P&P stars to affect search result placement

No primary category set

After yesterday’s rather vague announcement that DSR stars would affect search results, eBay have now announced the first change that will be taking place.

Sellers who have a score of 3.9 or less on P&P charges will appear “much further down the list of items”. eBay say that this group of sellers accounts for just 0.5% of sellers on the site, but that they are responsible for a disproportionately high number of buyer complaints.

The change in search sorting is being introduced during the week beginning December 17th, “after the main Christmas trading period is over”. eBay encourage sellers to review their P&P charges to make sure that they are fair.

I’m pretty happy about this change. 3.9 is an extremely low score even on P&P stars, which tend to do worst of all DSR criteria; sellers would have to be seriously overcharging to score so badly. Chris and Randy worried in comments yesterday about sellers finding it difficult to increase their star ratings, but I think just about every eBayer would agree that if you’re scoring 3.9 or lower, you’re not the sort of seller we really want on eBay, because you’re damaging our businesses too. The buyers who are stung by over-charged P&P tend to be the new ones who don’t know how to fully read a listing, and those are the buyers who need a little bit of looking after; more experienced buyers know how to manipulate the search results to find these disadvantaged listings, and might decide that paying over the odds for P&P will still net them a bargain.

So far, so good. I don’t think this will be the last change eBay make around DSRs on the site over the next year: John Donahoe has mentioned it, and so has Bill Cobb. eBay UK’s Richard Ambrose has also started a thread on the Q&A board soliciting opinions (shame they didn’t get that link right in the announcement!) – but please leave us a comment here too and let us know what you think.

19 Responses

  1. So, if you have a score of 3.9 your buyers have collectively rated your P&P charges as ‘Reasonable’ (as is shown when you hover over that star). Of course, the majority of sellers have more than this but it hardly seems fair.

  2. The thing I really object to Dan is that there’s no guidance to be gleaned from previous rankings. For instance is my P&P star being dragged down by courier charges or Royal Mail parcels? Is it one particular category I sell in that P&P is considered to be expensive by buyers? Does the fact I send everything via 1st recorded delivery get me marked down in comparison to sellers that use 2nd class without tracking?

    Also with over 1000 ratings already I’d need about another 10,000 rated at 5 stars to drag my rating significantly higher. Just how do eBay suggest that I change and how long will it take for the changes to take effect?

    The great thing about normal feedback is that you get a comment and it’s true “feedback” ie, you can learn and improve your business from it. DSRs are not “feedback” in the same way, you can’t learn from it until it’s too late and if your stars are below par you might as well scrap the account and open a new seller account if you want to carry on trading 🙁

  3. Another question to throw into the mix….

    Buyers don’t generally mark on speed of despatch – they mark on speed of delivery. With that in mind there’s a trade off (I believe) between the speed of despatch DSR and the Postage and packaging charges DSR.

    If you deliver with a premium service that gets the buyer their purchase quickly you’re likely to charge more and get marked down on the Postage and packaging star. If you ship on a slower service you’ll be marked down on speed of despatch but marked up on the corresponding lower charges.

    I’d love to run an experiment to see if that holds true, but hey – who wants to put their business on the line to test it?

  4. I still dont see how this will have an effect on the majority of buyers, myself with my buying hat on, search by ending soonest, and most ebayers I know do the same.

    The good and bad sellers (according to ebay) will appears as normal?

  5. Hi Simon, if when searching “Ending Soonest” and those with a low DSR score are shifted to the end of search results (a bit like Shop Inventory item were when they were in core listings last year) then you’ll probably never see listings with high postage ever again.

  6. As Chris says. Purely from a technical point of view, sorting on two criteria is easy enough: eBay can sort by DSR P&P stars, and then by whatever criterion the buyer had picked.

  7. This has been long time coming – it was this or charge FVF’s on P&P charges which would have gone down like the Titanic.
    Its a very subtle way of increasing revenue – a bad thing probably not.
    One upside of course – the 99p BIN with £19.99 P&P spam lots from the far east will suffer.

  8. Thanks Chris with you now, so basically it is a bit like having a naughty step, for all those bad ebayers 🙂

  9. My initial reaction to this move – disgust – has not changed.

    eBay is supposed to be ‘merely a venue’ & I sincerely hope this is not the start of a paradigm shift towards a ‘nanny state’. I take Sue’s point that some buyers need looking after but I feel there is a danger in taking this too far – learning from bumps in the road is an integral part of growing up & is no different in etrading for buyers & sellers alike. Any hand-holding would, I feel, be better left to sellers. Of course, some sellers will respond with sarcasm & by slagging off buyers on their blog but more fool them.

    Also, postage prices have already already been added to search results as well as the item descripiton, so it’s quite hard to miss them these days.

  10. Hi
    My only concern is postal strikes, as buyers mark on delivery not despatch. Absolutely everything I sell goes same day (paid before10am) or next – yet I have 4.8 on the stars – I charge £1 over cost for P&P yet have 4.6 on the stars for P&P charges, and have free postage on shop items!

    Although I agree eBay must get rid of the rogue traders on site, I think the DSR rating hasnt been completely thought out and it is open to abuse, from peeps wanting to deliberatly damage your stars if you are for example a competitor.

    Off my soapbox – hope that makes sense
    Suz x

  11. I also agree with Uncle Sam
    Postage prices have complete visability
    If it is too high for the buyer, don’t shop there,
    So there is no need to buy and complain after the event really!
    Suz x

  12. Such as the way the usage of the stars have gone, effectively a 4-5 scale instead of a 1-5 scale, they should probably just NARU everyone getting 3.9 or worse. Stars were much ado about nothing, even for the hugely disadvantaged Canadians saddled with the world’s highest postage costs/backwars postal servie and ebay’s highest export rate.

  13. I def don’t like the generally interventionist nature of this change from a selling perspective. But it does have an advantage. If you’re an experienced eBay buyer, with a bit of nous, who can weigh the risks up, the chances are that you’ll be finding bargains from from the people with slightly less glittering P&P DSRs down at the bottom of the list.

    *Makes a note for an amendment to the ‘Buying Bargains’ section of my book.*

  14. I’m thoroughly disturbed by the DSR, and over the last few weeks have posted on many sites. The U.S. has laws that preclude business much larger than Ebay from doing business this way. It will only be a matter of time before a lawsuit that employs Sherman Act – Anti-trust in a way to stop this control of a multi-billion dollar market.

    You can’t interfere with trade to line your pockets with more cash. This is the only reason the DSR was put in place. Any item on ebay has a total value. Lets, for argument say $100. That is the total amount a buyer is willing to pay PERIOD! That is the cost of the item and all shipping / handling cost.

    The only one benefiting from lower shipping cost is EBAY! The buyer is going to pay $100 regardless. If the seller sells the item for $1.00, and charges $99.00 to ship. This makes ebay very angry! Because they get no FVF – Final Value Fee on the shipping cost. Now if the item sells for $99.00, and has $1.00 for shipping cost; this makes Ebay very Happy! And, you can do the math which would show the benefit to Ebay to force reduced shipping cost. Why doesn’t Ebay try some tactic to force the transportation companies to lower their cost; or there would be a penalty to them? Why? Because we have laws in place to protect companies from unfair trade practices. The seller on ebay is no different than a huge corporation when they are looked at as a mass. They are Ebay’s customers.

    This will backfire, that is what markets are for in a capitalistic economy. Not the will of a huge corporation dictating what a cost will be, so that they may help themselves to more cash off the table! Then there is the double dipping with the transaction moving to the sister company; PayPal.

    I’m not going to go into any depth with that, other than they PayPal then collects a fee on the entire amount of the transaction; including the shipping / handling fees. So if a seller charged the exact shipping cost, they would loose on the transaction.

    I’m a power sell on the U.S. site; I;ve been selling on Ebay since 2001, and see it heading to a very bad place. These are the moves of a desperate corporation, in an effort to once again show a growth spurt. But, the ship has sailed. The first phase – ‘shooting star’ part of ebays history has ended. Now the business must be managed in a different manner; and dictating charges to the people that write their paychecks – will be met either by competition, or a Federal Anti-Trust Suit.

  15. The thing is that buyers on eBay quite rightly assume that the price they see is the price they’ll pay for the item and that reasonable shipping will be charged when the item is delivered.

    Can you imagine a commercial website charging £0.99 for a product and then adding on £99.00 to deliver it? They’d be crucified, and rightly so, for misleading their customers.

    Also the sellers on eBay that charge £0.99 for a product and £99.00 for shipping tend to then only refund the £0.99 if there is a problem with the item. They also are the ones who routinely refuse to combine orders for shipping discounts. They pocket the carriage and refuse to refund it. That’s an abhominably poor user experience and quite honestly sellers who gouge that badly on shipping costs are providing a pretty poor service.

    At the end of the day though it’s buyers who decide what they want. If a buyer is happy with the service even if it is a £0.99 with £99.00 shipping they won’t mark the seller down on DSRs. If they aren’t happy at being conned then quite rightly they have the opportunity to make their opinion felt.

  16. I do understand the point. But when an honest seller as myself clearly states what the shipping / carriage charges are… IN BOLD FACED TYPE IN THE LISTING AREA – INCLUDED IN THE DESCRIPTION WITH A BOX AROUND THE WHOLE BLURB, AND IN A DIFFERENT COLOR! The buyer clearly knows what the charge is!

    My shipping/handling star has a 4.7 – As I make the buyer clearly aware of the fact that this is the charge, so adjust your bid accordingly… If you think my shipping charges are too high… shave that amount off of the total bid price. There is no excuse for anything less than a 5 rating from the buyer at that point.

    I track and record; with software I have written for myself, the before & after value of the stars in each category for every feedback received from a buyer. My feedback is 100% for over 1000 feedbacks since 2001; so there is the proof. If the buyer wants to believe ebay’s selling point that the ratings are completely anonymous; well let them believe that. I will not give a negative to someone for reducing my star value – I give a very low key Paid O.K. But will hide behind the DSR system, and berate your excellent service. That lets sellers know what kind of individual they are dealing with. When a buyer looks at the feedback you gave to others, they will think twice, about basking you stars.

  17. I think it would help buyers if when you do a search low-to-high price, the postage was added in, so that £1+£10 comes lower than £5+£2. That would be a much better way of encouraging sellers to stop avoiding fees and misleading buyers.

    Also there are still sellers who don’t list any postage charge anywhere in their listings – can’t ebay just stop them doing that?


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