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eBay fees rejig will still hit casual auctioneers

Sticker shock

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eBay announced today it's removing listing fees for users who only occasionally auction their wares on the online flea market - but seller beware.

The website is simplifying how it charges folks who only auction just a few items per month, but it's not necessarily becoming cheaper as advertised.

eBay charges sellers twice per successful auction - there's an initial listing fee and the "final value fee"; eBay's cut of the price the item was successfully auctioned for.

Beginning 16 June, users can auction up to five items every 30 days without paying eBay's usual tariffs for listing an item. The company currently charges between $0.10 and $4.00 for peddling user detritus online, depending on the item's price.

Also under the new pricing regime, the final value fee for the first five items auctioned per month will become a flat 8.75 per cent of the sales price, capped at $20.

Currently, eBay uses a more complex scheme to calculate a final value fees, where items sold for over $25 are charged 8.75 per cent of the first $25 ($2.19), plus an additional 3.5 per cent of the item's remaining price. The fee is further complicated for values over $1,000, but we'll stick to more realistic auction pricing for casual sellers.

For cheaper auctions, the change is a good thing. An item that sells for $40 will be charged $3.5 under the new plan, compared to eBay's current take of $3.72 (which includes a $1 listing fee).

But for higher-priced items - say, $100 - the new system doesn't do nearly so well. eBay's fee revision would charge $8.75 for the item, whereas it currently would only cost the seller $6.82 (including a $2 listing fee).

The new system only applies to auction-style sales and not fixed-price listings. After a user's first five auctions of the month, the normal fees still apply.

"We’re continuing our efforts to lower the upfront costs of selling on eBay," Dinesh Lathi, the company's seller experience veep said in a statement. "The five listings with $0.00 Insertion Fees are especially helpful if you don’t sell a high volume, but offer the kind of unique and hard-to-find inventory buyers expect to find on eBay."

Better start with buying a calculator to see how the change really affects you. eBay's fee chart is available here. ®

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