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Grooming its image, eBay lowers listing fees

On March 30, the auction site will push out new pricing plans geared toward both high- and low-volume sellers. The community isn't entirely sold on whether they'll save money from it, though.

eBay announced Tuesday that it's lowered listing fees for U.S. residents using the auction site to sell products, with new plans geared toward both frequent and infrequent sellers.

A new rate called "eBay Every Day" offers no up-front fee for the sellers of auction-style (rather than flat-rate sale) listings with a starting price of 99 cents or less. Once they've been sold, a fee of 9 percent is appended, with a maximum fee of $50; if the item doesn't sell, no fee is charged to the seller. An individual can do this for up to 100 items per month, which rules out many of the auction sites' "power sellers."

A new plan for those power sellers was also announced Tuesday, called "eBay Stores." The subscription plan entails listings for as low as 3 cents over the course of 30 days, a significant reduction that eBay says can save $80 per month for a seller who lists 250 items for sale in that month.

These new pricing packages will go live on March 30, a few weeks after the first of several "eBay On Location" conferences that the company is hosting around the country. The initial On Location takes place March 19-20 in Atlanta.

In conjunction with the announcement, eBay launched an information hub that proclaims the auction site "The Best Place To Sell Online," with promotional materials ranging from seller testimonies to interviews with executives.

But as active eBay sellers point out in the company forums, there's a flip side to the new listing fees. "They are acting like it's exciting news because they are lowering insertion fees (by 25 cents!), but then the final value fee is 9 percent flat rate, as opposed to the 8.75 percent for the first $25, and then 3.75 percent after that," one seller protested. "I have just started selling, and this is making it really unappealing to sell on here." Another seller in the same thread, meanwhile, expressed a positive reaction.

That's something that eBay continues to grapple with: a community that doesn't always like its policies, plus formidable competition from the likes of Amazon and Craigslist. While eBay beat Wall Street's expectations last quarter, much of that growth was fueled by transaction system PayPal and ticket reselling outlet StubHub rather than eBay's main auction site.