Platforms That Hold Users Hostage


I appreciate platforms that help me connect to buyers of my products and services. I really do and I want them to profit off helping me make some sales. That is a fair trade off in my opinion. However, many platforms want to hold users hostage so they can squeeze every last drop of profit out of us. What is the moral thing to do in these situations? Let’s have a look.

When I talk about the moral thing to do here, it is not like we are talking human rights. I am just discussing the right thing to do between a user and a company that provides a way to make money through their platform. Ebay is a good example of just what I am talking about here. They love for a user to sell tons of products on their site. The reason is obvious. They make money off each sale. Good for the user and for the platform. Ebay makes it clear that you are not to discuss selling directly to customers you deal with on their website. They let you know that is against their policy and any transactions made directly are not covered by eBay guarantees, etc.

That is understandable. Ebay made the initial connection between the buyer and seller so they want to make as much profit from the two parties as possible. But when does it become OK to start dealing with a buyer directly so you can save on the eBay fees? Should eBay get a cut of your sales to the same buyer forever? After all, you have the email address and the shipping address so you can communicate directly with the seller  without eBay’s help. At some point, eBay should be cut out of the deal on consistent buyers to your shop. Ebay may have made the meeting between you two possible, but you did all the work to nurture the relationship to the point where a buyer trusts you with order after order.

Other platforms have similar policies to eBay. Fiverr is very strict about communication directly between buyer and seller. They have banned users for going outside their messaging system. Fiverr wants to get their 20 percent of each and every sale made between freelancers and buyers. Many people complain about the 20 percent fee, one dollar for every five, being too high. But I have no problem with that number. A good salesperson is worth a high percentage of a sale. But to give Fiverr $20 for every hundred dollars you make off of regular customers is a bit crazy. Again, they set up the meeting and got the ball rolling. But your talent and hard work made the customer a regular. You should keep all the profit at some point.

At what point should users cut out the big companies that help sell the user’s wares? That is up to each individual. Trying to be fair to the platform is great, but they are always trying to maximize profits, which is smart. You should do the same thing though!

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Shane McLendon
Wannabe geek and FLOW Seeker