Ebay faces user boycott

German users of online auction house Ebay are planning to boycott the site in protest of changes to its rating system. More than 5,000 users have already added themselves to the list of sellers who will not use Ebay between the 18th and 25th of February. Germany is the second most important market for Ebay.

“Ebay makes me sick. We will show it with an embargo!” wrote a user in an online forum.

Starting in June, sellers in Germany will only be able to give the buyers positive ratings, instead of the negative, neutral and positive ratings as at present. The new rating system takes effect in the US in May. Buyers who have too many negative ratings run the risk of not getting sold to or having to pay a higher price for goods they want to buy. This system functions as an internally generated credit rating system, where customers with worse ratings have to pay a type of risk premium.

The anger in the forums has caused the value of Ebay’s shares to stagnate, as investors are uncertain about the effect the strike will have on the company’s revenues. Since it was founded in 1995, the online auction house has made billions of dollars with its unique system.

In the past few years, the Ebay-ecosystem has become unbalanced and many sellers have been abusing the rating system by punishing buyers who complain with negative ratings. The new system has angered sellers, as they feel it will not protect them from buyers who either cannot or will not pay.

“There are intensive discussions about the new rating system,” Maike Fuest, the spokesperson for Ebay-Germany, told the Berliner Zeitung. She said that the new rating system is “right, because it will strengthen trust in the rating system. In the past years the problem of revenge ratings has gotten worse.”


Coronavirus pandemic: German schools lagging behind on digital learning

Schools in Germany had a harder transition to online teaching during the coronavirus crisis compared to several other countries.

Coronavirus pandemic: German schools lagging behind on digital learning
Children on a laptop in Freiberg, Saxony. Photo: DPA

That's according to a representative survey of parents in Germany, Australia, the UK, Italy, Canada, Mexico and Singapore commissioned by the technology company Citrix.

Germany came in last place compared to the other six countries, with only every tenth student (10 percent) reporting a smooth transition to online teaching during the pandemic.

But even in Singapore, the country with the best score, only 30 percent of children said they had a smooth transition to online lessons. That was followed by Australia (25 percent), Mexico and the UK (19 percent each), Canada (16 percent) and Italy with 14 percent.

During the lockdown, pupils were forced to stay at home and lessons had to be conducted online. However, there were issues in Germany with a lack of equipment and slow digital connections.

Many schools 'not prepared'

In Germany, 50 percent of the parents surveyed said that schools had not been prepared at all. This is why distance learning was only provisionally carried out during the crisis, they said.

READ ALSO: Digital upgrade – How Germany plans cheap Internet access for all school pupils

Yet as many as 38 percent of the parents said that their children's schools had been “sufficiently prepared” because, for example, some distance learning systems were already in use.

In the survey, the parents also named the areas in which they felt there was room for improvement: at the top of the list was teacher training for distance learning (53 percent), better organisation of distance learning (48 percent) and more direct interaction with teachers via video (45 percent). However, 20 percent of parents think that online teaching is generally bad for their children.

Among the students surveyed, almost half (49 percent) are in favour of a hybrid model of classroom and online sessions, while 12 percent would like to continue their entire studies online after the corona crisis.

One Poll surveyed 3,500 parents with children aged 6 to 18 years and 3,500 university students in July and August 2020 on behalf of Citrix. The survey was conducted simultaneously in Australia, Canada, Germany, the UK, Italy, Mexico and Singapore. From each country, 500 students and 500 parents took part.

Digital upgrade planned for German schools

Among the students surveyed, almost half (49 percent) are in favour of a hybrid model of classroom and online sessions. 12 percent would like to continue their entire studies online after the corona crisis.

In general, it is widely acknowledged that Germany is behind the times when it comes to broadband speed and connectivity.

Last month, German authorities drew up a plan to inject the education system with a digital upgrade.

The federal and state governments have agreed that schools should have faster WiFi connections, there must be affordable Internet access for pupils and that laptops should be available to teachers.

READ ALSO: More schools in Germany reopen to pupils – but with strict social distancing rules


Online learning – (der) Online-Unterricht

Distance learning – (der) Fernunterricht

Sufficiently prepared – hinreichend vorbereitet

Room for improvement – (der)  Verbesserungsbedarf

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