Right, a few days later and a few items underweight I’ve got some more feedback…

  1. The 'disgruntled' community has a high percentage of members who would probably be disgruntled anyway. You know the type, they spend most of their online life posting complaints to newsgroups about how so-and-so didn't read the faq and use words like "immature" or "unbelievable" when trolling their fellow usenet user... Many are complaining about the listing fees (Ebay charges on a sliding scale according to the value of your item and collects a percentage of your sale if the item goes). I have to say that while the percentages/05/well be a bit on the high side given the numbers (somebody is making a lot of money with this thing and it ain't the listers), the price seems fair as Ebay lets you take the part-used 50¢ Elvis pencil-sharpener you bought on your last trip to the States and instantly put in in front of 200,000 Jananese Elvis fans (say). That has to be worth something, it sure beats trying to sell to the fifty people in an Oxfordshire saleroom...
  2. Ebay feels like messy software. It feels like it expanded so quickly, it got a bit out of control and is currently being mended on the go. That said, it is very complete, very feature-rich.
  3. The search engine is more than a bit ropey (ok, that's a bit unfair as the system is under huge constraints so compromises have probably been made). You/05/remember my kitchen sink collapsed and I had to instal new everything--as a result, I had a set of brass taps sitting around. I listed them as "Victorian brass kitchen mixer tap set" figuring the system would match "kitchen taps" "brass taps" and so on... Unfortunately, for Ebay's search, a person looking for "brass taps" doesn't want to see a "brass tap" which is a bit crap really...
  4. You could bid on my junk
  5. No item too sublime, or too humble (dirty socks, really)
  6. You can waste a seriously large amount of time with this thing :-)

Finally, re the setting up a seller account, David Fromant writes from Melbourne

re. ebay
just a “me too” i’m afraid. have had exactly the same experience trying to set up a seller account on ebay australia. decided in the end it was far too much hassle and didn’t.
my advice: don’t give them the chance to make you a disgruntled customer. there are alternatives. vote with your $s (or pounds :)!

Well, first the technical–the problem with Ebay’s seller registration is to do with pattern matching. Essentially, the sellers address has to match exactly the address on your bank account. This is normal–this check happens everytime you use your cards online (well, not exactly, but you know what I mean). In most cases the match is intelligent enough to manage slight differences (differences that should be ignored like case matching, line-breaks etc), not so the Ebay system.

Secondly, try as I may, I couldn’t find another auction site to use. I called around a few including one very professional-looking one that it turns out is run by two guys out of their Brighton bedroom (I telephoned the ‘help’ line and got a sleepy person), a few that didn’t let me sell what or how I wanted to and finally a whole raft of auction sites that are in fact white-label re-badges of Ebay (so same banking system).

If anyone out there has had a positive experience on an independent site, send me the link.