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Wed May 23 2018 19:17:13

eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay is placing restrictions on sellers' ability to place items for sale through its promotions manager tool - but it is exempting some sellers from the new sale restrictions. Could the company be worried about charges of deceptive advertising?

As part of the Summer Seller Update announced on May 22nd, eBay announced the following restrictions:

New markdown sale event requirement
Starting June 25, 2018, you must list your item for 14 calendar days at the same price before you can create a markdown sale event with Promotions Manager.

We recommend that you list your item at a competitive price before you create a markdown sale event. For many products, pricing recommendations are provided as you list and under the Growth tab in Seller Hub.

Learn more about pricing strategies.

A seller who received the exemption notice from eBay told EcommerceBytes, "Although I know there are legal reasons for this, I just shake my head. Instead of just telling the simple truth that running "sales" are illegal, eBay speaks of transparency and uses other buzzwords because they are incapable of telling the truth."

The seller is referring to deceptive advertising practices for which some retailers have gotten in trouble with regulators in the past, including Overstock.com, as we reported in this article in 2014.

This article published by BNA.com last year points to why sellers should use caution in advertising "sale prices" and reported that "Nordstrom, DSW, Neiman Marcus, and J.C. Penney are among the many retailers that have faced class actions alleging they use deceptive "compare at" figures on price tags." 

You can find the regulation on the government website here in Title 16 of the Code of Federal Regulations under Commercial Practices - Guides Against Deceptive Pricing - Retail price comparisons; comparable value comparisons.

It isn't clear what led eBay to create the new restriction or why it is allowing some sellers to be exempt. Here is eBay's letter forwarded to EcommerceBytes by a reader:

Hello (user name redacted),
As part of the Summer 2018 Seller Update, eBay announced an update for markdown sale events that will require a listing to be active at the same price for a minimum of 14 calendar days before it can be included in a sale event starting June 25, 2018.

We wanted to let you know that we have exempted your account from this requirement. You will continue to be able to create markdown sale events for listings without a wait period.

It is, however, important to note that when creating a new markdown sale event, the listing price should be a price that the item (or one that is virtually identical to it) has sold for in the recent past.

To ensure price transparency for eBay shoppers, and increase the likelihood of a sale, we recommend you list your item at a competitive price before you create a markdown sale event. As you list, pricing recommendations are provided for many products as well as under the Growth tab in Seller Hub.

Learn more about pricing strategies here.

As always, thank you for selling on eBay.
eBay Selling Team

eBay's Promotions Manager tool is only available to those sellers who have an eBay Store subscription. Sellers discussed the new policy here, and an eBay moderator clarified the new restriction only impacts price markdowns: "Promotion Manager offers are not related to this change. The new requirement is related to Markdown Manager sale events only. Promotion Manager offers for order discounts, shipping discounts, and codeless coupons are not impacted."

That was followed up by another moderator's recommendation that sellers consider using those other promotional offer types available in Promotions Manager, which are available at no charge to sellers. And not surprisingly, she said sellers could include newly listed items in a Promoted Listings campaign, which is eBay's paid advertising program for sellers.




Comments (29) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers   eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers

by: ebayout This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 23 20:36:44 2018

https://www.ecommercebytes.com/C/blog/blog.pl?/comments/2018/2/1519091
217.html/6/100

This
is Wenig shooting off his mouth about who wants to see 10,000 iPhones..."we'll just show the 4 best"

What then happens to his beloved "promotions"?

eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers   eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers

by: Silver Ice King This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 23 22:12:18 2018

It sure didn't take Ebay long to shut down the discussions on this topic and all the others from the Summer Sellers Ripoff.  They have already shut down all discussions on the topics and moved on to get ready to put together the rest of the Fall Seller Ripoff.

Funny that one person called and asked about how something was going to be handled and was told by US CSR that this was still being worked on.  They don't even have the programming completed to accomplish what they tell us to do, but you better believe they will still hold our feet to the fire when that July 1 date comes around, whether the programming works right or not.

Heaven help us all when it comes down to Ebay being the Payment Intermediary as they will manage to put everybody out of business, not only themselves.

I have never seen a company continually shoot itself in both feet as constantly as this one does.

eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers   eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Thu May 24 02:11:56 2018

This is just a bad policy period.  They are exempting large sellers which yet again gives us small sellers another disadvantage.  

eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers   eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers

by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 24 03:37:31 2018

Got the notice today. Doesn't make sense. WE HAVE NEVER MARKED ANYTHING DOWN IN 20 YEARS. Our starting price is the lowest we will ever go. If it doesn't sell its garbage bound.

eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers   eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: FidoMaster
Web Site

Thu May 24 06:24:08 2018

Similar to the way seller's names and info have been reduced to a mere footnote in the new PBSE format, seller's ability to differentiate their stores, sales, promotions have been neutered.

As mentioned in another thread, any real value of an eBay “store” remains questionable:

• The banner “teasers” that show the promotion often don’t show _at all_ in search results (the small “Buy one, get one X% off” mini banners). These teasers enticed buyers to click through to the listing page based on other than price.

• Promotion banners have been moved back to the bottom of listings.  Many users report that promotion banners don’t show in their listings at all, let alone at the bottom.  Example as recently as yesterday HERE --> http://tinyurl.com/y9rqjkq4

• “Markdown Sale Events”, the updated Markdown Manager” (which is actually still called “Sale Event + Markdown” in the promotion manager – get your naming convention straight eBay) now have this 14-day restriction apparently for “lesser” store customers.

• Store promotions and sales do not display on new store pages. (!)

It takes a lot of hunting and clicking for the average user to reliably find the promotions any given store is running (especially factoring the Nerfing of the above promotion visibility).  
These “see all special offers from XYZ” should be displayed prominently at the top of every store page.

Again, this is eBay’s brand. Sellers largely marginalized to fulfillment (and procurement) duties.

Ebayout said, “What then happens to his beloved "promotions"?”

Wenig will be shoehorning promoted listings wherever they can fit them on a screen.

This “testing” of the promotion banner placement at the bottom of listings has never been to see if it actually improves promotion conversion as eBay’s suggested. It’s been to determine how much worse buyer promotion conversion is when placing it _other_ than at the top of the listing, but still get away with it, so they can use that “surface area” at the top for promoted listings. That’s my surmise anyways -- they want to free up the valuable real estate up top where the promotion banner used to be.

Wenig in January on the Q4 Earnings call:
“On promoted listings, yeah, first of all, we're delighted.
This is probably the fastest-growing new business, for lack of a better term, launched in eBay in years and, as I said, 50% sequential revenue growth quarter on quarter. That is quite significant.

Most of the driver has been surface area.

We are increasing the surface area of availability to sellers.

We're increasing the surface area of the exposure of promoted listing to buyers.

So, a lot of it is just we have started and made sure we tested our way in and now we're on a very steep part of the curve where we're opening the aperture so that more and more sellers can use it and they should, and more and more buyers get exposure to those items and they are converting.

So, we are very pleased that we are now in that flywheel and the flywheel seems to be turning very well.”

eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers   eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Thu May 24 08:03:06 2018

What a stupid policy.

eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers   eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers

by: geoffreymason This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 24 08:30:54 2018

This effectively means that ebay is involved in price fixing.

eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers   eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers

by: captainzombie This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 24 10:09:55 2018

@Silver Ice King, LOL! Yeah, it was me that challenged their CS about the policy and was given an answer of how they are still working on development.

Anytime I call them, I always throw things at them about my displeasure with policies and why aren't they doing things to update certain reporting we used to have in selling manager pro and why is the archaic File Exchange not been upgraded to 2018 standards.

It is one thing for ebay to have certain policies to protect both sellers and buyers, but with these new 2018 policies they are taking things to an all new low. Now they are trying to tell us how we are going to price our items, come on already. One time I had a CS guy give me an analogy about stores selling in a mall which was so out of whack, and I told him, stores in a mall pay rent and that is it, the mall management doesn't dictate how you run your business with price fixing, return policies, etc. that will run you out of business.

eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers   eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers

by: captainzombie This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 24 10:14:22 2018

@Fido,

• “Markdown Sale Events”, the updated Markdown Manager” (which is actually still called “Sale Event + Markdown” in the promotion manager – get your naming convention straight eBay) now have this 14-day restriction apparently for “lesser” store customers.

This also affects Anchor store customers too from my understanding. I have an anchor store and when I called, I was told that I needed to switch my 10 day listings to 30 days or GTC now so I can run sales on the 14th day. I wonder if Enterprise accounts are the ones that are exempt.

I am not sure how they think making all these changes will bring in more customers vs. padding their numbers by taking more from the sellers with new penalties.

eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers   eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers

by: Geetar This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 24 10:32:58 2018

I dont know what else to say other than, I sell n ebay, and am a relatively small seller. I have always grown on ebay in the past 5-6 years I have been selling. The last year has been terrible. Sales went down. I have not done anything different. The work put in does not do any good. So I sell on a few other venues, and put the work in there. I will watch ebay from the sidelines and see if anything happens to warrant putting in work there. But for now it seems its a waste.

eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers   eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 24 10:55:07 2018

Maybe I missed something.

1) eBay themselves isnt marking down ANYTHING, the sellers are - so why is eBay even involved in the discussion?

None of these promos are deceptive advertising - as sellers are allowed to discount or increase the price of anything they own - thats not against the law.

2) if eBay decides to stick its nose into places it doesnt belong - then the rule(s) should apply to EVERYONE (not just small sellers (AHEM)). There are "equal protection" laws that make this practice illegal.

3) eBays stopping people from marking down their own items is "restraint of free trade", but eBay never let silly things like LAWS get in ITS way of making money.

eBay should be sued by those denied the opportunity to mark down items, PERIOD.

OK hot shot lawyers ... whos going to step up?

eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers   eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: FidoMaster
Web Site

Thu May 24 11:49:21 2018

zombie, thanks for the info.

I'm speculating this exception may be applicable to the special "managed accounts" that have grandfathered strikethrough pricing (STP) on their account?

Perhaps one of those managed account readers could confirm (or send it to Ina)?

Dug up a couple STP links, "Web Site" link above.

eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers   eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers

by: mydogti This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 24 13:25:49 2018

I think it's an image thing.  I think ebay feels it looks tacky, dishonest, and makes your item "look" cheap(in quality) when a seller lists an item for 300 dollars but its marked down to 29.99.

a few years ago my brother bought a set of hand tools from amazon, before receiving them he told me about this great deal he had just gotten.  They were MSRP at 189.99 but marked down to 60... at the time I was like well ya that's kind of how Amazon does things, makes you feel like you are getting a super good deal. Hell, they let sellers set MSRP on their listings so there is no stopping from adding an additional digit if they wanted to.

When the tools showed up they were junk.  Something that should have been listed at 60 and marked down to 30...20?. The point is the tools were never worth 190, never.  

Everyone is looking for a great deal, but practices like this build up buyers only to have them be disappointed when the 190 dollar item they bought for 60 turns out to be junk.

eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers   eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers

by: Silver Ice King This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 24 15:00:14 2018

@MyDogTi

Sorry but Ebay has NEVER worried about their image other than to not be referred to as the Worlds Largest Flea Market and that was when Donohoe took over.  They are now known as the Scammers Paradise where Sellers should not list anything for sale that they cannot afford to lose.

This allowing some sellers to do something while restricting others is once again taking care of their larger sellers and those they brought in as vertical market clients (what a joke that has been) so that they don't upset them to much.  In fact from talking to some larger customers i have met over time on Ebay, very few of the Seller update rules actually wind up applying to them.  They just contact their reps and everything is taken care of that would effect how they do business.

eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers   eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 24 16:02:06 2018

"In fact from talking to some larger customers i have met over time on Ebay, very few of the Seller update rules actually wind up applying to them.  They just contact their reps and everything is taken care of that would effect how they do business."

Yes thats EXACTLY how it worked and still does.

I once worked for a large NYC retailer, who presold 1000 HP tablets at $99.

He only ended up getting a few hundred and had to cancel 600 or more sales.

He told his rep that since it was all really (1) item (type/brand)  the cancellations should be considered as ONE cancellation.

In return he promised to ues Ingram Micro's feed (100K items) for his listings for 6 months (tons of listing fees) AND to include a $20 off coupon to all effected buyers.

Turns out that none of the coupons worked!

He had a 93 rating and it didnt change a thing. He still was top rated, still got top of the fold top of the page position.

All you do is tell your rep, promise some phony baloney fluff and eBay makes it all go away.

eBay IS pay for play - best little _ _ orehouse in San Jose.  (word censored by me as not to offend other posters) (Ina if you feel its out of line - please edit it out)

eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers   eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Thu May 24 18:10:41 2018

"Sorry but Ebay has NEVER worried about their image other than to not be referred to as the Worlds Largest Flea Market and that was when Donohoe took over."  If that is true then the argument that some have used for years about Ebay taken many years to get rid of small sellers falls flat, as one of their arguments has always been that Ebay is concerned over how it would look to the public if they got rid of small sellers.

eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers   eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers

by: dander This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 24 19:38:53 2018

I am a seller that does wholesale and is bound by MAP and keystone pricing. Some will let you have a sale for a limited time, some for unlimited some none at all. We all agree to these agreement. Yet sellers ignore the pricing agreements or their items are always on sale. I have to agree with some that something on sale constantly is deceptive. Something on sale as a way to get around pricing agreements is fraudulent and should not be tolerated. I do run sales on some things usually to get the buyer to buy more than one item, as a way to pass on the savings on shipping. Before you beat up ebay, remember that some of us are breaking laws and agreements.

eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers   eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers

by: toyspast This user has validated their user name.

Fri May 25 00:40:39 2018

I guess I'm not reading it correctly or understanding, but what I see them doing is not allowing items that are newly listed in the first 14 days to be put on sale.  Am I understanding that correctly? If so, then what is wrong with that?  Who wants to put an item they JUST listed to go on sale? As far as I see, there's no way to exclude newly listed items other then selecting them individually when using the Markdown Manager. This seems like a good thing. Like I said, maybe I'm not fully understanding.....

eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers   eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers

by: Lightning This user has validated their user name.

Fri May 25 01:11:52 2018

WHEN IS A SALE NOT A SALE?

When the discounted price is based on some fictional higher arbitrary price.  There are laws about deceptively stating sale prices.  You can't keep an item on sale continually.  You can't mark up to mark down.  Several companies have been fined for this.  The guy selling ''my pillow'' always had a ''sale''...buy one get one free.  If it's always in place, it's not a sale.  It has become the standard price, and if you call it a sale constantly, you are violating the law.  He got sued, and had to change his promotion.  Harbor Freight had the same problem, and was sued.

eBay is protecting itself against both situations.  Markdown Manager instructs you to remove an item from sale after 45 days.  You have to reset it to the higher price now and then, or it is violating that sale price law.  This new directive about having an item at a regular price for 14 days before discounting it is another safeguard.  It allows the item to avoid the ''mark it up to mark it down'' stigma.  When you start an item at 20% over it's actual normal selling price, and then drop it immediately by 20%, that is a false sale and subject to consumer laws.  The fact that eBay is ALLOWING some sellers to be exempt is baffling, and maybe even collusion.  If the practice is deceptive and against consumer laws, it should not matter the size of the company.  Wrong is wrong all over town.

eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers   eBay Restricts Price Markdowns but Exempts Some Sellers

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Fri May 25 02:15:34 2018

I was a benficiary of the class action lawsuit filed against Harbor Tools due to their showing items at the "compar at" prices that were never even seen, so the sale price was the usual and customary price. I was surprised at the value of my award (given as a gift card for shopping their) , but it does tell me that these lawsuits are very costly to the companies and who will be responsible in the event of a lawsuit brought against ebay because seller X had a sale that wasn't. Who pays in this case? ebay or the seller?

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