jim Griffith told USA Today that the site's internal statistics showed the boycott "has had no impact" on the site's listings. Conveniently the company does not release those figures publicly.

eBay remains largely unmoved by the protest. The company said it will not consider postponing or changing the new list fee pricing despite the evident outrage. ®

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