Top-Rated Seller : a new breed of dolphin

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Seaworld Dolphin Encounter #3
Creative Commons License photo credit: mrkathika

eBay blogs and forums have been alive in the last couple of weeks with stories of merchants who missed out on Top-Rated Seller (TRS) status by fractions of a per cent. It breaks my heart and utterly infuriates me to see good people, with good products and good service, have their businesses effectively shut out of eBay by this misdirected policy. But tonight, it got a bit worse. Let me tell you a story.

We’ve heard from an eBay seller who – for obvious reasons – wants to stay anonymous, so in traditional TameBay style we will call him Bob. Bob’s feedback is truly exceptional and he has literally a couple of 1s and 2s throughout the whole year. He was expecting to make TRS, and was surprised and more than a little disappointed when he was told that his P&P DSR score did not meet the required level.

After some digging, Bob traced the problem to one month, then to one day: a day on which he’d had only one sale. An overseas buyer had purchased several items, which had been shipped in one parcel. Bob remembers that the buyer was unhappy about the postage he had to charge, though it was less than the actual cost of shipping the goods. The number of 1s/2s left matched the number of items in this transaction.

I’ve seen the numbers, and they point unwaveringly at this buyer being the problem. Crucially, PowerSeller Support also confirmed that it was this buyer’s several 1s for P&P which had cost Bob his TRS status. eBay has said previously that transactions with a single buyer which take place in the same week will only count as one transaction, but there seems to be some inconsistency with just how “transaction” is being defined for all eBay’s myriad performance measures. For TRS, it is quite obvious from Bob’s figures that multiple low DSR scores left by one buyer are each being counted singly.

Not only has one single buyer cost a seller his Top-Rated status, but that buyer isn’t even in the UK. TRS is supposed to be counted on domestic transactions only, but because this buyer had registered their account in the UK, their feedback is taken into account for Bob’s TRS assessment – though they are not currently resident here and had their parcel shipped abroad.

I should point out that eBay Support are still looking into this case. Just as we saw yesterday, the TRS program is still being tweaked, and there are probably more instances like this to be ironed out. Sellers may need to examine their own figures, and be prepared to argue their cases with eBay support.

But more importantly, eBay, yet again, may need to reexamine their policies and consider how they can let it come to this: that a single buyer can, effectively, finish a seller’s business on the site. It can’t be said often enough: if all your trading is on eBay, if your entire business relies on eBay, you are risking everything on the unconsidered click of a feedback button.



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