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What is going on at eBay?

The controversial new feedback policy from eBay removes sellers' ability to leave neutral or negative feedback for their buyers.

EBay hopes the change will benefit both buyers and sellers by creating a more reliable marketplace, some small merchants see this as another reason to move their wares elsewhere.

Sellers are taking more drastic action: A number have posted store notices saying they will no longer leave any feedback at all in protest of eBay's new policy.

EBay officials say the feedback change was necessary to counter a growing trend of sellers leaving retaliatory ratings for buyers who give them negative ratings. Wouldn't you?

"What we discovered through research was that any negative feedback that the buyer gets reduces their purchasing or willingness to purchase within the marketplace," said Brian Burke, eBay's director of global feedback policy. "The goal behind the changes is really to make sure that we've got buyer accountability and seller accountability."

To make up for limiting public feedback options for sellers, eBay is giving its sellers more tools to protect themselves against unscrupulous buyers. Starting May 27, vendors will be able to tighten buyer restrictions and block shoppers who have been reported for policy violations, such as feedback extortion or nonpayment, from buying or bidding on their items.

EBay's feedback change is part of a comprehensive revamp that has also brought changes to eBay's fee structure, search algorithm, and PayPal policies. Small merchants have been particularly vocal in their displeasure about the changes.

"I think we're in a very hostile seller situation," one merchant said. "I have no clue why eBay is doing it, but it scares me."

There is a seller's budding backlash, punctuated by eBay-bashing Web sites and online message groups. According to USA Today, Smaller auction sites Bidville, and, among others, report an increase in new users. says 2,700 sellers, most of them eBay defectors, have lined up to join when it starts later this month. "We struck a nerve at the right time," says CEO Ray Romeo, a former eBay user.

About 430,000 individuals and small businesses make part or all of their income from listings on eBay — nearly three times the number in late 2002.

Problems with Rebate Checks....

About 350,000 eligible households that have received rebates didn't receive the additional $300 payment for their children. In some cases, the extra payments were withheld because people failed to check a box on their tax return indicating to the IRS that their children were eligible, IRS spokesman Terry Lemons says.

In other cases, the error occurred because a few tax software companies failed to provide the information the IRS needed to make the payments, Lemons says. The IRS plans to mail a "catch-up payment" to the parents by July.

Taxpayers who filed jointly with a spouse who doesn't have a Social Security number won't receive a rebate at all. They include thousands of legal residents whose spouses have applied for a Social Security number but haven't received one yet.

Starting in late April, the Treasury began sending economic stimulus payments to more than 130 million households. To receive a payment, taxpayers must have a valid Social Security number, $3,000 of income and file a 2007 federal tax return. IRS will take care of the rest. Eligible people will receive up to $600 ($1,200 for married couples), and parents will receive an additional $300 for each eligible child younger than 17. Millions of retirees, disabled veterans and low-wage workers who usually are exempt from filing a tax return must do so this year in order to receive a stimulus payment.

Economic stimulus payments will continue on a weekly basis through July. The last two-digits of your Social Security number and whether you opted for direct deposit into your financial account or a paper check will determine when you receive your payment.

Foreclosure filings hit record in April

U.S. foreclosure filings reached a record high in April, rising almost 65% over the previous year . 243,353 households, nearly one in 519, received a foreclosure filing during April, according to the U.S. Foreclosure Market Report from RealtyTrac, an online marketplace . That was up 4% from March, and surpassed the record of 239,851 set in August 2007.

RealtyTrac's measure of foreclosure filings includes notices of default, auction sales and bank repossessions. According to the report, 54,574 were fully repossessed by banks in April.

The record number of foreclosures added their weight to an already saturated real estate market, pulling down home prices. Plunging home values reduce the money that cities, villages and towns collect in property taxes.

In particular jeopardy are parts of Nevada, California, Arizona and Florida, whose states maintained the highest foreclosure rates, according to RealtyTrac.

The state of California had the second-highest foreclosure rate in the nation, up 112% over the previous year and affecting about one in 204 households. The top spot among states was held by Nevada, which maintained a foreclosure rate 3.6 times the national average, affecting about one in 146 homes.

Nationwide, single-family home prices have fallen 7.7% since the beginning of the year to the lowest level since at least 1982, according to the National Association of Realtors, and data from real-estate broker Zip Realty showed that the number of houses on the market grew by 3.5% in April.

Ten hardest hit metro areas: Cities in California and Florida have been particularly hard-hit. Areas in those states accounted for 9 of the top 10 metropolitan foreclosure rates.

The California metro areas of Merced, Stockton, Modesto and Riverside-San Bernardino took the top four spots. In Merced, one out of 66 households was hit by foreclosure in April.

In Florida, Cape Coral-Fort Myers came in at number 5, Port St. Lucie-Fort Pierce and Fort Lauderdale came in at numbers 9 and 10.

Also making an appearance was Las Vegas, a city that had seen heavy real estate speculation, at number 7 with one in 116 households receiving foreclosure notices.

Yahoo! Autos

1 in 10 baby boomers borrowing for everyday expenses.

The AP is reporting that in a new survey conducted by AARP Survey: 1 in 10 baby boomers borrowing for everyday expenses.

In the telephone survey of 1,002 adults 45 and older, nearly four in 10 said they had helped a child pay bills or expenses. Among retirees, one-third said they'd helped their children pay bills. Eight percent said they'd helped a parent pay bills or expenses. The survey's margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

One-third of survey participants said they stopped putting money into their 401(k) or retirement account and 14 percent said they had cut back on their medications.

The majority of baby boomers said they were finding it more difficult to pay for essentials and utilities. Six in 10 said they had cut back on eating out and entertainment. More than one-quarter of those surveyed are having trouble paying their mortgage or rent.

Compared with older people, a greater percentage of younger baby boomers, those 45 to 54, said they were cutting back on medications, prematurely withdrawing retirement funds and postponing paying bills.

Yahoo! Personals

Fortune Magazine's Fastest Growing Companies

Rank Company 500 Rank 2007 % Growth in EPS
1 AK Steel Holding 351 3,045.5
2 Qwest Communications 187 406.7
3 Pitney Bowes 399 253.2
4 Williams 208 219.6
5 MeadWestvaco 356 200.0
6 Rockwell Automation 450 173.9
7 Symantec 461 173.3
8 Marsh & McLennan 220 157.4
9 171 148.9
10 MGM Mirage 323 139.2
11 El Paso 486 139.1
12 Telephone & Data Systems 478 135.0
13 DTE Energy 273 134.6
14 Perini 499 129.9
15 OfficeMax 288 123.5
16 Charles Schwab 402 107.4
17 Abbott Laboratories 96 106.3
18 Thermo Fisher Scientific 269 104.8
19 Cardinal Health 19 104.7
20 Raytheon 112 103.2