Online Auction's Chris Fain Plan for the Future: Charge Buyers $8.00 a Month

Online CEO Chris Fain, during a live Internet Radio show presented by ECMRN (e-commerce Marketing Radio Network) , detailed a plan to charge buyers $8.00 a month subscription for access to buy from the auction venue in the future. (He did clearly state this plan would not be implemented anytime soon, but from the excitement in his voice when describing the subscription based buyer access, it sounds like more than a passing idea).

Chris compared the plan to purchasing a membership in Sam’s Club or Costco, where buyers will join the venue to gain access to goods and services.  Additionally, Chris Fain envisions a day when becomes a venue which surpasses eBay in volume of listed items and even exceeds eBay’s revenue model.

Interesting vision of the future, I will say that before buyers would pay for access to listings on any online marketplace, I think some sort of extraordinary value proposition will have to be developed. What can OLA offer buyers, beyond a place to hunt for bargains, which will inspire them to pay a monthly subscription fee?  Possibly bulk access to other services?  Discounts on web hosting?  A Buying service much like a professional gift buying service, available to those buyers who do not want to search listings for the best price/value? No indication from Chris Fain, but the possibilities are certainly interesting to ponder.

What would inspire you to pay a subscription fee for access to

In other news from OLA

  • Sellers will soon be given access to Reliabid protection. (Follow the link to learn more about the Reliabid service.
  • Also The World Lingo Translation Service is now offered to sellers for a small fee. The service automatically translates listings into multiple languages.

  • In less than 10 days time, will offer sellers a fixed price listing option. This should help sellers get more search engine traffic to the items listed on OLA.  Additional plans include OLA Ad buys from Google and other Search Engine marketing efforts.

It seems like OLA has a plan for the future based upon providing sellers value for the low fees OLA charges for access to the venue. Valuing the sellers as a resource to build upon the initial success at OLA is a nice approach.

Stay tuned for more updates on

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0 Responses to Online Auction's Chris Fain Plan for the Future: Charge Buyers $8.00 a Month

  1. Andy Geldman August 8, 2008 at 9:47 am #

    This is pure madness! At a time when any serious eBay competitor needs to attract as many buyers as humanly possible, a competitor’s CEO suggests charging them!

    Makes me worry for the future of!

  2. Scott @ August 8, 2008 at 10:00 am #

    Andy Et Al…

    I think Chris Fain was speculating more about the future… way in the distant future in fact.

    He seems to realize the importance of building up both regular buyers and sellers using the venue.

    This part of the conversation was derived from a previous question about the fee structure for sellers in the future. Chris was adamant that any and all sellers who join as founding members will always pay the same price per year as they do now ($198 USD). His speculation about future growth in revenue for the OLA brand led him to the discussion of offering a subscription based model for buyers… in the future.

    No plans were announced to implement this plan at this time. This was just a discussion about the future ideas and plans of a visionary CEO. I am sure many other pieces have to be in place before any such plan could be seriously looked at.

    Thanks for your comment, I apologize if my headline gave the wrong impression.


  3. Jamie August 8, 2008 at 11:29 am #

    $8.00 a month with no listing or final value fees? It’s a good deal. I’m selling on OLA for much less than I paid in eBay fees.

    And if something doesn’t sell: No fees to relist, you can set your auctions up to relist automatically. Saves time, saves money.

    Plus I feel like I’m part of a real community. OLA listens when I ask questions or have suggestions.

  4. Jamie August 8, 2008 at 11:44 am #

    Would I pay $8.00 a month to shop? I already pay more than that: Costco. Plus I have to drive there and drag around a big cart and buy more than I intended (yes, I HAVE to, it’s part of the experience), then haul it home.

  5. Dave White August 8, 2008 at 2:52 pm #

    It is my belief that what Chris Fain said during his interview on was just as Scott described, futuristic thinking. Certainly there was no indication that charging a monthly buyers fee of $8.00 per month was anything imminent.

    Currently buyers can register on the OLA site at no charge. These buyers are limited to bidding on items less than $1000, and there is a limit of $1000 in bids per day placed on them.

    Buyers may choose to register for a verified membership which costs $4.00 per month. This monthly fee first of all verifies the buyers information reducing deadbeat buyers. It also removes any restrictions of bidding on items over $1000 as well as removes the limit on the amount of bids a buyer can place. As a seller this verification places me more at ease when verified buyers place bids on my items.

    When Chris discussed the future, and charging a monthly membership type fee for both buyers and sellers, much like Costco or Sam’s Club the idea intrigued me. If you attend a live auction today, most buyers are charged a “buyers premium” of generally 10-15%

    Remember forward thinking visionaries are what is needed in ecommerce today and even though it may seem like a foreign concept today, membership type venues actually are in place today. The buyers just don’t realize they are paying for use of these sites by paying higher prices to cover the sellers outrageously high selling fees.

    Listen to Chris Fain’s comments by going to

  6. Consignment Pal August 8, 2008 at 8:16 pm #

    Scott – I like your “Buying Service” idea.

    Dave – Right on!

    Linda Miller
    Consignment Pal Business Directory

  7. Phantom*SF August 8, 2008 at 9:58 pm #

    I think the plan certainly is something to ponder on and has potential. Not out of the question at all.

    If mixed with the right incentives, per se certain rebates on various items, after let’s say to be eligible for after a 3 month membership, etc. could well gain interest among buyers.

    Offer something basic like a gasoline card tombola for which qualifying members are automatically enrolled in, or $100.00 – $200.00 towards someone’s monthly electricity bill. These events could happen maybe 2 – 4 times a year, who know’s – maybe even monthly. All depending upon how many new paying customers it attracts.


  8. Henrietta August 9, 2008 at 3:49 pm #

    The current $4 a month for verified buyers together with sellers who want the buyer of a 99c used book to be verified is the reason I do not shop at OLA.

    It is also the reason I do not list items for sale there, and that is a pity because for the most part you could not meet a nicer bunch of people than the average OLA seller.

    I have to take issue with the theory of a Costco card costing more on an annual basis and the perception of value attached to Costco membership.

    Your basic Costco membership is $40 a year plus tax. Online or in person wholesale shopping (drag that cart) in 8 countries with hundreds of warehouses, is not the only benefit to membership. Access to discounted tire shops, optical, pharmacy, gas, travel, auto purchase, merchant CC processing, medical and dental plans, real estate, insurance, payroll and financial services are included. If you opt for the Executive membership at $100 a year it gives 2% cash back on annual spending. In my case it more than pays for my membership.

    All this for 20% less per year than the opportunity to spend my money at one small online sales venue, period.

    In today’s economy anything which adds an extra step to gratification of the purchase impulse is likely to result in no sale.

  9. AuctionBeginner September 21, 2008 at 12:46 am #

    I’m worry about the future of!

  10. Jenny September 21, 2008 at 3:31 am #

    Eventually as usual the greed will win over loyalty.
    Human nature on show once again sadly.

    The most sellers simply want a safe and permanent place to call home where there are no policy changes all the time.

    We have learnt our lesson as a Community and now we are offering that chance at

  11. BeverlyJ December 7, 2008 at 2:47 am #

    Chris Fain has the right idea of charging buyers to become verified members. There was a time back in the old days of ebay where the only form of payments were checks or money orders. As a seller on I can continue to accept personal checks as payment. My verified OLA members find that I do not hold their personal checks to clear my bank before I ship the item. I can treat these payments same as cash because I know the person is real. I have not received a personal check from any verified buyer where their OLA member name and address did not match the name and address on the check I received.

    A person that has the intent of being malicious will not give their real name and address much less pay to have that information verified. This along decreases the risk of a transaction going bad due to malicious intent.

    Those that think should verify buyer without a fee to the buyer do not understand that there is a cost involved for the verification. This cost has to come out of someone’s pocket and that should be the buyers pocket. The buyer wants a safe place to shop and the seller wants a safe place to sell. Both the buyer and seller has to pay their share of the cost of making a safe place to shop.


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