10 Things you may or may not have known about eBay

An Insider's Perspective

I worked for eBay for over three years, until last October. There are a lot of interesting bits and pieces happening behind the scenes that aren't necessarily public knowledge. In fact there's tonnes of information I could share, as I was a Level 2 employee having access to restricted analysis data and financial information, however I do not want to be sued. Therefore I will keep my interesting tidbits too mildly inane, non-controversial information.

1. All of eBay's technology infrastructure is hosted in the U.S. If you're using one of eBay's "international" websites and notice it runs quite slowly, compared to other destinations in your country, this could be due to the site actually being hosted on the other side of the world.

2. eBay's European customer support team is all located in one central location, Berlin, Germany. eBay's US customer support operations are located in Salt Lake City, Utah. It is a myth that eBay does not provide any customer support via the telephone. If you are a seller registered with the eBay US Powerseller programme telephone support is available.

3. When making a Quarterly earnings statement eBay does not habitually break out individual countries' financial data. Usually earnings are reported for the corporation as a whole. In recent times, some favourable data for Germany and UK have been publically reported.

4. eBay employees are specifically prohibited to sell eBay branded merchandise on the eBay website. eBay loves to give its employees junk. Shirts, pens, keyrings, fleeces, mousemats, laptop shoulder bags - the list just goes on. Most employees have no use for much of this, but they are also not allowed to sell it on eBay to some addict prepared to pay a fortune.

5. eBay UK employees are paid monthly by personal cheque. They then must manually deposit this into their bank accounts.

6. For the last three years (2000, 2001, 2002) a joint eBay European Christmas party has been held in Berlin, hosted by eBay Germany. Each year the number of guests over from the U.S. on business at this time has increased.

7. At the time of writing, charities who use eBay UK to raise money by selling donated items or "money can't buy" events are required to pay all of eBay's selling fees.

8. By checking back through prior community announcements, it is almost possible to predict when eBay will hold its next Free Listing Day, where fees to start an auction are waived. These appear to occur on a Quarterly basis.

9. It is well known in the eBay community that most new features appear on the U.S. site some time before the satellite operations. One of the largest changes to eBay in recent times was the introduction of a fixed price buying format, Buy it Now, which does not have any auction element. This was launched on eBay's "international" sites before the original U.S. website.

10. In many eBay offices employees are provided with Herman Miller Aeron chairs.