Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed Jan 9 2013 21:45:59

eBay Overstates Selling Prices in Search Results

By: Ina Steiner

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In some cases, eBay is overstating the selling prices of items that have sold on its marketplace. The problem, which affects Completed Item searches, was revealed last month by an EcommerceBytes reader, but the apparent glitch has yet to be acknowledged or corrected by eBay.

Last year, sellers noticed some apparent glitches with items that had not sold having a "sold" banner appearing on them, so anyone perusing sold items would think the sell through rate was higher than it actually was. That issue has since been fixed.

Last month, a reader discovered another problem - an antiques mall that had sold some of her items on eBay had reported a selling price lower than what she was seeing on eBay. Luckily she clicked through to the listings, where the prices were accurate, unlike those shown in search results.

This vase sold on eBay for $850, but eBay shows the selling price as $1,400 in its Completed Item search results.

After publishing her letter in the EcommerceBytes Letters to the Editor blog, commentors noted that it the pricing problem seemed to appear only when there was a Best Offer associated with the listing.

Today, a reader reached out to me to say that her research showed it is indeed a problem with the Best Offer feature. If you do a Completed Item search on eBay, sort by price (highest price first), then scroll down noting the selling prices in green, you will occasionally see a price that is out of order.

It appears that eBay is displaying the original price the seller offered for the item before accepting the lower "Best Offer."

For example, I looked for a Fenton vase in Completed Items, sorted by price, and scrolled down til I found a listing for $1,400 tucked in with all the other listings that had ended. Sure enough it actually sold for $850 - $550 lower than the $1,400 shown in eBay search results. It seems seller accepted a Best Offer from a buyer.

The seller who contacted me today said the inaccurate pricing was misleading to both buyers and sellers doing pricing research on eBay.

"It's outright deceptive, it's not the price it sold at," she said. And she was also concerned whether eBay was using the inaccurate figures in their reports to shareholders, "which is a much more serious picture," she said.

Whatever the source of the problem, the lesson from these recent inaccuracies is clear: when doing research on eBay, double check everything - including the sold status and ending price.

Researcher beware.




Comments (13) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Overstates Selling Prices in Search Results   eBay Overstates Selling Prices in Search Results

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

Thu Jan 10 00:35:00 2013

This is intentional, and it's no "glitch." Its purposes are (1) to "encourage" sellers with identical or similar items to either start their items at a higher price making ebay more money (2) a new criminal trick to further cook their books for Wall Street to keep stock prices rising (making management more money on their stock options (3) recruit new or returning sellers by lying to them about sale prices.

Ebafia: the criminal syndicate that reaches new lows daily.  

Perminate Link for eBay Overstates Selling Prices in Search Results   eBay Overstates Selling Prices in Search Results

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

Thu Jan 10 01:04:58 2013

I had noticed this myself on occasions but, as in this circumstance the completed item is in the correct order in the list according to it’s actual sold price, when sorted by price, but the price shown is, incorrectly, the original higher asking price, I will, on this occasion, give the eBafia the benefit of the doubt and put it down to simply one more demonstration of their clunky programming skills …

See, I don’t say that everything they do is done with the intention to defraud consumers, only most things that they do … http://bit.ly/N1nTlc

Perminate Link for eBay Overstates Selling Prices in Search Results   eBay Overstates Selling Prices in Search Results

This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Thu Jan 10 02:18:38 2013

I'm with Ming on this one. No benefit of the doubt.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Thu Jan 10 08:24:53 2013

Doesn't Goodwill try that little questionable marketing tactic too? LOL  You see some outrageous price on an old sewing machine that doesn't work and they post a printout of an eBay listing above it and it IS NOT the completed sale price and it is an item that didn't sell and got no bids. Unethical.

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Thu Jan 10 14:06:27 2013

I have to agree with Philip on this one. If the items are in the correct order for the selling price, then it's probably just another eBay glitch or malfunction, which we know is rampant on the site.

Perminate Link for eBay Overstates Selling Prices in Search Results   eBay Overstates Selling Prices in Search Results

by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 10 15:33:52 2013

Among some developers, one man's glitch is another man's feature. If you can sell it, why fix it?

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

Thu Jan 10 16:16:18 2013

@bitbybit,

I still lean towards “clunky programming”, for if they were indeed demonstrating their usual deceptiveness they would have programmed the item to sort in the order of the original price, not the actual sold price, and we would then never have been none the wiser … conversely, you could be right, and still it IS simply one more demonstration of their utterly clunky programming skills …

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

Thu Jan 10 17:41:57 2013

I still would lay odds that the higher asking price now feeds into the GMV number they report to Wall Street.

Every quarter, another gimmick.

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by: Shawn This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jan 11 09:21:25 2013

If this is intentional, it's a bad idea. Encouraging sellers to start at too high a price isn't going to help them sell -- it's only going to lead to soft sales and frustration. As a collector, I often pay a little more for a "must have" item. But no way would I pay hundreds more.

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

Fri Jan 11 10:16:51 2013

I'm just happy that eBay still shows us completed items.  Since Tera peak provides this service as well, you might see that day this goes to a paid only service.  

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

Sun Jan 13 02:24:23 2013

We've had this "glitch" discussion here in the past, but it's been a while.

True glitches should statistically occur randomly and unpredictably across the platform.

If any given glitch benefits ebay or the seller, then over a period time the laws of probability state the ebay would benefit 50% of the time and the seller would benefit 50% of the time.

Now, ask yourselves: of the hundreds of thousands of glitches if not millions that have occurred on the ebay platform over the years, how many have benefited ebay and how many benefited you and what were they?

Further, how often does ebafia tell the truth about anything?

Glitch not.

Perminate Link for eBay Overstates Selling Prices in Search Results   eBay Overstates Selling Prices in Search Results

by: BackInBlack This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 17 01:11:43 2013

I started noticing this a few months ago. First, without clicking through to the actual item listing (from a watch list), one cannot tell if an item actually sold or merely expired. If viewing complete and/or sold listings, if the item had a Best Offer accepted, the 'sold' price shown was the full But It Now price, not the actual negotiated sale price thru best offer.  I'd figured this was some sort of scam, for all the reasons outlined by others above.

Perminate Link for eBay Overstates Selling Prices in Search Results   eBay Overstates Selling Prices in Search Results

This user has validated their user name. by: WatchCount.com
Web Site

Sat Feb 23 12:24:22 2013

We offer a simple workaround for this situation at WatchCount.com, if the Best Offer was accepted recently, say, within the past 2 weeks or so. To see the actual selling price, just do this:

Visit the WatchCount.com homepage and paste the eBay listing number into the 'Keywords' search box then click the "Show Me...!" button. Amid the Item Lookup details displayed should be the final sold price via Best Offer for that fixed-price item...



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