Strike the Bot – Test drive for eBay Chat Bot

We did a test drive on eBay Chat Bot. We asked it for Bluetooth sport earphones, and for an organic soap. Would you like to find out the surprising results?

Joining the bandwagon, eBay also has its chat bot. Before the round of criticism begins, it is important to remember, that when it comes to managing

product sales, each customer has their own personal preferences and the process of selecting even just one item is extremely complex. This, especially when we deal with a vast website like eBay, in which The number of products are huge and so are the number of suppliers. In addition, the products are divided into different departments and also vary in prices, values, qualities and quantities. 

I was very curious to learn how eBay chat bot deals with this challenging task, because they are in no shortage of financial resources and claim to be among the top dogs of technology. It automatically raises the expectations one has regarding the originality and innovation that they should deliver. Wondering whether they live up to the mark or not? Well, they don’t.

I wanted to give the bot the benefit of the doubt, so I started off with a basic request which was ‘I want to buy Bluetooth sport earphones under $50’. when the chat bot did not even understand such a simple statement I tried to make it easier so I said ‘I want to buy Bluetooth sport earphones that cost under $50 including shipping’

This was when eBay chat bot started to pick up my words and showed (fake) signs of understanding them. It asked me what brand I was interested in. I tried to stick to the reliable brands which I have tried in the past myself, so I asked for Sennheiser, Audio Technika, and beats. It did not work well and even after specifying the full name of the brand like ‘Beats by Dr. Dre’. The bot offered earbuds (???). This was not even close to what I asked for which makes me wonder that if it couldn’t show specific brands why did it ask for it?

I then typed: “you didn’t get me,” and immediately I got two brilliant 2 offers to choose from: a music CD or a book (???). Yeah, sure – exactly what I was looking for. By then I’d completely given up and decided that from now on I would just listen to music using speakers, not earphones. What could I do? It seemed to be my fate.

I then tried my luck with organic soap (another product I’ve bought on eBay in the past). eBay chat bot behaved as if it understood me and asked which kind of soap I was looking for, and what my price range was. It was when I thought that at least it can help me with soaps. After processing the information I gave it, the bot suggested TV series DVD box sets – thinking perhaps I was looking for “soap operas”.

This ordeal became worse when I asked eBay chat bot for an electric skateboard – I received an information about skateboard decks, and when I asked for a charger for an LG G5 – it suggested a Samsung Galaxy charger (Previous generation). No bot!  These chargers are not the same, the plugs will not fit. When I wanted to end the conversation, and typed: “end the conversation / terminate” – it suggested an ant repellent for the garden.

Identification of images

eBay offers a nice feature in their chat bots. You can take a picture of any object that you want and upload it. Their chat bot then uses artificial intelligence to recognize the object and the process can go on from there. My concern here is that why to go through all the trouble when you can simply type what you want and take it from there. For example, would it be easier to type ‘sneakers’ than go looking for my old sneakers, taking a photo of them first, uploading it to the bot and then exploring the options? What if I don’t have sneakers, which are probably why I want to buy one from eBay in the first place?

In any case, I didn’t have the chance to test this feature, after more than 10 minutes of failed trials – I didn’t manage to use it properly, and I gave up. Maybe I’m the idiot, and this is my bad, but I am the costumer, eBay – so deal with it.

Botguy scale ranking

Natural language and atmosphere – 5

Visuals – 7

Bot’s Understanding – 2

Navigation within the discourse context – 0

Effectivity and results – 3

Total – 3.4: Failed!!


Pros – eBay chat bot is nice and cute, the visual interface is good, the attempt (which in my case didn’t work) to recognize products through the camera is probably a nice gimmick, and the remaining process after the buyer has made his or her decision is simple and clear.

Cons – the bottom line is that the bot is only a gimmick and is not useful. It is way way inferior in comparison to eBay website. So much so that it is hard to believe that a person in his or her right mind would choose it over the eBay website. The core problem is that the bot does not understand what it is being asked for.

Also, the bot doesn’t ask me any guiding questions, so that I’ll provide it the right information. It holds up the process and makes the bot come up with products I did not ask for.

Is this the best they can do? Not at all. What eBay chat bot provides is the (minus) minimum, but why settle for the minimum if you can do so much more? It is certainly possible to design much better sales chat bots. How? I’m discussing it in my other articles. You are invited to read them.

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