So eBay just announced a new policy:

Hi everyone,

I’ve got some exciting news about $0.00 Insertion Fees. Starting June 16, 2009, you’ll get 5 free Insertion Fees every 30 days for Auction-style listings.

Here’s how it works: Regardless of your start price, your first 5 Auction-style listings will have NO Insertion Fees when you list with eBay’s Sell Your Item form or Simple listing form.

The Final Value Fee for these 5 listings with $0.00 Insertion Fees will be 8.75% of the sales price or $20, whichever is lower. Any additional items sold during the same 30-day period will have the same Insertion Fees and Final Value Fees as they do today.

Choose the option that works best for you, based on how you list:

* eBay’s Sell Your Item form or Simple listing form – If you’re currently using one of these forms, you can either take advantage of the 5 free Insertion Fees every 30 days, or opt out by listing your items via an eBay tool or third-party listing solution.
* eBay tool or third-party listing solution – If you’re currently using one of these tools, you can either take advantage of this new pricing structure by listing your first 5 Auction-style listings every 30 days through eBay’s Sell Your Item form or Simple listing form, or continue with your current practices at the current pricing.

We’re continuing our efforts to lower the upfront costs of selling on eBay. The 5 listings with $0.00 Insertion Fees are especially helpful if you don’t sell a high volume, but offer the kind of unique and hard-to-find inventory buyers expect to find on eBay.
Dinesh Lathi
VP, Seller Experience

I just can’t figure out their logic here.

I suppose this new plan is meant to benefit casual sellers so that if you only list 5 or less items a month, you no longer pay listing fees. Or if you only list a few more than 5 times a month, you get a discount on listing fees.

I also suppose us auction lovers should be glad that they seem to still be nurturing that format with this new policy but, frankly, this “promotion” doesn’t seem to be well thought out.

Firstly, isn’t this going to cause higher volume of items at the start of every month which will then taper off towards the end of each month?

Secondly, by making sellers jump through the hoop of only giving them the first five free each month, sellers are going to front load their highest starting cost auction items all at the beginning of each month in order to save the most which will totally change the complexion of the marketplace every 30 days. That and customer service complains are going to go up as sellers forget which time zone eBay is in and complain because they started their big ticket items too soon to qualify.

Thirdly, forcing you to use the Sell Your Item form in order to take advantage of this promotion is the strangest part yet. This seems like it was added just to penalize higher volume sellers, though the promotion doesn’t really help high volume sellers out very much to begin with. Isn’t the entire reason third party listing services exist is so that eBay doesn’t have to make the Sell Your Item form that robust? Forcing everyone to use the SYI for at least 5 items a month is going to put a ton of strain on the already weak from and really put a heavy burden on the site in the beginning of every month.

Even so, I could forgive them this if they only banned third party services but they banned eBay listing tools as well so I can’t even use Turbo Lister. Why did they ban their own listing software? It just seems so dumb.

I understand the sentiment behind this promotion but I don’t understand why no one at eBay took the time to think about how stupid some of it is. Why couldn’t they have just automatically credited 5 insertions fees a month without figuring in all of this “first 5 of the month” nonsense. I appreciate credits or month off no matter what form they take but, boy, this is a stupid form.

However, if you are a true newbie who only using the SYI form to list and only sells a few things at auction a months, this could be a great promotion for you. That just seems like such a small portion of the users, why bother?