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eBay Confirms It Is Testing Auction Bidding

eBay spokesperson Ryan Moore confirmed last week that the company was running tests on the marketplace. “We’re currently conducting some user experience testing for a subset of users with the goal of finding ways to reduce friction and improve the shopping experience,” he said.

Moore’s statement was in response to EcommerceBytes’ inquiry about reports that buyers were seeing changes to the auction bidding process. For example, on this eBay thread, someone reported that the countdown clock that used to be on the confirm page was missing.

And on this thread started October 3rd, bidders also discussed changes they were seeing. One poster explained how changes caused him to lose out on an auction:

The countdown clock is now taken away from the confirm bid page. Drats!! I wanted to place a bid this evening on a lobby card set I’ve been eyeing for awhile. I entered my maximum bid like usual and then when it was time to confirm – the clock was gone – and, of course, I lost the auction. I always get sniped at the last second and seeing the clock allowed me to place my bid at the very last second to prevent it from happening. I use to win lots of auctions without it hitting anywhere near my maximum bid, and now this evening I got priced out of everything. I wish they would bring the darn clock back.
A sad bidder

The same poster came back on October 7th and said the clock had returned, and explained why it was important in his bidding strategy:

Oddly enough, a few days later I was bidding on another item and it was back to the same old user interface. Hoorah! Did I catch eBay when they were testing out a different bidding feature? Who knows…I’m just glad it is back for now. For those who didn’t know what I was talking about, there is a countdown clock viewable after you click on Place Bid and it remains visible until you click Confirm Bid. This was missing when I wrote my first post, but now it is back!

A reader wrote last week to say she had noticed that the last-minute bidding on her eBay auction items had been “slow or nil,” even when there were dozens of watchers on items. “We’ve received several emails from long-time customers who said they weren’t able to access the auction listing, when they attempted to bid (usually at the last minute),” the seller wrote in an email to EcommerceBytes.

She said several of her calls to eBay to report the problem went without resolution or any acknowledgement that there were issues that might be causing those problems. But when she tried to access her own listing on October 9 a minute or two before they were scheduled to ended, she received a pop-up message that the item had been removed or was no longer available.

“I’m curious if this is an issue others are experiencing, and if it may be in some way connected with the snipe bidding problems you reported on this week.”

The seller was referring to this story, “Is eBay Inadvertently Blocking Last-Minute Bidding?” from October 7 in which some buyers reported their last-minute bids placed through third-party sniping services failed to go through.

In response to that article, a reader wrote, “As to where the real problem might be, I would suspect something in their frequent rejiggering and redesign of the listing pages. Seems like every time I go to plug in a last-second snipe on an auction, I notice the visual presentation has changed.”

On October 12, a reader opened a report on Ecommerce EKG about the ongoing problem of snipe bids. “Last minute bidding on auctions is not working. I bid $189 on an item that ended up selling for $107. Rumors that last minute bidding is not working are true!”

The last-minute bidding problems appear to be unrelated to technical issues that hit the eBay site on Friday evening.

Let us know whether or not you’re seeing problems and changes with the bidding process on eBay by hitting thumbs up (you are having problems with bidding) or thumbs down (you’re not having problems with bidding) on the EcommerceEKGannouncement board, where you can also leave a comment.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.