Posting this at my friend's request.
(FORTUNE Small Business) -- Activists opposed to eBay's (EBAY, Fortune 500) upcoming fee and policy changes
are readying for a weeklong site boycott starting on Monday, with
buyers and sellers waiting to see if this strike will succeed where
past protests have failed.
The boycott, planned to run Feb. 18 -
25, is scheduled to overlap eBay's Feb. 20 rollout of significant
changes announced last month.
Sellers say eBay's new policies are
likely to cost them more money, but what's really inspired an
outpouring of wrath is an adjustment to eBay's feedback system: sellers
will no longer be able to leave negative commentary about their buyers.
Critics say that will leave sellers vulnerable to negligent bidders and
"You get bad buyers as often as you get bad sellers,"
said M. Owens, a Severn, Md.-based seller of high-end dolls that
typical go for several hundred dollars each. On such an expensive
transaction, having a buyer cause trouble - by, for example, disputing
the transaction and requesting a credit-card chargeback after they've
already received their merchandise - can be financially devastating,
Owens, who plans to participate in the boycott and
avoid buying or selling on eBay next week, is also worried about the
impact of a change to eBay's "best match" search algorithm, one of the
least-publicized aspects of the upcoming changes. That search method,
which will become eBay's default next month, favors sellers with high
and detailed customer-satisfaction ratings. Low-volume sellers, like
Owens, say this puts them at a disadvantage by burying their listings.
EBay spokesman Usher Lieberman said the company is taking a wait-and-see approach to the boycott talk
this point it's still premature for us to speculate," Lieberman said.
"We're empathetic with our sellers and understand that they're
concerned, and that some of them object to some of the changes we're
implementing. On the other hand, we think we have very good reasons for
what we're doing."