dear ebay, i might be lazy, but i ain’t stupid. how ebay’s less than transparent fee system is designed to hide the true cost of using their service

ebay. oh ebay. once one of the mightiest dotcoms of them all. now, just a stupid company trying to fleece the punters.

ebay shafted everyone back in January with their new fee structure 1,2,3. But that’s old news.

Like it or not, ebay are providing a service which you are under no obligation to use and they are free to charge what the hell they like, if you want to use it.

That said, here’s my beef.

Fees = L(x) + S(y) + P(y+z)

I recently sold an item on ebay for £35. Yippee.

However, here is the bill:

Listing fees        0.88
Selling fees        2.88
PayPal fees         1.58
                   --------
                    5.34
                   --------

£5.34 commission on a sale of £35, that’s pretty steep at around 15%. But, I don’t really have a problem with that per se.

The problem is really the way that is it done.

The total fee of £5.34 is charged quite sneakily:

  • firstly, it is split into three small fees, so psychologically it doesn’t seem that bad
    total fees = listing fees + selling fees + paypal fees* .        

    *ebay OWN paypal

     

  • The final fee is NEVER mentioned in any correspondence. After you have sold an item you get an email saying “You’ve sold your item on eBay”, but there is no mention of the fees that you now owe them
     
  • Even within the newly redesigned “my ebay” they are not AT ALL upfront about selling fees and how much you have paid to them. This information – should you decide you want to know what you have paid them – is hidden away deep inside your account details (“my account -> my fees -> view recent fees”).

Transparent? No. Do they really think that no one notices these things?

Just be up-front

In the “selling totals widget” of your “my ebay” page, clearly intended to show you how much money you have made, you see:

but really, this should include how much you are paying in fees, the “final selling value” figure itself is systematically inaccurate, with a error margin of upto around 25%. It is an inflated value, which makes you think that you are making more money that you are. (hmmm, i wonder if that’s important to ebay?)

Take a minute and compare that with what happens before you sell something on amazon:

practise what you preach

But the thing that really made me laugh was this.

Firstly ebay don’t (cannot?) charge you fees on postage and packaging, i.e., if you sell an item for £10 and charge £20 P&P they only charge you fees on the £10 selling fee. ebay don’t want to allow this because anyone with half a brain would charge 1p for the item and put the true price in P&P thus saving themselves paying ebay commission fees (and costing ebay most of their revenue).

So, ebay has a policy against charging excessive shipping fees. The thing that made me laugh was this section, encouraging titled “Why does eBay have this policy?” which is obviously a lie and is really about them protecting their revenue stream (which is ok, but why the lie?).

This policy reduces the potential for confusion among bidders about the full cost of an item. Listings that include excessive P&P fees lead to a poor buying experience and unlevel the playing field by putting sellers who charge reasonable P&P charges at a disadvantage. These listings undermine the trust and legitimacy of eBay’s marketplace.

oh really.

Hypochondria is your enemy

I’m well into my 4th month of my fun with pleurisy. I’ve had several chest x-rays now (all clear) and done skin prick tests, lung function tests and been seen three times by cardiothoracic specialists. The experts think I’m okay. I’m on some drugs (the first proper treatment) sodium diclofenac – an anti-inflammatory drug. The professor says that will fix me, and if it doesn’t he’ll run a CT scan. He’s pretty sure I’m okay. I’m back to see him in 8 weeks. 

Great.  So maybe I’m okay now. It still hurts, but very very very slowly it improves. Very gradually, almost immeasurably, but (I think) there is improvement.

But I’ll tell you what. After six months of feeling crap and being ill and being in pain, I’ve turned into a nervous wreck. Every sensation in my body is now analysed and re-analysed. A sore throat, a funny pain, a twinge, everything is treated with the utmost suspicion and fear. I’ve felt lumps in my throat. I’ve had headaches, and chest pains on the left (my pleurisy is on the right), I think just about anything it is a symptom of some new saga. 

The smallest sensation brings my mind racing and running through ridiculous and far-fetched scenarios. It’s got so bad that I’ve had to ban myself from looking at House. I’ve even suspected lupus.  

I wonder, once the pain is gone, (perhaps now, I can see the end of that tunnel) how long will it take for me to return to my “normal” anxiety levels.

The whole problem with anxiety is that is forms a vicious cycle of making you feel physically rubbish and that feeling makes you feel more anxious. It’s a bloody annoying thing. It’s well documented and I’m well aware of the process, but is that enough to stop it? 

My boys provide welcome relief.  “Daddy, I happy” D tells me every couple hours or so. He doesn’t know, may never know, what good medicine his words are.  The boys are both asleep now. I think I’ll go in and touch their little hands. It stills my heart like CBT never could.

Google Chrome 1 Mozilla Firefox 0

It’s live!

I’ve been playing around with Chrome for a short while now, but I know enough to say this:

It rocks.

I cannot vouch for stability as it has been literally minutes since I’ve downloaded it. But there are new and clever features (not gimmicks).

  • The Crash Control is already 100% smarter than the rather stupid “restore previous session” that you find in Firefox. (including a Task Manager for your browser. Is the browser an OS?)
  • Incognito mode looks smart (IE 8.0 also implements this).
  • A start page!
  • The other thing I really hate about Firefox / IE, the stupid “download manager”, well that’s gone.
  • The developer tools look decent.

I’m sure this is only the tip of the iceberg, but I’m really excited about this. Well done Google. I hope FF can weather the storm.

Don’t forget that apart from the technology factor, Google also help to fund Mozilla, this is no big secret, Time put it very nicely:

Google has long been a patron of its open-source browser, and pays a kind of “click back” to Mozilla for directing its 200 million users to Google search. In 2006, the last time Mozilla released its numbers on the subject, Google had paid the company $65 million.

So quite how that relationship stands now is anyone’s guess, but it cannot be good news for Mozilla Firefox.

Like I said earlier today, Firefox is gonna get a beating.

Firefox about to get a beating from Google

As if things weren’t bad enough for Firefox as it is, Google are about to release their own browser Google Chrome.  Of course, Mozilla are not worried, but let’s face it, this is not going to help Firefox at all.

Developers will happily jump to the Google browser, because that is were the main action is going to happen in the next few years. And with IE 8 promising and delivering new features, suddenly FireFox looks old and tired just like it’s granddaddy Netscape.

Microsoft / IE stand to lose nothing from this at all (in the short term), and if there are any casualties it will be FireFox and not IE (for an opposing view).

When I originally started this, I was bitching about Firefox, having said that I’ld be very sad to see it go, so let’s hope it can somehow, against all odds manage to stand up to both Microsoft and Google.

When I put it like that, I suddenly realise what I liked about FireFox in the first place.

Incidentally, Google Chrome is now live. You can download it too.

3 months and counting. The joys of pleurisy.

My fun with pleurisy is not yet over it would seem. I was recovering quite happily and I think I may have over-exerted myself over the last week or so, and the pains feel as bad as they did 6 weeks ago.

It is really really boring. I’m not suffering from the acute form anymore (ie “not the super painful I’m being stabbed in the chest everytime i breathe” form), it is really just annoying, it can be quite painful if I do the wrong thing (move suddenly, twisting etc) but more or less it feels like a stitch. There is some tightness in my chest, and I’m not sure if that is anxiety or my lungs.

I found this Pleurisy Forum, which looks useful, so may hang out there for the next 3 years or so. Phah.

It’s almost fun there because you hear of cases so much worse than your own, that you start thinking maybe you are ok.

For example:

My mother has had pleurisy for 16 weeks now. Along with the severe pain she also feels very ill and I am becoming increasingly concerned. She has had about 10 lots of antibiotics and a chest xray.

(from http://experience.patient.co.uk/discussion.php?t=20516)

Admittedly I’m going on to three months now, which is almost 16 weeks, but at least I haven’t had that many anti-biotics.

I’ld also thought I’ld some of these alternative treatments. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am seriously against hippy shit like this, but doing something has got to be better than doing nothing. Maybe.