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Fri Apr 25 2008 00:08:27

eBay S&H Compares Apples to Oranges

By: Ina Steiner

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A reader sent me a letter that raised two issues. She said she believes some sellers are splitting their inventory into as many eBay categories as possible to chase the landing page exposure through the "Matching eBay Stores" box. For instance, the reader pointed to a bookseller whom she said put 40 auctions for books into the vintage clothing category during the April 22nd 10-cent listing PowerSeller promotion so he could get exposure in that category.

"Now sellers like me who pay our $50 a month to be a premium store, who can't list in many categories, now gets shoved in the back because of this tactic. And what is worse is because he's a book seller listing media mail, his miscategorized items are being averaged into the cost of the category. That means sellers who list in say the heavy bulky categories like glass or pottery, they are going to be disadvantaged in best match as well as be notified their S&H is too high because this megaseller with 120,000+ feedbacks dumped his books in their category."

What's the policy on this? If you sell a book about vintage clothing, are you allowed to list it in the vintage clothing category? I went straight to the horse's mouth and asked eBay.

Spokesperson Nichola Sharpe responded quickly with an answer:

In general, books about vintage clothing would not be permitted in the vintage clothing category. On occasion you may see exception, where the item is cross-promoted in an "Other" category.

For example, we may be lenient and allow a seller to list a book about vintage clothing in a Books category, as well as a second category within the Vintage Clothing if it's listed within an "Other" leaf.

So the general answer is, it depends, and we know sellers are going to try and get all the exposure they can.

Another point raised is this: is it fair for someone selling pottery to have their shipping and handling charges compared to books? For those who don't know, eBay displays a pop-up message during the listing process that warns sellers to consider lowering shipping charges if eBay judges those charges higher than other listings in the same category:

Attention Seller! We noticed your shipping cost looks high compared to other listings in your category with similar shipping services.

eBay factors in S&H average costs in Best Match, so miscategorized items can hurt sellers by giving them less exposure than warranted. Is it possible for eBay to judge what a particular listing's S&H charges should be, and if not, should it be using it to rank listings in the default Best Match sort?

 




Comments (10) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay S&H Compares Apples to Oranges   eBay S&H Compares Apples to Oranges

by: fish noir foul

Fri Apr 25 09:34:54 2008

It has been my understanding that a seller could put an item in any category they wanted.
Common sense would dictate that putting an item in the wrong category would hurt you as your item got exposure to buyers browsing a category who had no interest in what you are selling.

Common sense goes out the window with Ebay search schemes.

eBay S&H Compares Apples to Oranges   eBay S&H Compares Apples to Oranges

by: Bobby

Fri Apr 25 11:12:25 2008

You know what, all this is true and there is a lot of unfair things about BM and shipping -- we have the same issue with one of our products that we pack in separate boxes while competitors ship in one.

And you know what?

eBay S&H Compares Apples to Oranges   eBay S&H Compares Apples to Oranges

by: MJ

Fri Apr 25 11:19:24 2008

You know what, all this is true and there is a lot of unfair things about BM and shipping -- we have the same issue with one of our products that we pack in separate boxes while competitors ship in one.

And you know what? There is nothing you can do -- NOTHING! eBay is not going to change, they need to get their numbers up via lower/free shipping. So you can complain all you want, they will not change.

DSRs, Best Match, FB, etc. are all here to stay. If they work, the current management are heros to the Board and Stockholders. If they do not, the current management leaves with all its stock options and 7 figure paychecks already banked.

This is how it works, this is how America works. My best advise is to not take it personally, do eBay for as long as you can until it gets better or if it doesn't, then do something else somewhere else.

I don't say this lightly, I make my living on eBay, but fighting this stufff is not the answer. If it makes you feel better, complain, boycott and protest, but this ship has sailed.

Personally, I am done with the sleepless nights, etc. The recent changes have forced us to explore and expand all options -- Amazon, etc. In the end, I hope we will be stronger and more diversified.

Good luck and make sure to see where the life boats are located!

eBay S&H Compares Apples to Oranges   eBay S&H Compares Apples to Oranges

by: Mel

Fri Apr 25 12:14:11 2008

Ebay is a joke.  They are driving away sellers with crap like best match.  People who break the rules and try to scam best match will do better and honest people who pay the same or more in fees get screwed.  Looks like another class action suit begging to be filed.

eBay S&H Compares Apples to Oranges   eBay S&H Compares Apples to Oranges

by: Keith

Tue Apr 29 00:22:29 2008

"Attention Seller! We noticed your shipping cost looks high compared to other listings in your category with similar shipping services."

Most of these warnings would go away if they would add a shipping weight box in SYI.  The software bot is clueless as to the item weight, and if the shipping weight was published in the listing, a buyer could make a better decision if the price of shipping is reasonable, and would be a better gauge for the bot to measure before a warning is given, hence, no disadvantage in BM.

eBay S&H Compares Apples to Oranges   eBay S&H Compares Apples to Oranges

by: me2

Tue Apr 29 10:19:24 2008

To me, discussing rules re: eBays Best Match, calculations etc are futile since anything we discuss using their statistics or ''reasoning?''is based on false premises and means nothing at all. As a former bookseller who no longer sells on eBay, I almost always put my books in another category whenever applicable. Not to do anything tricky as suggested above. Since the first category Ebay decimated when they went to ISP, the Books category was just about useless to me. Someone looking for vintage clothes might also be interested in a book ON vintage clothes and that category probably would be more prominently displayed than putting it in simply non-fiction books. That is is it came up at all and if it didnt come up in an insane Best Match listing or lacke thereof. Using eBays general Search at any time now is Russian roulette. No way can I afford to use double categories and have my whole auction price doubled. I agree completely with the party concerned about the statistical effect skewing shipping etc when one PS lists thousands of books for this purpose in a cagegory. That doesnt mean that the individual seller listing for effectiveness should not be able to. It means that eBay should not be meddling in shipping in the first place. It is amazing to me that there arent bombshell investigative reports on all this incompetent and fascist-like meddling in ''interstate commerce'' not to mention the juvenile, laughable, idiotic edicts coming out daily.  

eBay S&H Compares Apples to Oranges   eBay S&H Compares Apples to Oranges

by: Peter Leeflang/CEO of Leeflang Archives Corporatio

Tue Apr 29 13:55:13 2008

As another user (me2) almost explictly said: Why discuss an irrational system with rational arguments?

At a certain moment, enough is enough. The bad is identified enough as 'the bad'. Spending more time on 'the bad' is wasting one's valuable available time, giving 'the bad' one's time undeservedly.

Time to move on and do 'the rational'.

eBay S&H Compares Apples to Oranges   eBay S&H Compares Apples to Oranges

by: Isa

Tue Apr 29 16:05:44 2008

I get that message every time I list something.  eBay can yammer all it wants, I'm not paying for my customers' shipping.  

eBay S&H Compares Apples to Oranges   eBay S&H Compares Apples to Oranges

by: Christopher

Tue Apr 29 16:16:08 2008

The problem I see is that Ebay doesn't take into account the new Dimensional size restrictions imposed by the USPS and other shippers in shipping out items over 12".
I wish Ebay would get their head out of the sand!!

eBay S&H Compares Apples to Oranges   eBay S&H Compares Apples to Oranges

by: Don

Wed Apr 30 00:22:12 2008

Almost every time I list an item I get an error message saying: shipping cost looks high compared to other listings. I typically charge a little less than the full shipping costs. So I sent this message:

Question Text
I get the following error message when listing parts:  Attention Seller!  We noticed your shipping cost looks high compared to other listings in your category with similar shipping services. . We've found that buyers are sensitive to shipping costs. Items with high shipping costs may be less likely to sell and may get less visibility insearch results. Listings that violate the eBay Excessive Shipping Charges  policy may be removed from the site. Please review your shipping costs and make changes if necessary. For help, click the Research rates link in the shipping section. My shipping charges are at or below what the USPS charges. For example when shipping a eleven pound set of fork lowers I charged $22 for shipping my cost: 22.90.How does eBay figure I am overcharging when you don't know the weight or dimensions of my package?If my listings do not show up in search due to eBay's mistake this is very unfair. I realize that there is nothing you can do about this. Please pass this message on so it can be addressed by someone with some authority.

I received this answer:

Thank you for writing eBay in regard to shipping costs. I understand your concern and will help you resolve this issue as quickly as possible. When your listing items and it gives the Attention message, its gathering information from the past so shipping can be higher now, as long you know the shipping amount its perfectly fine to ignore the message your seeing as its taking data from other members in the past.  These past sellers could of had discounts or even free shipping offers which can cause you to see your shipping to seem as its overcharging when its not. Thank you for your time. Sincerely,  Joey K. A.  eBay Customer Support

Comparing my shipping charges for a heavy motorcycle part to the cost of a guy shipping a light bulb. Is incredibly stupid.



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