eBay UK clogged up with foreign "private" sales

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Jimbo’s been a prolific commenter on TameBay for a long time now. Here in his first guest post, he takes a look at the jewellery categories he sells in, and doesn’t like what he sees.

A strange thing has been happening in eBay land these last few months. Many categories are being clogged by penny auctions from overseas. As I sell mainly within the fine jewellery category it is there where I have noticed it but I believe that a similar situation is happening in many cats.

As an example, I made a search for “silver bangle” this evening. The results show 15 buy it now and 35 auctions. The 15 BINs were in the results due to “best match” and the 35 auctions were there because they were soon to end (all within the next minute). So 70% (if my maths are right) of the best match make up of that search were auctions. Every one of those auctions were from overseas sellers and only one had a bid (1p)! Of the 15 BINs, 5 were overseas sellers (grand total 80% overseas sellers). Okay free trade and all that but….. As I understand it there is a tiny little loophole that allows private sellers can list for free if the start price is 99p or under: can you guess the start price of those 35 auctions? Its interesting to see the number of listings these “private” sellers have – one had over 20,000!

Now a second point about these overseas auctions that are clogging the search results: many of the items don’t comply with UK regulations. When selling silver in the UK there are requirements for hallmarking and also that products comply with the nickel directive. These requirements are there to protect the consumer. In other categories I believe that there are also problems with overseas items not complying with CE Kite marks etc.

The problem with these listing in my mind is not that they are not competing with my items as such but more that they are clogging up the system. They are not giving customers what they want (the vast majority are not selling) and they downgrade the whole eBay “buyer experience”.

Come on eBay, sort it out!

31 Responses

  1. And most if not all those were 1 day listings?

    Always newly listed and always within 24 hours of time ending soonest.

    And all the unsolds are then immediately relisted.

    Revolving failure.

    Total gridlock.

  2. What stumps me with this is that “foreign” PowerSellers like myself were excluded from the FVF discount scheme on the grounds that we don’t get freebies on eBay UK — but these sellers are surely (surely!?!?!) getting free 99p listings. It’s not even consistent.

  3. They are not giving customers what they want (the vast majority are not selling) and they downgrade the whole eBay “buyer experience”.

    Sounds more like they eliminate the “buyer experience”.

  4. Somebody at Faulty Towers must have twigged onto this by now, are cats. are not so overloaded but we have one or two private/foreign sellers who basically own page 1, their entire stock consists of nasty 99p bath pillows which seem to be ending every 60 seconds, postage is on the high side + they never sell bugger all.

    ‘Revolving failure.’

    ‘Total gridlock.’

    A fitting description.

    Wakey wakey Basil!

  5. What stumps me with this is that “foreign” PowerSellers like myself were excluded from the FVF discount scheme on the grounds that we don’t get freebies on eBay UK

    We pay over £1500 a month in fees to Ebay and also do not “qualify” for “fvf” as we list on Ebay.com from the UK.

    Now Ebay.co.uk are happy to take our money each month (as Ebay.co.uk earnings).

    They are happy to display to the world 100% feedback.

    They are happy to display 4.9, 4.9, 4.9, 4.8 on DSR’s.

    They are happy to have us as a customer I would think, as we bring value to the site.

    But they are not happy to give us the 30% FVF discount.

    That is not very good customer service.

    Maybe a blog of its own at some point Sue?


  6. there is a chinese seller in the clothing category that has wait for it 2500 listings feedback of less then 80 a month. product cost of course .99 shipping is 29.99
    This is the reason why I dont shop on ebay anymore there is simply to much s”””t to go through much easier to do a google search …they always seem to get it right..ebay the same cheap products hundreds of time. Now come to think of it the only thing i purchased was dotd and local pick up only nothing else because of the chinse sellers…and I’m confident with ebay..God knows what it must be like for somebody thats not very good with the internet nightmare just compare the share price of amazon to ebay ….but ebay is of course trying to copy amazon without cutting out the bad listings..we are doomed I tell you

  7. I agree with this, Taking one of my searches hannah montana watch – result 1204 listings, remove overseas search finds 222 – the overseas ones are from either China or Hong Kong, FAKE watches (its obvious when you look at the quality / pictures / prices and even the feedback from people)

    I tried to report these before Xmas but they did not get removed and I got fed up. The listings are either 99p or 49p + postage for 10. Worse still, of the 222 UK listings, you can now see the same pictures that “hobby sellers” have bought from China and are selling individually, meaning the tat is still being sold

    As a UK based business seller where do I compete? with the overseas fakes? the UK fakes or the “hobby” sellers

  8. @7 Totally agree. We tried reporting fake merchandise being sold out of the Far East a few years ago, but eBay were’nt interested (although they seem more than happy to remove our genuine merchandise). It’s a situation that will only get worse unfortunately.

  9. Its not just far east sellers taking advantage of the lenient private rules and fees.
    [user id removed by moderator] is a chinese seller operating out of Nottingham taking the michael big time!

  10. Currently 40000+ items in beads are from China out of 114,000 listings.

    OF these 95%+ are auctions under 99p. Its no wonder there are a few disillusioned UK bead sellers out there.

    If the playing field was level and they were businesses paying 10p or similar to list per listing no-one would object. As it is they list for free, sell less than 5% of what they list and clutter the marketplace with multiples of the same items.

    I recently bought 100 925 sterling core Pandora beads from 5 of the top listers in China in my catagory. All beads were tested using nitric acid… and 100% proved to be nickel or cupro nickle cored beads!

    Buyers are being ripped off, bead sellers are seeing falling sales (not us BUT we are big and proactive) yet EBAY seem content to sit back.

    James (the Pink) advises us on the boards that the situation is being reviewed but unless the playing field is levelled soon it will result in an EBAY full of free chinese private auction listings….

    And if you are not currently disadvantaged by the mass lister from China…. you soon will be unless EBAY changes this farcical system

  11. Ebay must be losing hundreds of thousands in fvf from sales to potential UK buyers who simply refuse to put up with this sort of thing and buy from Amazon instead

  12. Does eBay still think that feedback/DSR’s (oh & the sledge hammer that is vero) is enough to regulate the market place?

    I can just see Nicky Campbell holding up a selection of items which contravene EU/UK regulations and are potentially dangerous.

  13. I think we should all remember that the issue isn’t “Chinese sellers”, anyone can and should be able to list on eBay.

    The issue is the fact that sellers, who are obviously businesses, are able to list items as private sellers for free.

    It’s getting very close to being a race issue. If people in China want to sell on eBay, great. So long as we all play by the same rules, it’s ok.

  14. Interesting comment but are you actually saying that you agree or believe eBay.co.uk should only be for UK sellers?

    I think and hope that will never be the case. Some of the best items I have bought on eBay have been from sellers outside of the UK.

    In fact, I think the downfall of sites such as Tazbar etc is in no small part due to the lack of non Uk sellers.

    but many of your peers do not. …As arrogant as it may sound, if that is true then many of my peers are wrong.

  15. One other thing to note here is a change on eBay’s new listing page.

    Before, a half experienced buyer could look at a Chinese listing and see that while the item was (supposedly) located in the UK, the seller was registered in Hong Kong or China. Alarm bells would ring and the buyer would move on the find a UK listing.

    On the new listing page, the bit that tells you where the seller is registered is no longer visible. This means that a Chinese listing can look just like a UK listing.

    This is clearly an intentional change from eBay and to me, suggests that they want the Chinese listings there. They either make more money from them, or they make more from UK sellers who are paying for Featured First and other enhancements to try and stay ahead of the Chinese sellers. Or perhaps they want the Chinese listings there to drive prices down on eBay (I know that I have buckled on some products and dropped prices to match the Chinese)

  16. Interesting comment but are you actually saying that you agree or believe eBay.co.uk should only be for UK sellers?

    I can’t imagine why any serious UK based seller would want it to be open to other countries. In almost every market, the less competition, the better.

  17. #18 When you go shopping for a new sofa, do you go to the part of town with 1 furniture shop or the part of town that has 4 furniture shops?

    Competition is a great thing and always attracts more buyers, which is good for sellers. The lower quality sellers don’t like competition because they actually have to work hard to compete and succeed.

    In almost every market, the less competition, the better. The complete opposite is true.

    I still think at it’s core it is more racist than anything else. The fact that the nationality is mentioned over other factors such as price or status. If the Chinese were removed, who would be next, the French? where would it stop.

  18. The big gripe I have is people not paying tax, vat on ebay sales, and thus artifically lowering the true market price of products. These people are accessing trade sources for product. I wish the VAT & TAX man would root these people out and put them behind bars.

  19. #20 “I still think at it’s core it is more racist than anything else. The fact that the nationality is mentioned over other factors such as price or status. If the Chinese were removed, who would be next, the French? where would it stop.”

    This country is slowing filling up with politically correct morons. I think its a fact that the Chinese have a high propensity to litter ebay UK with cheap tat. Get your fact right, rather than quoting such garbage.

  20. #22 fat chance of that ever happening (VAT lowering). Good news is I am getting a £1000 rebate this month from VAT man!

  21. @18

    I list only on the UK site. I also PAY for my listings to be shown on .com

    Around 50% of my sales are exported.

    Quid pro quo I would not want the site to be default UK only.

    My comments @1 are only to agree with Jimbo that the site is clogged with <99p listings that are free/risk free and from 'private' sellers. Many are revolving 24 hour listings. Whether from India/China/France/UK or some place else matters not a jot.

    Genuine private sellers anecdotally often spend their sales takings on the (eBay) site.

    I would be very happy for genuine private sellers to have, say, 50 free listings a month at ANY start price. Possibly with a restriction on auto relisting.

    The revolving door should be a turnstile.

  22. #23 It’s my opinion so impossible for me to be wrong. What I am saying is that honest businesses, you know, the ones who DON’T rely on everyone else around them to do a bad job thus making them look better. Don’t mind such competition.

    I’m far from politically correct and certainly not a moron, I simply have an opinion that it would seem you disagree with…It’s a shame you are unable to counter my opinion without resorting to insults.

    I guess you also miss be able to neg your buyers for their opinions too.

  23. #25 Bigpoppa The point is that the search results are clogged up with auction with a start price of under £1.00 and which don’t sell.

    These auctions are there because the sellers are not paying listing fees.

    Many of these auctions do not comply with EU/UK regulations/law.

    Overall the effect that these listings have is to downgrade the user experience (unlike for example: bead sellers from France or Hawaiian shirt sellers from the US or organza pouch sellers from China who, in my opinion enrich eBay).

  24. As said above, the issue is not race, and the issue with the Nottingham seller being a chinese man is not important, the issue is the lack of a level playing field when it comes to registering as a business.
    Using this sellers terapeak numbers, in previous 60 days alone, £76,444 worth of merchandise was sold, bearing in mind VAT threshold in 2009 in the UK is £68,000, so the government clearly think this is a good number to have a company on its radar. Check ebays comical response to my enquiry when I hit them with this.

    Thank you for writing to us and reporting about the seller ‘[id removed by moderator]’
    who is selling a lot of items and is still not registered as a Business
    Seller on eBay.

    Please be assured that the eBay system automatically blocks sellers
    which are selling on the business level from further sales if they reach
    the “business sales” threshold. Unfortunately, we can’t disclose this
    treshold because it would then allow the sellers to keep sales just
    below that and avoid being detected by the system. However, we can
    assure you that if the seller’s account reaches the business sales
    threshold, they will surely receive an email from us to upgrade their
    account to business and if they fail to do so they will be blocked from

    Thanks again for taking the time to tell us about this. We really
    appreciate your feedback, it helps us keep eBay a safe and fun place to

    Kind regards,

    Matthew Norman.
    eBay Customer Support

  25. Much as I hate to sound sensible, you are both right.

    the basic problem is with businesses registered as private.

    at the moment the biggest offenders are reg’d in china , tis not racist, it is a fact, it would be just as big a mess if they were all reg’d in France or some other random country.

    That said who can blame them? list for free on the off chance you sell the odd item. If you had the time to do it I doubt you would be worrying about “user experience”.

    This is a Trust and safety issue and its down to ebay to sort it out by find a way to check and enforce their own “business seller” rules.

    Don’t hold your breath.

  26. As one of the largest volume sellers on the UK site (100k + items per annum) I think its about levelling the playing field.

    I have no problems with overseas listers… as long as they pay the same fees, are subject to the same rules and receive the same sanctions.

    James the Pink once replied in a post that anyone listing on the UK site pays UK fees.

    That might be true BUT with free 99p auctions and no control over business sellers in China it does not take a genius to work out why the site is swamped with listings from Hong Kong and China.

    Perhaps the reason why free auction listings on the Australian site have been restricted to sellers with addresses in Australia has something to do with the fact that China is much closer to their marketplace and would create even further disquiet.

    James did point out that the last statement was supposition… but I think its probably the correct one!

    Fortunately I sell such a wide range of items that I can keep just that bit ahead of the crowd BUT I feel sorry for the small seller who finds themselves swamped in the chaos.

    Those sellers are the backbone of a thriving marketplace not the lister from China selling often misdescribed goods with high fee circumventing postage just to save on fees.

    At the end of the day EBAY must either:

    a. enforce worldwide business registration and act on reports
    b. limit free auctions to UK addresses or
    c. extend limited free auctions to all sellers (‘say’ 100 a week) and charge for excesses above those pre determined limits.

    Lets face it a private seller does not need 6000+ listings like the clearly business lister in crafts who happens to be in China .. that would reduce the problem overnight.

    At the end of the day no-one objects to a marketplace that is fair … what sellers such as ourselves object to is having our opportunities spoilt by a farcical system that is undermining the buying experience for everyone.

  27. #26 “I guess you also miss be able to neg your buyers for their opinions too.”,

    As a seller with around 15,000 feedback over a number of accounts, and an average of 4.8 on all my DSRs, I welcome the changes to the feedback system – it improves customer service. In fact I am about to release an analysis I have written about how to improve the ebay message system, and use other methods to manage customer service. Customer service is ingrained in me and my staff.

    You ain’t right mate, just like the Jehovah’s Witness who knocked on my door today telling me that the world was going to end 😉


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