Let's talk about communicating

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Creative Commons License photo credit: aussiegall

If there was a theme to this year’s eBay Live, it was “talk to us”. “We want your feedback.” “We could have done a better job of communication; we’ll try harder in the future.” “We crave information about what people think.” (John Donahoe, Brian Burke and Jamie Ianonne respectively) By the time that Ryan stood up in the PowerSeller Panel to tell us about his innovations for Customer Service, and in particular about some changes which should match eBay customers with agents who can answer their question the first time, without multiple irrelevent cut and paste emails beforehand, eBay was sounding like a company that had really changed: I thought they not only wanted to speak to their customers, but they were busy figuring out just how to do that.

By coincidence, that same day, I received an email from a PowerSeller (who we’ll call Mike). He wrote

I have been suspended from eBay, for apparently breaching their sellers policy of over 5% customer dissatisfaction!

I have been a loyal and trusted e-bayer for over 4 years with 1340 positives and just 3 negatives (one of which has now been resolved) with an average feedback % of 99.6 !!

Despite numerous e-mails back and forth I have not been able to resolve the problem, or indeed find out exactly how I have breached their policy.

I took a look over the account and unless there are some PayPal issues he’s not telling me about, I don’t see why Mike’s been suspended. But more importantly, I don’t see why eBay haven’t told him why he’s been suspended.

As eBay take steps to clean up the site, most sellers who lose their accounts are going to know exactly why that’s happened: but some, the dolphins, the “edge-cases”, are not going to understand. If eBay are going to suspend selling accounts for a neg or two, or a small handful of neutrals or 1s and 2s on DSRs, they need to be prepared to deal with that properly: they need to explain to sellers exactly what the problem is, and what they need to do to rectify it. We need out-bound customer service calls, not just for those with account managers, but for everyone. And if they are going to put people on a month’s warning, that too needs to be followed up with a phone call, explaining you’ve had too many PayPal complaints, or your DSRs have slipped badly. eBay need to communicate when we need to communicate, not just when it suits them.

Someone, somewhere at eBay is now reading this and shaking their head and asking if I know how many CS agents that would take. No, of course I don’t because I don’t know how many sellers you’ve suspended. But I would respectfully suggest that if it is more sellers than half a dozen agents could deal with in a week, then you’ve suspended too many people. In your rush to do the right thing, you’ve caught up too many innocent sellers in your net. Change the criteria. Get rid of the really bad people first, and then you can look again at your edge-cases and see if they’re really deserving of suspension, or if they just had a bad month last month.

This morning, I had another email from Mike, telling me that his account had been reinstated. Good news, but he still didn’t know why he’d been suspended. Though eBay support had phoned him, they “were totally unprepared to give any explanation as to their actions and flatly refused to discuss the matter any further”.

eBay’s upper management say that they are committed to communicating better with their members. They ask us to let them prove that. But they seem to have a problem themselves communicating this to the rest of their staff, who act in the same Kafkaesque arbitrary way, totally failing to communicate with the ordinary users whose livelihoods are being put at risk by these policies.

Yes, eBay talk a lot about communicating, but where they really need to start doing it, is amongst themselves.

28 Responses

  1. My daughters account was suspended a few days ago, also. She was starting out new and wanted to list buy it now items, but you can’t do that, unless you have 10 feedbacks. So, she looked around and was searching for inexpensive things. There’s not a problem with that right? Should she have to buy everything, that is over a certain amount? If so, it’s not stated in ebays policies, anywhere.
    So, she bought a couple wheatie pennies (she collects them, so why not get them and they were very cheap). She bought a cute photo of a little kitten, which we printed on photo paper and framed it and put in my other daughters room, on the wall. She bought some sports picks, for her grandfather. She bought 1 magic spell, which I thought was pretty cool. She bought a Lowe’s coupon, which my husband used and I have the reciept, to prove it. She sold like 3 auctions of keith urban photos and she has the proof, they they received them, as well.

    So, not one of her auctions, bought or sold, was in any way, trying to manipulate or artifically inflate her feedback, it was just a way to make ebay MORE money earlier, if they would open their eyes. She was getting ready to list many high priced items, after finally getting her 10 feedbacks and goes on and finds out her account is suspended, for 30 days. How is that a way to treat a new seller. It’s just plain ridiculous.

    It clearly states in ebay policy, that what she did, was allowed. This is what it says:

    “It is NOT a violation to exchange Feedback on low priced items when genuinely trading that item. For example, a seller who routinely sells post cards and trading cards is not likely to receive scrutiny for Feedback Manipulation. By contrast, a seller who typically sells high-value electronics and receives multiple Feedbacks for selling paper clips may be investigated by eBay for Feedback Manipulation.”

    Is ebay now going to dictate as to what you are allowed to buy and if you don’t spend to their limit, then they will just suspend you? I wasn’t aware that you had to spend a few hundred dollars, to be able to sell with buy it now, on ebay. But, I guess that is the case. After she got to her 10 feedbacks, she didn’t keep buying stuff like that, to “ARTIFICALLY INFLATE” it, it was just so she start doing buy it nows.

    She has emailed them twice and they won’t reply. She has gone to live help many times and they just send her back to the email link. This is just not right, for them to do this to people.

  2. Oh, and one other thing. Ebay booted me off the discussion boards for providing proof of their padding the listings, with buy.com and for directing people to articles, that were showing the problems, at ebay.

    My friend stopped over yesterday and ebay came up, during our conversation. She hasn’t been on in months and wasn’t aware of the changes and asked if she could look at her account. She checked and realized that with ebay removing her 2 negatives, that she had gone back to 100%. Anyways, she went onto the discussion board to check out all the unhappy people and saw a person talking rudely about me and responded to them. She said nothing rude at all and that can be proven. She posted only about 10 posts at the most, responding to a couple of my threads, that she thought were interesting articles about ebay.

    She left went home, did whatever and got up this morning to check her email and realized that she had been banned from the message board. WHY? She is being banned, for being friends with me? I do not see ANYWHERE in the policies where it says that if someone gets sanctioned, that all of their family and friends get sanctioned as well. She doesn’t really care to get back on there, but IS going through with the appeal, because she is one of those kind, that doesn’t like something bad on her record, even if it is totally wrong and shouldn’t be there. She has yet to hear back from them. Imagine that?

    Ebay clearly states in this article: https://www.companyexposed.com/pc-mag-ebay-accused-of-padding-listing-numbers/
    It says: Ebay denied that any forum deletions were intentional. If any posts were taken down “it was accidental,” the spokesman said. “We’re not afraid of hearing from our community and allowing them to post and discuss things and be angry on our boards”

  3. eBay has double standards regarding account suspension among others:

    Probably the best example: eBay Netherlands itself runs a promotion together with the Dutch railways selling cheap train tickets. eBay itself is involved and complaints of non delivery are rampant. Many people buy more than one ticket selling at 15 Euros each. Many tickets are not delivered or not in the correct amount which remains unsolved. eBay has even dared to remove negative feedbacks which is totally impossible according to their own new guidelines. They have not done that any more since people starting complaining on the discussion board. Current feedback score is now 95.8%

    https://myworld.ebay.nl/treindagkaart

    Any regular seller would have been suspended a long time ago already.

    The point I want to make is that eBay is run by managers like Donahoe
    who very well now how to market eBay with soundbites like “talk to us” and “We want your feedback.” But in reality it is: “We can not be arsed” and “Just give us your money”.

  4. #3

    “The point I want to make is that eBay is run by managers like Donahoe
    who very well know how to market eBay with soundbites like “talk to us” and “We want your feedback.” But in reality it is: “We can not be arsed” and “Just give us your money”.”

    Well said.

    If ebay/paypal had DSRs & Feedback they would have been suspended within a week.

  5. Well I think the comments made to me about suspensions such as we can not look at sellers on a case by case basis on a marketplace of this size and was basically told the computer does the suspensions and its out of human control.
    They don’t care who you are or what you say, its done end of! and once a business treats its customers like that there is only one way to go and thats down, you only have to look at big business like that to see it happen!

    Stu

  6. The whole issue of suspensions has not only been badly implemented, it’s using a ridiculously short time frame on which to work, 30 days is not long enough.

    This is a lazy policy from ebay and lazy policies lead to a poor service and that’s what ebay are providing.

    I’m not a fan of suspensions based on opinion anyway. Suspensions based on repeated listing violations are something I support.

  7. Classic case of a company making broad and sweeping changes without first ensuring the support staff were able to best serve the inevetable rush of complaints and questions.
    To pinch a quote from Sue’s opening post “Someone, somewhere at eBay is now reading this and shaking their head and asking if I know how many CS agents that would take”
    Looks to me like ebay had no idea of the impact their changes would have (egad! they have oodles of data to forecast from. A blind man in a cave would have seen this coming!) OR ebay was hoping that these poor suspended sellers would just disappear never to be heard from again.
    The latter costs less money ………….

  8. I suspect it is not just someone at eBay that reads this, but with luck eBay shareholders as well, and they may just have what is needed to influence eBay to sit up and take note.

  9. Nothing new here.

    Ebay needs to spend more money on a lot of things, but they are just entirely too cheap to run their site properly. They’ve always skimped on Customer Service.

  10. Your site here is funky, here is the rest of my comment:

    If Ebay is suddenly saying they want our Feedback, all they need do is go to the boards. It’s all there all the time, plain and simple. Make no mistake, they do NOT want our FB, they couldn’t care less what we think, they’ve proven it time and time again. If they are saying they do, it’s all just a show and means nothing.

  11. There’s still a little piece of my heart reserved for Monkey Island 5, just in case they ever do it. *sigh*

    Can still remember the huge spreadsheet I made for how to win at Monkey Kombat in Escape From 😆

  12. Ebay needs to communicate THE TRUTH. After 9 years of selling on Ebay I do NOT trust this company or Paypal. Ebay is the poster child for Corporate America at it’s worse.

    The dashboard raing is what Ebay is using to drive peope out of business. Ebay is letting the naive buyers do they’re dirty work for them. Ebay is putting hundreds of thousands of people OUT OF WORK!!

    WHEN GREED CANNOT BE CONTROLLED – THE WE MUST CONTROL GREED.

  13. ❗ – I agree with Plant – ebay does not have sufficient customer service. Published lists (alexa) states that there are only 14 people in their customer service department.

    Doesn’t anyone get it???? THEY DO NOT HAVE THE STAFF. They can’t and won’t and do not like to get involved. It’s always been that way!!!!

    They should use some of their paypal profits and hire a customer service TEAM with managers and supervisors.

  14. Randy, I can only imagine how tiring it is to be blogging this stuff. But you, Sue and every other person who covers this, please know how much it is appreciated.

    That said, I think that everyone getting tired and moving on is exactly what the eBay brain trust is counting on.

    I believe that being able to say they met whatever goal/result they are striving for (and maybe it’s just me but I’m still not exactly sure what that is) has become more important than the long term (continued) success of the company.

    I have a vision this this crack management team upon reaching their goal, will pop the cork on the champagne, turn to raise their glasses for a toast and say ‘ Hey, where did everybody go?’

    Idiots.

  15. Talk to us …. We want your feedback

    Oh, please spare me. The Ebay boards are full of people talking and giving feedback which is being ignored at best, or what’s worse, deleted with warnings and suspensions for the Ebay members who posted it. Blogs are full of comments from Ebay members.

    But still Ebay management are trotting out the ridiculous line ‘Talk to us, we want your feedback’. If they care to look around, there’s plenty of talk and feedback already.

    Um, no I don’t really think they do want our feedback. But I do think they’re saying it because they think it’s what we want to hear. Actions speak louder than words and as long as good Ebay sellers continue to be restricted and NARUed for trifling misdemeanors, I won’t believe another word JD, Lorrie and their mates at the top are saying.

  16. too right judy
    its corporate cobblers
    ebay has always came across to me as a busy mother humouring a demanding child

  17. eBay certainly get massive quantities of feedback through forums, blogs and their own surveys. The problem is the lack of meaningful or coherent communication to members –

    Changes implemented without consultation
    Cut and Paste email responses from PS Support
    PS Support say one thing, PINKS say something else on Boards
    Feedback from members is ignored or dismissed

    I don’t think of eBay as a business partner that I can communicate with – it’s just not feasible at the moment. If I have a problem then I have a very, very low expectation that contacting support will resolve the issue – even when they’ve accepted there’s a problem they haven’t taken any action. If they are determined to change that culture (and it is ingrained), they will need to show strong leadership from the top and resource their Customer Service Teams properly. In other words, they have to ‘walk the talk’ (no pun intended!) – words are fine but action supercedes everything.

    On the subject of SNP restrictions / suspensions –

    The PS Board has lots of comments from concerned sellers about ‘dolphins / edge cases’. I’m particularly thinking of one recent case where Richard (PINK) later admitted that the seller had been suspended ‘in error’.

    Richard, quite rightly, points out that there are often emotional posts about individual restricted/suspended seller cases, where posters have ‘jumped in when they are not aware of the full facts. All sellers want is an eBay system that only imposes restrictions / suspensions after eBay itself is in possesion of all the facts.

    Paul.

  18. Read the threads throughout ebay’s own discussion boards to see the the damage ebay is doing to it’s own site and clients. ebay has deleted tons of posts and threads, but a few do remain & more than likely ONLY because ebay is aware that reporters are ALSO reading those posts. The “Hidden Threads” that ebay prematurely banned to the last several pages of “Seller Central” and “The Front Porch” about the ebay Boycott, are just a tiny fraction of what is left of the THOUSANDS of posts ebay is continually deleting. See Titles on those last pages such as “BOYCOTT IN EUROPE” and “BOYCOTT, BOYCOTT, BOYCOTT”. ebay Discussions titled, “FEEDBACK”, also has numerous threads by honest ebayers posting about many of ebay’s deceitful practices.

    If ebay doesn’t like something, it is banned, suspended, deleted and ignored. That IS ebay’s “customer support”.

    STOCKHOLDERS NEED TO WAKE UP! Meg & Bob are selling tons of their stock……..the writing IS on the wall!!!

  19. I was also booted from the feedback forum of Feebay. I am a powerseller and had something to say…that Ebay did not want heard. I was calling for all ebayers to dump their Ebay stock. I felt I was providing a service as the stock has been tanking. With the Wall St. Jurnols blog about this up now the stock is going down even further. Dipped below $27 just today. To me this is Feebays feedback. I also posted links to stories about Feebay that apparently they did not like. They are now trying to silence us all because as I stated in my blogs….they shot them selfs in the foot and they just can’t stop the bleeding now!!! I believe my 7 day suspension is over so I will see you others and Satisfaction100 back on the feedback forum when your stent in the Feebay Feedback Jail is over. LOL. 😛

  20. Well here we go again. As posted earlier I was suspended from Ebays Feedback fourm. I served my 7 days and went back to bump 100 percents thread on TWJ and here is what ebays security team did. This is the pleasent email they sent when the TOOK DOWN MY POST. Please, can anyone tell me why this was taken down. Please note my post is within this email. …anyone??? Is Feebay trying to silence us??? I think so!!!

    Hello fastjag1, We appreciate your participation in the eBay Community Forums. We are writing to let you know that we removed the following post.

    “Well….bumpty bump bump.I am back!!!! I was suspended from this board for 7 days by the Nazies. Not sure what I did other than riled up the Ebay suits!!! I have been leaving comment on the WSJ site everyday…suggest everyone else do the same!!!It’s better to die standing than live on your knees. I am a slave to no AuctionSite!! ”

    In order for the community forums, which are based on the eBay Community Values, to be a place where all members can feel comfortable interacting with each other, there are certain types of posts we remove when they are reported to us. The guidelines for posting in the forums are defined in the Board Usage Policy. Your post was removed for the following reason: Discussing or reposting deleted posts or warning letters, or discussion of sanctioned or no longer registered members. For clarification of this policy, please visit this page: https://forums.ebay.com/db2/thread.jspa?threadID=410492018 We understand that most posts that are removed were not intentional violations. We invite you to take some time to review the Board Usage Policy and policy explanations via the following URLs for clarification about the types of posts that we do not allow. https://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/everyone-boards.htmlhttps://forums.ebay.com/forum.jspa?forumID=2005 Again, we value your participation in the forums, and we appreciate your support. Regards,AstariaeBay Moderation Team

  21. Apparently I have been a bad boy 😳 Since I did not understand why they took that one down….and thinking that they want to bury that thread I went back and posted the following.
    “OK…. I do not know exactly what I can post here. I keep getting suspended and or my post are removed. So, all I am going to do this time is BUMP this thread.

    It’s better to die standing than live on your knees. I am a slave to no Auction Site!! ”

    If I can not say anything maybe I can at least keep this post at the top of the feedback forum. I believe that the talk at the WSJ blog will really send a message and aleart everyone to the inevitable….the fall of Ebay. O.K. it won’t die but we all already know that it will never be the same!!! Not like the good ol days when listing was fun.

  22. Jeff, your post was taken down because you referred to your suspension. Liveworld’s rules are pretty clear: you are not allowed to discuss member sanctions.

    Honestly, if you want to talk about eBay, you might do better to do it off-eBay 🙂

  23. ah….so I can not say I was suspended??? Interesting and thanks for the info. I guess they are going to bring down a few more of my post then. I did not know this. Why would it matter if I said I had been suspended??? Does not make since to me. ❓

  24. Yes, I just went to my email and sure engough…. here it is:

    Hello fastjag1, We appreciate your participation in the eBay Community Forums. We are writing to let you know that we removed the following post.

    Sory I do not have much to say folks…they are watching me….their everywhere!!! They are EBAY!!! I served my 7 daysuspention from this forum but my first post on this threadwas taken off….so apparently I am on their hit list. I have to watch what I say. But please everyone else keep this post at the top. The link at the top of the tread is where everyone needs to complain. Let them here are dissatisfaction at Wall Street!!!! bump

    In order for the community forums, which are based on the eBay Community Values, to be a place where all members can feel comfortable interacting with each other, there are certain types of posts we remove when they are reported to us. The guidelines for posting in the forums are defined in the Board Usage Policy. Your post was removed for the following reason: Discussing or reposting deleted posts or warning letters, or discussion of sanctioned or no longer registered members. For clarification of this policy, please visit this page: https://forums.ebay.com/db2/thread.jspa?threadID=410492018 We understand that most posts that are removed were not intentional violations. We invite you to take some time to review the Board Usage Policy and policy explanations via the following URLs for clarification about the types of posts that we do not allow. https://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/everyone-boards.htmlhttps://forums.ebay.com/forum.jspa?forumID=2005 Again, we value your participation in the forums, and we appreciate your support. Regards,AstariaeBay Moderation Team

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