eBay vs Amazon

As a consumer, I have long preferred Amazon.com to eBay. Not just because I like Amazon’s interface better, and their system seems much more robust and responsive.

No, the main difference is the payment method. Amazon has my credit card on file; Whenever I buy anything through a 3rd party, Amazon handles the transaction. No muss, no fuss — and no additional fees.

eBay, on the other hand, adds yet another middleman to the simple process of paying for an item: Paypal.

Unfortunately, Paypal has a terrible reputation, dating back to the days before eBay bought them.  Now, Paypal is now a major profit center for them. While that’s terrific from an investor’s standpoint, when I interact with eBay as a consumer, its a big pain in the arse.

What’s worse is that many eBay merchants often appear at a quick glance to accept Master Card / Visa / American Express — when in fact they don’t. Have a look at these two items:


or this:


The sure as hell look like they take Visa to me. Its only on closer inspection that you see that PayPal, funded via a credit card, is what they 

Maybe its my Manhattan conditioning:  All thos eyears of looking for these logos in restaurant  doors or windows.

I’m quite surprised the major credit card companies tolerate their logos being used in this manner . . .

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  1. CMG | LLC commented on Nov 20

    It’s funny because eBay in its earliest days was a prime example of disintermediation — removal of the middleman.

    However, as the internet scaled, eBay (as well as others) soon realized they’d have to (re)integrate intermediaries like paypal into the business equation if they truly wanted to commercialize & facilitate the Web experience.

    The Web wasn’t as radical as some new economy whores would have you believe, then.

    Which is to say that “traditional” forms of product and service fulfillment never disappeared into extinction just because the internet was born.

    Personaly, eBay is a sell at these levels.

    They’re clearly having a harder time growing organically.

    And even your grandmamma knows that ebay overpaid for Skype.

    Sure skype! has a boatload of users, but its a low enry barrier business and if vonage goes public (something will happen soon b/c vonage founder jeff citron is gettign ancy), you’ll see another duopoly mangle the marketplace.

    Not for me, meg.

  2. Abbi Vakil commented on Nov 20

    My company is a PowerSeller w 3 brick & mortar stores and we pay more (as a % of the sale) when customers use Paypal as opposed to just contacting us and paying via Visa/ MC or even Amex. On the flip side, you should check out the commissions Amazon charges if you are a 3rd party seller. For certain items, it’s as high as 15%. I would venture that Amazon could make more money being a trading platform than being a merchant- no inventory hassles, no warehouse personnel and certainly no free shipping promo (aka loss).

  3. jjr commented on Nov 21

    It’s funny that CMG would refer to the intermediation/disintermediation conflict between these two companies. The first though in my mind when comparing the two is that Amazon to this day still intermediates themselves much more in the marketplace. Simply compare the charges they attach to a sale, from the pov of a seller. I believe Amazon adds greater mark-up than eBay … much as Abbi is pointing out.

    Look at hobbies and collectors, be they toy models, coins, baseball cards, dolls, or the like … old-fashioned price guides can be circumvented by paying attention to auction closing prices on ebay. I continue to believe that eBay is one of the most “perfect” markets from the perspective of bringing buyers and sellers together, and allowing prices to find an acceptible level.

    While I’m rambling on here, I will add props to half.com from the perspective of a seller. Of all the platforms, half.com is the cheapest for the seller to use with simple and effective tools to price items like books, music, videos and the like. I continue to believe it’d be a shame for eBay to retire it, and if you’ll notice it continues to earn new leases on life after having been condemned more than once.

    Further, Barry if you’re complaining about the interface of eBay, obviously you’ve never used some of the advance search and alert functions. I’ve composed complex boolean searches that would return an item maybe once a month, and find exactly what I need. I seem to believe you’re looking for a particular issue of Business Week.

    Type the following search into eBay:

    “business week” (“08/13/79”, “aug 13”, “august 13”) (“08/13/79”, 1979, 79)

    Check “Search title and description” box, save this search to your favorites, and set an alert to email you. If any false positives arise you can modify by adding a variant of the following:

    -(“false positive a”, b, c)

    Try to do the same type of search in Amazon, and then let’s talk interface. The review portion of Amazon is one of the major attractions there, and I don’t mean to detract from the value of that. Just want to point out that the advanced search and alert interface of eBay is underrated.

  4. Albany Injury Lawyer Warren Redlich commented on Nov 21

    I see your gripe about PayPal when it comes to its use on eBay. I agree completely about Amazon being a better shopping experience.

    However, I use PayPal on my website. I’m pretty happy with it and it seems very convenient for my clients. I do not restrict the form of payment – I’m just happy to get paid.

    We occasionally encounter a hiccup. For some clients PayPal won’t let them charge more than $600 at once, so they end up paying me over a few days.

    That’s not typically for my personal injury cases, but for other matters.

  5. joe commented on Nov 21

    I too dislike having to use paypal when buying and selling on ebay. If Ebay got rid of the paypal middle-man I would think it would be a near-perfect market for buyers and sellers.

  6. Anand commented on Nov 21

    I also hate paypal, and have had terrible experience with them and Ebay. I lost 180$ in two transaction. In first transaction the item bought was defective, but could not return it. In second transaction, the seller from Canada did not deliver anything. Both these people kept wasting my time till one month passed away. Ebay/Paypal fraud reporting is too bureacratic. You have to go through some sequence of steps that waste time, and later they will told me that my complain did not reach them in allowed time. One of these days, I am going to make up for my losses by shorting Ebay.

    In contrast, I have not had a bad experience with Amazon yet. And ability to use the credit card to pay for transaction is precious one.

    I am actively looking for alternatives to ebay. I like ubid and half though.

  7. John Faughnan commented on Nov 21

    Coincidentally I was forced to re-enroll in PayPal when I bought a phone on eBay today. I loathe PayPal, and was happy to close my account a few months ago. Now it’s back.

    I will be very pleased when Google introduces their transactional services and eliminates PayPal.

  8. John K commented on Nov 29

    If you want to compare ebay and amazon items (as best they can be matched) try:


    It’s surprising how often Amazon is cheaper.

  9. Frank commented on Jan 24

    Ebay is slowly fading away from people over 30.. For sellers, you had ‘best’ switch to Amazon.com..especially for books and sports cards.. On Ebay.. is your best cards are not graded PSA 10…you may as well cook marshmallows with them..Use them for the fire. Books..??? Ebay you simply give them away..Also, loading an ebay auction takes too many darn steps.. loading pictures.. colorizing them.. and getting charged to second line title.. 50 cents.. extra pictures… extra days of selling.. fees going on.. fees when you sell.. Carpal tunnel ebay sellers are always at the hand doctors.. Also, you have to pray you sell enough items at a profit.. to make up for the 20 that don’t.. AMAZON MAKES YOU FEEL GROWN UP AGAIN ! AND IT’S SIMPLE. NO PICTURES.. SCANNING…TEMPLATES..ARTWORK DESIGNING..

  10. LVV Technology commented on Feb 5

    Totally agree with Frank about what a pain in the neck eBay is. Moreover the power sellers include some really obnoxious auction addicts whose idea of a good time is bullying those who have the misfortune of doing business with them.

    And the reporting procedures do seem calculated to ensure that you lose your money in case of fraud and that none of the guarantees or safe harbor duff will actually help you.

    And the level of fraud going on (especially in computers and technology) is embarassing. It’s hard to find a real Apple computer for sale among all the scams. When I auctioned a digital camera I had 5 scam artists contact me.

    eBay = blech. For now Amazon is much better. I don’t know how their fraud situation is and what remedy they provide, though.

    Much more efficient, much more for grownups.

  11. Larry commented on May 19

    Ebay sucks for sure and Paypal sucks worse. I have a gunshop, I made the mistake of letting a customer pay for a gun purchase with paypal. The Paypal nazi’s found out about it, {big deal it wasn’t hidden}, they terminated my account and refused to let me access my account which had $1312 in it at the time. Just for selling a guy a Winchester? A perfectly legal transaction since I’m a licensed dealer. Unbeknownst to me I had fractured a rule against using Paypal to buy a gun! Who the hell do they think they are? Here’s a news flash for you Paypal, 80 million Americans own guns!! Get used to it!! I think these people are totally greedy commies and will screw you anyway they can. Seems to me that refusing you access to your money would be illegal? They said they might give it back in 6 months? What’s up with that? The bitch I talked to on the phone said I signed some damn agreement or other, I have never signed anything since the Ebay nazi’s bought paypal. Have I got a leg to stand on here? The hosers still have my money! Thanks for hearing me out. Larry.

  12. Michael commented on Jun 1

    Found out today my 1200 plus payment from Amazon which I thought was in my checking account, against which I am writing checks, is being withheld for 45 days, from 5/17, so that they can evaluate seller performance, in the interest of the customer. Be nice if they had informed me of this hijacking. Interesting that this period ends on the last day of the fiscal year 5/17 + 45 days equals last day of fiscal year. (What a coincidence!!) -Amazon can show lot of cash on hand, and 45 days being 1/8 of a year, at say, 4%, on many millions of dollars, they get a 1/2% bump of free money. And I thought stock price manipulation was illegal—-isn’t it? Hmmm. I cannot pay my bills now, or purchase inventory, but guess what? I have a pile of orders to ship and not a dime to pay the postman the rate itself, let alone delivery confirmation and Staples supplies they expect us to eat. So after 1/2 hour of discussion with Amazon people who refused to give their names, refused to involve the correct people, and read from shitty script without any semblance of caring or LOGIC, I immediately de-listed over 100 CDs and DVDs, raised the price on everything about 40% across the board, and posted a yard sale for them, in order to get up the cash to mail this stuff. And all this in response to nothing-no allegations, no inquiries, no charge, no ability to confront witnesses, and sentence has already been imposed! Meanwhile, Amazon does not get their cut on 60 items a week, (or 100 per week if I had some seed money) the customer no longer has access to best prices on the web, USPS and Staples lose business, and oh yeah, I have to sell my clothes at a rummage sale to pay postage. Anything left, God willing, I may be able to eat. Forget about bills-they get paid when I get paid. If I get paid. Not your problem, I know. Stockholders get 1/2% bump free money on last day of fiscal year, big sellers can raise prices again, and MPL here gets an Amazon Enema. Amazon Enema-part of the language-like “Built Like a Mack Truck”. Amazon Enema. And all I am trying to do is line their pockets-and these pricks actually have a guy in charge of “Business Development” Are you fucking kidding me????

  13. LorrieLee commented on Nov 11

    Ive been an Ebay member for 8 years. In 2003 I took a years break, now Im listed as member since “2005” with 87% feedback. Lately Ive encountered Sellers that wont accept bids from buyers without a 100%. And Im wondering, how can they afford to turn down bids when I cant even give away items on Ebay, let alone sell them anymore.
    Anyways, I read three very true statements from the above comments; the Web was a great place in the 90’s, Ebay is no longer for folks over 30, and resolving any issue, tech or otherwise, is a joke. But I dont think Amazon.com is for me either. If I wanna buy something new, I go to a store. I WANT VINTAGE, I WANT USED, I WANT COINS. I want a site without the Venders. And I want anyone whose reading this and HAS NOT sold anything on Ebay yet…theres no way youll complete your first transaction without making at least one mistake that will cost you money. And whatever you do, DONT PRINT THE SHIPPING LABEL!!!!!!

  14. Jerro commented on Jan 19

    I’m a college student and I buy nearly all my books on half.com because it is cheaper 80% of the time. occasionally I buy a few books from amazon if the price is lower there.
    Mainly the user interface from half.com (owned by ebay) is much more simpler than amazon.com’s. Ever been on amazon’s website? It’s cluttered with literally every useless thing you can think off. And with many flashy colorful extras that makes my eyes sore and my humble internet connection stall.
    Also good luck at finding seller descriptions of books you just bought (when you want to leave feedback.)
    Overall half.com makes everything so much easier, faster, and less complicated. Try it yourself and you’ll see. The webpage is actually “clean.” The prices are unbeatable too. Take it from a college student.

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