Saturday, 5 July 2008

Won the battle, lost the war

eBay Australia has finally succumbed to the pressure and announced it would back up on its intention to force its PayPal as the only method of payment that can be used on its transactions. They’re big time idiots, but this news is great: we, as in all eBay sellers - eBay's direct clientèle - have won the battle against the evil empire of greed. And I can even say I had an active part in this decision, having written a public submission to the ACCC.
But did we win the war? I’m afraid we haven’t. I’m afraid eBay won there.

You see, eBay is still allowed to get away with forcing PayPal to be offered as a payment method on eBay transactions. That means that everyone who wants to sell on eBay must have a PayPal account. In turn, that means that sellers will usually have something on their PayPal balances, simply because it’s costly to transfer your PayPal balance into cash; on the other hand, it’s much easier to spend this by purchasing stuff using PayPal.
Since pretty much all of eBay’s sellers are also eBay buyers, their PayPal balance will push them to pay using PayPal when the time comes for them to make a purchase. Since PayPal will always be offered as a payment method, they will be using PayPal in virtually all their purchases.
The conclusion, therefore, is undeniable: eBay has won and PayPal will, effectively, be the only method of payment used on eBay transactions. Sure, there will be some exceptions here and there, mostly with infrequent buyers or newcomers to eBay, but the bulk will be PayPal based. And the funny thing about it all is that in order to achieve this status eBay needn’t have fussed with the law at all; eBay was just too stupid and too arrogant to aim higher than they needed to go in the first place.

My personal conclusion? We need a worthy eBay alternative, and we need it now.
Sure, eBay has its competition: There’s Telstra’s Trading Post, which was there way before but was traditionally inflexible and much more expensive (yet they are promising to change their ways in order to capitalize on eBay’s now firmly established shit reputation). And there are new kids on the block, like Oztion and eSwap. But try all of them out and you will find they’re crap compared to the eBay experience: they feel the way moving from a word processor to a typing machine would, and they don’t even attract a fraction of the crowds that eBay attract.
So yes, eBay has won, big time.

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