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Mon Aug 24 2015 13:48:15

Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflategate

By: Reader

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Dear Ina,
Had an interesting conversation with an account manager at eBay yesterday. I have been curious about strikethrough pricing so I called to see if I could have my account approved. She assured me that everything looked fine, except that I was just a tad short on Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV). 

She told me that the minimum for the trailing 12 months was $150,000 and that I was at $143,000. Interesting, since my GMV is almost precisely half of the $143,000 she stated. 

I did not tell her that, instead, I asked how they arrived at that number. She said this is the number that is displayed, she had no idea how it is derived, except to say that it was the trailing 12 months sales. 

Two transfers later and still no answer, except that one gentleman was bright enough to realize that the $143,000 did not equal my sales volume. I was told that I would be contacted by email or phone for someone to explain. And this morning I received the following short email.

"Mr -,
I only will be able to give you a general definition of GMV gross merchandise volume.  GMV = Total dollar value sold from trailing 12 months. I am not sure if this helps. This is the only information that I can give out based on our business policies.

Thanks,
Francine
eBay"

This wouldn't much matter to me, except that GMV is the primary number on which stockholders are given to measure the pulse of how eBay or any online sales company is performing.

Is mine the only number that's skewed? I would venture to guess not. And my accounting background leads me to believe that my number is purely part of a larger number. 

If mine is wrong (doubled in fact) and possibly others, has eBay been inflating this number in order to satisfy stockholders? Let's face it, most of us have been struggling as compared with years past, my sales are falling and remain at half of what they were when I offered a fraction of what I have now. Yet eBay continues to show some "growth"! Or are they? 

I would be curious if other sellers could take the same approach that I did. Call to activate Strikethrough Pricing, and see what kind of answer they are given in terms of what their GMV is.
Regards,
C.




Comments (24) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate   Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate

by: JQ This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 24 17:04:46 2015

My sales have fallen considerably since early 2014. Today I have roughly twice as much inventory listed as I had in 2013, and my sales are down roughly 20% in gross numbers. So, a doubling of my inventory, and a doubling of my fees, has not quite allowed me to tread water at Ebay.

Anyway, in relation to the above letter, I spoke with an Ebay account specialist last year to attempt to find out my selling limit as none is displayed in my account. (The representative told me, I am sure inaccurately, that my account had no selling limit.) During our conversation he remarked that from what he could see my sales in 2014 were higher than they had been in the past. I had no ideal how to respond to this because it was insane. I told him that his statement was wrong and my sales were down considerable. He moved on in the conversation after reaffirming that from his screen my account showed increased sales in 2014.

Maybe my experience and the above author's are related. They are at least on the level that we both found it completely pointless to talk with anyone at Ebay about collapsing sales when they seem convinced that our sales are in fact growing and we are hysterical complainers.

Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate   Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate

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

Mon Aug 24 17:20:02 2015

Excellent post op.
Sharp!
MH

Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate   Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate

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

Mon Aug 24 18:39:40 2015

I think most numbers as they pertain to individual accounts are wrong when reported by Ebay. I don't use them and consider them meaningless.

Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate   Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Aug 24 18:55:04 2015

Fuzzy math.  I constantly see wrong numbers and phantom numbers on all of my eBay sites. Sometimes my feedback will actually show 0, and my active listing numbers are never accurate and can change within seconds without me doing anything.  

Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate   Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate

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

Tue Aug 25 01:18:27 2015

I am not trying to change the subject but I called PAYPAL CS today and- Phillipine csr's at Paypal now too.

Is this new? Always got pretty good attention from US csr's at PP so this has me disturbed.

I respect all cultures (I am ethnocentric) and the folks in the Phillipines are US citizens but the Phillipinos are from a much different Asian culture, somewhat less advanced in modern US business, so how can they deal effectively with our business complaints here in the US?

How about ebay and PP get ZULU WARRIORS as csr's- they could SPEAR the bad lying buyers and they probably work cheap.
I mean, how sophisticated do you need to be to always side with a buyer?
Them Zulu's il get ya!
(In jest, if we were all the same it sure would be a dull world).
MH
All of ebay figures are rigged- interesting example from the op and again, sharp on his part to notice and tell us.

Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate   Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Tue Aug 25 02:47:46 2015

@C

If it is as you suspect [and it may be], that would only benefit Ebay in the short run.

While GMV is an indicator, it is NOT Ebay's sales that are reported on their financials.  So if Ebay is reporting twice as much in GMV, then sooner or later stockholders & others will be asking why the Ebay FVF income comes no where close to the proper value as compared to the GMV reported for the same period.

I'm confident that Ebay plays with the numbers from time to time.  I don't doubt that at all, but on a consistent basis would most likely cause them more harm.

Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate   Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate

by: sasikat9 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Aug 25 09:39:10 2015

Its the same thing as when you have an auction listing and someone is looking at it and it says 10 items sold in the last 24 hours.

And you know damn well that there hasn't been one sold in the past week.

Ebay is full of guessitmates and fake numbers.

The one we like the best is, with one of our stores we NEVER use tracking. There is never a tracking number posted as everything is first class mail.  But if you go to our dashboard it says the number of uploaded tracking is 27.95.  When you call the famous CS there are just dumbfounded that we would even question that number.

Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate   Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Tue Aug 25 19:20:59 2015

It wouldn't surprise me at all if eBay was doing a little "creative accounting." We are constantly hearing from sellers about how their sales are fewer and fewer, about how they go days without sales, how it's like a light switch is clicked off, and yet each quarter eBay boasts about how their revenue increased 7% (or whatever figure). The constant rosy picture they paint of the site does not match with what their sellers are saying (apart from toolguy).

Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate   Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate

by: Beth This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 27 07:44:07 2015

Mass Howler, even if ebay's not interested in your Zulu Warrior idea I am.  Know where I can hire one??  I have idiots to the right of me, idiots to the left of me.  I need a zulu warrior!!  

Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate   Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate

by: Tiffee Jasso This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 27 07:49:50 2015

My sales record according to Ebay is quite a bit over the amount of actual sales. I was able to justify it by looking at postage costs. They have wrapped my shipping fees into the total. Since I sell collectibles and glass, shipping sometimes is almost as much as the item. I figure it is a minimum of 33% so you can see if Ebay says I sold $1000, in reality I only sold about $650. If one would apply that figure to 1 billion is sales, in reality it would 650 million. A huge juggling of figures if the truth be told and one that Wall Street would frown on.  

Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate   Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate

by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 27 08:49:30 2015

ebay and probably other large corps juggle the numbers. I have suspected (known) that they must be playing with the numbers. Probably for the last 7 years or so.
Have to make wall street happy. I also think that is part of the reason for the spilt of paypal. If the books were to be checked it would be much more difficult with the two totally separate now.

I have a feeling that if they don't come up with a buyer real soon, ebay will file bankruptcy. Thought I read where ebay took majority of debt when they split with paypal. Bankruptcy would make sense then.

Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate   Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate

by: ebay refugee camp This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 27 12:43:03 2015

The JD effect lives on, got him millions upon millions in stock and bonus money.
Fuzzy numbers generated by his CFO buddy.
It just goes to show how lax our regulators are when it comes to billionaires money.

Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate   Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate

This user has validated their user name. by: Kitty Ninja

Thu Aug 27 13:24:40 2015

At one point in my life I worked for a company typing their Profit/Loss/Financial statements for their annual report.  There were about 18 different companies. I can't tell you HOW many times I had to "revise" the numbers anytime an annual report was printed.  YES...ebay skews the numbers. My former job is concrete proof that these companies skew the numbers for the stockholders!!

Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate   Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Thu Aug 27 14:30:27 2015

@kitty

GMV is NOT the same thing as what Ebay claims as sales on financials.  GMV is made up of what Ebay defines as what each individual seller sells.

Ebay does not claim your sales as their sales.  If that were true, they'd be paying any taxes associated with those numbers as well.

GMV is an indicator for Ebay to report.  The higher the number the better they look to investors, Wall Street, Shareholders, etc.  But GMV is NOT Ebay sales and is NOT reported in the same way.

It is not the same thing as the 18 different companies you were trying to develop a consolidated financial statement on.  

Ebay sales claimed on financials is derived from fees they earn for items that sell on Ebay, listing fees, advertising fees, etc.  But GMV NEVER is part of those numbers.  It can't be.  Just think of it logically.  How could Ebay claim your sales on their financials?  

Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate   Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate

by: brokentoys19 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 27 21:30:34 2015

... "Just think of it logically." ...


Yea, think of it logically.

Just like a neutral is a neg because it's not a positive.

Even though ebay execs are always bragging about 800 million listings blah blah and also the fact they sell data, and just because there's only $zillions at stake, ebay would never say anything that wasn't true, or make up fake facts. Ebay has never made contradictory statements to investors/general public vs members. [snork]

Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate   Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Thu Aug 27 23:43:38 2015

@Marie - I have read Kitty Ninja's post and nowhere does she mention GMV. So I'm not sure what you are referring to.

And back in the 1970s I worked for the in-house attorney for a mutual fund, and every year it was my task to type up the financials for the annual report submitted to the SEC. Such a lot of fun. NOT! Gosh I hate typing numbers since I have to watch where my fingers are hitting.

Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate   Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Fri Aug 28 02:28:07 2015

@Jack

It is the subject matter / concerns of the article.

Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate   Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Fri Aug 28 13:34:22 2015

@Marie - I did read the letter. I was just curious as to why your post was directed at Kitty Ninja when she said nothing about GMV. You can be "just a venue" and still have to prepare profit and loss statements. eBay is receiving fees from sellers and advertising revenue, and paying out monies for things such as salaries and utilities. They don't have to have physical merchandise to be required to prepare an annual report.

Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate   Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Fri Aug 28 19:17:12 2015

@jack

I never said anything about Ebay needing to have physical merchandise nor that they weren't required to create financial statements.  What I stated was quite the opposite.  If you have time and the desire, you may want to revisit my original post on the thread and others.

Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate   Seller Asks If eBay Has Its Own Version of Inflate

by: Volvo351 This user has validated their user name.

Sat Aug 29 20:54:18 2015

Sales on this now hollowed out [by ROT!] "ecommerce platform" have gone from 3 or 4 a week, to 3 or 4 a MONTH!  I no longer list short-money items here; it simply isn't worth the effort. I had a $15 item that sold steadily; orders were easy to fill and it had a decent margin. Then they suddenly stopped moving, leaving me with an unsold inventory of 50, and a couple of hundred bucks in DEAD MONEY!  Gee, thanks, JD!

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