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Yahoo's European auctions set to close

The online portal plans to shut down the auction sites on June 28, when sellers' reputation ratings will also disappear.

    Five of Yahoo's European auction sites are going, going, and nearly gone--and so too are sellers' feedback ratings.

    On June 28, the online portal company plans to shut down the auction sites that serve the United Kingdom and Ireland, as well as those that handle France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Yahoo has already stopped accepting new items on the sites and is encouraging users to register with eBay.

    "We would like to thank you for using (our) auction service, and we hope you have enjoyed the Yahoo experience," the company said in a note to users on the auction site serving the United Kingdom and Ireland."

    Although the company has begun directing members to eBay, sellers won't be able to take with them one of their most valuable assets: their reputation ratings.

    "Your Auctions ratings are specific to (Yahoo Auctions), which means your ratings will disappear," the company warned users. "Unfortunately, your ratings are not transferable to eBay."

    Yahoo and eBay representatives did not return calls seeking comment on the transition from Yahoo auctions to eBay.

    Last month, Yahoo announced that it would close the auction sites in the coming weeks and promote eBay. The company did not give a specific date for the transition.

    Prior to the deal, Yahoo and eBay had been bitter rivals in the auction market. Yahoo had been the top competitor to eBay in the United States in terms of listings until it introduced fees on its site last year, a move that resulted in an 80 percent drop in the number of auctions on its site. Despite the decline of its U.S. auction site, Yahoo's strength in Japan, where its site is No. 1 in listings, forced eBay to close its own Japanese site earlier this year.

    Yahoo has already begun to promote eBay in banner ads on the auction sites that it is closing. On the homepage of Yahoo's Spanish auction site, for instance, an ad encouraged viewers to go to eBay to find and buy what they were looking for.

    Yahoo promised to keep its "My Auctions" feature up and running for two weeks after it shuts down its auction sites. The feature allows members to keep track of auctions they have participated in and provides contact information for buyers and sellers.

    But the fact that their feedback won't be transferred could draw the ire of Yahoo sellers. Generally determined by subtracting negative feedback comments from positive ones, feedback ratings help to establish trust in online auctions, where buyers and sellers seldom meet outside of the online auction environment.

    Considering the feedback ratings on its site to be its own intellectual property, eBay three years ago blocked sellers on other sites from importing their ratings from eBay. Despite that ban, many Yahoo sellers have established significant feedback ratings that will be lost when the auction sites close.

    Earlier this year, eBay merged its feedback system with that of its Half.com site. But the merger caused problems for many Half.com sellers, leading to inaccurate ratings scores and the inability of some Half.com buyers to leave comments about their purchases.