eBay.com hides quantity available on multi-item listings

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eBay.com have said they are to hide the quantity available on multiple item listings for more than ten items. Rather than saying “84 available”, the listing will now tell potential buyers “more than 10 available”. eBay say:

both research and the input we’ve received from sellers indicate that buyers tend to purchase less often when they see a large quantity of items available. This is most likely because they feel a lack of urgency to purchase, or they perceive that the item isn’t selling well.

This certainly mirrors my experience, and that of other TameBayers: buyers buy faster when they think they might miss out.

Depending on the item, of course, a quantity of ten is still too high. Right now I have a few items listed that, with a quantity of 3 or 4 available for 10 days, I get a dozen watchers and no sales; if I list them singly, I can sell a couple every day. In many categories – largely, the ones selling pretty non-essentials – multiple item listings just don’t work so well. So if this change rolls on other eBay sites, it would be very useful to have the facility to set our own maximum visible quantity for each item.

15 Responses

  1. Why 10, why not give sellers the option to specify, I would always go for 1, in my line a customer never wants two, I am the only seller of most of my niche lines and want the buyer to think that there is only 1 available.

  2. Another nice feature would be if there’s less than a certain quantity left to have a “limited quantity” or “almost sold out” logo appear… nothing like a bit of urgency to convince buyers to click the buy button 🙂

  3. Edited. Sound advice #5/#6.

    I will sit on naughty step, say 7 hail marys and not post for 72 hours.

    I like your idea Chris I can see that working well for sellers, which will almost certainly give that idea the kiss of death and eBay will ignore it 😆

  4. I would counsel a little caution about that last idea, Whirly.

    The recently introduced Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regs ban all manner of conduct and contain a very wide catch all provision in case anything got forgotten about or gets dreamed up in the future.

    One of the 31 black listed practices is:

    18. Passing on materially inaccurate information on market conditions or on the possibility of finding the product with the intention of inducing the consumer to acquire the product at conditions less favourable than normal market conditions.

    Playing fast and loose with your quantity available could well fall foul of that one. If it does and the “average consumer” would make a different decision (ie to buy now or at all instead of hanging on) because of it, that’s a criminal offence.

    As I say, just counselling a little caution.

  5. … and, thinking about it further, the Almost Sold Out flag is even more likely to fall foul of No.18.

    I’m not being Boy Scoutish about it and I’m not a Trading Standards Officer in disguise nor “a TSO’s nark” but I’m just flagging up the risk and letting people make their own grown up decisions about what to do with the information.

  6. Showing less quantity than is available is not breaking this Act which has effectively replaced the Trade Descriptions Act. If having less ‘on show’ than is actually available is a crime the Tesco are going to have to get rid of the storerooms for their shops straight away or their directors and staff face jail of up to two years and unlimited fines.

    The Act says that quantity is part of the description of the product and is explained as follows:

    “Any descriptions of goods and services, given by a person acting in the course of a trade or business, should be accurate and not misleading.

    It should be noted that to commit an offence, the description must be false to a material degree, e.g. has a significant impact on a purchaser’s ability to enjoy and/or use the goods/services, or a significant effect on their value.”

    So showing a quantity of 3 when I have 11 doesn’t impact the purchaser’s ability to enjoy and/or use the goods/services or their value at all.

    The following comes from Trading Standards:

    “What descriptions of goods are deemed to be trade descriptions?

    The following matters are specifically included within the meaning of trade description:

    * Quantity, size or gauge.
    This includes length, width, height, area, volume, capacity, weight and number, e.g. rug 1m x 1.5m, 1 pint tankard, 17″ screen.
    * Method of manufacture, production, processing or reconditioning.
    This covers most of the aspects concerning the work done in the making, processing or repairing of goods, e.g. hand finished, cold-pressed.
    * Composition, i.e. from what an item is made, e.g. solid teak, gold plated.
    * Fitness for purpose, strength, performance, behaviour or accuracy,
    e.g. unbreakable, mechanically sound.
    * Any physical characteristics not included in the preceding paragraphs,
    e.g. fitted with disc brakes.
    * Testing by any person and results thereof, e.g. a statement that a car has had its mileage independently checked.
    * Approval by any person or conformity with a type approved by any person, e.g. a statement that an item complies with a British Standard.
    * Place or date of manufacture, production, processing or reconditioning,
    e.g. any statement on goods such as ‘Made in England’.
    * Person by whom manufactured, produced, processed or reconditioned,
    e.g. brand names on an item such as Armani, Microsoft, Duracell – note also that misuse of brand names is likely to breach the Trade Marks Act.
    * Other history, including previous ownership or use, e.g. previously owned by a famous pop star.

    What does the law say in relation to the description of a service?

    The Act also makes it a criminal offence:

    * to make a statement which is known to be false or misleading; or
    * recklessly to make a statement which is false or misleading as to any of the following matters:

    1. The provision of services, accommodation or facilities, e.g. qualified accountant, money back guarantee.
    2. The nature of any services, accommodation or facilities provided, e.g. recommending repair work implies the thing to be repaired has been properly examined.
    3. The time at which, manner in which or persons by whom any services, accommodation or facilities so provided, e.g. hourly cabaret show.
    4. The examination, approval or evaluation by any person of any services, accommodation or facilities so provided, e.g. use of logos of trade bodies such as AA, RAC, CORGI etc.
    5. The location or amenities of any accommodation so provided, e.g. 10 minutes to the beach.

    What else is prohibited under the Act?

    * It is an offence to falsely state or imply that any goods or services are of a kind supplied to, or approved by, the Queen or any other member of the Royal Family (e.g. by the misuse of the phrase or emblem ‘by Royal Appointment’).
    * It is also an offence to use, without the authority of the Queen, any device or emblem signifying the Queen’s Award to Industry or anything that closely resembles such an emblem.
    * It is also an offence to falsely state or imply that any goods or services are of a kind supplied to any other person (e.g. by stating ‘council contractor’/as supplied to X).”

    Full text is at https://www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/cgi-bin/bglitem1.cgi?file=BADV042-1111.txt&msg=ft

    By the way – the point about this in the Act is point 16 – the full document can be viewed at https://www.oft.gov.uk/shared_oft/business_leaflets/cpregs/oft979.pdf

    There’s also more info relating specifically to auctions at https://www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/cgi-bin/bglitem1.cgi?file=BADV649-1111.txt&msg=ft

  7. For wholesale this is bad news. I just sold 75 units, but I am not sure if that would have happened if the wording was “more than 10 units available”. On the other hand, this keeps competitive intelligence at bay since competitors do not know exactly how many units you sell.

  8. Frank at #7:

    Sadly, it’s not as cut or dried as you seem to think.

    The new Regs are not just an updated version of the Trades Descriptions Act 1968 – they implement a European Directive and represent a completely different approach to the raft of legislation they replace.

    I am not saying I know how the new Regs will be applied or interpreted in practice – with the best will in the world, the OFT and Trading Standards up and down the country are trying to work those things out too.

    The OFT 979 leaflet is a very good basic introduction to the subject for businesses and OFT have published formal (and even more comprehensive) guidance as OFT 1008 – that can be found at:


    Neither of those publications are the Regulations themselves – those can be found at:


    There you will find that the paragraph I identified is indeed paragraph 18 of Schedule 1 to the Regulations. (The OFT leaflet rearranges the list into groups to make explaining things easier.)

    The two leaflets from Trading Standards Central that you have linked to are excellent guidance on legislation that has now been superseded. Relying on that out of date guidance is potentially very dangerous.

    I’ve not thrown all of this up here to show off but 1) to show that I do know what I’m talking about and 2) to correct the (well intentioned, I’m sure) misinformation.

    As I say, I don’t know that the Regs will be interpreted in such a way as to criminalise anyone for doing what is being suggested but there is a risk and that does have to be taken into account.

  9. #8

    I will mirror what you say, we recently sold a one off 20 item from a listing, would this have been so smooth with the “more than 10 units available”.

    As far as competitors knowing whats sold, all anybody has to do is click the purchases button above quantity available & past sales info is right there.

    I will say though, that 5 listings each for 10 items is better than 1 for 50.

  10. Clearly ebay are not thinking straight again as this little tweak could turn into a big deal.
    I know ebay can’t possibly know exactly the impact of every single change on every seller, but the old saying rings true “if it aint broke, don’t fix it”

  11. For wholesale this is bad news. I just sold 75 units, but I am not sure if that would have happened if the wording was “more than 10 units available”. On the other hand, this keeps competitive intelligence at bay since competitors do not know exactly how many units you sell.

    Yeah. I believe I’ve sold 15 of something to someone once. How exactly is someone supposed to make a purchase like that now? Do you just type in a number and if it works then it works but you get an error if it doesn’t?

    What eBay needs to do is make it optional for the seller to hide their quantity or not. They have no problem making it an option to hide the winner’s id. Until eBay does this having a Quantity Manager still seems like a good idea.

    I get a dozen watchers and no sales; if I list them singly, I can sell a couple every day.

    So if this change rolls on other eBay sites, it would be very useful to have the facility to set our own maximum visible quantity for each item.

    Sue, two weeks ago you said you would be willing to pay for a feature like this. Why don’t you check out the service I created?

  12. This is such basic stuff and ebay has to do “research”. The quantity listed as available for sale should be entirely up to the seller. Tekgems wants to do wholesale and list 75 available. Another wants to create a sense of urgency and list one available. Why must Ebay muck it up and make some arbitrary rule? Again ebay career consultants foolishly thinks they know more about selling than SELLERS.

  13. #13 I don’t think that they have mucked it up they just have designed the site exactly how I would like it to be 🙂

  14. This apparently just rolled out on .com . I looked at one of my items and it says “More than 10 available”. Here’s the catch … I only have 5 available. I’ve only had 5 available since March. This is a 600 day old listing so maybe that has something to do with it.



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