There’s a lot of talk in these days of economic gloom and despondency about being part of the squeezed middle: in other words that ever-growing section of society that’s increasingly seeing its income freefall whilst its bills and taxes rise inexorably.
Well, if you class yourself as being a paid-up member of this unfortunate group, then I’m sorry, but there’s a little more bad news. Private sellers on the internet auction site, eBay, are about to get hit with a 10% hike in charges for items listed in fixed-price sales. Yes, the good old buy-it-now is going to get a bit of a pasting when prices increase next month.
So why does eBay feel the need to increase its prices, and more to the point, why does this only apply to private sellers, not small and medium enterprises (SMEs)? Well, that’s the $64,000 question and one which eBay has carefully and skilfully avoided answering. Prices will increase from 21 July this year and will go up by 10%. The only limit is that this figure will be capped at a maximum of £40 for each transaction. The only justification that the internet auction house could give for the increase was that it made working out the cost of charges simpler and more transparent. Yes, it is simpler: it’s going to be more expensive.
An eBay spokesman told the BBC:
“We want to give our buyers a range of great value prices on eBay which is why both auction-style and fixed price (or buy it now) sales are integral to eBay’s business. [These changes] will make working out the cost of selling on eBay much simpler across the board, and still very competitive compared with other marketplaces.”
“It does not affect the 180,000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs trading professionally on eBay.co.uk as they are required by law to be registered as businesses and benefit from lower overall seller fees as a result. This means that our business sellers will continue to pass on great deals to customers.”
What eBay actually meant, but daren’t say is, we’re increasing the prices because we can, and we want to make some more money, so as you’re at the bottom of the food chain and aren’t one of our online SMEs, then you’ll be forced to pick up the tab. Thanks eBay – and a Merry Christmas to you too. Life’s bad enough in the squeezed middle without somebody else tightening the belt even further.