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Connecting eBay Employees and You

Posted by Griff on April 29, 2008 at 10:09 AM in Letters from Griff | Permalink

Ab_griff On Friday, April 25th, the Community Development team held a special event in the eBay Café to launch a very special new program. Normally, I don't blog about internal events since they would be of no real interest to anyone but employees. However, this is one that I think every buyer and seller will find of interest.


eBay employees say "Hello" to you!

I am a lucky guy. I have the honor and privilege of talking to thousands of eBay sellers and buyers in the course of a year, either in person or via email or through eBay Radio. Through our constant conversations, I learn volumes about you and your experiences with eBay and other eBay members. What I learn from you allows me to do my job well (as an instructor, guide, ombudsman and "ear.") I consider my connections with you to be priceless and the reason I get up in the morning. In fact, when anyone asks me what I love most about my job, I do not hesitate telling them that it's my daily interactions with you, our Community.


Many of my teammates in Community Development are equally as fortunate, as they, too, get to meet with so many of you throughout the year. But for many other eBay employees, the opportunities for direct interaction with you are limited. It's not that they are unwilling; the majority would love to learn more about you. For them, the obstacles are "how" and "when." Since we in Com Dev are experts at the "how" and "when," we created a special program to help every eBay employee who so desires or needs, to meet and talk with you. The program is called Customer Connect.

Customer Connect will facilitate a myriad of different connections between eBay customers -- that would be you -– and eBay employees using existing features like the Community forums, live events like eBay In Person, our Voices program as well as new features like home visits and customer support "listen ins." Our hope for the program is that it will bring more employees into direct contact with eBay buyers and sellers so that they, the employees, can attain a better understanding of your needs, your own challenges as either sellers or buyers, your suggestions for improvements and changes and in general, a better picture of your day to day experiences using eBay's marketplace.

 

The launch event was a resounding success. In two hours, our team members spoke individually to over 200 employees and signed up nearly that many as "early members" who expressed interest in connecting with you through one of four main channels: Voices, Visits, Forums or Community Communications. We gave away lots of specially branded tchotchkes like big glass mugs, t-shirts and tin flower pots with real grass seeds to water and grow (like a chia pet!).


Signing up employees for Customer Connect

In addition, we had four local eBay members come to the event to meet with and talk to employees (a special thanks to them!).


Employee Lisa Laursen (Lulu) speaks with eBay member Randy Hicks during the event.

We received quite a bit of interest from employees in all aspects of the program but especially in becoming "pinks" so that they could chat and converse with you on our forums (a definite need in the Community!) I feel confident in predicting that in the coming weeks and months, you will notice more employees actively engaging with you both on and off the site.

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Spending time with (possible) future eBay employees

Posted by Jeff on April 28, 2008 at 09:43 AM in General | Permalink

Jeff_postI spent a chunk of last Thursday spending time with the next generation of eBay employees. No, not Clown_toss_2at a job fair, but at our annual "Bring Your Kids to Work Day." It's a fun day - for at least a couple of hours, you get to see a side of your coworkers while they're with their families that you don't normally in the workplace. And the kids are having a great time getting their faces painted, playing carnival games (such as the "clown toss" game to the right), and munching on popcorn and ice cream sandwiches.

For the second year now, I was asked to do a really short Drawing_2presentation for the kids, who were generally between 8-12, so they could learn what eBay is all about. Since I don't have kids of my own (yet - it'll be a different story come late July), I put together a  demonstration of how my boss' kids use  eBay...with their dad, of course...to find coins and trading cards to add to their collections. I also had a secret weapon - the whiteboard, which several kids thought was the most interesting part of my talk.

But it turns out that these kids are already experts. Some were waiting for items to arrive (like a copy of Godzilla Unleashed for the Nintendo Wii), and others could Icecream_3perfectly state what it is eBay does. In fact, I almost hit the floor when one precocious kid described eBay as a "consumer-oriented marketplace." I heard a rumor our Marketing and Brand teams are already preparing employment offers.

Of course, the most important part was the Good Humor ice cream cart which I promptly pillaged as soon as my presentation was over. Now to figure out how to stash one of those things in my cube.

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Reforest the earth for $1 -- eBay Canada supports the Plant for the Planet Campaign

Posted by Ninad on April 25, 2008 at 09:58 AM in General | Permalink

Ninad_postA billion new trees planted in 2008! That's how the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) is planning to counter the massive deforestation that has ravaged the earth in recent years (the earth has lost over 80% of its original forest cover; each minute an incredible 2000 trees are chopped down across the world!) The Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign is hoping to reverse this phenomenon before it's too late.

Plantatree Our friends in eBay Canada have teamed up with the Yves Rocher Foundation (Yves Rocher is a leader in botanical beauty care) to help people contribute to the effort to replant areas of the world where reforestation is needed the most.

Check out Yves Rocher's Plant for the Planet auction on eBay.ca, running from from April 22 to May 2nd. Here's your opportunity to buy groups of 2, 5, or 10 baby trees that will be planted on your behalf in parts of the world where reforestation will have a positive impact on the climate and create sustainable economic opportunities.

Onetree Every dollar collected will enable trees to be planted in Brazil, India, or Madagascar, three countries that have been severely affected by deforestation. (See details on Yves Rocher's planting programs.)

The goal of this auction is to get 10,000 trees planted. We've already had over 275 users participating and about 1,997 trees pledged. With only 7 days to go, you too can do your bit to reforest the earth for $1!


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UPDATE! Thanks for all the Great Stories from New Sellers

Posted by Griff on April 23, 2008 at 03:05 PM in Letters from Griff | Permalink

Ab_griffI need to take a break for a moment from answering the avalanche of email I have received from my call for stories on Friday to thank all those folks who have taken the time to write out their own personal tales of starting to sell on eBay. I was not prepared for the sheer number of stories or the array of hardships conquered they contained. So many of you have weathered such extreme difficulties and have overcome them, with help from a little opportunity provided by eBay and a whole lot of dedication and passion for believing in yourselves, in spite of the odds.  I was, at times over the weekend, overcome myself reading them.

Rest assured, I will respond in the coming days, to each and every person who emailed in a story. It may take a few days so I thank you for your patience in advance.

Thank you again for taking the time to bring your testaments to life. You remind me over and over why working for you is such an honor and privilege.

regards,

Griff

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Plant a Tree on Earth Day with StumbleUpon's "Thumbs Up for Trees!"

Posted by Katie Sween on April 22, 2008 at 01:35 PM in eBay in Pop Culture , General | Permalink

Ab_ksween2_2 Hello everyone. I'm Katie Sween from StumbleUpon (an eBay company that helps users discover great websites) here to tell you about a cool Earth Day event that starts today and runs through May 2nd. Every day millions of StumbleUpon users discover great websites and give them a "Thumbs-up" so that other users with similar interests can also discover, or "stumble upon" them.

Stumbleupon_earthday Starting this Earth Day, we want to harness the power of our Community and the "Thumbs-up" to plant trees for the National Forest Foundation

Simply visit www.stumbleupon.com/Earthday and use the StumbleUpon toolbar to thumbs-up the page. From now through May 2nd, with every thumbs-up StumbleUpon will plant a tree with help from the National Forest Foundation. Your thumbs-up means more trees for America's National Forests and more awareness for this cause. Join the National Forest Foundation and StumbleUpon this Earth Day and help us plant thousands of trees for the National Forest Foundation. No digging required!

Tikibarberebay You might also want to join Tiki Barber's Earth Day campaign on eBay, sponsored by StumbleUpon. The retired New York Giants running back legend and media personality is supporting Earth Day through an auction on eBay -- the winner and three friends will get to spend a weekend with one of America's most beloved sports heroes!

Thumbsupstumbleupon_2 In case you're not yet familiar, StumbleUpon helps you discover websites based on your interests, learns what you like, and brings you more. For example, say you are interested in the environment (and something tells me you may be). With StumbleUpon you will discover great websites, photos, blogs and news about the environment. All personalized for you. Clicking the Stumble button will bring you to one new website after another. You can rate the websites as you are Stumbling and we use your ratings to determine which sites are best for you. 

Thank you and happy Earth Day!

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Wanted: Stories from New Sellers!

Posted by Griff on April 18, 2008 at 04:32 PM in Letters from Griff | Permalink

Ab_griffAre you a new or even "new-ish" seller on the eBay?

Has recent news about the world economy motivated you, after maybe months or even years of putting it off, to start finally listing items on eBay, maybe to supplement your income or to convert your unwanted possessions into a nice little cash reserve (finally freeing up enough space in your garage to fit your car)?

Then we want to hear your story! Well, not just us, but the whole world. We're looking for a few good stories to share with with the media in the coming months. This is an excellent once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to share your story and put your eBay listings in front of millions of potential buyer eyeballs!

So if you are relatively new to selling on eBay and your main reason for taking the plunge was concern about the current state of the economy, and you don't mind reaping the possible rewards a national news story could generate for your listings on eBay, then why not email your story to me at griff@ebay.com today!

Griff

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Romanian Fraudster Vladuz Arrested

Posted by Jeff on April 18, 2008 at 11:34 AM in General , Trust & Safety Corner | Permalink

Jeff_postThere’s been some good news out of Romania  – cyber-criminal Vladuz has been arrested by the Romanian General Directorate for Combating Organized Crime. He had gained a measure of notoriety in the past year for numerous unsuccessful attempts to defraud members of the eBay Community.

This arrest came about because of great work between the Romanian Directorate, the US Secret Service, the FBI, and eBay’s global fraud investigation team, all of whom were directly involved.  You can read the press release here – it’s an excellent example of how eBay works with law enforcement around the world to bring to justice those who try to harm the Community.

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More Info About the "eBay Security News" Announcement from John Canfield

Posted by Jeff on April 17, 2008 at 03:43 PM in General , Trust & Safety Corner | Permalink

Jeff_postHopefully you saw the recent announcement from John Canfield about some new security measures we're putting in place to combat the fraudsters who try to break into eBay member accounts (usually after a successful phishing attempt). You can read the whole text here, but in a nutshell, we're going to start noting which computers members typically use to sell and buy. Then, around June, when a seller goes to list an item, we'll make sure they're using a trusted computer. If they're using one we've never noted before, we'll take a step or two to confirm their identity. This will usually be done via an automated phone call to a registered phone number. (As John mentioned, we hope sellers will take time to update their registered contact information and consider registering a cell phone as a secondary number - just in case we need to confirm their identity while they're on the road.)

This type of authentication is being used by other online industries, as well. For example, I need to answer security questions every time I access my bank account online from a computer the bank doesn't "recognize." And I know several friends who've received phone calls from their banks to verify their identity when they used their credit cards for an unusually large amount.

We've been doing some checking around our forums, and the reaction to the news has been pretty positive - a lot of "this is a step in the right direction" and "glad eBay is doing something about security"-type comments. We also saw some good questions, so we sent them over to John Canfield so he could provide some more detail.

John was part of this morning’s Town Hall event, and answered a few questions about this initiative – Ab_jcanfield the archives will be available soon at www.ebay.com/townhall if you want to listen in.  His team will also be hosting an online workshop on May 6th to go over the program in more detail - stay tuned to the Announcement Board for the exact time. And without further ado, here are John's responses:

Q: What if I use multiple computers for my business - will I have to verify my identity every time I use one or the other?

A: We will definitely support multiple computers. During this information-gathering stage (now through June, roughly) we'll be able to tell which computer(s) you typically use to buy or sell, and as long as you're using one of these, you won't need to verify your identity. You also will be able to access multiple, different accounts from the same computer (such as in the case where a business has multiple IDs).

Q: How will you track which computer I'm using?

A: We generate a unique ID that identifies the computer you've used to connect to eBay. This unique ID is stored on your computer using cookies and Flash objects so that the next time you visit eBay, we're able to confirm that you're using the same computer. 

This unique ID doesn't include any personal information, such as your email address or eBay transactions, and won't be shared with anyone else.

Q: Will people who do not have a cell phone, or other alternate number that can be used when away from home, be able to verify their identity in some other way?

A: If you're away from your normal computer, you will be able to enter the telephone number where you are as part of the identity confirmation process. However, you'll also need to to answer your secret question to do so, as part of an additional security step. If you're not able to provide another number (for example, because you don't have a phone handy), you can use our Live Chat function so that one of our Customer Support Reps can verify your identity.

Q:  Why not just use a "challenge question" instead of phone calls?

A: Some businesses use challenge questions, some use phone calls, and some use a combination. We chose the phone method because we felt it provided the right level of convenience and security for the eBay Marketplace.

Q: What about ISPs that assign a different IP address for each session, or those that change the IP address each time the modem is rebooted?

A: We use a number of different variables to note what computer you buy and sell from. You won't need to verify your identity as long as you're using your normal computer(s), even if your IP address changes.

Q: How will listings submitted through a 3rd party listing service be handled?

A: You should not be affected unless you need to authorize 3rd party access to your eBay account. During that process, you will need to go through identity verification if we do not recognize that computer.

Q: Are you going to put similar security measures on bidders?

A: Right now this will only affect selling. But depending on the results of this initiative and changing fraud patterns, we may apply this program to other eBay activity in the future.

Q: Won't bad guys just change the phone number as soon as they take over an account so they then receive the phone call?

A: If we see that you've just changed your contact details (or basically any time we feel that the phone number may not actually be the seller's), we will ask you to answer your secret question as an additional security measure. This will prevent fraudsters from changing your account details and using the new info to confirm an identity.

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Today's Town Hall with Lorrie Norrington

Posted by Ninad on April 17, 2008 at 09:19 AM in General | Permalink

Ninad_postIn our ongoing series of Community Town Halls, Lorrie Norrington, President of eBay Marketplace Operations, and a panel of eBay execs will take questions from members today between 9:30 am -- 11:00 am Pacific time, on all things eBay. To make your voice heard, call our toll-free number during the event -- 1-877-474-3302 -- to ask your question on the air. Alternatively, you can email your question, now or during the event, to townhall@ebay.com.

I'll be putting up pictures from today's Town Hall as it unfolds. Stay tuned!

Here's Lorrie and Griff, our friendly emcee and host, a few moments before going live:

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Continue reading "Today's Town Hall with Lorrie Norrington" »

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It's Tax Day! Tips from Diane Kennedy to Help Today....and Next Year

Posted by Bev on April 15, 2008 at 12:18 PM | Permalink

Bevdsmug_2 Time is nearly up for tax procrastinators - the deadline for filing state and federal taxes is midnight tonight. If you haven't done yours yet (and are still reading this), you probably need all the help you can get. For the immediate fix, here are some suggestions that will help you in the final tax-filing-frenzy (and get you better prepared for next year).

Diane Kennedy, CPA and best-selling author, hosts monthly online workshops focusing on how to be as tax-efficient as possible. Many of the tips below are from her workshops, as well as a few odds and ends via the IRS website - and my own experiences.

  1. Use Free File to Prepare Your Taxes - Yep that's right. Free tax preparation and electronic filing available for taxpayers who earn $54,000 or less. Here's the link to e-filing.
  2. Consider filing an extension if you need more time to file - If you need more time to get your paperwork in, make sure you file a Form 4868, Automatic Extension of Time to File
  3. Request an Extension of Time to Pay - Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for the an extension of time to pay.
  4. Call the IRS - When calling, you may ask questions to help you prepare your tax return, or ask about a notice you have received.
  5. Double check your forms when filing - Make sure to check your social security numbers, that you have all the necessary signatures and dates, and if you owe the IRS, make checks payable to the "United States Treasury".
  6. Copy all of your documents - If you don't have a copier available, check stores that sell business supplies - many of these offer copying services, sometimes free.
  7. Get Help - AARP offers a service called Tax-Aide, and many preparation services like H & R Block have extended office hours today.
  8. Locate a Post Office that is open late - Filing your taxes on time doesn't do much good if you can't ensure they're post-marked by midnight.
  9. Take a break - break out the beverage of choice, or visit a pizza parlor, bakery, or coffee shop.
  10. Don't panic - I know, easier said than done.
  11. If using a shoebox as your filing system, consider getting rid of that and...
  12. Be sure to attend the aforementioned monthly tax workshops hosted by Diane Kennedy.
  13. And the most important tip - get an earlier start next year!

And for everyone that received a refund on your taxes - check out the great buys on eBay and celebrate!

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