Trade Me 'chaos' leaves users fuming

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 19:30 26/02/2013

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Trade Me members are fuming over glitches with the online auction site after the company appeared to bungle the launch of a new feature designed to make it easier for traders to sell new goods.

The company's community message board has been flooded with complaints from sellers who said they could not see the details of completed trades or re-listed auctions.

Buyers found their "won" and "lost" auction lists clogged with details of previously deleted trades which they could not expunge.

One described the situation as "utter chaos". Another said they had received two emails from buyers "grumpy" because they either couldn't make payments or couldn't send their delivery addresses.

"I thought I was going completely bonkers this morning when not one of the last 10 trades matched numbers paid into my account," said a third.

"What a nightmare. Have several customers who have paid but we can't ship the goods as clicking on the address brings up the banana error," said a fourth.

The problems appeared to stem from the introduction of a new unique code designed to identify each trade. The code has become necessary because Trade Me today released a new feature that lets professional traders sell any number of identical new goods through a single listing.

Commenting this morning, marketplace head Craig Jordan said the feature had been a year in the making and was the first step towards reinventing the auction site to provide a more modern e-commerce experience.

The company used the example of a trader that had 12 new rubber ducks for sale to explain the process.

The trader would have a single listing that would only expire once all the ducks had sold, or at the date the listing expired, rather than the trader having to create 12 separate listings.

Trade Me head of communications Paul Ford said there were some outstanding ‘‘cosmetic issues’’ which had affected a small number of users.

‘‘It’s been a significant change for Trade Me and we remain committed to making it work well.  We appreciate that this is frustrating for those affected, and the team will be working around the clock until these last few issues are resolved.’’

Jeff Hunkin, a communications advisor for the company, said thanks to testing, and the help of message board users, most issues were identified and dealt with in the few hours following the changes.

Chief executive Jon Macdonald said last week that about $280 million-worth of new "general items" were sold through Trade Me last year, accounting for about 40 per cent of business conducted through its main auction site.

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However, that was up only about 1 per cent as Trade Me made slow progress tempting big brand-name retailers on to its trading platform.

Multiple listings require a new way of linking individual purchases to sellers.

All Trade Me transactions - not just those from multiple listings - will now generate a unique "purchase reference number" that will be sent to the buyer and seller on the completion of a trade to identify the transaction, Trade Me said. Jordan said commission fees would remain unchanged.

Despite the problems reported by traders, Trade Me shares have today leapt 3.3 per cent to a new record high of $4.60.

- BusinessDay.co.nz

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