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eBay grounds 'frequent flier' incentive program

Auction giant ditches eBay Anything Points service for U.S. site, giving participants 13 months to use their points--or lose them.

eBay is discontinuing a 2-year-old incentive program for sellers and partners in the United States, the company announced Monday.

eBay Anything Points, which operates like a "frequent flier" program to stimulate customer loyalty, will be phased out by Feb. 28, the company said. Points earned under the program will be honored through August 2006.

The incentive program lets sellers and eBay partners such as Netflix, Hilton Hotels and Priceline, award points worth a penny apiece that customers can redeem for eBay purchases from sellers that accept PayPal, an eBay unit.

"When it launched, we anticipated that eBay Anything Points would bring more benefits to our community than in reality we saw that it actually did," said eBay spokesman Hani Durzy. "Based on conversations with the community of sellers, particularly, we decided it would be better for them if we took the money and resources spent on Anything Points and devoted it to other channels within sales and marketing. It wasn't providing the return on investment that we were expecting."

The Anything Points incentive program on eBay Canada will continue, however.

Durzy declined to specify what went wrong with the domestic program, but said the Canadian version had produced different results.

eBay will prevent sellers from offering the incentive points on new listings starting Aug. 15. eBay said it would, on Sept. 30, remove remaining points from listings still offering them.

eBay recommended that people with eBay Anything Points credit cards contact the credit card provider with questions about those accounts.