eBay Bans Developer from Marketing Auction Extender
By Ina Steiner
eBay is in discussions with one of its developers about a tool that eBay says violates the spirit of its search manipulation rules.
Ethical Technologies began marketing the Sell Through Tool in last Fall as a way to improve eBay auction sell-through rates. Users on eBay discussion boards and industry board OTWA began discussing in late July the fairness of using a tool that automatically extends eBay auctions if the listings receive no bids. eBay auctions can be formatted to run 1 day, 3 days, 5 days, 7 days or 10 days.
eBay spokesperson Hani Durzy said last Thursday, "We do let people manually revise their listings, but it's meant to be done on a rare occasion, like if there is a blackout in part of the country and the seller feels they didn't reach their full audience."
Durzy said the tool from Ethical Technologies allowed a listing to appear in the "ending soonest" results, the default order of search results, four times in a 7-day period. "We don't want this tool to be out there," Durzy said. "It changes what the eBay buyer experience is. If buyers have a worse experience, they don't come back." He said eBay is in discussions with Ethical and would be revising the API usage policies that developers are required to follow.
According to Ethical material promoting the tool, "Current users have experienced sales increases of 10%, 20%, and in some cases, 40%-50%, sustainable over time. If your sell-through does not increase in one week using the service, you don't pay. It's that simple." Ethical was limiting usage of the tool to the first 250 qualified eBay sellers.
When contacted last Thursday, Ethical Technologies founder Scott Samuel said he could not comment on the record until his legal counsel returned to the office on Monday. Samuel was still unable to go on the record by presstime by end-of-day Monday, but said, "We want to cooperate with eBay in every way. Together, we are ecommerce."
Durzy said developers, who he called some of the most brilliant people, sometimes come up with tools that are interesting and innovative. "They can tweak the eBay platform in ways that we couldn't have imagined." That is a good thing and eBay encourages them, he said, but eBay "must do what is right for the overall marketplace."
About the author:
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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