Multivariation Search & Browse manipulation on eBay

By Chris Dawson June 13, 2014 - 8:47 am

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?

  • JD
    4 years ago

    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’.

  • 4 years ago

    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.

    • 4 years ago

      Another equally annoying trick used is increasing prices from 99p to £100 when they are out of stock & then lowering the price again when they get more in stock. Obviously this keeps their good till cancelled listing from ending. (or does it?) I could do a better job weeding out these listings for half the pay packet. It is quite ridiculous that they can’t keep on top of it. If you use the report button to report any infringements they usually take so long that the listing runs it’s course & ends or they do absolutely nothing.

    • 4 years ago

      The relatively new eBay “Out of stock” feature should hopefully end the hike the price rubbish

    • Jon
      4 years ago

      Oh that’s good news then. But I can’t help thinking that they should have anticipated the situation & included the Out Of Stock feature when they introduced multivariations.

    • 4 years ago

      The downside is that Out of Stock is only available through Large merchant Services or the eBay API.

      However most Channel Management software solutions should integrate it and the bigger companies that fiddle the system are hopefully using pro tools. You just won’t be able to use it with basic tools such as Turbolister or Selling Manager Pro.

      The other thing to bear in mind is that when the quantity reaches zero the listing will still renew every 30 days and you’ll be charged fees. You can’t remove the Out of Stock feature when it’s added to a listing, you have to manually cancel the listing.

    • Jon Limbert
      4 years ago

      Oh I should have guessed. Benefits for big sellers only. Absolutely no use to struggling small business sellers then. Are we surprised? Nope.

  • Alex
    4 years ago

    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!!

  • K
    4 years ago

    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!!!!

    • 4 years ago

      I came across a seller last month who had all his listings at .99p upto £150. When you clicked on them the .99p was for “gift wrapping”. The “gift wrapping” was one sheet of wrapping paper !!!!

  • 4 years ago

    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

  • 4 years ago

    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.

  • 4 years ago

    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.

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