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Amazon auctions draw accolades

Most users and industry observers say they like what they see so far on's auction site. Industry leader eBay promises parity.

    As's new auction site launched to mostly positive reviews from users and analysts, online auction leader eBay is promising to hold its own against the new competition.

    eBay user Chita Jing, who said she has done hundreds of transactions through online auction sites, said she is excited by Amazon's new site. The San Diego resident said she is a longtime Amazon shopper and she is happy to see Amazon bring its look and feel to online auctions.

    "I'm totally knocked out," Jing said. "They've done it so well."

    But not everyone was as impressed as Jing. In a posting on the AuctionWatch Web site, Troy Rash of Waco, Texas, complained that it was hard to post multiple items to Amazon's site. Rash said he typically lists some 25 to 30 items a day on eBay.

    Some users reported delays in accessing the Amazon Web site. Amazon spokesman Paul Capelli said he was not aware of any system-wide problems, but acknowledged that the site had received a large volume of traffic.

    "It's new and everyone wants to check it out," Capelli said.

    Rash, who sells antiques and collectibles, said in an interview that he has sold his wares on eBay, since January of 1997 and now conducts all of his business online. He said he plans to see how the Amazon auction service shapes up, listing a few items there while keeping most of his stock on eBay.

    "What's important to the seller is the number of bids they're getting," Rash said. "If they start getting more bids, we'll probably end up moving some of our better stuff to Amazon."

    Marc Johnson, a digital commerce analyst at Jupiter Communications, said that snaring sellers like Rash will be Amazon's chief challenge. Another challenge will be the risk of potential damage to Amazon's reputation, Johnson said. Amazon will not have full control over the auctions area, and users could be put off by their experiences with third-party sellers.

    "It's a little risky, but they certainly have the cards stacked in their favor," Johnson said.

    Johnson said he was impressed with the new site's layout and ease of use. "It's a very compelling consumer experience," he said. "It's clean and well integrated into the rest of Amazon."

    Despite Amazon's entry into the online auction market, eBay is conceding nothing. Kevin Pursglove, senior director for communications at eBay, said the company will match Amazon in both customer service and in protecting users against fraud.

    "I think our record of providing services and tools to users is second to none," Pursglove said. "I'm confident that we're going to continue to perform and meet the needs of our users."

    In setting up its site, Amazon has touted its reputation for customer service and has said it will pay up to $250 to users who have been defrauded on its auction site.