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By Marc Holt
Posted Tuesday, October 12, 2004 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? Lets 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 doesnt 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 lousy attitude?

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, youll never find it because it just isnt there. Then, even if you do write, you probably wont receive a reply.

And what happens if, after paying your $199 fee, Yahoo decides your website just doesnt 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 skewed.

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 cant afford to pay out $200 to all these directories in the hope of getting some visitors. If even 10 directories charge, thats 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 doesnt 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 business?


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: For now.

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 heads examined.

If they are losing money, its 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 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,, is losing money hand over fist. Where does that leave eBays bookselling efforts?

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 dont 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 long?

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 Hosting, and the following businesses:
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