eBay UK Seller Release 2014: Tamebay comment

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eBay’s direction of travel is obvious. They are serious about improving the buyer experience to meet ever increasing expectations from high spending consumers.

They are also becoming more interventionist: more than ever before they want to be involved in facilitating transactions. We’ll see what they come up with on the International Tracked Postage Services trailed today. It’s impossible to judge that without an indication of costs.

And from the autumn they will be managing all buyer returns for business sellers. It’s a big step.

The success of Managed Returns will depend on the finesse with which eBay implements the service and adjudicates the problem cases. But, as one Tamebay reader commented: “it’s not finished.” He has been testing the service for some months and had provided feedback. Rather tellingly he also noted that eBay product managers hadn’t extended the courtesy of acknowledging that input. That doesn’t bode well.

eBay’s diligence at fair minded communication is also central to a lot of the concerns that have already been aired about the new Seller Standards. Yes, they are tough but they also very clearly emulate Amazon. Customers have high expectations from ecommerce in 2014. In essence, they are not unreasonable criteria and top-notch sellers have little to fear. (One unanswered question is whether big, retail/outlet sellers are also going to be held to the same standards?)

Unfortunately the worries centre on eBay’s ability to identify a problem seller providing poor service and those professional sellers who are simply dealing with an unreasonable, indeed dishonest, buyer.

eBay’s track record in adjudicating disputes is sadly dismal. More stringent seller criteria must be matched by better service from eBay itself. Sellers must be able to count on eBay to see when they have done their best in trying circumstances. Such faith is understandably not present from sellers right now.

Few will doubt eBay’s good intentions: happy, high-spending consumers who come back again and again are good news. The various initiatives to improve the buyer experience show a solid consumer focus that is welcome.

But at the heart of this seller release is an imbalance. Lots of stick for sellers and not enough carrot. As one Tamebay reader often asks in comments: “Where’s the gravy?”

On the plus side, there is plenty of time for sellers to adjust to these changes, and time too for eBay to improve the deal with some sweeteners. Specifically, can they persuade “bread and butter” sellers that they will back them when they do the right thing? We’ll see.

eBay provided this clarification to Tamebay on the 14th March:

“The new seller standards will be a requirement for all eBay business sellers as of 20 August 2014. The new performance measurement will be the same for every seller and we’ll continue to support sellers as we’ve previously done through customer service or account management. We’ll also be sending out a monthly email with projected status details until the changes come into effect. Plus, the seller dashboard preview will be available from 16 April for all sellers to view and understand their projected performance.”

37 Responses

  1. As ever more changes designed to make life hard for decent honest sellers. Sellers are going to be penalised for things beyond their control. If a parcel goes missing in the post, I always refund the buyer but a lot of sellers don’t. When these changes come in sellers like myself who do refund for lost parcels will still be penalised simply because the postal service lost the parcel. Where is the incentive for sellers to refund if you’re still going to get a “defect” strike anyway?

    Seems to me that these “new seller standards” are actually going to be beneficial to bad sellers and hurt the good sellers because we’re all going to be dragged down to the same level. For example:

    A bad seller rips off a buyer by taking their money and not sending the goods. Result: The seller gets a defect strike.

    A good seller sends a buyer’s item the same day payment is received. The item gets lost in the post. When informed that the item hasn’t arrived, the seller gives the buyer an immediate full refund. Result: The seller gets a defect strike.

    Absolutely farcical. Yet more ill conceived policies thought up by faceless executives who have never bought or sold online.

  2. On a whole i support the 5% defect rate instead of what we have now 1% IAS 2% 2% 2% etc.
    However what ruins things is the ridiculous affect that someone asking a question on where is my item is classed as a defect,the same as a neg.
    Now i send next day courier signed for delivery.I still get the odd where is my item.People who ignore the cards left by the courier for a week then message once the courier has returned.People simply asking “will it arrive Tuesday as il be out that day” ,to people who go away on a last minute two week holiday after ordering then message when they get back “where is my item”.
    Sometimes buyers simply asking for the depot phone number again after they were carded even though they have it.

    Surely Ebay need to change that to only cases escalated by the buyer.

    If they dont il have to bypass the resolution centre.Now that there is no point not sending comms,il simply send every buyer a message through “other” along the lines of
    “Hi,thankyou for your purchase.If you have any questions later about delivery or anything else simply reply to this message and wel get back to you as soon as possible.Have a nice week,
    regards xxxx
    Hopefully Ebay will remove this ridiculous part before August.

  3. If eBay are punishing sellers who give a bad experience – which is very hard to argue against (just in the detail) – why are sellers not given an extra credit for repeat business from the same buyer?

    This would be a very strong indicator of a customer happy both with the seller and with eBay AND that the seller has not poached their business off eBay.

    eBay should reward that particular win win.

  4. I believe every quality seller should want ebay to improve the buyer experience. However, this must be fair and equitable to sellers. I’ll repeat my sentiment of yesterday.

    it is absolutley scandalous that having done everything right we can suffer with our ratings and fee discounts, because of something the buyer does apparently means we have a defect.

    If a buyer does not read a description, how can that be a defect on the sellers part?

    If the buyer is not at home so the item is not delivered, how can that be a defect on the seller’s part?

    If the seller throws out their Royal Mail card with the junk mail, how can that be a defect on the seller’s part?

    If the buyer hasn’t checked if other family members have taken an item in, or hasn’t checked where the buyer has arranged with Royal Mail to leave parcels if they are out, how can that be a defect on the seller’s part?

    I have had 6 cases opened in the last 2 weeks. 1 down to me and immediately corrected, 3 down to the buyer that was quickly put right and corrected by the buyer, 1 down to slow delivery by Royal Mail, 1 down to the buyer not reading the description which was full and explicit.

    All 6 will now be defects, but in fact only 2 were in any way down to me, assuming I take responsibility for my delivery company.

    And the feedback is positive – who leaves positive feedback for a”Defect”?


    They can not expect reputable and quality businesses, who work extremely hard to make their customers happy, to accept being penalised in this way.

  5. This ill conceived policy is supposedly intended to make a better buyuer experience but is sure to backfire in that respect too. I sell used items on ebay. Ocassionally I will spot a slight blemish or very minor fault with the item before sending. In these cases I always contact the buyer, explain what the problem is with the item and offer a refund. Around half my buyers in these situations chose to have a refund and they usually thank me for my honesty.

    From August I know I will instantly get a “defect” if the buyer accepts a refund so I will be tempted to send the item anyway and hope the buyer doesn’t complain. Essentially I will be in a situation where I have got nothing to lose and everything to gain by sending a buyer a slightly faulty item instead of offering them an instant refund. So how can this possibly provide a better buyer experience?

  6. being a seller on ebay is akin to a contestant on the cube tv show ,every task you complete , another more complicated is required

  7. Jibba Jabba is all you get from Ebay. Ask them a direct question and you get we’re implementing this and doing that to help Sellers.
    Why does Ebay think it’s fair to make these sweeping changes ? People have built up a living and you can see the from the response of these proposed changes how dissatisfied Sellers are. It really isnt right to mess with peoples lives like this.
    Really really wrong on all levels when they have a dependency on it’s sales.

    Here’s s direct question Ebay ? If a buyer purchases a sealed item, then says they want to return it because it’s not as described or faulty or whatever, but return something completely different via tracked post, how does the Seller prove this to Ebay ?

  8. Has anyone had an email from eBay showing there sales defect % and it being completely wrong ?

  9. Can someone please clarify a few points for me….

    If a seller simply asks “where is my item?”…. I get a strike?

    If a seller opens a case and I resolve it…. i still get a strike?

    If a buyer leaves neutral F/back….I get a strike?

    I have a dispatch time on my listings set at 10 days (i sell special customised items that are only “made” as each is ordered, hence 10 days) but i still get asked after say 3/4 days “where is my item”…so am i right in assuming that even though my listings say 10 days i will be penalised if a buyer asks after only 3/4 days? Surely that cant be right!

    I always resolve any cases immediately and to the buyers satisfaction, however if i have understood this right there is now no benefit to resolving cases, i may as well just let the case run its course, wait for the buyer to escalate it and let Ebay action a refund because i will now get a strike just because a case has been opened and whether i have resolved it is now totally irrelevant!

    What exactly does neutral F/back mean, the buyer is saying im not entirely happy but at the same time im not really unhappy, so what are they? In other words the buyer cant decide what they are so YOU the seller gets penalised!

    Please someone correct me here if iam wrong but if iam right all i can see these changes achieving is turning already great sellers into “bad” sellers, sellers will be less likely to help the buyer when a problem arises & many will adopt an “i couldnt give a damn attitude” whats the point cause your penalised regardless of what you do!

    What concerns me is WHY are Ebay doing this, as i see it sellers in high volume will leave Ebay voluntarily on mass when these changes come into effect or just as many will be forced off because they no longer meet Ebays unachievable standards, surely Ebay can see this and assuming they can then the qustion has to be asked as to why Ebay want rid of these sellers, even the good ones. What is Ebays long term goal here and what is the much bigger picture.
    Ebay constantly preaches that the site needs buyers (true) but if Ebay becomes a more unattractive place to run your business and sellers leave in droves and there is no longer as much choice, diversity and competition on the site then the buyers will stop coming (fact) and then everyone loses, buyers, sellers and Ebay themselves…..So again i ask the question WHY are Ebay doing all they can to alienate their sellers?

  10. “In essence, they are not unreasonable criteria and top-notch sellers have little to fear.”

    Not quite true.

    We are classed as TRS by eBay at the moment and have been for almost as long as the program.

    From Aug apparently we will be Above Standard. with the message ‘Take Action Now!”

    Underneath that is some patronising nonsense…

    “Here’s what you can do to get back on track.”

    haha. bless.

    I might just have to become a Daily Deal hero and offload a few tonnes of crap each month just to dilute all the low scores.

  11. Simple business question.

    Who here thinks when a customer returns an item as purchased in error it is taken as a flag to suggest your business has a fault when selling outside of ebay?

    Nope, didnt think so.

    Who here thinks that when selling outside of ebay you would pay upfront without question for the return shipping of an item from a buyer you had valid reason to believe was malicious/fabricating or exaggerating a situation to return an item without first having the right (as in LAW) to inspect goods upon return before reimbursing anything?

    Nope didnt think so.

    Who here, outside of ebay, would deem a 2nd class package, sold on boxing day, to arrive before new year within the normal 3 days with no allowance for seasonal volumes and treat such as a “defect” on your part as a business?.

    Nope didnt think so.

    So, finally, who here thinks ebay provides unique superior service, assistance, protection, respect, consistency and reliability in IT and ever growing sales/traffic that you cant find elsewhere to make all the above a reasonable position to batter you with in 2014?

    Please form an orderly queue…..

  12. Well done to those who stuck it out this long. Personally I believe this will only get worse and worse. Ebay has slowly been rolling out more and more to disadvantage their own sellers. I’m not going to be sticking around for the aftermath. I’m moving my inventory to Amazon. More sales, more exposure and much much less faff. I advise those who can to do the same.

  13. “Few will doubt eBays good intentions” Banned sellers with ruined livelihoods may. Especially as they didn’t get a proper warning that this was even a possibility, and unfairly weren’t able to block “secretly unhappy” buyers (or rivals) who left low DSRs. There only should have been bans for regular seriously bad “item as described” or repeated gross policy violations (and not dvds with ludicrous banned words in the title, for example) – all the rest is garbage. It doesn’t look like there’s much hope for small sellers on ebay anyway. ebid is the only likely auction site rival, relatively small though it still is.

  14. Whatever sellers do it is certain ebay won’t change this unfortunately. As usual we sellers will adapt and get used to ever onerous rules that aren’t in our favour.

    The thing that strikes me as an ebay seller is the unfairness in the feedback system. Buyers get to leave detailed feedback ratings for sellers, but as a seller all I can do is leave a comment. Maybe what we need are detailed buyer ratings scoring such things as payment time, communication, number of returns by buyer, etc so that sellers can easily see which buyers are low quality and add them to their blocked bidder lists. (Although ebay would probably need to raise the blocked bidder list limit to allow this to work properly!)

  15. We have Been selling on eBay for 4 years our turnover was nearly £1,000,000 in that time, eBay have made a fortune from our company, much more than us actually! and we have built up 4000 feedbacks, not a single negative ever.
    It’s been a huge stress over that period trying to keep our top rated seller status and we have had to go to crazy lengths to keep some “professional moaners” happy it’s unbelievable the things people will do.

    We got an email recently saying that we are now losing our top rated seller status (as many others are too) our problem is people returning an item due to opening up an INAD, but in actual fact the customer just didn’t like the item and was trying to find fault, or it didn’t for them or didn’t know how to use the functions etc.
    We sell used mechanical items so returns are a normal part of our business.

    returns are not a problem always happy to help and take an item back but most people feel “safer” opening a case when they return an item.

    We are above standard but close to losing that too!

    How can we have:

    100% Positive
    0 Neutral
    Top Rated for 4 years
    4.9 on all DSR’s

    Some people have left positive but then left 2 & 3 (3’s now count as a defect too)

    And now we could fall below “above standard”!!??

    We have now closed our shop because the stress of running on eBay is just to much now.

    We are moving to Etsy, Ebid and in the process of building our own website.

    eBay has ruined this now with huge fees, impossible standard setting and unfair expectations.

    Buyers have all the power and safety nets, sellers seem to just get cheated blackmailed and pressured I to situations for fear of low DSR’s and feedback.

    I don’t think I’ll miss eBay, but good luck to anyone who stays.

    We don’t want to fall below standard, have a restricted account or have our account suspended for falling below standard because this will effect our PayPal too.

    Its crazy as I say we were top rated with 100%



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