EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2292 - May 21, 2010     1 of 3

eBay Emails Run Amok Offering Phantom Deals to Shoppers

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eBay is sending out emails that offer non-existent discounts, and there is concern that recipients of the misleading emails may believe sellers are using bait-and-switch tactics to deceive customers. The emails recommend products the recipients had recently been viewing, and show free-shipping offers and discounts that sellers had never offered in their listings.

The emails contain the subject line, "(ebay ID) recommendations just for you" and show items recently viewed under a headline, "Still interested in what you recently looked at?"

Underneath that section is another headline, "Deals on what you've been looking for" that showcases similar eBay items. The items showcased in that section show a green circle advertising a discount on each item, but when the recipient clicks through, the item is not actually offering any discounts. In some cases, eBay also incorrectly labels the items as offering free shipping.

Sellers are concerned that buyers will demand the discounts or free shipping advertised by eBay that the sellers never actually offered in their listings.

One seller blogged about the issue, having received such a marketing email from eBay showcasing her own items advertising free shipping. "eBay, if you tell buyers my item has free shipping when it doesn't do you think buyers are going to be understanding about that and blame you? No, sweetie, they are going to blame me for pulling a bait and switch on them with shipping."

eBay threads in which this problem is being discussed:

Ebay email showing a sale on my own ite! I'm not running a sale? - link to thread

eBay Stating Free Shipping for Other Items You May be Interested In? - link to thread

Recommendations just for you - link to thread

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

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