eBay ramping up protection for sellers

No primary category set

eBay are ramping up their seller protection measure, starting in the US and the enhancements will be coming to the UK in the near future. On hearing the news I asked Rich Matsuura, eBay’s Director of Seller Protections, how the changes would help sellers and in particular to answer a recent comment on Tamebay regarding items “missing” in the mail.

Recent comment on Tamebay

Rich explained that eBay are focusing on three specific areas to protect sellers. Some measures have been announced before, but there’s some really good stuff coming online for which we can share the details today:

eBay aim to deliver high quality buyers

In general eBay have a really great buying community. This should be self evident, the number of sellers who have run their eBay business for many years with great feedback attests to the number of fantastic buyers using eBay.

However there are a few would appear to be habitually delinquent and eBay are aiming to boot them off the marketplace. Currently in the US, UK and Germany, eBay are running detection algorithms looking for patterns of behaviour that buyers are abusing the system. They’re spotting buyers with a pattern of too many claims or who leave poor feedback.

Monitoring buyer/seller communications

eBay have also started to data mine communications between buyers and sellers searching for keywords indicating fraud. Whilst as a seller you might not want a buyer to open a case against you and so instantly refund them, eBay will be monitoring messages sent through eBay and keywords such as “not received” will trigger a closer look at the buyer.

Buyers who attempt to get free items or claim items arrive significantly not as described to achieve a discount are also being identified from messages. In some cases eBay simply outright suspend the buyer. eBay also explained that they’re getting pretty successful at identifying and rehabilitating buyers who appear to be going down this route.

Seller Protection Tip: Use eBay Messages

As a seller keep all buyer communications on eBay.

eBay.com are already starting to push all communication though eBay member to member communication and this will come to the UK soon. eBay are also going to ensure a message from a buyer to the seller has to go through eBay prior to the buyer opening a claim. Ensuring messages are sent through eBay means that they can be data mined to identify delinquent sellers.

Buyer Expectation Policy

eBay are focused on putting the right policies in place. This includes laying out when can feedback be removed, how can eBay can make claims more fair. For example already in certain claim circumstances eBay already pay out to both the buyer and the seller when everyone is doing things correctly.

eBay have also launched a in a single place making it pretty clear to the buyers what eBay expect of them on the marketplace. Most of the policies aren’t new, but for the first time they’re all in one place leaving no doubt as to the standards buyers should be held to.

Making feedback fair / Report a Buyer

eBay have added many measures to protect sellers including auto five star DSRs, not allowing buyers who don’t pay to leave feedback and Item Not Received protection. One of the newest ways eBay are helping protect sellers is the Report a buyer project, eBay launched a new and improved report a buyer hub.

Seller Protection Tip: Report that buyer!

Rich Matsuura explained that they want to encourage sellers go through report a buyer flow if they run into problems. That feeds right into the detection algorithms described above and helps define bad buyers a lot faster than before. A lot of reports get filed where looks like buyer is having a one off bad experience but are great in general, but other reports are quickly flagged as looking abusive and eBay can get those buyers off the site quicker.

eBay are also removing feedback from picky buyers – they simply descore the feedback when not representative of a seller’s normal behaviour. eBay are already communicating more with regular reports of feedback protection and will do more in future.

What the new seller protection measures mean for you

Specifically addressing the comment from Whirly on Tamebay above, Rich Matsuura said we “Should be seeing a lot fewer of these cases in the future”. eBay are well aware that some buyers are, to put it bluntly, taking the mickey. Overall it’s a very tiny percentage of buyers, but it’s an annoying few that negatively impact sellers. eBay aim not to only protect sellers from feedback and claims, but to eradicate these buyers and evict them from the site.

eBay Seller Protection Workshops

eBay are holding a workshop on Thursday the 13th of December which is already fully subscribed, so have another planned for the 9th of January 2013 10am Pacific Time. Many sellers aren’t aware of the seller protection work eBay are doing. eBay want to give overview of seller protection, walk through upcoming enhancements. As well as answering sellers questions they’d like to get feedback to enable them to prioritise and focus on biggest pain points.

If you’d like to attend the January workshop you’ll need to register in advance before all place fill up.

55 Responses

  1. how about doing something about the partial discount ransom where a buyer makes a multiple purchase ,then ebay puts on hold the whole payment even though the buyer has only complained about one item

  2. lets get real here ,its all lip service and bluster, without buyers both ebay and sellers are buggered , ebay needs to look at their customer support process rather than algowhatsitis and graphs deep mining and all that other tripe, how about some natural justice and common sense ,from a human , rather than the tick box culture

  3. and a customer support human that spoke english as a first language or could understand UK regional accents would be a great help

  4. What about the criminal activities of some of the staff employed by postal and shipping agencies?

    Buyers should not be treated as criminals if it is not their fault.

    And this time of the year unfortunately is a time when temporary staff who can be a little inept at what they do are employed.

    In the Whirly example above how random were these losses or were they in a similar area for the most part at a similar time of the year?

    ebay v. website may not be the whole story. ebay buyers may be in different parts of the country as a result of how search works.

  5. When I have a problem and have written a long email describing in great detail the problem I would like something other than a standard email reply telling me I should try harder. To have some sign that somebody in ebay CS has at least read my email and understood the problem would be a start and then to have an email reply that was at least relavent.

  6. ebay are not doing this out of love, their pocket is hurting ,or they are being pressurised by the powerfull,
    had it occured to them that many buying and selling problems are caused by their system?

  7. I have had 4 parcels that should have been ‘signed for’ which were either left on my doorstep or pushed through the letter box this week. One by yodel. I could have had 4 items ‘free’ if I was such a person.

    Yodel ran off because the parcel was opened and an item missing.

    Christmas eh?!

  8. A great article that reflects very well on both Ebay and Tamebay. Xmas appears to have come early. I don’t understand the criticism really.

  9. OK, i have traded for years, and have jumped through all sorts of ever shrinking hoops that ebay describe as new policy and better opportunities, knowing that there is not a market like it, so its buy in or get out.

    It must be the time of the year because i have had lots of issues recently, but here is one that is exasperating!
    I sold an item. the buyer although not in the UK, asks for the item to be sent to a UK address which is a shipping agent in Middlesex, so i think that its a big buyer who fills a container and has it shipped to them. i have sold a few things to this same ebay id before with no issue. Recently i received a complaint about a damaged item, and i questioned the buyer as to how it was forwarded to them, as i was not willing to be held responsible for a badly shipped item when it had been handled by a third party. They opened a dispute…£250 on hold, they wanted £150 part refund, i refused, they said £125 then? i refused, they said £100 then? i have tried to get them to give me their address on the dispute as ebay say i have to have proof of the item being forwarded to Japan, where the item is, though they have yet to admit it, i said i would go to the address in London to inspect the item and packaging in order to resolve it, they said i could not do that.I asked on the dispute who i was talking to, they said-in broken english- they were an employee in the warehouse in the UK, I checked out this company and they advertise themselves as ‘Allied Partner of ebay.com for Japan’ what happens is, that ebay uk items are listed on a site in Japan called sekaimon.com and mainly non speaking japanese bid on the site and the site bid on ebay UK on their behalf and ship the item to Japan, i think they charge 15% on top of the costs, on the website of the shipping company SAL in Middlesex,it says “The item you sent to our location is strictly inspected by our QA team. If the condition is OK enough, we re-ship it to Japan.” So my item was unpacked, checked, repacked and sent to Japan and i am held responsible. i reported this to ebay under incorrect contact information, and they say they cannot comment as their is an open dispute, but i must get proof it was forwarded to Japan…Guess what? Ebay own this company with Yahoo in Japan!!!!! they full well know that it was forwarded! The claim should be between the buyer in japan and sekaimon, and not with me. anyone else know about this? They have 10 bidding names on ebay.uk the name i sold to is a bidding name that could be proxy bidding for any number of japanese buyers, not just for one, hence their 4000 plus feedback per month for one name, just a buying name, so 100% feedback.
    Would be interested if anyone or Tamebay knows anything about this?
    I put a question on the ebay seller forum and after ten minutes the moderator deleted it!

  10. Yes, a comment would be good, there are other comments on the internet regarding this situation. I am really fed up of banging my head against this wall of hypocrisy when i am forced to conform to ebays policies and yet face these double standards. This company has 18 USA Ebay id’s.
    Ebay say that negative feedback is a ‘reflection of a buyers experience with you’ i say it is statistics and not relating to the facts of a situation, they count negs when evaluating DSR’s but do not know if that is a vengeful comment or false comment. i just lost my Top rated seller status for ‘Opened cases’ 1 is the one i have described, another was for an item a buyer said was fake that was made in the 1960’s, an impossible claim, but gave me a neg for both items he bought in one transaction, purely a vengeful act, ebay say its a ‘reflection of his experience’ they know it may take nearly a year before these cases slide round the DSR evaluation. Not satisfied with that, ebay have now put all my listings out of view in the Best match default search, so my items cannot be seen 6 pages down the listings, this is a childish punishment, for something i could not have changed, 3 negs out of 4500 feedback, then they keep sending me monthly reminders of how i can improve my selling technique, when they know that the DSR’s are fixed in time, not in my ability to change them, it takes a year before a negative leaves my account, not a month. Also most of my sales are International and these DSR’s are based on UK sales, which i cannot change by selling more items to make the cases a smaller percentage of my allowance as i am not selling in the UK, there is a recession, only rich people buy my items. Grrrrr!

  11. Usual ebay rubbish though.

    I know of a scammer who has sent the self same message through the ebay messaging system claiming non delivery to at least a dozen sellers (that’s the ones I’ve been contacted by and spoken to on the phone in 3 cases!).

    I’ve phoned ebay who claim it’s being looked into, but that was last Friday and he’s still buying and scamming and opening cases.

    And the eBay rep I spoke to on the phone – he said the “report a buyer” link – well, so far, it isn’t quite working properly. Or at all depending on how I interpret the fact that I know 8 sellers have reported this buyer yet he’s still active.

    Believe it when you see proof, this is so far all hot air.

  12. There is a very simple solution.

    Give the control of who can buy back to the sellers. Then ebay do not need to be involved with this at all.

  13. Customer Satisfaction, Trust and Safety, The Buying Experience and many similar terms – all BS

    Let’s not forget that eBay is a business – First and Foremost they put PROFIT before anything and everything else.
    I have no problem with Profit first, but lets not kid ourselves that eBay is caring / sharing or any shade of Pink and Fluffy.

    Every single change is approved by accountants and they have the final say. If eBay choose to do so they could practically eliminate fraud and all the ‘Complained of Behaviour of Buyers and Sellers’ (The same complaints of 5 years ago and which will still be here in 5 years time).

    Why doesn’t eBay make eBay the safest most secure platform it could be? – Because it would negatively impact upon PROFIT.

    I love a good old moan and groan, as do many here, but let’s face the facts eBay do not listen to sellers, they listen to accountants.

  14. I think sellers need to get real here.

    1. Ebay is a hugely complicated business that needs to run things for the best interests of their shareholders. If you think about it that motivation is no different from exactly what you or I do in running our own businesses.

    2. How many problem cases do you really get? You should build a loss element into your financial plan, as all sensible business does, and do’nt sweat over the detail of things you can do little about.

    3. The move from ebay is very welcome. They encourage us to settle quickly if possible before the dispute process starts, creating an open season for fraud. This move and their algorithm searching should catch the vast majority of fraudulent buyers, so don’t diss what will work in your favour and will improve this situation.

    4. My biggest criticism of ebay is that too many of their development staff are business inexperienced. Too many of the problems we have are entirely predictable and should be covered before new changes or programmes are introduced.

    5. Interested in the Japanese shipper story. I have made a number of shipments to them without problem. I think I’d simply ask the complainer for their address, and if they are in Japan I’d say 2 things.

    a. I never shipped to that address and therefore they are not covered by dispute policy, because they are not the buyer.
    b. If they have a problem then return the item from the delivery address in the UK. I will refund post from that address only, and refund or replace the item.

    Remember distance selling regs only apply within the EU. Did you do the quiz Tamebay featured a few days ago? I thought I knew my law well, and I got a couple wrong. Worth looking at.

  15. We might not get that many problem cases but those few can cause very serious problems. As an example I have had effectively one problem case in the last 12 months. It was for 3 Books(the customer opened a separate case for each book) that the customer said he had not received. So even after he had had his money back he still put in 3 x lots of stinking foul DSR’s which ebay took at face value and hammered us with restrictions for almost 6 months.

    Percentage wise fairly negligible but it has significantly reduced our turnover for the year(estimate at least 50%) all because ebay decided to maximise the harm that that one problem caused.

  16. This is welcome news from ebay. We all want the problem customers removed from the site (as well as rip off sellers).

    What I am concerned about at the moment is why my account manager is being taken away with little warning, and no real explanation. We are doing over 50k a month on ebay and its something that I think is a backward step.

  17. This is excellent news: the marketplace playing the role that the marketplace can uniquely provide (and must provide).

    I do wonder how the algorithm will capture all the variety of approaches and veiled threats that we’ve seen and it will have to learn some novel spellings of quite a lot of the English language. But if what it does is help targeted human intervention then that’s a good step forwards.

    We all want great sellers trading with great buyers. The tiny number of rogues are grains of sand in the icecream: and that’s disproportionately annoying for it’s size.

  18. Dosent take much data mining. 2 key words simple as this

    1) DB Trigger Any email that contains the following key words

    Where is my item or Refund

    In all rip off cases this is the classic case of buyer ripping of seller

    Email from Dick Turpin
    Hey where is item? I just returned from holiday and its not here. Can you give me tracking No or Hey I ordered this for a Birthday present 6 weeks ago I want a refund cos I had to buy something else

    Seller thinking
    Ow that old chest Nut
    Customer knows seller isn’t going to send a £10 item with Tracking.

    Dick Turpin gets refund, Dick Turpin dosent leave Feedback. Dick Turpin has green light to try scam on again with new seller.

    Seller puts prices up and others customer have to pay extra for Dick Turpin the Ebayer

  19. Ebay are not protecting it’s sellers. This is absolute rubbish and the fact that ebay are trying to promote the fact that they are doing this is an utter lie.
    I have just recently been left negative feedback by a buyer that didn’t pay for the goods, had an unpaid item case opened against them and was never posted the item due to the fact that they didn’t pay – so how and why were they allowed to leave feedback at all – let alone negative feedback.
    I have been trading on ebay since 2005 and had 100% feedback with over 2000 sales. I pride myself on my feedback record and I try to be a very good seller and meet and even exceed customers expectations of my goods and me as a seller.
    Ebay has not supported me in any way shape or form and has refused to remove the negative feedback even though the buyer threatened me.
    I am more than disgruntalled, I am utterly upset, angry, furious and to no end as the big machine known as ebay couldn’t give a stuff about the little guy once again.

  20. If you opened an unpaid item case and closed the case and had your ebay fees refunded then the buyer cannot leave any feedback. You need to make sure you close the case to block feedback.

    If you closed the case and feedback has been left then if you report this to ebay they will remove it. It is a technical glitch.

  21. today ebay refunded £75 to a buyer out of their own pocket , when they did not return goods and have totally ignored the resolution process other than the initial claim, in A not as described case which we escalated ourselves,, the buyer was asking for a partial refund of £60 out of a total sale of £415, one item is still being held and being reviewed by ebay,
    so were still out of pocket by £415, and the buyer has the goods and what they demanded

    how is this seller protection?

  22. There used to be a “Buyer Expecting more than what was listed in auction” Policy. it seems to have vanished.

    More buyers are scamming sellers. Scam sellers were never as big a problem as scam buyers are now.

    In the old feedback system you could see scam buyers and sellers. now scam buyers are hidden.

    Let me NEG a buyer, Funny how that will sort it….lol. And after that let me block buyers based on % rating and negs. Job done.

  23. Gary..

    Just wanted to say thank you. Spoke to a lovely Irishman at ebay today – 100% feedback re-instated due to the fact that the buyer was a non-responsive buyer.

    Thank you for your support Gary – greatly appreciated.

  24. Here’s an example: I had a customer claim GNR for a low value item sent to Oz. I had already profiled this one as a risk, so sent registered post. Now up until recently that hasn’t meant much, but as things are becoming more and more trackable I phoned up Auspost on the off chance: was told attempted delivery to Nateen on 17th, but redirected to St leonards, and then get this, one more redirection also to St Leonards!
    When I checked the buyer’s feedback, he had already berated one seller for slow delivery and left a negative.
    I maintain there is no such thing as lost post to UK (and Oz).



eBay adjust delivery dates for Her Majesty’s Funeral


Enhanced seller protection for eBay Top Rated/Above Standard sellers


eBay extend seller protections to those impacted by severe weather along the East Coast


eBay extends seller protection to cover storm Izzy


eBay emergency UK seller protections for December

ChannelX Guide...

Featured in this article from the ChannelX Guide – companies that can help you grow and manage your business.


Take a look through a selection of the latest articles on ChannelX

Register for Newsletter

Receive 5 newsletters per week

Gain access to all research

Be notified of upcoming events and webinars