Is Ebay manipulating Search Engine results? Absolutely. And, we have the proof to demonstrate it.
On November 1st, 2006, our staff took a screen snapshot at Nov-01-06 19:21:28 PST of eBay's main search page while searching for products under keywords "battlefield 2142". The snapshot can be viewed at http://www.alphaleap.com/ebaytime_listing_irregular2.gif. While reviewing the snapshot everything appears to be normal without irregularities. However, the fact is that the auction's end times are completely incorrect and scrambled while displaying some items that have already ended and placing others lower down the timeline. Notice our auction number 190046395889 (circled in red), it has an end time of 1h 36m. In reality, however, this auction ended 36 minutes later at 19:54:57. According the the search result, this item should not end until 20:54 so it would have never been at the top of the search results by product end time. Clearly, the item would either end with a lower bid – luckily, we even had a bid.
The following information provides the accurate end times of each listing from top to bottom as appears within the eBay main page screen snapshot URL.
Snapshop at 19:19:29 PST eBay’s Main Page
(Item Number) (Actual End Time) (Displayed Incorrect End Time) (Seller) (Location) (Auction Type) (Time Difference)
300042367934 Nov-01-06 19:21:28 PST 19:21 gcpellerin canada fixed CORRECT
190046382188 Nov-01-06 18:55:08 PST 19:55 alphaleap thailand fixed AHEAD 1 HOUR
130042856005 Nov-01-06 20:00:00 PST 20:00 psp_accessories usa auction CORRECT
190044054902 Nov-01-06 19:09:08 PST 20:09 kolinb usa fixed AHEAD 1 HOUR
190046395889 Nov-01-06 19:54:57 PST 20:55 alphaleap thailand auction AHEAD 1 HOUR
230045805491 Nov-01-06 20:56:24 PST 20:57 mrtaradon2006 thailand auction CORRECT
190043919591 Nov-01-06 20:00:00 PST 21:01 acarbo1139 usa auction AHEAD 1 HOUR
290043757428 Nov-01-06 21:02:02 PST 21:03 anytimeboy usa fixed CORRECT
230044174207 Nov-01-06 21:09:20 PST 21:10 startat999 thailand auction CORRECT
Please note that the information provided was not cached - we do not use cache on our computers as software developers who must test applications and debug results on real time data. The screenshot provided is unaltered (except the circled red highlight) and generated from a ALT+PrintScreen on a Window's XP system.
The incident was reported to eBay immediately afterward which included two screenshots. Even though there was no response to our inquiry, we saw a significant jump in sales for the next few days (as another member wrote, "a light switch was turned on"). But, it didn't last... As with many others, we have seen significant losses from a drastic change in eBay search engine manipulate starting this year. As a business, we have significant expenses including 7% VAT that must be paid in Thailand for every sale and are always trying to expand through improved customer service, software development, auction advertising including customs designs and graphics - all of which adds up especially with the depreciating U.S. Dollar and strong Thai Baht. Now, we're asking ourselves, what's the purpose behind all the hard work and expense? By clear search result manipulation, how does a seller compete with other sellers who apparently have their eBay "switches" turned on 24 hours a day?
AlphaLeap Co. Ltd.