Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun Sept 27 2015 16:23:45

eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings

By: Ina Steiner

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Merchants work hard to get shoppers interested in their listings, which is one of the reasons marketplaces offer wish lists and watch lists so buyers can keep an eye on items they're interested in or find those items again in the future.

So imagine a reader's surprise when they found eBay engages in a practice of diverting those shoppers to a competitor's listings.

"I was quite shocked this morning to find that eBay had sent me a message regarding an item I watched yesterday, suggesting that I purchase the item from a different seller than the one that I watched the item from," the reader said.

eBay advised the buyer that the same item was available at a lower price from a different seller. 

According to the reader, the subject line read: "Price lowered on (the item name was here)," and the body read: "SAVE $1.93 for a limited time. You watched at $34.97. We found one similar for $33.04."

The reader felt the subject line of the email was intentionally misleading and suggested that "the specific item I watched had a price reduction."

This type of plugging is supportive of the idea that eBay can use buyers data to direct them to preferred sellers, the reader said, while overtly directing them away from the sellers that the buyer has specifically chosen to do business with. "Overtly robbing a seller of sales by actively interjecting and reaching out to "watchers" is just plain wrong."

The EcommerceBytes reader also noted that the seller to whom eBay redirected the shopper had poor feedback, while the seller they had added to their watch list had excellent feedback.

We also found a thread on the eBay boards where a buyer complained of the same practice. The buyer had added a Garmin camera to their watch list for $149.99, and eBay sent them a message saying "Price lowered on Garmin Virb Elite camera. You watched it at $149.99, we found it for $89." However, eBay was pointing the buyer to a camera that was listed as "non-working/for parts only."

"There is a huge legal difference between pointing me to another (completely different) item and actually alerting me that the seller has lowered the price on the actual item I am watching, This is fraud and you will be caught."




Comments (40) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings   eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings

by: lessthanthreerecords This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 27 17:02:04 2015

I have worried about the problem at the end of this article.  I sell collectible music and art, and in many cases, there is a collectible edition separate from the regular edition.  For example, a limited pressing of a record on green vinyl, versus the standard (and much less valuable) black vinyl pressing.  Also, a variant edition of an art print (it may be a different color, or on a different type of paper, etc.) that is more limited and worth more money.  I also have watched this type of item from other sellers, and I get e-mails telling me about the "same" item for a lower price.  Many of this type of item has the same UPC number and/or other identifying features.  However, when I'm watching a record priced at $200 and eBay says the one for $17.99 is cheaper, it is not the same item!

Perminate Link for eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings   eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings

This user has validated their user name. by: Al G

Sun Sep 27 17:21:05 2015

Apparently eBay's "helpful selling team" did not do their homework as to the subtleties of many of their listed items. From a database standpoint, I don't think they have enough horsepower to devote to all of the ramifications of each product listing other than the new-in-box/one-size-fits-all types.

Typical mid-level lack of management.

But you can be sure, it looked good on paper - perhaps it came out of a "thinking day".

Perminate Link for eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings   eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings

This user has validated their user name. by: ByteMeEbay

Sun Sep 27 17:37:41 2015

There is so much manipulation. When watched item ends, "see similar" is just Best Match, which it is not. Searching also defaults into 1 subcategory which must be changed AND hit search again. Since the listings are free, no visibility. Pay for store, clicks go way up (even in summer), close store, not 1 view in 3 weeks. Mobile is a mess, cross promote and see everyone else's' stuff (Best Match) BUT no description of item clicked on. CS said it was because of Frooition so I removed it. Then I cancelled cross promotion. Fonts were huge on mobile & had to redo all of them. The summary description is still garbled, too much text. Javascript errors & links were blocking algorithms, they said. Wanted me to list brand new, no copy & paste. Revisions make it wonky. Unreliable listings. The game is fixed. Top seller, free shipping, item specifics, 100% FB are not what sells the item. 9 out of 10 sales do not have any of these, IMO. 2 years data in niche market have proven this to me.    

Perminate Link for eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings   eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings

by: TeddyElectron This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 27 19:28:34 2015

Get ready for more INAD cases and defects because your item didn't match the description of the other listing the buyer was diverted from.

Perminate Link for eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings   eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Sun Sep 27 19:47:15 2015



Apparently, eBay's attempts to influence buyers by creating algorithms to favor certain sellers is not enough.

Apparently, eBay's attempts to hijack the search bar and inject what they think buyers are looking for is not enough.

Apparently, manipulating search results to steer buyers to favored sellers is not enough.

Now, when a buyer succeeds in finding the exact item they are interested in despite eBay's attempts to influence or manipulate their choice, the company will make yet another attempt to influence buyer purchases with an email directing the buyer yet again to where eBay wants them to go.

This manipulation with it's race to the bottom on pricing email does not serve buyers well, does not serve sellers well, and most assuredly does not serve eBay's bottom line very well.


eBay retains incalculable volumes of data related to buyer behaviors, yet they are singularly incapable of understanding that data.

The more methods of manipulation they employ to influence buyers, the resulting frustrations are driving buyers away in greater numbers and sales on eBay continue the slow crawl to negative growth.

It is incomprehensible that eBay's millionaire club management is incapable of understanding the correlation between increasing attempts at manipulation and declining sales.


Perminate Link for eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings   eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings

by: gizmo This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 27 20:11:42 2015

Way to go ebay , thats connecting with your small sellers. Now some traffic & maybe someone, will get lucky, & get a fluke sale. Or did I mean flake? Oh , they both apply.

   

Perminate Link for eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings   eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings

by: serioussellers This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 27 22:27:41 2015

This particular diversion & manipulation (one in a very large & growing bag of dirty tricks) has been intensifying in recent weeks.

Crazy eBay emails & blatant diversions/hijackings are trying to control the remaining buyers.  Gullible neophyte buyers/sellers probably don't even realize the ''too bizarre to be true'' situation they have landed in.

In place of an almost complete disappearance of sales activity (for the majority of small sellers in most categories) there is now an inane (& insane) onslaught of eBay emails/messages about items viewers looked at & encouragements to purchase cheaper items.

In one case, when we were looking at a few similar collectible ''widgets'' to one we had listed, not only did eBay encourage us to buy the cheaper ''widget'' (without realizing/admitting the vast difference between the original European one from decades ago & the new/cheaper/Made in China version), but a seller/buyer wrote to us to point out that the collectible ''widget'' (that we have for sale on eBay) is still in production & sells in Europe at a cost lower than ours.

We suspect that the helpful eBayer never even read our listing description - where we discussed the old original vs the new Chinese issue. It is especially bizarre since the seller/buyer lives in the European country where the company selling the widget was originally based -- and he/she does not know that all of the ''new production'' in recent years is from China.  

This particular older widget is rarely on eBay. Most of the occasional listings posted by other sellers over the years omit any references to where these ''widgets'' are made (since they perhaps don't want the buyers to know that they are not the original/older ones made in Europe) -- altho' one seller recently did put CHINA in the item specifics.

Some of us still prefer to buy/sell genuine & authentic widgets/items that are not the new Chinese/foreign reinterpretations of them. Some of us value & prize the quality & intrinsic value of all things genuine. We treasure the ''real'' & intentionally avoid the fake (the modern - & usually Chinese - copies/reinterpretations).  

Any reasonable/prudent/discerning shopper would realize that the original commands a higher price than the lower quality Chinese/foreign re-creation.  But unfortunately the convoluted eBay games being played are meant to promote the cheap and hide the authentic.  (Actually, it is probably more correct to say that the intent is to hide virtually all of the listings -- whether they are paid or free listings -- except for those of the ''special'' sellers.)

It is as though the eBay gremlins have absolutely denied any nuances in quality, in condition, or in the range of facts and assessments that determine why several variations of a widget merit different prices.

If someone was buying a genuine Picasso lithograph for a fair price from an established & reputable art dealer on eBay .... eBay would certainly do all it could to instead have the shopper purchase the ''same'' one (from another seller) at a fraction of the price. That ''same'' one might be a mass produced discount store reproduction of the genuine lithograph, but eBay does not care.

Many newbie buyers are probably persuaded by these redirections/suggestions.  But those with some ecommerce common sense & experience will quickly realize that their search attempts are limited, commandeered & controlled.      

Perminate Link for eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings   eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings

by: SparklyEyes7 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 28 02:09:10 2015

Frankly, I wish they'd disable the watch feature for buy it now items.  The only reason to watch one is to watch someone else swoop in and buy it.

Perminate Link for eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings   eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 28 02:23:48 2015

Have not been hi-jacked away from something I have been looking at yet but---

This eve while looking for something I used "price and shipping-lowest first"  and aside from the usual items NOT searched for--taking up my TIME thanks ebay!---and the tons of Chinese crap=--finally had to and do Advanced and set it for From USA Only (there is now no OTHER option--you get CHINA and the rest of the world OR you get USA Only--that's it there ain't no more!)  

Well anyways--every time I actually went and LOOKED at something I got a LONG block of DIFFERENT items between the SELLERS item and the description--some of which fit my Search and some did not;  but heres the thing--

Many of these (most)  were NOT shown to me in MY ACTUAL SEARCH---even tho they MATCHED the Search parameters.  

This is a DIFFERENT FORM OF HIJACKING.  

I even went back in my Search to SEE if these items were there and I missed them--nope.  So--WHY was I NOW shown these?  ONLY when I was already ON another sellers listing did they show up---

I have NEVER seen another company DETERMINED to drive not only it's own customers out of business but it is ALSO determined to drive the PRICE of everything down--but as posted above--with complete DISREGARD for the ACTUAL VALUE of these items.  

How long can they LOSE money this way?  And they must be desperate--no matter what anniversary it is they cannot keep giving away free listings!  I now have THREE seperate sets of free listings--few of which I am actually USING because as soon as the FREE part goes away I will be back to 20 Free--and I am NOT paying to re-list these endlessly.  

Frustrating and stupid--oh wait--who WERE we discussing here?  

Perminate Link for eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings   eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings

This user has validated their user name. by: IDKwhoIare

Mon Sep 28 02:53:29 2015

Lather, Rinse & Repeat.

It is like watching a train wreck.  You know it is going to end badly yet you can't pull yours eyes off it.  Every week it is different news and yet in the end, after all the analyzing is done, it is the same ol B.S.

I have no insightful observation to make here.  It has been thoroughly covered by others.  

Perminate Link for eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings   eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings

by: skl3255 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 28 04:46:02 2015

I received an email from Ebay this morning alerting me to a price reduction for an item I was watching. I followed the link and it was to another seller's listing which was materially different than the item I was watching. Also I don't want to buy electronics from Chinese sellers because I don't trust the quality of their merchandise.  If for any reason I need to make a return I want it in the US. I also wanted to comment on some reasons why buyers would have a ''buy it now'' item on their watch list.  The widget I was watching I plan to buy next week when I get my Ebay bucks.  Also I put items I need on my watch list so I can buy them after I make more sales on Ebay to pay for them.  95% of the items I sell are fixed price buy it now auctions.  I do this because I don't want to deal with people who don't pay.  I have quite a number of watchers as well.  Sometimes I think they are waiting for me to lower the price.    I do wonder why when there is an option for Best Offer that they don't make an offer to see if they can get it at a price other than what is listed.  Another thing I find strange is that Ebay sends me emails to buy items that I am currently listing myself. I realize that it is because I went and researched the price from other sellers before I listed mine so I would be in the ballpark. I do the research to make sure that selling my item is actually feasible.  One area thay is going to be very tough is book sales.  There are a number of new booksellers that are selling their books for $3.49-3.98 with free shipping.  I'm an independent seller and don't have s store.  I just can't compete and I don't plan to give my books
away.

Perminate Link for eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings   eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Sep 28 06:47:04 2015

Just more unethical behavior from eBay.  It is what they do best.

Connecting with small sellers?  Another example of how Wenig reconnects with small sellers.

eBay never miss an opportunity to throw their customers under the bus. And like a poster above stated, it is indeed like watching a train wreck.

Perminate Link for eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings   eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Sep 28 06:56:31 2015

Comet says "I have NEVER seen another company DETERMINED to drive not only it's own customers out of business but it is ALSO determined to drive the PRICE of everything down--but as posted above--with complete DISREGARD for the ACTUAL VALUE of these items."

It amazes me as well.  This is why sellers are leaving in droves.  Wall Street take notice.

Perminate Link for eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings   eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 28 07:01:17 2015

Unfortunately, nothing can be done.  When you sign the I Agree to Terms statement, Ebay has got you by the ears.  They can do whatever they want on their site including diverting to other sellers.  I don't like it.  I would much rather deal with AMZ than EB, but unfortunately, those are the two choices we have.  Just pray.  And buy stock in EB so you can become a voice when expressing your disagreements.

Perminate Link for eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings   eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 28 07:04:40 2015

I also wanted to comment on some reasons why buyers would have a ''buy it now'' item on their watch list.
^^
EB has a new listing design and they have totally messed up my sales by forcing me to sell FIXED price.  Previously, I could choose make a BEST OFFER lowest price accepted.  Now I can't.  It's fixed price, Best Offer (which can be as low as $1), or auction.
The company keeps diddling around and this is why their stock price and revenue is falling.

Perminate Link for eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings   eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings

by: maxmad This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 28 07:17:25 2015

As @Ric and many have mentioned, the shear amount of manipulation is so great, and so far reaching, all done without much thought of the negative consequence's to ebay, and it's customers, so much manipulation that it simply does not make sense or work in real world business,

There must be a severe disconnect internally at ebay,

@Rexford
Wall street is starting to notice

http://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2015/09/24
/tough-road-ahead-for-ebay-as-it-battles-increased-competition/

Perminate Link for eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings   eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings

by: mindelec This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 28 08:05:17 2015

@skl

The lower price book emails also don't take into consideration the binding of the book or whether it's signed.  they are pretty much useless as far as alerting someone to a lower copy.

Perminate Link for eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings   eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 28 08:17:56 2015

This past month I got sales from Craigslist...in fact, a woman outside my state emailed me about a travel tote and I directed her to the EB site to buy it...and Ecrater came through with a sale, as well as Tradesy.  If those last two pickup speed in sales, then I'm leaving EB - except for those unusual collectible items you can sell.  I would much rather sell on AMZ all the time, but they limit what you can sell (like Toys at Xmas time).
I also suggest everybody go to the Forbes site about EB and make a comment.

Perminate Link for eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings   eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings

by: PattyR This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 28 09:01:39 2015

EB likes sellers to set up and take notice to the way they run their platform. Sooner or later when the big chains leave they will cry for small sellers, by that time sellers will be feed up and moved on. No matter how smart these people like Wenig and Donohue are with Donohue behind the scenes pulling the string they will crash. All good things come to a end sooner or latter    

Perminate Link for eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings   eBay Diverts Shoppers to Competitor Listings

by: colson_a This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 28 09:54:59 2015

They have absolutely no interested in supporting the small seller. They want the big guys for the big bux, but forget that small sellers are also big buyers. I quit selling on decaybay and now sell on a different marketplace without the headaches and only support small sellers unless I just can't avoid it. Yeah I have to self promote, but its not as painful as the 3bay headaches.

There is no way in hell I am going to be dictated every single aspect of my business, and get my listings manipulated while paying decaybay fees (which should in itself be enough). Yes some rules should apply when using a marketplace but what they are pulling is not OK.

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