As Boycott of eBay Inc. Nears, Sellers Threaten Guerrilla Tactics
I've seen many boycott "attempts" and they all have been less than spectacular, but this time the media attention is focused on the deteriorating moral of sellers and many sellers are planning to stage guerrilla attacks on the auction giant during the week of the strike. The following are some plans I've seen discussed concerning some sellers' plans during the week of the boycott (February 18-25), while I can understand the frustration of sellers, I am not endorsing the following actions (just reporting on them) as some may be less than legal.
1. Attack eBay Employee Auctions: Some sellers are threatening to bid up items and use eBay's BIN feature to "purchase" products from actual eBay employees that are selling items on the site. eBay employees need to identify themselves as such in the item description area and their products and user ID's are easily found by doing a search in titles and descriptions for "ebay employee." The rumor is that as revenge for the new feedback system, some sellers will "purchase" items from the employees, just to leave negative feedback. (Take a look at the items that the eBay employees have listed, and see how many are violating the shipping policy by charging a handling fee above the cost of packaging materials).
2. Disrupt the Market by Placing Thousands of Bids: There's an old trick that scammers seem to do for shits-and-giggles, place thousands and thousands of bids and then just don't pay. Not only does it cause headaches for sellers who have to file a bunch of UID's, sometimes some sellers will actually ship the items without payment. I've seen reports that some boycotters are planning this tactic for the week of the strike, both as revenge against eBay and against any scabs that cross the cyber-picket line to sell items during the strike.
3. List Fraudulent Auctions During Strike - Then Claim a Hijacking: Some sellers are suggesting that all participants of the strike list obviously fraudulent auctions for high ticket items during the strike to put a strain on eBay's Trust & Safety department. The plan is to upload an enormous volume of auctions, let them run a couple of days and then call/contact eBay stating that the account has a victim of a scammer and that it was hijacked. In cases of reported hijacking, eBay ends the listings and locks the account so that a new password can be added - eBay also resets the seller account of any hijacking victim back to the point prior to the fraudulent listings. This plan could prove terribly troublesome for eBay, as disproving a hijacking would be difficult especially with a large portion the seller base upset over new changes. The plan also backs eBay Inc. into a corner. Refusing to end the auctions or to deal with the alleged hijackings would be a public relations nightmare if any innocent victims of actual hijackings were not dealt with properly. Failure by eBay to cancel reported listings could result in innocent buyers being victims of real fraudulent listings and result in those buyers being scammed out of thousands of dollars.
4. Leave Without Paying Your Bill: Some sellers who claim to have ended their auctions, vow to never return and some are vowing never to pay their seller fees. eBay Inc. generates roughly 2/3 of its revenue from eBay.com listings. Any sellers who use this tactic will directly affect eBay's bottom line. If enough sellers do it, the Q1 earnings call would be very entertaining.
The preceding plans could have a huge impact on eBay if sellers were to follow through with their plans. So are there ways to take a jab at eBay legally and without breaking eBay policy? The following options have been bantered about by sellers as options for just that, with no apparent policy violations associated with them.
1. Withdraw All Money From Paypal Accounts: Disgusted by management's policy changes, some eBayers are calling for their fellow sellers to withdraw all money from Paypal and send it to their own banks. One of eBay's benchmarks of success is that sellers have over $1 billion in Paypal accounts. If this were to suddenly change, it would show that not only are sellers upset, but that confidence in Paypal - as well as eBay Inc. as a whole - has been shaken.
2. Shop Somewhere Else on the Web: eBay isn't the only game in town. While eBay's growth has slowed, ecommerce as a whole continues to expand rapidly. For the week of the boycott, don't just stop giving eBay your business, give it to another business. There are many former eBay sellers who have already left eBay and set up their own shops on the internet. If you haven't shopped beyond the confines of eBay, perhaps now is a good time to go window shopping....you just might be surprised at the selection and price that other sites are offering.
3. Cease From Using Other eBay Inc. Services: eBay.com is not eBay Inc.'s only revenue generator. A boycott of eBay while still using other eBay services is weak. For the week of the strike refrain from using: Paypal, Skype, Stubhub, Stumbleupon, Half.com, Rent.com, Shopping.com, eBayExpress, Kijiji.com etc.
After witnessing numerous boycotts of eBay fail in the past I was at first skeptical that this boycott could accomplish anything. I'm starting to change my mind. The mainstream media has picked up on the massive unrest and unlike in the past, now there are viable alternatives to eBay for many sellers in many categories. Previous boycott attempts ended with virtually no press and with sellers crawling back to eBay in droves, heads hung down with shame on their faces. A lot has changed since the last boycott attempt and there are now more options for those wanting to leave eBay, and those options are now much more user friendly and able to provide much more traffic to sellers than in the past.