As promised -- given my recent experiences on eBay, both the good, the bad, and the ugly, I am providing my top 5 list of ways to make eBay a better place. I have been on eBay since December 1995 when I started trading Baseball Cards, seeing a lot of changes take place on the site.
However, this Christmas holiday shopped season in particular has been a nasty one for both buyers and sellers alike on eBay – perhaps like never seen before. All one needs to do is to look at a number of auctions for the Sony Playstation 3 (PS3) and Nintendo Wii to see large quantities of Non-Paying Bidders, Shill Bidding, & Fraudulent sellers. The criminal community has found a way to really game the eBay system and now is time to stop it!
So, below you will find my “Top 5” ways that eBay can improve their systems to protect bother buyers and sellers in their auction marketplace.
1. Require Stronger User Validation. It is too easy to get an eBay account. They should require some sort of physical address, phone number, or other sort of verification that the person is who they say they are.
2. Require “authorization” of funds when bidding. A huge problem right now are people with zero or low feedback posting fake bids without an intention to actually make good on their purchase. By requiring a credit card authorization in the amount of their bid placed (whether or not they choose to pay via that method) is an option that may sellers would like to see as a requirement to insure the bidder “intends” to purchase the item rather than leaving the seller stranded with seller fees, frustration and lost time. This would also help prevent shill bidding as eBay could detect accounts using same name / credit card information to boost auction prices.
3. Create a more comprehensive scoring methodology. The current scoring system has become an outdated joke. Between 1-cent auctions, feedback rings, and other ways to “game” eBay’s feedback system – the system does not work anymore. However, it is not beyond repair. All eBay needs to do is come up with a score scheme that will incorporate important factors that contribute to the “authenticity and integrity” of the buyer and seller such as the dollar value of transactions, time it takes someone to pay, time to ship, and frequency of feedback left. That is just to name a few that could contribute to understanding more about the seller you purchase from.
4. Stop 1-cent ($.01) auctions. These are the biggest fraud on eBay right now. If you do a Google search, you will find hundreds of web pages that tell you how you can increase your feedback score in hours using 1-cent auctions. Their only purpose is to artificially increase feedback scores that give buyers/sellers unwarranted trust in a seller’s history and behavior.
5. Real, monetary penalties for failure to pay, ship, etc. If someone does not pay for an auction, charge then for the listing fees that the seller paid. Also, put a penalty of $5, $10, etc. that is partially paid to the seller and to eBay. This would put some real teeth into the non-paying bidder (NPB) policy.
These are some pretty simple ways that eBay could really improve on their already largely monopolistic website that they offer. While it may discourage a few people in signing up and using the service, the benefits to the entire community and with user retention would far outweigh that cost. I cannot tell you how many people have emailed me to say that they would not be using eBay after their experiences this holiday season.
Do you have other ideas? I would love to hear them. Next, you will be hearing from me on the Top 5 Ways to fix PayPal!