Thursday, March 13, 2008

Problems & good news with eBay

Well, there's good news and bad news to share thanks to some changes made recently at eBay.

The good news mainly consists of new lower listing fees for auctions and fixed-price items for Power Sellers. Since I recently reclaimed that exalted status, I share in these bonuses. Now I spend less to list my items every week when I make up my auctions. The biggest savings comes in the form of free Gallery photos for each listing (in fact they're automatic anymore - I don't even have to choose the option). That saves (if I'm remembering correctly) $0.20 per listing, and I typically list 30 or so items a week, so that's a savings of $6 or so per week. That can add up.

So, I'm happy about those changes. There's two major ones, however, that I am seriously less than thrilled about.

First of all is the new low limit on listing Store Inventory items. I (and other Store owners) can no longer list items in the Store for under $1. That constitutes at least 50% of my inventory! On a recent online help chat with an eBay agent, I was informed that as Store Inventory items came up for renewal at the end of their 30-day cycle, they wouldn't get renewed if they were under $1, and would show up in my "unsold items" page. So far this information seems to be erroneous, however, as just in the last 24 hours several under $1 Store items have renewed safely.

However, I can't list any new items at under $1, so as new inventory comes in, I have to decide what to do. As I've mentioned before, I usually run a price check on a card before I list, and try to price myself somewhere in the middle of the pack. If all other Store owners are in the same boat I am, then eventually there will be no under $1 does that mean we will all cease to list these items, or will we all sort of agree (without communicating with each other) to price anything that would normally have been under $1 at $1?

Personally, I think what's going to happen is suddenly my inventory at is going to be burgeoning as more than just commons will be listed there. Any uncommons and rares that would normally be under $1 are going to have to be listed there. Hopefully this will act as an added draw to bring more customers there.

The second, and possibly more irksome, problem is that eBay has just recently revamped the Magic the Gathering categories. In the past (for as long as I've been listing on eBay), the category that any given card would go in would be:

Toys & Hobbies -> Trading Card Games -> Magic the Gathering -> Individual Cards -> NAME OF SET THE CARD CAME FROM

I guess that the powers that be at eBay were getting tired of constantly having to add new options for the last subcategory, as new Magic sets came out (for example, 10th Edition, Planar Chaos, Future Sight, Lorwyn and the new set Morningtide never got their own listings), and they completely redid the last piece, so that the category now is:

Toys & Hobbies -> Trading Card Games -> Magic the Gathering -> Individual Cards -> COLOR OF CARD

So the final subcategory would be, for example, "Black (Swamp)" or "Multicolor" or "Artifact".

This means that every single one of my 7000+ listings now is uncategorized, as the category I had assigned to them no longer exists.

And to add insult to injury, I run into the same problem now with this that I had last year with the USPS "Airmail Letter is now First Class International" can't edit a listing once it's had a sale. So any item that's sold at least one copy cannot be changed to put it into a new category.

As if all that weren't bad enough, changing categories is not one of the options in bulk editing, so I would have to manually open up every single one of my 7000+ listings individually and edit them to give them a category.

I have decided that this is just too much work, especially given that if eBay lives up to its threat over half of my inventory will start not renewing anyway. I am hoping that not too many people shop for cards by searching categories anyway. And at least my own Store categories that I get to invent for my listings are unaffected by the eBay shift. So, as I list new items they'll get the new categories, but the old listings will remain unclassified.

Oh, and another pain-in-the-neck side effect of this shift is that when I use TurboLister (the free program from eBay I use to make my listings) to relist a card I had up before, I can't bulk edit there either because the categories are all wrong. So I have to individually edit each listing I'm interested in first and give it one of the new categories, then I can select them all and do a bulk edit for any other changes I want to make.

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