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 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.


Much ado about nothing. No, really.

Before I give myself and ulcer, I decided to stop getting hyper about (seemingly) unimportant things.

Problem: There is never anything good on TV.

Synopsis: That’s a fact, and that is probably the #1 reason why I don’t watch as much TV as I’ld like to. Given half a chance, I’ld happily watch Judge Judy and Jerry Springer for hours on end, though I’ld rather be watching Justice League cartoons, or Star Trek re-runs. Of course a lesser blogger would turn this idea into a 14,000 word essay on the demise of western civilisation. Or maybe global warming. But I got a better idea.

Solution: Don’t rely on TV.

Problem: You can become a project manager

Synopsis: this is an affront to intelligent people everywhere. i’m not saying that one doesn’t need to plan and prepare. i’m just saying that if you call it project management, then you are a loser. my boss recently employed someone because they “practise project management principles” and told me I could get some tips from him.

It took every ounce of my rather feeble will power not to go to my local hardware store, and return with a garden spade and smack every last ounce of life from her body.

I digress.

Solution: keep a garden spade in the office.

no one ever taught me how
to watch a television
like a baby i knew my candy
no one ever caught me
when i learned to ride a bicycle
and like the pavement embraced my skin
no one ever warned me
about that television
now i’m brain-dead at twenty seven
no one ever mended my
lumps and bruises
and now it’s hard to breathe
with a broken nose

wheat in no one ever told me

uc8010 is an SQL injection attack

02 January 2008
original post: a plea for help

I cannot find any information about this anywhere, but it happened to me and at least 76,800 others. Information is thin on the ground. If you know more please post it here.

As far as I can tell, the attack inserts <script src=http://?></script> into all varchar and text fields in your SQL database.

For lazy people like me, it is proving to be a nightmare! I have traditionally been very relaxed about this kind of business, I guess I must be more careful from now on.

07 January 2008
update on uc8010(dot)com

The exploit has been exposed and described (see the comments below; very, very informative, or go straight to the post-mortem). Below you can find out HOW they did it and WHAT it did. There is no magic fix, you will most likely have to restore your data from a backup, and to prevent further attacks you should escape all querystring variables coming into your database.
Thanks very much to the guys who posted their findings here! Much appreciated.

The attack *is* malicious, and the potential payload is described here (or this

Also watch out for ( which appears to be up to similiar tricks.

utorrent 1.7.x banned or broken

I dunno what happened, but it seems to me that uTorrent 1.7.x is broken and is being banned by several trackers. There are several VERY long threads at

Even the wiki has an entry under the headline Major Bugs. For posterity it currently reads (I suspect this will get removed from the post very soon).

Major bugs
On July 21, 2007 µTorrent version 1.7.2 was released which fixed two bugs that had caused earlier 1.7 versions to be banned on a variety of trackers. The bugs in question could cause wrong stats to be reported both intentionally and unintentional. The first bug was solved in version 1.7.1 and the second in 1.7.2[16]. Although rumors spread that these µTorrent versions also reported personal info to a unknown destination (possibly the RIAA or MPAA) this has not been proven.

The solution is pretty obvious:

There is a bigger issue here, and it concerns the survival of P2P, will our own paranoia about the MPAA / RIAA  force P2P out of use. Are they spreading the rumors, if they are it is certainly the best weapon they have against P2P. If its just paranoia, well that’s pretty sad. uTorrent, is one of the finest pieces of freeware ever, as essential as WinZip ever was. So let’s not ruin a good thing.

beta: getting it right the first time (making it for dummies)

Once every 5 or 10 years an idea so simple, so elegant, so obvious comes along and *SMACKS* you in the kisser. We call these ideas, good ones.  What I really want to talk about has nothing to with “getting it” or “making it”. Are you for real? What the hell did you think I was gonna tell you? The answer, you dumb-ass, is blowin’ in the wind. Bob D. wrote that like 40 years ago, he knew what you should know, but because you are so busy trying to make it, you forgot to think. Forgetting to think is probably the biggest problem around (the next biggest problem is witless assholes who think they have it all figured out). 

Anyway, that’s *slightly* off topic.

The biggest question today is not what you, or your Daily Mail | Express  neighbours think. They are irrelevant, the world is being re-shaped without their bullshit agenda. People are tired of lies, although their propensity to be lied to seems to rise with inflation.

Nirvana killed punk rock (by accident),  does that make them evil? We destroyed our planet (by accident)? Does that make us evil? Or stupid? Does it matter?

Answers on a postcard.

Stop wasting your time, there’s nothing coming; only a fool would think someone could save you

Don’t forget that of all the things that you are, you might best be judged by what you want to be (or do!). If I was a god, that’s how I’ld do it. It’s the intent that matters really, ultimately the truth of what and who you will are will surface. A wasted life would be one where it didn’t.

Remember “It’s the best years of your life they want to steal” (vide infra), so the quicker you listen to “the voices in your head” the better. The time is now, don’t wait till you have the BMW, the house, the knowledge. How much can that stuff really mean to you anyway.

It’s not about save the planet, it’s really about drowning out the other noises and voices which seek to steer you away from doing what it is you need to do.

The voices in your head are calling
Stop wasting your time, there’s nothing coming
Only a fool would think someone could save you
The men at the factory are old and cunning
You don’t owe nothing, so boy get runnin’
It’s the best years of your life they want to steal

Clampdown, The Clash (only a fool wouldn’t know that 🙂 

Why nothing you do will ever make a difference

Who was the Time “Person of the Year” in 2006? You’ll never believe it, no, you wouldn’t believe it if I told you, it was you (this is for real, not a “joke”).

How quaint? “You control the Information Age. Welcome to your world.” Who the fuck writes shit like this. Who the fuck believes it. Many do. Writing about holidays in the sun and polka dot bikinis.

No one cares about what you have to say.

You must have realised, after writing over 4,458 posts, and amassing 350 comments and 580,876 views, and 7.5 million page impressions, after building your pathetic “brand online“, you are #1 with a bullet in Technorati, you earn £0.53 a day from Google Adwords. What a success story you are.

You have a Page Rank of 4!

Well done, but guess what. Nothing you do ONLINE will ever make a difference. Turn it off, if you want to be noticed, go have a crap in the middle of the street, that works (you’ld be about £0.53p a day worse off though).