Online auction company eBay is facing an angry international mob of sellers who are protesting about new listing and fee structures to be introduced next week.
A boycott of the auction site was staged in Britain this week, petitions are being signed worldwide and a group of Australian sellers plan to make their stand next Monday in protest to the changes, which some claim represent a threat to their businesses.
eBay’s recent shift in strategy comes as it looks to return to its more traditional "core" listings business. The proposed changes will target only sellers using its fixed price "store inventory" listings that tend to run for longer periods and display large amounts of product.
Company spokesman Daniel Feiler, said the changes were based on customer feedback and would ensure "buying on eBay remained easy and fun for everyday Australians".
The company has already moved to reduce the visibility of the "store inventory" listings, which until recently were prominently displayed in auction search results, and next week will substantially raise some of the listing fees it charges.
Nikki Bradley, a former Australian eBay "power seller", whose business trades under the name "wishbox" said she pulled all of her listings from the site on the day the announcement was made, and had shifted her shop to another auction site.
More than 150 other local sellers have vowed to follow suit according to a tally being run on an eBay community forum and Ms Bradley said many of these were well established online retailers, who felt their eBay businesses would no longer be viable.
While eBay maintains that the changes will affect only a small number of sellers, Ms Bradley said many large sellers had been persuaded to switch over to store inventory listings after they were heavily promoted by the company.
"eBay really pushed people to open up these stores and there were huge promotions to put up inventories. Once these got established many of us changed our product focus and the way we ran our businesses. Now they are asking us to change it back again, right in the lead-up to the critical Christmas trading period," she said.
Taraeta Nicholls, an eBay hobby seller, said that while she planned to remain with eBay, she had also been expanding her operations to Australian auction sites, OZtion and aussiebid, which she said charged lower fees.
"I will be continuing to monitor my eBay sales, and plan to increase my prices there to reflect the new fees. I also do a lot of buying and I do check all three sites and have found that the products listed on the others tend to be cheaper," she said.
OZtion, a recently established Australian auction site, said it had been one of the key beneficiaries of eBay’s fee rise, adding 15,000 new members since the company made the announcement late last month.
"Of those 15,000 new members, 1900 have identified as professional sellers, and have already paid to go through OZtion’s security checks for sellers," the company said.