Tomorrow the eBay Subtitle Fee Doubles

By Chris Dawson September 5, 2018 - 9:00 am

In the Autumn seller release, eBay announced that from the 6th of September 2018, the fee for using the eBay Subtitle feature is doubling from £1 to £2, per listing. This applies to listings in all categories except Motors.

Subtitles are still an incredibly popular feature, despite their decreasing visibility across the site. For starters you won’t see subtitles on the eBay mobile app search results and you also won’t see them on the desktop site in gallery view. Pretty much the only places that you’ll see them are on the desktop search results list view and on the item page itself.

We strongly suspect that eBay increasing the fee for subtitles is to discourage their usage. From this we can conclude that Subtitles have little influence on conversions and don’t add the value that sellers assume they do. Often, we see Subtitles that carry messaging not immediately related to the product, such as ‘UK Stock’, ‘Fast shipping’ or ‘UK Seller’. In other cases we see listings with one or two word titles and a fuller title as the eBay Subtitle – sellers who do this are needlessly spending money and that’s about to double.

Unless you can unequivocally demonstrate that eBay Subtitles are increasing your conversion rates then we would strongly suggest that you remove them from your listings today. Any Good til Cancelled listings that renew tomorrow and carry the subtitle fee will see you be billed £2 instead of £1 on renewal.

If you decide to keep subtitles then make sure you know which listings they are on and be certain that they are performing for you. If you have a listing for a relatively expensive item with deep inventory and a high sell through rate then, even with the cost doubling, subtitles may be worth the investment. If in doubt, edit your listings and remove them.

  • Dave
    3 years ago

    Still no coverage of the introduction of the 35p “extra charge” on the 100 daily listings if any sell for some private sellers in the UK.

    eBay UK have been issuing 100 daily listings for ages with no insertion fees. At the weekend 2nd Sept 2018 the “offer” changed to charge an extra 35p if an item sold……..essentially this is what the insertion fee would be once past any monthly free listings etc

    This kills low value sales like postcards which have been driven into the ground, and sellers will have to factor in the 35p… no doubt ebay’s % fee on the 35p and Paypal’s % fee etc, so more like 50p on every listing.

    Then on 4th Sept eBay followed up with a max £1 FVF and no insertion fee offer! So we all just have to wait for the offers and not list during the week it seems!

    Tried to feed it in to Tamebay but it was not considered, so flagging it here in case anyone is interested.

    • Rob
      3 years ago

      Dave, sounds to me like you are running a business if you sell that much and if you are then like all other business you should be paying your way with insertion fees and final value fees. Why should business fund the likes of yourself to list for nothing? When it cost ebay money to display your listings.

    • 3 years ago

      Tamebay would never publish an article about that

  • Toby
    3 years ago

    Rob I agree. I see far too many people runninga small business under the pretense of a private seller. Getting all the free listings etc and being able to under cut honest business sellers. About time ebay clamped down on it because i am sick of keep reporting them and nothing changing.
    Getting back to subtitles…. why don’t ebay just remove the option? Simple. no flapping around, visible here but not there etc… nice clean move.

    • James
      3 years ago

      Well said. We run a big eBay business and one of biggest brands is discounted by a national chain several times per year through a 3 for 2 promotion. Therefore giving chancers a workable margin, even better if said chancer manages to get a FVF promo!

      Each time a sale occurs at said retailer, we see a huge influx of private listings appear all generally about 1-5p less than our listings which sit there all year round.

      eBay need to work to restrict these sellers and work with brands closer to protect the sellers who work tirelessly to promote the brand and ultimately eBay.

  • 3 years ago

    Chris, when you say “We strongly suspect that eBay increasing the fee for subtitles is to discourage their usage” how can you possibly think that and why would they want to?

    Your paragraph above suggests they are of little or no use and if the majority of users do not see them then how would that effect eBay? Unlike bad sellers, who could have a negative effect on eBay customers.

    No, it is clearly another way that eBay are trying to steal extra fees from sellers to boost their bottom line, they know that very few people will actually spot the increase and sellers with GTC listings will start paying the new price until they realise.

    • james
      3 years ago

      it is to get extra fees from sellers, by moving them over to the infinitely more expensive “promote your listings” program.
      or its huge coincidence that at the same time, the edit item page on ebay now has a huge “promote your listings” box.
      instead of paying £1 per month, now you pay £10 off every sale.

    • 3 years ago

      Agreed. It’s very easy to miss the subtitle price increases. I use subtitles quite a bit, but have cancelled all of them now.

      (A different Dave to the Dave above!)

  • 3 years ago

    Ebay are desperate for Revenue in any shape or form. Q3 results may see the end of Ebay as Wall St investors catch on to managements dirty handed tactics.

  • 3 years ago

    Cheers Chris, completely forgot.

  • James
    3 years ago

    I dont see what the big deal is.. if you have listings doing considerable business and you think a subtitle helps then pay it. What is £1 extra on a listing that is generating thousands of pounds per month?

    If you are seriously concerned about a £1 increase, then you have probably been throwing away money on paying just £1 for subtitles.

    Just sounds like the usual eBay bashing to me. Take it or leave it…

    • 3 years ago

      @James I think that is a bit harsh. I am guessing you would not have a problem with eBay doubling your FVF or your monthly shop fee?

      I do not use subtitles but doubling the cost for no reason other than they can is unjust, as a buyer I sometimes appreciate the use of subtitles by sellers to give more detail about the product.

      According to the above they are not even worth using except to target those, like me, that use a desktop to shop.

      Meanwhile, every time I sync my stock, the eBay systems considers it a revision to my listing and removes the item from my markdown sale promotion, which they encourage us to use. Maybe they would see an increase in revenue by fixing some of the many system faults rather than keep taking the easy route to raising income.

  • Chris
    3 years ago

    Dave this is a prime example of the problem with eBay. People wanting everything for nothing. Pay your way as a business and do not ask for comments from tax paying business men and women that spend their life online retailing.

    To be honest, eBay should just remove the private seller altogether or put it under another domain. It is too hard to establish a good marketplace when people sell second-hand junk in the same space.

  • James
    3 years ago

    @tyler Your argument does not compute? You are comparing apples to oranges… A listing Subtitle is considerably different to FVF or a monthly shop fee.

    Without being an arse, I think you need to look at eBays bigger picture. eBay control the features on site based on where they are trying to steer their ship – Dont harp on about them needing to justify why they are doing it – if you actually think about it there are lots of reasons, all of which could benefit the majority of sellers going forward.

    Lets look at the big picture. Amazon has taken ecommerce by storm and its dominance is frankly frightening. Whilst considerably more than an ecommerce business, their ecommerce part is clearly doing very well and if left to its own devices will most likely put sites like eBay to bed within a decade or two.

    eBay have had a big wake up all and are trying to evolve their website into a platform that can try and compete with (or least not succumb to) Amazon. Unfortunately it cant do it as is… whilst the flexibility and customisation of eBay has been its life blood since conception – it simply doesnt cut it in 2018. eBay is losing out in terms of the buying experience and still suffers trust issues.
    To build on these areas eBay has started working very closely with household brands, to better the publics perception of the site and also improve said products representation on site – also in the hope that this will start to trickle down. Removing Subtitles will most certainly help with this aspect as many sellers simply spam Subtitles with a sentence that is rarely informative.

    eBay are also clearly trying to catalogue all listings, again removing subtitles is necessary for this.

    What else do you want? If you managed to get through to the person in house dealing with said project I am sure they have pages of reasons on why they are doing this and how it will help them progress their plans. Its very unlikely that putting extra ££ in their pocket is at the top of their list… in fact I would go as far as saying that you should be thankful that they have decided to increase the cost instead of canning the feature full stop. This at least gives the people who use Subtitles to good effect the opportunity to evaluate its future use and still use if viable – whilst hopefully clearing out a lot of the crap.

    You mention eBay syncs and Markdown manager – I assume you are managing your listings through a 3rd party? If so, then the issue is theirs and not eBays…
    I manage >15,000 listings via Channel Advisor – I don’t have said issues as Channel Advisor has a solution for the problem.

    In conclusion I stand by my first post, I do not see what the big deal is. If you used Subtitles at £1, you simply need to evaluate whether its still profitable to use at £2. If its not, then remove your subtitles and move on…

    • 3 years ago

      @James I think it is your argument that does not compute!

      A fee is a fee which ever way you look at it so no need for them to justify putting any up, you can’t pick & choose the ones you are happy with.

      “eBay are also clearly trying to catalogue all listings, again removing subtitles is necessary for this.”

      WRONG, how does a subtitle on a listing effect a catalogue listing? The subtitle will only show on your individual listings or your shop listings NOT the catalogue listing.

      If it is bad for the site as you seem to think then they should remove them, but they are not. It does not make sense to have things on your site that would hinder its growth, but like the bad sellers, they just choose to charge them extra than stop them selling, so still giving eBay a bad name (supposedly) but eBay benefit financially through extra fees.

      I see a pattern forming, “extra fees” seems to be the common theme, not what is good for the site. Maybe it won’t take a decade or two for its demise.

      Like I said, I do not have subtitles, but do find them useful, when buying, if used correctly and I am sure those that misuse them will still misuse them regardless of the cost, so your argument falls flat.

      In conclusion I stand by my post, eBay are doing it for the good of their revenues not the future of the site.

      Regards the 3rd party app, the developers are saying that it is the eBay api rules that are insisting on the BIN being update on any revision.

    • James
      3 years ago

      Ref Subtitles: How am I “WRONG”? How are individual sellers going to display their own subtitles when their offers are listed in screen similar to an Amazon product page?
      Do Amazon allow each seller to have their own subtitle? No, didn’t think so. They used to and it was called a Seller condition note, but this was removed a couple years ago – as like eBay’s subtitles its was mainly full of junk.

      “I see a pattern forming, “extra fees” seems to be the common theme, not what is good for the site. Maybe it won’t take a decade or two for its demise.”
      – I think you are looking at it the wrong way. As somebody has already said in this comments thread, maybe Extra fees that can be absorbed (if necessary) by only the larger sellers is good for eBay. In that they serve to put smaller and opportunist sellers off using said features or the platform full stop?

      “Like I said, I do not have subtitles, but do find them useful, when buying, if used correctly and I am sure those that misuse them will still misuse them regardless of the cost, so your argument falls flat.”
      – Rubbish. Seller X has 500 listings with Subtitles spending £6000pa, seller X has no metrics to prove said subtitles increase sales, but is winging it anyway as he thinks the cost is reasonable. Seller X now has to spend £12000 hoping the subtitles will work? Id imagine the vast majority would draw a line and stop using…

      3rd Party app – So how are eBay in the wrong? The the 3rd party app has built a business off the back of eBay, therefore the onus is on them to offer you a workable solution and they cant! Obviously eBay could help, but they have bigger fish to fry. Channel Advisor have workarounds in their own platform to get around this…

      That will do from me. We clearly have different views and experience with eBay and are just arguing. Have a good day…

    • james (the original :-P )
      3 years ago

      I’m just chiming in to say i’m not the same james as James, i get into enough ‘debates’ on tamebay without everyone thinking i (we) am some kind of scitzophrenic that fights both sides of an argument.

    • james
      3 years ago

      No, I’m the original James? Maybe I’m both james’

    • 3 years ago

      @James I think you are getting confused with all the ranting you are doing.

      eBay is not Amazon and Amazon is not eBay, maybe try forgetting about your apples & oranges as well as Amazon and just focusing on eBay.

      Why do you you say “How are individual sellers going to display their own subtitles” if they can not, why are they being charged for them?

      I think if you read my last reply and concentrated on what is actually being said you would see that I clearly pointed out that the subtitles would be displayed on the sellers listing as in eBay item number: 273223885900 (Bear in mind that the seller should not really have a description in the image).

      It also shows up in the searches as well as the list of items for that seller, so is of some use.

      You are arguing that eBay doubled the fees because having subtitles devalues the platform, well if that is the case then they should really stop them altogether, not make money out of devaluing the site, unless of course it is purely to make money from extra fees, which is what I am saying.

      At no point in your argument have you shown why it is reasonable to devalue a market place website by charging people to do it.

      3rd Party app – In brief, the developer has told me that the problem is with the eBay api and that if they do not send the information as requested by eBay then the update does not work. As their system works extremely well I do not see why they would lie about it.

    • alan paterson
      3 years ago

      @ James, its refreshing to see a new James. Didnt much care for the last one. So as we know which James you are (as you make far better arguments than “arse James”) simply put a letter after your name.

      Although i have to agree with Tyler on this particular discussion.

  • lotus nut
    3 years ago

    Does anybidy know if the increase is global or just UK sellers?.

    I have a few subtitles but will be removing them due to the fee increase so ebay will be worse off around £70-£80 per month maybe more.
    Also see this as a easy way for ebay to raise even more revenue hence removing mine over the next month.

    Ebay state “Certain features, like adding a subtitle, do incur an additional fee, but these optional listing upgrades can help your listing stand out and attract more buyers.” How much they have added to my sales is very difficult or impossible to say but its a sales feature there to be used and take advantage off and see no issue in people using it. There are no guide lines or rules (from what i can see) to state what your not alowed to have in the subtitle so if sellers want to say FREE POSTAGE UK SELLER or ean number its up to them, have also found some info handy in there too.
    Its a feature there to be used by those who wish to, nothing wrong in that as far as i can see, its just got too expensive in my view and fed up with so many increases in fees all the time.

  • eBay needs to be much more innovative than trying to focus on these minor things and over complicating the selling process for sellers. Very sad to see the way eBay is going as a follower rather than a leader/pioneer as it used to be 🙁

    • James New
      3 years ago

      Regardless of their intention (to clean listings OR to simply fill its pockets) – Its hardly a big project for them? Its a case of doubling the tariff and sending a press release?

      eBay are innovating – this is just a tiny change on the side.

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