Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed July 31 2013 10:08:26

Why Did eBay Pull Best Offer from Fall Seller Release?

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay had been set to roll out Best Offer changes to all categories as part of its Fall Seller Release announced on Tuesday. At some point between the time we reported on July 22nd that the new policy was coming and yesterday, eBay changed its mind. Could reaction from sellers who read about the changes have changed eBay's mind, or did eBay want the Fall Seller Release to contain no "bad" news for sellers?

eBay Best Offer Changes
In the Spring Seller Release, eBay announced: "Beginning in May, in the Computers & Tablets, Jewelry & Watches, and Art categories, when you accept a buyer's Best Offer, the item will remain for sale until the buyer commits to buy, and in most cases, pays. Since the transaction is not completed until the buyer commits (or pays), you'll be able to accept multiple offers to increase your chances of selling the item."



eBay was set to roll out the Best Offer changes across all categories beginning in late September, according to documents seen by EcommerceBytes on July 22nd.

Best Offer Changes Not Popular Among Many Sellers
EcommerceBytes reported that eBay planned to expand Best Offer to all categories in our Newsflash newsletter and opened it up to comments on the EcommerceBytes Blog.

Here are some of the comments left by readers:

"The business of a best offer that is accepted is not final is insane. They are just making trouble for sellers. They are creating bad feelings among customers."

"The new Best Offer process is a pain in the azz for buyers and sellers....No surprise that eBay is imposing it across all categories." 

Yesterday an eBay seller asked, "I saw some rumors on the site auctionbytes that they were supposedly told by eBay that best offer beta was to be expanded to all categories. I see this is not in the official fall update from eBay. Can I get clarification that this is not to be updated in the fall? Is it going to ever be expanded sitewide?"

An eBay moderator answered, "No, the Best Offer beta is not part of this fall's announcement. The team is continuing to test and learn on this project. We have not set a date for when it will expand to other categories. Once we have a date, we'll share it with seller in advance." But she did not elaborate further.

In response, the seller wrote, " Does this mean that there is a chance that the beta BO will go away? It is a terrible waste of time as far as I am concerned. As I sell my own handcrafted jewelry, and vintage jewelry, most items are one of a kind. Used to be when I got an offer, it sold. Now I get offers, accept and wait. Get offers, accept, wait, then same person comes back with a LOWER offer! And the last two times, I got offers, accepted, and the buyer was forced to pay full price, and I had to send refunds on the difference. Huge waste of time. I hope that having it in Jewelry will be reconsidered."

eBay Will Expand Best Offer Changes
It's likely eBay will expand Best Offer changes in the future, and it's definite it will be coming to at least one category next year. In speaking to a seller of motorcycles who had called in to eBay's radio program, Jim "Griff" Griffith said eBay would expand the policy to eBay Motors next year.

Why did eBay hold off on rolling out the changes at the last minute? Griff said on the program, "This is the first update in memory where there's really no bad news. It's all good news." Did eBay decide to pull the Best Offer policy expansion to keep sellers from grumbling to the press?

What do you think of the Best Offer policy change, and how would it impact you if it rolled out to your category?




Comments (48) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

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This user has validated their user name. by: Nan

Wed Jul 31 11:03:40 2013

>>>What do you think of the Best Offer policy change, and how would it impact you if it rolled out to your category?

It IS in my category (Art) and I hope they are re-thinking it and not just delaying it.  For sellers of one-of-a-kind items (as in the jewelry seller's example above) it's a complete waste of time adding an unnecessary step, absolutely kills the impulse buy, and causes a mess with combined shipping.  I sincerely hope they trash the B/O-Beta and go back to the original B/O which worked beautifully and was the buyers choice in about 30% of my sales.

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by: MaD Mercantile This user has validated their user name.
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Wed Jul 31 11:07:08 2013

I do NOT want this 'Expanded Best' offer to take hold any further.

They say it will reduce non paying buyers..  I think it will confuse buyers & reduce sales.

Do not fix what is not broke.

I rarely sell in Jewelry, But I did have an item in the category. the potential buyer made an offer , I accepted , now instead of this item being sold , they have to accept that I accepted the best offer ?!?! It expired before the potential buyer saw my acceptance.  No Sale :(

and also, as I wrote yesterday ..

I am just worried that this ''Expanded Best offer'' will end my relationship with my last hold out Non payapl (Very Good) customer who likes to haggle through the best offer system as it is now.  

As I understand, in the new system, the item will still be available on eBay until it is paid for.

I could,(I think) mark it paid manually , then I would lose the 'top rated seller' discount as I will not be able to load tracking info until after his payment arrived in the mail... well after the next business day requirement..

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This user has validated their user name. by: elpereles
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Wed Jul 31 11:21:08 2013

As seller, I don't use the best Offer.

As buyer, it is very rare find a seller using the option that really is interesting to accept an Offer.  

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by: Tornad0sRul This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 31 11:24:11 2013

I like the fact that a buyer cannot take something off the market by simply committing to buy but then not paying. I have seen buyers do that simply to take a good deal off the site so no one else gets it and then they wait to pay for a week or whatever they can get by with. Sometimes I price things to sell quickly because I need to generate some fast income. That means I want payment right away, not in one week. If I wanted to wait a week for payment I would have liked the opportunity for someone else who has the money to pay to be able to purchase it, or I would have priced the item higher.

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by: Tornad0sRul This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 31 11:27:29 2013

I get offers constantly on my Best Offer listings.  It helps sell items that I may have priced too high.  Sometimes buyers don't even notice the Best Offer and pay the full price for it.  I couldn't live without it.  As a buyer I also look for those because you can get some good deals by offering less.

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by: essquireo0o This user has validated their user name.
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Wed Jul 31 11:37:08 2013

Our company lost over 45% of its sales since the "Best offer beta" rolled out.   We will be out of business if it keeps up, our company primarily sells computers.  No one is going in and "confirming" the offers after we accept them.  I have never been this off on my sales in the last 6 years. eBay must be losing millions upon millions. We are down 25k in gross over two weeks and the offers are there but not sold. I can imagine how much they are losing on final value fees. If you send a message to the buyer educating them on the new beta system that seemed to help me.  However it adds hours of admin work to my day.  Also eBay limits the amount of these emails you can send so make sure they are you're best offers.

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by: Tornad0sRul This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 31 11:54:23 2013

I don't think that the buyers "confirm" the offer that was accepted.  They simply pay for it.  Often a buyer will make the offer but leave their computer for a day. After I accept the offer I sometimes wait a bit before they get a chance to notice that. Once the buyer receives notification that I accepted their offer they usually pay at that time. Not everyone stares at their email messages all day long.  Also, whatever limit EBay has for emails it must be sufficient because I have never been strapped for how many offers can go back and forth.  We usually work it out going back and forth only a couple of times.

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by: a_c_green This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 31 12:42:41 2013

I must confess that I don't see a down side to eBay's proposed revision here. If the seller accepts the buyer's offer, then the buyer needs to lock it in by actually paying for it. It's not so much a you-snooze-you-lose policy as it is a pay-for-what-you-buy policy, preventing a deadbeat from making an offer that's attractive enough to get the item off the market, but then never paying for it.

From the seller's perspective, it allows them to accept more than one offer, and the prize goes to the one who's quickest with his PayPal payment.

Putting it another way, it appears that this revision is expanding the Immediate Payment Required option to Best Offers; it's no longer limited to BuyItNow prices only. That strikes me as a Good Thing. If I'm missing the point, please enlighten me here.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Wed Jul 31 13:41:42 2013

@Nan Why aren't buyers following through, do you think?

@a_c_green isn't immediate payment optional? This Best Offer policy is mandatory in the categories in which it's been rolled out.

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by: lemonsandlemonade This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 31 14:32:10 2013

Are people not getting a message that their offer was accepted?

I made an offer on an item- not one of the new kind that I would have to confirm.  

I kept checking my ebay messages for some indication the seller accepted, countered, declined- nothing.

I thought they just ignored it.  I then happened to go to my purchase page - and there it was.  The seller accepted the offer, I bought the item and had no idea that I did.

Was I supposed to get an ebay message that my offer was accepted and did not?  Am I supposed to be checking my off-ebay registered email for an email there?  It was weird.  

I can see how, in the case of having to confirm an accepted offer by a seller these are not getting completed - But Why?  ebay glitch?  message supposed to be sent by ebay to buyer and buyer never gets it?  message sent to buyer ebay registered email and not ebay messages?  I don't know but there seems to be a problem somewhere.

Again, if I had not looked at my Purchase History page I would have not paid for the item because I had NO notice anywhere that my offer had been accepted.  I guess I would (probably) have gotten a non-paying bidder notice to alert me, but do I really want that to be my first notification my offer was accepted?  

Still confused on what happened.  

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by: a_c_green This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 31 14:43:03 2013

> @a_c_green isn't immediate payment optional?
> This Best Offer policy is mandatory in the categories in which it's been
> rolled out.

Yes, it's optional when setting up a BuyItNow listing. If eBay is making it mandatory (in effect) for the revised Best Offer procedure, I guess that's their decision.

But again, I hate to sound dense here, but what is the perceived down side to requiring the buyer to actually pay for his bargained price before the item actually disappears from the marketplace?

Putting it another way, as a frequent responder in the eBay Discussion Groups for many years, especially the Trust & Safety/SafeHarbor area, I can tell you that one of the most common complaints from newbie sellers is that they listed an item as BuyItNow, someone grabbed it, and then never paid. (This happens a lot with laptop scammers going after newbie sellers, after which they try to lure the seller into shipping via fake payment notices.) The usual recommendation in reply is that by requiring Immediate Payment, it's a lot more difficult for a scammer to snatch it off the market. The same would be true, as I said, for a Best Offer price if the buyer needs to actually pony up the cash in order to lock in the deal.

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by: dkkdolls This user has validated their user name.
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Wed Jul 31 14:46:13 2013

For me Best Offer simply is not an option. Everyone makes offers so low that is ridiculous so I do not care to waste my time with them. I sure hope that does not ever become mandatory.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Nan

Wed Jul 31 15:19:08 2013

>>> @Nan Why aren't buyers following through, do you think?

Ina, I believe it has to do with the known marketing 'rule-of-thumb' that, if you give the buyer too much time to think about a purchase, it increases the chance of losing them.  If they have an invoice to pay, they feel more committed and will follow through. Give them a clear task (pay this), and they'll do it automatically.

With the B/O-beta, when they get a notice that the offer is accepted, the deal is not done yet.  They have to pay right then and there or risk losing the item.  This strongarm technique is a little off-putting, and verges on 'pushy'.  

For those of us who charge for shipping, the combined-shipping discount is just trashed with this beta.   When the buyer pays (as he is prodded to do) now the invoice is closed and cannot be adjusted or items added.  So each purchase carries a shipping cost.  Now, the seller must go in to paypal and reimburse, which takes time and also flags both the seller and the buyer with a 'partial-refund' issue.   If the buyer is savvy, they know that they would not be able to combine and save themselves some money, they abandon the offer.

And the most obvious reason  (and why ebay did not consider this I'll never know) is that the buyer may make an offer at work at the end of the day Friday, go home for the weekend and not get back on ebay until the following week expecting an invoice to pay and lo and behold - the offer has expired.  So now he's pissed and won't bother going through all that again.

On paper, the idea looks fine and I can see where people are confused that everyone does not love that the customer is forced to pay immediately.  In reality (and I use B/O with every listing in my store, and have done it this way since I opened it last August), all I know is - B/O used to be considered a SALE if I accepted the offer.  I'm getting offers at about the same rate as before, but now, about 15% of them just expire away.

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by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 31 15:19:46 2013

I don't like it.  Ebay plays around and the seller will get the grief if they accept a best offer and the buyer loses the sale because he didn't pay fast enough.  This is another all for ebay and the seller gets the grief program.  I would want no part of it unless there are protections in place for the seller!  Ebay needs to grow up and act adult in these situations instead of going for the money at the seller's expense!

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Wed Jul 31 15:49:44 2013

So buyers are no longer committing to purchase when they make a best offer, and their accepted offers may be expiring before they see them.

I can see the pro and con here, because on the other hand the item is still for sale so someone else might come along and purchase it.

Another question - if it was optional, would buyers be confused (sometimes they'd be making a commitment w/ BO, sometimes not)?

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This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Wed Jul 31 15:54:52 2013

I never use best offers because the only offers I ever get are ridiculous. That doesn't stop people from contacting me anyway. I ignore them. I hate haggling and don't have time to deal with it anyway. I know some people enjoy such "negotiations", so more power to you. I'm just glad BO isn't mandatory.

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by: DR Scarlett This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 31 16:04:12 2013

I'm curious as to how accepting multiple offers is going to increase the possibility of the item selling.  Under the old procedure once the offer was accepted the sale had been made.  The only thing that was left was for the buyer to pay their bill so the seller could ship their purchase.  I'm afraid eBay's reasoning doesn't seem to make much sense.

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by: a_c_green This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 31 16:26:07 2013

When you add Best Offer to your listing, you can set a threshold below which lowball offers will be summarily declined for you.

When you (as a buyer) make a Best Offer, that _is_ your commitment to buy if your offer is accepted. If your offer is declined (or expires after 48 hours), you can walk away.

I see complaints here about buyers not getting a clear notification that their offer was accepted, and I agree that eBay should do a better job of notifying (such as by message and email); I've been tripped up on that myself when failing to notice that I had an item to pay for. If eBay does make payment required in order to snag your Best Offer, they should definitely upgrade the notification process to tell the buyer to come (back) and pay for it.

Incidentally, I notice much discussion about the buyer now having to ''Confirm'' that the seller has accepted their offer, as if there was an extra step involved there, but as near as I can tell from looking at the screenshots, that seems to be derived from the screen caption of ''Confirm and Pay.'' Labeling it as simply ''Pay Now'' might be clearer.

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by: a_c_green This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 31 16:30:24 2013

> I'm curious as to how accepting multiple offers is going to
> increase the possibility of the item selling.

If you get several very-similar offers for your widget and you're in a hurry to sell, you have the option of accepting more than one offer, at which point it's First Come, First Served: the first buyer to get his money in is the one who gets the item.

There's a pretty good potential for creating multiple disgruntled future non-customers by doing so, though. I know I'd be miffed if a seller accepted my offer and others as well, and I then learn that the item's been snatched away from me because someone else was quicker on the payment.

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by: lemonsandlemonade This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 31 18:17:50 2013

@ a_c_green

What I meant by 'confirm' with the new system is the buyer going back to 'choose' which of the potential offers they made that were accepted by sellers that they wanted to pay for.

In my case, I had not used Best Offer for awhile and it was not in one of the test categories.  I was expecting a "Great News - The Seller Accepted Your Offer.  Please Pay Now" email from ebay in my ebay messages.

Does anyone know if that was supposed to happen?  I have not used Best Offer for so long that I just cannot remember.

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