eBay UK have stated that after 24th September, it will no longer be possible to sell buy it now items for less than 99p on the site. In a post on the PowerSeller Board, Community Manager James stated that:
Concerns around feedback manipulation have prompted us to review this area and after 24th September, the minimum BIN price will be 99p, for single and multiple quantity listings. The minimum BIN price for an auction + BIN option listing will also be 99p. Sellers with lower value items will still be able to list in auction with starting prices lower than 99p.
There was no mention of this in the official announcement of changes last week, which seemed to imply that BINs from 1p would be permissable. And there has still been no official announcement on a forum with universal access. Yet again, eBay communicate essential change by accident, by rumour and behind closed doors.
Sellers in many categories have been used to Shops’ listings which allowed buy it now prices for multiple items as low as a penny each. In my own Crafts’ categories – as, I’m sure, all across eBay – this allowed buyers to choose a selection of items, matching exactly what they wanted, combine postage and not spend a penny more than they needed to. With the new 30 day BIN format, that can’t happen: sellers will have to list larger quantities of very cheap items so that they total 99p or more, or stop selling them on eBay altogether.
This is not, I hasten to add, just about Crafts. Right now, there are more than 400,000 items on eBay UK with buy it now prices below 99p. There are 75,000 books under 99p, for example: where do eBay think those buyers and sellers are going to go? That’s a vast amount of inventory to sacrifice. Of course, some categories are going to be more heavily impacted than others: in Collectables, it’s 16% of the category; in Crafts, 11%, and in Stamps, it’s just under 10%. If anyone’s thinking of setting up a niche marketplace in one of these areas, now would be the time to do it.
But the real tragedy is that killing sub-99p BINs will harm hundreds of sellers and annoy thousands of buyers, but it won’t achieve what eBay have allegedly set out to do and stop feedback manipulation. Accounts which need a quick feedback boost – whether for legitimate or more nefarious reasons – will be just as happy to pay a couple of quid per feedback as they used to be to pay 10p per feedback: any seller of low-priced items could have told them this.
So, my Crafty and other chums, what will you do now? Leave us a comment; be part of our poll.
Updated to add: Lest I be accused of unfairness to James, there is now a post on Q&A too. However, as Pinks are fond of reminding us, only a tiny percentage of eBayers frequent the boards. Therefore, the question of where the official announcement is on this issue remains valid.