Is this really the best eBay has to offer?

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Today’s eBay UK deal of the day makes for interesting reading. The are being sold by an Irish-registered seller, but are shipping from Singapore.

I’m rather surprised that eBay UK has chosen to promote this deal, as there are a number of potential problems for buyers choosing to purchase:

  1. Delivery from outside the EU (Singapore). Goods worth more than £18 are liable to import VAT. Delivery takes 5 to 9 business days after payment has cleared. Most buyers won’t read this page, and will expect their item in a day or two. Buyer perceptions of the quality of this transaction are likely to be low.
  2. Then there’s the question of returns. If you change your mind or the item is faulty, it’s going to cost a lot more to return an item to Singapore than it would to Ireland (where the seller is registered). It’s not clear from the returns policy where you’re going to be returning the item to.
  3. That returns policy

    We will only accept remorse purchase for a refund or faulty product for a replacement within 14 days upon receiving the item. Remorse purchase should be in an unopened and re-saleable condition. Please understand that an administration fee of £5 will be charged to process the refund.

    If the product or box has been opened, the returns are subject to a 10% restocking fee or a fee of £7, whichever is higher. The product must be returned to us in the original box, with manuals, cables, disks and any free software items.

    off-site links

    Again, this is not going to make for a good buyer experience. And a seller shipping from within the EU would not be allowed to set such terms. Why would eBay choose to promote this?

    Plus, of course, these terms should be on the listing page itself, not on a separate shop page.

  4. Links in the listing to the seller’s Twitter feed, Facebook fan page and YouTube channel. eBay’s is pretty clear: anything not specifically permitted is forbidden, and there’s nothing in the links policy to permit these links.
  5. The two listings are for specific models: black 2gb and pink 2gb. The descriptions, however, talk about a 4gb model, and a choice of other “available” colours. Some sellers using similar wording in their listings have had those listings removed for promoting off-site sales.
  6. The RRP quoted for comparison is from August 2008. Small electronics do not hold their value over time, so this is a pretty misleading statement. (Thanks to a TB reader for highlighting this one.)

No doubt someone reading this is getting ready to comment, ‘what are you, the eBay police?’ Does any of this matter? Buyers should read the listing properly, and who cares about a few off-site sales. Two thoughts on that:

  1. Buyers *don’t* read listings properly. Anyone who’s sold more than 3 things on eBay knows that. Buyers make assumptions. And one of the assumptions they make is that if they buy something on eBay UK, it’ll arrive in a couple of days, with no accompanying customs paperwork. A buyer who is slapped with a bill for another £11 (I think) in fees is not going to be a happy eBayer.
  2. Is it reasonable for eBay to make rules (e.g. off-site links) and enforce them for some sellers but not for all? How about if they actively promote listings that break their own rules?

DotDs are eBay UK’s flagship listings. They should be squeaky clean, beyond reproach, and they should offer the best possible experience for eBay buyers, even those who are too inexperienced to read every word of the listing page. Too often, DotDs do none of this: and not only are they getting the star treatment when they don’t deserve it, they’re not even reportable because by the time Support look at an ordinary report, the listing is over.

We don’t like doing this. We really don’t like calling out other sellers’ mistakes in public and for a long time, we’ve resisted doing it. But enough is enough. Welcome to DotD Watch: see you again soon.

If you’ve spotted something you think we’ve missed, please get in touch or @ us on Twitter.

Updated to add screen grabs of the ended listings and returns info page, and links to the eBay pages:

Click to embiggen

Pink MP3 player | Black MP3 player

17 Responses

  1. Strangely the deal is now sold out, though looking at completed items would suggest that not all the initial stock has been sold.

  2. This is not the first time that this has happened and it wont be the last . I.M.H.O ebay has a check to make sure that everything is ok before its listed and when the seller is told that its perfect , they then change it to suit themselves .It would only take 2 minutes to check it when it goes live but ebay appears to have better things to do .Some D.O.T.D’s are good value and i have purchased quite a few myself but like certain outlets , they break one rule after another . I could name at least 5 in the past 2 weeks that broke rules but ebay are happy enough while the money is rolling in . Yesterdays for example had 2 websites in the description , others dont have business details , others can get bad feedback and can start over and others post from outside the U.K .
    Certain outlets can get loads of complaints , shill bid ( which can be proved very easily ) and refuse to sell if the auction price isnt high enough but thats the way ebay wants to go .Its not a route i would go down but then i am only a humble seller.

  3. James (the eBay community manager) has just hinted that the listing from Singapore was pulled.

  4. James has posted some further details here:
    https://forums.ebay.co.uk/thread.jspa?threadID=1100291374&start=36

    For those who are unable to access the PSB:

    So there’s a few points in this thread I can address and some I cannot as I cannot discuss member accounts. Please note the items have been ended. The listings were reviewed last night and vetted appropriately however automated seller process reset the listing and the changes were not carried forward. Unfortunately this resulted in the listing being removed.

    Contact in english: not sure why that’s an issue? It’s not something you usually see granted but still not illegal.

    Restocking fees are legal under DSR when Seller’s go beyond the mininum DSR requirement of 7 days. This was confirmed by our legal team.

    The business address is clearly visible in the FAQ, a shop page.

    Buyers are not liable for Customs or VAT as these would be covered within the sellers internal process

    Returns are handled within the UK.

    Facebook links are not allowed under links policy.

    Unfortunately the upshot is that the technical systems in place undid the vetting work done (some of you will choose to believe this, some won’t) however not all of the issues raised were related to that, and while they weren’t all “illegal” as the thread makes them out they are under review with the Deals Team at this time.

    One has to wonder if this is the case, why the seller doesn’t mention it.

    If I were shipping from Singapore, registered in Ireland but had a UK returns address, I would make a big thing of it so my customers felt reassured.

    If I only charged a restocking fee when my customers went over the free returns period I offered, I wouldn’t say “We will only accept remorse purchase for a refund or faulty product for a replacement within 14 days upon receiving the item. Remorse purchase should be in an unopened and re-saleable condition. Please understand that an administration fee of £5 will be charged to process the refund. If the product or box has been opened, the returns are subject to a 10% restocking fee or a fee of £7, whichever is higher.” which looks like 1) change of mind returns have to be resaleable, contrary to DSRs.
    2) all returns will be charged £5, even faulty goods: contrary to DSRs
    3) restocking fees will be charged even when goods returned in the 14 day return period offered if they’ve been opened: contrary to DSRs.

    If I were shipping from Singapore and had a system in place to ensure no customs charges would be levied, I would have that in huge letters on my listings.

    But then, I’m not running a DotD…

  5. In fairness to EBay, this was an Irish registered seller. When the vetting took place Singapore probably wasn’t mentioned and in all fairness the sales in one way or another ended.

    We all make mistakes in Business, I am sure that the DOTD team at EBay got their knuckles rapped for this one and wont do it again.

    Still does not mean that it is right and I have to agree that it should not have happened with such a high profile listing on such a big site.

  6. “Buyers are not liable for Customs or VAT as these would be covered within the sellers internal process”

    How does that work then, unless the seller marks it as a gift and undervalues the package. I am struggling to be sold that line.

  7. What is very interesting is the fact that this listing was removed but the seller has an identical listing with the links to Twitter, Facebook etc still present. In fact the seller has 27 active listings & every one has the same outside liks. Unless ebay are completely stuipid they would have checked the sellers remaining listings & ended them as well. This is obviously favouritism on their part.

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