Non-UK eBay listings to show GBP prices

CATEGORY: News

eBay UK’s Announcement Board has an innocuous-looking post this morning saying that

From now on, the prices of overseas items on eBay.co.uk will be shown in pounds sterling, but in italics. We hope that this will make it easier for buyers to compare the prices of overseas and UK items, while still making clear which are which.

I can’t help feeling very uneasy about this change.

Translating non-UK listings into Pounds assumes that all sellers will be using the same exchange rate that eBay do. This is not the case: many sellers adopt an exchange rate that’s more favourable to them to offset the cross-border fees which PayPal impose. On higher value items, this could lead to some nasty surprises when buyers receive invoices for a lot more than they’re expecting.

Previously, items listed on other eBay sites but showing on eBay UK have shown prices in the original currency in the search results; the item page has shown both the original price, and an approximation in GBP. If buyers want to compare the prices of UK items and overseas items, the information is there for them (if they are incapable of remembering a simple currency conversion like “$2 = £1”).

Currently, buyers have to choose to search worldwide: the default is to search on items listed on eBay UK, which will all be in Pounds. So at the moment, this is a change that’s going to affect very few buyers on very few search results. Why bother?

What this change will do is to disguise when items have been “imported” to the UK site from other eBay sites. If, for example, eBay were to choose to make all .com listings show by default on .co.uk, it would be a lot more difficult for buyers to tell those listings from the UK ones. I have no evidence that eBay are intending to do this, except that they’ve done it before.

Update: eBay have now put out a new version of this announcement. It seems that original prices will still show on the View Item page: presumably therefore the translated prices will only show on search result pages. This only strengthens my belief that this is to advantage .com sellers whose items show on .co.uk.

5 Responses

  1. I know a little about exchange rates 😉

    This is going to cause more problems than you realise, as even Paypal use a different rate than eBay !

    eBay use xe.com which is the mid market rate, which is not a rate any financial institution can buy or sell currency at, Paypal use the mid market rate + or – 2.50%, so even by just using Paypal buyers will see a different value !

  2. I am exactly the type of seller this change could benefit. When changes meant reduced visibility on ebay.com for items I listed on ebay UK, like many UK self-representing artists I switched to mostly listing on ebay.com. (That way I wasn’t loosing out on the US audience, which appeared to be approx. half of my buyers.) However, my eBay.com listings have been appearing in $ on ebay UK search results. Also, this has looked confusing when I have had items listed on both sites.

    So for UK sellers who have been using .com to maximise visibility for items they are selling internationally, this could be an improvement….it certainly looks better. (Although, a much better improvement would be to have my ebay UK listings for art I am selling internationally fully visible on ebay.com!)

  3. Good point, Naj – although remember your listings will still not show in the default search on .co.uk, which is “items listed on .co.uk”.

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