Multivariation Search & Browse manipulation on eBay

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Too many people are spamming Best Match by adding cheap products to their variation listings according to Tamebay reader Damien and I agree with him. It’s and it’s a rubbish buying experience.

eBay say that “If a seller uses tactics that can inappropriately divert bidders and buyers to a listing, we’ll take action”, but they don’t seem to be checking spurious variations to display attractive prices that in reality aren’t offered. Here’s what Damien had to say:

PriceWhilst searching for appropriate iPad covers to buy for my units for resale I noticed a continued trend of offering seemingly cheap covers for only £0.99. However on closer inspection the 99p offer is for a screen protector or stylus only, if you choose a cover from the drop down menu offered in the listing the price then shoots back up.

Best-Match-SpamThe image to the right shows an example. Notice the price when you first visit the listing is 99p, in search results it shows up as “£0.99 to £9.99”, but when you make a selection for anything other than the stylus the price jumps to £9.99.

The titles make no attempt to reference that they’re also selling 99p guff in the listing so it’s obviously an attempt by sellers to jump up the front page for cheapest items. Whilst searching for all items in this price bracket I’d say virtually 99% of sellers were using this trick.

As a buyer it’s pretty annoying as I’ve now lost confidence in finding cheap cases to buy as it’s too much of a ball ache to find a listing at the advertised price!

Has this been noticed before by yourself? Is it something new?

13 Responses

  1. Yes I have seen it too and fully agree that it’s rubbish.

    eBay seem very keen to control stuff that has little to do with them whilst ignoring blatant listing abuse which they should be fully on top of.

    Their listing ‘quality control’ is pants.

    I told them this at a QA session in Richmond and they said that ‘we have a very large QC department’. I offered my services for a lot less than the cost of a ‘large department’.

  2. Is this not going to work against the seller in that they’ll get many impressions but a very low buy rate and then fall down the ranking? Maybe not if “99%” or so many sellers are doing this.

  3. Rubbish buying experience?

    What about all the crap that gets listed for 99p start on free listing promos? Want to make the buyers experience better? Stop these stupid promotions that clutter the site. Lets face it, most of these items would not be listed if the seller had to pay a listing fee. If they thought their old nappys or MacDonalds Happy Meal toys had a value they wouldn’t need to wait for a free listing.

    Its basically idiots living in hope cluttering the site with crap!!

  4. I have had 3 variation listings violated & removed by ebay recently…
    One was eyebrow powder came in several colours or a pallet of all colours – they removed as I was not allowed the pallet on the listing despite it being a larger version of exactly the same product.
    Others were same product in different types – fake tans all by same supplier pretty much on a par on price but came in colour variation medium, dark etc and then in mousse, spray, lotion etc – They pulled that saying not same product – so now I get messages saying do you have this in a spray etc!!!!
    Yet all my ‘competitors’ listings are done in exactly the same way! and like you said ebay is flooded with listings like you see – I know a seller who sells coloured hair dye – around £4 but listing starts at 99p for the wee free instruction paper leaflet that comes in the box with the dye!!!!

  5. I also find it annoying,when searching jewellery,the 99p is for a gift bag and not the item listed. This does clog up the system,so needs looking into. FREE 99p listings have ended by the way…your only allowed 20 a month,so thats not really going to slow the system,however as this is what ebay was built on it does seem a shame that the little people are being forced out. The beauty of ebay was that you could find bargins,as they say one mans junk is another mans treasure

  6. I keep finding sellers who list one of the variations as ‘out of stock’, they actually name that as one of the choices, and of course it’s 99p and out of stock.


    Pan Set

    Set of 3 £19.99 3 available
    Set of 6 £29.99 2 available
    Out of Stock 99p 0 available (greyed out)

    It’s obviously done so it will show when people search by ‘lowest price + P&P’ and is clear abuse of eBay’s MVL policy.

    But as usual, eBay do nothing when these listings are reported.

  7. One trick in the nails category is to add ‘branded’ cheap item to a non branded item to be able to use that search term.

    I.E CND Shellac Remover Wraps (Professional high traffic item & cheap) on a listing for Bluesky Gel Polish (Chinese replica brand)

    and again for price manipulation.



Do you want cheap Chinese or quality British products? eBay thinks it knows!


Shopify 1000 variation limit per day


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