eBay Changes Story on Digital Download Situation – eBook Fraud or Feedback issue?

Stephanie Tilenius eBay GM

eBay Speaks & Answers Questions at Catalyst 2008

eBay’s new North American General Manager is the very capable Stefanie Tilenius. Stephanie came back to eBay from PayPal, eBay’s cash cow, and now finds herself in an unenviable position during this particularly tumultuous time of transition for eBay and its new management team & philosophy.

At Catalyst 2008 in Pinehurst, NC many questions were directed at Stephanie about the recent changes in fees, DSR’s (especially DSR’s) and other matters very near and dear to sellers’ hearts.

It seemed as though the sellers (and customers of eBay) wanted to hear some sort of indication that eBay recognizes the role sellers play in the entire picture. eBay has an incredible system, but without the sellers’ involvement, the system may not be so incredible anymore.

I think I heard a slight tone of understanding in Stefanie Tilenius when she answered direct questions from the audience, including myself. But her speech was read word for word from a script and it came off as an ominous warning to sellers, more than a “please bear with us while we make some changes to improve everyone’s business.” The speech itself was a warning siren, “you aint seen nothin yet” kind of statement and I personally think it went over like a lead balloon in that room. The sellers were looking for real answers to the questions of why and where and when, and all they got is just hold on, there is much more to come.

When my turn came at the microphone, I stated my name & the blog I represented and asked Stephanie directly what the eBay thinking was in regards to Digital Products. My question was focused on her opinion and some possible explanation of why eBay closed down an entire category and therefore ruining thousands of loyal sellers’ businesses?

Stephanie responded that “shutting down digital delivery was due to a fraud issue which had to be taken care of immediately.” I was completely surprised by this answer and immediately asked why, if it was a fraud issue, had Brian Burke stated so coldly that it was a feedback manipulation issue (and that these sellers had nothing invested anyway)? Stephanie seemed to be short of an answer for that question and responded by indicating that eBay does not always release the real reason why they do things like this… Oh really?

I pursued the issue with a outline of how placing digital downloadable material into the classifieds of eBay was a death sentence for the merchants because classified listings are not part of core search. I also mentioned that not every seller using the digital download service that eBay itself spent years developing was selling cheap eBook knock offs. What about the sellers offering real digitally delivered media, like software sellers, graphics designers, photographers and digital artists?

Stephanie conceded that changes are possible in the future…and then she asked me again the name of my blog, which I had clearly stated at the beginning of my question period.

I hope she and eBay are reading the Trading Assistant Journal because I do not think this issue has been handled fairly or equitably by eBay. I think if Stephanie Tilenius did not have all of the facts before she authorized this change in position regarding digitally delivered goods, then she should gather them now. I also think eBay is doing a lot of things very quickly to modernize the business of eBay, and taking this giant leap backwards does not seem to fit into that philosophy.

What do you think eBay and Stephanie should know about digital materials?

  • Do you sell doily patterns, digital art or software … or did you?
  • What has this eBay change done for/to your business, your lives, your future?
  • Do you have any stories of fraud related to digital downloadable materials on eBay?
  • Have you ever been ripped off by an eBook or other digital merchant?
  • Would you be OK with limiting the amount of feedback you could receive per week from Digital Download sales?
  • What do you think of Stefanie’s answer at Catalyst – is this a fraud issue or a feedback issue?

Please comment below. Maybe eBay is reading this blog right now….

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3 Responses to eBay Changes Story on Digital Download Situation – eBook Fraud or Feedback issue?

  1. gatoroxinc April 6, 2008 at 5:28 am #

    This is all very confusing. We noticed several of our digital ebook competitors were still selling their digital delivery goods on Friday. When we contacted eBay Live help to see if some type of exception had been made, we were told that they started those listings before the deadline. This was clearly not our understanding of the new policy, as all listings must end or be ended as of April 1st. Is this some elaborate April Fool’s joke?

    It sounds like eBay is very confused, themselves, as to what they are doing with digital delivery items. I hope they get it straightened out, soon. In the meantime, they may have permanently damaged their brand.

  2. Listomax May 14, 2008 at 9:14 am #

    eBay’s implementation of this is very heavy-handed. They took down software we sell at $99 and listed under “Everything Else > eBay User Tools” because we offered it for digital download.

    Now we are forced to sell it on CD: more cost and delay for the buyer, more hassle for us. Yet another bad move from the Trust and Safety division.


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