The difference between great and poor service

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DVD PurchasesLast month on the 24th I ordered two similar DVD box sets. It’s been a very interesting comparison between great service and mediocre service and goes to show why some seller find meeting eBay’s new standards a breeze whilst others struggle.

The DVDs were priced similarly – £10.99 and £11.96, the difference in cost really didn’t bother me. Both items were at or close to the top of eBay’s Best Match search (mixed with Region 1 DVDs, I wanted Region 2). Both items offered free 1st Class Royal Mail postage, although one promised next day despatch and the other a three day despatch. Estimated delivery dates were Friday 26th for one DVD and Tuesday 30th for the second.

The first DVD turned up on Thursday 25th September, a day earlier than promised. As you can imagine I was delighted with the speed of delivery and the product was as promised… a DVD box set. However the delivery experience set into start contrast the service from the second seller.

The Second DVD still hadn’t turned up by the 2nd of October and hesitant to ever cause a dispute I regretfully last sent a “Where is my item” message through eBay. As expected they asked me to check the Royal Mail Delivery Office but that was already closed.

Excess PostageFriday and Saturday I was too busy to go to the Delivery Office, but a card arrived telling me I had a parcel with underpaid postage. Today I want to collect it and there with £1.24 excess postage was my DVD. The PPI stamp said it needed to be posted by the 26th, but if so with 1st class post you’d have expected it to arrive way before the 2nd (even with the postage to pay).

The seller was lovely in their communications, instantly refunded the excess postage, which to be honest is a perfectly understandable mistake – they’re probably posting out a ton of DVDs and the postage would be fine for a large letter, but as a box set this was a small packet). However the fact remains they promised delivery in six days (compared to their competitor who delivered within 24 hours), and then they missed their six day delivery promise by a further ten days (would have been seven days if they’d paid the correct postage).

If asked the question “Would you buy from this seller again?” the answer would be “Yes”. They had great communications and everyone makes mistakes. It’s just a shame that their slow postage let them down.

What do you find acceptable service nowadays? Let’s dismiss the excess postage issue as mistakes happen, but parcels don’t generally take a week to arrive via 1st class postage or was it that the parcel was delayed by up to six days due to the underpaid postage? Either way posting after three days seems slow to me.

16 Responses

  1. If the seller stated 3 day dispatch and did indeed dispatch in 3 days where is the issue?

    Unless I have missread things?

    If I want something fast I go for same day or 1 day dispatch. If I want something cheap or unique I am happy to settle for a slower dispatch.

    What (for me) is unacceptable if is a “promise” is not honoured.

    (PS the Royal Mail revenue protection thing is a money generating scam most of the time and does more harm than good for Royal Mail and its customers as shown in this example. They don’t refund when things are overcharged do they? Example first class arriving after 2 or 3 days.)

  2. The point that struck me on reading you article is…

    ‘How many eBayers would take the time to analyse the situation as you did?’

    In a 140 character world, too many people go straight for the dispute button.

    As a small scale eBay seller, I would do the analysis and, in this situation, reach the same conclusion. The seller’s errors were rapidly acknowledged and dealt with.

    I would go further and say that having the (unfortunate) opportunity to see how a seller responds to a problem tells you far more about them than a different seller whose transaction is so smooth you barely pay it any attention.


  3. I have to agree with Gary personally, if the seller stated 3 day dispatch then it’s not poor service as you got what you paid for. If you wanted 1 day dispatch then you would have been better buying off a different seller. Personally I always try and dispatch the same or the next day but some sellers may be only part time and at work during the day and therefore only able to post items a couple of days of the week.
    Also re the revenue protection thing I had a seller send me an item that was 20p underpaid, Royal Mail stuck a sticker on wanting me to pay an extra £1 on top of the 20p, luckily the postman ignored it / didn’t see it and just put it through my door anyway.

  4. .
    Of course the other problem is when RM take forever to actually deliver an item in their possession.

    It always amazes me when a 2nd class item can be delivered next day & another packet seems to drift around (somewhere) for days on end…..

  5. As a member of the operations team for an online retailer who utilises eBay, I see the situation time and time again where buyers hold US responsible for errors and issues raised by our couriers. We always take responsibility for courier mishaps, obviously we choose to use them. But throwing all of that anger and frustration at us doesn’t always seem fair, especially considering that once our orders leave us we have no real control.

    As Lee Pearce correctly stated stated, Royal Mail “AIM” to deliver orders within 1 day for first class and 3 days for second class but these are estimates that are no where near consistently met. He has also correctly stated that sellers CANNOT submit a claim for a lost item until 15 working days have passed, meaning that customers are further agitated when told that no action can be taken until the 15 working days have neared or passed.

    Another issue we are more than aware of at this point is that eBay are displaying misleading delivery estimates on eBay listings based on Royal Mail’s inaccurate delivery schedules. They are not giving sellers the freedom to set their own delivery estimates and are instead display delivery estimates that are based on Royal Mail’s delivery “aims”. And this is one of our biggest issues because at the end of the day, this estimate is on OUR listing. Therefore, in a customers mind, we set it and we are responsible for it being there. Another great example of this is the “Free Standard Delivery when you buy two or more items”… We offer free postage across the board and therefore this is an extremely redundant feature for us that has done nothing but cause more emails and phone calls because it is confusing customers. If sellers had the freedom to set their own delivery estimates, the original author may have had the opportunity to see that delivery on the ordered item would be more than 6 days based on the sellers experiences with Royal Mail. Maybe 5 working days for 1st class and 10 for second class.

    With regards to comments some people are making about a high dispatch time, I would ask you to consider this. eBay are bringing in a lot more in the way of punishing sellers for bad performance. One of these metrics is based around the whole “Where is my item?” and delivery times. Now, considering that sellers are unable to set their own delivery estimates, would you rather be penalised on your seller rating because of Royal Mail incompetence, or would you rather risk a hit to sales in order to raise your despatch estimate therefore giving a longer delivery estimate?

    At the end of the day, eBay sellers at the moment are being squeezed to meet targets left right and centre in a system that is far from perfect and very far from complete as well as constant system outages and bugs. These on their own are bad enough to keep our account live. But when you then add in customers opening cases because the item hasn’t arrived two days after dispatch and leaving negative feedback for the same reason, it’s added pressure that we then have to spend time and resources on, and that time and those resources could be better spent within the organisation refining procedure and improving our customer experience.

  6. The real difference. Where the seller deals with a problem quickly and leaves the buyer feeling ‘on top’. In the above example I might even have refunded a fiver and offered profuse apologies.

  7. ebay has managed to turn buying and selling into a war of attrition
    its a them verse us game of point scoring


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