Why am I predicting the death of ebay? It's sort of like watching the demise of CB radio, or what happened to Usenet. But it has its own unique signature, because of the nature of the medium. We can start with the many spoofs. Not ebay's fault, of course, but a real problem.
HOWEVER, I got the next-generation spoof yesterday. It was a second-chance offer (sent when the primary bidder has backed out), and it looked REAL. But I contacted the seller through ebay, and he hadn't sent it. The original high bidder had bought the book. Forward to email@example.com, and it bounces back, saying it came from ebay. So I started snooping by checking the source code. Hmm, link goes to an address... Plug address into ebay search, get user profile. Account created yesterday, in the UK. Complete with fake feedback that returns an error if you try to find out what item it is. Someone has hacked ebay. Oh swell. I reported it to fraud (finding the reporting tool is a saga in itself), but it doesn't bode well.
Of course, there are the other factors that show the beginning of the end. Like ebay policy on "search manipulation." "I had my listings pulled for no reason, and got a canned message that it violated some policy..." Reasons were as various as (I'm not making this up!) the listing did not state "book" in the listing title (in the books category), someone was selling a vintage Dior, and Dior controls all rights to all Dior sales (back to the dawn of creation, I guess), they mentioned "Titanic" or "Cinderella" in the auction, and auctions using "Titanic" or "Cinderella" can only feature licensed merchandise or movies of that name... (Yeah, you can see who's paying off whom...) The latest is not allowing booksellers to list the contents in describing a book, because that's "search manipulation." SO HOW THE HECK IS A BUYER SUPPOSED TO FIND OUT IF THEY WANT TO BUY IT???
And then there are the ebay stalkers. Crazy people who go after sellers, threatening to send the mafia after them, get them pulled from ebay, etc. because they decide you're out to get them, rip them off, or whatever. I had one of these demented people going after me, a couple years back, before she got her account yanked. (I wasn't the only one.) They do things like bid on items at ridiculous prices so they can refuse payment and file complaints about the seller. An example of one oriental art bidder that I followed as she kept switching identities: "Bad nasty fraud merchandise, a bad fake" to which the seller replied "What is she talking about? Never paid me, never got item." (I now own one of the antique kimono that was "Bad nasty fraud merchandise," and was relisted later.) They reply to non-paying-bidder feedback with comments like "I never bid on this. Seller is a liar." They will also stalk auctions of particular sellers and file complaints to get auctions pulled. And since ebay doesn't evaluate the complaint first, but pulls first and evaluates later, this is remarkably effective. I've talked to sellers who have had 1920's underwear auctions pulled because someone complained that they "catered to perverts." Or were selling "unlicensed merchandise" (like second-hand Dior dresses). The guy who bought out a defunct used record store, and had all his listings pulled because someone complained that he wasn't paying proper license fees to the recording artists. I still haven't figured if it's a vendetta thing, a boredom thing, or someone who fancies themself a form of cop.
One of my favorite sellers recently got thrown off ebay for a couple weeks. They're back, but I notice they no longer list a phone number/business address where you can contact them in the real world. Against policy. I know I've had board postings cancelled because I've suggested that ebay was not the forum where you would get the best price for an item that more properly belonged at Southeby's.
And ebay is run by people who are completely clueless about a lot of the merchandise sold there, anyway. I see constant screaming on the glass/clay board about "They've reorganized the categories so collectors will never find anything!" because they know nothing about glass or ceramics. (The vintage clothing sellers finally organized and got a petition for categories that made sense, rather than arbitrary ebay classifications. Though they still won't let us use a lot of terms common in the trade --"search manipulation" again.) Or then there was the one that bemused me, where art was organized by the dominant color in the painting/print.
However, I'm still shaking my head over the latest, pulling listings that don't state "book" in the title, in the "book" categories. Search manipulation, you know. HUH?
Ebay is on its way out. They got too big, too fast, and problems followed. It was fun while it lasted, but it's reached the point of starting to have folks question if it's more trouble than it's worth.