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eBay to Penalize Polluters under New Dupe Listings Policy

It is becoming increasingly clear that eBay’s Cassini search engine is not accomplishing all eBay had promised it would. The latest evidence is a new policy eBay is rolling out to penalize “polluters.” The company explained:

Starting in June, listing visibility in Best Match will be reduced for sellers who pollute the eBay marketplace with duplicate listings. If a seller violates the duplicate listings policy, then all the listings from that seller – including those across linked accounts – will have reduced visibility.

Cassini is supposed to provide shoppers with the most relevant listings and would presumably prevent duplicate listings from being shown to shoppers.

In late 2012, we covered the case of a diamond seller who was apparently given time by eBay to clean up duplicate listings across at least 4 of his accounts. Sellers remained skeptical that eBay enforces such policies consistently across all sizes of sellers.

Other sellers have expressed concern that eBay glitches can cause their listings to replicate, leading to accidental duplicate listings.

One major problem with a policy such as this is that sellers may not realize their listings have reduced visibility – but will still pay eBay the same listing fees as if they were getting optimal visibility.

For instance, eBay’s duplicate listing policy allows separate listings for items that are similar but not identical, as long as the differences are clearly reflected in the title, subtitle, price, photos, condition, item specifics, or parts compatibility areas of a listing. So if a seller lists multiple copies of a particular collectible vinyl record but in varying conditions, might eBay consider them to be duplicate, unbeknownst to the seller?

See more information about the new policy on the eBay announcement board.

Comment on the EcommerceBytes Blog.

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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/.