Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ebay, World's Biggest Promoter of Fraud Continues to Do Nothing Real to Stop It

EBay, the world's number one online auction venue, has also been called other things. At one point in their colorful history, some said that they were also the world's leader in trafficking non-electronic "physical" pornography, including child porn, snuff films and the like, third-world versions beyond description, and they even got credit at one time for helping many gay men meet other like-minded persons through their oh-so-gay-friendly site. Well, they may also be the all-time biggest promoter of fraud as well, but with a resume like theirs, what's the big deal?

BUT WAIT! Let's be fair to eBay, they are now (finally) trying to stamp out fraud, under the visionary leadership of CEO John Donahoe, so they appropriately have a new policy. No, you won't find mention of it on their site because it's one of a legion of "secret" policies that now go far beyond merely governing eBay. Due mainly to their CEO's legendary lack of wisdom, as well as his knack for over-micro-managing EVERYTHING, each long day in the eBay Empire brings a host of new and (naturally) unanticipated problems. As they attempt to violate every last vestige of common sense and human nature even, the frustration only increases on all fronts. Myriad details beyond anyone's comprehension now befuddle their mostly inept reps, as they atempt each day to navigate through a mine-field of insanity. This insanity comes right from the top, and manages to twist-up everyone all the way down.

In fact, all the way down to their SELLERS. No, this is not a joke, in fact, one couldn't make this up if they tried (Donahoe doesn't have to try, delusional thinking is completely natural to him). You see, the cumulative weight of what is now several years of continuous disregard for human nature, coupled with what seems to be an Ivory Tower, Utopian (Socialist) agenda, has created a Monster that constantly demands more attention. No longer a largely self-regulating "community", eBay has become a "State", and the state of affairs is truly appalling. Each day, the pathetic eBay employee drags him/herself to work to face yet more insanity. Micro-managed to the point where all that is left is something like a hostile robot. As for the demoralized employees whose job it is to interact with the loathsome Seller, their job is the hardest of all. They sit in between two diametrically opposed worlds. On one side is the famously entrepreneurial and fiercely independent full-time eBay Seller, and on the other, Satan himself! Of course, the poor robot obediently repeats his master's mantra, "Freedom is Slavery!" But somehow, the job must get done.

If you're still with me, here's Satan's (aka John Donahoe) latest marching orders. "Thou shalt saddle the loathsome Seller with yet another heavy fetter..." "But Master, these sellers already have such a heavy burden from all the other horrible stuff you've thrown at them!" "Silence, DOG! My agenda is far beyond your feeble ability to comprehend. The miserable Seller must now help shoulder the incredible burden of controlling fraud in our corrupt company!" "But Master, how can THEY do anything, since compared to us, they are mere ants, who deserve to be crushed?" "Apparently you haven't been paying attention! The media is on to us, they know we promote porno, prostitution, deviance, hatred AND fraud! We've blamed perverts, pushed aside the silly Nazi's, but ALWAYS we get mileage out of everyone! This time, it's fraud. The miserable Seller will step up to the plate, and soon, you will see, eBay shall have no liability! We will even begin to accumulate data on these worthless beasts! Before you know it, we will be completely prepared for the next scandal. The authorities will come to us, and we will hand them their Victim! The miserable Seller will not last long. Soon, they will all finally get the Message." "Ah Master, you are SO wise! But if I may be so bold...what will happen to eBay when we finally kill off all the Seller-Vermin?" "Good question, but I don't plan on being around when that happens. Perhaps you are ambitious, perhaps you would like a promotion? Just keep the faith my little fool, all will go as planned...So Mote It Be!"

Can this nightmare be true? Back to reality. In fact, Ebay really is asking a lot of the Seller. Here's what they're demanding of late, or else, face suspension. Sellers (unless they hail from China) will not list items that are too "cheap". Without getting into how ridiculous the notion of "cheap" is, let's look at eBay's rationale. They say (for example) that if a person sells an item for under a dollar, that Seller is PROMOTING fraud, because fraudsters always build feedback using "cheap" purchases, before launching as a seller, who will then promptly defraud the public. Imagine being a part of that! And that strong language might come back to get the poor seller who doesn't quite see what may be really going on, as insane as it is. eBay further classifies this monstrous crime as "feedback manipulation/abuse" (since even a legit seller's own feedback can become skewed with "non-representative" transactions), and on and on it goes.

So, you could theoretically sell an item for 99 cents, and immediately be guilty of two crimes. Of course, they threaten suspension, and they might well love to have good records of the many poor sellers they shut down, in case anything happens. And it may not be that a seller would be turned in as a "suspect" of some kind, that might be a stretch, but rather, eBay would like to point to "something" (anything!) that they're doing that supposedly combats the rampant fraud on their site. There is the motive.

But can any rational person accept eBay's stated reasoning for their actions, especially in consideration of the alternatives?

Alternatives? Yes. But more on that below. To begin with, is it even "wise" to have the Seller worrying about selling an item too "cheap"? This leads to another problem (on eBay, every problem they create leads to more problems): Is the "true auction" now history? It can be argued that the Seller who dares to start his auction at a penny, and is OK with whatever the final outcome is, would now risk SUSPENSION due to his inability to predict the final outcome of the auction! Another dimension to this hasn't been mentioned yet, but eBay actually refuses to state an official dollar "threshold" for what might be allowable, or can we say, "not too cheap". This goes along perfectly with the fact that this diabolical policy is secret, and selectively applied to begin with! How can they tell you what "too cheap" is, when the whole purpose is to arbitrarily control Sellers who don't fit into their future vision, of the New and Better Amazon, that eBay has been desperate to become?

At a minimum, from the standpoint of simple justice, this is an unfair burden to place upon the seller.

Objection! "Why can't you just tow the line? Do you have to sell something for a buck? Can't you see, you're promoting fraud!" Well, let's just say for the sake of argument that "cheap" items do help promote fraud, since the potential fraudster intentionally goes looking for "cheap" items to build feedback on, which will be abused shortly, as they begin to sell items with no intent to deliver. This is where the "alternative" comes in. Rather than asking sellers to turn their worlds up-side-down, shouldn't eBay actually DO something that really makes sense instead?

Ebay enjoys a tremendous amount of data, at their finger-tips, about most of what goes on in the world of eBay. They already have solid "profile" info on real-world fraudsters that they have accumulated, and likely defines 99% of the problem. One of their programmers can easily put together a "net" that identifies potential fraudsters before they can act. Further, other behaviors of potentially fraudulent sellers that have been identified can be used to continually monitor any changes in the behavior of those on te suspect list, as generated by the "net" mentioned above. Too "theoretical"? No, it's common sense, which is probably why it isn't done over at the Evil Empire of Ebay. They would rather screw over honest long-time sellers, while allowing overseas sellers carte blanc.

Real examples. If for example, eBay already knows that potential fraudsters utilize "cheap" feedback, then "cheap" item buyers are automatically on a suspect list. If for example, eBay has data suggesting that the fraudster generally wants "x" number of feedbacks in order to appear legit, then the cheap item buyer list from above is used to "watch" the suspects as they approach the known feedback target. If then the identified suspects begin to list items, as sellers, then you would think they would be well on their way to being stopped dead in their tracks. An obvious example here: The suspect who just turned seller suddenly begins selling higher-dollar items. Clearly, a risk. Or, is the seller operating from a known fraud haven? Add that to the risk level, etc.

In short, it is not only eBay's JOB to do "real" fraud deterrence, but they are also wonderfully equipped to do just that. Certainly, they can do a better job of it than their poor sellers! And that's so obvious, it begs the question, "What is REALLY going on with these corrupt eBay corporate criminals?"

Ah, let us keep thinking about that, because if we can crack that code, we might even be able to see what else is coming.

I'd enjoy your comments!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

eBay Begs for Lawsuit: "Real" Auctions Actually PROHIBITED!

You read that right. Recently, eBay rolled out yet another diabolical "secret" policy that effectively prohibits genuine auctions! You may wonder how such a thing is possible, especially from a company that earned it's reputation primarily as an auction site. In fact, millions of people might be very surprised to learn that their search for "real" auctions is already doomed, thanks to a relatively "new" policy that eBay might rather prefer is not made public.

If you sell on eBay, you may already know about this baseless, and quite likely illegal policy. Perhaps you have sold on the site for years, and innocently listed items for a "penny-start", in the obvious hopes that they might do better. In fact, to your surprise, they do rather "well", some of the items selling for twenty or thirty times your cost! It's all good, right?

WRONG. Here's an example of what might happen: You are cleaning out your garage, or closet, or safe, and come across a box of a lot of widgets, hundreds, maybe thousands. You recall that you got them very cheap, in fact, your cost was only a few cents each. As a seller on eBay, you immediately start thinking about how you are going to turn these widgets into dollars. In fact, since you have sold for years, you are quick to recognize how they might well help you move other much more expensive merchandise, that you don't seem to move enough of these days. You're excited! You "get listing", and soon find that your nice little auctions are exceeding your expectations! After all, with such a low unit cost, how can you go wrong?

WHY THIS SCENARIO SHOULD BE GREAT FOR EVERYONE!! Low cost generally means low risk in many business environments. Together with some basic marketing, success can be had by almost anyone who pays attention. And this is just for starters, since the experienced eBayer can take this to yet another level. For example, they will take their listings for the low cost widget, and in each one, they will refer to another relevant or related item that they sell for much more. Often, the buyer of one similar low priced item can be persuaded to perhaps buy a larger quantity. Perhaps they save on shipping, etc. It's all good! The buyer has the opportunity to grab something very cheap. They also are introduced to an opportunity for even more of what they went looking for. The seller's sales are up! eBay's fees are up! Buyers are getting great value. How CAN this be bad??

But there is a big fly in the ointment, because if eBay notices what you're doing, you're going to get some heartburn. You might wake up some morning, after seeing all your efforts from the prior week so nicely rewarded, and...

KABOOM!! You're now in deep poopoo my friend. You see, all your new, "great deal" widget auctions have been taken down by eBay! Outrageous! Further, you've been slapped with a number of "policy violations" that may or more than likely, they just won't make sense.

Being of goodwill, you honestly try to understand what happened. You read the policy violations, "key word spamming", mis-categorization", etc. Since it really doesn't make sense in your case, you call your Account Manager at eBay, confident that it is all just a mistake on their part. After all, you have earned a high status as a PowerSeller, and your rep has been assigned to "help" you, be your advocate, right? But there is a decidedly different vibe going on. The rep informs you that you are guilty of feedback abuse, and worse, "promoting fraud". You're stunned! But it only gets worse. Your eBay rep is extremely serious, and threatens suspension if you continue. His/her explanations fall far short of course, but he underscores the fact that he is all-powerful, and that such a thing is very Verbotten, and since the policy is in fact largely "secret", you must trust him! Of course, even though you are in shock, and wonder if you're simply having a bad dream, you manage to request a chat with the young lad's supervisor. Again, utter shock. The answer is "No, you will deal with ME only!"

Far fetched? Just a rogue rep, out of control? Sadly, this is more an indication of a rogue company, eBay, than a rogue rep. There are those who will not believe it, until it happens to them, but rest assured, this "new eBay", is very bad news, and this latest development does not bode well.

Let's give you a heads-up on what your rep might say, if explanations are given at all. They tell you that since your auctions "obviously" are "too cheap", you can't possibly have a genuine business motive in listing your auctions. Don't bother protesting that you must know your business better than the young jack-ass you're talking to, because you just might get suspended! You might remind the rep that you are a very legit seller, having sold for so-many years, etc., having sold "real" items all along, some for many thousands of dollars. "And besides, if my motive was not making money, why would I do it?"

Get ready. "Because you are promoting FRAUD!" You think to yourself, "Holy shit, the punk is on drugs!", but after gasping, you politely ask how on earth such a thing can be. He explains that lots of fraudsters go looking for "cheap" auctions, in order to build feedback. Once they have so many feedbacks, they will then begin selling, and then promptly defraud the public. Because you dared sell an item for under a dollar, YOU, the pain-in-the-rep's-ass Seller, are part of the fraud game! Shame on you! You WILL be suspended if you dare sell a "cheap" item again!

It get's WORSE!! You pause, you now realize you have indeed entered the Twilight Zone, but you decide to play along. After all, you do eBay full-time! You've got kids to feed. You politely ask, "OK, I get it, suspension for selling cheap items, got it. But, can you at least tell me what 'cheap' is? I mean, what if I sold something for three bucks?" Answer: "Just don't do it!" You now know he just isn't getting your question. "Uh, maybe I didn't make my point well enough. Coul you please give me a dollar-threshold maybe, that way I don't inadvertently sell something too cheap..." Answer: "No, I'm NOT giving you that information!" "But how am I supposed to conduct business if I don't know?" Rep: "Listen! I'm not kidding, I WILL shut you down! I just shut down a guy last week, he's on a 30 Day Suspension! You're NEXT!"

Folks, I would like to venture that this is just about as bad as it gets, but from this company, I won't hold my breath. EBay is doomed, and the evil corporate culture that has evolved is nothing short of fascist, to the point of being ridiculous.

If you know of any attorney's out there who might like to take a crack at these Nazi's, please feel free to have them contact me. From the legal perspective, this can't be OK. This outfit pretends to be a venue for real auctions, and even has the chutzpah to put disinfo on their front page, such as, "Items under $5!" Little does the consumer know that the system is now rigged, and they will look in vain for real deals, since sellers are literally not allowed to provide them!

One final issue. For those who could see eBay's point about fraud, I would hope that it was equally clear that fighting fraud on their site, is THEIR job, and they have tremendous tools at their disposal for doing just that. To shift the responsibility on to the seller is outrageous, ineffectual, and utterly without foundation. I'll more fully address that fact in the next rant!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Ebay and the New Economy: Closing Off the Exits

It's 2010, and there's a New World Order breaking out, and it's being ushered in at break-neck speed by the New Economy, or in other words, the Greatest Depression ever. Amidst the turmoil, the jobless, the increasingly hopeless, the broken lives of regular folks, who used to count themselves as "normal" there not still "opportunity" in this great nation of the United States of America?

Ten years ago, the answer would have been a very confident YES! But today, few people feel this way. For the jobless, they can never recall a time when so much rejection has come their way. Perhaps they have experienced unemployment in the past, but for those going on two or more years of a serious job quest, there can be no doubt things have drastically changed. Hope is fading fast, especially for those over the age of 40, or worse, for those who might still hope for half their former salary. And even the humble those who have resigned themselves to minimal wages, they too are still met with utter disappointment.

For those of us who are self-employed, we have had a rough road as well, but many of us can relate to having friends and acquaintances who knew of our previous success, and now wonder if they can get on that same bandwagon. "Hey, you do eBay, right? I've been thinking of doing something like that!" Of course, the only reason they're thinking about it is because of this damn economy, but we must answer something. "Well, things are not the way they used to be!"

Ebay has changed drastically, and mostly for the worse. What made it great has been abandoned, thanks mostly to the tragic blunder of putting a sociopath like John Donahoe in charge of a company that can only really prosper respecting it's entrepreneurial roots. But it's short-sightedness, and self-destructive mania, which will eventually result in company failure, could not have been timed any worse. Because the incredible power of what ebay "was", is desperately needed TODAY.

This Greatest Depression, which has prematurely put out to pasture millions, has destroyed the hopes of the young, ended marriages, and made decent families destitute, would have far less power if there was today a way to "escape", as in days gone by. But things have changed. No, it's not the Old West, it's not the Reagan Era...and it's not that special time only a decade ago where ANY decent entrepreneur could get on to eBay, and write their own ticket. Today, that route of escape has been sealed off, since eBay has become a place for only the very large corporatist sellers (with some casual sellers and former hangers-on for transitional window dressing). No, the recently unemployed single mother today can't really go to eBay and expect much at all. This exit has been sealed off, and just when we needed it most!

Perhaps it is merely a coincidence of timing, but there are those who might wonder if there's more to the story. Surely it's not a "conspiracy"...Pahleese do NOT mention that damnable New World Order! You conspiracy nuts never stop!" Fine. We will believe what we will, as it ever has been. But for those of us who remember what eBay was, what it represented, what it did for the true entrepreneur, it's huge power...we dare not dismiss the possibility that others noticed this too. If eBay continued to be an empowering force for the masses, if it retained the potential to help virtually anyone who had minimal motivation and resources, then this situation might have ot change, if there was a "higher agenda" if you will, by those who had the power to foment exactly what we are experiencing now, the Greatest Depression.

WHY would anyone do anything like this on purpose? Pay attention: Because they can, and because they must break down the entire world, in order to rebuild it again, to their own liking. Fabian Socialism. It's come to eBay. It's alive and well in the USS frigin' A. It's here to stay...or is it? What shall WE do?

I'd enjoy your comments!

eBay's Suicide Assisted by Infamous Dr. Donahoe

John Donahoe, CEO of eBay is the biggest reason for seller frustration, although many do not yet realize this. Going right to the top has always been a good way to discover why things are the way they are. And so it is with eBay, and with all the Orwellian changes now confronting sellers. Of course, most sellers reeling from the constant barrage of changes hardly have time to think about how or why things have gotten so bad. But when they get a moment, they will realize that the biggest changes have come down under Donahoe.

Changes such as the infamous "No Negative" policy, now almost legendary in it's obvious stupidity. Or the "Five Star" DSR system largely developed by eBay's Brian Burke, a titanic blunder that is still unfolding into what may signal the not-so-far-off death of eBay. And still more nefarious changes that few become aware of, until it's too late. Changes to policies that are now literally SECRET, often blatantly subjective, and even defy any means to quantify. If you think this is mere hyperbole, or exaggeration, all you need to do is speak to one of the many eBay reps, "Account Managers", whose job description has now become to micro-manage sellers out the exits, who don't meet the super-secret Orwellian eBay vision of the future.

Are you a serious seller, perhaps with impecable feedback, even higher dollar volume? Chances are that the more "successful" you are, the more eBay will subject you to their microscope, demanding things that are beyond anyone's imagination, even a year ago. This can not end well! eBay is in the process of committing suicide, and few seem to realize how dire the situation is.

Back to Donahoe. He is the reason for what sellers are experiencing, and this is why. He has been contractually promised immense bonuses that he can only claim by trashing the future of eBay, and in the process, the lowly seller who might stand in his way. It is not unlike a politician who gains office with all manner of lies, but once he is in, predictably begins to line his pockets, at the expense of his constituents. And if the matter of re-election should come up, a small period of bribing and lying to the electorate is granted briefly to achieve the short-term goal. And the process repeats, ad infinitum. But as we look around today, after decades of greedy politicians on the take, what's left of the country? What's left for our children? This is exactly what is taking place now under the mad sociopath Donahoe.

If you own eBay stock, look out, you're going to get raped. When the infamous "Doctor" sails into the sunset (on his mega-yacht!), the patient will be left for dead, and the once great eBay will be no more.

Are you a seller? I would welcome your comments!