At the beginning of the month, eBay sent an email promotion and advertised it in the Seller Hub inviting sellers to list their items on international eBay platforms.
The promotion offered to list up to 3,000 listings with zero insertion fees on www.ebay.co.uk, www.ebay.de, www.ebay.fr, www.ebay.it, www.ebay.es and www.ebay.com.au.
Eligible items included any fixed price, auction-style, and auction-style with Buy-It-Now format that offered international shipping to the countries served by the other eBay marketplaces.
Because the promotion offered to list items on six marketplaces, a seller that signed up for it could have live listings rapidly increase on their account as each listing was translated and listed in each eBay marketplace country.
The links offered in the promotion immediately signed sellers up for this promotion instead of providing more information, so they could make an educated decision if they would like to take part.
eBay admitted there was a fault in an email sent out to sellers stating “Unfortunately, when you clicked on the banner, you were auto-opted into the promotion, and your ebay.com listings were automatically translated and listed on eligible international sites.”
While eBay claims a technical error, it was likely an incorrectly setup promotional link by a human that caused the problem.
Of course, in the community forum, there was a lot of angst about this issue, which is very understandable.
The promotion effectively circumvented the token safeguards put in place to give sellers the opportunity to confirm if they want a third-party to have access to their account and list, end, or change listings.
At this point, eBay suggests that affected sellers opt-out of the service and remove any listings created by it or contact customer support for help.
The original email wasn’t very clear that Webinterpret was the third-party offering subsidizing this promotion, so there is also a link for them to get some help.
Those sellers that want to continue with the promotion, it does offer free insertion fees and final value fees, may wish to review the full details of the promotion here.
While some sellers in the community forum accuse eBay of all kinds of nefarious intent with this promotion and it is likely the cause of an ill-prepared launch of the promo.
Webinterpret’s reputation also has taken a knock among eBay sellers due to this promotion. The company has been around for over 10 years and offers translation services to eCommerce on many different platforms.
The company posted a blog entry explaining its eBay offer to U.S. sellers and how it has been used in Europe by over 40,000 merchants since 2010.
European merchants are more likely to list translated listings as they are more familiar in promoting and serving non-English speakers.
The idea of offering listings in a foreign language by U.S. merchants is very much in its infancy, regardless if this is on eBay, Amazon, or their own websites.
READ MORE: PayPal Makes Case for Cross-Border Trade
But as cross-border trade becomes more important for U.S. sellers, the need to translate listings, product descriptions and instructions takes on a new importance.
The Fall Out
Certainly, Webinterpret gains no favors from a promo gone wrong, except a lot of customer service inquiries and doubt by sellers if they can trust the company.
Cross-border trade is a growing business, but it also requires a lot of preparation and thought. Both eBay and Webinterpret were trying to simplify this process, but it went bad in this case.
It does look like the fault rests with eBay on this promo went wrong and unfortunately, the time and steps involved for a seller to undo this promo is lengthy.
It would be nice if eBay would consider some good-will compensation for affected sellers.
Did you try this promo and were you affected by this ill-designed setup? Head over to our Facebook Discussion Group or use the comments section below to let us know.