eBay: No Matter How Hard You Try, You’re Still No Amazon

eBayMy top issues with eBay: Prices aren’t that competitive, service is inconsistent, time is wasted, and the shipping is a wild card. It’s no wonder then that, due to lackluster growth, eBay recently announced changes including “holding sellers to higher customer-service standards.” But I gave up on eBay years ago when I discovered Amazon has all the same stuff at around the same price but with real customer service.

Just for fun, I thought I’d revisit eBay and see what kind of deals I skipped out on by searching for the last few items I ordered on Amazon. Here’s how the process works: you search for your item and get excited when you see an amazing deal! Oh wait, that auction still has 12 hours before it’s over. So you save it to your watch list and waste more time searching for other deals.

Here’s one! And this time it’s a good price with a “Buy It Now” option, no bidding. But shipping is $39.95, for a box the size of a book? Well, considering the original bargain, that’s still not that bad of a deal, so you decide to add it to your watch list. This process goes on and on with each item that you add to your “watch list” having some caveat: no warranty, small defect, only accept X type of payment, shipping from the U.K., required handling charge, etc.

The list goes on; you get the picture. By the end of your day, you’ve added to your eBay watch list two dozen versions of the same product. You watch anxiously as those low price auctions skyrocket in the last five minutes. You then have to weigh in the pros and cons of each of the other items based on the relative annoyance of the aforementioned caveats. You settle on the discounted, used item with the ridiculous shipping. In the mean time, you’ve accomplished next to nothing during your day.

This used to be me a few years back… Until I had a problem with a seller who delayed my shipment by three months. What did eBay do when I called them? Nothing. So I started shopping at Amazon but still held on to the bargain hunting itch of eBay. But then, I noticed Amazon had the following: competitive pricing, 30-day price guarantee, real customer service, and no shipping charges. Suddenly, it hit me. Wasting an entire day to save a few bucks wasn’t worth the time and hassle.

For an example of Amazon customer service, check out this NYTimes piece about how Amazon replaced a customer’s Playstation 3 after it was stolen off his doorstep before he could even touch it. What would have eBay done? Nothing.