While talking to a customer over our website's Live Chat feature, they mentioned that they are planning on shifting their sales efforts away from eBay and focusing more on their own website. However, they re-iterated what seems to be a growing trend, especially for larger sellers on eBay—using the platform as a means of marketing.
The client I spoke with fingered fraud as the impetus for their changing usage of eBay. For them, eBay is becoming a marketing tool as opposed to the be-all-end-all of the online auction industry, as it was previously.
Granted, eBay has made a few changes recently that are supposedly aimed at battling this problem, but let's look for a second at their true effects. Today let's dissect the new hidden bidder policy. What is designed to decrease the amount of second chance offer fraud, is actually decreasing the amount of trust buyers will have in sellers. Trust between buyers and sellers on this platform is already a huge hurdle with the highly publicized cases of fraud, and hiding bidder IDs will just stand to make it worse because of shill bidding. Whereas before this change buyers could see who they were bidding against, now they are in the dark.
One of the attractions of eBay in the first place was that buyers enjoyed the "game-like" quality to bidding. It spoke to the competitive spirit in all of us. Watching your bid, seeing if someone beat it and then beating them in the last seconds by only a few pennies… Now the face of the competition (I always imagine what people are like from their eBay IDS—admit it, you do too!) has been removed and it's like playing chess against a computer, limited in the amusement factor.
Does the value of hiding bidders' eBay IDs outweigh the detrimental effects? Doubtful. Other policies and changes would provide greater impact on the platform (and will be discussed in future postings) and actually attack fraud one eBay. But with the company performing a balancing act to stay afloat, they'll continue to issue changes that far from rock the boat.