Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed Aug 12 2015 22:02:25

eBay Practice Is Hurting Seller Auction Prices

By: Ina Steiner

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An eBay buyer wrote to say that while they were on vacation last week, eBay blocked all their snipe bids because it requested account verification. "The message boards are filled with similar complaints," said the reader.

Anyone using auctions on eBay should be aware that they may not be getting the full selling price someone is willing to pay thanks to the practice - it's unclear whether it's an intentional security policy or an algorithm gone awry.

We published a letter from a reader in June about this issue where a reader said they had been using AuctionSniper for over 10 years and never had the "eBay requires account verification" pop up - "Now it is popping up once a week, she wrote.

And there are complaints from buyers about the problem on the eBay discussion boards, such as this one started on July 28th, in which a buyer wrote, "Unfortunately, I don't think most sellers are aware of this interference by eBay with the free market aspect of their auctions - or of the tremendous loss of money they are unaware of losing since the disallowed bids are not visible to them..."

In this thread, a seller tried to figure out if the problem stems from bidders logging in using different devices, and asked people to respond with their experiences to see if a pattern would emerge.

One user responded, "EBay is just being skittish about security. Know it's a good thing to be proactive in this area."

Similar problems have occurred in the past - last October we wrote about sniping programs encountering CAPTCHA security obstacles that prevented last-minute bids from going through in time.




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Readers Comments

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by: rachel This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 13 01:33:14 2015

Oh the first time I have had a 9.99 start price auction for fine jewelry eBay decides to tinker with a process and they don't even announce this of course! It's been very slow in my category so I decided to auction based on financial necessity. Not only that I had to call about errors in my selling manager pro about resolution center items that did not exist! With all we have to do now with UPC codes you would think that eBay, asking so much would have updated their antiquated systems by now! We are supposed to be perfect but they are very defective. I am not negative about eBay if they set an example but frankly they can't get their act together. Promotions overlap one for the end of August free 500 and then one for only to the 17th..what gives? Things are improving so they try to pull a fast one. Not very trusted of them, maybe that is why they changed it to TOP RATED!

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by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 13 01:53:24 2015

This is really bad.
MH

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by: GameItWorks This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 13 03:31:42 2015

Ebay should move entirely to fixed prices and best offers and just let auctions die.

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This user has validated their user name. by: baconsdozen
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Thu Aug 13 04:19:00 2015

Ebays only chance left is to stop trying to control every single aspect of a sale. Everything they've done so far has seen buyers and sellers leave in equal numbers,going back to how it was is the only thing that will get them back.

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by: gejbooks This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 13 05:59:55 2015

Just wanted to point out that in all of the discussion threads I have read about this problem the complaints all center on auctionsniper and, to a lesser degree, esnipe.  I use another sniping service virtually every day, often for multiple items, without a problem.  There are dozens (at least) to choose from out there.

I only work from a desktop so can't say if the problem is related to mobile devices and those sniping services.

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by: cmabresch This user has validated their user name.
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Thu Aug 13 08:12:53 2015

This has happened to me two times, both on a Sunday night, no less, the busiest night to end an auction on eBay. The first time I had a successful snipe around 7 pm, that same night I was blocked at 8 pm. The second time I was blocked for account verification at 8 pm. I can not understand why they do this, eBay loses a higher FVF, seller loses by not getting a higher price and Auctionsniper loses by not collecting their small fee. So the point is? I am using a desktop computer, the same IP address on all snipes.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Thu Aug 13 08:49:30 2015

Here is yet another of eBay's self defeating efforts that drives down GMV and hurts sellers.

Perhaps if the company was run by executives and management that had experience buying and selling on eBay, conflicting issues such as this would be better thought out.

IF eBay is blocking these bids out of concerns with security, they should have found a way to address their concerns without hurting sellers by refusing bids.

eBay should have found a way to work with these snipe services instead of apparently blocking them.

Perhaps the intention is to deliberately drive down prices and flatten GMV so that down the road, the new CEO and his hand picked future millionaires can claim they "fixed" the site.

Having been in management in B & M retailers 40 years ago, there was a saying that went: " Never give your customers a reason to shop elsewhere.... they may not come back."

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by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 13 09:43:26 2015

This has happened to me MANY times. Apparently is IS eBay that rejects the snipe--the bid gets made. When I saw what the items went for, I was SICK in EVERY case. But the sellers have all been unwilling to do a thing about it! They wouldn't even contact eBay about it! I don't snipe anymore--too painful :) eBay says there is an inconsistency somewhere in my account info--but has never been able to indicate it. I wonder if it is the bug that, when I pay with Pay Pal, asks me to select from 20 of the same address? All listed down the page...same address.... If I were the seller? I would RELIST with an explanation.

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by: FH991586 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 13 09:49:35 2015

I won't be crying for snipers that missed their shot: they just had to play the auction game like it is instead of relying on cheating...  If you ain't there, and rely on something else than the official channel to bid (ex. a friend, or a sniping software), you only have yourself to blame!

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by: spooky This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 13 10:18:49 2015

sniping is not cheating, it is a perfectly legitimate way to bid. I sell on eBay molting through auction method and I would guess 50% winners are sniper bids. Virtually anything of value has lots of snipers.
And to the person who says end auction entirely - sure if you sell cheap widgets or clothing but I sell unique antique, artwork, and items long out of production. In most cases I ma listing the only item of its kind on eBay past or present and do not even have a track record on what to price it.

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This user has validated their user name. by: FEEbay

Thu Aug 13 13:02:52 2015

We use mostly Fixed Price/Best Offer.... Auctions are a dying breed, and they need to just go away already!

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by: Ron This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 13 14:44:15 2015

I had an item on auction last week with a $250 start price, which was met almost immediately.  Over the week, there were 57 watchers on the auction, yet it ended at the initial $250 bid.  Even the winner couldn't understand why they won the item at such a low price.  I was confused by this because normally with that many watchers, there is bidding at the end of the auction.  After reading this, now I'm really wondering as to what may have gone on.

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by: ajeweler This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 13 15:37:38 2015

nothing new most snipe bidders generally have issues.
nothing new on fleabay and them interfering with sales in every way everyday ..................

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by: shut1968 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 13 19:26:26 2015

I can out snipe any snipping program.. I very rarely lose an item I want.. it's not cheating.. it's getting the item you want for the lowest price you can.. if a sellers not happy about the way their auctions wind up.. use fixed price.. that's what it's for.

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by: I Must be Crazy This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 13 20:15:24 2015

Auctions have been dead for years. Long gone are the days of multiple competitive bids in the final minutes of a sale. The few items I have auctioned off over the last several years have sold for pretty much the opening bid, maybe a dollar over. For me auctions are a last ditch effort on the way to the dumpster for some items that don't sell BIN. If it doesn't sell at auction it goes to the scrap pile. In all honesty, Ebay could PAY ME to auction an item and I wouldn't bother.

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by: Volvo351 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 14 10:11:06 2015

@rachel

Never, ever, list at 1c,99c, or $9.99 if you can't accept that price! You will get burned. There is very little competitive bidding on this site anymore. Buyers see an item has a bid and they pass, figuring there'll be another item along. Or, there simply isn't the traffic [throttling, hidden listings, whatever] to generate the bids. You better be ready to sell at the starting bid. Low-balling the price won't cut it.  

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by: Volvo351 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 14 10:16:12 2015

@ron

What you're seeing is what I'm seeing. I long ago stopped low-balling the starting bid. With MOST listings now "free" there's no reason to set an artificially low starting bid to save on listing fees.  I, too, am seeing dozens, even hundrds of views and lots of "watchers" but just one bid. Of three recent sales two were at S/B and one was for $2 over. I did have one actual bidding war a month or so ago on a $99 item that ended up at $152. That's a rarity these days.

Remember, "watchers" count for nothing, and "views" even less. These phony-baloney numbers are there to fool the gullible into thinking this "ecommerce platform" has a pulse. Most "watchers" are competing sellers looking for signs of life.

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by: Volvo351 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 14 10:18:47 2015

Funny that feeBay, which, as the moniker implies, is all about milking the maximum in fees out of sellers, would do anything to discourage higher bids. But, the [mis-]management is so incompetent, they can't even get porking the customer right!

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by: Volvo351 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 14 10:22:35 2015

Sniping isn't cheating. You have 7 days - 168 hours - to put in your bid, so why tip your hand? I have no problem with finding that a bid that's been sitting there for days has been trumped in the closing seconds. Often this saves me from dealing with a newbie.

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by: Beth This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 14 12:08:24 2015

ebay's had this "program" for several years - it used to be if I moved between computers in the house here, it would kick in - but I've been to two different friends houses, approx 40 mi away each and never got it. Although I was using the same ISP as here.  

Ina Steiner, have gotten any answers from ebay on this? I thought they did away with it but I guess someone resurrected it since the Great HACK last year

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