back to article eBay revenue shrinks for first time in history

In the fourth quarter, for the first time in its history, eBay saw a decline in year-over-year revenue. "We're not happy about that," CEO John Donahoe told analysts and reporters during the requisite conference call announcing the company's Q4 results. For the quarter ending December 31, eBay pulled in sales of $2.04bn, a 6.6 …


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  1. filey


    Can we expect customer service levels to plummet further (if this is possible) ?

    skull and crossbones? probably not the first comparison to pirates....

  2. Solomon Grundy


    Burn it to the ground. eBay sucks.

  3. Repo
    Thumb Down

    Corporate Blindness

    The drop in revenues has of course nothing to do with the fact that there have been so many changes in rules, site layout, search engine performance and of course eBays usual increases in fees payable to bleed the sellers even more. Sellers protested vigorously but were ignored and eventually many just left eBay.

    If anything, eBays performance on both volume and profit should have increased as more people turn to the tat bazaar for a perceived bargain.

  4. Losheda

    All the good sellers left

    I used to have a long list of excellent sellers i could choose from. They had large large amounts of stock and sold them at very competitive prices, the items arrived well packaged and if there were any issues support was reliable and sorted it out without much hassle. Now its down to less than 10, all the good sellers seem to have left. All thats left are overpriced buy it now items and a small amount of auction listings. Sometimes its even cheaper to buy from amazon rather than ebay.

    Ebay is only as good as the sellers who list the items, now that they're leaving, ebay doesn't have a hope in hell.

  5. Timo

    maybe the market for stolen stuff is off this year

    like Solomon said - eBay sucks. The best place in the world to buy stolen and/or counterfeit goods. If you're looking for something worth buying -- look somewhere else.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    It started off so well too

    Ebay used to be an amazing place to buy hard to find things, but it's gone downhill so much that I don't see myself using it again any time soon. Going to PayPal only was the last straw. My uncle is/was a seller and he's really mad at eBay too.

  7. wsm

    feeBay anyone?

    Of course the CEO is not happy. Why won't his plan to continuously increase fees and restrict payment to his own PayMePal system work like it should? Well, it is--working like it should. Nearly everyone is looking for alternatives while the executive management hasn't a clue.

    Watching my coat pocket closely enough to avoid eBay...

  8. Greg

    Sellers are gone, fees are extortionate

    eBay used to be chock full of sellers, both drop sellers and people flogging their odd bits online. Now the fees are so extortionate and the new search settings are so god-damned annoying, all the smaller sellers have gone, and it's slowly turning into a buy-it-now drop-shipping directory. Which is lame. It used to be great, rummaging around eBay and finding all the little collector's items being sold by a granny in Tunbridge Wells, but now it's just one more online store. Once everyone sods off to eBid or somewhere similar, maybe that spirit will come back on another site. I really hope so.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Speaking as a former Silver Powerseller

    eBay completely lost the plot I would say as much as 4 - 5 years ago now. WE NEED A VIABLE COMPETITOR.

  10. Steve

    Not suprised

    £10 charge to sell a £95 PSP on eBay - what a bloody rip off!

    That's a standard listing, plus bold on it. No "featured item", no subtitle or anything. One picture, some HTML and bold. Slap on eBay's fee as well as PayPal and it was £10 bloody quid!

    Plus of course I HAD to use PayPal for "security" reasons as well as waiting till I got feedback / 30 days before I could release the funds.

    What a joke.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Do the auctions include all the scammers?

  12. James Woods

    scammed once

    I was scammed once on ebay by a well known poster seller. The seller had a ton of ebay accounts, alot of reputation, good/bad, more good then bad. I ordered and paid for 3 posters, seller sent 1. I asked over and over again for the other two but the seller didn't send em. Ebay wouldn't do squat for me, I wasn't aware of the PayPal dispute policies back then otherwise I guess I could of filed a PayPal dispute.

    Anyhow like everyone else says ebay is only good as the sellers it entices, if they keep raising fees and rules then your going to have more shady characters that run around with multiple accounts scamming people.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    A Power Seller who had enough

    I used to sell on ebay (power seller 3000+ feedback), they changed their pricing structure and sent me a nice little planning tool to show me which of the subscription tools would "save" me money.

    Tried it for a month and got our first bill in from ebay, it was fifty quid more than the last month and we had sold less, buyers had seemed to become more mecenary now negitive feedback couln't be left by sellers.

    Ebay in the bin, went over to Yes there are fewer people buying than on Ebay, but there are no fee's because I've paid for a lifetime seller deal for less than an Ebay's monthly bill!

    Sorry, no real conclusion and more of a rant, but;

    If everyone finds out about, will they become the next evil Ebay?

  14. Anonymous Coward

    People have had enough

    It's got too expensive to sell / list

    No ones buying

    The new search is a pain in the bum and doesn't find as much as the old one. I used and and got fed up with it. I'm still in opt-out (For another month or two)

    Some sellers don't care, items arrive almost unpacked and damaged because of this. It then takes too much effort to resolve.

    Postage has not rised too much, in two ways. 1) the real cost of post from the post office. 2)the excessive cost that some sellers charge for postage on top of the post office cost.

    I've had a few items that I won for 99p that never arrived. They would have been a bargin but I guess the seller didn't want to let it go for that price and claimed it was lost in post and refunded me.

    I keep reporting listing infringements. External links, people adding on VAT etc, and nothing happens. The only way for this sort of thing to be actioned is to call them.

    The list could go on and I don't have all day.

    Finally, if you use eBay you computer will fail. I say this as it's now too oftern that when eBayers are late responding to you it's always down to the fact that their computer was down and couldn't email you :o)


  15. Anonymous Coward

    There are fools

    on eBay who will pay more for a 2nd hand product than a new one at, let's say Amazon. I had to get rid of a remote control via auction. The winning bidder paid £10 more for my 2 year old item than the exact product new on Amazon.

    No wonder a lot of stuff on eBay is overpriced. Small time sellers cannot compete with larger outfits on price and others looking to make a quick buck from naive buyers.

    I don't sell there much now as I only want to offload old junk for tuppence but eBay want to charge me a kings ransom to dispose of it.


  16. Jon Brunson


    I hope they crash & burn! I sold one of my Wii games on there last week, of my £19.55 sale price, eBay took £2.98 through four different fees - that's over 15%!! Why the hell any decent person would want to sell stuff on there any more is beyond me...

    I'll stick to the local paper in the future - free all the way!

  17. Wokstation

    ""We're not happy about that,""

    I'm sure that's what sellers were thinking when they got charged through the butt and had their ability to leave feedback removed.

    That's got nothing to do with it their profit-drop, of course...

  18. Tim
    Paris Hilton

    @ Repo

    I think you are pretty much spot on there. The numerous changes and charges (and don't forget Paypal's involvement in that too) have really pushed away many sellers, resulting in it being left full of thousands of items of dreadful new tat. It is quite a shame, as the environmental benefits are very high of having a marketplace where unwanted items can be traded for reuse, instead of sending them for landfill.

    Paris, cos she sheds a tear when the buyer pulls out.


  19. Richard Jukes

    Good News

    I think we can all agree that when times are hard Ebay's revenue should increase as more people turn to it to get cheap bargains and sell their unwanted tat. So reasoning stands that Ebay should be the last company into the recession, thus I reason that the construction industry should be coming out in the next 6 months to 8 months. It wont be as good as the boom periods, but it will be better than it is currently.

    As much as people like to moan about the recession, its really not as bad as people say, there is still money out there, there is still work out there, hell there are even still jobs out there.

    Of course, Paypal's revenue has increased 11% so perhaps this just indicates that rather than completing the sale on Ebay people are completing the sale on paypal and forgoing the ebay final value fee's, but seeing as the same sales before were using paypal I am doubtful.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    "We're not happy about that,"

    Why ever not?

    Isn't that precisely what he was TRYING to do, by forcing people to use new user-hostile search forms that deliberately give additional but unwanted results, making it harder to find the things people were specifically looking for ?

    His plan was to discourage make things harder for small buyers and sellers to make room for bigger sellers. That part of the plan is working. Unfortunately he has yet to work out why the bigger sellers should be interested in a site that is deliberately making things harder for buyers.

    Maybe he will be sufficiently "not happy" to do the honourable thing and resign. Then hopefully shareholders will be able to replace him with somebody who can put things back to how they were last year.

  21. Adrian

    No auctions anymore

    I used to buy all my camera gear off eBay (USA/HongKong sellers) but nowadays all they do is BuyItNow and with the exchange rates so deplorable I can actually buy new camera kit in the UK cheaper than I can off eBay - what is the world coming to?

    And it's still full of scammers, eBay's profits are probably down because they are getting caught now before getting the money, and that is due soley due to buyers complaining and not eBay's so called Security team doing any monitoring.

    Pirates ? Must have hit the wrong icon :-)

  22. Dan S

    They got greedy

    I had an ebay shop which helped finance my PhD. Ebay's customer service was never good, but as time went by they eroded profit margins so badly that it ultimately became uneconomic for me and many other sellers. Time and time again they'd tell us fees were being reduced, but when you read the small print it only applied in incredibly limited circumstances. On a £5 sale I could end up paying them nearly £1.50 after listing fees, shop fees, selling fees and paypal fees.

    It is sad really because some sellers were very good and there was, in the early days, a tremendous sense of good-will.

  23. Tim Cook
    Thumb Down

    As above

    It's textbook company failure - picking apart a successful model for the sake of it (two way feedback was fundamental to the way the "good old" ebay worked), and then squeezing dry the people that made it a success in the first place.. they deserve to fail.

    The eBay of old was ideally placed to thrive in a recession, but the current management have utterly failed to understand their own business and benefit from that.

  24. Jess

    Site doesn't work properly with noscripts

    So I have been buying less.

    It even saved me £50 on an item I was planning to buy, but couldn't immediately (I won't enable scripts at work for personal browsing) and I found a new item cheaper with full warranty

  25. e-DUDS

    Not so bad

    Only a small drop in the grand scheme of things. I think that blaming it on the world economy was a bit of escapist nonsense. In times like these eBay's profits should be well up as people abandon the High Street stores. The other auction sites on the internet are becoming more and more attractive now.

  26. Erudite Luddite
    Thumb Down


    Have been interested in a variety of items (camera, lenses, notebooks) and been searching on eBay for a month now.

    It baffles me why:

    1) The majority of (alleged) "buyers" seem happy paying 80%+ of the NEW price for something secondhand from an unknown seller.

    2) Some items go for way over 100% of the new price (e.g. HP 2133).

    3) Anyone would want to bid against other bidders whose identity is hidden.


    eBay used to be a great place to buy 2nd hand. But no more. Might as well buy new, or secondhand from a proper retailer with a guarantee.

  27. The Avangelist

    I don't want another shopping mall

    If I wanted to browse the high street I would get off my butt and do it.

    I liked ebay before they allowed commercial trading. Now I just don't see the point, the listings are flooded with grey imports and bullshit scammers.

    Give it back to people and you will find it may decrease its profits but will greatly increase in its value.

    At the very least allow to remove shops from your search results.

  28. RW

    It's the MS syndrome

    "Now we is a monopoly so we can bum-fuck our customers any way we want."

    For me, the last straw was about a year ago. A carefully crafted search string to look for specific articles of clothing (brand, style, size, etc) suddenly started returning all sorts of other crap I was NOT interested in.

    Did it ever occur to the dimbulbs at Ebay that if someone has a long, complex search string, they're probably looking for something very specific and are profoundly disinterested in "similar" items????

    Evidently not.

    The decline and fall of Ebay will become a textbook case of how not to manage a business. Here a natural monopoly has so badly screwed over its customer base that they're leaving in droves and the business is beginning to implode.

    Reasons? Greed and, I suspect, the usual brain-dead approach of marketers and beancounters.


  29. Mongers
    Thumb Up

    No surprise.

    I Gave up selling on ebay about 6 months ago, it just became too expensive in time and money. If I want to sell the ocassional think, I put it on; in comparison a very hassle free system.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Donna Th' Hoe is Full of shit.

    It surprises me when analysts post these articulate spiels about Ebay and the Economy - it's all bullshit.

    The people who run Ebay are so greedy and so corrupt and it's such a BAD company to do any business with that people are leaving and or refusing to use that dump of a website - and they are refusing to take any more shit from this company - ever again.

    If you riff off, stand over and screw enough customers - there goes your business. The people who manage Ebay have shit on a real lot of people. BIG TIME.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google Search - "Fuck Ebay"

    It surprises me when analysts post these articulate spiels about Ebay and the Economy - it's all bullshit.

    The people who run Ebay are so greedy and so corrupt and it's such a BAD company to do any business with that people are leaving and or refusing to use that dump of a website - and they are refusing to take any more shit from this company - ever again.

    If you riff off, stand over and screw enough customers - there goes your business. The people who manage Ebay have shit on a real lot of people. BIG TIME.

  32. Andy Watt
    Thumb Down

    yup, that's what I thought

    ebay are out of control. it's been a long time since I listed anything, the big commercial sellers coming in just squeezed me out, what's the point when buyers get a million matches, some from argos?

    ebay forgot that several million individuals would probably give you more stability than a few big accounts. plus the major online retailers went ebay-esque at the same time (amazon, play to name 2). ebay is now sinking, and the individuals who made it work are on the life rafts.

    farewell old girl, your arrogant captain will no doubt bail out with a 7 figure handshake just before you finally sink to the bottom.

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