Online sellers are paying an extra $39 to have their listings feature for just a couple of hours on the Trade Me homepage. And some of them say the way the "homepage feature" option is described when a new listing is loaded is misleading.
Homepage features are designed to make a listing more visible and boost its sale price.
But only 12 items feature on the homepage at any one time, out of about 1000 that have the option enabled.
The auctions displayed are those that are closest to closing.
Users must click on a link to show more homepage featured listings, which means auctions closing in peak times, and that have a lot of competition, do not show on the main Trade Me homepage for very long.
Wellington woman Cassandra Gray was selling a relocatable garage on Trade Me this week, with a start price of $4000 and a buy-now option of $4500.
She said it was not made clear enough how the homepage feature option worked.
"It's a pain. They say it'll be on the homepage but don't clarify that there are about 10 other pages it has to go through before the main homepage."
She said that although some people had time to go through all the featured listings, most people would just look at the 12 featured on the main homepage. "For $39, you're not always getting what you pay for."
She said Trade Me should make the homepage option cheaper, or determine a set time that listings would be shown, on a rotation basis.
Katie Cooper paid almost $400 to list her property for sale with a homepage feature, but then found it would display only on the "lifestyle" category's homepage, not on the residential listings.
"Even though we paid a lot more you don't actually get a better search result from it, just a yellow border. And I don't know how many people realise they have to change tabs to search different categories."
A Trade Me spokesman said the proportion of sellers who chose the homepage option was small.
There are 2.2 million listings on the site at present and about 1000 are designated homepage features.
He said the listings featured on the homepage at the most crucial time - just before they were set to close.
"Obviously, people will want more traffic to their listing in its closing hours, which is what the homepage feature was designed to accomplish. If members find value in this, then they'll continue to use it. If not, it's a completely optional feature."