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eBay Revisits Online Appraisals

eBay and new partner Sales OnLine Direct think all those musty collectibles in your attic might be worth something. After all, one man's trash is another man's treasure.

After eBay's earlier alliance with Eppraisers.com, a casualty of the dotcom bust last year, popular demand has urged the auction site to once again provide a reliable and inexpensive resource for buyers and sellers to gauge the value of items they are willing to part with, or just merely curious about. Grandma always told you those Hummel figurines were worth something to somebody.

eBay's newest alliance is with Ask the Appraiser, the online appraisal arm of Sales OnLine Direct and its subsidiary CollectingChannel.com, that calls upon the appraisal expertise of fine arts and collectibles professionals around the country to provide online valuation assessments of items in 170 sub-categories from antique cookie jars and baseball cards, to art pieces and antiques.

Ask the Appraiser will also provide links to live chats and help sessions conducted by Sales OnLine Direct appraisal experts.

According to Sales OnLine Direct, all of the appraisers who contribute to the Ask the Appraiser service are members of the Association of Online Appraisers, and appraisals are written in conformance with the Appraisal Report Writing Standard.

"What we're doing is offering an appraisal service for folks looking for a fun, easy, and inexpensive way to find the market value of items that they own," said David Maloney, director of appraisal services for Sales OnLine Direct. "In my experience, 98 percent of Americans don't know what they own and what the values are. They don't know if the value of a given item is significant even though they know it is special."

Under the terms of the agreement, eBay will provide a link to CollectingChannel.com where buyers and sellers can register with Sales OnLine Direct, fill out a detailed questionnaire on the item they wish to have appraised, and attach 1-5 digital images. For a nominal fee, a detailed appraisal of the item will arrive via email within three business days explaining the estimated value and history of the item, with a link to a secure site where the appraisal that can be accessed by a third party.

eBay will market the new service and Sales OnLine Direct will manage it. Revenue will be split evenly between the two companies.

"Sales OnLine Direct's Ask the Appraiser enhances the online shopper's experience by giving eBay users convenient access to valuable objective information, true market value, and qualified expert's insight," said Jennifer Lindh, senior category manager for eBay. "We believe the 'Ask the Appraiser' service will help give eBay buyers and sellers greater confidence in making purchase decisions."

Ask the Appraiser will be an operational link on eBay by May 2, 2002.

eBay also said it has signed a multi-year deal with Qwest Communications that has the auction site using a state-of-the-art Qwest CyberCenter in Sunnyvale, Calif.

The idea is to augment eBay's rapidly growing marketplace, which has nearly 46 million registered users, with yet another backup system. eBay also uses Sprint, Exodus and Metromedia Fiber Network subsidiary AboveNet to keep its auctions humming along.

"The success of our diversification strategy relies on finding world class hosting providers who can meet eBay's growing demands for space, power and bandwidth," said eBay vice president of operations and IT Marty Abbott.