eBay Defect Seller Standards: 1st Assessment

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Stars hmToday is the date that you will find out your seller status as measured by the new Seller Defect rating. We’ve heard lots of concerns both on is the new policy too draconian and possible glitches to the system which may need refining.

We’re really interested to hear your experiences and whether your seller status has gone up or down or no change.

If you’ve lost Top Rated Seller Status, please do share where you think the biggest hurdles are for you. For instance, is it shipping and “Where’s my item?” questions or is it something like the reports we’ve heard of total defects not tallying with the individual counts.

Discounted defects

First up, some good news. With the new standards now in effect, some sellers who are on a 12 month look back schedule will be protected from selling limits or restrictions in this assessment in order to help them understand the new system – even though in fact their seller status may be below eBay’s new standards*.

Sellers who have received this protection will see this as an update in the notification section on their seller dashboard. The defects are displayed for all sellers to provide insight into what happened in the past, so that you can learn moving forward. Whilst you may not agree with all of the defects, you do at least have the chance to assess what caused them and have the opportunity to take preventative action for the future.

Automatically removed defects

There are three main instances where eBay will automatically remove defects from your account:

  • If the buyer doesn’t pay for their order, the seller can open an unpaid item case against the buyer and any associated defects will be removed.

    Tip – Use the automatic unpaid item tool

  • If eBay take action against a buyer for any activity that violates the eBay buying practices policy, they will remove any associated defects left by the buyer

  • If eBay can determine through valid tracking that a defect was the direct result of circumstances outside of the seller’s control, they will remove the associated defects. For example, wide-scale carrier delays or when items are stuck in customs. These events will be listed on the eBay announcement board

Concerns from Tamebay readers

Thank you to the many readers that have emailed us regarding defects. There are two instances where we tend to agree with you that eBay could help with small policy changes:


It seems wrong that the only way to close a case without incurring a defect is to escalate it to eBay, especially as this means keeping a buyer hanging on for several days until the case can be escalated. We’d love to see eBay put a process in place where a buyer can say “Hey, I’m happy, please close the case and don’t give the buyer a defect”.

Delivery Estimates

eBay take an optimistic view of carriers delivery promises. Carriers don’t always meet these standards. For instance we know that Royal Mail have a target of delivering 93% of First Class post the next day and 98.5% of Second Class post within 3 days. As eBay use these time scales as measurement, potentially 7% of your first class post and 1.5% of 2nd Class will be delivered late.

eBay do add on one day before a buyer can cause a defect, but often with post being delivered late in the day (2-3pm isn’t unusual for my Postie to call), a buyer can ask “Where’s my item?” at lunch time just for it to arrive a couple of hours later.

We’d like to see eBay add a second day’s grace, not to block buyers from asking where their items are, but for it not to count as a defect until a pessimistic delivery date has passed.

My Defects don’t add up

We’ve heard a couple of instances where the total number of defects don’t tally when you tot up the individual cases. eBay have told us that there are three reasons why this may occur:

  • The transaction defect report is a global report and therefore details the defects from all countries whereas the dashboard only covers the UK.

  • Any DSRs prior to 29 April will not show on the transaction defect report so there may be more defects displayed on the dashboard.

  • The seller dashboard is updated every 24-48 hours whereas the transaction defect report is updated once a week as its purpose is to help sellers understand and give insight into trends which cannot be given over just a few days.

Do the outlets get special treatment?

No. Whilst they may have named account managers their main contact is tasked to focus on best business practices. If Outlets want to appeal a defect it becomes a customer service issue and eBay tell us it goes to the sames customer services team that deals with everyone’s defect removal requests. The aim is for customer service to be consistent.

Are defects a fair measurement?

We know some readers will have defects that they don’t think are fair.

We also know that some eBay sellers are still operating as if it’s five years ago and as an example use 2nd class post as well as taking a couple of days to despatch orders. Unfortunately ecommerce has changed along with buyer expectations and in today’s world buyers do expect a higher standard.

If your seller status has been lowered today or if you’re hovering in the danger zone it’s time to take a dispassionate look at your defect report and understand where the problems lie. Are most of your defects delivery related, are they particular products with a high failure rate, is it your descriptions or images that are letting you down? Are you delivering on time but still getting buyers asking where their item is?

If you can nail down what causes the greatest number of defects on your account there will be some actions you can take. The only real question you then need to ask yourself is having identified where the issues lie, is it financially viable to fix them to lower your defect rate?

Finally don’t forget that Thinkspring Interactive offer a free eBay Defect Report Viewer to make interpreting your defect report more visual.

*eBay asked us to “clarify the section on ‘discounted defects’” which previously read:
For sellers on a 12 month look back there is some protection from any consequences from not meeting standard. Any defects prior to the 11th of March will be displayed on your dashboard but they will not count towards your defect rate.
eBay will automatically override these defects and not count them when assessing if you meet the minimum requirements.

40 Responses

  1. We’re going down.

    Currently are TRS on all of our accounts, but all of them currently have a defect rate of about 2.2%.

    The vast majority of the defects (1%) is cases being opened for non receipt. Which I find a bit unfair, considering eBay open cases when people are merely trying to ask a question about delivery time.
    Maybe they should realise that not all questions about shipping times are angry questions – some are merely enquiring about when it will be delivered as they have realistic expectations of the service they chose!!!

    On another account we have a low case rate, however our Negative feedback defects are high. This is really winding me up, as this is down to a couple customers who purchased multiple items (10-20) and had an issue with one product. They have then left neg feedback for every single item!!!!

    I wish eBay could have brought this policy in earlier in the year. I hope we can get back on track (or eBay make changes) for Q4.

  2. We are hovering at the TRS and standard mark (1.58), mostly due to non received cases.
    We ship within in one day and use first class or tracked delivery on all of our items.
    We used to refund customers straight away and send another replacement if a case was opened for the non recieved. Now because of the defect, we have already lost the incentive to help the customer. Whats the point of doing what we did before, now we will just keep the case open until the last day before escalation for non tracked items, before issuing a refund.
    Ebay have shot themselves in the foot. No incentive for sellers means poorer customer service.

  3. all this post same day and use first class postage only works and applies to one type of business , the model doesn’t fit all .Anyone who offers anything be-spoke or that needs making or altering or offers a choice of items mixed together(such as coloured paints,pencils ,ribbon,wools .cottons ,art prints in a choice of frame color sizes,engraved trophys silverware,personalised items) etc etc ,then these rules do not take in to consideration this type of business .

  4. We’re TRS in UK but only standard in the USA. This is due to not uploading tracking info. Tracking with signature adds £5.00 to Royal Mail postage price. On a £15.00 item which we charge £3.50 for airmail I can’t justify an extra £5.00 as postage would be over 50% the price of the item. Can’t see buyers going for that.

  5. I have a headline banner on my seller dashboard to say that my updated status will be available on 21st August.

  6. We are not a million miles away 2.25% defects, however our main frustration is that the goal posts have moved again this week. We have had some success at appealing defects and have had a number removed, however this has now all changed as we had around 50 we could have put forward for appeal however eBay are no longer doing this – they review everything on your behalf. We have accepted that we will lose TRS, however we are now questioning how much we are spending to try and keep TRS and is it worth it

  7. We are at 0.89%….defect’s still suck….if ebay kicked buyers to touch it would be half that.

    and trs sucks too…not worth the discount and best match better search standing sucks too lol

    other than that I am happy ….

    Btw I dispatch after 1-2 days and use second class. They don’t like my dispatch time/delivery pay me 8 quid for special or buy elsewhere.

    You should not be getting defects for items as described delivered in the time specified. Ebay should be protecting sellers.

  8. We only use 2nd class post, are TRS, feedback 100%, defect rate 0.41.
    We don’t do so called free postage but charge only £2.50 irrespective of the number of items bought. Our feedback states fast delivery so we will carry on as we are.
    Not every business is the same and eBay should realise this.

  9. Another thing that seems unfair is that ‘Low detailed seller ratings for item as described’ and ‘Opened cases for items not as described’ are going to be logged by the same customers, but they each count as a separate occurrence. This means I am penalised twice for the same problem. So why am I not surprised when I have two defects logged under each category, and four defects total logged? Now that really is unfair. Of course a buyer who feels that the item is not as described is going to open a case. And so he should do, especially as eBay encourage people to do this by making it hard to do it any other way. The unfair bit is that we get penalised twice for the same offence. Once again, something that hasn’t been thought through properly.

  10. We also know that some eBay sellers are still operating as if it’s five years ago and as an example use 2nd class post as well as taking a couple of days to despatch orders. Unfortunately ecommerce has changed along with buyer expectations and in today’s world buyers do expect a higher standard.’

    That is such a sweeping generalisation and is simply the excuse eBay gave for removing the TRS fvf discount from sellers who were not bullied into believing it.

    I list with 2 days handling time, only post 3 times a week and 95% of my customers choose 2nd class postage even though I offer 1st class for pennies extra.
    This is my current dashboard stat for the last 12 months –

    Postage and delivery
    Low detailed seller ratings for postage time – 0.04% 1
    i.e. 1 buyer out of 2,343 felt my despatch time was too long.

    Yet, eBay find this unacceptable enough to have used it as a basis to withdraw TRS discount from my account by moving the goal posts.
    And they wonder why some of don’t want to roll-over and pander to their next lot of whims.

    Oh, and I see you have now amended your statement on pre-March defects for 12 monthly assessments – yet another eBay mis-information?

    No U-turn, just a badly worded press release. The protection of account status to Feb 2015 was stated back in March – but they still never clarified if that protection extended to listings not being demoted in search. Because TBH if you don’t qualify for Premium Service, then visibility is all that really matters about what status you are on.

  11. The 2nd class statement is a bit off if I am honest.

    Please tell me how you would like me to offer an item at £4.99 with free delivery and send it tracked and send it 1st class/next day/ same day?????

    Even 2nd class it costs on average £1.91 to send it with Royal Mail, by the time I pay the VAT man, ebay, paypal, staff to pack it and a box to pack it in what do I get?

    As for defects for products, this should not be judged against the seller, Amazon don’t they understand that the product is different to a sellers service. We have clear pictures and clear descriptions but people see what they want to see!

  12. When I called eBay to question what I consider to be unfair scoring in my defects list I received the following email:-

    “I just want to update you on what’s happening at the moment. Received confirmation from my support team regarding the defects, I was advised that any defects before the 11th March won’t be counted against your seller performance.

    I was advised that they will still show up in your dashboard, which is only to show you if there are any trends on your account. The feedbacks I was assured would not be counted, but in looking at the percentage of defects, it looks like for some reason they are counting at the moment.

    I am getting these investigated for you, so I will be in contact again once I receive a response on these. This will probably take 24-48 hours.

    I will give you a callback as soon as I hear back regarding the feedbacks.

    If you need any assistance in the mean-time please do not hesitate to contact me.

    Kind regards,


    eBay Customer Support ”

    That was Aug 13 2014 – despite several emails to this “Steve” he has gone to ground and is now known as the “The Scarlet Pimpernel”. I have lost my Top Rated status despite these errors (4 strikes for item not received despite Royal mail confirming delivery!) – it seems eBay just don’t give a sh*t. Now why doesn’t that surprise me?

  13. “We also know that some eBay sellers are still operating as if it’s five years ago and as an example use 2nd class post as well as taking a couple of days to despatch orders. Unfortunately ecommerce has changed along with buyer expectations and in today’s world buyers do expect a higher standard.”

    This is completely down to Ebays unrealistic idea that all 1st class post will be delivered next day. We send second class to give us that extra 2 days but if Ebay would change the delivery estimate to 1-2 days for first class we would offer 1st class.

    Unfortunately Ebay have made defect avoidance a priority at the expense of customer service.

  14. 29 defects at 0.67%

    15 were opened cases – all resolved. 2 of these items returned by Royal Mail as delivery attempted, card left, buyer didn’t claim from sorting office – but my defect!
    2 Lost in mail – but one of these buyers still managed to rate me low on item description. Hmm.
    2 My error
    1 Quality issue from post damage – resolved.

    Here are the questionable ones.

    4 low DSRs although customer never made any comment to me directly or on feedback. All items sold successfully to other satisfied customers
    2 low DSRs – customer complained, and I resolved for them, but in both instances I have sold this item multiple times to other customers without complaint. In both cases it became evident buyer didn’t really understand what they were buying or thought they were getting an absolute bargain on an item that would normally cost 5 times the price. In other words despite complete description it was their mistake – but my defect

    At my current performance I am OK, but other sellers may well lose their TSR status on such issues, and this isn’t right.

    No matter how ebay play it or wrap it up in nice corporate speak or provide some leeway, it is wrong to have an un-appealable system that allocates defects where there has been no defect by the seller.

    It shows a total lack of respect for their seller customer base, is a terrible comment on their corporate ethics and attitude, and is unworthy of any business today

  15. Well I mainly use 2nd class post and have a two day handling time, I have retained TRS, my defect rating is .43% with 100% feedback and many comments about fast delivery.

    So no, I’m not stuck ‘five years ago’ and as far as I can tell neither of you are serious sellers on eBay any more, so maybe it’s you guys that are stuck in the past.

    There are many instances where defects are given unfairly, but unless you’re selling on eBay on a regular basis you probably won’t understand.

  16. Top rated, but over the last few days, had more INR and complaints than for the whole of the year so far. Guess the scammers are in for a field day! And we bend over backwards to save our accounts. Absolutely sick of this. At least Etsy is doing ok.

  17. My Statistics as a start are:

    Feedback 100% (10344)

    UK 0.75% Defects OK TRS
    Germany 0.51% Defects OK TRS
    USA 0.51% Defects OK TRS
    Global 0.09 Defects OK TRS

    95% of my Defects are INR (where the buyer closed the case in the past as they were happy and the item was at the PO)

  18. I notice I now have two defects from last Tuesday when I stood an antique fair and sold two items that also sold on Ebay same day which has never happened before. I refunded both in full on my return with an explanation and apologies. No problem to either customer! I can see I will now have to close my shop when I am selling elsewhere.

  19. 7% defect rate almost all down to ‘item not received cases’. 99% of the time these are just buyers asking for an order update , not wanting to raise a complaint/open a case!!

    Trying to build up another ebay account now as the future isn’t looking good on my present one!!

  20. I have also just changed my handling time to 2 days instead of 1 for that extra peace of mind. This will probably mean a small loss of sales, however it’s worth it in the long term.

  21. Several INR cases from Ebay Germany in 3 day, now blocked Germany because the Germans cant read delivery times or dont read them.

    Ebay customers services say I have to call Ebay Germany to have the defects removed, yeah right I will wait on an international call for 30 + minutes. How about go and **** yourself Ebay Germany…Blocked

  22. Here’s my working definition of a defect: when a buyer has any complaint about anything. There simple !.

  23. Its been a real pain for me! I got in touch with CS a couple of weeks ago and appealed a load of defects when I came across the defect viewer on here, but the guy was pretty rubbish and hasn’t done anything about it as far as I can tell because today I got an email telling me that I’d lost my Top Rated and I was down to Above Standard. I’ve been Top Rated/Platinum @ 100% for a couple of years now and nothing whatsoever has changed on my part.

    I’ve just spent the one and a half hours talking to CS and once again appealed 9 of the 12 cases for ‘Item not as described’ and the two low scores I had for postage time (items delivered and signed for next day in both cases). As with everyone else, the item not as described cases have been for people not being able to use stuff properly (I sell home A/V gear, Bluray players, Freeview boxes etc) or having miss-read the description. The 3 I didn’t appeal failed in the warranty period which again isn’t really my fault – I don’t make the things! 🙂 I paid to get the faulty items back to me and refunded in full, but still get punished…

    2 of the 9 cases I couldn’t appeal – my shop was on the Holiday setting as I was away for a few days, but it still allowed some sales as buyers had my items on their watched list and weren’t informed (like that’s my fault!!). They opened cases for item not received and it seems as though its just tough luck for me, rather than eBay’s fault for allowing sales. Irritating.

    Hopefully it won’t go on like this as I really can’t be bothered to spend whats looking like at good 1-2 hours a week doing ‘defect maintenance’ when all of the defects I’ve had haven’t been down to me being rubbish. Utterly pointless. I’ll start this week getting my inventory on Amazon.

  24. A singular disgruntled buyer can take your TRS status away. I have had one buyer leave 6 neutral feedback whilst I have no neutral or negative feedback from any other buyer. These 6 feedback tot up to 1.17% defect rate- putting me just over eBay’s 2% mark. As a result of losing my TRS status I have lost the improved visability in “best match” searches that comes with TRS status. This in turn means that my sales are down a massive 64% on the same time last month, and the worst part is that those 6 feedback will affect me for the next 3months, meaning that my business growth will be almost halted.

  25. “We also know that some eBay sellers are still operating as if it’s five years ago and as an example use 2nd class post as well as taking a couple of days to despatch orders. Unfortunately ecommerce has changed along with buyer expectations and in today’s world buyers do expect a higher standard.”

    This is meaningless shill nonsense; one occasionally wonders whether Tammybay’s writers are on some kind of retainer from eBay. The defects system is unfair in many ways – most of all “item not received”. If an item is posted promptly but lost / delayed en route, how can eBay construe that to be the seller’s fault? The fact that eBay’s “contact” system guides buyers to unwittingly open “not received” cases against sellers (when they are, in most cases, just after an update) compounds this unfairness.

    I don’t have time to chase up every unfair “defect” by phone, so basically, eBay’s idiotic new system can get knotted. And to be frank, if Tammybay don’t have anything a bit more intelligent / considered to say on the subject than their quote above, then they can get knotted too.


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