Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sat Oct 20 2012 17:21:02

How Big a Problem Are eBay Duplicate Listings?

By: Ina Steiner

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If reports from readers are any indication, sellers are perpetually frustrated by eBay's duplicate listings policy and the way it's enforced (this was confirmed in a quick poll taken last year).

A while ago, I received an email from a seller who wrote, "Needing spare batteries for some DeWalt screwguns that we favor for dismantling computers, I searched eBay. I was dismayed to find 743 listings of mostly duplicate items from the same group of sellers. It seems that eBay's efforts at removal of duplicate items are not effective."

He went on to say, "In my humble opinion, they ought to have some sort of penalty in place as a deterrent."

eBay put the policy in place so that shoppers wouldn't get inundated by hundreds of listings of the item from the same seller, making it difficult to wade through search results.

eBay has also instituted a similar policy for auctions. This reader explained why she doesn't think it make sense to have a no-dupes policy for auction listings.

eBay recently added a new metric to sellers' dashboards in Selling Manager/Pro called "Duplicate listings not visible to buyers" - the help page explains, "Duplicate auction-style listings that are not eligible to appear on the site will not appear anywhere on eBay, including search results and eBay Stores."

eBay instituted the fixed-price listings dupes policy in 2010. After several people pointed out over the past several months that one of eBay's biggest sellers was allowed to sell the same duplicate items using four selling IDs, and wanted to know if they could do this as well, I asked eBay spokesperson Johnna Hoff if sellers were allowed to open multiple selling accounts and sell duplicate items that way.

Hoff said, "No, sellers are not allowed to list duplicates through the use of multiple accounts. As stated in our Duplicate Listings Policy: "These restrictions on duplicate listings include listing an identical item in different categories or listing an identical item using different user IDs." Sellers can find the policy at http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/listing-multi.html."

When I asked why eBay allowed this high-volume seller to sell under multiple IDs, she did not respond. So I reached out to the seller directly.

He responded, writing, "Yes, we are currently working on getting rid of duplicate listings. I believe it will go hand in hand with what was announced yesterday - a better and cleaner buying experience." (He was referring to "the New eBay.")

What do you think of eBay's dupe listing policies and enforcement? What would you do if you were eBay?




Comments (28) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

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by: mylifeisgood This user has validated their user name.

Sat Oct 20 17:39:17 2012

Like just about anything else ebay does its a joke.

If you want to list multiples of the same item all you have to do is have a different picture or just add a number to the title ie picture frame and then picture frame 2 and so on.

I have a friend who has 55 of the same identical items listed. All of them show up in search. The only difference is the picture. She just takes one picture and changes the irl each time she uses it.

Ebay likes to think they are complicated but anyone with a thinking brain can circumvent them without a problem. Ebay likes all those listing fees. Does one really thing ebay is going to put a stop to it.

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by: JB This user has validated their user name.

Sat Oct 20 18:38:13 2012

Would just prefer a quantity key and one listing, that is if we shopped there.
Just as bad as shopping a seller to see they have 30,0000 listings posted.
The place has become a cesspool.  Amazon is getting just as bad. We  still use amazon but have to save certain items to a folder to find them again.
Wouldn't even consider it with eBay. One headache is enough

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

Sat Oct 20 18:40:58 2012

My problem with the duplicate listing policy is that if you have obvious duplicates (same title, same price, same everything) eBay will let you list it but then come back a few minutes later canceling your listing and giving you a strike on your account.  Why can't eBay just detect that you are listing something that is a duplicate at listing time and block it?

It is one thing to detect and punish sellers who try to hide the fact they are selling duplicate listings it is entirely different to punish people for obvious mistakes that eBay themselves may be causing.  It is like they have a button on their website that says ''suspend me'' and then they suspend you if you push it.

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Sat Oct 20 19:59:39 2012

eBay does nothing about it - because $$ talks and BS walks.

Anything and everything can be done on eBay for the right amount of money. THAT is why people dont trust eBay.

Case #1 - A seller who had 1000 negatives in 1 month.

Imagine logging into your eBay account and finding you have 1000 negatives! You claim ''impossible - this pace306 is just making up crap to annoy us!'' .... well - Im not. Last year Christmas time seller Datavis presold 1200 HP tablets at $100 each. The thing was, they only got 150 pcs from thier back door course at Best Buy. Then came the flood of negatives - as no one except the first 150 people got thier items. Datavis was poised to be booted - but eBay (aka the whores of ecommerce) made them a deal. You let us keep the fvfs on ALL the sales - completed and refunded -and we wont boot you! How do I know? I worked there! See money can buy things on eBay!

Case #2 - Companies abusing VERO

eBay knows quite well about being accused of copyright crimes - they are still being sued in France. But when the shoe is on the other foot - you could get a better answer from a piece of lumber about how you REALLY broke the law.

Skullcandy hands out violations like candy on Halloween, acusing everyone of everything - and eBay pretends to know nothing. Thier reward? A platinum/anchor store on eBay with millions in fvf's! Talk about pay for play!  Denon tried that routine too - but backed out at the last minute. They used a Scottish law against eBay sellers selling out of the USA claiming sellers have no rights to sell internationally on eBay! What did eBay do? NOTHING!

Case #3 - Did you know you can BUY front page access? Where you ever offered it?

''Show me the money!'' instead of rotating new upcomming small to midsized sellers on the front page - you cut a side deal and give it to one person (Cartoys)for days on end! Hows that for exposure!?

Ad for dupes - getting back to that topic - for enough$$ you can have your dupes (and anything else) and eBay doesnt care. I report dupes and fakes all the time and nothing ever happens ... and in eBayland - thats de rigur!

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This user has validated their user name. by: Spartacus

Sat Oct 20 20:26:00 2012

I agree with NullApps. When I was selling on eBay, I would occasionally get a duplicate listing when doing relists. Mostly because the listing form crapped out and I went back and redid it but didn't know the first submission had taken.

A few times, eBay did actually pop up a warning that my submission might be a duplicate so they do have the functionality.

However, to answer NulApps question, of course eBay would rather let you list a duplicate and take you're nickle or dime then slap you like a red headed step child.

From a buyer's standpoint, I went looking for a skin for my new phone on eBay and there was one UK seller with multiple accounts who was not only abusing the duplicate listings but he was also somehow getting his UK listings showing up even when I filtered by US only.

Of course, his accounts are all diamond seller with less than 90% feedback and thousands upon thousands of negatives.

I ended up going to the flea market and getting the phone cover.

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by: tc This user has validated their user name.

Sat Oct 20 20:29:20 2012

The duplicate policy is not enforced equally for all listings even for the same seller. Even if you tag each item and show it in the pictures, that's no guarantee Ebay will flag some listings as being duplicates and not others even if they are totally different items.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Sat Oct 20 21:54:02 2012

Pace is right, anything is possible if the price is right …

Hoff said, ''No, sellers are not allowed to …

And how can you tell when an eBay/PayPal spokesperson is lying? Their lips are moving ...

Why does anyone bother asking such questions of eBay? The fact is, clearly, there are two categories of eBay sellers, one that has to try to obey eBay’s every inane and sometimes idiotic rule, and another group (the “diamonds” and national brands) that can effectively do whatever they like. Undoubtedly, the detection of such duplicates is being done by a primitive algorithm and, just as undoubtedly, that primitive algorithm is not being applied to eBay’s preferred sellers …

“No touchy …”

This situation could not be better demonstrated than in eBay’s blatant, ongoing, aiding and abetting of the rampant shill bidding merchant-fraudster, “eDropOff” …

Ina, having received your (expected?) “non-answer” from Hoff, you reached out to the seller in question. Did you really expect an answer other than what you then got from the seller? I think that we all know that if this matter is examined again in 12 months time, nothing will have changed, except that many more small-medium sellers will have given up trying to make a living on eBay …

Ina, how about asking Hoff why Corri McFadden’s “eDropOff”, and many others, are allowed to shill bid, and when you get a similar non-answer from Hoff, then reach out to McFadden and ask her why, shill bidding on online auctions being a federal crime, there is such rampant and blatantly obviously shill bidding on practically all of her auctions …

The fact is, the eBay managing executive team is not only utterly corrupt, it is mostly incompetent (Donahoe cannot be other than simply a fool), and eBay has always effectively and tacitly condoned criminal wire fraud activity as long as they also profited sufficiently from it  …

Don your life jackets people, and consider starting the long swim back to the safety of the shore; with Visa’s V.me, invariably, about to chop the online legs off PreyPal, the rusting old hulk eBay has not got too many more years to go before it finally slips beneath the waves …

eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking

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This user has validated their user name. by: eBankrupted

Sun Oct 21 02:19:57 2012

The reporting item link was useful until it was dumbed-down to complete uselessness. Before if you saw a seller with 2000 of the same duplicate items, all ending 5 minutes apart, at least you could copy the item numbers in blocks of 5, separated by commas and enter those 5 items on each report.

I recall reading some brainless TSAM claim there was some scary rogue software that was reporting duplicate items by the thousands! =O everybody panic at once, some TSAM got paranoid that a bot was reporting dupes en mass! This might mean that the selective enforcement is now enforced by some outside force so the insiders can’t have their selective coddling? Oh dear. Freak out hair loss by the clumps delusions. No one can have bots that control feebay, except feebay..!

So, that is likely the reason why the dupe reporting tool takes all day to click through, and you can only report ONE item instead of 5 at a time. I vaguely remember being able to report 20 at a time?

Now the dupes are back everywhere, and the dupers are just adding a random code to the title, XZ7, EB4..etc. and maybe changing the picture slightly. It’s now worse than ever.

Maybe the imaginary software engineer who allegedly wrote the imaginary dupe reporting software program that some bird brain TSAM imagined was detecting and reporting all duplicate listings can offer that program to feebay’s delusional management to correct their broken, duplicate infested website? Nah, that might just reduce the falsely inflated GMV and deflate active listing counts within milliseconds, exposing the over-cooked books to wall street. Doopdedoo.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Sun Oct 21 03:14:35 2012

eBay definitely has a consistency problem with regard to duplicate listing policy enforcement which is primarily due to the fact that eBay relies on the automated robo program which pulls listings and issues violations without human intervention or review.

The robo enforcer incorrectly associates similar listings and misses more obvious ones. The robo enforcer appears unable to spot identical items across multiple ID's because the algorithm is likely not sophisticated enough to link multiple seller ID's across identical items.

The weaknesses and deficiencies with eBay's robo enforcer exist because eBay created the thing.

eBay's no duplicates policy can be easily circumvented because sellers can create listings that the software is not intelligent enough to catch thanks to eBay's notorious inept programming skills.

We are not a "no touchy" Diamond Seller, however, we are a Top Rated Seller and qualify to receive the 20% discount without interruption since shortly after the program rolled out.



We currently have the same item listed 7 different times on a single ID.

No two similar listings are posted on the same day but are separated by multiple days across the month.

Photographs on all 7 listings have different colored backgrounds, are taken at different angles, and carry different file names.

Titles are all different but carry common item descriptor specifics.

Item condition is new and is the same across all listings.

All are FP30 listings with prices that vary by a few cents between each listing although a few do carry the same selling price.

All offer "free" shipping.

The lead portion of the description varies to match the variations in titles but describe the identical item specifications.



In the last several months we have had multiple item sales from each listing and have probably moved close to 100 units over the past 8 months.

As of this evening, I have searched my store and all 7 listings appear. I have also checked search and all 7 listings appear in Best Match results.

These FP30 listings have been running and renewed for months, and have yet to run a foul of eBay's duplicate scanning software.

I will say it again.... eBay's robo duplicate listing enforcer is not as good as eBay thinks it is due to the fact that eBay built it.

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by: McBob This user has validated their user name.

Sun Oct 21 12:03:28 2012

I've had a couple listings flagged as duplicate listings with the
message "eBay note: This duplicate listing is not visible to buyers
yet. It will automatically become visible if your identical active
listing receives a bid."

Neither of the listings is actually remotely close to being a duplicate
listing.

One of the listings is the only listing I have done in that category
(video games) at any time in the last 2 months.

So there is a serious glitch with this again.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Island_Sam

Sun Oct 21 14:12:30 2012

I've been trying in vain to report 4 or 5 sellers in the same category as what I'm selling, for a year (at least!) with no success. I think ebay favors these high volume sellers. I can easily do what they're doing but prefer not to because in the long run, it's bad for all-Sellers and buyers alike. These sellers are so bold, they use the same pictures & titles!

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Sun Oct 21 14:52:14 2012

The duplicate listing problem  I routinely experience with ebay is that listing programs double list single items while dropping an item.

The problem was so bad with TurboLister that I'm now forced to  relist through the Unsold Items list which is only slightly better.

These duplicate listings have been a nightmare to deal with when my OOAK items get sold twice courtesy of ebay's imsatiable greed.

Double sales of a single item increases their GMV and will sooner or later result in sellers losing their discount status.

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by: blaumann This user has validated their user name.

Sun Oct 21 23:33:57 2012

I have 4 ebay accounts. I have exactly the same items on two or more accounts in a few cases. I am never bothered.  

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by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 22 01:22:22 2012

I have a few times unknowingly "Dupe listed" some items I was trying to RELIST.  And I have ALWAYS gotten a WARNING before the item is actually LISTED.

So I dunno what the SEARCH FAILURE is here.

Now maybe for different categories or different volume sellers this search feature might be different.  

But as a BUYER I find it infuriating to see a million items NOT in the search I am looking for at ALL come up when I am looking for something.  When I search for a certain rare motorcycle I own I sometimes just use the name of the bike and get around 5000 or so "hits".  I would say that at  LEAST  2000-3000 OF THESE ARE duplicate ITEMS FROM THE same SELLERS.  SOME HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE BIKE I AM LOOKING FOR.  

Some do pertain to the bike but really folks how MANY light bulbs do you NEED to have in search?  Oil filters?  Brake pads?

And when I bought a car from the same company (Honda) I was looking for a HEADLIGHT (the outside plastic part NOT the bulb) and I was hysterical on seeing that this search turned up THOUSANDS of the SAME "headlight" as the bike found!  Same seller;  same "lightbulb"---makes ya go---Hmmmm.  And the bike and the car?  They DON'T use the same bulb.  

Takes me a loooong time to wade thru these as I am actually SEARCHING FOR a  headlight ---the actual structural headlight---for both the bike and the car so I can't do a search  and eliminate this term.

And on my ALERTS I get several of these bulb ads EVERY DAY.  And every once in a while--I get an actual ALERT that some one has listed the actual headlight assembly I AM looking for.  And---a lot of times I DO NOT get these!  Because they are from small sellers?  Who knows.  Annoying tho.

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by: spirit-of-shiloh This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 22 03:08:14 2012

I HATE duplicate listings. Last year  I typed in pink quartz bead necklace and I am not kidding,5 pages of the same necklace came up...it was China. Then I clicked US only.....several more pages of the same came up all out of Fla. I think eBay should suspend sellers who flood the site with dupes. Just put the item in and have a number of how many you have. Lately I see some sellers use the number next to a dupe to fool the bots. They need to be suspended. I list by the book and I have to put up with the diamond sellers who have thousands of crap flooding the site. It is NOT fair.

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by: spirit-of-shiloh This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 22 03:11:38 2012

There is also the pull down for different sizes and colors of the same item if someone sells clothes.I also hate it when I search sterling teapots and then find pages of sterling teapot charms? The search is a mess and eBay is broken :(

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This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Mon Oct 22 04:02:58 2012

@shiloh, You can’t blame eBay for your search result, particularly if it is an all-category search, because, as much as eBay thinks that they can read your mind, they can’t. If you search for ‘sterling teapot’ you are logically going to get every item which contains those two words anywhere in the title. Adding ‘-charms’ to your search is the only way to avoid ‘charms’ … then I don’t doubt that you already know this …

eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking

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by: ebayseller_2011 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 22 08:25:30 2012

Here's the biggest problem. A few years back, eBay posted on their site that their ''eBay giant Jack Sheng'' was nearing 1 million feedbacks with his THIRD account.  They blatantly recognize this right here at this link http://pages.ebay.com/sell/sellerprofiles/everydaysource.html

F
ast
forward to today, he now runs the accounts eforcity, everydaysource, itrimming, and accstation with each account currently showing 60k-80k active listings.  I'm going to guess that 90-95% of these are fixed price duplicates.  For example, look at these 4 item numbers all of just 1 item are duplicates across multiple ID's according to eBay's duplicate listing policy.  Maybe if everyone could all email or call eBay and ask them why he is allowed to do this but us average sellers are not allowed to.  Here's the item numbers for an example:  370649274247, 300778156578, 130765066737, 380469323019

If eBay was truly trying to clean up the site of duplicates, why wouldn't they remove approximately 180k listings from 3 of these accuonts and just leave 1 account up with these listings?

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by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 22 08:39:10 2012

China listings are the worse. Have to filter USA only,. If not page after page same seller. different name identical description and picture.

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by: Beth This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 22 10:54:38 2012

Yeah, there's Jack Sheng, who can do no wrong and then there's me.  TL or Bulk Editor incorrectly duplicates a listing - 22 times in one year and I get a 3 days suspension.  THANKS EBAY, Amazon needed those listings.

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