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eBay Lets Sellers Hide Item Price

Buyers must go all the way to checkout to find out the cost.

eBay has begun allowing some sellers to list items for sale without disclosing the price on the listing page.

Instead, buyers are forced to add the item to their shopping carts and go to checkout to find out the item’s actual price.

In place of a price, buyers see the “Regular price” crossed out, along with a message to “See price at checkout,” and the Buy It Now button.

A pop-up help message explains that this is done because the seller’s price is below the manufacturer’s “minimum advertised price.” As such, the seller is not allowed to reveal the price until the buyer takes further steps, like placing the item in a shopping cart or proceeding to checkout.

“Just show me the price and don’t waste my time. I’m more likely to buy something when I don’t have to jump through unnecessary hoops”

“Taking these steps allows eBay to show you the seller’s great price consistent with eBay’s goal of always bringing consumers like you the lowest possible prices on the widest selection of products,” the help message reads.

But one long-time seller, who called the tactic “gimmicky,” believes it will only confuse buyers and result in higher rates of cancelled, accidental transactions.

“Time will tell if this will catch on with buyers,” says eBay seller Rebecca Miller, who is also the product manager of Auctiva.com, a third-party eBay listing service. “I would never subject my buyers to this. Personally, I never like being forced to go through the process of adding something in the cart just to see the price. Why the secrecy? Just show me the price and don’t waste my time. I’m more likely to buy something when I don’t have to jump through unnecessary hoops.”

What do you think about this listing tactic? Have you seen it used before on eBay or other marketplaces? Tell us in the comments below.

About the author

Crista Souza
Crista Souza is founding editor of TheOnlineSeller.com. A journalism graduate of San Jose State University, she spent 13 years as a business and technology reporter in Silicon Valley. Crista has been writing about B2C and C2C ecommerce since 2008. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

  • Christianrn777

    Ebay is nuts. They will be falling by the way side before long. I’m a long time top rated seller, and I’m looking to sell elsewhere. I have never had so many non payers, complaints filed against me in all the years I’ve been with ebay until this year.  Everyone know you can buy something on ebay (at least once), demand the seller sends you money to return it, then file a complaint and get ebay to give you your money back and you also get to keep the item. Sellers are leaving in droves!  I too will be following as soon as I pick the right auction for me

    • Esta34950

      let me know when you find an ebay alternative. I don’t sell much, but I am tired of ebay’s stupid games.

      • ecrater.com – no charge to buy or sell and if you have trouble with the shipping matrix I can help you out.

    • That’s not all, eBay believe all buyers are saints and all sellers are sinners. The DRS system is designed to strip sellers of their due discount, which can amount to hundreds of pounds. It relies on the whim of the buyer and gives the buyer all the tools to make a brick bat whith which they can beat the seller around the head. I am in the process of leaving eBay for anothe auction site which is far cheaper. Try EBid.

  • Magicsue1

    Buyers should always be allowed to see what an item is listed for.  This is ridiculous!

  • Please be sure to let us know what you pick.  I’m in the same boat, although feedbacks haven’t been a problem this year (crossing fingers).  “Accidental” purchases have been, though.  I look for a lot of return problems when their new policy starts, too, especially on wearable items, jewelry, and in my case, audiobooks.  You know, things that can be “borrowed.”  I had a long discussion with a person in the department that handles top-rated sellers–yeah, they actually have a department for that– and basically tried to convince her that Ebay was making a change that wasn’t necessary and would drive away their best sellers.  Of course I got nowhere.

    I’ve been on Ebay for 12 1/2 years and well over 13,000 feedbacks.  Don’t know how much longer, though.

  • Gailkk

    I totally agree.  I HATE when this situation comes up and I am the buyer.  I feel that it is deceptive and a “come on” tactic. I avoid them, never follow up on them because obviously customer service is not a priority for the seller.  Ebay is way off the mark on this one.  As a seller, I would never, ever use this tactic.  I try to make things as easy as possible for my customers, not tricky or misleading.

  • Phil

    As a “powerbuyer” I won’t waste my time with hidden prices. Typically good customer service gets hidden as well. Target and other major retailers also use this ploy and I also ignore those items as well. Seems eBay is once again trying to be like a major retailer. If they keep adding new rules that make sellers more and more like employees, it is only a matter of time until the IRS finally nails eBay, which I support. 

  • DM

    I’d be interested in learning the names of other online sites that I can post for sale, auction…I’m relatively new to eBay and I too am not happy with the changes and the reactions I’m getting.  I hope eBay realizes the damage they will be causing to eBay itself and to the many sellers and customers that don’t want to deal with their policies.

    • gemjane43

       I have started selling on Bonanza. There is  not as much traffic, but they are not adding rules all the time, either.

      Also, when I need help, I get a response right away, it is not a canned answer, they actually read what I say, and the answer is always helpful.

      At Bonanza you receive payment at the same time you receive notice that an item has been sold.

      I am trying to get away from ebay, and so I am trying to put more on Bonanza, and plan to adjust the prices of my current listings so they are a little lower than on ebay. There is no insertion fee and the fvf is quite low on Bonanza.

      There is a great variety of products on Bonanza–they are just not as big. It is fun to list there, like it USED to be on ebay.

      I also have a small storefront at Amazon, but while it is considered safer for sellers (than ebay), it can also be a pain–which, so far, I have not encountered personally.

      Like many others who have posted here, I do not buy if I cannot see the price. Yes, it makes me feel that they are trying to put something over on me. Same with shipping. If I cannot find out easily what the shipping is, they can forget it.

  • Chris Wildsmith

    I totally agree. What Ebay needs is some competition from up and coming e commerce sites like the one Google was purported to have set up a while back. This is just the latest debacle. But honestly, the things that have been going on with ebay for the past few years is nonsense: the one sided feedback system has been an absolute joke! It has done nothing to protect the sales person from being ripped off by deadbeat customers. Plus items such as games consoles have been harder to list because of changed catalogue rules (set the listing up wrong and ebay takes the whole thing off again with no warning, and doesn’t even offer the seller a refund!), not to mention you get an email every so often telling you about your selling performance and offering tips on how you can improve it, something on the lines of offering customers free postage! I often feel like sending a return email saying, “okay, are you going to do away with your 10% fees, then?” What most of these people sitting in their ivory towers fail to realize is that their rules and ideas which it is up to people like you and me to implement are more often than not the cause of a company’s downfall. This hidden pricing scheme is just a drop in the bucket. Like I said, what ebay definitely needs is strong opposition. Only then will they realize they will need to knuckle under to stay ahead of the game.      

  • Matohuska

    A very bad idea -no one likes being forced to go through a ‘pretend’ purchase action just to get the price!! Its like going to the shop to buy a pint of milk and then getting to the till to discover its £3 a pint!! Enevitable result -lots of bottles of milk left at checkout!!

  • Sadmarcat-fishing

    Not sure if this will be introduced in the UK – but I for one would NEVER annoy my buyers like this.  And as a sometimes buyer myself, I would just move on to another seller who DID show me what price I would be paying.  A total waste of my time – and certainly I respect my own buyers too much to adopt this option should it be introduced in the UK

  • Abailey0674

    I would not even look at the item further if the price was not listed.  I don’t bother with items in a store if they don’t readily have the price available.  Honestly, it is stupid not to list a price.  You are selling an item and the buyer needs a price.  I refuse to support such nonsense!

  • Kate King

    It astounds me that ANYONE with any retail experience on or offline would think buyers would go for this?!! So we have “mystery” pricing now? I’m actually starting to giggle as I write this because I honestly think the people that make the decisions on eBay now are either operating in a completely different reality from the rest of us (maybe chemically induced) or are just plain loopy. Of course time won’t tell if it will “catch on” Rebecca Miller…are you deranged or really that inexperienced? Maybe we should assign all the eBay management the task of running and operating a successful eBay shop for 12 months. If they get any negative feedback or have any customer contact (shock horror), or take more than one day to dispatch, or not accept returns (even if great Aunt Milly wore it to be buried in) they lose THEIR job? Just puttin it out there…good grief!!!!

  • eCop!

    I agree with this change enacted by eBay. Although it does create another step in the buying process it is extremely beneficial to the buyer to do so. By allowing the MAP price NOT to be displayed buyers will get a much better deal on these products just by taking the extra step to add it to a cart and see what the price is. This could literally be the difference of hundreds of dollars for big ticket items. MAP prices are a very big problem as it creates an inbalance to the online free market. It is tantamount to price fixing. Most of the time the MAP price set by the manufacturer is well above what an individual seller could or would normally ask for.

  • Esta34950

    I will not buy from someone who will not show me the price up front. I feel like they are trying to hide something and somehow charge more.

  • lorimr

    I agree. Whenever I encounter a site that forces me to go to checkout before revealing a price or shipping costs, I back out and shop elsewhere. I don’t like being forced to jump through so many hoops to find out basic information. Shopping on eBay should be a pleasant, easy experience, not frustrating or mis-leading.This will only lead to more unpaid items and canceled sales. I have had so many of these in the last few months that I am thinking of requiring buyers to pay right away.  

  • This kind of tactic is going to drive several buyers to something else. Once they press buy, they have agreed to a contract and who in their right mind would want to get into a contract without knowing the terms before they agree?

  • Leanne

    I will absolutely not buy from an Ebay seller who does this. It’s insulting and manipulative.

  • Testshoot

    I ditto the others here.  I want to see the price up front, and like the others here, I am sick and tired of all of the changes to eBay.  There really needs to be a competitor as eBay’s monopolistic tactics  have to end.  They will keep increasing their rates, taking a  cut out of more things, and making it a miserable place for sellers. 

  • ntlevy6

    Would not buy in this situation

  • Amazon does it. some prices are hidden,  it works for Amazon, as there aint millions of search results come up when a buyer searches for an item. for example, if you search for HP Ink Cartridge 21/22, only 51 results, Amazon’s price is hidden. buyers may be willing to check Amazon’s official price first even its hidden. but eBay is a different story, there are at least 2,000 HP 21/22 on eBay, if you hide the price, buyers skip you and go straight to the one that catches their eyes. 

  • Snapmac

    Hidden prices, lack of or no product description, and lack of photos or too small to view product,  and I “absolutely” do not buy from that seller. I feel that if a seller wants to sell an item, the price and a reasonable length description along with respectable photos should be mandatory to sell. Another thing, using ask a question is a joke. Many sellers never respond to the question, let alone in a timely manner. Ebay stores owners should also be required to charge the appropriate sales tax in their state and be registered as a business!

  • Alicia

    Its HORRIBLE… Another way to make sellers look dishonest… Like the new rule to force uploading tracking within one day… Yah ok ill print the label and upload the tracking but don’t actually ship but 3 x a week. The only downfall is if the buyer doesn’t receive the item in the quoted time frame then you loose your auto 5 star dsr, however I have yet had a domestic customer not get it on time.

  • Ron

    Yes, I have seen this tactic before and as soon as I see it, I back out of that site and look elsewhere, how many yard sales have you gone to and had to go through a checkout process to get the price.  eBay should have a place where buyers and sellers can go and vote “like it or don’t like it” on their suggested changes. 

  • Helpu2c

    We should not alow Ebay inforce their policies which does not benifits buyers and sellers, but Ebay to cause us any problem. I hope one day another smart company take over the market, and Ebay stock fall to the rock bottom.
    Yehhhhhhhh 

  • Armourereric

    Ebay, like our government has engages is so many “entangling alliances” with big sellers that they are doomed to fail a death by a thousand cuts.  I have been selling on ebay for 14 years as well, I was the first SCA member to take the products of my business: James River Armoury, to ebay, over the next 4 years, after overcoming alot of self resistance to change, many of my fellow merchants in the field of medieval centric prodaucts joined me there.  Seeing the writing on the wall, I started http://www.medievaltownsquare.com, back on new years.  I am now again leading my fellow merchants in the ren fair, SCA, and Adria markets to my site.  It’s small, we do get some sales, but it’s ours.

  • lou crabtree

    Dumbest thing they could do.  No price listed It’s not going in my cart same with shipping charges

  • alwzsmyln

    I would have to want an item pretty badly to mess around with having to go find what the prices are rather then immediately knowing if I can afford it or if I think it’s worth it.

  • For me it is the same as when I am at the brick and mortar store.  No price, no buy.  If a seller can’t be bothered to put the price on and wants to place games – they will not be doing it on my dime or on my time.

  • Zollyzoe

    As a buyer, I lose interest straight away if I am not told the price. If I have to go through two or three extra steps to buy something, I just go elsewhere.  A very poor sales tactic

  • zed

    It is the start of their next big brainscheme. Next policy updates will include a fee enforced upon the seller of 15 cents for every item they are selling that is added to a shopping cart. Hard to believe sellers are still on ebay.

  • Hungryhorse

    My bank added extra steps to access the ATM as well as the 24 hour automated phone service. I closed the account. I am not interested in added steps to see the posted price of an Ebay item. I can get the item immediately at an antique mall or garage sale and haggle over the price. Ebay won’t even let me post feedback unless I write a comment in addition to checking five stars or the seller gets dinged. Instead of rewarding its sellers and buyers, it punishes them? That is a sociopathic attitude. Locally, I meet a lot of small Ebay store owners who pulled out because its fees were more than the profit from the items. That’s three comments. Tah Dah!

  • Jason222

    Although there are a lot of things Ebay does that is negative especially for sellers, I must say that I do support them for this. This is an issue brought on by the manufacturers in their attempt to fix the price of their good and not let the market set the price for it.
    How this happens is lets say I buy direct from a manufacturer and I buy goods that they have set a “minimum advertised price”. So lets say I have a good buying program with them and selling at their MAP I can make a 35% margin. The manufacturer will know who I am on Ebay as well as other sellers with programs and monitor any and all online sales to make sure no one is breaking MAP. Anyone with a program who breaks map will have their program taken away. So if I was getting the best deal from the manufacturer, I could always provide the best price to the consumer. Id rather only make say a 25% return and sell a lot of units, then not sell any at a 35% margin. By allowing the seller to get around the terms that do not allow the seller to advertise below the MAP, this allows to the seller to sell at the price set by the market. The market of course being you the consumer. This does result in typically tens to hundreds of dollars in savings especially on big ticket items.

  • Guest

     “eBay has begun allowing some sellers to list items for sale without disclosing the price on the listing page.”

    – Dumbest thing I’ve heard of yet.

  • Hollywood323651

    BEST NEWS FOR EBAY SELLERS EVER!!!!…. I’m happy to tell all eBay sellers including myself. That I know a new marketplace with headquarters in Los Angeles is coming on around summer, I know that because I sell on eBay and I have a part time job in Sony pictures doing computer repairs and last week I saw this guys shooting this amazing commercial and I was so curious to know the what company was it for but the answer was we can’t no say the name yet. Sorry!!! But we can tell you that eBay is going to get some serious competition with this marketplace. Especially with so many unhappy sellers. That’s all I was told but if I find out more I will let everyone knows.

  • This guy running eBay is nuts.  He has been driving EBay into the ground for years.  I can’t find anything anymore on that site and every item I find is darn expensive.  They should not try to copy Amazon; they’ll never win.  Nobody trusts eBay anymore.

    Items for sale rarely get a visit or a watcher.  Good items are buried in the results never to be found.  What a joke eBay has turned into.  Items that used to get hundreds of visits per day, rarely get any today.

  • Checkit

    Why does eBay go out of its way to make things complicated? If they were relentless at trying to make things SIMPLER, then they might have a chance.

    Common sense wins the race.

  • Micatjach

    Yes I’ve seen it and hate it, I will no longer waste my time entering my personal info just so I can see what their price is!! As far as I’m concerned, if they  hide the price, they don’t and won’t get my business!!!

  • eBaynewy

    May I ask how you actually hide the price? I’m trying to do the exact thing
    with my item but I really have no clue as to how to do it.
    Please somebody help!



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