Saturday, 4 August 2012

Ebay's New Product Codes Feature

Ebay has many virtues but being consistent is not one of them. They have an obsession with tinkering and changing their listing requirements and features. One of the latest changes is that sellers should include a product code in their listings. This will enable Google Product search to find them and include them in searches. All well and good until you try to use the product code feature on Ebay's TurboLister software. Rather than simply including the product code in the listing, Ebay uses the code to find extra information it can include in the listing. This doubles up on a feature that Ebay TurboLister already has called 'find item specifics.' 

I use the 'find item specifics' as little as possible because the details it finds are nearly always inaccurate and mislead customers. The new product code feature has the same problem. Here is an example.

I wrote a listing for the book, Butler's Lives of the Saints and gave the ISBN, as is now expected by Ebay. In return, without my consent or prior knowledge, Ebay included information they had in relation to that ISBN. Their information has the wrong publisher and the wrong year of publication. The information obviously relates to a different edition and the contradiction is obvious in their own data. The edition I am selling was published in 1985. Ebay have added to my listing that it was published in 1999. They then confuse matters by also including the information that the book went out of print in 1996 - three years before they say it was printed. When a customer reads that information, what is he or she to believe?

In order to avoid customer complaints I have avoided using the 'find item specifics' for years and now I am going to have to avoid using the 'product code' feature as well. Though for how long I and other sellers will be able to do that I do not know. The sellers newsletter from Ebay explaining the new feature contains subtle hints that they want all Ebayers to use the new feature - and so, eventually, it may become compulsory.

If it does, it will be likely that Ebay is willing to accept the loss of a large number of its booksellers. They have a brash attitude when it comes to putting in place policies they know will not be liked. A few years back they more than doubled the fees for business sellers and their email notice that it was happening finished with a link to a page for business Ebayers to close their account if they did not like it.