How to minimise buyer protection cases

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Understandably there’s a lot of concern from sellers regarding the new Seller Performance measurements which will go live from September 20th this year. eBay will monitor both “Opened” and “Unresolved” cases and too many will affect your seller status and possibly incur listing restrictions.

Firstly what is an “Opened” case? The good news is that if a buyer clicks on the “Return this item” link it doesn’t count as an open (or unresolved) case. No matter what the reason for the return it won’t be included in the count for seller performance.

What will be counted are any opened PayPal disputes or any cases opened on eBay for item not received or item not as described. Cases opened on eBay are typically where a buyer clicks the “Resolve a problem” link. If you can encourage buyers to click the “Return this item” link (which is unfortunately 3rd from the bottom of the list, instead of 2nd from the top) then cases won’t count against you. It would be helpful if eBay moved the “Return this item” link up the list to be more prominent for buyers.

Other things you can do are to send items with tracking and enter the tracking number on eBay, respond to all communications from buyers promptly and include your contact details and returns procedure information with every item you send out.

eBay are actively encouraging buyers to communicate with sellers prior to opening a dispute. When a buyer goes to file a complaint they are asked whether they have been in contact with the seller before they can continue with the process. Unfortunately not all buyers contact the seller and that’s where the biggest problem with open cases arise.

If you check your Seller Dashboard you can now view your Seller Performance in relation to Opened and Unresolved cases, although by the time eBay starts actively measuring the new criteria any current cases will be outside the 3 month evaluation period for high volume sellers.

Seller Dashboard Buyer Protection cases

30 Responses

  1. The “Return this item” link has a drop down of reasons that includes “not as described” — are we sure that not get counted as an opened SNAD? Yet? If so, then it must be relatively simple to send the buyer a deep link that is already into that option, so that they don’t have the confusing choice of raising that or one of the other two above it. Send them part way into the process.

    Buyer communication prior to raising a claim is an issue. We’ve already noticed buyers lying on this form to say they have communicated when they have not. Seems to be a fairly meaningless test at the moment. It does not require corroborated eBay-message based activity. It isn’t reviewed by a human. Does the buyer really want to resolve the problem or just raise a claim? We’ve seen a few surprisingly professional claims come in for INRs that look like someone who knows exactly what they are doing to get a free item. Tant pis.

    Other options that a seller has to dissuade use of the RC include using the new Auto Q&A function to encourage buyers to contact you directly, as well as messages in the remaining customisable emails that get sent and in the listings. If you mention returns in your listing then you can put in there an email address to contact you to initiate a return rather than use the Resolution Centre. You can also bribe them with return postage if they go direct rather than raising a claim (eBay never enforce return postage).

    I think all of this is a bit of a pity, as the Resolution Centre is starting to get quite good, and should become a consistent interface for buyers to handle returns, addressing the problems of a marketplace of thousands of different sellers. It will improve buyer experience to have a consistent eBay approach. Indeed, it needs to serve two functions: that of post-sale support as well as escalated dispute arbitration and those two are confused right now.

    I feel bad suggesting ways to encourage buyers not to use it (and instead to get a better returns process by calling us direct). But I’m a turkey and I’m not voting for Christmas.

  2. I’m led to believe that “The “Return this item” link has a drop down of reasons that includes “not as described” is a request for a return and NOT an opened buyer protection case.

    Buyer Protection is generally where the buyer avails themself of a PayPal chargeback or escalates a case to eBay. My understanding is that simple returns (regardless of the reason for the return) won’t be counted.

  3. I hope that’s right, Chris, and I’ve asked for some further definitive clarification.

    I think these changes are put in place by intelligent people with the right intentions. The folks I have spoken with are very much aware of the issues and are trying to make things better.

    The detail may not be 100% fleshed out and I’m sure that they will consider the very valid concerns of reputable sellers like whirly on board when deciding exactly how far and fast these changes will be implemented. I’m hopeful that they might tweak this release a little in the right direction.

  4. I think this could be bad news for a lot of sellers.

    I have started to sell items under £2 to try and get my volume up for TRS and I have more hassel from these items than any of the £50 items I sell. I think I am going to give up on the whole TRS idea.

    A buyer opened a INR dispute without contacting me at all. As it was only a £1.99 item with free postage I did not send it recorded – today eBay (as always) found in their favor.

    I have now just received 1s across the board for my DSRs bringing me to failing – I assume from the same buyer. If they haven’t received the item how can they say it is not as described!!!

  5. I have to say I am greatly encouraged
    we have just phoned ebay support with little hope or confidence,
    and would you adam and eve it, we are now sitting here with a warm glow after they agreed to remove 3 neutrals and associated bad marks, left by a bitter and twisted buyer ,
    so it just maybe ebay are trying to be even handed and fair,

  6. I enjoyed the same experience a few days ago when a buyer of multiple purchases had left a multiple DSR low score for communications when it was only 1 combined package shipped.

    I did not expect anything but the eBay rep said that they would remove all but 1 score which I agreed was fair.

    I would add that all my eBay buyers receive the standard eBay SMP messages only so it was a little odd that this one sole buyer over 6 months marked the communications DSR down and yet left positive feedback and scores for everythig else.

    There should be an algorithm that flags up inconsistencies like this to eBay who should then be in a position to discount inconsistencies automatically.

    After all I have been an eBay seller for 10 years, full time for 6, and if I cannot perform to eBays expectations by now I never will!

  7. I don’t like the changes, life is already hard for sellers on Ebay as it is but if we are to have them why can’t ebay introduce a rule which says that buyer has to contact the seller before starting a dispute? If a message hasn’t been received in ‘My messages’ then the buyer shouldn’t be able to open a case.

  8. I’ve spoken with our account manager who was very helpful and confirmed that for “easy returns” (the third option in the Resolution Centre) then no matter what the reason was (Item not as described) it wouldn’t count against us.

    It also seems that cases which do count but where the buyer hasn’t contacted us in advance, or otherwise behaves unreasonably will be discounted from the score.

    As a result I am going to experiment in May with encouraging traffic to the Resolution Centre for easy returns and measure how many of them stray from the third option in the list to INR or SNADs. (May results don’t count in the rolling three months to the September eTRS assessment).

    I have a feeling I’m going to be increasing my usual 3-4hrs a week speaking to my account manager!

  9. We sell only on eBay and as “Top Rated Sellers” with feedback of 90,000 @ 1300/mth feedback with growing sales. We find it pretty easy to conform to the Top Seller requirements with a disciplined mailing system, making sure we carry sufficient quality stock and respecting our buyers need for peace of mind at all times. We no longer sell anything that may cause us problems or as a seller act in a way that may. Not rocket science i am sure you will agree. With regard to “missing in the post” UK claims we may get one a month and we believe this is because we state on our listings we state we do not resend unless “signed for” posting requirement. If it doesn’t arrive we tell them to claim via Paypal and they get their money back. That is not to say people do not email saying the item has not arrived, we get 2-3 a week of those, but they rarely go to Paypal claim or the item does arrive late. This keeps the scum away. Interestingly Emily above says that she has problems with £2 items. Us too and I believe that it is down to buyers that think that they item has probably cost so little that you will resend rather than get grief over such an item. stand up to them and tell them to make a claim.

    One of the most important principles we believe will benefit all sellers is that they pay for return postage. This is certainly the case with those sellers that seller lower priced goods like us. The buyer cannot give you the excuse for negative feedback etc by saying “it just isn’t worth returning”. In fact i seriously believe there should be restrictions on leaving negative feedback for sellers who pay for return postage if they have contacted the buyer to return the item.

    Therefore it can be fairly said that as far as we are concerned when buyers claim that the item has not arrived they are at it.

    So, having said all that we are seriously concerned about the new Resolution Centre” regime that may affect our DSLR’s. I really feel that our whole regime will be undermined because if we do not do as scum buyers ask it will be so easy for them to punish us using the “Resolution Centre”. We will not move though.

    We think that eBay should bring in an option on the seller form for sellers to tell buyers that the seller pays for return postage equivalent to the postage used to send the item. This should then be well advertised at the top of the listing page if not also in the eBay listings pages. Then regarding such sellers the rule should be that the buyer must have contacted the seller via eBay etc etc. regarding goods they are not satisfied with or do not want. No contact from buyer no right to Resolution Centre access and no right to leave negative feedback. A tick box for the seller creating standard email telling buyer to return item giving sellers address, telephone number and informing the buyer that seller pays for returned item would give the buyer no excuses to leave negative feedback or poor DSLR score.

    With regard to items not arrived claims again the buyer must have contacted the seller and after more than 3 days since postage notification. The seller must then be given the option to tell the buyer that the item was sent, they do not have postage confirmation such as recorded delivery, and that if the buyer makes a claim via Paypal without going via the Resolution Centre” the buyer will refund the money after the buyer has converted the Paypal claim into an actual claim. all this with the caveat that the seller does not accept any responsibility for the item not arriving. Finally, eBay should then set up a system where on the buyers feedback page it shows how many times this buyer has made claims via Paypal.

    I hope i haven’t ranted on too much but we feel that once more, and as a reflection of the society we live in today, the people that do things the right way are suffering because of those that do it the wrong way deliberately and for a profit. What is more, as is usually the case, the profits are so high doing it the wrong way the new rules are almost immaterial to such people who will “shove it up ’em” (to quote the butcher in Dad’s Army) without any conscience at all.



  10. Kath again.

    One other thing, buyers should be told by eBay in the resolution centre to make a claim via Paypal and they will receive a refund, not tell the seller to refund the money. Then, if the buyer does not make a claim the seller should not have to suffer any negative effect on their DSLR if the buyer does not make a claim and convert it into an actual Paypal claim.



  11. I agree that there should be some visible aspect of the number of INR claims opened, visible on both both selelrs and buyers pages.

    Much like the number of revised feedback is shown.

  12. It would help if before opening a case the buyer could be presented with a simple ‘Have you contacted the seller’ question. With a YES/NO choice.

    If they click NO then they would be directed to an email page to contact the seller.. There would then be a grace period of ‘say’ 3 days during which opening the case would be prohibited.

    In that way buyers would be influenced into resolving BEFORE the sellers dashboard is compromised.

    A large proportion of buyers seem to use the item not received dispute as a way of telling you that the item hasnt been received.

    We send but do not have the time to ensure the delivery actually arrives… we rely on buyers to tell us if Royal Mail lose their orders!

  13. My tip would be to send your dispatch emails off eBay and include clear contact details within the message (direct email/phone number).

    Give great service and if there are any hiccups resolve them of site.

  14. “A large proportion of buyers seem to use the item not received dispute as a way of telling you that the item hasnt been received.”

    Maybe, just maybe, that’s why it’s called an “item not received not dispute” 😉

  15. I telephoned eBay Customer Support on this subject today 05/05/10 and I was told that I was the first person to voice concerns about this! My point is that some months Royalmail lose/misplace/nick at least 2 of my Recorded Delivery packets. As soon as I have been told by the buyer (almost always through the INR button) I sort it. But now, that will not be good enough, as I will lose my Top-Rated Seller status (and I know how that hurts financially) through the failings of Royalmail. My reaction will be to call it a day as far as eBay is concerned, they’ve killed the goose. I’ve run my business on eBay for 6 years now, paid them £1000s in fees, but this is a step too far.



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