Fees to drop for listing items on eBay

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 30, 2008

San Francisco-based eBay Inc. said Tuesday it will cut by up to 50 percent the fees it charges sellers to list their goods online, in an effort to boost listings and keep pace with other burgeoning e-commerce sites.

To balance the fee cut, the company plans to increase its commission on items that do sell – a method eBay says sellers prefer because it lowers their risk if items do not sell.

The company will also increase fees on some items, including auctioned goods selling for less than $25. Its fee for those transactions will rise 67 percent, to 8.75 percent of the final sale price.

As part of the changes, photo fees also will disappear. The fees were considered a deterrent to sellers posting pictures of their goods, a feature buyers have come to expect on e-commerce sites.

The new fee structure goes into effect Feb. 20 in the United States.

UnitedHealth Group Inc. could face fines as big as $1.3 billion because its Pacificare unit allegedly handled claims unfairly after it was taken over by the nation’s second-largest health insurer, California officials said Tuesday.

Regulators investigated and uncovered at least 130,000 alleged violations of state laws and regulations regarding payments for medical care, California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner said in a statement.

A maximum penalty of $10,000 applies to each violation, which include wrongful denials of covered claims, incorrect payments, lost documents and delays in handling claims. The maximum fine will apply only if authorities prove all the violations and show they were committed as part of a deliberate scheme.

Berkshire Hathaway shareholders likely won’t get to vote whether to split the company’s Class A stock, which sells for $139,700, at this year’s annual meeting in May.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has given Warren Buffett’s Omaha-based company permission to leave a shareholder proposal for a stock split off its proxy statement because the proposal calls for adjusting the value of Class A shares to a specific value. That’s according to letters an SEC lawyer exchanged with Berkshire officials.

But even if such a proposal were to go to shareholders, it would likely face opposition from Buffett, who has never split Berkshire’s stock since he took control of the textile firm in the 1960s. Buffett holds about 31 percent of Berkshire’s stock.

The Berkshire shareholder who proposed the stock split, Robert Zelin Sr., said Tuesday that he didn’t want to discuss the proposal, which he considers “dead for this year.”


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