Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun Sept 8 2019 13:16:03

eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay is facing backlash over how it treats retailers in a new ad. The "When You're Over Overpaying" ad features shoppers comparing the price tags of items in stores to prices on eBay. The actors display incredulity that the in-store prices are so much higher than eBay prices and launch into laughing fits that some say are at the expense of small-business owners and retail workers.

A publication called InsideHook wrote a scathing review of the ad. "In trying to compete with Amazon, eBay has exposed the mission of both companies as being explicitly against the local businesses in your community," it wrote.

The eBay ad celebrates the practice of "showrooming" - trying out a product in a brick-and-mortar store but then purchasing it online. It's a sensitive issue as small local retailers struggle to compete with online merchants - with Amazon in particular.

The ad is insensitive at best (one reader wrote to us and called the eBay approach "disgusting"). But what  is perplexing is that it was approved at the same time eBay is wooing brick-and-mortar retailers through its Retail Revival program.


Retail Revival offers local small-business retailers comprehensive training, personalized coaching, and promotional support to help them sell online. The program is live in three countries in cities including Austin, Texas; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Akron, Ohio; Lansing, Michigan; and Greensboro, North Carolina; Wolverhampton, UK; and Halifax, Canada.

We've long suspected the Retail Revival program is less about a strategy of attracting retail stores and more about garnering positive support from lawmakers and politicians. But eBay's new ad may have damaged any goodwill the program generated.

It's interesting to note that the new eBay ad takes a very different approach to the ads eBay is running in the UK, which we wrote about in Newsflash on September 3rd, which eBay has described as playing up family emotions.

As online sellers, what do you think of eBay's ad campaigns? How do you feel about the ad featuring new products, and showing them as being cheaper eBay?

Are some people are making a mountain out of a molehill with the new eBay.com ad, or are you offended by its approach?

Comments (43) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers   eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers

by: Frank Abagnale This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 8 13:52:09 2019

There should be another commercial from ebay where they show ebay buyers laughing as they exchange the merchandise they received from ebay sellers with rocks and sending the parcels back.  

Perminate Link for eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers   eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers

by: RL15 This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 8 13:55:32 2019

the ad is stupid, just like the delusional ceo.

but if the ad suckers someone to check out fleecebay, they probably not find what they are looking for with fleecebays broken search.

and if somehow they do find what they are looking for thy will get a good laugh as the prices will be higher on fleecebay than anywhere else unless they get tricked into buying junk from a crooked china seller

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This user has validated their user name. by: CanBrit

Sun Sep 8 14:07:56 2019

I hadn't seen it until today after I read the article in the InsideHook Publication. I found it very offensive. Cackling was a good word to use over laughter. Brick & Mortar stores have a place in retail society and I don't see that changing drastically in the future.

It's further proof that eBay's Senior Management just don't get it. It speaks of the callous, ignorant, shameless and offensive way they have run the business for the past several years. Did it make me feel proud that I am an eBay seller? Not in a million years. It makes you want to hang your head in shame.

I further read of their plans for Managed Delivery in the USA Today article. Good lord, Managed Payments, Managed Delivery!! Maybe they want to see how many more sellers they can lose in a very, very short time. Even Wenig's fudging the numbers of "active accounts" is already coming out into the open.

From USA Today "The company has managed to consistently grow the number of buyers on its platform, but the amount they're buying keeps falling". When are some of these geniuses on Wall Street going to wake up and realize the the numbers are false? That's why the amount is falling.

It makes one want to put their head down and run straight into a brick wall.

Perminate Link for eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers   eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers

by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 8 14:51:28 2019

Greedbay doesn't care who they walk over on their way to the cellar. The ad just shows the arrogance of the goons at the top. And Wallstreet is in love with them.

Perminate Link for eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers   eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers

by: Whatever This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 8 15:24:47 2019

Ok here we go - I'm thrilled at whatever kind of ad eBay wants to flood the airwaves with. It gets the name out there. For all the peeps that are miserably unhappy with the ad I say - get over it. Since the ad started running my sales are up 67% - that's 67% - you go eBay - I'll keep shipping. Anyone in a B&M retail situation must be living under a rock. Retail - large and small has been folding like a house of cards for quite a few years now. Mine included when I threw in the towel 4 years ago. I get I was ahead of my time.

Lease (never mind the crazy realtors that convince property owners that their buildings are worth thousands per month)  - taxes - county - city - state - electricity - sewer - water - trash - insurance (there's a whopper) - licensing - advertising - and I'm sure I'm forgetting some more.

I get to work in my pj's and only got out into the real world every other day.

Finding it incredibly hard to comprehend the backlash - get with the program people - move with the times - it's inevitable and there's no turning back the clock. Go with the flow or simply retire.

Perminate Link for eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers   eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Sun Sep 8 15:35:01 2019

@Frank Abagnale

Have YOU ever got a rock back as a return?

Perminate Link for eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers   eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers

by: I Must be Crazy This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 8 16:13:22 2019

I saw the ad for the first time just 2 nights ago. Admittedly I was happy, and surprised to see any eBay ad at all.

That said, I think it's dumb. Just dumb. I didn't read into it the same way the referenced article does, although I can see it now. Now I think it makes them look stupid. That happens often, because they are.

Ebay's advertising efforts have been very weak for a long time. So to see an ad such as this one is not really a surprise. No different than most other parts of their organization. A lack of top talent through the ranks from Wenig all the way down.

(By comparison, take the case of Hal Lawton, eBay's former 2nd in command. He left for Macy's and it seems, on the surface, he has made some positive strides there. Their marketing is pretty good too. I think he was probably a best hope for eBay. Left after just 2 years. Departures at that level after such a short time indicate to me a philosophical difference. Lawton probably could see how much of a dope Devin Wenig is and found a better fit elsewhere.)

Perminate Link for eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers   eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers

by: Whatever This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 8 17:23:35 2019

and yet Macy's is also on the ropes

Perminate Link for eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers   eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers

by: lancecorp This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 8 18:29:14 2019

https://www.thestreet.com/investing/stocks/macy-s-shares-fly-out-the-d
oor-as-retailer-unveils-comeback-plan-15079475
- looks like changes are coming for Macy's.

I'm not a fan of this one nor the last one and as someone stated - Ebay no longer has the lowest prices - which buyers can see when they use one of the apps that gives you price comparisons on a variety of sites.

My sales continue to be down 50+% on Ebay while sales are better on the other venues. Wall Street will eventually see what sellers have been seeing all along - Ebay is fudging the numbers.

Perminate Link for eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers   eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers

by: lancecorp This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 8 18:32:37 2019

https://www.thestreet.com/investing/stocks/macy-s-shares-fly-out-the-d
oor-as-retailer-unveils-comeback-plan-15079475

Macy's
is trying to make a comeback and is at least getting positive backing - whereas most articles about Ebay are negative. Comparative shopping is very easy for buyers with all the apps available and buyers realize that Ebay is not the site of the best deals.

Perminate Link for eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers   eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Sun Sep 8 18:35:36 2019

@I Must be Crazy

Macy's stock is near a 5 year low

Perminate Link for eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers   eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 8 19:04:17 2019

eBay obviously doesn’t understand retail anymore then they understand e-commerce.

Prices are sometimes higher at retail due to associated costs as outlined above by Whatever.

That being said - the message may have been good but the method they choose to send was wrong.

It was classless tasteless and cheesy- I guess they don’t know advertising either.

eBay just seems to treat everyone nasty - it’s DWs trademark.

Sales haven’t changed one iota here - if it does for others - good for you 😀

Perminate Link for eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers   eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers

This user has validated their user name. by: NoMoreEbay

Sun Sep 8 20:45:58 2019

A few months ago they attacked Amazon. Now it's retailers. Who's next?

At least others besides ebay sellers are discovering what a despicable company ebay is.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Pisson3bay

Sun Sep 8 21:11:24 2019

The ad is tasteless and absolutely disgusting... just like the CEO and senior management. And I'm sure a lot of  money was spent on the ad likely funded by sellers via increased fees imposed.

I will say it again... ebay = dead man walking

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by: Whatever This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 8 21:50:40 2019

I'm certainly no cheerleader for eBay - I'm simply in business to turn a profit which I'm doing - at the time when it no longer happens I'll move on. Right now they can make all the crazy ads they want - it's bringing me business which BTW my product has nothing to do with the products in the ad so I have to assume it's just bringing buyers in.

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by: Whatever This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 8 21:51:19 2019

you know what they say - when they stop talking about you it's all over.

Perminate Link for eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers   eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Mon Sep 9 00:35:42 2019

I just watched the commercial

I think it's OK

I've been guilty of the same thing

Laughing at high prices when I know I can get it on eBay way cheaper, you just have to be willing to wait a few days.

Perminate Link for eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers   eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers

by: BobNJ This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 9 00:47:50 2019

The ad had the opposite effect here locally. Everyone I know who has seen the ad is actually laughing AT eBay since they say they almost always find higher prices on eBay for whatever they're looking for and no longer bother even looking there for anything retail.  

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by: BargainzBabylon This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 9 02:17:32 2019

My sales are up, too, but I doubt seriously it's because of that silly ad - it's FALL BUYING SEASON.  

It's really at cross-purposes with EBay's so-called 'retail revival' - and a company with that much money can't even hire a decent ad company that can actually create ads that are current and relevant? Really?  

Perminate Link for eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers   eBay Ad Sparks Backlash over Treatment of Retailers

by: flybuy This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 9 03:26:39 2019

This ad is misleading. It might be possible to find something cheaper on Ebay but there is no guarantee the buyer can return the item and if they do a return it takes a few days before the charge is reversed.

Also Ebay (and Amazon for that matter) have so many counterfeits it has pushed me to buy strictly from the manufacturer even if it costs a bit more.

As far as the managed shipments they will be at a disadvantage from the beginning. In addition to having years of experience with this, Jeff Bezos has said he plans to open his own shipping company and has purchased approximately 75 airplanes for shipping. As a result, Fedex recently terminated their contract with Amazon. One would think the management at Amazon has done research and found areas where they can improve the shipping process and get parcels to customers on time while making a profit. Surely they have acquired information that makes it possible to not only compete with Fedex, USPS and UPS but to take business away from them as well. I hope it forces all shipping companies to lower their prices and improve their process so all consumers win.
However if the managed payment program is a big mess and most sellers are unhappy, , they will leave before allowing Ebay to charge yet another fee to lose their goods in the mail.
While Jeff Bezos controls the shipping process from beginning to end, Ebay will be trying to round up sellers to get a volume discount on shipping. And what kind of discounts does Ebay management think they will get when the senior management at other shipping companies are focused on how Amazon's new shipping service affects them?

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