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eBay a Good Buy?

Buy eBay? Hmmm....

I read this morning that Merrill Lynch has changed their stock buying recommendation for eBay. Recently M-L had eBay listed as a neutral, but today they are recommending it as a good buy opportunity based on three factors.

The M-L cited factor which caught my attention involved eBay's new management and change in mentality. Hmmm. As a longtime eBay participent both in buying and selling, I have to say that the new management and the changes they have instituted have not been well received by or truely beneficial to the eBay community as a whole. Most seem dramatically slanted towards protecting innocent buyers from evil sellers, an attitude that has come on board with the advent of the new management.

In the past, eBay was always run as a community. Certainly they profited, but so did sellers and buyers enjoyed the benefit of a wide selection of goods and collectibles at reasonable prices. We all enjoyed a level playground and were treated equally. Sometimes a buyer didn't pay, sometimes a seller didn't describe an item fully. eBay did a reasonable job of mediation when it was needed and for smaller incidents users absorbed the losses and moved on.

Recently however, I get the feeling that the new eBay management thinks that dishonesty only originates from the pool of sellers, while all buyers are true-blue. This is not always the case. As I mentioned earlier, some buyers never send payment. Worse still, recently I have been hearing from some sellers that buyers are sometimes claiming they did not receive the item and getting a forced PayPal refund. In one specific instance this happened only three days after the close of the sale and payment was complete. For normal service, the USPS just does not work that fast. In the last year, I know of at least one seller who has lost hundreds of dollars to buyer fraud of this type. So I guess my point is, dishonesty on eBay is a two way street and sellers deserve as much protection as buyers.

For my part however, I would prefer it to be as it was in the beginning. A friendly community exchanging stuff. It was more fun in those days, before it became big business.

Which brings us back around to the Merrill Lynch buy recommendation. They are basing this on a percieved atmosphere of change at eBay. Well, there is no question about change in the air at eBay, buy I'm not likely to be buying, as I don't anticipate that these changes will build a better community or a stronger business in the long run.