eBay Cash Back Ends Today; Call for Temporary Boycott

June 15, 2011 · 9 comments

If you missed my post from last week, cash back for eBay ends today — and I can now confirm that this blackout will continue through the end of September.  When it returns, if it returns, chances are good that it’s going to be at a lower rate than the 2 to 3% most cashback sites were offering.

That is…unless the cashback shopping community shows eBay how important it is to us that we earn cashback on our purchases.

I was able to obtain a copy of the email that eBay sent out to incentive (cashback/points) affiliates.  You can click “Continue Reading” to see the full text of it, but in a nutshell, they’re saying that they want to revalue (go ahead and read it for what it is:  DE-value) the relationship between eBay and its incentive partners by running the sales numbers with, and without, their traffic.  They’ve already gathered the “with,” so this blackout is the “without.”

Their email says this isn’t a yes/no test for cashback affiliates and that this blackout will just last through September, but let’s be honest here — if they find no difference in sales when cashback sites are taken out of the equation, it’s just good business sense to sever those relationships permanently.

I know that there are a lot of people out there who count on eBay cashback, year-’round but also particularly during the holiday shopping season.  This test is going to impact what rates, if any, we earn on eBay purchases this Christmas and going forward.  So this is my suggestion:

I’m calling for all eBay cashback fans to unite in boycotting eBay until September.  Join me in what I call an eBay Holiday:  no more shopping through eBay until this test is over. Collectively, our voices can be heard loud and clear:  we want our eBay cashback!

eBay needs to feel the impact of taking away cashback if we want it to return.  That means each and every one of us has to completely freeze them out through September.

Don’t even go there.  Don’t browse because you’ll be tempted to buy, and for this eBay Holiday to work, we need full participation. Tell your friends and get the word out about this short-term boycott.  We need eBay’s sales to completely tank through September 30th so they’ll see how important cashback is to us.

Take one for the team!  Spend $5 extra to buy what you need elsewhere — a small price to pay to have your voice heard by eBay.  Join me in taking an eBay Holiday through September…  and tell your friends to join us, too!

——– Original Message ——–
> From: “Bexelius, Peter”
> Sent: Friday, June 03, 2011 8:02 PM
> To: “Bexelius, Peter”
> Subject: EPN Loyalty Publisher test
> Dear EPN Partner:
> One of the challenges associated with running a large-scale affiliate
program is understanding the incremental value of each individual
partnership. In recent weeks, we have been studying our cashback and
loyalty publisher segment in detail in order to feel more comfortable with
the ROI we are receiving from those partnerships. After careful analysis
and thorough internal debate, we decided that the only way to gain a
definitive (quantified) understanding of the value of these partnerships is
to conduct a “go dark” test. While we understand that administering such a
test in the live environment will create hardship for our Loyalty partners
and their users, we feel this is a necessary step in order for us to
maintain our confidence in this marketing method. The goal of this
exercise, in the end, is not to reach a binary decision between
continue/discontinue this form of partnerships, but rather to quantify the
incremental value of these partnerships and to price them properly so that
we can all continue working together with full confidence going forward.
> What We Are Asking of Our Loyalty Publishers
> If you are receiving this email, it is because we have identified you as
one of EPN’s Loyalty Publishers. As such, we request (insist) that your
remove all eBay links and integrations on your sites which promote/offer
cashback for eBay effective 12:01am 6/16/2011. We are asking this of ALL
ePN Loyalty publishers so that ALL cashback offers are unavailable to
consumers (i.e. “dark”) for the period beginning 6/16/2011 and ending 12:01
am on 10/1/2011. On 6/16, we will be looking at all of our Loyalty
Publishers’ traffic and websites to ensure that all loyalty integrations
have been removed from consumer view.
> How The Test Will Work
> We have already gathered information on all of the eBay users who, in the
past twelve months, have made one or more purchases on eBay where those
purchase were attributed to a loyalty site. This user population is the
test group for our study. Using the past 12 months of data, we are able to
predict what this groups purchasing behavior on eBay should be for the
period of 6/16 to 10/1. When, on 6/16, all of our Loyalty Publishers “go
dark,” we expect that this group’s aggregate purchasing behavior will begin
to under-perform versus the predicted volume that we would see in the
absence of this test. We will run the test for 105 days, which will be
enough time for us to determine the incremental loss in eBay purchases and
revenue with a confidence interval of 90% or more. The output of this
test will be a % of sales that are deemed incremental, which we will then
input into our pricing models to determine a (potentially) new price for
our Loyalty partnerships.
> Questions We Expect You May Have
> 1) Has eBay lost its mind? No. We have always been a data driven
company and, rather than make a drastic pricing move based upon intuition,
we felt it was a better option (for all involved) for us to quantify the
incremental value of these partnerships with an actual test. Yes, we
realize that this is not a small ask on our part. We hope you understand
our need to do this and that, as good long-term partners, you are willing
to help us answer this fundamental question.
> 2) Can we be excluded from this test? No. If you are receiving
this email, it is because we have reviewed your integrations and determined
that you are part of the loyalty/rewards business model that we feel the
need to test. If you strongly believe that we have misunderstood your
model and that you should be exempt from this test, please contact us using
the contact information at the bottom of this email.
> 3) What happens if we refuse to or cannot “go dark” by 6/16? With
two week’s notice, we expect that all will have ample time to remove eBay
from their live sites. Any Loyalty publishers who do not meet this
request, regrettably, will face suspension from the EPN program, and
possibly termination. We very much hope that this is not an action we have
to take, but feel that, in the extreme, it is necessary to ensure full
participation across our entire portfolio of Loyalty Publisher partners.
> 4) What programs does this “go dark” test apply to? This test
applies to eBay US campaigns only. If you also promote eBay in other
countries or Half.com in the US, please continue to do so.
> 5) How do you anticipate that we will message this to our users?
Recognizing that you, our Partners, own the relationship with the end users
and need to communicate what’s right for your needs, we provide this only
as guidance with the hope that it is useful.
> At eBay’s request, in accord with a test they are currently conducting,
______ has temporarily suspended cashback on eBay. This means cashback
will not be available on ______ (or any other loyalty site) for any
purchases made on eBay on or after 6/16.
> While we are sorry for any short-term inconvenience this may cause our
users, we feel it is important for ______ to be good partners to its
merchants and advertisers in order to maintain the best long-term loyalty
program available anywhere in the world. We will let you know as soon as
cashback on eBay resumes.
> Again, we regret the inconvenience this may cause for you and your users.
We expect these test results to definitively prove the incremental value
of the Loyalty Publisher channel and be able to go live again on 10/1/11.
> If you have further questions regarding this test, please contact me at
> Cheers,
> Peter Bexelius
> eBay Partner Network

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Rus June 15, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Ummm … no thank you! You are essentially telling everyone that makes 3% to avoid my product – a USB ethernet adapter for $13 – that I support my family with.

For 3% that’s very selfish and isn’t thinking about the sellers at all.

The real weeding out is for companies like Big Crumbs that are pyramid schemes.


Becky June 16, 2011 at 8:19 am

I’m obviously not expecting sellers to jump on the Boycott eBay Bandwagon. But there ARE alternatives to eBay should sellers feel the pinch (Overstock Auctions, Amazon Sellers, Craig’s List, and no doubt a ton of others that I don’t know about because I’m not in the industry). And that pinch, and the sellers’ decision to take business elsewhere if need be, will also get eBay’s attention regarding the value of the cashback consumer.

3% may not be a big deal to some, but to others it really is, particularly when you add it up over the course of a year. There are a lot of eBay buyers buying necessities and banking those 3% rewards for Christmas or for some other larger purchase they couldn’t afford otherwise.


Rus June 16, 2011 at 9:37 am

I realize now that I may have worded the above as confrontational … but one would have to spend $10,000 to get $300 in cashback. That barely Christmas dinner for a household that WOULD spend $10,000 on “necessities”.

I’m just saying that I hate it but suggesting a boycott is hurting sellers more than buyers – after all ebay is continuing the ebay bucks program.


Justin June 24, 2011 at 1:30 am

A loophole has been found and explained on [spam removed] I am sure if everyone uses this alternative method it will send a message that we are focused on getting our cashback!


Rus June 24, 2011 at 10:34 am

Ha, just to prove to ya … big crumbs people search and scour the internet looking for ANY opportunity to post their affiliate link. I was told by an ebay exec at ebay Live that THEY are one of the main reasons for stopping the cashback programs.


Justin June 25, 2011 at 4:00 pm

@rus It is pretty obvious but if you didn’t know it people like saving money! If eBay stops offering cashback I and probably many others will make the switch to amazon.com maybe you should try selling there. eBay is going downhill fast now! BTW Why aren’t you complaining about ebays decision to increase sellers fees over and over again?


Rus June 25, 2011 at 8:01 pm

My seller fees are down. Free listing fees and good ratings.

Amazon doesn’t have nearly the search engine reach as eBay.


Justin June 25, 2011 at 11:31 pm

I said seller fees not just listing fees.. up to 15% on some categories… if your happy with the seller fees, great, I am happy for you, but I think they are outrageous!


Phil July 5, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Personally, I would avoid ebay just due to all the scammers that seem to infest the site. I can no longer trust anyone selling there, after all that I have read on the Internet. At least with Amazon I get a sense of a site that is very keen on keeping its customers happy and weeding out any malpractice.


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