Yahoo.com and a number of other search engines and directories
recently started charging businesses for submitting their
websites to get listed. Is this a good idea? Let's see.
Imagine walking into your local car dealership to look at a new
car. The salesman hurries over and tells you that you must pay
$199 before he shows you the car. And even if you decide to buy,
he might decide not to sell it to you anyway if he doesn't like
the way you look.
Yet this is basically what some directories and search engines
are doing now. Yahoo tell us that there are no guarantees that
you will get your website listed in their directory even if you
do pay the $199 fee. That money is just to ask them to consider
reviewing your website. If they are overwhelmed with submissions
they may not get around to looking at it for weeks or even
months. How many other businesses could get away with such a
If you have a question for someone at any of these sites, try
asking it. First, you have to search high and low to find an
e-mail link or response form. In some cases, you'll never find
it because it just isn't there. Then, even if you do write, you
probably won't receive a reply.
And what happens if, after paying your $199 fee, Yahoo decides
your website just doesn't come up to their standards? You lose
your money with no way of appealing their decision. They just
take your money and ignore you.
Add to this their mostly non-existent customer service and we
see a recipe for disaster – Theirs.
Then there is the ‘hidden' problem that most users probably
never even think about. All we are going to see on Yahoo from
now on are companies that have paid to be listed. And of these,
some have paid a premium for their listing to be placed at the
top. Obviously, the search results are going to be seriously
But what is worse, companies that registered with these
directories before the fee service started now find themselves
deleted from those same directories and forced to pay. This is
cheating and extortion on a grand scale.
In addition, there are lots of small companies out there that
can't afford to pay out $200 to all these directories in the
hope of getting some visitors. If even 10 directories charge,
that's a lot of money to fork out – with no guarantee that the
money will achieve anything.
The only good thing one can say about the new Yahoo policy is
that they will point out any serious problems with a site when
they review it. The client can then get the problems fixed and,
as long as they get back to Yahoo within 30 days, they can have
the site reviewed again. But if the site still doesn't come up
to the standards set by Yahoo, the client loses the fee and
Yahoo laughs all the way to the bank. Is this any way to run a
eBay is another online service that is now causing serious
problems for their customers. And, like Yahoo, they have a
stranglehold on the market so they can do whatever they like:
In February this year, eBay posted a multi-million dollar
profit, and not 2 weeks later they hiked their fees by 60%
crying they were losing money! Do they really think internet
users are that stupid? Perhaps they are the ones who need their
If they are losing money, it's not hard to see why. They are
going out and buying up all sorts of small websites, claiming
these will add ‘value' to their service. Take their recent
acquisition of Half.com for $US350 million. How can any little
website that sells books online be worth that much? How many
books will eBay will have to sell just to get their money back?
We already know that the biggest online bookseller, Amazon.com,
is losing money hand over fist. Where does that leave eBay's
eBay conducts between 2 to 3 million auctions a week, and they
charge for everything. If you pay to list a single item, say a 9
karat gold ring with a ruby, and you can supply exactly the same
ring but in 18 karat gold, eBay say that is 2 items. You have to
pay to list each one.
The biggest problem customers report is their ‘back office'
program. It is, to put it in the words of one irate client
"Neanderthal". He said it takes up to 1 month to learn how to
use it well. But even worse, it often breaks down for up to 40%
of the time.
A few companies have tried to set up sites that work better than
eBay. They accept your listing and then link it to eBay through
their software. The problem is, eBay puts a spike in this by
changing their program and even the HTML code so that the 3rd
party sites suddenly don't work. They then have to waste time
trying to figure out what eBay have done and update their sites.
The fact is, eBay clients report it is now impossible to make
money from their auctions. Of 100 auctions submitted, only 3
will sell, despite extravagant claims by eBay. When you consider
the amount of time needed to set up your auction pages to
achieve this paltry result, it becomes unprofitable to even
bother. When one of their clients was asked why he continues to
use eBay he replied, "What choice do I have? They are the only
game in town."
Admittedly, there are other auction sites around, but eBay is
the only one that everyone uses. He said he has posted items on
the others and never even received one bid after 4 weeks. So,
eBay can continue doing what it likes right now. But for how
About the author:
Marc Holt Managing Director, Holt WorldWide Co Ltd, Thailand
Phone: (662) 940-7414, 579-6605 Fax: (662) 940-7413 Mobile
phone: (661) 828-0871 Website Design & Promotion, Virtual Server
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