Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon July 30 2012 23:06:06

eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay sellers are concerned they may end up having to pay more in fees to get better exposure in Best Match search results after some received an "eBay Experience Enhancement" survey last week. The topic is a sensitive one, since sellers already pay fees to eBay to get exposure in search results, and many have been reporting drastic problems with Best Match since the spring.

The eBay survey asked respondents, "How important is it to you to improve your ranking in search results?" It then asked sellers, "How would you feel if you could bid on your Final Value Fees which would improve your ranking in search results?"



Sellers who discussed the survey on the eBay discussion boards were stumped as to what bidding on FVFs meant.

"So, are they offering better search placement in return for HIGHER fees?" one seller asked. "That would be my take on it! Gee, let's all pay MORE than the current 10% rake-off on every item we sell and it MIGHT result in better placement on a tiny fraction of searches...Yeah...that's Sure Fire profit maker!"

Another seller wrote, "Seems to me that if eBay is offering to manipulate their "Best" Match search results to aid their bottom line - instead of provide a service to the BUYERS needs as it has been FALSELY advertised to do for about 4 YEARS now - then at least this would be an up-front admission of that manipulation motivation for a change."

One seller said it sounded as if eBay was considering a pay-per-click model like Google AdWords. "This would give some control back to the seller if it were implemented correctly. But if eBay continued to let the diamond sellers bigfoot everybody else for free, it would be no different from the current situation."

"So they befoul the so-called "Best Match," then create a way you can pay to overcome the resulting poor placement," wrote another seller." "There's a legal term for this, and it isn't pretty."

On another discussion board, a seller reported taking an eBay survey on Friday that asked, "How would you feel if you had an option to pay an approximate 25% fee premium to guarantee a "top 5 listing" in search results?"

One seller compared that option to a paid option eBay used to offer called Featured Listings. "Why does paying for better search placement seem so wrong? It actually makes sense to me," wrote a seller. "It's like the Featured Listings we used to have."

But a buyer on the thread said they were glad when eBay got rid of the paid Feature Listings from the top of search results. "If they do disrupt my search hopefully they will have a different color like the feature had and I can simply bypass them by paging to the regular color listings. Or at least give us some type of desgnation (sic) that this is a paid listing, so I can find true start of my search."

Unlike with Google.com's search engine, eBay sellers pay insertion fees and expect their listings to appear in search results. But, like Google, eBay keeps the algorithm of its default sort order, called Best Match, a secret and makes changes to it without notifying buyers and sellers.

A seller discussing the survey wrote, "What is wrong with providing a simple search results page (or pages) without the Best Match feature? Problems started popping up when Best Match was introduced. Just get rid of the thing, and we would all be happily selling!"

One seller comment on the survey itself, writing, "If eBay had created a cell tasked with "Seller Demoralization via the 1,000 Cuts Method," they couldn't be doing it better than with these absurd and alarming surveys."

See Tuesday's EcommerceBytes Newsflash for more information about the seller survey.




Comments (41) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure   eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Tue Jul 31 00:26:06 2012

eBay has learned three things.

One, they must please their Wall Street masters.

Two, If they can not show GMV growth, Wall Street will not be pleased.

Three, they can no longer bamboozle Wall Street with GMV numbers which are inflated with shipping costs added in, so they have to find other ways to grow revenue.

Adoption of "free shipping" seemed to peak this time last year if I recall JD's quarterly reports correctly. So now the year over year figures will not be so easy to report as growing, hence the reduced revenue predictions JD released for 2012 Q3.

Since they can't fake GMV year vs year growth anymore, what better way to grow revenue than to drive small seller listings to the bottom of search, then monetize their actions by offering the effected sellers the opportunity to pay for better placement.



No doubt, this will be the first of many add on fees eBay will come up with.

Want to save custom searches? We have a fee for that.

Need to edit or revise your live listing? There will be a small fee, thank you very much.

Do you want potential buyers to be able to add your items to their watch list? There will be a small fee for each watch list your item is added to.

The custom logo in your eBay store? That's going to cost you.

You say you want us to stop posting average selling prices on your listings? A slightly higher fee per listing and we will make that average selling price disappear.

Want to read eBay discussion Boards? You can read eBay discussion boards for small annual fee for read only access.

Want to participate and post on eBay discussion boards? You can do that for an additional annual fee.

Don't like eBay shipping which we force you to use? We will let you use PayPal shipping for a small additional fee.

Don't like having your payments held? We will release your funds from hold for an additional fee per transaction.

Don't like the 3 to 5 days it takes to transfer funds from PayPal to your Bank? We can eliminate that delay for a small fee.



eBay... If you can afford to sell here, we are not charging you enough.

Perminate Link for eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure   eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure

by: JustTheFacts This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 31 00:27:47 2012

It seems to me that ebay is desperate again and looking for a NEW revenue source because the shipping scheme has run it's course and they cannot hide their LOSSES anymore.

I agree taht ebay PURPOSEY manipulated the searches to try and FORCE everyone to aqgree to pay to actually be SEEN.

I find this a TOTAL FRAUD.
We already PAY to be seen.

It just shows how LOW and EVIL ebay is.

What sellers need is a REAL whistle blower, someone on the INSIDE who knows, to grow a backbone and tell the TRUTH and do the RIGHT THING!

Perminate Link for eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure   eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure

by: TeddyElectron This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 31 01:27:43 2012

Isn't this happening already? There has to be some explanation for inconsistant ordering of Best Match results other than intentional "back office" manipulation.

Perminate Link for eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure   eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure

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

Tue Jul 31 02:45:55 2012

That would be simply a surcharge to get what you paid for in the first place; oh, hang on, listing fees seem to be gone much of the time now. Hmmm, methinks the boys in the executive suite are getting desperate for ideas to generate enough hot air to keep the quarterly results inflated ...

Fraud! Fraud! How could anyone possibly think of eBay and fraud at the same time; the eBafia Don will be so hurt ...

eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking

Perminate Link for eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure   eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure

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

Tue Jul 31 04:16:13 2012

This would have terrible repercussions if implemented.  This will hurt the honest sellers while giving scammers and counterfeit sellers a distinct advantage because they don't have to worry about margins like legitimate sellers.  There is a reason Featured First was retired.  They need to remember that.

Perminate Link for eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure   eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure

This user has validated their user name. by: Ed Gadfly

Tue Jul 31 05:43:34 2012


Who would trust eBay?

Perminate Link for eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure   eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure

This user has validated their user name. by: basset

Tue Jul 31 07:02:29 2012

So if EVERYONE paid for higher visibility - wouldn't WE just be back where we started? Only difference is ''Tiny e'' would be getting a lot more money for nuthin'.  

Perminate Link for eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure   eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Tue Jul 31 07:45:44 2012

They really are desperate.  I think the secret to eBay's early success was community--that "it takes a village" approach.  Donahoe and team completely razed the community and all he has cared about since he took the helm is pleasing Wall Street and the big box retailers.  Now the community is gone, the buyers are gone, and he and his team continue to devise schemes to try to make up for the bleeding.  And every little scheme that is implemented drives another nail in the coffin and drives more people away from eBay.

And so much for that so called "best match" if this is implemented.  Anyone who has a history on eBay knows that best match is rigged and this will only make it more so.  Shameless.

Perminate Link for eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure   eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 31 09:36:15 2012

Ric is %1000 correct. I couldnt have said it better myself.

The sad part is that the things he mentions WILL come true - its just a matter of time.

The NY Times hit piece was laughable. No one I know buys stuff off eBay via thier phone. In fact, most people I know dont buy anything off eBay, unless its so rare and exotic that it cant be found in stores.

When its implimented, the first page will be the anchor stores (manufactorers), then the sites that eBay lets on (you know the ones that compete with them directly)ala buy.com, then the large retailers (adorama, tristate,datavision), then the chinese megasellers. Somewhere after that - pages 2 and back are regular sellers listings.

Of course the Authorized dealer tag will be there too - making your chance of selling your item, almost nil.

eBay is one SICK place to sell stuff on ... and gets worse each and every day.

Perminate Link for eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure   eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure

This user has validated their user name. by: basset

Tue Jul 31 10:14:02 2012

Do ya think eBay just puts these surveys out, then makes a hot rush to the forums & blogs to see what people are saying?

If 2 survey respondants agree to what eBays planned path is, then they can truthfully say: ''sellers are telling us they want this''. Then they just do what they planned all along.  

Perminate Link for eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure   eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure

This user has validated their user name. by: Nolle

Tue Jul 31 10:34:52 2012

Notice the inverse relationship here?

You give up a portion of your profits to increase volume with the hope that more volume will equal more total profits.

Ebay makes a greater profit on more sales - and the more sales, the greater the total AND the percent profit.

Basically, ebay generates more sales for their own bottonline at the expense of the seller's bottomline.

I think the net result will be sellers raising prices, and ebay pushing the higher priced items, resulting in less overall sales and more flight to competitors.

Perminate Link for eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure   eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure

by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 31 10:38:23 2012

"How important is it to you to improve your ranking in search results?"

How stupid a question is that....duh????

Perminate Link for eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure   eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure

by: JustTheFacts This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 31 10:43:06 2012

Well clearly ebays survey is more about trying to see if they can manipulate sellers into thinking they should PAY even more to actually get seen.

Notice they always try and PAD the survey with buyer questions.

However, all they seem to focus on from what I see is about forcing deadbeats to pay immediately.  But that does NOT address the BUYER PROBLEMS once again.

Forcing known deadbeats to pay immediately just opens up a NEW batch of problems for sellers.
Such as, now the deadbeat is ANGRY that they have to pay immediately (and at all)and it will not allow them to get combined shipping, so in turn they WILL retaliate in FB and DSRS and more than likely file a SNAD CLAIM, which will just cost the seller more time, trouble and money.  Of course ebay will still get THEIR fees.  So this is a TERRIBLE solution.

If deadbeats have such a history then can they really be considered as "BUYERS" in the first place?  BUYER implies that someone actually PAID for something therefore they BOUGHT and become a BUYER.

A more accurate term would be a WINDOW shopper, who fills up the cart and leaves it in the middle of the isle for the staff to have put back on the shelf for REAL and ACTUAL buyers to be able to find.

Can anyone with any real compassion for their friends and family really recommend ebay to them?  I sure hope not.
It is bad enough being cheated by ebay but to set them up to be cheated and mistreated by buyers too.  I do NOT think so.

Trying to put a NON STICK BANDAID on a GAPING and GUSHING WOUND will not stop the bleeding nor heal the wound.

The entire survey is REALLY about ebay wanting to charge sellers MORE MONEY.  The meaningless and even TROUBLESOME deadbeat questions are really just them PADDING the survey.

Just like EVERYTHING ebay does, it will be a WIN WIN for ebay and the buyer and a LOSE, LOSE, LOSE for the seller.

Perminate Link for eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure   eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Tue Jul 31 11:37:19 2012

Two more thoughts:

1) Yes, eBay already know what they want to do, the surveys are simply worded in such a way as to skew the results and support their objective

2) I have never known any carrot that eBay dangled in front of a seller to improve search results.  This one won't either.

To have to pay for a level playing field is just absurd.  Ebay management need an ethics class big time.

Perminate Link for eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure   eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure

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

Tue Jul 31 11:37:37 2012

How about a small fee to REMOVE lying, untrue feedback and career threatening low DSR's ?

Dear God, please let eBay come up with some way for honest sellers to not have untrue ratings and feedback stick for 3 months and especially 1 year !

Here is my legitimate thought eBay, if a Buyer does not open a case against seller, then the buyer is a liar with buyers remorse.

If an item is not as described and buyer gives a seller a 1 or 2 star rating, then CLEARLY that buyer feels it was not as described, so they should open a Buyer protection case.

I am sick of buyers ( And yes they are lots of them ) who get the item described, fast and free and ding the me or any seller with a lying 1 or 2 star rating and bad feedback. Seen some buyers who don't want a refund, they just do this intentionally.

Dear Mr. Donahoe, PLEASE in the name of fairness STOP THAT PRACTICE !

Also NO 1 or 2 Star Ratings if POSITIVE feedback is left !

What a couple of simple changes that could stop the abusive destruction that some buyers do to good honest people selling.

I bought thousands of items on eBay also over the years, and gave maybe 1 or 2 Negatives ever and they were TRULY deserved to crappy sellers.

As a seller I have sold thousands and thousands of items, and I give accurate description, and free, fast shipping and sick of the atrocities abusive buyers have committed against me and my income, when Honest to God I did nothing wrong, and you let them stick !

Fair is Fair ! Just 2 simpe adjustments NO MORE POSITIVE FEEDBACK ALLOWED with 1 or 2 Star ratings

And again NO FEEDBACK STICKS, or at a minimum the Damaging low 1 or 2 star ratings, if a Buyer does not open a case against seller for REAL NOT AS DESCRIBED !

Or even maybe a SMALL reasonable fee for sellers who were genuinely screwed to have untrue 1 or 2 star ratings left buy a buyer who does not open case, because they can't they know the item WAS as described.

I can't Honest to goodness beleve that this is the best you can come up with eBay ? Untrue opinions on some cases where a seller can prove buyers screwed them, and they stick. This is not fair, please restore some genuine fairness to sellers Mr. Donahoe

Perminate Link for eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure   eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Tue Jul 31 11:52:33 2012

Does anyone ever remember Amazon implementing a scheme such as this?  Doubtful.  It just goes to show you who has a robust marketplace and who doesn't.

Perminate Link for eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure   eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure

by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 31 12:19:28 2012

Corporations like eBay operate in their own pure self interest. That shouldn't surprise anyone. The way most companies do this is by designing their business for long term health and steady growth. But at eBay they want it to show on the balance sheet this year so Wall Street will like it.  So they operate with a short term view.

Ebay never used to be like that.

The real problem with eBay is this:  

The way eBay used to be, you would put something up in an auction for 99 cents and if it had to sell for $400 it would. The market was in balance.

It was a healthy marketplace 5 or 10 years ago.

Now it'd likely sell for $1.35.  Since this makes no sense and you cannot pay your bills selling $400 items for $1.35 there are hardly any auctions on eBay anymore. You have to just set the price at what you want to sell for and if anyone can see it in search you will sell it some day or reduce it.  Or throw it out.

It's a sick, sick marketplace. Ebay made it sick by manipulating search, by bringing on those megasellers with 1.2 million items and the Chinese sellers with 100,000 $1.99 cellphone chargers with free shipping, and by screwing with the sellers who made eBay what it was:  The only place where you could find and buy unique or rare things that you *can't* find anywhere else.

We have people call looking for unusual IT items and we just tell them to ''look on eBay.  That's where you could find those kinds of things, things you *can't* find anywhere else.''

If eBay would:

Stop tampering with search results.  Take a lesson from google: ''first, don't be evil''.

Stop trying to force sellers to fit into a one size fits all policy that essentially forces us to give free shipping on a 60# item. That's impractical. The way we have to do that is by raising the price to cover shipping 2500 miles, so more local buyers won't buy because the price is too high.  DUH! We ship so much stuff to Florida nowadays!  We are in California.

An eBay rep said to me last week ''You have to do what works for your company''.  No kidding! The reps know, even if eBay corporate management doesn't.

We got along fine with buyers saying they didn't like our shipping cost, they would email me and what was my response?  ''You shouldn't buy then''.  It was fine! Business have different costs.  

Ebay should be fair and evenhanded with everyone.  Don't give either side an advantage.  We sellera are all in this together with eBay Inc., we all have the same goals, to sell things and make money.  The more eBay sellers sell the more money eBay makes.  

Griff told me in email a while ago the reason they did all these buyer advantage changes is because ''buyers were leaving eBay in droves''.  You know eBay has metrics on that so I don't doubt it- I could see it.  

But making a sick marketplace out of a great one was hardly productive.  The buyers who were leaving were probably the bad buyers anyway.  Now it's out of balance.  The market must balance itself.

We used to remark around the office how ''nice everyone was''.  That was 10 years ago. Now buyers are angry. Not all but surely an annoying amount.

We love dealing with nice, considerate professional buyers on eBay.  Whining complainers, not so much.  What eBay has done has resulted in a large increase of the latter.

Perminate Link for eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure   eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure

by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 31 12:39:53 2012

This reminds me of years ago when they had "feature plus".  We had artists paying over $80.00 to list in two art-related categories as a feature plus listing.  I guess they intend to go back to their old days....there is just one fly in this ointment...artists aren't selling or making what they did in the old days on Ebay.  :-(

Perminate Link for eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure   eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure

by: gutspiller This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 31 15:52:33 2012

Are they bloody serious???

First they introduce Best Match and completely clutter up the site. They introduce the free listing weekends for privat sellers. And even better: on the small Ebay site I sell on privat sellers don't even longer pay listing fees. They can list an unlimited number of auctions and all completely free.

"Privat sellers" listing hundreds of items day after day. Their overpriced items or garbage doesn't sell, they clutter the site even more and hide my paid listings in the results.

And now Ebay would like me to pay extra for an improved visibility... They can kiss my bloody *ss.

My sales are 20% up compared with last year. But none of it comes from Ebay. Even if Ebay turnover has increased, Ebay profits are down.

The last 2-3 years I've lowered prices, expanded the range of goods. On the old Ebay my sales should have exploded. On the current Ebay I'm hardly maintaining sales at the same level.

I've taken my precautions and launched my site beginning this year. The golden formula that always worked on Ebay but no longer seem to work, still does the trick outside of Ebay. The site is only a bit more than half a year old. Last July it generated 50% of the total profit a was making on Ebay 1 year ago. Profit has tripled since the first month I launched it and is still increasing each month.

Some of my bottom line ended after 30 days on Ebay. 50 items, all ended with max. 2 page views. They got automatically relisted. Then the biggest crap item in it suddenly got more than 20 page views in just a few hours. Absolutely had enough of this crap. I'm not gonna pay to list something on Ebay when it's burried in the search results. I've ended all these listings and moved them to my website. More and more items I'm only listing on my website. The next stage will be to move some of my best sellers and rare items to my website. I'm selling some very rare items. I'm often the only seller with this item in stock.

I'm just that kind of seller Ebay has been known for. A lot of the things I'm selling are rare and Ebay used to be the only place where you would find them.

The only thing Ebay is doing is chasing sellers like me away. Just the kind of seller that used to make Ebay so unique and popular.

In fact I should be grateful to Ebay. A few years back I wouldn't even considered launching my own site and at that time it probably wouldn't have stand a chance.

But there's 1 thing Ebay didn't see. They're continually making changes, introduce new policies to squeeze some more money out of the sellers. A lot of them were completely fed up and left the site. And know we're at the point that also the buyers are fed up and leave just leave Ebay.

That's the story I hear over and over again. When people come to collect their order I always ask how they found me. And the answer is always a bit the same. They used to buy on Ebay, but now hardly use the site. They don't like all the adds, they find the site completely cluttered and the seller where they used to buy with are no longer active on Ebay.

So thank you Ebay. Every potential buyer you're chasing away, you're chasing straight to my website. Keep up the good work :-)

Perminate Link for eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure   eBay May Charge Premium Fee for Improved Search Exposure

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

Tue Jul 31 17:32:08 2012

I have never used ebay's "best match" I have always used "ending soonest" or "lowest price". So whatever they do to best match is fine with me :D

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