eBay Diamonds not quite sparkling

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A little quiz for you: here’s all of someone’s feedback:

What kind of seller does this feedback belong to?

  1. A newbie trader who just isn’t getting it right
  2. A scammer
  3. eBay’s latest Diamond PowerSeller?

Sadly, the correct answer is #3. First spotted by Randy Smythe last week, eBay commentators have been watching feedback stick at -1 ever since.

eBay has said that “all sellers – regardless of volume, category, and PS level (including Diamond Level) and without exception – must adhere to the same standards with respect to DSRs, feedback and policy compliance.” Sellers with 33% positive feedback would normally be removed from eBay, so a special deal is being done here.

And there should be a lot more feedback than this: Goofbay shows a total of 134 sold items in the last 90 days; Smartbargains have left . So where are all the other comments from buyers? Not all buyers run to leave feedback the moment their parcel arrives, but some do: it doesn’t bode well that so little feedback has been left.

Goofbay also gives us Smartbargains’ sales figures for the last 90 days:

Total Value Sold: Β£7,501.24
Total Value Not Sold: Β£5,785,877.94

Yes, you read that right: nearly $6million in unsold items, and a 0.15% sell-through rate. When Diamond PowerSeller status was introduced, it was sold to eBay members as being a reward for stellar sales and outstanding customer service. It seems that those sales requirements have been dropped now though: if Randy is right and Smartbargains are not paying eBay insertion fees, it’s on the basis of future sales, not past ones.

This cannot seriously be the intention behind Diamond PowerSellers’ free listing fee deal, that the site gets flooded with thousands of listings that no one wants to buy. Smartbargains are on the Internet Retailer Top 500 list, they’re a big company with a reputation to uphold: why are they wasting their time like this?

Some of the blame for Smartbargains’ performance must lie with eBay themselves. I don’t believe that anyone has shown them how the site works or given them any idea about how selling on eBay is different to ecommerce in general.

  • Smartbargains have run dozens of clothing listings with no sizes in the title. Listings appear to have been imported from their website with no optimisation for eBay.
  • Their listings don’t use Item Specifics so presumably their Best Match scores are way down.
  • Listing dozens of identical items is a bad idea on eBay: unless they can get over some impression of scarcity, no one’s going to buy today because they know the same item will still be there tomorrow. This goes double for women’s designer clothing.
  • Their shipping terms are vague: it’s not immediately obvious from the listings whether they offer combined shipping or not.
  • Some listings are offering free UPS ground shipping in the shipping field, but still quoting $9.95 in the body of the listing. Shipping fees are a big bug bear with many eBay buyers, so making them absolutely transparent is essential.

Some newer listings do now have sizes in titles and *some* item specifics filled in, but they’re still running T&Cs like

By purchasing a product from our Store, you will receive email communications from us that, among other things, let you know when your order is shipping, about other products you may be interested in and/or promotions we may offer. You can opt-out from receiving marketing emails at any time simply by following the opt-out procedures set forth in the email.

Wrong, Smartbargains. This is the twenty-first century: let people opt in to marketing, not out (especially on eBay).

Smartbargains’ eBay store is not doing anyone any favours. It’s not generating any significant profit for eBay and it’s largely wasting Smartbargains’ time. And above all, it’s doing nothing for that famous buyer experience; 2008 has been the year of the buyer on eBay, and they’ve made it very clear what they think about Smartbargains and their offerings. Maybe selling on eBay is harder than even eBay think.

38 Responses

  1. Call me a cynic, best guess either a neg mysteriously vanishes or suddenly they get alot of positive feedback, or both.

    If I was @ eBay or Smartbargains I would be thoroughly ashamed, unless those numbers change you would have to be a lunatic to buy anything from them.

  2. Whirly, I have screenshots – and of the whole screen too, not just the crop as above. I know I’m not the only person watching. If it’s gone as pear-shaped as it looks like it has, I would be proactively reaching out to my customers, doing a lot of refunding, and generally trying to turn things around before complaints hit a public forum, because just dumping this ID and starting another one isn’t going to work: the eBay community is too transparent for that.

  3. Mitzi – 2,862 items listed on eBay.com. They don’t show up on .co.uk because they don’t ship here, and I had put one link to .co.uk; I guess that’s the one you followed, so I’ve amended it now.

  4. Ha, I found a conspiracy already πŸ˜†

    Have a look at the only positive
    Purchased Dec-01-08 09:11
    Feedback left Dec-01-08 09:35

    Shame on you eBay because you do know about it, unless there account manager is as dumb as a bag of bolts.

  5. It looks like eBay has a “Diamond in the Rough” with that one.

    Three feedbacks in total and two are negative, not a good start for anyone.

    I would suggest that all new eBay sellers, not just Diamond PS’s, get their feet wet with a few smaller transactions before jumping in with a few THOUSAND listings so they can learn the ins and outs of this marketplace.

    Just becuase you can sell on the internet does NOT mean you are prepared to sell on eBay. Ask anyone selling on eBay and any other marketplace how very different and demanding eBay buyers are compared to all other online marketplace buyers.

    Hopefully they can turn things around with some professional eBay seller assistance.


  6. #8 Oh, well spotted Whirly!

    #10 Absolutely right, DD. eBay is a much more demanding marketplace than any other, as many large retailers and ecommerce merchants have found to their cost. I was talking to someone from one of the UK’s larger crafts wholesalers a while back; she said “we tried eBay and frankly it’s just too difficult!”

  7. You might want to check out my newest project. I’ve actually been watching SmartBargains very closely since Randy Smythe mentioned them (I was the first to point out the neg on his blog).

    Diamond Haus

    So even if eBay were to change any of this feedback our site will automatically catch it. We don’t believe there is a conspiracy but if it is there we’ll find it.

  8. What baffles me is why ebay went to so much expense and effort to introduce DSRs and discipline
    sellers to keep buyers on site
    and then let loose this olympic standard blunder

  9. What comes to mind is;


    It’s about time ebay treated all it’s sellers the same, yes I know powersellers get account managers etc, but with sellers like this on the site, no wonder buyers are not even bothering to search around.
    I mean would any of us (on tamebay) buy from a seller with that sort of feedback/dsr rating.

    This type of seller does the whole site an injustice & particularly the sellers that have bent over backwards to get their acts together, so ‘the management’ won’t do a NSP on them.

  10. Just wait–those negative fbs will “mysteriously” disappear too.

    On a similar topic, has anyone looked at the duplicate fbs that buy.com has on their fb rating? I looked through tons of pages of their fb history, starting in the beginning, and found so many duplicates that it is obvious eBay went in and manually padded their fbs–I kept seeing the same ones over and over and it took me a few minutes to realize that they were copied…. Why hasn’t anyone listened to these complaints we sellers have? They aren’t just complaints–they are UNETHICAL!!!
    Media, can you help? Someone? Get the word out! EBay cannot be trusted!

  11. #8 There’s about as much chance of ebay doing anything about this as there is of them doing anything about the shill bidding by justdeals-uk – if we had activity like this on our account with DSR’s like theirs I know where we’d be!

    Did you notice byb3618 and etradingcentre have FINALLY started buying from sellers other than justdeals-uk?

    They must be pissed off at justdeals-uk that their ‘customers’ are leaving in droves to shop elsewhere! πŸ˜†

  12. I have also noticed that the only buyer to leave positive feedback for Smartbargains has received identical feeback as a buyer “Quick response and fast payment. Perfect! THANKS!!” from both Smartbargains and itrimming (a 1,000,000+ seller). Is there any link between itrimming and Smartbargains?

  13. Following my last post above about any connection between itrimming an Smartbargains I see that both companies use exactly the same set of preset feedback comments, so either Smartbargains have copied itrimmings comments, use the same software or are connected in some way.
    (or any other conspiracy theories you could think up)

  14. DGS, I’m not sure that feedback isn’t one of the eBay presets, so we might have to reserve judgement on that bit of the conspiracy theory πŸ˜‰

  15. 16 πŸ˜†

    I can give you 8+ shill bidding accounts who support justdeals, do eBay want to know? do they hell. Happy to post them on here if anyone wants to look.

  16. You would think they would be contacting the other 150+ buyers they have left feedback for to return feedback to improve their ratings – wouldn’t you ?

  17. #23 gee just how lucky were they to get a buyer that leaves positive feedback BEFORE they receive the item!

  18. 4 for communication
    4.4 for IAD
    β€œall sellers – regardless of volume, category, and PS level (including Diamond Level) and without exception – must adhere to the same standards with respect to DSRs, feedback and policy compliance.”

    Of course they must πŸ˜‰

  19. Why don’t UK powersellers get together and become diamond sellers sharing one account like them and take advantage of the fee discounts.

    ‘SmartBargains is a division of Retail Convergence, Inc., a portfolio of e-commerce companies. Since 1999, we’ve been dedicated to giving you an online, off-price shopping experience that’s instantly rewarding, and always fun. Our professional buyers search the globe to bring you a selection of brand-name goods in home, fashion, jewelry, and more.’

    Looking at their privacy policy they have multiple users sharing one account.

  20. @ # 30

    We have some commentary regarding this @ Diamond Haus .

    Now their communication star is at 3.8.

    It also turns out that they have successfully listed items since their DSR was published at below 4.1. 3:00AM was the first time we caught their DSRs and they were still listing as late as 3:20AM.

  21. Its look like a case of someone diving in before they knew how to swim to me.

    Who in their right mind lists thousands of items to start with?

  22. @ # 36

    Actually they’ve been a member since September so I’m sure they must have posted a test listing or two.

    At least Altrec has done that much. See item # 320322624425

  23. I was so suspicious of their recent positive fbs that I went through every smartbargains buyer’s bidding history and checked the sales date compared to the date they left the fb–and there were a few that were left within 1 day (or less, as noted above.)

    Remember the other diamond seller buy.com? You would be amazed how many of smartbargain’s customers also bought from buy.com recently too….hmmmmmm–coincidence? eBay seems to have hundreds (if not thousands) of id’s that they use to “pad” their favorite companies’ feedback rating with. Did they think we’re so stupid that we wouldn’t catch on?


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