eBay UK ban duplicate BIN listings

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eBay UK that they are from 27th January 2009.

Changes to the duplicate listings policy mean that sellers will still be allowed to list up to 15 identical items, but only one of them can be a Buy It Now listing. Sellers with duplicate stock can list:

  • up to 15 auctions, or
  • one single BIN listing with multiple items, or
  • up to 14 auctions plus one BIN with multiple items

eBay will enforce the policy by displaying only one BIN listing per item per seller in any one set of search results. Item title will be “a key factor” in determining whether items are identical or not, so sellers need to ensure that titles properly differentiate between lines that may be similar.

The policy change is obviously designed to de-clutter the site, to make it, dare I say, more like Amazon. But as always with eBay’s efforts to get sellers to list multiple-item BINs, it takes no account of buyer behaviour. My own experience is that, even with a boost in Best Match for recent sales, single item listings do much, much better than multiple item ones. Yet again, a rethink in listing strategy is needed: just when we thought we could get on with selling for a while.

For the purposes of this policy, an auction-with-BIN is treated as an auction, so one obvious way around it is for sellers to list with an identical opening bid and BIN price; I’m sure it won’t be long before eBay close that loophole though.

Changes to Post & Packing Policy

Also from 27th January, previously announced are being rolled out. Specifically:

  • all sellers on eBay UK will have to specify at least one domestic postage rate
  • all DVD listings will have to offer at least one free domestic postage rate
  • maximum costs are being introduced in the following categories: Books, Comics & Magazines, DVD, TV & Film, Music, Video Games, Mobile and Home Phones.

It’s a great shame that the maximum costs in those categories haven’t been announced yet; sellers spend enough time revising and re-revising their listings to fit in with eBay’s myriad policy changes; Royal Mail are not going to revise their rates between now and January, so there is no reason that this announcment could not have contained the actual maximum rates.

But the pill has been sweetened a little. eBay now allow sellers using the SYI form and Turbo Lister to edit postage rates on live items which have had sales; at least this will stop the end-and-relist cycle which has happened so often during 2008. eBay say that offering free postage (apparently in any category) “could boost your exposure in Best Match”; it’s perhaps worth experimenting with this if you haven’t already.

Over to you: what do you reckon? Leave us a comment.

40 Responses

  1. Last month, I experimented & kept my items the same price but offered free P&P. At the end of the month My sales were 10% down on the previous month where i had charged p&p.

    My dsrs for p&p stayed at 4.7.

    I’m now charging p&p again and sales have remained the same so far.

    Regards multiple listings, this U.S announcement from 18th Nov.

    “Hi.. This is Jeff King, Senior Director of Finding. Starting this week we will be showing all identical listings from the same seller for Fixed Price items in search. Since July 30, we had been showing just one listing to ensure that buyers see relevant items from a variety of trusted sellers. Now that a track record of recent sales is a key factor in the sort order for Fixed Price, most sellers are combining identical items into single, multi-quantity, 30-day listings. This has proven to be the right strategy for sellers and a great shopping experience for buyers. Please note that we are continuing to show a maximum of 10 listings per page — whether Fixed Price or Auction-style — from any one seller. “

  2. Keith: I did the same experiment, my sales almost doubled, and my P&P star went from 4.8 to 4.9. Horses for courses, eh.

    Also bear in mind that the UK and the US have different policies on multiple listings and how they are displayed in search.

  3. I assume you can still list the same item in different catagories? i.e the same item in baths/jacuzzi & 4piece suite/3piece suite, the same item listed in 4 cats. or would that be classed as a duplication?

    Alot of our buyers browse by catagories, not moaning just wanting to clarify.

  4. #3 Whirly, not stated but I’m guessing their major criterion is title, so differing purely by category is *probably* a duplicate.

    #4 Jimbo, I put my prices up to cover the postage – so pretty much doubled with the extra sales. Nice try 😉

  5. excellent, about 8 years coming but pure gold none the less.
    well done ebay.

    with Sue on the p+p
    profits up, no combined agro & instant payments to boot make ebay turn from a lame duck that we dropped three or four months ago due to the high conversion costs and non payer rate to the most exicting and progressive channel out there again.

  6. #6 You think this is a good thing…?

    I’m curious as to what problem this is meant to solve. Having 15 duplicate BINs doesn’t seem to be a problem.

    The fact that there is now another way that search results are “chosen” by the eBay system is a very bad thing. This will be crammed with glitches and sales will drop until eBay sort them out.

    eBay need to get on with running their business and stop trying to reinvent the wheel.

  7. Hmmm. Great – another problem for clothes sellers, unless the choice policy is finally going to be sorted.

    At the mo, I have to list everything in every size I have separately, which costs a fortune and does nothing for the buyer experience

    So, are these going to be considered duplicate listings with variations on the size?

    Suz x

  8. So will eBay be refunding fees paid for listings where their system deems them to be duplicates and doesn’t display them in error?

    Also, will there be a way to report the 100’s of listings that are marked this way in error?

    If I pay for a service (listing fee), I expect to receive that service. I don’t trust eBays system to accurately judge if my listings are duplicated or not. I doubt it will only effect titles that are exactly the same.

    And eBay being eBay most likely wont release any details that would enable us to make sure that all our listings show, by telling us how to make sure they are not judged to be duplicates.

  9. eBay will enforce the policy by displaying only one BIN listing per item per seller in any one set of search results. Item title will be “a key factor” in determining whether items are identical or not, so sellers need to ensure that titles properly differentiate between lines that may be similar.

    Isn’t this the rule that eBay repealed recently because it was so successful? Or was that an eBay.com only thing?

  10. The revision of the duplicate listings policy would not be a problem if ‘best match’ actually worked.

    ‘Best match’ does not work. How do I know this?

    Because over the past month or so, a significant amount of my sales came from seven day listings – just before they ended. I had identical seven day listings for a few products, ending at 8-9.00pm on a daily basis.

    From the sales patterns for those few products it was possible to reach one of two conclusions:

    A significant number of customers have ‘best match’ disabled (eBay’s Newsletter contradicts this) – or – the only part of ‘best match’ that was working for me was the part that shoved my listings to the top shortly before they closed.

    Therefore, sellers who are in support of the new duplicate listings policy need to ask themselves if their experience so far leads them to believe that ‘best match’ works.

    You see, if ‘best match’ proves not to be as scientific as eBay would have you believe, it’s only going to take a few sellers in each category to list multiple auctions (I think the allowed ratio will be 14:1) to make the solitary ‘buy-it-nows’ disappear.

    Of course, the fees for auctions with buy-it-now are substantially higher than fixed price listings (for shop subscribers) – but experience has shown that there are still an awful lot of people selling on here who simply cannot count!

    The whole thing is yet another eBay ploy to raise fees again. It is history repeating itself.

    I remember multiple mailshots encouraging me to sign up for a shop. So I did, and within six months, ebay made my listings disappear from standard searches.

    This time, one pays a £50 monthly subscription, list your whole inventory for 5p a pop type shop. You can duplicate as many listings as you want, but the buyer can only view a maximum of 15 at a time.

    So you subscribe, do all the listings, figure out how to get seen in the searches – then eBay are going to make you invisible again, unless you pay much much more for auction style listings.

    Call me a cynic – but what is the point?

  11. if find this part amusing…

    “eBay say that offering free postage (apparently in any category) “could boost your exposure in Best Match”

    yeah I am sure

    as long as no one else in the category is doing free p&p

    sometime i think they think we button up the back!

  12. i dont like free postage – it really does not affect sales very much. People are savy nowadays – they look at the total cost of the product in my opinion. Also I think postage that is not a rip-off is better received than free postage with a high BIN – its all psychology I guess 😉

  13. @ # 15

    I don’t know. I’m at the top of best match for the item I’m still selling and I’d like to think I deserve that placement. It sounds like the problem with your listings is that you aren’t creating the proper sense of urgency. I can definitely help with that.

  14. I’m waiting for eBays next brilliant move …where for every 10 items listed; sellers must give 3 items away totally free with free inc postage

    eBay is a joke..

  15. Isn’t this going to cost ebay a fortune………..When I was on there I used to have three or four or more of the same listing rolling around to capture the most amount of customers each day.

    If they remove any duplicate listing I am guessing this is going to seriously reduce their income????????

    Thats either going to mean more adverts on there or prices going up is it not?


  16. Maybe .co.uk only ‘just got’ the email from HO to restrict duplicates, and in a month or so time will get the other email to recind the policy 😯

  17. This is the model they adopted with eBay Express. i used to get good sales from that site, and it appeared less cluttered. I for one think the buyer experience will be better, and anything that keeps buyers happy should be viewed as a positive step.

  18. #18

    I’ve read a little about the ‘urgency’ aspect. ie, a listing with just a few items on.

    But, do I not need a few duplicate listings to ensure I have inventory available for those who need more than one or two of something?


    Free postage is actually a bit of a nightmare for multiple orders. People aren’t stupid, they know the shipping price is built in. Considering eBay have been brainwashing customers (MY customers, not eBay’s – something often overlooked) to expect a postage discount on combined invoices etc., do they not expect customers to ask for some extra off?


    Edging towards a universal shipping price (free), encouraging businesses to list ‘all’ inventory on buy-it-now, 14 day universal return policy – does none of this sound familiar? Would this not make an eBay express a viable proposition again? (God forbid!)

    Careful what you wish for though!

  19. 5# Sue, do you know when eBay are going to let us all know what constitutes a duplicate? Clothing sellers may have 5 or 6 similar listings, the only difference being size. Do you know how eBay will see these? Will the title have to be identical to fall foul of the duplicate policy?

    P.S I like the new edit comment screen, very fancy…

  20. Hi Rich,
    I think there will be some more details coming shortly – James the Pink is on the case, I believe. I honestly don’t think that (even) eBay would be silly enough to see different sizes of clothing as identical items, but we’ll see.

    The edit comment screen is cool, isn’t it 😀 All thanks to the lovely Ron from the Reader Appreciation Project. If anyone has a WordPress blog, I wholeheartedly recommend that plugin.

  21. You’d hope not, but I wouldn’t put it passed them to run some sort script checking for 90% similarity in item titles, then bang, listings get binned from all over the place.

    It’s probably nothing to worry about, and as they’ve pulled it from .com they may follow suit here. However, they have made, IMO, a catalog of errors this year, not fully thinking through proposed changes. So I shall don my tin hat and hide behind the sofa to avoid the fallout.

  22. It does seem strange how .com and .co.uk have the completely opposite policy.

    If these are for the buyer experience, then which one is right?

    Maybe they are just testing the two different scenarios.

  23. @ # 23

    You do make a good point. On .com I have a store so I just put a listing with large quantity available there. Likely no one ever sees that and I get practically no sales from it but if people want to buy a lot from me they can go there.

    I guess you have to ask yourself which will work better for you. Having people buy multiple quantity from you at the potential cost of less demand overall or selling more at the cost of possibly having bulk purchasers hitting the back button.

    I will say that in the past when I’ve sold in large quantities to people I was originally asked from single item auction listings.

  24. Most excellent announcement by eBay on duplicated listings.

    Will make the site nice and clean and marks the end of good old spam-o-rama.

    Right now multiple listings beats MQ by a country mile….

  25. @ # 28

    If eBay is being truthful it has little to do with the buyer experience. They are trying to beat a certain behavior into their users so it becomes the norm. Then they remove the rule once everyone is conditioned to behave the way they want them to. The rule was very unpopular in US because it hid a large percentage of listings that were fully paid for. But now that the rule doesn’t exist on .com there is nothing left to complain about.


  26. After several click-though links, and lots of looking, you eventually find the costs listed here:


    They’re limiting mobile phones to £7 and accessories to £3. Now, while I agree that £15-£20 for a boxed modern phone is pretty high, £10 is pretty OK. And a small headset for a phone, is probably OK at £3, but what about some larger/heavy accessories?

    If you look at what I use:
    new custom boxes (about 60p-£1 each)
    bubble wrap (say 50p worth)
    petrol to get to the post office (?)
    the postage itself (around £3-£6)
    and my time actually doing it

    I’m going to be pretty worse off, as are most other people.

    Remember that ebay do not make fees from postage. (well, they still do I suppose, via their evil-twin, PayPal)

    And as we’re having to increase our prices to make up the shortfall from these stupid rules, they *ARE* going to make more money, from the increased start prices and final value fees.

    So yes, this is another attempt to mess us up and make them more money – nice!

  27. it seems to me that the duplicate listing policy has not been thought out properly, what is classed as a duplicate listing? customer support are telling people that following,

    such as a seller listing an abc in 10cm and abc in 20cm is classed as a duplicate so will be removed. How would you list batteries for example is an xyz AA Battery The same as xyz AAA Battery ? according to the automated software ebay will use how is it going to determine if this is a duplicate or not?
    as per usual another poorly implemented policy which will have a major knock on effect for 1000’s of sellers alike.

  28. quote : How would you list batteries for example is an xyz AA Battery The same as xyz AAA Battery

    Same problem for Jiffy bags – are these duplicate listings ?

    100 Jiffy Bags Size JL 1
    100 Jiffy Bags Size JL 2
    100 Jiffy Bags Size JL 3
    100 Jiffy Bags Size JL 4
    100 Jiffy Bags Size JL 5
    100 Jiffy Bags Size JL 6

    No way you can list all sizes in a single multiple auction

  29. #26 Sue, apparently according to Customer Support (Post# 34) eBay are “silly enough”…

    #35 Even If we give a size option/choice in a listing, don’t we fall foul of eBay’s Choice Policy?

    Perhaps if I drink enough mulled wine over the Christmas holidays January the 27th will come and go as a blur LOL

  30. The announcement says

    We’ll continue to enforce this policy through member reporting.

    Two questions:

    1) If eBay hides duplicate Fixed Price listings how does one find them to report?

    2) On .com we don’t have this policy and from my understanding we can have our items show up on eBay.co.uk . Does that mean I can legally flood your market using synonyms and there is nothing you can do about it?

  31. The duplicate listings doen’t bother me but this will be a major headache – all sellers on eBay UK will have to specify at least one domestic postage rate.

  32. Am i correct in thinking that:

    1. if i sell a product that fits a dress size 8 and 10, if i list one in dress size 8 and one in dress size 10 using the same title, this will count as a duplicate listing? It makes me think because the quote above says this “eBay will enforce the policy by displaying only one BIN listing per item per seller in any one set of search results.” So surely, a user on ebay narrowing a wide set of results using the item specifics in the left hand menu on the search results page, constitutes as different sets of search results and thus i should show up whether the user narrows by selecting size 8 or size 10?

    2. If i listed a red hat and changed just one word in the ebay title this would class as different listings? If this was the case we can just change order of titles and a single keyword.

    Any help would be appreciated.


  33. This is going to be a nightmare I can tell!!!

    I have 1,000s of items in a very competitive area…

    We have to list numerous BIN listings as the profit is minimal anyway.

    Being competitive, if my single BIN listing slips to the back with the new eBay search policy it simply won’t sell and Ill be stuck with £1,000s worth of stock for that item.

    I presume these new rules will also mean shop inventory as when goods used be just listed in the shop that’s where they stayed, in the shop… However are now showing in listings


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