Looking back over the years eBay have on numerous occasions been hammered in the press for the conduct of sellers on the site. Watchdog in particular have an almost annual pop at them (watch out for another program in the Autumn or early Winter, they’ve had one for the last two years running at that time of year).
eBay have had to take steps to clean up their site, and those steps have inevitably involved setting a bar for acceptable seller behaviour.
eBay had to set the bar somewhere, and no matter how high or low it might be there would always be some borderline cases or “dolphins“. Lower or raise the bar and it’ll simply result in a different set of sellers being borderline.
The big question shouldn’t be “Are the wrong sellers getting caught in the net”, it should be “How should eBay handle borderline cases”.
I have no problem at all with eBay taking action against accounts which are blatantly giving abysmal service and removing them from the site. However being an innocent victim of an over-enthusiastically applied policy and having your income removed for 30 days seems more than a little harsh to say the least.
It would appear fairer if borderline cases could be handled more gently by applying an alternative “speed bump”. Some eBay sites still use different penalties such as a 14 day listing restriction without cancelling any live listings already running, so there are options that could be considered.
I’m aware of the argument that in the past sellers undergoing a selling restriction may have abused the grace period, making as many sales as possible and in some cases giving even worse service than before. Borderline cases such as those with non-positive feedback from a single buyer, or those with only neutrals and no negatives in the last 30 days are the ones most likely to take positive action in my opinion.
eBay have to take a stand to protect buyers and the future of the site for the thousands of sellers giving superb service, but eBay must protect good sellers from becoming victims of the maths of their new policies, especially low-volume sellers who can easily be damaged by one random, rogue bidder.
We spoke to eBay and they have this message for sellers: “We appreciate the situation you’re in. Firstly we’d emphasise that many of the changes are geared towards offering great customer service and resolution of issues up front so that buyers have no need to even consider a neg or dispute in the first place. And we’re doing what we can to encourage buyers to communicate with sellers at the point of giving potential negative Feedback.”
It’s impossible to attain the flawless service eBay aim for all of the time – even a brand new product can be faulty, or a delivery go missing en route. Whilst sellers aim for perfection, sometimes they (myself included) fall short.
There is light at the end of the tunnel though, eBay also said: “With regards to the new criteria for account restrictions we’re well aware of the uncertainty some sellers are feeling and are continuously fine tuning our policies to be ever more effective in targeting the right sellers. We’re also reviewing the nature of some of these restrictions and how best we communicate the policies.”
Hopefully that will also include reviewing those sellers already classed as borderline and unable to currently trade.