Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon Oct 21 2013 21:16:47

eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers

By: Ina Steiner

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Sellers who research bidders using eBay's Advanced Search discovered eBay removed that functionality from its search tool on Monday, meaning sellers (and other bidders) are no longer able to research bidders.

The move has sellers concerned, especially going into the busy holiday shopping season. "So much for a more transparent marketplace. Now there is no way to find scamming buyers or shill bidders," a reader wrote to EcommerceBytes, and some say they feel it is now open season on eBay sellers from bad buyers.



The image above was taken from the eBay UK website where the feature is still available.


The move comes after eBay recently reduced transparency in another area: its feedback system. Last week, buyers and sellers noticed eBay had began removing purchase details from the feedback page. One blog commentor wrote, "when eBay removes transparency and begins to obfuscate helpful bits of information, the "venue" becomes a risky place to buy-and-sell."

In neither case had eBay given a warning to users about the changes, leaving them to wonder if unannounced changes were due to a glitch or to a deliberate policy change. EcommerceBytes confirmed the removal of purchase details from the feedback change was a policy change, and is awaiting word from eBay about the removal of the bidder tool.

Sellers are discussing the latter change on the forums. In one thread, titled, "WTH!? No more Advanced Search by Bidder," a seller explained how the feature had recently helped them. When a bidder with zero feedback won a $400 phone, they noticed the user had bid on 167 items in one day.

"I messaged them and said: let me guess you are not paying for all of these items, they wrote no. I said so me a favor and save me 7 days of filing a non pay and just click the cancel auction. They did. Without that, I could have wasted about 7 days trying to make them pay or 3 and lose my runner up." The seller then joked, "What next? taking away leaving feedback for a buyer.... oh wait."



Above image shows information users can see about a bidder when using Advanced Search by bidder ID.

A seller provided me with examples of how they used bidder searches, such as this one: "Sometimes when a claim gets filed you want to check recent purchases to see if there is a pattern or if your buyer has purchased a like item. Sometimes buyers will bid on a couple of the same thing from different sellers. Then whichever ends up being cheaper they pay for. The other they may pay, but they will return it or they may never pay."

If this affects you as a seller (or as a buyer), let us know - and please provide specific examples of how you used the feature and whether it's a big deal.




Comments (94) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers   eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Mon Oct 21 22:21:08 2013

I know some will say that Ebay committed to only have 2 changes per year, but that isn't what they committed to.  It was that they would give sellers a 90 days advanced notice of major changes / listing changes and no more than 2 per year.

While this one probably does not fall into that definition, it is still an important one.

I have been a business woman a long time.  Not just on Ebay but outside of the home too.  I have never understood why, since 2008, each and EVERY holiday season Ebay starts doing this stuff.  

At a time when sellers should be concentrating on getting listings prepared for posting, making sure they have the stock they need, quality pictures, shipping supplies, etc.  Things to make them very efficient during this important time of year.  Ebay comes behind us doing this kind of stuff making us less efficient and far more vulnerable.

In doing this they make less money.  If sellers are busy trying to figure out how to get the information they need regarding buyers, then they aren't spending time creating new listings.  While certainly this may make some buyer very happy.  Those buyers that need or want to hid things.  Those buyers are after Ebay's heart since it is what Ebay loves, secrets and confusion.  They always want us off balance.

This is a time when Ebay should be shoring us up.  Giving us tools to make us better and stronger.  But every year it is the same old thing.  Let's see what we can take away from the sellers.  We don't want them to think it is going to be a smooth holiday season.

Perminate Link for eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers   eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Mon Oct 21 22:23:59 2013

I just noticed another change. I wanted to see if an item I won had been shipped yet, so I clicked on "My eBay" and up pops this Pinterest-like left-to-right scrolling bar with photos labeled "Recently Viewed," "Watching," "Bids and Offers," and "Purchased." At the bottom it reads: "Let us know what you think, take a survey."  

Perminate Link for eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers   eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers

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

Mon Oct 21 22:35:43 2013

A major triumpth for Phil Cohen!

Nearly every change ebafia makes is to enhance their bottom line -- ALWAYS at the expense of honest sellers and always an admission of more ebafia failures.

This change -- a further incursion into the ebafia world of white collar crime -- will reduce the number of seller cancelled bids and improve the sell through rate.

It's unimportant whether the buyer pays or not. It's even better for ebafia in terms of discounts if now anonymous history buyers leave negative feedback and 1s and 2s for a non transaction.

By removing another transparency tool, ebafia will improve their sell through rate and gross merchandise volume in order to present yet another bogus set of numbers in February to Wall Street which will once again fail to give an honest look at ebafia financials and regurgitate HoSpin.

Illegal or not, shill bidding can and often does drive up the price of an item which benefits dishonest sellers and ebafia at the expense of honest sellers who respect the shill bidding laws and who, unlike she whose name cannot be mentioned and her ilk and ebafia itself.

The truth is that ebafia has always tacitly welcomed dishonest sellers and now implicitly welcomes and encourages throughly dishonest buyers and sellers.

Stolen merchandise makes thieving sellers and thieving ebafia money.

Ebafia policies that encourage returns enable ebafia to present legal but ethically questionalable numbers to Wall Street each quarter.

Ebafia has ILLGAL rampant shill bidding, and to that end, has now made it virtually impossible to track it.

What is still quite transparent on ebafia is the high level of crimes their management commits on a daily basis.

By doing this, pond scum Donahoe is admitting that ebafia is indeed "dramatically decelerating," and that Phil Cohen has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that ebafia is an active co conspirator in illegal shill bidding rings.

Lyan Ryan Moore, you're in our sights. You do realize, don't you, that knowingly publicly disseminating misleading, inaccurate, and untruthful information could land you in prison. And "I was only following orders" isn't a defense in court.

Run, Ryan, run to the nearest criminal attorney you can find.

As for John Donahoe, drop dead.

Perminate Link for eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers   eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers

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

Mon Oct 21 22:39:16 2013

I should have noted above that sellers who have their own shill bidding rings will now be nearly imposisble to find.

And, as long they offer 'free' shipping, a minimum 14 day return policy, and the rest of the TRS crap, they'll live on forever.

Perminate Link for eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers   eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers

by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 21 23:07:22 2013

The thing about ebay was always that it was an open book if you knew how to look.

Now it's opaque, so you sell to nigerian conmen paying with stolen paypal accounts and there is not even a way to find out what's going on.  

Perminate Link for eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers   eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Mon Oct 21 23:11:47 2013

Another victory for unaccountability at eBay.

Donahoe's plan has alienated - not delighted buyers and now management is desperate to grow GMV at any cost.

As such, the only tool buyers had to detect shill bidding and report cases to Trust & Safety has been eliminated.

So here is the hail-mary pass eBay management is desperately rolling out.

First, eBay makes it next to impossible for buyers to detect shill bidding.

Second, eBay runs numerous free auction listings through Q4.

Third, eBay relies on savvy sellers to seize the opportunity and take advantage of this newly devised process eBay is employing that will allow dishonest sellers to inflate auction bids.

Fourth, eBay is now in the position where their own internal ID bidding teams can bid up auctions inflating prices for the holidays. No doubt, some of those purged accounts will come in handy for this purpose. 15 or 20 thousand newly inactive ID's will suddenly come back to life.

Many of those closed accounts will end up placing bids, auctions will close with them as winners, and payments will never be completed.

Fifth, John Donahoe will not have to back pedal by faking illness after discussing Q5 numbers with analysts. With transparency eliminated and integrity of the marketplace severely compromised, dishonesty will prevail at buyers expense.

When there is a sudden burst of inflated auction bidding, Donahoe will smugly claim that auctions have suddenly sprung to life.

Unfortunately for sellers, buyers abused in the desperation to inflate Q4 numbers will be turned off and will likely pull back from the dishonest platform eBay has become.

The Bain Drain at eBay has accelerated the decline of the marketplace as buyers will quickly figure out they are being had.

So after the audience figures out this latest Donahoe trick to save Q4, what will Donahoe do to recover from the loss of buyer confidence in the eBay marketplace to save Q1 2014?

Perminate Link for eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers   eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers

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

Mon Oct 21 23:12:30 2013

Rich Matsuura should resign in shame.

He's a sham, his department is a bigger sham, and the concept of meaningful seller protection is the biggest sham of all.

Shun anything that comes from this group window dressings with toothy grins. Tell them to drink their damn free coffee by themselves.

They can't be trusted. Every so called 'seller protection' is shortly followed by an even larger seller destruction.

How dare these 30 somethings with NO professional selling experience of note and probably even less work experience except for flipping burgers or delivering pizzas instruct sellers to "delight" their buyers.

WE are ebafia's buyers. WE buy their services except that ebafia and ebafia alone decides which if any services we're going to receive for the fees we pay them.

Ebafia, your buyers are NOT "delighted." You don't provide TRS "delight" to your buyers.

If sellers could rate ebafia using the same criteria ebafia forces on us, ebafia and The Ho would have have purged from the the e commerce world in early 2008.

Drop dead, John Donahoe.

Perminate Link for eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers   eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers

by: Grandma_Fish This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 21 23:31:15 2013

I have used this feature in the past to ascertain whether a non-paying bidder who hadn't responded to the initial invoice and invoice reminder was either ignoring me because she had bought the same item from another seller or, because the items were the same, thought she'd already paid. I figured she'd put bids in on both auctions thinking she would win only one. The happy ending was that she was honest and did end up paying after the Unpaid Item Assistant kicked in and filed an unpaid item claim.

I also use this feature to look at what my buyers have bought in the past to see how other sellers are pricing items similar to mine or to track trends in collectibles. I will miss this feature. Looks more and more like I'll have to go back to an expensive subscription to Terapeak to glean this information.

Perminate Link for eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers   eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: Nan

Tue Oct 22 00:26:07 2013

>>>I have never understood why, since 2008, each and EVERY holiday season Ebay starts doing this stuff.  

I don't either Marie. It's like they have no grasp on the concept of the retail world whatsoever.

This is the fundamental difference between ebay and Amazon -
Azon stands back, leaves their sellers alone, and lets them do what they do best - turn over and replenish merchandise.

ebay constantly throws roadblocks, diversions and even threats at their sellers, and has them spending all their time reacting and revising the same merchandise.  
It's completely counterproductive, and baffling to say the least.

Perminate Link for eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers   eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers

by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 22 00:28:41 2013

The welcome mat has been rolled out for thieves this Holiday Season. Get some ''Hot'' deals on ebay.

Perminate Link for eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers   eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers

by: JustTheFacts This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 22 00:32:36 2013

This is just more of ebays hide everything, deny everything and blame the sellers for everything.

Soon ebay will hide buyers FB as well so that sellers will never know what to expect from the buyers.

ebay feels that they can continue taking more and more away from sellers because they have most SCARED of being purged.  

I am telling you guys, the longer you all wait to start opening a shop on Ecrater the more miserable you are going to be with ebay and the longer it is going to take to get Ecrater where we all need it to be.

ebay is NOT going to stop the changes and they are only going to get worse and worse.

In fact, I bet ebay is working on a plan to try and buy ecrater just so that sellers have no where to go but to them or Amazon.

Perminate Link for eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers   eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers

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

Tue Oct 22 02:41:44 2013

I really liked this feature.  I have good news that at least for now it has not been removed.  It has only been hidden.  See for yourself by going to: http://www.ebay.com/sch/ebayadvsearch?_sofindtype=3 .

Last year eBay removed wildcard searches but those can still be accessed too so maybe this will stick around like that.

Perminate Link for eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers   eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers

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

Tue Oct 22 03:11:26 2013

@NullApps, sorry to disappoint but no, its not really there, the link is dead, just like the eBay marketplace ...

Perminate Link for eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers   eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers

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

Tue Oct 22 05:45:46 2013

The link isn't dead.  I just tried it on myself.  If you'll share you user id with us I'll tell you what you bought in the past 30 days as proof.

Perminate Link for eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers   eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers

by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 22 05:57:58 2013

The site NullApps indicated does still allow a bidder search. (Thanks!) They're probably planning to charge a fee to use it....

Perminate Link for eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers   eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers

by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 22 05:58:45 2013

How do I use a wild card again?

Perminate Link for eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers   eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers

by: notfunanymore This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 22 06:21:52 2013

>>>I have never understood why, since 2008, each and EVERY holiday season Ebay starts doing this stuff.

This is an easy one to figure out. Sellers on ebay know the time is coming to make some money for the holidays, the ivory tower boys know that sellers will just deal with the changes because the time is coming. Sellers will "deal" with the changes after the holidays. However, the changes will come and go, sellers will get lazy and whamo, another check box closed for ebay. There are NO GLITCHES with ebay, they are very calculated. What this guy has imposed on ebay in his 7 years is truly disgusting. I had him figured out in 1 hour 8 years ago at one of the last ebay live get togethers. He's got to go

Perminate Link for eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers   eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers

by: notfunanymore This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 22 06:37:38 2013

The link isn't dead, just make sure you take out the "." at the end

Perminate Link for eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers   eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers

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

Tue Oct 22 07:12:17 2013

@NullApps,

You are partially right. For me, that link from ebay.com.au, works; but from ebay.com, it does NOT work ... so, maybe it is just another glitch, just like the fact that their shill bidding policy now differs on the US site from everywhere else in the world—also without any notice ... http://bit.ly/11F2eas

Perminate Link for eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers   eBay Declares Open Season on Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Tue Oct 22 07:49:27 2013

I think a major part of Donahoe's "thinking days" must be "what can I do to them next".

PURGE DONAHOE.

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