eBay On-Time Delivery Metric: What eBay sellers are telling us

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Next Saturday, the 20th of February eBay’s new performance standards come into play, are you ready for the changes?

The most significant is the reduction of the number of ways you can get a defect and eBay’s new On-Time Delivery metric.

Sanctions for failing to meet eBay’s new On-Time delivery metric

It’s important to remember that a late delivery under eBay’s On-Time delivery metric is not a defect. Currently eBay have merely said that to maintain eBay Top-rated seller (TRS) status you can’t have more than 4% late deliveries (minimum 6 before you lose TRS) and to remain Above Standard no more than 9% of your deliveries are late (minimum 9 before sanctions kick in).

What we’re hearing from sellers

We’re hearing a number of concerns from sellers and seeing some sub-optimal (but perfectly understandable) strategies taking place.

Recipient was out

Top concern is late delivery marks for when the recipient wasn’t at home to sign for the parcel. eBay are clear that an attempted delivery should be considered as delivered on time and undertaken to resolve the issue.

Carrier doesn’t get a signature

We’ve all seen deliveries which should be signed for being popped through the letter box. Sometimes there just is no online record of the delivery.

Royal Mail Signed For lacks acceptance scan

We’ve heard from many sellers complaining that Royal Mail don’t have acceptance scans for Signed For items if they’re collected on a business account. Yes if you drop items at a Post Office they should be scanned, but if you have a business collection the first scan may well be at the point of delivery.

Late scans for items despatched on time

Sellers are telling us that many items which were despatched on time don’t receive a scan on the day of posting. If the carrier scans your shipments for the first time at a later date then everything you sent that day appears to have shipped late. We’re hearing that this is often the case with Royal Mail Tracked 24/48, some delivery depots (according to our readers) don’t scan parcels and it’s only when they get to a regional delivery centre that the first scan occurs.

Readers point out to us that sometimes the acceptance scan for a Tracked 48 parcel occurs on the same day as delivery. That just doesn’t make sense.

Many carrier aren’t integrated with eBay

eBay have integrated some of the most common carriers, but if you use a mail partner other than Royal Mail or a courier not on eBay’s list than there are no acceptance scans and no delivery scans. Your only hope is that they buyer tells eBay the delivery was On-Time or doesn’t answer the question.

What sellers are doing which hurts everyone

We are hearing of sellers adding on an additional day to handling times so that there is more time for an acceptance scan prior to the expected despatch date, stating that shipping will be a slower service than actually used, or even not bothering to upload tracking numbers to eBay as they simply can’t see the point if acceptance scans are showing a later date than the date the items were despatched.

None of this is what buyers want. Buyers sometimes want an item in a hurry and they want to find a seller that can ship fast. eBay know that fast shipping is desirable. No one wins by saying it’ll take two days to despatch a product or that you’re shipping via 2nd Class mail when in reality you send 1st Class.

I can understand not bothering to upload tracking numbers if you’re shipping Signed For from a business account or if you routinely see late acceptance scans for Tracked products – It really is a case of “What’s the point”. Some sellers simply respond to the few buyers who ask where their item is and others are bizarrely emailing the tracking numbers directly to their buyers off eBay.

In truth many couriers will keep buyers updated with expected delivery dates via email or text message so long as the seller adds the buyer contact details to the courier booking. There’s no need for the buyer to receive the tracking number through eBay, but it doesn’t make sense for it not to be there.

No one is winning

We applaud the intent of eBay’s On-Time Delivery metric. If everything worked and acceptance scans were recorded on the day of despatch it would be brilliant for sellers as it would count as an On-Time Delivery.

If a buyer doesn’t leave feedback and there’s no tracking than the transaction isn’t counted in eBay’s On-Time Delivery calculations and anecdotally we’re hearing that diminishing numbers of eBay buyers are leaving feedback. It’s a bitch to leave multiple feedback on the eBay Mobile app so I tend to believe buyers just don’t bother, in which case maybe it doesn’t matter if tracking isn’t added when items are marked as despatched.

It’s not a perfect world but we had high hopes that eBay’s On-Time Delivery metric would assist sellers. Currently however there seem to be a lot of instances where sellers are doing everything perfectly but not being rewarded at the acceptance scan stage. Is it any wonder that sellers simply give up and either under promise or just not bother adding tracking?

63 Responses

  1. All I can say is that if you had high hopes that this would assist sellers, you’re more out of touch than I thought.

  2. Your piece ignores the millions of eBay items that are shipped every day untracked.

    Tracking costs money, buyers of less expensive items will simply not pay for it. This is especially the case for small items sent Internationally.

    For untracked items, the new metric just highlights that eBay’s delivery estimates are so so often wrong!

  3. It’d be kinda handy if they put the buyers shipping postcode on the ‘Add tracking Number’ page in Selling Manager Pro instead of the postcode from buyers registered address…

    It takes quite a while to figure out whats what when you’re shipping to Argos click and collect, or they’ve chosen a different address and the postcodes don’t match up with the couriers manifest.

    Basic stuff don’t you think?

  4. Can Tamebay get a statement out of Royal Mail about when the scan data from their 2D barcodes will become public? When eBay first announced the on time metric there were some hints that the date was synced up with RM but obviously that’s not come to pass. Also I’m getting letters and emails every week from RM about their “parcel strategy” but they’ve stopped stating any kind of date for the tracking – not even “spring”. Does that mean that the launch is imminent or that it’s been delayed?

  5. What’s the point of adding tracking details when we ship on time only to be told that we can’t have a defect removed when the courier takes too long to deliver or the customer wasn’t in?

    Of course we could switch from 48 to 24 hour delivery, but then it would push the prices up and sales would then come down.

  6. We use DPD as our main carrier and having spoken to them last week we were told that the eBay integration is at least 2 months away. We have several buyers who have reported late delivery despite the fact that when we manually check the DPD tracking, it was shipped within the started handling time and got to them within the estimated delivery time. Has anyone had any success having these removed from the report in Selling Manager Pro?

  7. All of my defects are due to Royal Mail trying to deliver and the buyer was out, the tracking shows an attempt was made within the delivery window, but these have all been counted against me.
    After working though the list and finding out exactly what has happened in each case I contacted eBay to get them removed only to be told their system was down and to call back the following day. It took be two hours to get these sorted, looks like it is something I will have to get use to and fit in every month.

  8. We ship 24-48 hours with a tracking number for all items. This tracking number is added with selling pro immediately so if a buyer is not home to accept the package or it is delayed why can’t eBay protect us? The proof is in their system probably with an internal time stamp as to when we added the tracking number. Again, as many others have pointed out why are we being penalized for doing exactly what we are supposed to do?

  9. I spoke to an Ebay rep a few weeks ago about this chaos. He said you could avoid most late delivery “black marks” by adding an additional day or two to your handling times. WHAT RUBBISH!
    The whole point of trying to keep below the 4% mark, is to keep your Top Rated Seller status. Ebay rules state that in order to maintain that status, you have to ship same or next working day. So if you follow Ebay’s advise and add a day or two to your shipping times, you will automatically lose your status, get lower sales and pay more fees. Thanks for the advice Ebay!

  10. We have stopped posting any tracking info for all UK orders. The late shipping rate has fallen to a level that reflects the service we offer. No other option at present using the new system.

  11. It seems that with untracked items it is possible for the buyer to answer “no” to the question did it arrive before a certain date even if that date is still in the future – which is surely unfair?

  12. I have had 3 “no’s” in 500 untracked shipments. Is this unfair when compared to those who enter the ebay tracking defect system? And I don’t have to waste time with ebay CS. Maybe I sell in a collectables category with genuine buyers? You all know your typical buyer type so it is down to each individual seller I guess which way they want to go.

  13. Really this metric is rubbish. If you ship untracked it has problems. If you ship tracked it has problems If you ship untracked many buyers leave feedback weeks after a delivery, and can they really remember? And how many simply do it on feel, and don’t know what the deliver estimate was, or their expectation wasn’t consistent with the estimate Ebay gave. Perhaps they have had a bad day and are feeling bloody-minded.

    So you think, invest in tracked , but then you read all the pitfalls of this, so why would you?

  14. I have changed all my listings so that item location is a post code in the Shetland Islands. I have done this so that the 1st class delivery estimates provided by eBay are 1-2 days instead of 1 day if using a location on the mainland. I still dispatch the same day but it brings customer expectations into a more realistic realm. I know it is against eBay policy to misrepresent an items location but as I have said before, they bring these silly things on themselves. The reality is they are sent out from Manchester every day and in most cases will arrive the next day, but for the ones that don’t arrive the next day (due to Royal Mail) the customer is no longer promised something that may not happen

  15. Low value items are sent untracked.

    Why does Ebay blame sellers if the delivery is late through no fault of their own?

    Also, you’re missing the vital point about customers who don’t say whether an item arrived on time.

    The “neutral” stance by Ebay in fact penalises sellers still further.

    Many people who had their item on time will simply not bother to answer.

    But you can bet your sweet bippy that most of those whose item arrived late will say so.

    You will need every single one of the satisfied customers to jump through the yes/no delivery hoop to meet these criteria.

    So, tell us one more time, where’s the good news ???

  16. We despatch all our orders made before 3pm on the same day. Our on time defect rate for the US is 67%. This is ridiculous, insulting and very worrying for our account.

  17. Am sitting at about 2.35% at present, the system is already broken. Half my issues come from item’s with tracked delivery. Ebay have lost it. I have to phone up and get them all removed 1 at a time.

    They never get it correct. Is it any wonder I spend more time putting together FBA shipments than what is going on at eBay these days.
    These site’s have far to much control over small business in the UK


  18. 10 years i have been on eBay and have never seen anything so stupid as these new shipping metrics.

    Its not going to work because once an item is out of the sellers hand they have no control over “if” it gets scanned on time or “if” a signature is collected.

    A LOT of good sellers are going to lose accounts and income, so why bother waiting around, FBA is so much easier without any of this hassle..

    eBay says it wants sellers to come back, this is just going to cause another exodus ( remember sellers are buyers too )thats if any sellers are left after the defects they will consistently get, very very unfair on sellers.

    Bye eBay i am not sitting around waiting for you to destroy my business i will go to other platforms that are fairer.

  19. I think a lot of people are missing a big point. If you use say parcelforce through ebays postage, it doesnt actually matter how long it takes to arrive or if the customer is in or out at the time of delivery. As you only need to satisfy 1 of the criteria, the parcelforce tracking will show that you dispatched on time so job done. Ive also noticed that the prices on ebay postage is a lot cheaper than in the post office

    Hope this helps

  20. I have completely changed my delivery strategy. All my items are now listed as 2nd class delivery and posted within 2 working days. I actually post all my items 1st class postage either same day or next day, this seems to buy me a few more days on the expected delivery dates. Its not ideal, it might be putting customers off buying from me, that want a quicker delivery. To be honest my sales on eBay are so poor lately that I really don’t care! Fed up of jumping through so many eBay hoops for so little reward or protection.

  21. Could just be our attitude or perception . Though since ebay announced negatives ,not as described etc, would have no teeth or penalties, we seem to be receiving a lot less hassle, poor marks etc ,from buyers, its as if they dont get any return for nastiness, so are doing it less

  22. I confess I’m one of those that say I’m shipping via 2nd Class mail when in reality I send 1st Class. And after reading this I’m inclined to message the tracking numbers direct to the buyers off eBay. Sorry – but I am forced into it by ebay’s recent changes.

    For me (perhaps not for others) the old defect system worked much better.

  23. I ignore it all now and put no effort into ebay.Amazon outsells Ebay 9 to 1 for me with much higher margins.I use APC,they arent being integrated,ebay have no carrier who carries over 1.2m parcels integrated and wont have.The fact they dont even count the sales where no feedback is left as a good mark is another joke.
    Ebay have spent years hitting good sellers while encouraging law breaking chinese ones.In doing so they have killed their own business.

  24. I am the reader you refer to in your article with acceptance scans on the same date as delivery for Royal Mail Tracked 48 and the bit missed is the EDD is correct and the customer is happy!

    As this post has nearly 40 comments it is a good barometer that the new metrics are not fit for purpose especially as the evaluation period has been over the last 3 months when the system is clearly broken and some major couriers such as DPD are still not integrated.

    Will eBay postpone the implementation? Of course they will not as it is well reported that eBay TRS scheme compliance by sellers exceeded their expectations hence the drop in discount from 15% to 10% and now this cull.

    The good news for search results is that if everyone looses TRS then nobody has the advantage but that is unlikely.

    We have sold on eBay for over 10 years and although we have over 6,000 lines nowadays our business has not really grown in real terms we have just put more coal on the fire. I agree with the comments that eBay get paid, PayPal get paid, Royal Mail gets paid and HMRC leaving a pittance for the retailer who is forced to ‘duck & dive’ around eBay policy just to make living, it is not sustainable.

    Here’s a novel idea, measure sellers against doing what THEY say they are going to do and let customers decide if their offering/price point is what THEY want (not phantom eBay customer surveys). If the customer could actually search these self proclaimed metrics hallelujah! Basically is this seller doing everything they say they are going to do NOT what eBay expect them to do ‘as this is what our customers have told us they want’. Of course that depends on how eBay ask the question….

    I guess the answer is to sit it out until eBay are bought out once their share price is attractive following a decline in sellers/buyers/revenue.

    What this space…

  25. The new system is yet another example of ebays ‘another world’ approach. I doubt those making the new rules have ever experience online buying in the UK!
    I still have yet to receive a reply to my regular emails asking why when Ebay use the word ‘estimated’ do they judge you on exact delivery date… Estimate… meaning approximate!
    Also why do they class royal mail 1st class as std delivery yet say yodel etc as 24hrs courier… when you look at the delivery rate yodel and many of the 24hr couriers have no greater on time delivery percentages than royal mail. plus for many who dont get same day pick up from couriers rm can be quicker!
    When its sent rm 1st we just list as 24hr courier for trs, few ever question so long as on time. Also to be honest RM is a courier…
    I seriously fear that the damage being done to ebay is very close to becoming terminal. The public are a fickle lot and the minute something new comes along… they will be gone. We are already seeing many turning to facebay, gumtree etc for ‘small seller’ stuff and despite what ebay seem to think its the smaller sellers that are the life blood of ebay.

  26. This whole metric is a joke!….it is not helping us sellers at all!…our carrier directly emails the customer, Amazon acknowledges this but eBay doesn’t

  27. There are actually 3 ways to receive credit for the on time shipping metric and as long as at least one of the following questions has the answer of yes, then the seller will get credit for on time shipping.

    1. Does the tracking show that the package has an acceptance scan with a shipping carrier within the sellers promised handling time? If the answer is yes. the seller gets credit.

    2. Does the tracking show that the package was delivered by the estimated delivery date that was provided on the transaction details (This is based off sellers handling time and method that seller advertised on listing that the item would be sent with.) If this answer is yes then the seller gets credit.

    3. When the buyer left feedback they are asked if they received their item by the estimated delivery date. If they answer yes then the seller gets credit.

    If any of those questions has a yes answer the seller gets credit, it doesn’t matter if two answers are no. As long as one is yes then the seller gets credit. If the seller is getting a, no on all of those questions then the seller delayed something or they need to re-evaluate the shipping carrier or service they’re choosing to send their items with.
    It’s not that bad at all.

  28. We checked our report yesterday and we’re at about 1.8% (50 transactions)

    I contacted eBay CS as about half of the transactions that were designated as “courier says late delivery” had delivery and acceptance scans of the same day. Clearly this is impossible.

    I got a reply from CS that basically ignored what I had reported and claimed all the issues were customers complaining even though the report says differently.

    I’ve just checked a transaction and this is what I found:

    1. Sale completed Sat 5th Dec – 10pm
    2. We provided tracking on Mon 7th (5pm)
    3. RM accepted Tues 8th (6am) – this is not acceptance scan, but is the first record on the full tracking details on their site
    4. Delivery attempted on 9th, not available for collection
    5. Customer collected on 11th.

    eBay records show both the acceptance scan and delivery scan as 11th with exact times.

    Customer has not left feedback and we have heard nothing about this transaction.

    How on earth do we pick up a black mark for this?

  29. Nicole,

    Do you work for EBay? If so you have completly ignored the points that have been made in the article above, in particular the fact that Royal mail do not scan Signed For packages until they are delivered I have about 60 of these at the moment that are deemed to be not shipped on time, we have never been in danger of losing Top Rated Seller indeed our defect rate has been in the region of 0.070 for years, are we not the type of seller that Ebay wants anymore? Of course I can proove that all of these orders were dispatched on the day that the tracking was uploaded by giving you screen shots of all of our End of Day reports but this will take me days to compile, Ebay are becoming a joke!! how can an item posted 2nd class week commencing the 14th December…Yes the busiest week of the year for Royal Mail be late if it takes 3 days and 1st class be late if it takes just 2 days

  30. I bought something last week. The delivery estimate was the 12th. The item didn’t arrived until the 16th. The postmark showed it was posted on the 11th by 1st class post.

    Am I disappointed that the item was a few days past the estimate? Yes, a little bit. Am I going to give the seller a black mark because of Royal Mail’s tardiness? Hell, no.

    TBH I have only 2 ‘late’ deliveries out of nearly 1000 transactions that are counted, so I’m not worried, but like most eBay ideas, this is designed to punish sellers. If eBay want to help sellers they need to stop blaming them for everything that is wrong with eBay.

  31. Well come on then Ebay. What’s your reply to all these complaints? Or, do you still not value your sellers enough to bother? Remember who pays you every month!

  32. Interestingly enough just spotted this on our Amazon account performance page-
    On-Time Delivery Score (NEW)
    A lo and behold, it has the same issue that it doesn’t recognise failed delivery attempts and so gives a late score if the buyer is out for the delivery.
    Is this Amazon copying ebay, bad idea!

  33. FAST AND FREE joke ! Is our main reason of having late delivery defects … eBay said its a technical issue and we are looking to resolve it and once it will be 100% confirmed by our tech team that its a tecniacal issue then all your defects will be removed and account will not be effected by this … and its been a month to this statement they issues to us and no defects is being removed and neither the issue is resolved , FAST and FREE is still showing up on listing with incorrect estimated dates .

    Royal mail 2nd class (2-3) working days service we used .
    Estimated date shown to buyer only (2 days delivery)
    Tracking says item delivered on (day 3) which is fine as per royal mail but then we get a defect because of eBay technical issue of wrong estimated delivery dates ,,, Its all crap and we have been shouting on eBay since 6 months to get this sorted and they only excepted this as a tech issue last month .. fingers crossed as I rang them yesterday and they said you are not the only one effected by this issue and support member said he is adding our ebay account in the list of effected sellers so they can consider before taking us off TRS .. still we have no hopes from eBay ..

  34. There is another fundamental flaw in the system that hasn’t yet been mentioned here: The late delivery metric (as far as I am aware) is based solely on transactions where buyers leave feedback.

    Regular buyers don’t seem to bother leaving feedback these days (we have received 486 feedbacks for the the last 30 days but have shipped 909 orders during that period which means that eBay has disregarded 441 transactions that customers didn’t have a problem with – and probably had tracking information too). This means that the odds are heavily weighted against the seller; we could ship 10 items, but only receive 3 feedbacks, only one of which may be a late delivery for something outside of our control, but this gives a late delivery rate of 33% which immediately puts our TRS at risk. If we are unfortunate enough that two of the three feedbacks left for show a late delivery, that rockets to 66% and we’re stuffed.

    Regardless of the technical issues that have been widely discussed in the various threads, and which clearly need to be sorted, once that is done, in order for the system to be approaching anywhere near fair for sellers, eBay need to assume that there were no issues with the other 7 deliveries for the purposes of calculating the rate. On the 10 deliveries above, that would give a late delivery rate of 20% if two deliveries were found to be late and would perhaps be a little more acceptable.

  35. This is hurting me badly on my overseas sales – I’m getting a raft of strikes against me with this metric from Italy Spain etc the buyer is leaving great feedback saying it arrived quickly but then when asked if it met the ebay date they are saying it didn’t – the ebay date is just not realistic – Hence I am going to switch these sales from ebay to Amazon – Amazon is just so much better for sellers, it has its faults but its just better

  36. Its a big F U ebay. They have lost the plot. I moved most of my business away from them, due to the constant site changes. Good luck with this , but I would personally get your site sorted first

  37. So, we are one of the largest ebay sellers in the UK and guess what, we’ve lost our eTRS as well – the only solution to this mess is to stop uploading tracking number and increase your dispatch time to 1 day – as many have already stated, this will just hurt eBay more as you’ll get the product quicker on Amazon (well at least that’s what will be shown by Amazon in comparison to eBay).

    Working with eBay is becoming more and more difficult, the whole platform is a mess and they have no idea what direction they’re going in. It’s a shame as 2 years ago our sales on eBay exceeded those on Amazon, this is no longer the case – eBay is like a lost soul, it needs to go away and find itself before some other investor does !

  38. A huge surprise for us here this morning! eBay seems to have removed all of the defects on our account in the “Courier says late delivery” column and our account status is now scheduled to remain Top-Rated tomorrow.

    It seems that eBay have finally recognised that there is a problem – has this happened for anyone else?

  39. This new Late Delivery metric is downright insulting. I sent without tracking because my items are large letter low value items, if I was to use tracking and absorb the cost I would not sell anything. Why is it we sellers are measured on something we have no control over…l post on or day after purchase, how can I do anything else? Yet if RM looses, delays or damages the item, we as the seller are held account. Loosing TRS status is not just words, it’s a discount and (supposedly) effects ranking in the search algorithm.

    Personally I maintain 100% good feedback and many comments for fast delivery, yet I’m now on the very edge of loosing my TRS status for something I am not responsible for or can do anything about.

    A good metric should be something that can be used to improve. This Late Delivery metric is just a punishment for someone else’s poor performance.

  40. I have kept my listings as next day dispatch but now do same day up to 2pm. My main method is now – other courier 3-5 days, and I put an additional on item specifics to say next day dispatch by Royal Mail 2nd class. This gives an extra 3 days to be “On Time” Up to now it seems to be working but can’t tell sales wise while the system keeps going pointy bits up


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