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.