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Mon Jan 14 2008 13:44:15

eBay Uses Feedback to Influence Search Results

By: Ina Steiner

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Someone said there is a new disclaimer when sellers list their item through the SYI (Sell Your Item form) that states Detailed Seller Ratings (aka Star Ratings) may influence where listings appear in search results (along with price and shipping cost, feedback and other factors):

Your listing will be posted on eBay and can be viewed in My eBay. It may not be immediately searchable by keyword or category for several hours, so eBay can't guarantee exact listing durations. Where your listing appears in search results may be based on certain factors including listing format, end time, keywords, price and shipping cost, feedback, and detailed seller ratings.

I mentioned the "eBay Dance" in my August editorial, and now that the limited holiday-season embargo on site changes is over, I expect things to get interesting real soon. There have already been reports that eBay is testing "Best Match" as a default sort order in search results.

Regarding eBay's decision to influence search sort-order by DSR, someone asks: "I'm not an attorney, however...since the detailed seller ratings, isn't this arbitrary or discriminate selection process without a due process for sellers paying equal fees for a service?"

Comments (13) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay Uses Feedback to Influence Search Results   eBay Uses Feedback to Influence Search Results

by: Another Wronged Seller

Mon Jan 14 20:07:54 2008

Once again ebay has hit the nail on their thumb! ( not on the head!)

You have two sellers paying for a service and the first one gets a different service than the second one despite the fact that they are paying the same fee!

This is pure discrimination. Deciding who gets how many page views based on what? Ebays unverified, anonymous DSR ratings?

Picture this. Walk into store to buy a pack of gum. One buyer gets five sticks and one gets three. Both pay the same price.  And you don't find out how many sticks you get until you open the pack.

I'm not a lawyer but I'd be deeply surprised if there isn't a lawsuit over this one.

eBay Uses Feedback to Influence Search Results   eBay Uses Feedback to Influence Search Results

by: ken

Mon Jan 14 20:08:21 2008

hi, what do you think about this?

eBay Uses Feedback to Influence Search Results   eBay Uses Feedback to Influence Search Results

by: beachgal

Mon Jan 14 22:53:43 2008

These ''stars'' are more like a supernova that's about to explode in Donahoe's face.

Why?  They represent the final insult to sellers after over 6 months of NO SALES due to Donahoe's ill conceived ''buyer experience'' experiment that includes guinea pig tests that can't be opted out of and Best Match aka Worst Match that doesn't work as evidenced by over 60 pages of posts on eBay's Search Discussion Board.

I predict that buyers won't have much of a ''buyer experience'' after the last seller leaves & turns off the lights.

eBay Uses Feedback to Influence Search Results   eBay Uses Feedback to Influence Search Results

by: bill

Tue Jan 15 16:59:14 2008

I understand the frustration, but isn't this the same methodology as google adwords? Adwords is more challenging and complex for sellers, you can pay more per click and get less traffic and fewer sales. If you haven't already, spend some time trying to buy keywords to drive ecommerce sales and you will see what I mean.

eBay is changing search so buyers are more likely to find things they will buy. Once eBay figures this out, they will make adjustments to how they charge sellers (get ready for more ads and lower fees, but that is another topic, and its a good thing for the eBay community).
The result is that small volume sellers will have a chance to establish themselves. This is all progress for eBay and the eBay community which thrives when people do 1 thing: BUY MORE.

eBay Uses Feedback to Influence Search Results   eBay Uses Feedback to Influence Search Results

by: mark-o

Tue Jan 15 21:15:42 2008

"Due Process"? Jeez. The reference to "due process" in the Constitution, like the rest of it (including ALL the other amendments), is about what the GOVERNMENT (those who RULE us) can or cannot do. It is not, never has been, and never will be, about what individuals, groups of individuals, or business entities may, or may not, do. Ebay and every other business, large and small, has the right to offer greater or lesser services to its customers based on their perceived value to the business. There's a word for this right..."freedom". Customers who don't like it, are free to purchase elsewhere. Sellers who don't like it, are free to sell elsewhere. Nobody FORCES you to buy, or sell, on Ebay or any other marketplace. Heaven forbid that we find ourselves ruled over by anybody who would take our freedom away by making us do things the way THEY want, rather than being free to make our own they good, or bad.

eBay Uses Feedback to Influence Search Results   eBay Uses Feedback to Influence Search Results

by: Petter Leeflang (Leeflang Archives Corporation)

Tue Jan 15 23:34:20 2008

1) Best match is already being implemented as default (just saw it in a search yesterday)

2) Discrimination is a privilege of any individual or business, including Ebay. There is nothing wrong with that. Only government may not discriminate.

3) The DSR related matching of search results will disadvantage many major longtime sellers on Ebay to the benfit of the bottom feeders, parttimers, small or incidental sellers. Just let Ebay hound the mahor sellers away this way. They'll be stuck with mainly only the bottom feeders, who cannot survive on their own. A typical model of how communists hounded away the productive men, the thinkers, the creators, not followers and the communists were left with their economy i a shambles.

eBay Uses Feedback to Influence Search Results   eBay Uses Feedback to Influence Search Results

by: Nina

Tue Jan 15 23:41:17 2008

Ebay doesn't need to "punish" sellers this way.  Bad sellers eventually create their own demise.  It's the good sellers who get negatives by feedback extortion, buyers who don't read ads completely, and whiny impatient buyers who ask "Where's my item" a day after they buy it - these are the "middle class" Ebay sellers who will suffer.  Punish them with a lower ranking in the search engine, and how will they recover?  They won't.  I believe this is simply part and parcel of Ebay's plan to get rid of the small seller andmake room for the big guys.  It's all about profit.

eBay Uses Feedback to Influence Search Results   eBay Uses Feedback to Influence Search Results

by: justine

Wed Jan 16 14:14:27 2008

Discrimination is NOT limited to the government.  Ever try, as a private citizen, to refuse to sell your house to someone because of their race? Ever try, as a private restaurant owner, to refuse to serve someone because she was a woman, or he was a man?  Ever try, as a private business owner, to not hire a person over 40, or someone with a disability?  Good luck!  Private individuals and businesses are not allowed to discriminate, either, and can be sued for it.  The difference is, it has to be based on certain criteria, such as race, age, ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, etc.  However, you can refuse to hire, sell to, or serve someone based on an unlisted criteria.  For instance you can refuse to rent an apartment to a smoker (unless they manage to win a lawsuit claiming their smoking is a disability LOL), or to redheads, or to someone you just don't like.  So I don't know if "discrimination" is the word we're looking for concerning ebay.  How about "cheating" based on arbitrarily deciding to give less service to customers who are paying the same price for those services as those who are granted full service?  I think ebay should refund fees to those who are being cheated out of the service they are paying equally for.  Those who get less service based on their DSRs or whatever should also be charged less.  Why should they subsidize those who are getting more service than they are?

eBay Uses Feedback to Influence Search Results   eBay Uses Feedback to Influence Search Results

by: Patricia

Thu Jan 17 11:49:45 2008

We all knew this was coming.  In light of their drop in revenue during the holiday season (soon to be announced in the financials, but expected) I thought they'd have the horse sense to put this on hold....but usual they blindly forge ahead!  Why make things merely worse when you can make them drastically worse?  I have the record to be pretty high up in those listings...haven't noticed new sales.  Still my old customers buying from me.  Where's the new traffic?  Where's the new buyers?  NONE of this will bring them.  Its not even a bandaid, its a joke!  I am hoping to see a giant class action suit when sellers realize this has been instituted.  I can only hope it digs deeply into ebay's pockets - as they have dug into ours!

eBay Uses Feedback to Influence Search Results   eBay Uses Feedback to Influence Search Results

by: Patricia

Thu Jan 17 11:52:43 2008

Justine - just noticed your post on discrimination.  You left out one thing....all of us are paying the SAME FEES - we all expect the SAME SERVICES for those fees.  That's where a class action suit will come in.  I'm hoping to see one shortly.

eBay Uses Feedback to Influence Search Results   eBay Uses Feedback to Influence Search Results

by: justine

Thu Jan 17 14:37:34 2008

Hi Patricia, I probably should have mentioned that my post was a response to Petter Leflang's a couple of posts earlier where he mentioned that individuals and businesses ARE allowed to discriminate; hence nothing wrong with ebay "discriminating" against sellers.  I was trying to make the point that private individuals and businesses are NOT allowed to discrimate, either, and perhaps "discrimination" isn't the right term.  And I totally agree with what you said that we all pay the same fees and should be getting the same services, instead of some of us getting cheated out of what we're paying for based on ebay's arbitrary criteria. That was the last point I tried to make but I guess I'm not expressing myself too well LOL!  My feedback and DSRs are also high and I should should get top exposure based on that.  I'm just fed up in general with all this baloney and anti-seller bias.  It's just one problem after another and certainly no fun anymore.  My holiday sales were in the toilet compared to last year because no one can find our stores, even though I cycled plenty of items in and out of auction format to draw to my store, which quite frankly I don't feel I should have to do since I pay ebay a store fee every month and promoting my store was always included in that fee in the past. I'm revamping my store, eliminating all lower-priced items and selling them elsewhere, and sticking with a limit of 50-100 higher-end items, down from over 300 of various prices.  It's not worth it to sell $5.99 or $9.99 items anymore (I sell vintage, antiques, collectibles, glassware, porcelain etc.) This way I have eliminated approx. $32.00 a month in ebay fees which they are no longer earning because they are no longer promoting my store or making it easy, or even possible for buyers to find it.  Then I will see how it goes for a few months- if my store does not at least support itself by covering the monthly store fees, I will be closing it and putting my items on consignment in my friends' antique shops. If after that, I have anything I want to sell on ebay, since it is necessary to list items at auction anyway in order to draw to the store, I might as well eliminate the store, save the store fees, and just auction the item to begin with. Ridiculous, and no sign of getting any better.  We, as experienced sellers and business owners have to adapt, come up with a new business plan, and find the best solution for each of us. Until ebay starts appreciating ME as their customer, and not MY buyers, who are MY customers, I see no reason to continue throwing good money after bad.  I wish you the best with your business, Justine

eBay Uses Feedback to Influence Search Results   eBay Uses Feedback to Influence Search Results

by: Patricia

Thu Jan 17 17:36:53 2008

Justine - yes, I understood your post...kind of after the fact.  I certainly agree with a lot of what you said.  I'm predominantly in the arts categories and just recently branched out to jewelry...both very competitive.  I've closed my store a week ago - even thru the holiday season my auctions did fantastically but my store items just sat there.  I'm using that money to advertise my own website.  No money for Ebay if they can't earn it and during the last year they definitely have not been earning their keep.  Like you, most everyone else I've talked to is looking for other venues, diversifying or opening their own websites.  That's ALL money lost by ebay and rightly so.  They need a major overhaul and, as usual they are going about it the wrong way.  What they are doing with this DSR system will not bring ONE new buyer onto that site.  

As far as I can see, they need to 1) restrict or weed out bad sellers and that can be done simply by their feedback rating - no stupid star system; 2) cut down on the fraud - in the arts categories alone it is rampant and nothing is being done to bring it under any kind of control; 3) lower listing fees and raise final value fees to generate new listings; 4) put serious commercials on TV and radio saying that its safe to shop on ebay again.  Last but not least they need NEW management and not this Donohoe kook...and they need to lay off all unnecessary personnel, close unneeded departments, sell skype and pull back from China!  Then...they just might survive.  That's my humble opinion for what its worth.

eBay Uses Feedback to Influence Search Results   eBay Uses Feedback to Influence Search Results

This user has validated their user name. by: VV

Sun Jan 20 21:55:57 2008

The DSRs were never meant to help anyone but ebay itself, and they have failed even in that. The whole fiasco has scared good sellers and good buyers, darkened the tone of the whole site, and aided BAD sellers and buyers.

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