Sat, Sep 02, 2006 - Page 12 News List

New charges put Yahoo-Kimo at risk

COMPETITION The online auctioneer faces the prospect of losing more market share to rivals like PC Home as sellers complain about the new transaction handling charge

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

Yahoo-Kimo Inc (雅虎奇摩), the nation's largest online auctioneer, said its business remained stable after it implemented a new fee scheme yesterday, but its listing of items for sale could drop in the near term as users adjust to the policy change.

As of noon yesterday, sellers on Yahoo-Kimo are charged a transaction handling fee -- 3 percent of the concluding price -- on top of a listing fee of NT$3 per item.

"The number of our listing items didn't change much on the first day ... however, we expect the number to slide in the short term with the implementation of the new policy," Maureen Wu (吳曉嵐), associate public relations manager at Yahoo-Kimo, said in a telephone interview yesterday.

There are currently around 3.6 million to 3.7 million sales items posted on the site, Wu said.

Yahoo-Kimo announced the policy change in July. Users have slammed the move, complaining that Yahoo-Kimo should not add more fees without providing new services. Many said they barely earn any profit, as they are required to pay taxes just like mortar-and-brick stores.

The strong opposition also led to an investigation by the Fair Trade Commission, which is looking into whether Yahoo-Kimo has engaged in price fixing.

Although there was little change in the number of listings yesterday, the figure could fall after a week or two as many sellers tried to make their final posting before the new charge went into effect.

To offset the negative impact, Yahoo-Kimo launched several promotions, hoping to lure more buyers and keep sellers from shifting to other auction sites, such as PC Home Online (網路家庭), the nation's fourth-largest Internet portal.

Benefiting from the outflow, PC Home has seen its listings surge 13-fold to over 600,000 during the period, said Joyce Tzeng (曾淑華), a public relations official.

PC Home announced in June that it was forming a free joint-venture auction site with eBay Taiwan.

PC Home chairman Jan Hung-tze (詹宏志) and president Arthur Lee (李宏麟) will hold the same positions in the new company, Jan said last month.

PC Home and eBay Taiwan will unveil the official name and details of the new venture on Wednesday, Tzeng said.

The new company is planning to accept ratings that users have accumulated in other auction sites to encourage the shift to its Web site, Tzeng said.

While some Yahoo-Kimo users are moving, some prefer to stay, given the huge traffic at the site. Still, some said they might be able to avoid the additional charge through several ways, such as tagging the products at a lower price and dealing with buyers privately, or canceling the sale after finding a buyer.

Yahoo-Kimo bans such practices, urging users to comply with the rules to secure the transaction.

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