EZ auctions

Selling something through an auction service such as those on eBay, Yahoo or Amazon seems simple enough . . . unless you don't want to buy a digital camera, are nervous about transacting business with strangers, or don't have time to be fielding e-mail inquiries and wrapping packages for shipment.

Enter myEZsales.com, a Boston start-up whose founder, Don Larson, sees money to be made helping those who want to play the online auction game but don't have the wherewithal or patience. The company recently landed $7.6 million in a second round of funding led by JAFCO Ventures, General Catalyst and I-Group HotBank.

Here's how myEZsales works:

Instead of heading online, the reluctant auctioneer puts the item he wants to sell into his car and heads for a local package-shipping store that is affiliated with myEZsales. There he fills out a form that describes the item and sets a minimum acceptable auction price (Larson says the service is best suited for merchandise that's likely to fetch at least $75, meaning this isn't the best way to get rid of unwanted CDs).

The store does the rest: taking the digital photo, posting and monitoring the auction on whichever site the seller designates, handling the financial transaction, and wrapping and shipping the item to the buyer.

Cost to the seller: a reasonable $6 listing fee and 6% of the sale.

The shipping stores love the idea, Larson says, because the service increases their package volumes and gives their employees productive work to do during their off-peak hours of midmorning and midafternoon.

The myEZsales service is only available in parts of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Colorado and New Hampshire, although Larson says he has aggressive expansion plans.

Buzz likes this idea, in part because of a personal experience. Before moving into a new house not long ago, I considered trying to unload a bunch of never-used stuff on eBay, but abandoned the notion after getting a look at what such an effort entails. OK, call me lazy.

Would I have driven that stuff to a shipping outlet and filled out a form to get it auctioned off?

You bet.

MyEZsales.com might want to take a cue from the similar-sounding mynetsales.com . . . and ditch the lame name.

Purveyors of Web-based sales management applications, the folks at mynetsales.com awoke one morning and realized they needed a more dignified moniker if their company was going to be considered all grown up. They set about the task of finding an acceptable alternative, only to discover -- as have so many before them -- that all the decent domain names are tied up by other e-businesses and speculators.

Then they got incredibly lucky.

A traveler walking through an airport spotted an ad for mynetsales -- the company's first marketing campaign -- and realized immediately that he was the owner of a domain name this company might want: Salesnet.com.

A phone call, a bit of negotiation and a check for "less than five figures" spelled the end of the mynetsales brand.

Several of us here received a press release last week from a wireless service provider -- not a household name, but one you may have heard of or read about. (Sorry, bbut I'm not naming the company, because the type of nonsense it's selling shouldn't be rewarded with free publicity.)

The service is called Bathroom Finder, and promises to solve the problem of our not being able to locate a public toilet when nature calls. How? By providing a potty-spotter Web portal for PDAs.

Want to bet this service is circling the drain inside of six months?

This story, "EZ auctions " was originally published by Network World.

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