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Ebay Reduces Some Fees

UPDATED: Internet auction leader eBay has been on the hot seat lately, thanks in part to a lowered outlook for growth from its last earnings release and an unpopular fee increase for members.

But Ebay's North American president moved to cool things down in an open letter sent to members, in which he introduced a new customer service initiative and lowered certain fees.

"One of the issues I've heard a lot about is our recent fee increases, particularly the increase in Store Inventory Format final value fees," Bill Cobb, president of eBay's North American division, said in a note to customers. "I've also heard concerns about customer support, the amount of change we make to the site on a regular basis, and trust and safety. We're listening to everything you have to say."

The unpopular fee changes were announced in January and are scheduled to come into affect on February 18th. In a general announcement board message late last week, eBay clarified its updated fee schedule, saying "no changes are being made to the Final Value Fees on Auction-style, Auction with Buy It Now option, and Fixed Priced listings (with the exception of certain Business & Industrial capital equipment categories)."

The fee changes affect eBay store inventory format listings and involve a jump in a final value fee assessed, which depends on the closing price of the auction. Ebay's traditional auction style listings were not hit by any fee increase. In fact, eBay claimed in its fee clarification information that final value fees for its categories such as Auction-style listings, Auction with Buy It Now option, and Fixed Price listings have remained unchanged since 2002.

Though Cobb was "listening" to members he didn't say eBay would back down from its decision to raise fees on Store Inventory Format listings. Instead, eBay said it would be crediting the subscription fee for a month of Basic Store service for all sellers who operate a store.

"We know pricing is a critical issue for our sellers," Cobb wrote. "While we stand behind our decision to increase final value fees on Store Inventory Format listings -- because they make sense for items that list with insertion fees of two cents -- I know this increase has been difficult for some of our sellers."

Ebay did say, however, that it would lower the minimum insertion rates for the following categories: Auction-Style listings, Fixed Price, Motors Non-Vehicle and B&I non-Capital Equipment categories for non eBay store sellers. The decrease is 5 cents (from 30 cents to 25 cents) and goes into effect at midnight tonight.

Cobb also took aim at automated e-mails, saying that within 90 days most of those automated responses will be shut down. Instead users will get "real" responses that are composed by humans.

"We will only use auto responses to acknowledge receipt of spam or policy violation reports," Cobb wrote.

Clarifies Cobb's comments regarding Store Inventory Format listings