Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
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by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon Dec 8 2014 13:43:45

Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales

By: Ina Steiner

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Despite eBay's denial of hidden seller limits last year, many sellers reported evidence of such a practice. Last week, an eBay employee revealed (seemingly inadvertently) that secret limits do indeed exist, resulting in throttled sales no matter how much a seller tries to grow.

We had raised the issue with eBay last December after a longtime Platinum-level seller had tried unsuccessfully to increase his business on eBay. He had hired more employees, increased inventory and listings, but couldn't grow beyond his current sales. He then stumbled upon the fact that eBay had placed limits on his account without his knowing.

I had reached out to eBay at the time and asked, "Why does eBay show seller limits to only some sellers? For those who want to learn what their seller limits are if they are not visible in My eBay, how do they request them to be shown? And how do they request higher limits?"

Spokesperson Ryan Moore had told EcommerceBytes last December, "If a seller has a limit, he/she will find it in My eBay. Some of the criteria that goes into how a limit is set: Selling performance of sellers; Tenure/ length of selling history; Desired listing volume. A seller can request higher limits by 1) Navigating to the Increase Selling Limits option in My eBay and/or contacting CS directly."

But last week, an eBay employee named Jarvis with the User ID jaknox@ebay.com listed nine practices in which eBay limits sellers accounts, including "silent limits" that are hidden from sellers.

There are several types of limits that sellers may experience when selling, he wrote:

- Site Wide Limits (SWL, referred to as "selling limits")
- Silent limits (limits placed on an account that can't be seen by the seller)
- URC limits (User Risk Code, limits reduced or placed on an account due to concerns)
- Category limits
- BTAC limits (Building Trust by Reducing Counterfeits, for branded items)
- Hot item limits
- Multi-Account limits
- Velocity limits
- feedback limits

The post went viral, with sellers emailing EcommerceBytes, many expressing outrage at the secrecy of eBay's practices.

One seller believes the reason for the limits is because there are too few buyers, no advertising, and far too many sellers.

And, she said, "What good is complying w/ a KNOWN Policy and rating levels, when there is ANOTHER, "hidden" parameter that you may/may not be failing in? And what of a Seller who invests in, say, $10,000 in inventory, begins to list those items, only to be told, "You are limited to listing X items". What is THAT Seller to do when planning a business strategy?"

Another Platinum-level seller who raised the issue of eBay throttling last year wrote to me again after reading Jarvis's thread on the eBay boards. He believes the limits are in place on smaller seller accounts so eBay can meet their promises to large box sellers of guaranteed sell through rates.

"Cassini is not the groundbreaking each engine we were all led to believe it would be," he wrote. "It is simply a control mechanism for eBay. Sellers have been spent way too much time trying to figure it out - which again is what eBay wants you to be focusing on - when really it makes no difference what you do. eBay is in control."  

Another seller noted the seller limits policy cited by the eBay employee last week are different from eBay's policy published on its website.

I asked eBay last night for an update, stay tuned to Newsflash for more on this breaking story.

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Perminate Link for Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales   Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales

by: queenfloraday This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 9 11:42:54 2014

eBay needs to show numbers to Wall Street...number of listings, number of views, number of sales, number of income, number of expenses....but they do not have to show success just the illusion of success. Management is directed by the BOD to uphold that illusion until the company is drained. Everything eBay does is supporting that directive. It seems crash and burn is the goal. Hard to sue a bankrupted company. Wonder if the board members have good board insurance????

Perminate Link for Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales   Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales

This user has validated their user name. by: LDS Brother

Tue Dec 9 11:50:37 2014

When that arrogant and pompous dickhead John Donahoe took over he said "It is time to let go of our successful past" And "Disruptive Innovation"

Wenig, you need to announce "It is tome to let go of our Unsuccessful Asst" ( Donahoe )

And that now it it time for "UNDISRUPTIVE RESTORATION" Pre -2008

Throttling sellers listings is the FINAL STRAW of shame for your evil company !

Perminate Link for Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales   Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Tue Dec 9 11:52:15 2014

So, the truth is finally exposed for all to see.

The big question here is with eBay struggling to increase GMV, why are they throttling sales for small sellers?

What convinces eBay management that the unacceptable single digit growth patterns are better served by hiding listings and capping - limiting sales for small sellers without their knowledge?

What makes eBay management think they are helping sellers by placing invisible limits on a sellers ability to succeed or expand?  



It will be interesting to see if eBay's Wall Street Masters look kindly upon the lies and deceit perpetrated not just on sellers, but on the investment community as well.

If eBay management really believes that hiding listings and capping sales for small sellers is helping those effected sellers, then it is obvious that the ranks of eBay management needs a purge of it's own starting from the top and working it's way down.

Hopefully Wall Street will look at this proof that eBay management is solely to blame for the under performance of the marketplace that they will call for eBay to remove any and all listing and sales limits which have been arbitrarily placed upon unknowing sellers.

With eBay soon to become a stand alone company, does management really believe that intentionally limiting sellers sales by purposefully concealing listings from buyers is a plan which will serve eBay well going forward?

This admission is the proof of what sellers have been saying for years.

eBay management lies and yet they wonder why sellers have so little confidence in the eBay marketplace.

Management's credibility along with the credibility of their chosen spokespeople has gone from low to zero with this revelation. eBay now has a serious crisis of confidence where by it's sellers no longer have any reason what so ever to believe anything this company says let alone have confidence in the way this marketplace is managed.

Charging sellers for listings which the company knows full well will likely be hidden from view based on the whim of eBay's internal systems is outright fraud.

Charging sellers for stores and then limiting the amount of listings that are viewable on the site is fraudulent as well.

It would seem that eBay's User Agreement is now wide open to challenge since eBay has essentially vacated the UA with their intentional seller limiting actions.

Given the widespread fraud eBay now admits they have perpetrated on their sellers, it would seem like the time has come for sellers to challenge that clause in the User Agreement that says sellers can not participate in Class Action Suits against the company unless they opted in in writing to the company.

A major Class Action lawsuit would likely break the back of this company once it no longer has the revenue from PayPal to spend defending itself against their own fraudulent practices.





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by: mykee3d This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 9 12:14:35 2014

wow . . . doesn't make any sense . . . limiting sales? . . on a regular basis?  . . and ebay has slow sales quarters and still doing this? One hand does not know what the other is doing company!!!!

Perminate Link for Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales   Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales

by: karen This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 9 12:27:27 2014

This is one of the secret ebay manipulation.  The other one is pushing items down in search result. Ex. One of my items have sold more than 50 in 6 months.  Some others with fewer sale and more expensive price (and lower  customer % feedback) are shown in better position in search engine.  Asked ebay CS  have no reason for it.

Perminate Link for Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales   Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales

This user has validated their user name. by: thehosst

Tue Dec 9 12:35:17 2014

I did mention this many times but my letters were not mentioned. In any case, the limits have 2 big issues:

1) They are ONLY meant to redirect traffic to big sellers complaining of very low traffic and sales.

2) The limits are handled by people outside the United States, for USA sellers, very bad because eBay puts the faith and opportunity on people who can hardly understand how the internet works, are extremely lazy and will transfer you from extension to extension until you give up. It is IMPOSSIBLE to get any kind of limits lifted.

The worst thing is the eBay Listing emails, LIST 10,000 items for free in your 50 items limit account!

Why to even have 2 million dollars on listings when you will only be selling 100 dollars a day? Just to pay the listing fees? Than is unethical and I guess fraud as well.

eBay is a Joke!

Perminate Link for Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales   Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales

by: ebay refugee camp This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 9 12:42:08 2014

I hope Jarvis is rewarded in some way for his honesty.
How many other ebay employees who are honest want to come forward and speak their minds about ebay's illegal activities?
Please come forward now it is out and ebay would not dare do anything to you. Have you already quit ebay? Clear your mind and finally tell the world.
We all knew that ebay was playing with the search and visibility to buyers.
The noise is justified and now validated.
I for one want all of my store subscription fees refunded, all of my listing feeds refunded and compensation for loss of sales.
We all need to start contacting the major network news outlets and have them investigate, this is our way out of hell the show will be on the other foot.
John Donahoe, Robert Swan, and ebay's head of ebay's Trust and Safety
This Trust and Safety man quit ebay in 2013 his name was Jeff Chen. His job dutites while at ebay are listed in his LinkeIn account read this what he said his duties were:
"Increase Marketplace Trust by managing end-to-end site experiences to determine who can sell on eBay and how much with incentives for top performers and tiered consequences for under-performers.
Improved the Buying Experience by improving the quality of sellers on eBay through a combination of site policies, and internal detection and enforcement. Leverage customer identity, account linking, detection systems, and manual reviews to drive significant reductions in account takeovers, fraud, and risky sellers."

This further indicates what is going on at ebay.

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by: maxmad This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 9 12:53:25 2014

in reality, by the time you wait for ebay to change their fraudulent ways ( which is highly unlikely) all your competitors are making money, selling quite nicely and happily on other venues,  ebay is now only for mega protected seller, or for the desperate seller, that cannot seem to break free,

ebay and their team of lawyers are laughing hysterically at each and every desperate seller that continues to pay for their FAKE service.

You know the old saying '' there's a sucker born every minute''  

Perminate Link for Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales   Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales

by: JoJo This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 9 13:05:20 2014

So basing a business plan on them isn't such a good idea.  Not surprising.  Not surprising at all.

Fortunately there are other viable options.

Perminate Link for Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales   Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales

by: Tornad0sRul This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 9 13:05:37 2014

Like I said before I seriously think that EBay is currently imploding. This is usually the busiest time of year for me but I can't sell anything, not even really cool collectibles that usually sell in a matter of hours.  A few weeks ago I did have some good sales and I have had nothing since so I am now wondering if this may be true with the "secret seller limits."

Not only that but my photos aren't showing up either. I noticed it yesterday but I thought that maybe it was my computer until I got a message from a customer today saying that he couldn't see half of my photos.

To make things ever worse, I have twice already today in the last hour tried to call EBay and was hung up on both times after being on hold for 10 minutes and not ever getting a representative. EBay customer service is actually hanging up on us now before we can even say one word. The first time that I called this morning I also noticed that the phone line was so static that I couldn't even hear. Because that is the second time in the last 6 months that I have experienced that extreme static on the call I am seriously thinking that is Customer Service's intent.

About a year ago Customer Service was difficult to deal with and very inept, they at least got to you in 15 minutes or less and I never got disconnected or heard such terrible static that the call was useless.  Now when I call customer service I am put on hold for 1 hour or disconnected completely before ever being helped.  It's as if EBay has closed its doors.  Their customer service was beyond inept before but now it should be illegal.  This is almost surreal.

Perminate Link for Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales   Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales

by: mb This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 9 13:12:24 2014

Jarvis may have co-conspirators keeping his list of limits online for us to see. I really doubt the big cheese types spend their own time scrolling thru the message boards looking to remove content.  Too busy lighting their cigars with $100 bills. Jarvis may be sticking his neck out publicly but there are probably others protecting his message that are NOT trying to get fired. Whoever you are, if you exist, and you can see this, thanks.

Perminate Link for Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales   Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales

by: etailer This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 9 13:18:15 2014

Of all the crazy policies that eBay espouses and demands of its sellers, this is one of the most egregious and disappointing revelations.  Shameful!

We were a managed account up until the end of 2011 - at the end of 2011 this account manager informed us that due to an internal realignment we were no longer considered a managed account - without any explanation.

Our Store Traffic Reports prove the >50% decline - each time we called eBay's customer service, we were passed around from one CSR to another in their Philippines call center.

We spent endless hours trying to fix our listings while blaming ourselves at not being able to comply with their bizarre policies - only to find out that we went from being a Platinum seller with over US$ 30K sales (GMV) per month to less than US$ 12K per month today.  

The account manager had already taken down all the details of product categories where we were successful and it now appears that this confidential information was passed over to several bigger accounts - because we can see that these bigger sellers are offering the same products at much higher prices and selling in significantly higher quantities while our account was throttled with no/ limited sales.

Perminate Link for Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales   Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales

by: Tornad0sRul This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 9 13:21:33 2014

I also recommend that a reporter does a little leg work and attempt to contact all ex-employees of EBay, especially their customer service, and that is where you will get accurate and useful information, and probably some juicy stuff too.  With a company that large there are tons of disgruntled employees who were in on the corruption.  I always wanted to think the best about EBay but from what I have seen and experienced, especially in the last few months, it now makes me scared to have anything to do with them.

Perminate Link for Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales   Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales

by: ebay refugee camp This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 9 13:23:27 2014

Please begin posting this to every forum, stock market blog, national news station blogs, topix.com, facebook,twitter and youtube this needs to be exposed, I want my fees refunded!!!!! and Compensated.

Perminate Link for Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales   Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales

by: booklover27 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 9 13:40:51 2014

OMG...the Feds need to get involved in this.  This is why I am almost out of business.  The most corrupt Main Street in the history of American business.  What would possess these creeps to do this and hurt the very hand that feeds them.  We need to act now.  I am filing a complaint with the FTC.  I am also contacting a constitutional lawyer on this one.  Also, if you sell on Amazon.com they are 10 times worst then Ebay...Act now! Go to FTC.gov and file your complaint by phone or by filling out there online forms.  Also, thank you Jarvis you will make history on this one.  All ebay employee should come out and tell the truth and make Ebay's evil dealings transparent.

Perminate Link for Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales   Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales

by: maxmad This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 9 13:52:14 2014

Many still believe ebay is a place that you list an item for sale and expect to get equal exposure, but JD slowly changed all that,

Ebay is in full competition with it's sellers to achieve the most profit, in the shortest time frame possible, while all the while, in full control, just imagine the possibilities of being in control of your competitors, and charging them money too.

This scenario is so out of whack with real world reality, it's almost unimaginable, yet ebay is getting away with it on daily basis,

Fraudulent would be putting it mildly.      




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This user has validated their user name. by: Mercy the Mingless

Tue Dec 9 13:52:53 2014

@Ming

You wrote ''If memory serves, he said ebay wasn't using the search engine the way it was intended with the clear implication that ebay was ABUSING his invention.''

The Ebay exec who was credited with inventing ''Best Match'' and who mysteriously left Ebay is Raghav Gupta.

After he left, Gupta wrote the infamous ''Ode to Ebay'', copied below, and posted it on his blog at http://raghavgupta.wordpress.com/

Ode to eBay

Posted on October 13, 2008


Came to this land,
To survive another day..
Day after day, still too bland
Hung on by just a strand,
Until I landed at eBay.


It was a beacon of light
Its foes cowered in fright,
The strength of its community,
Granted it virtual immunity
Under custodians sight,
No one dared slight,
Unto this giant’s might.


As with all blinding power
The custodians went slowly sour
Took the community for granted
Seeds of dissent met with dour
The ecosystem was finally salted.


Failed at my task I did
Couldn’t raise enough to bid
Change for even an hour
To lighten up the day
Of even one user on eBay.


Some will be sad,
Maybe some happy
A few ambivalent,
Some downright ecstatic,
That I am leaving eBay


Losing all right to preach,
I urge one and every each
Heed the user, not the ladder
Now is the time, now the hour
Give more than is your due
To restore this mighty power
To what was known as eBay.

Monday, October the 13th will be my last day at eBay. And no, I was not laid off, rather my decision to exit into the current hellish market environment is entirely voluntary.

I express my sincere gratitude to all who keep the miracle of eBay alive.

-Raghav Gupta
October 10, 2008

The ecosystem was finally salted indeed.

Perminate Link for Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales   Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales

by: booklover27 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 9 13:55:09 2014

Dear Ina,

Thank you for reporting the truth consistently through these awful business years...I have even gone back to brick and mortar due to this deception...I think I speak for all the sellers who have suffered at the hands of these "evil empires" it is time to fight...my gloves are off...

Perminate Link for Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales   Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales

by: Winkle Me Evilbay This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 9 14:57:43 2014

To summarize what a lot of us have been saying for YEARS about Evil Bay (and why there should be a federal and state criminal investigation and prosecution of those that run the company and their hack staff including Jim Griffith and idiot savant Brian Burke):

A website says:

"pay us and we will post your item for sale and bring buyers to your item"

"we are a venue, we don't have anything to do with the transaction other than to post it and advertise your item"

"we are like the classifieds section of your newspaper"



BUT

This company takes the sellers money.


And then does NOT post the item on the site for view

Does NOT advertise your item to anyone

Does NOT bring you any buyers



And they keep the money.


Now what is this called?

Fraud. On a large scale. Where are the feds? FTC?

Best idea: contact Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. They have the power to investigate and issue federal subpoenas to the gang of thieves.


And what do you call the shills I mean employees, Jim Griffith and Brian Burke that have made public appearances in an effort to further the fraud scheme and convince others to get "in" on this great deal? They need jail time too.


(and btw, the promise to the Chinese sellers goes back to Meg Whitman and Bill Cobb ... as does the Bill Cobb plan to punish sellers for believing in the Ebay Myth)

Perminate Link for Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales   Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales

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

Tue Dec 9 15:04:50 2014

I tried selling on eBay once a long time ago (2007-2008?) and ended up paying about $40 worth of fees (half of which I shouldn't have been charged for) and I didn't sell a single item. As a result, I said I would never try selling on eBay again because they're a bunch of thieves -- and I've stuck to that.

So, I've tried selling on Bonanza, eCrater, Etsy and Ruby Plaza. Ruby Plaza was the only one that actually worked for me and with little effort on my part. As long as I listed products, I made sales, so that's all I basically had to focus on was listing. It's too bad they shut it down because it was the only decent marketplace available out there. They actually cared about their small sellers and worked FOR them rather than AGAINST them.

Since losing that store, I've felt like it was the beginning of the end of my business. I still have small stores on Etsy and eCrater, but they basically just sit there -- just like my Bonanza store did despite having hundreds more products. In all the years I've been on eCrater, I've made two sales. I started at Etsy in January 2014 and have made 9 sales this year. I was lucky to do the same at Bonanza.

No matter what I do for any of these stores (outside of Ruby Plaza), I simply do not get the sales to support myself -- and I don't sell junk. So, I know it's not for lack of trying. What I do know is that none of the marketplace venues care about the small sellers -- much unlike Ruby Plaza. That's why it's such a shame they had to close down because they didn't get the support from more sellers.

So, as far as I see it, the problem lies with the choices sellers make. I've seen countless disgruntled eBay sellers jump ship and try Bonanza, eCrater, etc., only to run right back to eBay because they get traffic and sales there. Well, if you knew or suspected that you were being held back, was it worth the limited sales you got and being hindered from growing your business?

Why not support the sites that actually care about their small sellers -- places like Ruby Plaza? Unfortunately, with the loss of Ruby Plaza, I'm not aware of any currently existing venues that do. At least not ones that actually produce results. If they're relying on Google (and Google Shopping) alone to produce results for their sellers, then don't expect results.

So what's your alternative? Starting your own website? Would that work for small resellers who sell nothing but used items? Well, it might take a while to build your own store and get it noticed, but I bet it would certainly do better in the long run than you could ever do at places like eBay or Bonanza -- and the only one that could stand in your way is you. The question is, would you be willing to put the effort into it and practice the patience it takes to build a business?

That brings me to Google's shenanigans. Since I started selling on Bonanza in 2009, I have noticed how my items have dominated search results until some off switch is flipped when the holiday shopping season starts so the big-box sellers can knock me out of the way despite all of my hard work to build up their ranking. I didn't pay anyone to give me that placement -- I worked for it. Yet, every year, my items disappear around September or October and then magically reappear in their former spots about mid-January.

Mind you, all of these listings are placed on marketplace venues. So I'm not sure if the same thing would happen if I had a stand alone store. It will be a long while before I can answer that question because I've decided to put my shop on hold while I work on a different business venture. I'm a disabled person who doesn't get any assistance, so I must do what I need to do in order to generate some sort of income -- and without anyone but myself to hold me back.

If that means turning my back on ''partners'' (ie, eBay, Bonanza, eCrater, etc.) who make empty promises and work against me behind the curtain, then so be it. Until the masses of small sellers are willing to actually take a firm stand against these con artists, rather than just constantly complain, then there isn't much success to be had in this business no matter how hard you work.

I've tried making it easier for them to fight -- even anonymously -- yet, they always cower down. So, if they're not willing to fight for their businesses, then they deserve to fail because they're obviously not committed to their businesses. They can just keep trying to get nowhere with the likes of eBay and Bonanza, but I'll be moving on to bigger and better things because I'm about taking action rather than incessantly complaining about the same ol' mess. Sorry if that seems harsh, but it is what it is.

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