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In a startling revelation, during the eBay for Business podcast attempting to explain the latest seller update, eBay’s Justin Johnson, Global Product Marketing Manager, effectively admitted that the company’s staff might not fully understand the impact of seller fee changes it introduced last week.

In response to podcast host Jim “Griff” Griffith asking Johnson if eBay could provide a better way to show the impact the rate changes have on a seller’s business, Johnson answered:

“We don’t have a side by side. This is really complex for us to display the data in a very, in a digestible and consumable way. What we’ve done and we got some feedback when we rolled out Seller Update, this was a little bit unclear to sellers. And so we’ve added some clarifying statements. One of the things we’re not trying to hide is there is a final value fee increase in select categories. That increase is what I would call relatively small. It’s 0.2% and it’s in select categories only. I would encourage everybody to go look through the Seller Update pages. There’s a link on the fees and financials page to go to a page with a bunch of fee tables that break this down a little bit more on a category level. To complicate things a little bit, we also have to look at it for sellers that have a store versus sellers that don’t have a store. And then both of those have to be looked at for sellers that are in Managed Payments and not in Managed Payments. This is part of the reason we didn’t do a side-by-side because it was just going to be extremely complex and not something that was probably going to be understood by even us internally, much less those externally that we were trying to help understand.”

There are two issues here. First, if the fee structure is so complicated, maybe it’s time to simplify it for all, including eBay staff?

While Johnson is right that not every scenario could be reasonably provided, at least sellers already using eBay Managed Payments with an eBay Store could have been provided a historical comparison. It appears that is the most likely cohort to be affected by the fee changes.

Alternatively, or in addition, the company could have provided an estimated averaged impact statement of the fee changes yet chose not to do that.

Second, it’s hard to believe that eBay has no idea what the overall impact of these changes will be on sellers as their primary income source is seller fees. If they internally really don’t understand the impact, shareholders should be asking themselves, how good is their Q1 2021 revenue guidance?

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