It has been reported in AuctionBytes today that the Internet Merchants Association is considering disbanding.
Ina's Steiner's article reveals information coming from within the IMA, this information details an internal rift between board members regarding "Back Room Deals", "Transparency" and Ethics. Since I have no contacts within the IMA and I have had no accurate information to report regarding the workings of it's board, I will refrain from commenting about the specific facts or the problems reported in Ina Steiner's article. Auction Bytes has done a good job of reporting the news.
Here at the Trading Assistant Journal, we provide relevant commentary on the ecommerce and Internet trade business as a whole. As such a publication, I am inspired to ask one simple question regarding the public dispute within the board at the Internet Merchants Association.
What About The Members?
Has anyone on the board at the IMA considered how the "Internal Strife" and bickering on the board effects the rank & file member merchants who pay good money for a membership. As a member of a trade organization purportedly offering value in the form of benefits, information, networking and education, is bickering and back room deal discussion considered as a benefit or education?
Do the board members at the IMA really think the membership is concerned with internal issues concerning "Back Room Deals" and "Transparency"?
No! the members of any trade organization are simply worried about getting value for the membership dues they pay.
The primary concern of members is in receiving information and benefits from a trade organization, (not available to non-members of that trade organization) which in turn benefits their businesses. Members of trade organizations are business people, business people realize that sometimes to get a deal done one must enter a "back room". It is all part of business.
The fighting and arguing at IMA, as it appears from the outside, boils down to nothing more than a teenage prepubescent firestorm over he-said she-said and a power struggle to gain control. Do the board members have nothing better to do with their time and the membership's resources?
This all sounds brutally familiar...
...in fact when recently at eBay Live 2008, I asked Joe Cortese of PeSA about the strange and obsessive mud slinging some board members of IMA have been tossing at PeSA/ECMTA? Joe responded clearly and without rancor that this type of behavior was nothing new to him, in fact when the same people were part of the PeSA board he had to deal with this behavior on a daily basis.
(Some of the senior board members of Internet Merchants Association left PeSA in 2006 complaining about many of the same perceived issues reportedly occurring in IMA today. One wonders if these issues were real then or if they simply left PeSA with these same (now IMA) board members in 2006?)
Joe Cortese seemed to be honestly relieved that certain former members had decided to start their own organization. "This allows the board at PeSA to concentrate on matters more important to our members, we do not have the time to worry about what other trade organizations do or say".
Joe was honest about his dismay that the rank & file at both organizations had to deal with petty bickering and he was more than happy to not be dealing with it at PeSa any longer. In our conversation, (which was an impromptu interview on the floor at the PeSA pavilion at eBay Live 2008 ) Joe then moved on to positive aspects of his organization without spending any time to address any issues from the past, only looking forward to the future.
I felt Joe Cortese of PeSA answered my query with confidence, he was genuine about not wishing to devote any further resources to matters pertaining to anything certain board members of another organization may or may not say.
PeSA Board - Stock Photo
I am a member of PeSA and ECMTA - I am not a member of IMA.
This was not a researched choice, it was a matter of PeSA actively asking me to join and being interested in my business and my publication. I have found value in my membership and I have enjoyed meeting both board members and the rank & file at Professional eBay Sellers Alliance & the eCommerce Merchants Trade Association.
IMA has never contacted me, other than to send unfounded spam emails from unconfirmed sources to me with accusations about "another" Trade Organization. I am assuming these emails were sent in hopes of getting these unconfirmed accusations published in my blog. At no time has anyone at IMA asked me to join the IMA to experience first hand the real differences between the two organizations or to offer any kind or real world reason as to why I should select one over the other.
I really do not think it should be a one side against the other kind of deal.
All of the members of both organizations are seeking the same information, the same truths, the same values. Members of PeSA/ECMTA and of the IMA are all looking for ways to improve the eCommerce business as a whole and specifically their own business. I see no earthly reason for pitting the members of one trade group against the members of another. I don't think the board or members at PeSa see any benefit of doing so, but from the emails I have received from the other side, it seems certain people at IMA see it differently.
What is the purpose of bashing competition anyway? Only unimaginative marketers resort to slamming a similar product to promote their own. Sticking to positive messages about your own product is much more effective.
Why Waste Time & Resources on Mud-Slinging?
Why would any board member in either organization waste valuable time, resources or public perception to start a mud slinging nasty fight (either internally or externally) in the public eye? How does this benefit any member?
I want to thank Ina Steiner for presenting a fair article about the troubles at IMA and for detailing the similarities between the current situation at IMA and the previous disruption apparently involving the same and former members of PeSA.
I hope the internal IMA board troubles do not effect the rank & file members of the Internet Merchants Association in any significant way.
Hopefully the board at the IMA will get together and end this negative talk & energy and get on with the business of helping its members. Finding opportunities for merchants is the name of the game. Please, for your members sake, end the fighting and get on with business. If the merchants had wanted to participate in bickering and childish behavior they could do that on the eBay discussion boards for free.
In my short (6 month) time at PeSA & ECMTA I have not seen any kind of discord from the members or the board remotely similar to what was reported in Ina Steiners article, either in person or via the boards. We can only assume the IMA members have not been so lucky.
More information here from a disgruntled ex-member and ethics committee chair of IMA
If you have any information regarding the IMA or its board dispute which should be added to the discussion here at the Trading Assistant Journal, please do so in the comments box below or send a direct message through our contact page.