April 29th, 2009

Live Blogger

Is there such a thing as a job for a professional live blogger? I could go around to meetings and type the proceedings online, and make snide comments as I go. I would love to do this–and I seem to be good at it. Case in point: I live blogged eBay’s annual meeting of stockholders today. It turned out to be quite a yawn. We were at least hoping the PETA protesters would show up to protest the sale of dogs and cats on eBay’s overseas sites. But alas, there was precious little controversy. Still, i had lots of fun. You can read the proceedings here.

April 29th, 2009

Taxing Problems for E-Merchants

I wrote a story for AuctionBytes that described a bill called the Main Street Fairness Act, which will be introduced in Congress in the next few weeks. One thing I didn’t get a chance to mention in the story: the businesspeople I talked to say that they would be happy to collect sales tax on online purchases, as long as it is a simple flat tax. That way they won’t have to conform to different schedules and requirements imposed by multiple taxing bodies such as cities, counties, and states.

According to Carla Yrjanson, vice president of tax research with Sabrix:

“Forty-five states, the District of Columbia, and local jurisdictions in Alaska impose sales and use tax. It has been estimated that the number of tax jurisdictions that impose tax is in excess of 7,600. Sabrix Tax Research continuously monitors over 13,000 tax authorities (state, county, city, and district) for changes to sales and use tax rates and changes to how goods and services are taxed. So far in 2009, we have documented over 340 sales and use tax rate changes and added over 131 new tax authorities. In addition to the challenges in keeping current on the rates and whether an item is exempt or not, it is also critical to stay current on how states determine which local jurisdictions can impose taxes on transactions that cross borders. We have a team of tax professionals tracking these changes on a daily basis. I can’t imagine how a small or mid-size business could cost effectively track these changes themselves without using a service such as the Sabrix Managed Tax Service.”

April 29th, 2009

Kudos to AuctionBytes

Sellers at eBay have been complaining about that company’s lack of responsiveness for many years. It seems AuctionBytes, which has covered eBay for years and provided it with tons of free publicity, has been getting the same treatment of late. A blog post by David Steiner that complained about eBay’s attitude toward them got lots of attention–and from eBay. The company called them later in the day, offering to provide a PR person to work with Ina. I hope things get better.

April 17th, 2009

Ztail’s Price Guarantee

Ina Steiner at AuctionBytes wrote recently about Ztail and its innovative price guarantee program. Some eBay sellers are able to list their items on Ztail. Ztail does research on resale value, and choose items it will guarantee. If you buy an item for $100, for instance, Ztail will guarantee that if you resell it in a year, it will list the item on eBay for you and sell it for at least, say, $60. If the item sells for more than $60, you keep the total amount. If the item sells for less than $60, Ztail makes up the difference. I talked to cofounder Bill Hudak. Look for an article on AuctionBytes soon. “We want to change the way people buy products,” says Hudak.

April 16th, 2009

Another Creative Use for Twitter

One of the businesses I profiled in AuctionBytes, the Minnesota-based SeeAuctions.com, sent me an e-mail inviting me to “follow” them on Twitter. I did: they don’t have many Twitter posts, but the point is that they have another way to reach customers when they want to announce a special sale.

You can follow me at gregoryholden, by the way.