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Sellers call for global boycott of eBay on May 1


India site undeterred; tie-ups with leading movie production houses like UTV, Tips, Eros and Shemaroo.

Hundreds of sellers of eBay have called for a global boycott of the online auction giant on May 1 over payment, pricing and feedback changes which they allege will hurt their profits.

The sellers, for instance, are distressed that they can no longer give buyers negative feedback, and that eBay will increase the fees that are paid as a percentage of the final sales price. Their angst has spilled over social networking sites and forums like Myspace and Delphiforums too.

In India, an eBay India spokesperson clarified that the feeback policy was global in nature and the online marketplace took the decision after much deliberation. As regards to the payment (Pay Pal), and pricing increases, the spokesperson said the India site (eBay India) "" which figures among the top 3 Asia-Pacific sites but not in the Top 5 global marketplaces (the US, UK, Germany, France and Italy) "" will not be affected to a large extent since India has its own payment (Paise Pay) and pricing mechanism.

Undeterred, eBay India, meanwhile, is partnering with leading movie production houses like UTV, Tips, Eros and Shemaroo to add Bollywood and cricketing sparkle to its site by listing high-profile autographed memorabilia on its pages. Consider this.

Starting today, the official IPL merchandise from Hot Muggs for Team Chennai (Chennai Super Kings) and Team Mohali (Kings XI Punjab) will be available in its Buy it now / Fixed Price (BIN) category listing, according to the recently-appointed eBay India country manager, Ambareesh Murty.

Beginning next Monday, it will feature an auction of "Spend a day on the sets of Mere Baap Pehle Aap" with Shemaroo. The winner and his/her dad will get to spend a day on the sets with the cast "" Akshay Khanna and Genielia D'Souza. eBay India, says Murty, also plans to shortly inform its buyers about the status of the shipment of their products on mobiles and other related information in a bid to "increase the engagement with them".

The online marketplace has been buzzing with excitement from January onwards. For instance, notes Murty, eBay India partnered with UTV for Jodha Akhbar posters autographed by Aishwarya and Hrithikh Roshan; Tips for 'Race' CDs autographed by Katrina and Saif; and Eros for 'U, Me aur Hum' posters and CDs autographed by Kajol.

Besides, starting March, it launched "Ten Things To Do Before You Die", comprising 10 auctions starting at Re One. Its 'F1 Grand Prix in Monaco' package, priced at Rs 3.6 lakh got the highest bid of Rs 1.77 lakh.

The listing got over 50,000 unique visitors, and received a total of around 500 bids (an average of 50 bids per auction). The lowest bid was that for a helicopter ride at Rs 28,000. It recently also announced a one-year exclusive banner advertising relationship with Komli Media until March 2009.

eBay India had also parterned with the Gitanjali Group to offer Indian online shoppers a chance to bid on rare Diamond collectibles from the Tesoro range. The auction was open till April 5.

The results, according to Murty, are there to see. "It has increased the stickiness to the site," he explains. The page views, for instance, grew 13 per cent sequentially (Jan-March 2008) while the visitor/activity ratio grew 25 per cent over the trailing quarter (October-December 2007). Activity is defined as a visitor who bids on an auction or buys an item.

Meanwhile, eBay, which bought 28.4 per cent of Craigslist in 2004 from one of Craign Newmark's former employees, has also filed a lawsuit against the website in a Delaware court, alleging that Newmark and his chief executive Jim Buckmaster adopted measures that "unfairly diluted eBay's economic interest in Craigslist by more than 10 per cent". Analysts estimate that Craigslist is worth $5 billion (around Rs 20,000 crore).

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First Published: Tue, April 29 2008. 00:00 IST