Town Hall: total price searches, SMI, UK/US visibility

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For those of us in Europe who can’t stay up til the wee hours to listen live, the transcript of last weeks’ Town Hall is now available. Amongst all the usual waffle, it becomes painfully obvious that eBay’s senior management have no idea just how horribly broken the site is at the moment: and they didn’t even mention the problems with Checkout in the UK!

They also don’t seem to know how their recent visibility changes have been implemented. Jamie Iannone of the Buyer Team explained that UK listings are no longer visible on .com because that gave buyers too many items to look at, but that they could opt in to see UK listings if they chose to do so. He then commented that “in the UK currently, we don’t actually show the US items and that’s because currently there, the better buyer experience for the UK buyers is to see the local UK items.” Maybe someone should tell him that US listings are shown on by default in some categories: we need a different brand of BS on this one, Mr Iannone.

Maybe slightly better news for UK sellers is another heavy hint at changes to search sorting by price:

Caller: Why when you search for lowest price first, isn’t the total amount, that is current price plus shipping, considered? That is to say if an item is shown at one penny with a fifteen dollar shipping fee, why is that higher on the listing than the same item listed for five dollars with a seven dollar shipping fee?

Jim Ambach (eBay Seller Team): Yeah. So the idea would be eh, replace that item priced sort with a total cost sort that would factor in the cost of shipping as well, before all those items were sorted, so that you get a better feel for what the “cheap” is.

This is a great idea, but it needs to be implemented with more thought than is eBay’s wont. One can imagine that those currently overcharging on shipping will miss it out of the shipping fee box and simply state the charge in the auction body alone, or even leave it out altogether in the hope that naive buyers won’t question it until they’ve already bought. My suggestion would be that those without stated shipping charges are removed from this search result altogether.

Meanwhile, though Safeguarding Members’ IDs remains controversial amongst members (we’ve had some epic comments on one old post recently), the noise from SJC is that the program is a success. Matt Helprin, “resident Town Hall Trust and Safety guy”, said, “we have seen a material reduction in the reports of fake scams or fake second chance offers. It, in fact, they’ve almost disappeared for anything above $200.00. I mean they’re down to over 90%.”

I think he means *by* over 90%, but it seems that SMI is here to stay.

2 Responses

  1. The apparent eBay management ignorance of current and recent site problems reminds me of the Hans Anderson Nursery Tale ‘The Emperors New Clothes’. Senior people indicating that all is well because those above need to think that all is well while those lower down the food chain dare not speak otherwise.

    Re your suggestion that items without clearly stated shipping costs be given reduced search visibility. It’s not without problems but I think it a very good idea. Another alternative would be to make accurate completion of the shipping cost fields mandatory on a listing..

  2. Yup – all for what UKPostcards says.

    I’d also advocate that Domestic and International Registered Delivery are given their own rate boxes in much the same way as Insurance is currently added (or not).

    As it stands, sellers are often not showing the Registered Delivery cost in their postage – for one of two main reasons. Either to leverage the lower displayed P&P cost, or because they are not aware that a trackable delivery method is needed for them to receive PayPal Seller Protection (SPP).

    In fact, I’m tempted to intimate that eBay and PayPal are in collusion to make it difficult for sellers to qualify for SPP in this regard – certainly there is no warning to sellers in the SYI form or Turbo Lister, that the P&P services selected do not qualify them for SPP.

    As sellers are the PAYING customers of eBay and PayPal, surely (in the UK) there is a Trading Standards, Consumer Protection, or Financial Services Bureau case to answer for this? Especially if the seller is not a business, but an individual selling off their personal items?



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