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uBid Adds Some uFees

New CEOs usually take a hard look at bottom lines, and apparently that's just what Christian Feuer has done at uBid, as the alternative auction site is moving to impose listing fees on its consumer auctions.

Chicago-based uBid named Spiegel Catalog Inc. executive Feuer to the top job in May.

uBid, a majority-owned operating company of CMGI. , tried to put a happy face on the move, saying that "the new fee structure is designed to provide sellers with a less expensive alternative to other auction providers such as eBay, while improving both the quality and quantity of uBid's consumer-to-consumer auction listings."

"Launching Consumer Exchange without listing fees helped us to establish and grow a dynamic consumer-to-consumer community..." said Feuer in a statement. "We believe the time is now right to evolve the marketplace with a reasonable fee structure that also helps to improve both the volume and relevance of the auction listings."

Feuer went on to say that the company's uBid Direct service of business-to-consumer auctions will allow it to "keep the new fees at a level which is still ... cost-effective for our members, while generating new revenues to fund ...expansion..."

uBid's B2C auctions feature a rotating selection of more than 12,000 brand name products, including Compaq, Hewlett Packard, Toshiba, Sony and Micron.

For its consumer to consumer auctions, uBid said that starting Friday it will charge listing fees of 5 to 75 cents per item plus commission fees starting at 5 percent. Those are numbers carefully calculated to be less than eBay's fees, as uBid clearly doesn't want a panicked rush to the exits by its sellers.

uBid said that eBay is currently charging sellers between 30 cents and $3.30 to list an item for auction plus commission fees starting at 5.25 percent. eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove said those fee ranges are accurate.

Asked if uBid was even on eBay's radar screen, Pursglove said: "Yes, they are among the competitors in this space (which actually extends to retailers and wholesalers, online and off-line).

Internet portal Yahoo restructured its auction fee schedule last November, after introducing listing fees in January of 2000- a move that prompted a mass exodus of sellers.

uBid, which claims to have more than 3 million registered users, was founded in April 1997 as a division of Creative Computers, a U.S. catalog retailer. eBay has about 48 million registered users.