eBay lower 1st & 2nd Class delivery estimates

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eBay have said that they’re on the site for Royal Mail. The announcement in full reads:

From mid-February, we’re testing some changes to the delivery estimates associated with Royal Mail First and Second Class services to more closely reflect Royal Mail’s delivery commitment (1 working day for First Class, and 3 working days for Second Class).
Depending on how the test goes, we may make this a permanent change.

So just how realistic are these changes? Royal Mail has the answers in their latest pdf Quarterly Quality of Service and Complaints Report to Ofcom and Consumer Focus.

Royal Mail’s stated Targets are

  • First Class mail – a minimum of 93 per cent delivered the next working day
  • Second Class mail – a minimum of 98.5 per cent delivered within three working days.

This means that if they meet their targets then 7% of First Class post won’t be delivered the next working day and 1.5% of Second Class post will be late.

Royal Mail’s latest results – November 2012

For Second Class Royal Mail exceeded their targets with 98.6% of Second Class mail delivered three working days after posting in the April to December 2012 period.

However they narrowly missed their First Class target with 92.2% mail delivered next working day. That leaves 7.8% of First Class mail being delivered late.

Royal Mail said “Performance was affected by the increase in traffic in the third quarter, which always proves most challenging; this was further compounded by adverse weather which impacted significant parts of the country, and by change within our Mail Centre estate due to our ongoing transformation programme.”

eBay’s Targets and Royal Mail’s Performance

eBay does of course rely on buyer ratings, if they start to raise expectations that First Class mail will be delivered next day, instead of 1-2 days that could potentially start to impact your detailed seller ratings. 7% of less than five star ratings could ruin your eBay business.

Should you worry? In reality there’s no way to tell how much delayed First Class mail were eBay packages rather than bills, Christmas and Birthday cards. From personal experience, all things considered, Royal Mail do deliver a fantastic service, but then I live within the RG Postcode area where 93% of mail was delivered on time. If you live in Bromley (89.3%), East London (89.9%), Hemel Hempstead (89.8%), Kirkwell (89.5%), North West London (89.7%), or Stevenage (89.5%) then 10% of your First Class Mail was late.

If you live in Lerwick only 51.7% of your First Class post will be delivered the next day, but hopefully buyers who live in Lerwick are used to a slower postal service and will simply ignore eBay’s delivery promises when awarding DSRs to eBay sellers.

What to do?

There’s really very little you can do if eBay make the change or some of your buyers (or you!) are in the test group. You could increase your handling time by a day but we wouldn’t recommend this as it could put off some buyers looking for speedy delivery. You could attempt to notify buyers that they live in areas of the country with the worst performance, but this will be difficult as areas that performed worst in the last quarter could potentially perform best in the next quarter.

Our advice would be to do nothing, but if you ship a large proportion of your mail First or Second Class with Royal Mail then monitor your DSRs and shout if you see a significant drop in customer satisfaction levels. Finally of course carry on giving the best service you possible can, despatch as quickly as you can and if you’re one of those who provide the best possible service on eBay you’ll still be at the top of the pile in DSR ratings.

26 Responses

  1. “Fially of course carry on giving the best service you possible can, despatch as quickly as you can and if you’re one of those who provide the best possible service on eBay you’ll still be at the top of the pile in DSR ratings”


  2. The core problem is that Ebay do not give buyers information about how long after dispatch, the Royal Mail considers items to still be ‘in transit’ as opposed to ‘lost in post’… For standard delivery (which encompasses 1st class/ 2nd class/ 1st & 2nd classss recorded)- the timescale is up to 15 working days…. On Amazon- they tell buyers 3-12 days delivery for items such as dvds from marketplace sellers…. When Ebay had ‘sellers standard rate’ I didn’t encounter any problems from buyers – but as soon as Ebay moved to estimated delivery times- it has caused no end of hassle…..Ebay is right in that 4-6 days for 2nd class delivery in innacurate- and I have had several buyers buy low value dvds/blurays & take the option of paying an additional £5.00 for special delivery because they thought that they would have to wait a week or more for their item… …All Ebay has to do is provide 2 pieces of information to buyers… Firstly, the total potential delivery time for standard delivery which is ‘1-15 working days….. Then Ebay can also provide an average delivery time, based on converting sellers’ dispatch (delivery) dsrs into usable data. e,g 4.9 delivery probably means 2 days..4.8= 4 days…4.6/4.7 means 6 days etc…. Ultimately Ebay should stop asking buyers to make value judgemnets about dispatch(delivery)- and instead ask for factual data i.e which date did your item arrive…… This could then be matched to the date when the item was marked as dispatched- and provide an average delivey time for a seller, which would take into account- how long they took to process an order, and whether they were in the U.K. / offshore or abroad……

    This way both buyers & sellers would benefit.

    Buyers need transparancy regarding delivery times when making purchases, and sellers need protection from impatient buyers.

    Buyers would get 2 pieces of information- average delivery time based on a sellers actual perferformance & clear info about potential timescale for delivery, before they should start chasing up non-receipt of goods.

    e.g buying a dvd from seller ‘A’ would show Average delivery time of 3 days, but please allow up to 15 working days for delivery.

    Ebay buyers (along with younger buyers on the internet in general) don’t read, they don’t understand estimates… You can look at facebook threads / twitter feeds from various online reatilers – and buyers simply don’t understand the concept of an estimate……Take a look at play.com’s facebook page… Anyone who has bought from play will know that they estimate 3-5 days delivery, but in their terms & condition they point out that buyers should allow up to 15 days… However, this doesn’t stop a stream of buyers abusing play on facebook, because they havne’t received their items in the estimated 3-5 days.

  3. We put a 2 day handling time on ALL items on ebay and amazon. We know it will put people off buying BUT we receive more compliments by the majority receiving WELL within the estimated dates. Usually anything before 12 we ship the same day. We still get the classics of “well I’ve never had any other mail late” and the like but that’s life and, thank god, the minority.

  4. I am another “2 day for everything” person. Fact is gear goes out on the same day but don’t want to tell the punters that no matter how much pressure ebay put on sellers to say otherwise. Not interested in badges just happy buyers.

    The compliments come flying in as a result of punters expectations being bettered.

  5. we are 3 day on everything,though sent same day, no one takes a blind bit of notice anyhow unless its lost

  6. .
    Being in an area that only achieve 89.9% success rate, one problem is always stated by RM.
    The earlier you post in a day, the better chance it has on getting there on time.

    Most ebay seller post in the afternoon, but I know from our local sort staff’s comments, that post that arrives their at 4pm and later, usually whilst processed the same day, often ends up as a next day transit dispatch.

    We are forever pointing out to buyers that ‘once we post a packet, we loose control over it’s transit time’,…. to no avail, of course!!.

    Lower ‘dispatch DSRs’ are inevitable, with this decision.

  7. Us international sellers are receiving an email telling us of changes in the way buyers can report INR. Now a buyer will not be able to send a ‘I haven’t received my item yet message’ until the delivery window has expired which can be up to 23 working days for economy, thereafter an INR enquiry will be treated as a dispute straight away but we have 7 working days to sort the problem out and presumably if that is done then the case is cancelled as a black mark.
    In totality these are all good moves by ebay to get buyers to act responsibly regarding dispatch times. If they agree to the deal they have to stick with it.

  8. And why anyway would eBay set out to deliberately disappoint buyers 7 times in every 100 purchases (on average)?

    Seems quite an obvious bad plan to me.

    I have seen this quoted:

    ‘Psychologists working in the area of human planning decisions have found that our plans are typically based on best-case scenarios and “yield overly-optimistic predictions of completion times.” When study participants were asked to come up with more pessimistic scenarios, they could do so when predicting someone else’s completion times, but not their own’

  9. Even their major rival Amazon do not over promise on their basic shipping service quoting 3-5 days on their super saver delivery. Is it no wonder that Amazon beat eBay in all customer experience surveys.

    Maybe ebay should be trialling a standard 3-5 days basic delivery time as the default to cover all UK shipping services and see if this makes any difference to the customer feedback?

    Which it will do. It will improve as buyers will be less confused as a result of all the different times quoted by sellers!

    Make 3-5 days the default standard for all sellers and impose it. Sellers who cannot comply will have to face the feedback consequences.

  10. Bottom line is buyers don’t care who delivers it as long as the package gets there. Why single out Royal Mail for special treatment?

  11. Great if you live in England but what if you live in the Highlands of Scotland.

    I would like to see if you can post anything between 3-5 days,especially if they buy it on a sat night.My post office closes at sat 12.30 and doesn’t open until Monday morning.

    I used to sell in the early 1990’s pre ebay and never never had any problems.

    Why create problems where there don’t need to be.Also have royal mail been informed,because what I remember,I am sure the unions will have something to say on this!!!!

  12. Just checked the tracking number on a recent purchase from the Order Details page; clicking on the tracking number now gives three other pieces of info: Accepted In transit Delivered. None of which was updatd as I have the item.

  13. It is an outrageous move by eBay – nothing new then.

    I’ll be sticking to my ‘3 days handling’ on all listings even though 90% are despatched same or next day.

    Last thing I need is buyers ordering Friday afternoon complaining because something hasn’t arrived Saturday!


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