ebay Pavlovian subtitles fee hike scam

If ebaY members haven’t been treated like dogs enough, now comes an episode which should make bells rings and sellers to howl in disgust.

Without announcement or fanfare whatsoever since 2008, and beginning on April Fool’s Day [2013] of all days. ebaY hiked it’s leg on members, while they quietly raised prices for subtitles in the media category. Books, music, movies & DVDs and video games could be listed for just five cents with free sub-titles. The free subtitles are now priced at $1.50, an overall increase of as much as 3900%.

The ‘promotion’ was in place since 2008, 5 years! I’m not sure how that qualifies as a promotion? That would seem to be a ‘regular’ price after all that time. In addition, the unannounced aspect of the change cannot be easily overlooked or dismissed.

Indeed, even the FTC seems to recognize methods such as this as a deceptive pricing or promotion scheme. After 5 years the pricing can hardly be considered a promotion. Please note key phrase reasonably substantial period of time here from the FTC GUIDES AGAINST DECEPTIVE PRICING

§233.1 Former price comparisons.

(a) One of the most commonly used forms of bargain advertising is to offer a reduction from the advertiser’s own former price for an article. If the former price is the actual, bona fide price at which the article was offered to the public on a regular basis for a reasonably substantial period of time, it provides a legitimate basis for the advertising of a price comparison. Where the former price is genuine, the bargain being advertised is a true one. If, on the other hand, the former price being advertised is not bona fide but fictitious — for example, where an artificial, inflated price was established for the purpose of enabling the subsequent offer of a large reduction — the “bargain” being advertised is a false one; the purchaser is not receiving the unusual value he expects. In such a case, the “reduced” price is, in reality, probably just the seller’s regular price.

(b) A former price is not necessarily fictitious merely because no sales at the advertised price were made. The advertiser should be especially careful, however, in such a case, that the price is one at which the product was openly and actively offered for sale, for a reasonably substantial period of time, in the recent, regular course of his business, honestly and in good faith — and, of course, not for the purpose of establishing a fictitious higher price on which a deceptive comparison might be based. And the advertiser should scrupulously avoid any implication that a former price is a selling, not an asking price (for example, by use of such language as, “Formerly sold at $XXX”), unless substantial sales at that price were actually made.

As for solutions;

Complain to the FTC.

Refuse to pay: legally dispute the [over] charges. If ebaY believes this sneak attack, reverse Pavlovian conditioning, windfall profit scheme is lawful, let them prove it in court. If enough people dispute ebaY may cave or reverse. If not they can waste resources fighting such disputes while getting more bad word-of-mouth and negative PR. Please keep in mind they cannot legally send any disputed debts to collections agencies.

Or the sure fire remedy, and the one which I have advocated all along: Close your ebaY and Paypal accounts!

Boycott ebaY and paypal, persuade others to do the same! I like to call that the Cappnonymous Protection plan. I guarantee 100% positive results. That’s right, you’ll never be flea-ridden again by $30 Million, world class, drooling, abusive masters with dollar signs in their eyes and malice in their blackened, dirty, little hearts.

Sure, you still have the option to remain and be a bootlick, but it’s a lead pipe cinch you’ll get kicked again.

Update 04-08-2013

Just saw this from ecommercebytes.com on news search results this morning:

snip

In its letter on Saturday, eBay wrote, “We know this timing created a temporary fee increase. As a courtesy, we’ll be crediting you for the difference between the old promotional rate and the current non-promotional rate for listings during the days impacted – April 1 through April 30 – until the new pricing takes effect. This credit will include any fee paid for subtitle for fixed price and Auction-style items listed with the catalog. You should see this credit posted to your account in May.”…

Yeah, right. A courtesy… that’s the ticket.

At any rate good on ebay seller/victims.  Brace yourselves for the next outrage.