No more 'grace period' to sort out poor feedback

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eBay UK sellers are receiving emails from Account Managers this morning advising them of unannounced changes to the rules regarding seller non-performance:

  • there will be no more 30 day grace period for sellers whose buyer dissatisfaction rate falls below 95%.
  • if your BDR falls below 95% over a 90 day period, you will immediately have your account suspended from selling for 30 days and all listings will be removed.
  • if after 30 days, your account has not shown “a significant improvement”, you will be indefinitely suspended.
  • if you are indefinitely suspended, you will not be able to use any other accounts, or to open new ones. (The implication here is that the accounts will be completely suspended from all activity, not just selling, but the email doesn’t explicitly say this.)

Sellers who had fallen foul of the previously had the opportunity to trade their way out of trouble, perhaps by selling a lot of cheap items quickly to try to increase their feedback percentages. This will no longer be an option.

To be a victim of the , sellers must have 5% or more of their buyers unhappy, as evidenced by neutral feedback, negative feedback or item not received complaints, over a 90 day period. While this would be difficult for most eBay sellers to achieve, as we’ve seen with DSRs, it’s likely to be the high-value, low-volume sellers who are hit hardest. The DSRs themselves are not currently taken into account for this score, though eBay have said that this may change in the future.

eBay do offer some tips on how to improve your chances of staying registered on the site:

  • sellers who have received any non-positive feedback are encouraged to file for mutual feedback withdrawal
  • sellers who have filed for MFW and had no response are encouraged to email AMs to see if the feedback can be removed under any eBay policies.

I am exceedingly concerned at the effect this will have on the eBay buyer experience. It’s likely to lead to *much* more bullying of buyers by sellers who no longer have anything to lose by harrassing people into feedback withdrawals.

And of course, for sellers, it means that you can’t trade your way out of a bad spot. 30 days sitting there with nothing for sale is unlikely to improve anyone’s score much – indeed, when sellers seem to have disappeared from the site, they’re much less likely to be given the benefit of the doubt by buyers who will naturally assume they’ve done a runner.

Worse still, if you’ve had a flurry of negative feedback – maybe because of a faulty batch of stock or a missing mailbag – then selling nothing for a month will give you 60 days worth of feedback as previous good ones drop off, and you’ll probably be down to 90% by the time your suspension is up. In other words, if you get to a 30 day suspension, you can probably wave goodbye to your eBay account.

But the thing that shocks me more than anything is that this change is not being officially announced. “Although it has not been announced…” begins the AM email. Frankly, this isn’t good enough. There should have been a post on the Announcements Board, not a sneaky little email to those of us lucky enough to have an Account Manager.

Updated to add Just to clarify: sellers need a minimum of two negative feedbacks to be sanctioned under the SNP policy (or they did last time eBay actually revealed any details of that policy). So one negative cannot get your account suspended (or so I understand).

45 Responses

  1. Thanks 😆

    “if after 30 days, your account has not shown “a significant improvement”, you will be indefinitely suspended.”

    who in the hell writes this stuff, more to the point who passes it? how can you improve if you can’t sell?

    “sellers who have received any non-positive feedback are encouraged to file for mutual feedback withdrawal”

    They want us to manipulate previous buyers opinions on a transaction? WTF I thought they wanted the buyers to have a better experience? trying to persuade buyers to change there mind FFS, how is that going to encourage someone to come back?

    Just when you think they have surpassed themselves….

  2. Top be fair, you have to be shifting some to be down close to 95%.

    I can see the rationale of not announcing generally: this sorta info doesn’t need to be communicated to buyers, indeed there is a strong case for saying that buyers (especially the malicious ones) should not know about these limits.

  3. How is it calculated again? I’ve had 42 positives in the last 90 days, if I have one neg today what would my BDR score be?

  4. I think this proves that low volume high value sellers will have to change their strategy completely.

    Isn’t it a shame that to be a viable business on Ebay, you HAVE to start shifting low value items to protect yourself from the DSR’s and this new fangled thing above?

    Imagine selling cars!

    1 in 20 would be expected I would imagine?


  5. I’ve heard that some of the larger sellers in the US are doing feedback DSR farming.

    It’s a bit like crop rotation, they have several eBay selling IDs and start off selling the low DSR products on ID1. When the DSRs drop to say 4.5% they shift them to ID2 and start selling high DSR products on ID1.

    They do the same with ID3 and maybe even a fourth ID until ID1 has DSRs back up to say 4.8%. If needed they’ll even sell free P&P to get the scores up before using the ID to sell the low DSR products again.

    The big advantage is that on something like Whirly’s baths if you’ve built the ID up to 4.8 with 100s of low value sales for a couple of months you can then run the high value low volume for probably at least a month before it starts to impact your DSR score to undesirable levels.

    The downside is you probably need to run at least three if not four IDs, and shift volume product.

  6. Penny Gallery??
    Do you know of a Cheap Listing Promo that we’ve not found out about yet? Or is that just a step before Free Gallery who’s the friend everyone wants to come out of hiding :-p

  7. Think eBay may have shot themselves (and us) in the foot with some of these changes that are intended to improve the buyer experience.

    Just read an increasingly common type of post on the PS board along the lines of…

    “Contacted 35 of my buyers today to ask them how they filled in the DSR’s….”

  8. I wonder what the press will make of it?

    and indeed the shareholders?

    eBay encouraging sellers to contact buyers who have left a neutral or a negative asking them to reconsider! what a disgrace.

    It’s like a Faulty Towers.

  9. It’s not new news sadly, it’s been pretty much accepted that withdrawn feedback is par for the course and nothing to be ashamed of for a long time.

    Personally I still count a large number of withdraws as might as well be negs. A withdrawn neut/pos also looks like it was originally a neg which makes feedback history possibly look worse than it actually was.

    Don’t like withdraws, much better to get the positive to start with

  10. Thats a fair comment.

    Never actually heard eBay encouraging it though as it kind of defeats the whole object of feedback in the 1st place.

  11. Round and round we go again.
    Now Ebay want sellers to contact buyers with a view to withdrawing negative feedback?

    Now, here’s a really wild and crazy idea:
    Why not get buyers to contact sellers with issues BEFORE the neg is left then there would be no need for this post feedback tampering.
    Cart-horse, horse-cart?

  12. I think I can understand the rationale behind *all* of these feedback changes.

    However, they’ve been made with an assumption by ebay that buyers are rationale and well mannered, when in certain categories this couldn’t be further from the truth.

    Clearly the bar for excellence will have to be dropped from 99.x – 100% to something a bit lower.

    If this isn’t explained to the average joe buyer, they could well end up thinking the site is populated by shysters.

    I think it is a huge gamble they are taking with the sites reputation.

    One thing is true though, whoever said that feedback doesn’t pay the bills couldn’t be further from the truth.

  13. “they could well think that the site is populated by shysters”

    But they won’t, because the “shysters” will be at the bottom of page 20 on the search results and the buyers will never see em.

  14. We have always had a policy to ask a buyer to withdraw poor feedback, so nothing will change there.

    I would go as far as to say that out of all the neutral or negative feedback that we have received over the years non have been justified. 30% have been left by mistake, when the buyer had intended to leave positive, the rest have either been from happy buyers but just leave a neutral as a matter of course, or from buyers have purchased an incorrect cable but fail to notify us before leaving feedback.

    I feel that we can not improve on our service so why fear the change.

  15. “But they won’t, because the “shysters” will be at the bottom of page 20 on the search results and the buyers will never see em”

    Well you would hope so but surely if best match works well and would imagine in some areas comes up with limited results there is a good chance bad sellers will still appear on page 1!!

    So the shoving down the list idea only works when there is a lot to shove down past!

    Its all a bit worrying

  16. But they won’t, because the “shysters” will be at the bottom of page 20 on the search results and the buyers will never see em.

    Depends on how many sellers on the previous 19 pages have been negged into oblivion as well Sue.

    And if there is no 30 day grace period, will there be enough search returns to fill 20 pages?

  17. Well… if everyone’s got 4.0 average DSRs and everyone’s disadvantaged in search, we can all stop worrying about it.


  18. We have always had a policy to ask a buyer to withdraw poor feedback, so nothing will change there.

    My memory isn’t what it used to be, but I’m sure that I recall one of the forthcoming improvements being that feedback withdrawal would become a thing of the past?

  19. Well… if everyone’s got 4.0 average DSRs and everyone’s disadvantaged in search, we can all stop worrying about it.

    Hence my concern at buyers thinking that all they can see are shysters.

  20. Mark, I don’t believe that buyers ever look at DSRs. I certainly don’t believe they could see the difference between a nibbled star that meant 4.8 and a nibbled star that meant 4.2 – and I don’t believe most of them would bother mousing-over to find out, either.

    The DSRs were brought in to give buyers the chance to complain about specific aspects of the transaction without having to put their necks on the line and do it in public. If only eBay had had this idea about no more negs for buyers *before* they had the idea about DSRs. Then we would have all this clicky star nonsense to deal with.

  21. Actualy I think the star system is working… I use it and like it and think it does easily show up the poor performers.

    I do agree that condensing the differences into just one star is just plain silly.

    Traditional feedback is past it’s sell by date and needs scrapping!!! IMHO

  22. I wonder if Ebay are realising how easy it is to manipulate the DSR system?

    DSR farming.

    Low flying DSR listings.

    Whatever next?

    Ebay attracts a certain type of seller, those that want to and can get on as well as the genuinely crooked.

    The more systems Ebay put in place, the more ways around it people will find.

    So the string gets pulled tighter and tighter and most sellers after a while will sit outside of it and chuckle.

    This is a going to stop the scammers and abusers of the system for about how long?

    A month at best?


  23. No matter how aggressive they get, the little ships keep doing there own thing…

    The main thing here is again the adapt and survive model that most seasoned Ebayers have figured out quite a while ago.

    There is always a way around things, over them or under.

    The more Ebay puts in the way, the more they learn to overcome.

  24. dont care
    if it works and we make profit
    if ebay bugger it up thats their look out
    we will sell elsewhere

  25. talking about big fish: in the last few days I have received 2 emails from power sellers saying that they have left ebay and opened their own website. One of them would save $2.4 million per year in ebay fees.

    Also, have seen sellers with 5,000+ FB as no longer registered. Ebay may have offended all kind of sellers, small or big/

  26. Angry with the changes. Sign our map! We are not just a small noisey group of sellers! This has become a world wide problem. Show the investors how small this noisey little group really is!

  27. To reply to Dan ( yes, we’ve “met” before 😉 ), it’s no good saying that this is not something that should be announced to buyers… guess how many buyers might be currently reading this ? ( myself included )

    However, even though primarily a buyer, I have the deepest sympathy for the plight in which many sellers now find themselves.

    I cannot comprehend how eBay believe that sellers can “improve” by a combination of being prevented from selling and badgering their previous buyers for MFWs……. in fact the whole thing smacks of desperation.

    I have myself fallen foul of a seller who failed utterly to deliver any goods whatever, and after a month ( yes, a MONTH ! ) of polite emails from myself, finally got round to sending a very churlish mail offering a different product entirely from the one I needed !!

    Needless to say , they received a neg from me, ( and quite a few others ), and then proceeded to badger us for MFWs.
    I ignored the mails, but sadly a lot of other buyers caved in…..

    As a result , that seller is still trading ( under three different IDs )…. and still collecting negs……..
    Is this really the way that eBay want to be perceived by the general public ?

    There are a lot of very good sellers on the site , but I cannot believe that this is the way to make them more visible.

    I can’t help feeling that the initial flaw is the way the feedback system is viewed ……
    In general terms, a pos is indicative of a very good transaction, a neut (should be) neither bad nor good, just OK, and a neg a distinctly bad experience.
    I’m sure a lot of buyers who may be new to the process would view it in exactly those terms….therefore, to penalise sellers for neuts as well as negs is adding insult to injury.

    If a neut is now viewed by eBay as being on a par with a neg, then maybe it’s time to either

    a) re-educate buyers to tell them of this fact, or
    b) do away with neuts altogether as being a “white elephant”, or
    c) scrap the feedback system altogether
    (which effectively is what will be happening when the new rules come into force tomorrow, as sellers will be powerless to warn others about bad buyers)

    I’m not surprised that many previously loyal sellers are now fleeing for pastures new, it’s nonetheless a crying shame that they should be forced into this position because of a lot of ill-conceived ( and equally poorly administered ) sanctions.

  28. And………the question is, if Ebay’s recommendation is to file a mutual withdrawl, how can one do this when SELLERS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO LEAVE FB FOR BUYERS as of this month!??! What is there to “withdraw” on the seller’s part????????

  29. It is implied somewhere on the eBay announcements that mutual withdrawl will be removed “sometime” in the second half of 2008. I believe this is mentioned along with the other feedback changes. I assume this is because they know no buyer would have any reason to accept a mutual withdrawl request. It is probably another one of those things that gives sellers too much control over their buyers.


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