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?