Markets are conversations

Markets are conversations: Last month, eBay announced it was raising fees (yeah, right, like if you owned Boardwalk and Parkplace, you wouldn’t also raise fees). Lots of the company’s small business sellers said, “take this fee increase and shove it.” Surprise. In announcing some conciliatory fee cuts yesterday, William Cobb, president of eBay North America, said, “We’re listening to everything you have to say…..One of the great things about eBay is the candor and passion of our Community. Your input keeps this company focused on what’s right and important.”

Translation: “I’ve been hiding in a bunker for the past month.”

Don’t get me wrong. I love eBay. I sell lots of stuff on eBay. I buy lots of stuff on eBay. I have a 100% positive rating from nearly 50 different eBayers.

But I think eBay desperately needs competition.

Google has competition and feels the heat constantly. We all benefit.

Amazon has competition and feels the heat constantly. We all benefit.

Poised to host 75% of online auctions, eBay has what a long-ago client of mine used to call a “leveragable market share,” by which he meant, a market share that allows a company to quack and waddle like a monopoly while not actually being one.

Downside of a leverageable market share: You wait a month to say, “we screwed up” and then you try to explain things with this kind of corporate-speak: “Your input keeps this company focused on what’s right and important.”

Update: Wow. That didn’t take long. Within moments of posting this, I received a press release for Lunar Bid, an auction site that has announced it will launch on February 18, the day that eBay will raise its fees.

In the company’s press release, the start-up tweaks eBay for its “monopolistic muscle” and for instituting “a near 65% fee increase, while it already dominates 98% of the online auction market.” Don’t know where they got those stats, but hey, it’s like the 90s all over again.

  • Hudge

    Cool, I was so looking forward to the 90s coming back. Do’t wake me when there’s a Clinton in the White House.