In March, eBay announced that they’d be adding cross-promotional advertising to fixed price listings on eBay UK. Today, they’ve announced that as of 17th May, on UK auction listings.
I think that the seller arguments about this have been pretty well rehearsed. If you want to opt out, you can (at the moment):
- Log in to your eBay account.
- Under “Account,” select “Marketing Tools”
- Under “Item Promotion,” click “Promote Similar Items”
What I want to talk about here is how this works for buyers. In short: it sucks.
We all know that buyers ought to read everything before they click anything. We all know that they don’t – that *we* don’t. There are conventions on the internet, just like there are for every other media channel – and one of those conventions is that the “you might also like” section has items that you can add in to your order without really thinking about it. I’ve been buying on eBay for over a decade now: I write about eBay, I comment on eBay, I’ve written blog posts about how ridiculous this very change is… and yet in the last month, even I have been caught out twice buying items from the cross-promo section assuming that they’re from the same seller… only to find out later that they’re not, and I’m stuck paying two lots of carriage where I was only expecting to pay one. If I’ve done it, then what hope for the newbie buyer?
A chum who sells in the Crafts category told me of a new buyer she dealt with recently, who requested a combined invoice for “the nine items I’ve just bought from you”. Except she hadn’t: she’d bought nine items from nine sellers, and instead of the fiver or so she was expecting to pay in postage, ended up with nine invoices with postage totalling close to fifty quid. As sellers, we can condemn this buyer for “not reading things properly” — or we can acknowledge that she was working by conventions that benefit us all by making internet shopping feel comfortable, and we can condemn eBay themselves for making what should be an easy experience into a difficult and confusing one.
When this change was first brought in, I was ambivalent. I thought the advantages for sellers from the greater publicity might just outweigh the disadvantages of having other sellers’ items on my listings. I was wrong. Think like a buyer. This is confusing, stupid, and you should opt out.