Trade Me: listen to the masses

(This is the Online column, written for The Southland Times)

Top New Zealand auction site Trade Me has had a bit of a facelift during the past couple of weeks.

Trade Me’s management team had been promising the revamp for months in an effort to break some of the auction categories into smaller groups and even posted a list of the proposed new categories on the site for users to give feedback before the big change.

However, there was no warning of a few not-so-popular changes, including the decision to ban all classified advertising except wanted ads.

While it is certainly up to the site’s owner or owners to make those decisions, it would have been good politics to let traders know of these changes instead of having them stumble across them after the fact.

The site sends out a somewhat irregular newsletter and has a site announcements section on its message board so notification should have been a simple process.

A regular gripe with Trade Me’s users is the lack of response to questions sent via the site’s built-in contact form and in the past at least one use has been disabled for posting phone contact details on the message board.

Now, there is a phone number listed on the site that you can call for help, if you’re prepared to pay $1.99 a minute (plus GST, of course).

Many traders, myself included, are already having trouble getting replies from the site’s management team and questions raised in the section of the message board set up specifically for site suggestions are mostly ignored so I doubt anyone will be keen to spend their hard-earned dollars to call an 0900 number on the off chance of getting a helpful reply.

If all else fails, you can still find Trade Me’s normal phone number listed in Wellington’s White Pages.

On a more positive note, rogue traders seem to be being dealt with a lot faster lately, especially the persistent Romanian scammers selling (non-existent) high-spec laptops and plasma screen TVs at ridiculously low prices.

Often the first warning of a potential scam comes from a vigilant trader posting a warning on the message board or through the website’s contact page so come on Trade Me, start listening to your users.

ARE YOU SAFE?

Two new security vulnerabilities were announced last week affecting both the Microsoft Windows operating system and Cisco routing equipment.

The Microsoft problem affects Windows NT 4.0, NT 4.0 Terminal Services Edition, Windows 2000, XP and Windows Server 2003. A patch is available at windowsupdate.microsoft.com.

The Cisco issue affects all Cisco hardware running a vulnerable IOS version, namely versions 11.x and 12.x. Full details can be found here.

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