Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Fri Aug 19 2016 22:14:45

Why eBay Hides Some Prices - Strikethrough Pricing Explained

By: Ina Steiner

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A reader was browsing some items on eBay and noticed that the prices of some items were crossed out. When they looked at individual listings, they saw a message displayed: "See price on checkout." They said they were reluctant to go any further, fearing the item was overpriced. 

"This was not on every item in the Search; but was on more than one item. Seems dishonest, in several ways," they wrote. "Is this something new? I don't even like when you have to give all of your info before seeing a shipping price; I am certainly NOT going to bid on an item of UNKNOWN price."

Did others know about this, the reader asked?

Yes, this is something eBay began testing several years ago - it's called Strikethrough Pricing. In 2012 eBay spokesperson Johnna Hoff told us eBay was testing strike-through pricing with a small number of sellers in select categories.

Fast-forward to today, and it's more widely available, but it's still not available to all. In fact, you must get pre-approved by eBay in order to be able to offer it.

One question sellers might have is, why would anyone want to use it? 

The reason has to do with MAP pricing - eBay explains:

Why is the price not shown on some listings?
Sellers have the right to set their own prices independently, but some manufacturers place restrictions on how those prices may be displayed or communicated to others. Because the seller's price on some items may be below the manufacturer's minimum advertised price, the manufacturer may not allow the seller to show you the seller's lower price until you take further action, such as clicking on a drop down menu, placing the item in your cart, or proceeding to checkout. The steps required depend on the terms set by the manufacturer's policy. 

Taking these steps allows us to show you the seller's great price, consistent with eBay's goal of always bringing consumers like you the lowest possible prices on the widest selection of products. 

You should know that by taking these steps, you won't be required to purchase the product. You can always simply remove the item from your cart or not proceed with checkout if you decide not to buy the item. 

If you have any questions related to the pricing and/or discount offered in a particular listing, please contact the seller for that listing.

Sellers should know that they can use eBay's Markdown Manager to put items on sale - it's a different feature that is described on this eBay help page. Note that you must have a Store subscriber to have access to the Markdown Manager tool.

What are your thoughts on eBay Strikethrough Pricing? Has it puzzled or frustrated you when you encounter it? Is it good that eBay gives sellers the option to use it?




Comments (28) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Fri Aug 19 23:04:29 2016

I've never encountered this on eBay, but on other sites, I absolutely hate when I'm looking at an item and there's a notation something like "see price on checkout." I don't have time for games like that. Just tell me the dang price! It's a real pain to have to go through the process of putting an item in my cart, going to checkout to see the price, and then leaving the site. Which leads to e-mails telling me I need to complete my purchase.  

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by: lacpeb This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 19 23:42:46 2016

I agree with sparrow.  Strikethrough pricing is a game.  I do not have the time or the patience for such foolishness.  I also don't have respect for businesses that engage in it.  

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by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Sat Aug 20 00:00:44 2016

Strike through is common among many retail sites, its horrible user experience and I avoid them at all costs.

Map pricing should never allow any cheaper anyways, strike through or not.

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by: angryllama This user has validated their user name.

Sat Aug 20 06:45:37 2016

Actually whether one likes or DISlikes this particular Strike Thru / See Price in the Cart system... the INFO cited from eBay is just about the most informative and clearly written EBAY INFO that I've ever seen. It is not like eBay is REinventing the wheel here. Fry's Electronics website does this SAME trick and for what is entirely the SAME reason. Minimum Advertised Pricing enforcement. Sometimes one just has to grasp the Bull by the TAIL and FACE the situation.  LOL

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Sat Aug 20 22:19:01 2016

This feature is on MANY websites including Amazon - and there are MANY threads discussing this issue.

The issue here ISNT MAP or more correctly (since eBay always gets it wrong) UPP pricing - its why eBay is even invloved in it to start with?

Whether or not you cant decide what you are (Managed Marketplace OR Just A Venue) why is eBay even getting involved.

Are they getting any money from this - from people who are trying to obey UPP ?

SHOULD eBay be getting money? SHOULD they be involved? And if its such a GREAT TOOL (well no TOOLS here at least are great) why isnt it a listing feature that EVERYONE can use? Why a "TEST"?

More lies and BS from eBay as usual ... move on nothing to see here ...

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by: comments This user has validated their user name.

Sun Aug 21 07:07:13 2016

Strikethough pricing is annoying. I have seen this at many major retails as well as ebay. Some are easier then others. I remember one time Newegg had a sale where you practically had to buy the item to see the price. That sale was "see price at checkout" where you had to login, enter your payment info, then on the final "click okay to submit your order" was the price.

Simply adding to cart like ebay offered is not too bad....but I still don't like it either.  

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by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Sun Aug 21 11:52:55 2016

Its just another sleazy way businesses make you think you just might be getting the deal of the century.

When in fact when you see the price it is the same as any other site.


Its sleazy and when we come upon it we just click back and don't return to those sellers. Our time is more important than playing their secret sleazy games.

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This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Sun Aug 21 13:36:48 2016

Nevermind That> It's the Least of their problems.
WHERE'S all the MERCH ?
Every blasted thing I came to Ebay for is GONE !

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by: Tim This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 22 00:43:46 2016

I'm not big enough to have a dedicated rep (at one time I had one, but then eBay decided I was not worth it.  No hard feelings, I've decided that a number of times about eBay), and without a dedicated rep you just cannot get even an application to be considered.  I tried for several hours over two days. When I finally found a CS person who sort of understood what I was asking about they just said, "No one here has access to that application".  "Who does?" I asked.  "I don't know" was the reply.

But, at least I am reassured by new management that they care about me as a seller.

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by: thebobman This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 22 01:15:37 2016

Everyone may hate it, but its *REQUIRED* by the mfg. You want to keep getting wholesale prices on this stuff? You can't advertise for less than $x.xx.

If ebay put the final price up, and the mfg got wind of the MAP violation, there would likely be sanctions or the seller would lose their contract.

I used to work at a company that designed power sports websites. MAP pricing was a huge deal. We had to design the websites that way or the dealer might get in trouble with the mfg.

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by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 22 01:57:40 2016

I  have  seen  this  sort of  thing  on the BEST  BUY  site--where  they  make  some  blah  blah  woof  woof  about  how  they  can't  show  you  the fabulous  special double  secret  probation  price--until  you  go  some  where  and do--something.  I  WON'T  do  any  of  this.  

I  WON'T  do it  on ebay  either.  AND  I  have  seen  this  strike  thru  now on  a major  maker  motorcycle item --for  $99.99  struck  thru---and  then  from  a different  seller  the SAME  item  for  (in  clear)  $74.99.  Who  is  telling  the  TRUTH  here?  IS  the $99  seller  selling  the item  for  LESS  than  $74?  Since  I  refuse  to  support  these  shenanigans  I  did  NOT  click  thru  to  find  out.  AND  I  believe  that  where  I  saw  this the ONLY  way  to  SEE  the price  was to  hit  the BUY  button  so--no  thanks!  As it  was  the  same  time  I  saw  this  I  looked  at  something  very  different  in  clothing and a few  days  later got a PAY  FOR  YOUR ITEM  NOTICE--in  an item  I  NEVER  bid  or offered  on.  

Ebay--eroding  our  trust;  one  listing  at a time.  

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by: mindelec This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 22 02:49:54 2016

When I see this type of pricing on any site I usually just  how to another site.  The few times I've gone thru the trouble of adding it to my cart the markdown has been practically non existent.

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by: Beach Home Products This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Aug 22 04:41:57 2016

Every time you turn around eBay is changing something...and for the worse. Need to leave well enough alone. Strike through pricing no way.

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by: OnlyPollyPocket This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 22 08:59:09 2016

Recently did see this on an ebay listing and, as with other sites that use this tactic, my back button worked great!  

I agree with those posters who won't be bothered with this game...life's too short.

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This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Mon Aug 22 09:13:49 2016

"Everyone may hate it, but its *REQUIRED* by the mfg. You want to keep getting wholesale prices on this stuff? You can't advertise for less than $x.xx."

At this point, it wouldn't be that big of a loss.

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by: thebobman This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 22 10:07:27 2016

>and  then  from  a different  seller  the SAME  item  for  (in  clear)  $74.99.  Who  is  telling  the  TRUTH  here?  IS  the $99  seller  selling  the item  for  LESS  than  $74?

That seller ($74.99) doesn't have a MAP pricing agreement. They might have got the item from a closeout/auction/surplus but they aren't buying direct from the mfg.

>At this point, it wouldn't be that big of a loss.

Lets say you own a motorcycle parts B&M, You sell some parts online, but most of the stuff is in store. Want to lose your contract on the parts by advertising less than MAP? Doubtful.

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by: iwasjoe This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 22 10:45:00 2016

I will NOT Click. Many other things to do to play the games and the price will not be any better anyway.

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by: betsys.bijoux This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Aug 22 13:46:09 2016

I've seen this but not clicked it.  Other sites I've tried show a price that is no big woop.  I don't trust ebay not to screw it up and congratulate me on my purchase!

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Mon Aug 22 14:44:33 2016

@comet

Are you saying you've seen this type of pricing on an auction?  Or was it just on BIN listings?

You have no risk to paying a price just because you added something to your cart.  If that were to be true, all sellers would be in big trouble with lots of buyers on a regular basis as many would be purchasing things that they never intended to buy so the sellers would be left with a mess of cancellations to deal with, not to mention pissed off buyers.  That isn't good for Ebay nor sellers as a whole.

*********************

This type of pricing is all over the internet.  I saw it on other sites long before I saw it on Ebay.  

While it appears that some feel Ebay is, yet again, trying to do something that hurts other sellers, it is clearly not the case.  Certain sellers of certain items HAVE to adhere to this type of pricing if they are selling it at a reduced rate.  So if Ebay wants these sellers they had to figure out a way to help them comply to the requirements of the seller's suppliers.

That was an actual smart move on Ebay's part.  A good business decision.  With that said, I really don't like the practice either.  It annoys me.  It makes it harder for me to shop and compare pricing.  This process should be made easier for the customers than it currently is.

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 22 23:24:13 2016

Whether or not manufacturers require dealers to display MAP, UPP or even "add to cart" - those things have no place on eBay.

More over, eBay shouldn't be involved in assisting sellers in making seeing prices HARDER.  

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