EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 323 - November 18, 2012 - ISSN 1528-6703     6 of 6

Letters to the Editor - November 18, 2012

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In every issue, readers soundoff about issues important to them. From shipping issues to payment processing, from fees to online marketplace policies, EcommerceBytes Soundoff gives you a chance to air your views.


Dear Ina,
You might enjoy the latest eBay nonsense I encountered tonight.

Two days ago I listed an original framed US Civil War photograph with date and subject and location on eBay. It immediately got multiple bids. I listed in the Collectibles Militaria US Civil War Original Items Photographs category.

Tonight eBay took down the listing claiming the item is Significantly Misrepresented violating laws about listing grave related items or American Indian artifacts.

I called to ask what they were talking about, this original photo has nothing to do with graves or Indians.

I am told that it was removed because it should be listed under the new category Collectible Militaria US Civil War Civil War Veterans Personal Items.

I argued with them for 20 minutes, and finally he got a 3rd opinion from a manager, agreeing that the item was in the correct category and it should not have been removed.

So now they promise to remove the policy violation from my account, and put the item in unsold, and unflag so I can relist it again. So I lost the bids, and the watchers, and a few days, because some clown made a mistake.

I guess, on the other hand, at least they admitted they made a mistake, that is the first time I ever heard that. So the silver lining...


Hi Ina,
I read your news articles all the time, but lately it is starting to get old, with the complaints from a few that eBay is only catering to the Stock Holders and they report sales, but never reduce them for cancellations and returns. I know our sales reports never reflect anything but sales.

It got me to thinking, if these guys really feel they have a legitimate complaint, why don't they write a professional, respectful letter and send it to the Wall Street Journal, telling them what eBay has been doing to their long term, honest sellers, some of whom have been with eBay from the very beginning. And about the mass exit of seller due to how they are being treated.

They could tell about the nearly forced free shipping, the allowed feedback and DSR extortion, and now coming, forced returns, the forced payment method, the search engine manipulation, etc.

That might be a method to let the Stock Holders know about the dishonesty of the reports (if they are certain they are in fact reporting without reducing for cancellations and returns). Plus it would tell them how they have been treating the people who make up eBay. It should be done carefully, honestly, politely.

Just my thoughts. That might get better results than years of complaining on internet blogs and forums.


eBay Australia has done something drastic to search to create the reverse sales pattern for this time of year.

Our sales are less than half of what they have been for the last few years and are declining rapidly when normally they are increasing because of the holiday season.

This all started at the beginning of September when eBay commenced with the changes to the site. Out of this 10 week period we have had only 2 weeks we would consider normal sales and these were about 1 month apart.

If I search my items on my own computer they are fairly well ranked depending on search terms. It would appear buyers are not getting the same view which can be the only explanation.

If we compare Amazon to eBay with the Alexa tool, Amazon is on the incline for the holiday season but Ebay has been on a steady decline since August.


re eBay wildcard elimination

You have an example for trying to search part numbers by prefix on eBay without the wildcard.

Just a simple search of any dated item with recent years omitted becomes very unwieldy and can easily exceed the maximum character limit.. Try to code a search for items dated from 1850 to 1918 but not later.

I have used the asterisk for 14 years for hundreds of purchases.. Why would they do this?


Once again, eBay has failed to clarify if we sellers have been given an extra day to ship so we have spent another holiday packaging so that we could upload the tracking # within 24 hours.

I ask you, how hard would it be for eBay to make a announcement just before each federal holiday so we sellers could actually ENJOY a holiday with our families.

Ebay gives us user boards, which they CENSOR and no directions at all for really using the site. Users spend YEARS on the boards trying to figure out how to use the site THEY ARE PAYING FOR with very little if ANY TRUE directions on how to really use the site.

We sellers are tired of spending our $$ SPECULATING on how to use this CROOKED site.
Mass Howler

PS: Ebay- MAKE AN ANNOUNCEMENT PRIOR TO HOLIDAYS so we sellers (your CUSTOMERS) can enjoy our holidays too.


October 10, 2012

Dear Ina,
I have been having problems with eBay FEEDBACK on eBay Australia and below you will find correspondence from Ebay relating to this matter.

Basically Ebay says I should have a 100% feedback rating - but this is showing as 96.8% on my account, which probably goes a long way to explaining while my sales have suddenly dived - buyers see this feedback rating and do not click on my ads and secondly I am being punished unfairly in all Best Match searches and for more than a month have NEVER gotten onto the first page of search results!

The top letter advises that they will fix this in the next 30 days!!!!
Best regards.

Forwarded email from eBay Australia Customer Service on 11/13/12:

Hello -
Thank you for getting back to us.

I apologize for the inconvenience this issue has brought you. I have further checked on this and see that it is still an ongoing issue. We are still in the process of fixing it. Rest assured that once the issue is fix, your Feedback Percentage will be corrected.

Thanks for choosing eBay and have a great day.

Kind regards,
eBay Customer Support


Dear Ina,
Since months I'm reading lots of stories about sales that went completely dead. In fact I'm suffering the same fate for a few months now. I've found yet another glitch that contributes to the lack of sales.

I'm one of the so many sellers that buys on Ebay to resell on Ebay. I've specialised in a certain niche. What's garbage for some sellers is a collector's items for somebody else. Although sales have been a catastrophe for the last 3 months causing me hardly to buy anything the last month with the run up to Christmas I'm trying to buy some of those rare items that I'm selling.

So the other day I was looking on Ebay and I put several of these items in my watch list. Normally a few hours before the auction ends, Ebay will send me an email to remind me. At that point I will see how high the bids are and if it's still worth to place a bid myself. I've been quite busy the last 2 days so didn't put a lot of attention to it. Today I checked my watch list. It turns out I no longer received those Ebay reminders. I've just checked my account settings and the reminder option is still active. Several of the items I was watching have ended in the meantime. Some of them ended at half the price I would have bid. So the seller could have had a better price, and I lost out on a good deal.

I really hate Ebay as a seller. Just the same complaints as all other sellers: lack of visibility, DSR, one sided feedbacksystem,... which eventually leads to a lack of sales. And out of a buyers perspective I can complete understand it.

I've bought 1000's of items on Ebay. In the past this used to be fun. In the evening instead of watching TV, I would just browse Ebay. At the end of the evening there were days where I would have bought 20-30 items or more. Now the fun part is completely gone and it has become a real task. To be blunt if this wouldn't be my fulltime job, I would probably no longer bother because it has become too time consuming.

Just a few days ago I spend most of the day looking on Ebay to buy the stuff on my "to buy list". I spend hours and hours to eventually buy 4 or 5 items. Most of the things I was looking for were nowhere to be found. Others have slipped through my fingers because I didn't receive the reminder I was waiting for.

Ebay should just stop with the free listing weekends. It clutters up the site. The best bargains I made was with a seller that just uses Ebay now and then. It are often these people selling some personal belongings not realising what some of it is worth. Now they list during a free listing weekend, their item is completely buried under all other junk and the auction ends for peanuts. The next time this seller will think twice before listing something on Ebay.

Exactly the same thing has happened to the Ebay site I'm using to sell. For a bit more than a year now private sellers no longer have to pay any insertion fees. So it's like a free listing weekend 24/7 366 days a year. I see "private sellers" running hundreds of auctions every single day. One part junk, the other part completely overpriced. In a month they run 1000's of auctions and receive less than 50 feedbacks a month. In just 1 year it has completely destroyed the site. My sales are down, my page views are down,... and this is going on a lot longer than since the so called problem with the Omniture reports started.

As a result I started selling outside of Ebay. So when one of these customers comes to collect his item I will always ask the same question: do you use Ebay? And I get the same reply over and over again: yes I used to use Ebay but I no longer bother. The site is cluttered up, way too many adds, not in the mood to browse 1 hour to find that 1 items between 100's/1000's of other junk. Exactly the same complaints that I have as a buyer.

I can see as a seller why Ebay is losing sales, I can see it as a buyer. As always the only one who doesn't see it is Ebay itself.

With kind regards,
A very disappointed Ebay seller


Dear Ina,
I am a business seller with a featured shop on Ebay and list on the EBay Irish site.

I more than a little perturbed by the fact that Ebay UK is running another promotion giving it's business sellers a chance to list free of charge, not only the fact that this is the second one in a short space of time, they are yet again not giving us in Ireland a fair chance to compete, it's all very one sided and gives the UK site an unfair advantage.

Geographically the UK being our nearest neighbour and with the historical and economic & family connections the people who use Ebay here in Ireland use it on a regular basis to buy from rather than other sites situated in Europe or even the US unless it's something unique or unavailable in Ireland or the UK.

So once again Ebay Ireland is relegated and left to struggle on it's own with no incentives for it's business sellers who are in my case struggling for sales and would at least be given a chance to increase my listings for free, as at the moment it would seem I am throwing money away on listing fees as I'm getting very little return with all the issues concerning visibility.

I am a power seller and have TRS, it doesn't seem to make any difference.

My dreaded DSR's are based on sales to the UK & Ireland.

Why can't EBay Ireland have the same promotions as the UK? I would think in the scheme of things the extra sellers who fill the criteria picked up from the Irish site would be small in comparison to the UK.


A lot of sellers on Etsy have been complaining about declining sales and I have figured out why, but Etsy will not comment on my findings.

Basically, Etsy items disappear from Google Shopping search between 5PM & 12AM EST every night. This only happens for American residents who search for items on Google Shopping. Non-US residents can see the correct results all day long.

It seems Etsy is not paying Google for full day Google Shopping coverage and is NOT telling its sellers this. Meanwhile, Ecrater & Bonanza have no issues like this whatsoever.

Please read my full post here.

And let your readers know so that something will be done.
Thank you!


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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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