Ebay Multi-Buy Promotions Fail to Work on At Least Two Occasions, Resulting in Unintentional Retail Fraud

On 7th April 2020 I was alerted by a very helpful customer that when he had purchased four items, the discount for buying four had not been applied.  He wrote...


Helpful Customer:  E-Bay has given a postage discount but hasn't given a quantity discount.  Listing shows UKL3.28 each for four off.

He is correct.  A UK buyer has seen an advertised price of £3.28, used all the ebay shopping cart systems correctly, got the postage 'discount,' and has still been charged £3.45 each.


Henry:  Hello H.C.

I will look into this and give the telephone seller "support" line some bashing about this, as it amounts to retail fraud. Right now, all I can do is either cancel the order and refund, or send it. Or, I could cancel it and send you a paypal money request for the correct amount. Please let me know which you'd prefer and thanks for your note.

Henry Walmsley.


Henry:  Hello again,

So, the ebay seller "support" line can give no explanation for this, other than suggesting that I only put the multi-buy promotion on after the sale was made, which we know isn't the case. I've found another instance of this in today's sales. I suspect that they will blame it on a 'glitch,' when they call back tomorrow. I've made my displeasure clear and will publish the recording of the calls here:


Meanwhile, please let me know if you want to cancel the order. It might work correctly if you re-order or I can send a request via paypal for the correct amount as suggested.




Helpful Customer:  Thank you for your reply. Please send the items and forget about the few pence. I just wanted to let you know about what's going on on your listing.

Kind regards,

What a helpful and nice customer, considering that he's just been the subject of (albeit unintentional) retail fraud!  I spotted another instance of this that happened around the same time.  Overseas buyers from UK sellers can't see the multi-buy discounts.  Why this should be in the 21st century I have no idea, when I've used multi-buy discounts as a UK buyer from some Chinese / HK sellers for years.  However, that is a question for another time.  For now, why are ebay multi-buy promotions from a UK seller to a UK buyer who has seen the advertised discount sometimes mysteriously failing?  Let's get on to the Ebay seller "support" telephone line for an unambiguous and clear answer, shall we?  You can click on the links below for the recordings.  The first one had Very extended hold times, which have been edited out for your sanity.  The full call time was about 45 minutes.

Ebay Seller Telephone Support Say That Multi-Buy Discount Promotions are Working Fine and Accuse Me of Lieing Despite the Facts In Front Of Their Own Eyes.

I despair at the delay tactics employed by the staff, and the denial of the obvious.  However, I will no longer accept "Oh, it was just a glitch" as an excuse for making me guilty of Retail Fraud.  Thankyou for repeating the information that I gave you in the first instance as an explanation of what has happened.  No.  Not good enough.

There was a call back the following day.  Thankyou again, ebay seller support, for repeating back to me the information that I gave you in the first instance as an explanation of what has happened.  I was a bit busy at that moment getting out an urgent parcel, so I didn't quite have the time to 'dig-down,' as they say.  Here's the call:

Ebay Telephone Seller Support Call Back and Repeat Back to Me The Same Lies About the Failure of Multi-Buy Promotions Which Made Me Guilty of Retail Fraud.

There has been no response since.  Well, I've not finished on this one. 

Rob Hattrell, UK VP Ebay.  I hope you're listening to the 'phone calls, Luv.

"Rob Hattrell leads the eBay UK business and is accountable for all operations in that market. He is passionate about consumer sellers, small businesses and the role technology and eBay play in powering entrepreneurship and creating opportunity. Rob has run the UK market since 2017." 

Rob Hattrell. VP eBay UK
        looking smug.

I've written to you before Rob, and I didn't get a response.  Fancy!  I look forward to your call about how your company makes me guilty of retail fraud.

17th April 2020:  Ermmm... What's Happening with Multi-Buy Here As Well?

I'm glad that Rob Hattrell is so, "...passionate about the role technology and eBay play in powering entrepreneurship and creating opportunity," because here's another eBay Multi-Buy failure that results in me committing retail fraud, and you can reproduce this one consistently.  You can click on the screenshot below for a bigger image of one of my listings.

Ebay Multi-Buy Failure on Variation Listings

So, this is a variation listing.  Variation listings include slightly different variations of the same thing, like different size T-shirts.  Some unscrupulous sellers will try to fiddle this system by having a list of different size T-shirts for £9.95, and then another variation for a stick-on badge for 99pee in an attempt to get to the top of a list of items listed by lowest price first.  Naughty!  This is forbidden by the rules.  However, it's explicitly allowed to have the XXXL T-shirt at a different price than the XS one.  Equally well, in this example we have a series of different capacitance values from the same range of capacitors.  The bigger ones are more expensive.  Fine.  That's all clean and above-board.  When you select the appropriate capacitance on the drop-down box, the prices change and you also see the correct prices on the Buy 1, Buy 2, and Buy 3 multi-buy buttons.  Hang on though, below that it says,  "4 or more for £3.75 each." 

"Oh that sounds like a bargain," says the customer, bungs four into their basket and hits checkout and pay.  Not realising that in fact, that particular part of multi-buy does not change price when you select your desired capacitance value, and continues to show you the price for four of a different variation.  Useless!  No, worse than useless.  Because that's a retail pricing offer that is subsequently changed without warning, it's fraud.  In this particular case the price for four looks unusually low and most customers will notice, and check the price in shopping cart.  But that need not be true in all cases. 

It's yet another ebay programming monkey failure which no-one cares about, because guess what?  If the customer is over-charged, that's more fees for Ebay in the very short term, while I have to deal with the annoyed customers and issue costly refunds.  I'll call this one in on the telephone next week to see if the reaction is anything greater than the usual slopey-shouldered shrug, and 45 minutes of pretending not to understand the problem.  I find it remarkable though.  Supermarkets have ended up in court with similar problems where the price marked on the shelf was different to that charged at the checkout.  The analogy is direct, so I hope that you've got your best suit and tie ready Rob Hattrell, VP eBay UK, because if I end up in the dock, you're going to be right there next to me.

Henry:  "What, Rob; You didn't know about it?"

But I've posted links to this page as comments on the ebay Facebook page, and I'll be on the telephone to eBay seller support about it next week. 
Don't worry, I'll mention your name in person for the tape, and say that it's an urgent legal issue about eBay trading practices.

Update 26-MAY-2020:

As if it were possible, it's even worse than that.  The much vaunted "Ebay Multi-Buy discounts" not only frequently fail to apply correctly, not only show misleading prices, but also sometimes apply when they should not!  Ebay claim that during the current virus issues, they can't find a way to employ call centre staff in such a way that they can work from home, which we know from previous experience that they can.  So instead we are forced to use the text chat system.  The level of deliberately obtuse misunderstanding in order to try to avoid addressing the point that I've experienced here is very annoying, but one must be dogged and carry on explaining the situation, as if to a child.  Here is a transcript which proves that multi-buy discount has been applied incorrectly to two completely separate transactions from the same person:

Multi-buy discount for applied incorrectly on a single purchase.
2020 - 05 - 16
08:55:22 UTC Raja
Welcome to eBay Live Help. My name is Raja. I would be happy to help you today. Please stay connected while I review your query.
08:55:54 UTC Raja
Hello Henry,
08:56:00 UTC vila_restor
08:56:31 UTC Raja
I can see that you are concern about a discount applied incorrectly, am I correct?
08:56:41 UTC vila_restor
Yes that's right.
08:57:16 UTC vila_restor
Order no. 21-05041-93702
08:57:58 UTC Raja
May I know it you want to alter the discount offer or is there anything else I could do for you with this?
08:58:31 UTC vila_restor
Can you see that order in paid and dispatched items?
08:58:57 UTC Raja
Ah! the item has been sold already, no worries, Please share the buyer id and I will assist you further :)
08:59:18 UTC vila_restor
09:01:13 UTC Raja
Thank you for sharing this with me, i can see that the item is showing in sold section.
09:01:45 UTC vila_restor
Right. And how many were sold?
09:02:07 UTC vila_restor
on transaction id 21-05041-93702
09:03:36 UTC Raja
The item "Solder Lug Connection 16mm Log Potentiometer" has been sold for two times to - "johnny_#####"
09:04:02 UTC vila_restor
On tranasaction id 21-05041-93702 there is one item sold.
09:05:03 UTC Raja
Henry I would like to share that every transaction Id remain different for transaction on site.
09:05:40 UTC vila_restor
Well, on the single transaction that you can see are seperate sales there was one item sold then.
09:05:49 UTC Raja
ALso, May I know what exact resolution you are seeking for so that I can have a better understanding in order to resolve this quick and efficiently up to your satisfaction?
09:07:02 UTC vila_restor
Yes. There are two single transactions there.. The customer has bought one item on each. A discount has been applied incorrectly. £2.87 has been charged rather than £2.96. This is not a new problem.
09:11:32 UTC Raja
Thank you for sharing this with me Henry, please allow me a moment to check every detail with you so that I can clear this for you.
09:14:24 UTC Raja
Henry, as I have check this for you and found that there are two discounts, which are item price discount and postage discount as well, may I know which one of them you think applied incorrectly?
09:16:08 UTC vila_restor
No postage discount was applied. The item price has been discounted incorrectly . These are two separate transactions.
09:16:40 UTC vila_restor
The item price on each transaction should have been £2.96.
09:16:48 UTC Raja
Let me share what has happened here.
09:18:29 UTC Raja
I can see that you have created multi buy discount, as per which for two items the price would be £2.87 each. So now buyer has purchased two items for which the original price was £2.96 each however, as per the multi buy discount system applied £0.09 item discount and hence the final price is £2.87 each.
09:19:06 UTC vila_restor
No. Not on two separate transaction it should not.
09:19:42 UTC vila_restor
And you can clearly See with Your Eyes that there are two searate transactions, so why even say that?
09:20:45 UTC Raja
Yes, I can see that there are two separate transaction and I totally agree with you however, I will have to check this from the other end, which I am already up to and I will surely clear this as well for you :)
09:20:45 UTC vila_restor
It's happened before on a single transaction. Do you want me to drag that one up for you?
09:23:01 UTC Raja
Henry, I can see that you are absolutely correct as the discount should not be applicable to single transactions and hence I am escalating this to get a clarification. Please be assured as we will reach back to you within 24-73 hours via email with a clarification on this, will that be okay?
09:23:17 UTC vila_restor
Yes, thankyou.
09:24:01 UTC Raja
You're welcome Henry.
09:24:22 UTC vila_restor
Goodbye for now, then.
09:24:33 UTC Raja
I am sorry that you have to face this and please take care and stay safe :)
09:25:06 UTC Raja
It was my pleasure assisting you today. Thank you for contacting eBay. Have a wonderful time ahead!
09:25:13 UTC
Chat ended by vila_restor

Now, I can't offer discounts on separate transactions because of the once-per-transaction paypal fee, even if they do happen shortly after each other from the same user.  As also mentioned in the transcript, this has happened once before, on a single transaction for one item.  So what became of the promised response within three days?  The above conversation was ten days ago.  Nothing will happen, Rob Hattrell, VP of Ebay UK.  That's not an Ebay promise, that's a Henry Walmsley promise based on my everyday experience of eBay lies. 


Oh, I do apologise.  Oddly, the very next morning after the last post on this website I received an ebay site message.  Actually, no I didn't!  It was a Direct Email from customerhelp_uk@ebay.com .  It reads thus:

Follow up regarding Multi Buy Discount issue SR# 1-261391692697

Hello Henry,



This is a follow up from eBay customer support with regard to the credit for the unsold items.

We apologize for the long wait as we are still looking into this matter. Iím sorry for the inconvenience it has caused to you.


We are working closely with the relevant team to seek a resolution for your query. Please do not worry, we will be taking full ownership of your query until we can get a resolution and would monitor your account to ensure that you are not experiencing any other issues.

 We cannot state the stipulated time, however you would be contacted sooner as we get any update from our technical team.


Thank you and have a blessed day!


Kind Regards,

Raja S.

eBay Customer Support


Once again we have to suffer the age old, long practiced ebay seller "support" technique of pretending to not understand the actual issue, and diverting attention away to something else which was not the original problem.  In this case, nothing whatsoever to do with me.  Fortunately, It won't work with me, because I'm not an idiot. "With regard to credit for unsold items," Raja S, (once again hiding behind a pseudonym.)  That's complete nonsense totally unrelated to the clearly stated original problem. 

Can I have a job, Robert Hattrell?  Vice President of eBay UK.  I have a functioning short and long term memory, I can read, hear and understand words spoken on a telephone, and I don't lie.  Which makes me completely unsuitable for your toy-town organization.

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