eBay.com Seller Release: Sellers to be measured on buyer disputes

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The latest eBay.com Seller Release is out with the major change being yet more buyer based criteria for sellers to be ranked on along with more detailed item specifics and changes to some tools including buyer communications.

Update: The UK announcement is out as well with a few differences. Below refers to the eBay.com changes

Introduction of Seller Ratings on Buyer Protection Cases

In addition to feedback and detailed seller ratings sellers will now be rated on how many eBay buyer protection cases are opened against them. eBay say “The number of item not received or item not as described cases opened with eBay or PayPal is an important indication of overall buyer satisfaction on eBay. Many buyers who open cases never get to the point of leaving detailed seller ratings (DSRs). That’s why, starting in September, along with low DSRs (1s and 2s), these cases will be used in evaluating seller performance and determining seller status.”

Basically if you get more than 0.5% opened cases as a Top Rated Seller or more than 1% for all other sellers you could face sanctions including loss of sellers status and/or selling restrictions. For low volume sellers there is an allowance of up to 3 cases for eBay Top-rated sellers and at least 4 cases for other sellers before sanctions kick in.

There is an additional criteria for unresolved cases where the seller does not respond to resolve an issue with the buyer and eBay or PayPal issues the refund. No seller regardless of status can have more than 0.3% of transactions with the exception of low volume sellers where it will take a minimum of 3 cases before sanctions kick in.

I can’t see this one going down well with sellers in categories where buyers habitually buy to try. eBay are constantly talking about “retail” and how they want sellers to up the mark, however for mainstream online or catalogue retailers the rates of returns are high (for many mainstream retailers over 30%) and yet a request for return is not deemed a bad buyer experience, it’s considered great service and encourages buyers to continue shopping.

Even legislators (at least in the UK and Europe) recognise that with distance selling it’s impossible to examine goods in the same way as a retail store and across Europe the law provides for the right for buyers to change their mind. Unlike mainstream retail, on eBay hassle free returns will now be punitive unless you can persuade buyers to contact you directly and not open a resolution case.

Item Specifics: Condition

In May eBay are introducing a raft of new and more relevant item condition specifics to enable sellers to better describe their items. These will include conditions such as “For parts or not working” in computers, “New with defects” and “Pre-owned” in clothing and “Brand New”,”Like New”, “Very Good”, “Good” and “Acceptable” in DVDs.

The new item conditions specifics will start to appear on eBay.com from July

Email Communications

eBay will issue every user with an anonymous email address which will be used for all future communications between buyers and sellers. This means you’ll no longer have a buyers real email address even after a transaction. eBay will verify the address from which a user responds so to ensure delivery of your response you’ll need to respond to emails from your registered email address. This could cause issues for people with multiple eBay accounts to manage but you will be able add a single “from” address to your account so that you can respond from the same email address for all user ids.

eBay will also enable sellers more control with an opt out of the Payment Reminder email if they wish to send their own reminders to buyers.

Featured First to be retired

The Featured First listing enhancement is to be retired by July, this is the feature which could give a boost for a Top Rated Sellers listing and would rotate it in turn into the top two slots of search results under Best Match.

Bulk Editing Tools

Starting in June eBay will begin to make new bulk editing tools available, including the ability to download and edit active listings in Microsoft Excel.

Shared product pictures for eBay catalogue

If you opt to allow eBay to use your product pictures as catalogue images you’ll get five free subtitles if your images is selected for use.

42 Responses

  1. “Introduction of Seller Ratings on Buyer Protection Cases”

    Which number cruncher though that this would be a good idea?

  2. I’m guessing none of the above will apply to the ‘big boys’ on the site again.

    Give up the hoop jumping eBay and concentrate on us selling more!

  3. Sorry to hijack this thread, I urgently need to know a courier who will deliver tracked to the UK 25kg., reasonable price please,I have just been let down.I usually only use Royal Mail as my items are small.This is a faulty return.
    I have rang Parcelforce who want £32.50 ouch.
    Many thanks.Rosie

  4. Sellers will need to ensure that they’re adequately informing buyers of their rights, including the right to return – then things won’t get as far as eBay/PayPal disputes. Hopefully this will put an end to sellers saying “I’m not responsible for items lost in the post”.

  5. How can ebay penalise sellers if a case is opened but the seller wins?

    An INR claim where tracking info shows delivery can’t be a black mark, surely!

  6. “eBay will issue every user with an anonymous email address which will be used for all future communications between buyers and sellers.”

    well there is a disaster waiting to happen.

  7. An anonymous address isn’t going to appear in the business seller display area, is it?

  8. Apart from the long overdue changes to item specifics the rest of this is the usual mish mash of pointless changes from the barmy ‘bainite’ and his crew who really do believe in ‘destructive innovation’.
    Well not with my business they don’t!
    Where is the shipping matrix and shopping cart to make eBay look more preofessional?
    Where is the positive marketing of eBay to stress choice and value rather than the dumb ‘we are really cheap and full of dodgy sellers’ but you can return anything anytime so don’t worry ?
    Where is the action to sort out overseas and ‘private’ listers still spamming various categories?
    Where is the effort to fix the broken but critical search function and the next to useless and mysterious ‘best match’ algorithm.
    Most of all what are they doing to drive traffic and quality buyers to my categories and listings for which I pay eBay good money – as far as I can see absolutely nothing.
    Completely mis-targeted and misplaced activity by the so called leadership team.
    Nothing will change for the better until this management team are sacked and some professionals experienced in online retailing are hired who understand the importance of their sellers to the eBay proposition.
    I could go on but why bother!
    We will use eBay for as long as we can to make money but like most we have already diversified into multiple channels to ensure losing eBay is not fatal anymore.
    pip pip

  9. There are people out there who start off by opening up disputes to try to pressure the seller. With this change even if there was no issue and the buyer was completely at fault (Oops you mean you have to plug it in for it to work?) the seller is in trouble.

    Plus what happens when your shipments for a day get messed up by the post office? I have had times where all 20 or so packages I shipped on some day got significantly delayed by the post office. If that happens now you are practically guaranteed sanction.

    Remember that lowered in search essentially means no exposure whatsoever do it is as a practical matter the same as a ban (the lowered people show up AFTER all applicable normal people regardless of when the auction will go off)

    Lastly this makes fraud so very much easier — if your competator wants you out, they dont even need to leave any stars for you — just file some dispute and let it be resolved. Still counts against the seller and ….


    As for anonymous emails….

    Emails through ebays system cant include attachments.

    If I want to e-mail an additional picture to someone this is going to hurt.

  10. Well, nothing there to entice me to invest time listing on ebay again :-/

    Yet, I had 100% (shooting star) feedback with high DSRs and still trade happily on Amazon.

    Go figure eBay…

  11. DSRs were within our control. Yes, they were annoying and poorly worded but, in the end, we could talk to buyers before, make deals and work to keep our numbers high.

    But the Buyer Protection thing counts against you regardless of it you resolve it or if it was filed for false reasons in the first place. If they were counting how often we resolved BP claims to the buyers satisfaction I would be all for it. But penalizing us on regardless of if we handle the situation or now is ridiculous.

  12. Strange.

    Our account manager has just been encouraging us to not resolve things directly with the buyer but to actively encourage them to raise complaints in the Resolution Centre. We protested that this wasn’t as good as dealing with them on the phone and giving them an instant refund — but he assured us this works well.

    No hint that this was coming.

    The issue that eBay are having is that it’s virtually impossible to separate the very top sellers and to award discounts to the top few as the vast majority of feedback is positive and it’s hard seeing good from bad when 97% is abject failure.

    As a result eBay need to introduce ever-finer gradation to spread the field. Sadly, as John points out, this is so granular that it comes in clusters, which is a disaster if you’re looking at 3-month rolling averages.

    I wonder if eBay sold anything whether it would be a Top Rated Seller

  13. “eBay will issue every user with an anonymous email address which will be used for all future communications between buyers and sellers.”

    As far as I can see this applies only to the US site, so how does it impact on US/UK communication?

  14. The most worrying thing I’ve seen is this:
    “Feedback reminder email: This email will be sent to buyers who haven’t left Feedback, and sellers won’t be able to customise or opt out of it.”
    Great. How to really annoy buyers. ebay advised us to turn off feedback reminders but they’ve now completely ignored their own advice. Can’t wait…

  15. I like that they are finally getting rid of Featured First. Featured First or Featured Plus while Best Match was active was nothing but hypocrisy.

    Starting in July, if your photo is selected to be in the catalog, you’ll get the benefit of 5 free Subtitles

    Am I the only one that thinks this is completely worthless? The real value is the link to your MyWorld page (possibly deprecated in the future) but an additional 5 free subtitles has a value of $6.50 and $0.00 (I think) if you list in media.

  16. From the UK anouncement:
    “Protecting sellers from Feedback misuse or abuse
    eBay is working proactively to identify buyers who abuse or misuse the Feedback system”

    So if we report buyers we see (but are not involved in a transaction with) who are leaving negs just becuase they didn’t get instant positive upon payment (I kid you not, saw example of this yesterday), ebay WILL act upon it, or do we just have to lie back until it happens to us?
    I can’t see feeback abusers quaking in their shoes at this “threat”. They’ll just find another loophole/way to trash a seller’s feedback/DSRs “just because they can”

  17. Well – good news for Amazon they have gained even more of ebays business.

    Nice one ebay

    I think it will get to a stage where they will drive all the sellers away – and with little choice of products buyers will go elsewhere.

    I challenge the top management of ebay to come and spend a week in our warehouse and office and see how all these silly badly thought ideas will work in practice.

    How thinks of these ideas, do they even understand how ecommerce works, ever done the job themselfs, if not why not, to run a business you must first understand how it works from warehouse to accounts to customer service to logistics and all the other parts of the business and have a full understanding of each department to even be in charge of a ecommerce business.

    Just so you all know, we are the second largest office and stationery company on ebay in the UK with over 31000 feedback (info took from pulse), been selling on ebay for nearly 7 years and employ 6 full time staff and have a 3750 sq foot warehouse and turnover 50K a month so we know our stuff.

    This time ebay have gone too far and have lost the plot….

  18. Sue or Chris,

    Is there anyway we can all get our feelings fed back to ebay to someone who can and will listen or have they just got too big now and and dont care and wont listen, I have to say this lot of changes has to be the worst iv seen in a while.

    I mean someone at the top as well

  19. The next stage will be that sellers will not be permitted to use their own listing templates and have to use the standard eBay template. The Amazonisation of eBay will then be complete.

    Amazon is eBay without the silly rules and I only wish that Amazon was collectables friendly so that I too could start selling on Amazon!

    I can entirely understand why sellers favour Amazon. And of course the buyers will flock to where the sellers are but eBay don’t seem to understand this logic!

  20. effin bloody barking barmy

    many buyers open a return case simply because they think thats the normal process ,
    we have had 4 this week all refunded
    2 of those because the sodding royal mail sent 400 quids worth to Lebanon and not Malaysia
    we lose 400 quid and get marked down
    because of plonkers we have no control over,
    and what about this feedback reminder thingy you cant opt out from I dont want buyers feedback I want their money

  21. I am now check the seller dashboard to see how many farts I am allowed before being marked down

  22. I wouldn’t mind all the changes if they did really create a better “buyer experience” and make eBay a more popular shopping destination. At the end of the day it’s all about making sales.

  23. Re the anonymized email (US) – I thought I’d help clarify a couple of interests:

    1. the “real” email is available once a transaction occurs.

    2. the anon email will allow for a file attachment of a graphic file (JPG, BMP, GIF only), with email not to exceed 3MB total size.


  24. Regarding items not as described many of buyers when contacting me say Oh sorry for selecting this ‘not as described’ but i couldnt see a question that would suit my question.

    Yes i know there are other selections but will this impact if buyers select not as described?

    Also what if everything is explained as i sell allot to the EU so some times there is confusion.
    Sorry if this doesnt make sense

  25. The mandarins at eBay might be whizzo at numbers and processes, but they sure as hell don’t understand retailing.

    Penalising sellers for ‘cases opened’ is just about the worst idea I could imagine.

    Try dealing with the real issues – businesses posing as private, ‘Hong Kong’ spamming of categories, no modern-world checkout system, useless ‘best match’ results – all things that anyone who actually sells stuff could tell you.


  26. If ebay was the money market it was when I started selling, or even as recent as 12 months ago, I would probably moan and jump through the hoops with everybody else.

    But to be honest it’s getting harder and harder to make a buck on ebay, and other platforms are much easier to manage.

    I am rapidly approaching the point when I will bin ebay. It’s just not worth the hassle.
    Every time I think they must surely be getting their act together soon, along come another daft idea.

  27. Reading all the comments above from huge volume to small sellers one thing is clear, ebay is getting harder, not easier, to sell on as a platform. I just can’t work out what they’re trying to achieve?

  28. As it was not complicated enough..they just added to it again! ebay is a hopeless case and they are just losing more sellers.


  30. Perhaps these Releases are how eBay deals with lack of performance issues?


    “Western Europe both active users and GMV declines in those markets.”
    Robert Swan, 21 April 2010

    “a deceleration both year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter in our Western Europe markets.”
    Robert Swan, 21 April 2010

    Then again, eBay changes in Europe are a success.

    “we believe these changes in the U.S. will have the same positive impact we have seen in Europe.”
    John Donahoe, eBay CEO, 21 April 2010

    Carry on.


    “The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.”
    Princess Leia, Star Wars (1977)


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