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.

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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.

More trouble for Firefox as IE 8.0 in beta

IE 8.0 beta looks pretty sweet from what I’ve seen. Last week, I reported that FireFox 3.0 really sucks, and now Microsoft have added to their woes.

Here is the bad news for FF:

  • A new standards mode:

    “The brand-new implementation of Standards mode in Internet Explorer 8 offers the best viewing experience of web pages created according to the latest web standards.”

  • There are CSS improvements, support for data URIs, AJAX enhancements and support for DOM storage.
  • There’s a new tool for developers that includes a DOM inspector, a JavaScript profiler, a color picker and ruler, options to outline objects, disable CSS and validate web pages. For me, this is the #1 reason why I still (occasionally) use FireFox.
  • Inline search: now you can search inside a page from an elegant bar similar to the one from Safari. (This is MAJOR issue for me. Currently in IE, searching in page can be QUITE painful, IE attempts to search the page after each keystroke. So if you are in a very long document and you want to search for “stupid” when you type the first letter ‘s’ it starts parsing the document looking for s’s. This usually results in me having to terminate the stupid thing.)
  • Notepad wasn’t the best software for viewing the source code of a page, so IE8 includes a simple text viewer with syntax highlighting. Too bad that you can’t view the source code for selections.
  • InPrivate Browsing in Internet Explorer 8 helps prevent your browsing history, temporary Internet files, form data, cookies, and usernames and passwords from being retained by the browser, leaving no evidence of your browsing or search history.”

All in all, real new features, FireFox when is 4.0 coming??

z0mg!! The Oxford English Dictionary to allow leet?

The establishment is so out of the loop I spend more time looking up words at urban dictionary than I do using traditional sites like the OED or Dictionary.com.

I accept that urbandictionary.com does include some silly stuff (eg flintstoning and dumbass) but there are terms like RTFM and hardcode which do appear in support forums et al. and are terms that you could quite easily come across, yet they do not appear in “the dictionary”.

I’m not 100% sure about what to include and what not to, because Usenet terms  and l33t et al are tied up in computing, coding, gaming and other internet activities, it is difficult to know what is jargon or colloquialism or meme or which are “words that should be in the dictionary”. But hell, if you look up something like leet, you get something along the lines of:

1. a special annual or semiannual court in which the lords of certain manors had jurisdiction over local disputes.
2. the area over which this jurisdiction extended, including the manor itself and, sometimes, nearby counties or shires. 

In all seriousness, these terms went out of use probably 300 years ago, whereas leet is a real “language” used today, but no mention of hacking, elite or suxx0rs.

I’m not saying the dictionary needs to include a whole bunch of “leet words”, I’m saying words like “leet” and “omg” are “words that should be in the dictionary”.

Admittedly it may be necessary to bowlderize some terms.

This is not me in my normal facetious mode, I’m being deadly serious. I accept that they haven’t yet included “z0mg” (ie oh my god < omg < OMG << z0mg), but really even really popular things like “lol”, “rolf” and “lmao” aren’t in there. The thing is these words aren’t even complex ideas, they are really just acronyms that have entered the language. And they HAVE entered the language (albeit only written :o), just not made it into “the dictionary”.

The OED has a rather inclusive policy:

“ It embraces not only the standard language of literature and conversation, whether current at the moment, or obsolete, or archaic, but also the main technical vocabulary, and a large measure of dialectal usage and slang (Supplement to the OED, 1933).[37] ”

So I’m not too sure what they are wating on.

Somethings to consider which I cannot be bothered to write about

urbandictionary.com has over 3,233,674 definitions. Time Magazine called it in their top 50 sites of 2008

Are emoticons words?

When I was a boy, to prove some point you would  “look it in the dictionary / encyclopedia” but I guess that just isn’t true anymore, now you would just “check the internet” or “google it”.

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

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).