Monday, September 05, 2005

Bang the Gavel Slowly

Internet auction juggernaut eBay kinda screwed up, in my opinion. And that opinion is shared by many who buy & sell there. (Judging by eBay's forums.) See, in the post-Katrina aftermath, eBay sprang into action by offering charity auctions and things of that nature, along with donating $250,000. Which sounds lovely on the surface of it. Except that their charity auctions have to go through their middleman organization, which takes 2.9% of the total auction amount. Plus eBay is still charging both listing and final value fees. In other words, they're counting on the sellers to step up their selling efforts, rake in the fees, and just "donate" what they collect. All the while still counting it as profit and taking a nice tax write-off.

"But it's sensible business!" you might say. Well, yes, on paper it's textbook business management. In actuality, your success is due largely to the fact that so many people use the service. When a situation arises wherein you can show that you're not just a fee-happy monopoly that's nothing more than a glorified bulletin board and will actually contribute some of your $307.2 million in earnings as of July (expected revenue for the quarter: 4.3 Billion with a B) back to people who literally have nothing... ah, but I guess people who have nothing don't have anything to sell on eBay, so they're not really worth helping. Doesn't that just make you feel all warm and fuzzy?

This may bore the pants off of most of you, but we do a lot on eBay. Lately, though, they're just pissing me off. Which is why I was happy to discover that Yahoo auctions are free. Yep. No listing fees, no final value fees, nothing. If you look at my auctions, you see that the page even shows up better. No extra fees for the thumbnail images, either. (That page would've cost me about $15 to set up on eBay. Before the final value fees.

My point? Profit is fine. It's great. But where do you draw the line between "profit" and "gouging"? Think about that when you next get gas for your car.

And speaking of profit and spending all of your money on gas... if you're in the mood to do some holiday shopping (yes, I said it. It's September and I said it.) I am now the proud owner of an online store. I don't mean cafepress stuff, either. Kitchen stuff, binoculars, leather jackets, gadgets... neat! There's a ton of stuff. (But no butterflies.) If you look at the prices, you see I did the opposite of what a traditional businessman would do. I made my prices low. I guess I should change the name to "Crazy Wontar's", huh?

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