eBay is cleansing its site of old listings, saying they clutter the site and are unfair to other sellers when their listings are difficult to find. Online seller and AuctionBytes blogger Bob takes a look at how eBay is straying from tradition and examines the issue from all sides.
According to eBay discussion boards and the EcommerceBytes Blog
, some eBay sellers are being targeted for what eBay considers "old listings."
Items targeted appear to be ones that are listed as GTC (Good 'til Cancelled) and have been active on the site for either one year or two (claims vary, I suspect it is one year).
The process is simple. eBay sends a message informing the seller of what items they intend to eliminate. If the seller doesn't act, the listings are removed from eBay - completely. Gone. Not 'unsold' or 'ended' but completely gone and irretrievable.
This is the modern way of thinking that mature (read that as older) sellers fail to understand. It is not limited to eBay. Everything moves fast now. List it, sell it, pack it, ship it, mail it, list another. Buy and pay with your cell phone while driving 20 miles over the limit on a crowded highway. Some sellers love this system as they need the quick cash because they lost their factory job and now work mowing lawns and that doesn't bring in enough to pay for both rent and Netflix.
Long-term planning? Patience? Building? Those are no longer acceptable traits. Sell fast for cheap or get the heck out of the way!
There are many great reasons for eBay to do this. Some sellers can be lazy and leave worthless items up for sale because, when you get free listings through a store subscription, there is no real penalty for doing so. Others leave overpriced items up hoping to nab a sucker who hasn't quite figured out how to compare prices yet. These items clog up the searches and often make it very difficult for buyers to find what they actually want.
On the other side, there's lots to be said about selling unique and rare or even harder to find items - as eBay became famous for doing. Selling the latest video game or a new electronic gizmo might be a fast way to pull in some cash. But how long should it take to sell a gas cap from a 1979 Mustang or an antique photo of an old bearded guy with the last name of Whipple? Some items will simply take a lot more time to sell than others. eBay should recognize this as a strength. Though the company seems to want to stray from the tradition, it is customary for people to go to eBay exactly for the hard-to-find items that few other sites carry. Hopefully, while signed in, they'll decide to pick up a new electronic gizmo too.
Currently, there appear to be ways to get around this. Most important, DO NOT IGNORE EBAY MESSAGES. If eBay sends a message do not treat it like spam. If the message says that eBay intends to permanently delete some of your items, believe it. You will not be able to sweet talk a customer service rep with the cute accent into bringing your items back from limbo. Act quickly to eliminate the ones you care little about while changing the others.
Moving from GTC to 30 day listings might work BEFORE eBay sends the warning but probably not afterward. Once warned, sellers should revise the threatened listings, review their asking prices and make other necessary revisions to prevent losing them (the key here is to not simply relist but to actually get a different item number attached to the listing through, for example, Sell Similar).
Also, a wise seller should back up their information and photos in case other measures fail and their hard work is deleted permanently from eBay's website.
About the Columnist
Bob has been buying and selling online for almost 20 years. Some experts claim that his limited budget was the major cause of the 2001 dot-com crash. He denies the charge. Got a topic you'd like Bob to cover? Let us know.