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Tue Dec 10 2013 19:31:12

eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs

By: Reader

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Dear Ina,
Great article on the selling limits - however I wish the focus would have been less on selling limits and more on what we and few others sellers have coined as "throttling."

Selling limits should really be called Listing Limits. While many sellers think there are rolling blackouts, that really is not the case, your account is being averaged or throttled. That is why if you kill it one day you can bet that the next day or two will be lackluster as eBay gets your average back to where they want you.

We have been following "throttling" for nearly 6 months now as it was originally introduced to our account in January of 2013 and then removed from March until July 20th. On July 21st it was reinstated and we have been barely keeping our head above water ever since. Regardless of Best Practices, the number of listings doubling, etc, our sales and transactions numbers stay the same.

A few months ago, I confronted a Top Level eBay Rep with data on throttling. At first the rep was left speechless and then began to tell me I need to speak to the Vetting Department - and when I asked if that was confirmation of the "Throttling" being real he did not confirm with a yes, but with, "well we have a very large department devoted to limits, so it is something eBay is very interested in." I took that as full on confirmation.

We have a very good idea how this is being done and the data we have been analyzing confirms this. Like Cassini (and the throttling ties into Cassini) the variables are endless. Consider one variable: Auctions. eBay knows the average price of the widget you are selling. Going into a day if you have 20 auctions selling widget a, eBay will assume you are going to get the average price for each auction ending. Your sales will then be throttled until the end of those auctions. When they end if you did poorly your fixed price listings will get a bump in best match across platforms to further your chance of hitting your limit.

If your customers have $1000 worth of items in their shopping carts, eBay knows that your account has a x% successful checkout percentage and y% abandonment rate. This is also used in your throttling. The list of variables like this goes on and on.

When Donahoe mentioned several years ago that he would like to be the Walmart of online commerce I do not think he was talking about product offering nearly has much as he was suggesting the sheer control eBay would like to have over the entire search and transaction process.

Like the subject of your article, we too are veterans, we were relying on 8 years of data to prepare for our 4th quarter sales and 2014 growth projections. We anticipated a nearly 50% growth rate based on our product offering and best practices. Even with our listings doubled from last year and all Best Practices implemented, we have dropped over $100,000 in sales since July 21st from the same numbers last year. We were expecting to be roughly $50,000 over last years numbers.

We have now fired two employees and have lost a major supplier as we are not able to move product quickly enough any longer. Last year we sold an average of 70 items a day and now we are throttled at 30.

Additionally, our sales are consistently at $1000 a day. If we hit $600 one day we can pretty much guarantee $1400 the next, etc., etc.

Throttling is real and is killing businesses on eBay. I think it is time to stop asking Ryan Moore and get to someone with actual answers.
Thanks,
Platinum PowerSeller




Comments (80) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs   eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs

by: LAbay This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 10 23:35:32 2013

I have suspected throttling for months now. I also suspect that eBay is going a whole new direction without 3rd party sellers.  They will eliminate all of us by either reducing our sales or purging. They clearly only want new items from large retailers and well known brands. Large retailers have local stores so eBay can offer same day shipping.  And returns are handled at the stores.  eBay CS reps are encouraging people to move on to other venues.   I truly believe that they have no intention on improving sales for 3rd party sellers.  You can hang-on, hoping it will get better, but eBay has set it course and it doesn't include most of us.

eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs   eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs

by: ebaytestdummy This user has validated their user name.

Wed Dec 11 00:13:59 2013

You have a limit on sold items


Please ask ebay to explain just exactly how the above policy line is enforced?  Sellers would love to know.  

eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs   eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs

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

Wed Dec 11 00:56:12 2013

Throttling is occurring- no way to work harder to survive-
They are STEALING our $$.
These are not our businesses anymore and this "company" is beyond DISGUSTING.
Limiting our sales- APPAULING.
MH

eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs   eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Wed Dec 11 07:39:16 2013

When will this type of information get out into the mainstream press.  THIS is the story that 60 Minutes needs to be reporting.

eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs   eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs

by: Feller This user has validated their user name.

Wed Dec 11 08:09:24 2013

I am curious what eBay's motivation for doing this would be? The more sales the more money they make, right? Is this person selling an item that they would prefer one of their new retail giant partners be selling? Do they guarantee particular sellers a certain number of sales so the rest of us need to be throttled?

eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs   eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs

by: fadedglitter This user has validated their user name.
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Wed Dec 11 09:27:47 2013

im sure etsy is doing the same thing,they furiously deny it,but its the same thin,mass of views and sales one day,and then NOTHING for 2 weeks.also across the board drastic decline in sales,views and offers.pathetic

eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs   eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs

by: Scotty This user has validated their user name.

Wed Dec 11 11:18:04 2013

@OP....I could not agree more.  As a small seller, I do happen have a more than average background in data analytics and have been doing the same as you, albeit on a smaller scale.  I am a big believer in ''the data does not lie'' and follow my own data religiously.  I encounter the exact same patterns/flows you describe.  I have averaged the same gross dollar value in monthly sales +/- $200 each and every month for almost 15 months now.  This is statistically impossible unless the game is rigged (i.e. throttling of sales/views, etc.).  Ebay really does not know how to reply when they are met with an actual business case outlining your data and impact.  Ryan Moore is the low-level Communications talking-head they relgate to ''small'' sellers, although I think you may be a larger seller.  It is interesting when something appears in the media they are actually concerned with, there are legions of other Coms reps that are doing the talking.  I have not seen Ryan Moore assigned to any of these ''important'' responses as they leave him to deal with the riff-raff.  Eventually, he will get another job and we will be met with more textbook spin from their Marketing/Communications courses.  Your analysis is 100% spot on and it would be interesting if we could aggregate our data (meaning a meaningful sampling of a large amount of smaller sellers) to create a trending snapshot of exactly what is going on....this, I guarantee, would get a respons from someone other than Ryan Moore.

eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs   eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs

by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Wed Dec 11 12:17:40 2013

Is "throttling" legal? Good grief--eBay is a fixed market.

eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs   eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Wed Dec 11 12:33:59 2013

Throttling is just another word for what many have talked about for years on Ebay.  So whether you want to call it rolling blackouts, throttling or something else.  It is the same subject.

Cassini only went site wide a few months ago.  The problem with sales or lack thereof has been going on far longer than that.

Ebay has now admitted to hiding our listings from time to time for whatever reasons they deem fit.  And that has been added to our Users Agreement too.  So Ebay does admit this openly now.

What the OP describes may be happening and it may be due to Cassini.  But there are other problems, listings being hidden and it has happened long before Cassini came along.  So I personally do not see this as the answer or that it is responsible largely for the hidden listings.  I just don't see how it could be.  Like I said, we have had the problem long before Cassini was even brought on line.

eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs   eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs

This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Wed Dec 11 13:27:07 2013

I think the ''rolling blackout'' theory is supported by the phenomenon of sellers receiving clusters of orders from a particular region of the US.

For example: rather than receiving a good mix of orders from various states throughout the country, many sellers report a flurry of unusual order activity *only* from California (or *only* from the Pacific time zone)... then nothing... then a non-typical high number of sales from Florida (or the Eastern time zone), etc.

This type of thing is a stronger indicator of the suggested concept of the rolling-blackout.

To me, it seems that outright ''throttling'' wouldn't have the same effect, and that when imposed on a seller, their sales would fall across-the-board... in all regions of the country.

eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs   eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Wed Dec 11 13:44:52 2013

During my last months of selling on eBay, I experienced "rolling blackouts," though at the time I had no idea that such a thing even existed. For a couple of weeks, the winning bidders of my auctions would all be located in Texas. Then, for the next couple of weeks, all the winning bidders would be from Illinois. It seemed so strange that only people in one area would be bidding on my auctions, but now I know that only people in a particular state during a particular time frame were seeing my listings.

eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs   eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Wed Dec 11 14:02:13 2013

Personally I think it is a combination and that it isn't new.  There have been times that  I can certainly see a geographical sales increase.  Other times my sales will bottom out for a couple months, then rise to levels that are good, not terrific, but certainly good.  That will last a bit, then it's back to the bottom again.  These are sales overall, not geographical at all and this has been happening to me for years.  It would seem to fall into what some want to call throttling.  

Now I can tell you that when the implemented Cassini across the entire website which was in late April of this year, my sales tanked.  And they stayed there until July when they started coming back up.

August was the best August I've ever had.  It is normally my slowest month of the year and it may end up being my best.  Then sales started falling off again in September, came up a little in October, more in November and December is too young to tell yet.

All I'm trying to say is that I [and I only speak for myself] do not see this as new or solely because of Cassini.  Is it a problem?  Yes, I firmly believe it is a problem no matter what you want to call it.

eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs   eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs

by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.

Wed Dec 11 14:12:42 2013

We have noticed no sales at all on one of our selling accts for a week, then we might sell something.  It's inexplicable.

I cannot see why anyone in the world would think this made sense.  

eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs   eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs

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

Wed Dec 11 14:46:32 2013

Throttling and rolling blackouts are 2 SEPERATE ELEMENTS ENTIRELY, 1 limits your items being seen at all, and when they are seen they are shown to different but specific areas of the country- THROTTLING is when you have hit a certain dollar or sales amount your sales STOP, AND when an item price gets high enough IN EBAYS EYES they stop showing it.

There are 2 separate things- they are totally different. Throttling is TOTAL CONTROL- gone are the days of high overbidding as ebay has put controls in to make sure buyers do not ''overpay'' in their eyes.

This totally DESTROYS whatever use there was for auctions as it keeps your top-end prices at auction low ARTIFICIALLY.

This has GOT to be ILLEGAL!

Throttling auctions is, to use one of Annies terms- APPAULING.

Couple that with all these nonsense buyers remorse returns, no wonder we are all going bankrupt selling here.

MH

eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs   eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs

by: ebaytestdummy This user has validated their user name.

Wed Dec 11 15:30:41 2013

When I spoke to an eBay rep yesterday to discover just what my "hidden" selling limits were, I was told Ebay does this for the seller's own good, as well as the buyers.

They don't want anyone growing too quickly.  Their data shows sudden growth and growing to quickly can cause problems for seller and in turn the customer service suffers which makes buyers unhappy.

So, in addition to the high standard of DSR's and FB ratings (which are apparently not enough to keep sellers in line), eBay is also 'assisting' sellers so they don't grow too quickly.

They don't want them causing a bad buyer experience.  Big brother is controlling the market place and it's quite disturbing particularly since it's hidden.  

eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs   eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs

by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.

Wed Dec 11 15:57:58 2013

I can understand why ebay would limit new sellers, I imagine there are con men  opening ebay accounts daily and cheating people before they disappear.

But heck, we are all seasoned sellers who have been at this for a long time.  We don't cheat anyone, why in the world would ebay limit anyone with a long time track record?  Ebay knows all this.

I asked an ebay rep some time ago about this selling limits stuff, they told me our account had none, which makes sense, it's 15 years old and has millions of dollars of sales on it.  

But our sales are still very slow.  

eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs   eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs

This user has validated their user name. by: Ed Gadfly

Wed Dec 11 16:50:50 2013

Check out Wikileaks.

You need to get Geraldo or Micheal Moore to help you.

Remember the recent "glitch" where one guy got $10 trillion? There is funny stuff going on here, but why?

eBay is Draconian with sellers, yet refunds buyers at the drop of a hat. Do they declare that a "loss" and let the taxpayers eat the cost?

You are getting ripped off, but why? Pump and dump?

eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs   eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Wed Dec 11 16:56:24 2013

@MH

I agree, they are two separate things.  I think I poorly worded what I stated before.  But I do agree they are different.  What I don't agree  with is that "throttling" started in April of this year when Cassini was brought online site wide.  It has been going on for years in my opinion.

eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs   eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs

by: Cyclestripper This user has validated their user name.

Wed Dec 11 18:05:48 2013

So, what's the answer.

Is there any way around this issue?

Is there any way to successfully address this issue?

Do we just all go out of business?

eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs   eBay Throttling Leads to Layoffs

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

Wed Dec 11 18:14:23 2013

Yes, it has been going on for years. But now it has a TERM and it is OUT THERE for all to see.
We have been Throttled out of business here- presently I have ZERO bids, am a 13 year 'trs'' (for what that's worth), and I am 4.9, 5, 5, 4.9 with no cases- but ZERO bids on the 13th of December!

I have been too BEAT to re-write scratch ads for the last 2 weeks and I am now lost in search.
MH
I have not eaten in 2-3 days here.
Merry Christmas from ebay!

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