eBay Purposely Reports Incorrect Selling Prices for Some Completed Items

Posted on June 10, 2008. Filed under: eBay | Tags: , , , |

I discovered something interesting awhile back but I didn’t report it right away because I thought it might be another one of eBay’s glitches, of which they have so many.  But today, after several weeks, I had a few minutes and decided to call to confirm that what I noticed was NOT in fact a glitch.  eBay confirmed for me today that they have made a technical change to how completed sale items are shown and that change was by design although the eBay representative could not or would not speculate as to why the change was made.

In some specific instances, eBay is purposely manipulating the price at which the public views that an item sold for on eBay.  Let’s say that a seller lists an item for sale at $100 and then uses Markdown Manager to offer a 20% discount for 3 days.  All potential buyers, competitors, and the general public are able to see the item for sale at the $80 price.  Let’s assume the item sells the first day.  For the following two days after the date of the sale, everyone is able to see that the buyer paid $80 for the item (in other words, for a total of 3 days after the markdown manager sale started the item shows the $80 price whether it is just for sale or has actually sold).  After the sale “ends”, no one but the buyer and seller know that the item sold for less than $100.  Anyone searching completed items would think that the buyer purchased the item for the original $100 rather than the $80 sale price.  Only the buyer and seller have access to the “real” sales data.

I can think of a few reasons eBay might want to make this change so that the selling prices appear higher than actual but I can not think of any explanation that would benefit eBay buyers or sellers.  Of course I did point out to the eBay Powerseller representative that sellers who are researching the eBay site for product sourcing information would be misled into purchasing product that wouldn’t sell well.  And buyers who are looking at the historical “market value” would be misled into placing higher bids on items.  

Manufacturers might be pleased to think that their items are selling for higher prices on eBay and pleased that more wholesalers will be ordering product because they mistakingly think they can sell it on eBay at the higher prices.  And, of course, eBay’s revenue could go up in the short term because sellers will pay higher insertion fees to list their items for sale at higher prices. 

It is undoubtedly eBay’s intent to drive up the prices on their site which will increase revenues for eBay and will lessen the “flea market” perception so that manufacturers will not object so loudly to having their product dumped on eBay.  eBay is doing everything in its power to encourage sellers to list items at high sales prices (with free or reduced shipping) by using multiple sticks and a few carrots in an effort to force sellers to artificially raise their prices.  And when that doesn’t work, eBay will blatantly report higher selling prices to the public.


Here is an example of one my items that sold recently:

The item was listed for sale at $11 (city has been blotted out)

Item was then put on sale through Markdown Manager

Item was sold at sale price of $8.25 and that is what appears on the order details page that the buyer and seller can view:

However, the public sees the item sold at $11 (identifying information has been marked out):



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8 Responses to “eBay Purposely Reports Incorrect Selling Prices for Some Completed Items”

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At least for today, it doesn’t seem to be fooling the investors. Closed @ 27.72.

That said, it’s a shame what’s being done to the once great eBay.

It’s getting to the point where even if the eBay captains decided they were sailing in the wrong direction and changed course, too many have jumped ship never to return.

This is a great blog! Thanks for writing it!

I hope you are going to eBay Live, BrewsNews, so we get the real scoop on what’s going on.

I don’t normally support many things regarding this “new” eBay but I do think this one is a good idea. It is kind of like the “best offer” feature. Would you want all your potential buyers to know that one of your other buyers got the item for a lower price? Maybe this isn’t common, but years ago I would sometimes get buyers that would ask for discounts after the sale based solely on the fact that one of my earlier auctions ended at a lower price than the one they bid on.

Years ago I too had that problem but that was when auctions were the “norm”. With the current Buy Now option, I don’t seem to have that problem. Plus, remember that today there is SO MUCH more listings than years ago so there would be more for your buyers to search through to find the latest good deal you offered. And the biggest difference is that a search of completed items yields only the last 15 days results for auctions and fixed price items only (no store) unless you pay for the extra services to get the “rest of the story”.

The historical data is incorrect and incomplete with the way that eBay is reporting the final sales price as it relates to Markdown Manager and this leads to incorrect decision-making on the part of the users of this historical data. There is nothing on the listing item description page to indicate the item was actually purchased for less than the listing price. eBay could put some kind of symbol next to the price that publicly indicates the item was purchased through Markdown Manager at a lower price even if they don’t say what the final price was.

eBay’s motivation in the way they are now reporting Markdown Manager sales is NOT to assist sellers but rather to skew the reporting results of the prices at which the items are selling.

This leaves the door open for some MASSIVE BIG$$ FRAUD!! If a seller listed say a video game at $48.99 (retail $59.99) and a buddy bought it for $1 best offer, than anyone looking back through past auctions would think that he really sold the game for $49 and had a successful transaction instead of feedback manipulation! What a crock! Ebay needs to learn about ethics and stop helping these crooks make the place worse.

Check all the completed listings on eBay Live Auction items and every item appears to be sold to the auction floor whether or not it’s sold.

EXCELLENT BLOG! For your next article on deceptive practices, please report on this.

eBay has confused the term “feedback PERCENTAGE” with “feedback SCORE” in its feedback rating system. You serr, eBay touts that “A neutral rating does not change the Feedback SCORE.” : http://pages.ebay.com/help/feedback/questions/feedback.html

While the feedback “SCORE” does NOT change, eBay has omitted that the feedback “PERCENTAGE” DOES change as a result of receiving neutrals — and the omission is for eBay’s own benefit. Further, eBay aids a confusion of symantics as it does not have a “Feedback score.” Instead eBay has
2. ” Recent Feedback Ratings”
3. “Detailed Seller Ratings.”

Okay… I’m sure there are other examples of deceptive practices out there. Reader’s it’s your turn to report!

I think this new completed listing display is simply to manipulate interested parties- just as you said

Inexperienced Sellers (which there will be a peek in because of all their BS) would be more likely to pay more for the item to resell – if that purchase is made on eBay they benefit from the fees of the purchase which of course have increased substantially.

Buyers become conditioned to seeing sold prices higher than what they are so they are ok with the price of the item. Also this manipulation of the buyers experience increases the likelihood that when they do stumble onto the product at a discounted rate they will be more inclined to purchase for the lower price and because it will create a sense of urgency

Finally, it deceives the public (stockholders) into believing things are going much better than they actually are. If the sell thru rate is lower but the sold price higher than it is a wash no need for concern

MC , u r right. I’m afraid that buyers do not realize that a neutral rating lowers the seller’s percentage rating. Nothing in Ebay’s notices or tutorials mentions that.

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