DSRs have Whirly in a spin

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When eBay talked about DSRs, Best Match, search result advantages and disadvantages, and all the other changes they’ve made recently, there was a refrain running through the conversation, that one buyer’s bad marks would not, could not, affect a seller. Unfortunately, for some sellers, this turns out not to be quite accurate.

Long-term readers of the PowerSeller Board and numerous other eBay-related forums know Martin from The Whirlpool Bath Shop better as . Martin sells luxury baths, and as you can imagine, his high value sales are pretty low volume: if he gets a dozen feedbacks in a week, that’s a pretty busy week on eBay.

Under eBay’s new regime, that has left The Whirlpool Bath Shop veering from ‘PowerSeller with an FVF discount’ to ‘disadvantaged in search results’ and back again. Over the last week or so, I’ve watched his particular problem, the dispatch time star, move from 4.3 to 4.4 and back again half a dozen times, one feedback at a time: 4.3 is of course the cut-off point for being disadvantaged in search, so buyers leaving a “4” are killing the Whirly Shop. Martin himself swings from “I’m finished on eBay” to “phew!”, and though he paints it all with the humour we’ve all come to expect from him, it’s not a way anyone can run a business, not over the long-term. If one buyer can kill off his eBay sales, then he might as well finish the job himself.

Unfortunately for Martin, it seems that most of his buyers aren’t bothering to leave him any DSR stars at all: according to his Account Manager, 18 out of the last 25 buyers who left a comment, didn’t fill out the stars. This does seem to confirm the fear that many sellers expressed last year when the DSR system was introduced, that happy buyers won’t bother to leave stars.

When 13 buyers in a row had left a positive comment but apparently no stars, Martin decided further action was required: he phoned them to make sure everything was satisfactory and to see what could have gone better. No, said the buyers, all was fine: they’d told him when they wanted their bath delivered, and it’d been delivered on that day.

It strikes me that Martin has the same problem with delivery time that many of us have with the P&P score. He lets his buyers choose when his couriers will deliver, and because their expectations are met exactly, rather than exceeded, for many buyers that merits a “good” score of 4 out of 5. Unless there’s a really nice surprise in the transaction, some people don’t give 5s. If you sell hundreds of items every day, that probably doesn’t matter: your average will be pulled upwards. But if you sell a dozen baths a week, every single 4 is another nail in the coffin of your eBay shop.

Martin’s now listing higher volume cheaper items in an attempt to increase his DSR scores. He doesn’t want to: “it’s hassle”, he told me. But its what his competitors are doing too, and it seems that for many low-volume, high-price sellers, it might be the only way to survive on eBay.

31 Responses

  1. this really needs to be addresed

    buyer leaves 4 thinking its a good mark
    ebay then treats it as a poor mark
    is ludicrous

  2. I don’t think it’s entirely that North, as in theory every seller will have their fair share of buyers who routinely give fives and those that give fours for great performance.

    The problem arises out of the fact that buyers of large heavy objects are disadvantaged by the nature of the products that they sell and overall their DSRs are generally lower.

    eBay really need to look at a category by category split on DSRs and if certain categories are routinely scored lower across all sellers in that category compared to the average across the whole of eBay address the situation.

    However it’s worth pointing out that if they do that other categories that are routinely scored higher than the site average could find the goal posts moved up! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

    The only way out I can see is what whirly is doing and balance heavy low DSR scoring items with light high scoring items, but it is a pain in the neck to say the least ๐Ÿ™

  3. I’ve asked my account manager this morning if eBay have any plans to make DSR scores a permanent part of leaving feedback, at the moment its a choice and I don’t think it should be.

    I was told “we don’t want to force buyers into doing something they don’t want to” thats just great and probably why discounts are related to DSR and not feedback. Call my cynical.

  4. in the star rating burble
    4 stars are rated as good
    4 stars is below average for sellers in general
    as things are
    too much rests on a poor and inaccurate rating system

  5. Very interesting story guys and sorry to hear your woes Martin. I think you are certainly right to leverage your account manager. Encourage them to ask questions of the system and the impact that has on sellers and search results. Secondly you’re right to contact your buyers and understand their motives behind feedback. I’d love to see more sellers do this, interacting with customers in a non-spammy way, as you learn loads and can adjust your business as necessary.

    I think there plenty of scope for eBay to take the lead here. They could:

    – make leaving of DSRs compulsory (e.g. you can’t bid again until you have completed them is one drastic step that comes to mind)
    – tie leaving of DSRs to the feedback process as mooted above.
    – add more commentary or qualification of what the stars represent on the page when leaving DSRs

  6. An awful lot rides on it North, I’m just one high fee payer.

    I’ve always had good value from it and so I’ve always used eBay, this week for my money I’ve only been visible for 4 days, the other 3 days my listings were showing on page 19, the value is still there but only just.

    My buyers are happy, they say so in feedback, however for 3 days this week I have been classed by eBay as being in the bottom 3% of sellers.

  7. I think one small change that would make the DSRs a lot easier to leave, is to change it from the current widget to radio buttons on an HTML form. Four definite clicks rather than the current floaty mouseover stuff would make leaving stars SO much easier.

  8. It’s not the easiest method I agree.

    I am just waiting for the day now when a lorry is late or breaks down or a driver messes up or goes sick, I will end up with a 1,2,3 on the score boards and will vanish to page 19 with little or no hope of ever recovering. ๐Ÿ™

  9. @whirly

    Sorry to hear of your woes Whirly.

    But I am sure you will find a way around it.

    We do for instance mix high and low value items and it definitely works.

    I would consider in your case, pushing some tap washers with free postage thrown in etc through the system.

    More work but view it as advertising leverage.

    This is the whole problem with the system.

    It is EASY to manipulate it if you are willing to take loss leaders to get the visibility.

    This is what happens when you take a simple system and over complicate it.

    Feedback worked.

    FVF could have been linked to feedback and we would have the same system, but we would not have these postage issues on FVF’s

    Lets face it, no good seller really complains about the top DSR’s.

    It is ALWAYS the postage DSR that is the problem for EVERYONE.

    This shows that Ebays system is fundamentally at fault.

    I suspect that at some point, that Amazons low loaded postage strategy (hiding the real cost) will find its way on to Amazbay.


  10. Following on from what you said Mark and my silly comment, surely eBay would be a better site without another seller selling tap washers(as an example) and let us as Whirlpool Bath Manufacturers’/Retailers sell Whirlpool Baths thats what we do, I don’t want to sell soap, washers or silicone and there’s hundreds of people doing it already I’m just adding to the problem surely?

    I want to sell baths, we sell baths well.

    I don’t want to sell soap,washers or silicone its PITA for us and helps no one.

  11. We and some of our freinds were in very similair positions. Selling high value items but low volumes caused one guy’s DSRs to drop significantly.

    He then started selling USB crap just to pull DSRs up. Its totally rediculous.

    Im beginning to wonder would the 4k i spend on ebay fees every month be better spent setting up my own ecommerce shop and adwords.

  12. One thing that eBay could do which would fit nicely with a lot of policies is to simply give an auto five star for free postage.

    Sure it’d mean those taking advantage (suffering??) would have to pay fees on postage, but it’d wipe out fee avoidance, sort out the lowest DSR for most sellers and please buyers all in one fell swoop.

    Allowing buyers to suggest that sellers could offer a better priced services than free post is bizarre. What do they expect? Sellers to pay their buyers for the privilege of delivering? It’s just not possible to get a better price than free!

  13. I fully agree whirly…

    But if that is the corner you are in, that is the fight you have to fight.

    It is only as these ideas get bandied around and Ebay see them that they will sit up and take notice.

    After all it is within the rules of Ebay.

    Just stuff 100 jiffy bags with mixed sets of washers, stick them in a box. list at ร‚ยฃ1.99 inc postage. Then put invoice in, postage address on and pop in post box.

    Do that 10 times a week and your dsr problem is “fixed”.

    And then watch your dsr’s climb.

    What other choice do you have, Ebay are unlikely to address this issue any time soon and your sales are on the line until then.

    A pain to do, but less painful than loss of sales.

    This is the situation Ebay have created with this policy.

    Heavy items are expensive to post.

    We sell items to the states and worldwide with ร‚ยฃ50.00+ postage, these tend to be large expensive items (the only large items we sell tend to be expensive), now if these were the only things we were selling, we would soon get hammered on DSR’s.

    No, it is not right, yes it is a pain, but the sales need to keep coming in ๐Ÿ™‚

    Once Ebay realise how easy it is to manipulate the system, they might start addressing some of these issues.


  14. Oh and we have 4.7 on postage, yet cannot qualify for DSR’s as we choose to list on .com…

    4.7 shipping worldwide please note.

    A very flawed system.

    Unless of course we want to list on the UK with about a 10th of the market we sell into, to get DSR rebate…

    Then of course our shop items do not show on .com, so more revenue lost.

    Terrible system, you just would like Ebay to see it at the start, but are they blind to how unlevel this new playing field is?

    Or is it a case of see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil…


  15. Mark, I am still trying to get an official statement on that part of the policy relating to international sales. eBay have not deigned to come back to me yet, but if they ever do, rest assured you will be the first to know about it.

  16. Your bang on, the money at stake is vast and I have to stop being stubborn and fall into line like a good little boy. ๐Ÿ™„

    I’m going to do exactly what you suggest and see what happens Mark.

    Auto 5 Star would be a god send Chris.

  17. I would actually just like to point something out, The Whirlpool Bath Shop business is not just me, its a team effort were the hardest work is carried out by Kate(waves) Alan(waves) Lorna (waves) Jim (waves) and the rest of the guys in the factory.

    They deal with the hard day to day stuff. Thanks Guys. ๐Ÿ˜€

  18. @Sue

    Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

    I doubt they will change anything, the site says I am eligible (even on .com), but no refund, so the system and the accountants? seem to disagree.

    4.7 for a company that ships worldwide should be basis for a FVF credit no matter what country they are in/list from in our opinion.

    It shows we can provide a high level of quality and yet Ebays current system does not represent this by excluding us unless we are willing to lose about 60% of our sales by listing on the UK site (we know that is the difference due to some very simple maths).


    Say hi to your staff from us…

    Have you told them about the jiffy bags yet?



  19. Sold 2 tubes of silicone in the last 24 hours, have another bid on ONE item ๐Ÿ˜† I’m just off to bed now but imagine I will be dreaming about whether a tube of silicone will fit through the letter box, or whether it will get lost in the postal system(1 is going to Fife!) ๐Ÿ˜ฏ We sell baths, very good baths I might add……..I don’t need this ๐Ÿ˜†

    Night All.

    Yours Faithfully

    (yes, I sell baths,,,please ignore all the feedbacks about silicone ๐Ÿ™„ ) ๐Ÿ˜†

  20. I would be very tempted to get friends family and boozing mates to buy tap washers quite regularly

  21. Tap washers is the new buzz word in the office North. Picking up an assorted bunch of around 5000 rubber washers later from the back of Plumbase when my pal goes on lunch.

  22. Thats just fabulous, a NPB silicone order ๐Ÿ™„ buyer has decided it’s not the sort he wants.

    But my hands are tied, there is no way in this world I will open a dispute or neg him, imagine how long it would take me to recover if he scored me a 1 Star for despatch if he got the hump.

    I know eBay have said they will look at neg’s more carefully, but would any of you seriously put your eBay business on the line based on something that eBay told you?

  23. Feedback left at 15:01 “Was delivered today and looks great”

    15.05 DSR drops to 4.3 for despatch. ๐Ÿ˜

  24. Feedback left at 01-May-08 20:33 “great bath delivery as arranged thanks”

    20:40 DSR goes up to 4.4 for despatch ๐Ÿ˜

    FFS! The guy at 15.01 asked for it to be delivered today….Since when has good been bad!

  25. I`m off to a Holiday Inn for the weekend – should I be worried – its only 4 stars !

  26. OMG, Dave, make sure you take your GPS coz it’ll be disadvantaged in search and you’ll never find it otherwise ๐Ÿ˜†


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