|Mon Dec 8 2014 13:43:45|
Leaked: eBay Hidden Limits Throttle Seller Sales
By: Ina Steiner
Despite eBay's denial of hidden seller limits last year, many sellers reported evidence of such a practice. Last week, an eBay employee revealed (seemingly inadvertently) that secret limits do indeed exist, resulting in throttled sales no matter how much a seller tries to grow.
We had raised the issue with eBay last December after a longtime Platinum-level seller had tried unsuccessfully to increase his business on eBay. He had hired more employees, increased inventory and listings, but couldn't grow beyond his current sales. He then stumbled upon the fact that eBay had placed limits on his account without his knowing.
I had reached out to eBay at the time and asked, "Why does eBay show seller limits to only some sellers? For those who want to learn what their seller limits are if they are not visible in My eBay, how do they request them to be shown? And how do they request higher limits?"
Spokesperson Ryan Moore had told EcommerceBytes last December, "If a seller has a limit, he/she will find it in My eBay. Some of the criteria that goes into how a limit is set: Selling performance of sellers; Tenure/ length of selling history; Desired listing volume. A seller can request higher limits by 1) Navigating to the Increase Selling Limits option in My eBay and/or contacting CS directly."
But last week, an eBay employee named Jarvis with the User ID email@example.com listed nine practices in which eBay limits sellers accounts, including "silent limits" that are hidden from sellers.
There are several types of limits that sellers may experience when selling, he wrote:
- Site Wide Limits (SWL, referred to as "selling limits")
- Silent limits (limits placed on an account that can't be seen by the seller)
- URC limits (User Risk Code, limits reduced or placed on an account due to concerns)
- Category limits
- BTAC limits (Building Trust by Reducing Counterfeits, for branded items)
- Hot item limits
- Multi-Account limits
- Velocity limits
- feedback limits
The post went viral, with sellers emailing EcommerceBytes, many expressing outrage at the secrecy of eBay's practices.
One seller believes the reason for the limits is because there are too few buyers, no advertising, and far too many sellers.
And, she said, "What good is complying w/ a KNOWN Policy and rating levels, when there is ANOTHER, "hidden" parameter that you may/may not be failing in? And what of a Seller who invests in, say, $10,000 in inventory, begins to list those items, only to be told, "You are limited to listing X items". What is THAT Seller to do when planning a business strategy?"
Another Platinum-level seller who raised the issue of eBay throttling last year wrote to me again after reading Jarvis's thread on the eBay boards. He believes the limits are in place on smaller seller accounts so eBay can meet their promises to large box sellers of guaranteed sell through rates.
"Cassini is not the groundbreaking each engine we were all led to believe it would be," he wrote. "It is simply a control mechanism for eBay. Sellers have been spent way too much time trying to figure it out - which again is what eBay wants you to be focusing on - when really it makes no difference what you do. eBay is in control."
Another seller noted the seller limits policy cited by the eBay employee last week are different from eBay's policy published on its website.
I asked eBay last night for an update, stay tuned to Newsflash for more on this breaking story.