Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed June 20 2012 22:40:11

eBay Unannounced Feature Undercuts Seller Prices

By: Ina Steiner

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Local retailers complain a lot these days about shoppers who use their smartphones to compare prices while shopping in their brick-and-mortar stores. Incredibly, eBay has introduced a feature that is just as disturbing to its own merchants, and it hasn't even told sellers about it.

At the top of the product listing page directly underneath the photo, eBay now displays an invitation to shoppers to list an identical item on eBay. In some listings, it also provides the average selling price of the item - apparently to entice shoppers to make some extra cash by doing some casual selling.

But it means shoppers can also compare the seller's price of an item with the average selling price to help them decide whether the item is over-priced or is a bargain. As shown in the screenshot, eBay displays the average selling price ($72) of an Apple iPod Nano that is lower than the seller's price ($95) - why would anyone buy something that costs $23 more than the average price?


A reader who informed EcommerceBytes of the new feature cited several examples that show eBay may not be comparing apples to apples when displaying average selling prices. "It is common for printers to be sold in non working condition - for parts at extremely low prices - which drives down the average selling price and makes eBay's displayed valuation an unfair comparison," he said.

In another example, he showed a listing for a video card bundled with two accessories. eBay displays an average selling price well below the Buy It Now price. "The problem," the reader wrote, "is that the average price displayed is apparently based on the past sale price of stand alone video cards, however, this listing offers added value in that it is bundled with a DVI adapter and a VGA Cable. So in this instance, the value of the bundled items is defeated by eBay's display of an average selling price which obviously does not take into account the bundled items."

eBay's introduction of the feature has caught sellers completely off-guard. Let us know how it affects your listings and what you think of the new "Have One to Sell" feature.




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Readers Comments

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 20 23:44:51 2012

In my listings (just checked - but they could always change) Have one to sell? is there with no price next to it. Clicking on it, brings you to the ''sell similar page''.

I'll check again in the next page to see if theres been any changes.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Thu Jun 21 00:04:43 2012

This is one the most asinine changes eBay has ever perpetrated on sellers.

As an eBay seller this is disturbing on several levels.

First. The unannounced change comes only days after eBay spokesperson Johnna Hoff was directed to say "As always, we will communicate changes that significantly impact sellers' operations on eBay with lead time to adapt. "  

This insertion blatantly undercuts that commitment and demonstrates the hollow nature of statements from eBay.

There has been no announcement of this insertion, and no lead time for sellers to adapt thus making eBay's Johnna Hoff out to be the latest eBay court jester.



This insertion discourages buyers and certainly works against sellers' best interests.

eBay has managed to confuse buyers by showing averaged prices that do not account for item condition thus rendering the prices displayed as inaccurate and irrelevant to the specific transaction at hand.

The insertion is also extremely detrimental to auction sellers and will drive down bidding activity when the current bid begins to approach the average price eBay has forcibly placed on the sellers listing.

Sellers using Fixed Price format will also see sales crash as displayed pricing will include past sales without taking item condition into account. Sellers may have a brand new item for sale, but the displayed average price will include sales of items sold that may or may not have been in a comparable condition. All buyers will see is that the item they are viewing is priced higher than the average price eBay displays and will likely pass on making a purchase.

eBay should be working with sellers - not against them and this change works against sellers in every possible way.

Given the lack of credibility of eBay's spokesperson, maybe one of the MBA's that contributed to this disastrous marketing idea would care to explain exactly how discouraging buyers from bidding or completing purchases of BIN items benefits eBay's marketplace or it's sellers.


As this display appears on our listings, we will be contacting eBay tomorrow to express our objections to this unannounced and extremely damaging addition to our listings.

We will certainly reevaluate our relationship with eBay as this anti seller change makes it clear that eBay does not respect us as sellers and appears to only be interested in forcing us into a race to the bottom on pricing.

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

Thu Jun 21 01:20:43 2012

As always, Ric is spot on in his or her analysis of the latest ebafia betrayal except for two things.

1. Ebays' statements aren't "hollow."

THEY'RE LIES.

2. Johnna Hoff isn't a court jester.

SHE'S A LIAR.

I'm through using nicey-nicey synonyms for lies and deceit.

Is ebafia targeting Buy?

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

Thu Jun 21 02:35:48 2012

So, why should anyone be surprised; not only are the people running this eBafia circus, criminals, they are fools to boot ...

And to think that five years ago both eBay's and Amazon's stock prices were ~$40 ...

eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking

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by: Ebay's Slow Death This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 21 02:45:50 2012

I too checked my listings, and the, ''Have one to sell? Sell it yourself'' is there under my pictures. However, it doesn't show any prices. I checked iPads and a couple of other electronic items and found no prices displayed. I think maybe Ebay has rethought this latest STUPID idea.

It seems to be one change after another lately.  Sales are slow. (We have a B&M store, and sales are slower the last month or so, also.) It appears that Ebay is panicking, and are starting to throw new ideas at the wall trying to see if anything will stick (improve sales). They are probably getting pressured by the Diamonds to improve sales.

If you deal in vintage items, any Seller knows there are a lot of factors that go into determining a selling price. Again, Ebay is trying the, ''One size fits all'' approach.  

Not only are Ebay management sociopaths, with no morals or conscience, but they are also absolutely stupid when it comes to retail business. They have no clue what goes into running a retail business, or for that matter, selling anything.

What will be the next change? We can't even guess, because it will be totally bizarre.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Thu Jun 21 03:08:46 2012

Many of us that post on these blogs or threads have real life business experience of many kinds.  I'm sure some have even ran businesses outside the home.  For myself, I ran a manufacturing company for years.  I can assure you that it would have never even occurred to me to tell my potential customers that they can get it cheaper over at Joe's place.  For pete's sake,  Does anyone have any functioning brain cells over there.

This is suppose to help increase Ebay's bottom line how?  Oh tick off buyers and make them go elsewhere.  Oh wait, that's not good.  Oh drive down the prices on Ebay.  No wait, that makes no sense.  Oh get more sellers on Ebay selling similar items, no wait, the sellers that are already there are having trouble actually selling stuff.  Oh more like listing to help increase Ebay's active listings numbers, no wait, that clogs up the searches that don't work well to begin with.

And the list just goes on and on.  The only thing something like this can possibly do is cost Ebay money, but obviously no one there is bright enough to see that.

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by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 21 04:46:58 2012

Stay tuned for tonight's hilarious episode of America's Dumbest Criminals.  

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by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 21 06:23:30 2012

I checked it out--I sell ''one of kind'' type stock, so without UPI numbers, they don't know how to average the price of what I sell. The user gets a not very helpful listing template with ONLY my category pre-selected. Once again, I'm just in awe of eBay's stupidity. You know NONE of this will connect with them until it reflects in their revenue. The 3 weeks in which I sold almost NOTHING a while back? I am very sure THAT little miscalculation (search engine algorithms?)cost them a pocketful of change. I love this site (it might be Ming)--every day I come here to find out what eBay is doing to kill its unique ground-breaking business. I used to LOVE eBay. It was twice the fun of my day job and remunerative, too. Ebay has become a hostile workplace.

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by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 21 06:28:59 2012

Ric!!! ''2012 Race to the Bottom''!!! THAT should be eBay's slogan as they try to out-Amazon Amazon. I am going to use that phrase to describe these weeks of interminable eBay stupidity.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Thu Jun 21 09:08:12 2012

LOL.........those MBAs just don't know when to quit do they?

A while back I heard someone said that eBay will die a death of 1000 cuts.  It is happening right before our eyes.

Lately, I have heard more complaints regarding slow sales from sellers than ever before.  Ebay has got to be feeling this, no matter how much they  pad the numbers and cook the books. Smoke and mirrors with Wall Street analysts.  

Amazing how one hard headed CEO could completely ruin something that was once magical and fun.  

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by: Scotty This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 21 09:40:52 2012

Maybe management should implement this feature next to their profiles in the corporate directory.....of course displaying the avg salary, benefits, etc.....to publicly display how grossly overpaid these buffoons are....once we can see the ''avg salary'' cost, we can shop for new management and save the company some cash....

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 21 09:52:38 2012

The real question is - do people who pay for listings ''own'' that page/real estate ... eBay's answer is obviously NO.

On my listings page there are now 3 different ways to ''move'' customers away from the item im trying to sell, to something else.

1) The ad on the side for a notebook (chromebook) ... how much is google giving eBay for that ad (especially since thier change in google shopping policies!)

2) the ads on the bottom of the page that conflict with mine - they send you to a competitor who sells similar things

3) now this ... placed under MY picture.

Does eBay want you to succeed or fail?

I called to ask, and I got giberish stating ''dont worrk they dont really effect you - you are doing a GREAT job as a eBay seller''! (what HOG WASH!)

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by: JustTheFacts This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 21 09:55:41 2012

Should any of us be surprised at this..Of course not.

I am not sure just how UNETHICAL and UNFAIR ebay has to show themselves to be be before we all realizre that ebay can care less about it's sellers, their ONLY concern is THEIR bottom line no matter what that may cost to their sellers.

Many people think ebsy want to be Amazon but that is only PART of their desire.

ebay wants to be Amazon, wal-mart, Sears, Target and EVERYTHING else.  They THINK they can create this SHOPPER EUTOPIA so they take PIECES from every place and try to implement it on ebay thinking that they can jjust ADD it to ebay with or without the consent of their sellers even at the DETRAMENT of their sellers for their OWN benefit.

However, the PROBLEM is tht they NEVER actually take the time to THINK THROUGH their plans and it is not until the LIGHT is shined on thier SCHEMES that they then try and SPIN their TERRIBLE and GREEDY actions.    

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Thu Jun 21 12:26:06 2012

Well obviously everything Ebay does is not motivated by GREED.  This is a prime example of that.  How in the world could Ebay profit off a function like this?  I think we just get so use to calling them greedy that we do with anything they do.  This function just flat defies logic !!

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This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Thu Jun 21 12:28:40 2012

This suggests to me that eBay is starting to PANIC and is becoming DESPERATE for new sellers.

Small sellers are gradually disappearing. Sellers are spreading-the-word about how risky (and costly) it is to list on eBay... as a result... with MORE sellers leaving, and FEWER sellers joining, eBay is starting to feel a pinch.

But isn't this what they WANTED?! Time and time again, eBay has made it very clear that small sellers (of OOAK's, flea-market, garage-sale, used items) are NOT WANTED and UNDESIRABLE.

This was their myopic policy... and now that they're starting to realize the consequences, they STILL refuse to adjust their anti-seller policies. Instead, they're trying to glean any leftover bits. They're looking for more naive and vulnerable newbie sellers to take advantage of.

I think the whole thing SUCKS for sellers. But at the same time, if I'm reading the tea-leaves correctly... I do find it amusing that eBay has resorted to such obvious tactics to try and entice non-sellers into listing their ''junk'' on eBay.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Thu Jun 21 12:35:30 2012

I think you are on to something there Annie.  However I don't think it is just small sellers leaving anymore.  With all the fee hikes and most likely even more of them before the year end, there have been many good size sellers leaving too.

But really this?!?!?!?  It just makes you shake your head in wonder.  With all those highly educated minds and they come up with this?!?!?!

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This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Thu Jun 21 12:45:26 2012

-- ''But really this?!?!?!?''

I know! It boggles the mind. I had no idea that eBay employed so many bowel-exploring contortionists.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Thu Jun 21 12:46:20 2012

LOL you go girl !!!

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This user has validated their user name. by: basset

Thu Jun 21 13:24:28 2012

@Annie... This suggests to me that eBay is starting to PANIC and is becoming DESPERATE for new sellers.

I've been thinking this is the case, too. Their actions certainly lead one to think ''desperation!'' I do some routine searches for minor stuff I collect  that I have done for years. There is less and less results showing up, & my search is for ALL items, both new & used. Perhaps part of it is rolling blackouts or broken search, but I know these searches well enough that I just think there is simply LESS stuff listed.

Doesn't eBay realize that when sellers disappear or just sell less stuff - it hurts us all (thus hurting eBay's bottom line) ---Those vanishing sellers WERE buyers!!!!

I really don't gloat over eBay's seeming dysfunction - it negatively affects too many sellers.  I wish they could get their act together & turn this thing around. Their glitches & dysfunction hurt a lot of sellers that (depending on what they sell) may have no other viable venue to go to at this moment in time.

If eBay were a ''well built'' ship, in this economy it and sellers should be doing well. As it is, all these endless changes, glitches, & just plain weird stuff makes it feel like management are running around plugging leaks with bubble gum as new leaks spring up. They really need to take a look at the structure before it does a Poseidon with us sellers trapped inside.  

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 21 14:49:59 2012

More eBay lies ...

I just had a 20 minute conversation with some CS agent in CA (wow - I got one in the good ole' US of A)(gold star for me!). After beating around the bush for the first 10 mins, I was told ''Dont worry about THOSE ads - its a simple cross advertising promotion - YOUR ad(s) is posted on someone else's listing - so its all fair!''

I said:

1) If its an equal swap and we are both selling the same items - whats the point - they cancel each other out!
2) can you PROVE my listings are being shown elsewhere? (I was told NO)
3) Eh, dont worry - its based on the cookies eBay puts in your pc - so its all good.... Um what ELSE is in that cookie ? What OTHER info are they hidding?!

As for the Have one to sell? ... oh yeh I sympathize with you as a seller, but as an eBay CS agent - theres nothing we can do. You have NO CONTROL over the page - payed for or not.

The last line I was told is EXACTLY what RIC, MING and ANNIE have said above ... ''it will create MORE SELLERS.''

How desperate they are that they must STEAL from the very people that feed them.

Im ashamed of eBay. While Ive gotten sort of used to thier abuses, lies, cheating, and stealing (not to mentioning hiring the worlds stupidest employees (Hi there Mr Hershman - you stunk at Amazon and now you are helping eBay into its grave!)

This all just dovetales into what we have all known for some time - eBay does NOT want small sellers. SO how does that statement jive with Have one to sell? ... simple ... you attract new sellers, drain them of thier money and move on. Slash & Burn on small sellers is now how it works.... Welcome to the NEW improved eBay!

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