eBay UK VP sits down to personally reply to seller emails

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We’re hearing from numerous sources that the new VP of eBay UK, Rob Hattrell, is engaging on an unprecedented scale with sellers.

You’ve got mail

It would appear that Rob has been busy catching up on his email by personally replying, to what looks like hundreds of sellers, who have emailed him since he took up the reins in eBay Towers at Richmond.

As one might expect, not all of the feedback Rob has received has been positive and in my view that’s a good thing. There’s no point sucking up to eBay execs when you get the chance to talk to them by pretending that everything is great – they also need to know what’s stopping you increasing the number of products you list on eBay, why you might prefer to sell on other venues and what’s holding your business back.

Concerns are being addressed

More importantly than just listening we’ve also heard that some of the sellers who wrote to Rob have been invited to visit eBay to discuss their concerns in more detail with eBay’s policy and seller teams. Rob isn’t engaging in a mass placatory email PR campaign but is making sure that seller’s concerns are heard by the right people in eBay and looking to take action, cut through the issues which infuriate sellers, and get the eBay machine moving in the right direction.

Care in the community

We know that Rob is also getting out into the community and visiting sellers in their homes, offices and warehouses (We’ve had a tip off from another seller that’s he’s due to visit them this week).

I had one conversation with an eBay employee which verged on frustration that they could never get hold of Rob because he spends so much time out with sellers. That’s a good thing though, Rob comes from Tesco which is a very different business to eBay and it’s refreshing to see a senior eBay executive engaging so passionately with the sellers who make their living on the marketplace.

What sellers are saying

The impression I’m getting from all of this is that the sellers who have engaged with Rob are relieved that someone at eBay is listening and taking the time to understand their business, that their faith in eBay doing the right thing is restored and following their conversation with Rob that they’re generally much more optimistic for the future of their businesses on eBay.

Have you spoken to Rob, emailed him, visited him or has he been out to see your business? My personal opinion of Rob is that he’s friendly and approachable, already incredibly knowledgeable about just about any aspect of eBay you care to ask about and has a real drive to propel the business forward and obsessed with tearing down any barriers that prevent your success and future growth on eBay.

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts if you’ve met or spoken to Rob.

40 Responses

  1. How exactly do we send Rob an email? There is no email address in this article.

  2. same old ebay ethos
    they think doing them a favour is doing us a favour,
    we pay ebay for their service , why should they expect ours for nothing,
    an ebay exec visiting would disrupt the day taking our time and attention

  3. Send it to your account manager at eBay ask to foward it on. If the content has weight it will most likely be heard by Rob.

    eBay is engaging because it has started to realize that you – people are the core of its business. Rob is eBay.

  4. I e-mailed him in response to an email he sent me introducing himself which also had his ebay.com email address.
    I replied with a couple of suggestions that I thought may improve things, no not the usual give all the exec’s their P45’s. Sensible rational ideas to improve the new Seller hub and I received a very positive reply from him a few days later that he would discuss them with the development team at a forthcoming meeting.
    So he will either get roped in by the board and told to stop fraternising with the enemy ie sellers or they will let him try it his way and see if he can improve thongs.
    I wait to see the outcome of all his visits.

  5. My list of “concerns” would be too long to send via email format. Perhaps he should start by understanding the very simple widely held belief that ebay doesn’t support its sellers, of which many of us have numerous episodes to offer as an example.

  6. Well done, Rob.

    He’s quickly got himself into a position where many sellers and other partners think that he is one of the more exciting appointments in Richmond in recent years, and simultaneously put himself in a position where the incumbent team there realise he knows more about their customers than they do — which gives him a tremendous ability to ask the awkward questions that previously were not being asked.

    To be honest, I think everyone thinks this is a good thing. So well done on getting things going in the right direction. Cultural change takes a lot of time and effort, and the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. I know who I’m cheering for.

  7. PS — I can’t be the only person to notice the irony of the two main headlines on Tamebay this morning — one being about how the .com VP of “Seller Experience” is about to make the selling experience harder, while the UK VP is engaging and working to make seller’s experiences better.

  8. Thank you in advance for your time. I would like to sell my mint condition, first addition Princess Diana Beenie Baby. Can you enlighten me on the most effective way to go about this.l can no longer afford to live where I am, for many reasons. My husband and I are disabled and have our life saving service dog that we love as a member of our family. We have to find a modest home with a small yard for our baby and stop paying outrageous rent. I am selling all I can to make this dream come true. Please help me. Sincerely Karen Schreiber

  9. same old , same old ,as far as we are concerned weve heard it all before
    nowt much will change
    hes there for ebay not me

  10. Dear Rob Hartrell,

    In the good old days you could sell your unwanted items. In the good old days you could make something back…..now that’s been replaced by high fees coupled with customers wanting something for very little ( don’t blame them for that) making anything back these days is an achievement because Ebay got greedy. Just because Ebay is successful doesn’t mean they can hike up fees.

    Most on here are regular people making a bit here and there not money driven wanna be millionaires. I am sure a reduction would show your ebay customers that there customers count. Can you demonstrate that to us Mr Hatrell?

  11. seems like a nice bloke trying his best.
    shame they’re gonna break him.
    wonder how long he’ll last?

  12. This article and the responses should be re-visited in say 6 months and lets see if any of the suggestions put forward by ebay sellers were implemented or is Hattrel doing what a lot of ebay exec’s do.
    If they do implement anything see who claims the glory.

  13. this reminds us of a soap powder advert
    super all new extra special mixture washes whiter than white removes stains better then ever

    your clothes still get dirty and put thru the wringer dont matter how much powder you use

  14. Great picture but he looks like a moron, with his wide eye expression.
    Is he trying to be all 21st century and down with the kids, showing that he a normal guy that you can connect with, because he can have laugh.
    Screw that! He is probably taking home a huge pay check and because he answers a few emails from some poorly treated sellers he is now this new age kind of leader for ebay.
    Nothing will change it will be the same it always is at ebay. He is polishing a terd.

  15. Sent: 12 July 2017 22:07
    To: Hattrell, Rob
    Subject: Are eBay deliberately making the site hard to use?

    Hi Rob

    I found your recent 100 days email to be a refreshing change of outlook for an eBay exec. I particularly liked the statement “We need to make it as easy as possible for your business to succeed.” and I agreed with it wholeheartedly. Unfortunately your colleagues in the eBay monolith seem to have a fundamentally different mindset and seem obsessed with making the site as difficult to use as possible, both for sellers and buyers. A few examples that spring to mind are…

    Listings no longer show descriptions when viewed on a PC, just a single sentence with a click button to find the rest in a new tab. You don’t even show the first line of the description and instead pick a random line which may or not make sense without context. It’s hard enough to get punters to read descriptions, without you clumsily hiding them.

    Search now brings up only 25 results in a screen with no option to alter this.

    Trying to search an item category from within a listing doesn’t seem to work on its sub-category, you can only do it by going to the overall category and then clicking down again.

    You are pushing sellers to use the new seller hub, which I agree is good for some things, but if you look at a sale record it doesn’t give basic information like estimated shipdate.

    The resolution centre doesn’t allow you to click through to the original sales order page, which is necessary to see information like estimated shipdate, buyer feedback, buyer address. Instead it links you to what seems to be a print ready facsimile of parts of the listing, which is seen nowhere else and is nigh on useless.

    Your message system is clumsy and not suited to purpose, it allows pictures to be added but they frequently don’t load. If one does manage to add a picture what the recipient gets can’t be blown up to more than a couple of inches across, which is hopeless.

    If I reply to a message from a user on another eBay site, once the message is sent, I am then directed onto the foreign site not back to eBay UK.

    Buyer addresses are badly and irregularly presented and frequently wrong. How can a business where 99+% of its business is reliant on postage/shipping make such a shambles of addresses? We shouldn’t have to cross check with Paypal or resort to Googling foreign addresses to try and decipher where one line starts and another ends. We shouldn’t have to tell users their addresses are wrong. It’s not rocket science.

    If you list items on eBay.com (as I do a lot), there is no postage option to reflect likely ship times from UK/Europe. All the options are US based apart from “Airmail from China”, meaning one is left with ambiguous selections like “economy shippin” or standard shipping” to describe Airmail and Tracked Airmail. Yes one can maybe explain that in the description, but helpfully you have just hidden that.

    Your system keeps lecturing me that I need to add EAN’s, when most of my products don’t have them. I have had emails telling me my listings will get pulled for not having EANs. Your system even tells me Motorola, my biggest supplier publish EAN’s which in my case is incorrect. The consumer focused mobile phone brand Motorola (now a brand name owned by Lenovo) may issue EAN’s, but they have nothing to do with what I sell. I sell Motorola two-way radio spares and accessories, they are a different company (Motorola Solutions Inc) and don’t issue EAN’s. Their products are for the most part business to business and rely on nothing more than model number/part number identifiers. Why is that so difficult to understand?

    Your cancellation options are ridiculous, there are two options, out of stock which gets me a wrist-slap or buyer changed mind. It is common for eBay newcomers to buy an item but not pay, then buy again but this time pay. It should be a simple thing to cancel a duplicated item, but not with eBay; the inexperienced buyer knows he didn’t change his mind and thinks the seller is pulling a fast one, so refuses the cancellation or just ignores it. If you are lucky it times out, if you are unlucky it’s 20mins with a CS rep trying to get a fee refund.

    That gets me to CS reps. They can only be contacted via a series of unhelpful and inappropriate buttons on the help page. When you do find an option that achieves a phone call it is frequently routed to your call centres in the Philipines via phone lines of dubious quality which makes understanding strongly accented English a real toil. Those staff are of varying quality and the only thing one can reliably expect is a level of obsequiousness that makes my skin crawl. I pay £69 a month to be a featured shop and for that I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have any CS problems dealt with by someone who has, or can pass for having, English as a first language and shares some degree of cultural empathy with me.

    What I have outlined above are not huge changes or new features, they are all (I think) trying to make the existing eBay work in ways that should already be routine, or in some cases work in the way I’m sure most eBay execs misguidedly believe they have already achieved.

    You have a huge army of people selling on eBay who really would be willing to help you make the site work better for everyone, instead you hide from them, ignore them and generally treat them as an inconvenience

    Finally, if you want to know the final spur that caused me to vent my frustration in your direction, I’d direct you to todays email message about the August Seller Summit. You want me to sign up for one of a limited number of places on 17th August, but you haven’t even bothered to tell us the cost (free I presume, but one never knows with eBay), nor give us a clue where it will be held, Birmingham, Berlin, Bolivia ???? I might well be interested, but unless it is realistic to get to, it seems daft to sign up for a limited place blind. It has been evident for a long time that eBay execs can’t possibly be sellers on eBay, but recent months seen to have demonstrated that the no longer even inhabit the world of common sense.

    Could you maybe address some of the above to help make it as easy as possible for my business ( and tens of thousands of others) to succeed.


    Andy P


    Subject: RE: Are eBay deliberately making the site hard to use
    Date: Thu, 13 Jul 2017 12:17:08 +0000
    From: Hattrell, Rob


    First off, thanks for your email and for the insight – I really do appreciate it. Keep it coming.

    I am meeting the seller team next week to pass on this information to them – it really is important that we get on the ground feedback from sellers on this sort of thing.

    In the meantime, you mentioned problems with CS – is there something we can help you with on something specific now?

    Thanks again for getting in touch – and I am listening.



    Subject: Re: Are eBay deliberately making the site hard to use
    Date: Thu, 13 Jul 2017 14:20:14 +0100

    Hi Rob

    Thank you for your prompt response. Isn’t it an indictment of the bunker
    culture within eBay that it requires the involvement of the UK Vice
    President to have these trivialities addressed? Some have been going on
    for years, highlighting the address issue got me banned from your
    community forum (motto: dissent will be crushed) in September 2015 and
    it was an old problem then. The resolution centre order link has gone on
    over a year and I have mentioned it to many CS reps who all responded
    that they weren’t aware of it but will raise it.

    My specific issue with the Manilla CS rep was regarding the refund of
    fees for a cancellation of an unpaid item when the customer had refused
    cancellation. He arranged the refund, no problem, but then tried to
    assure me that I would have received it anyway, which was contrary to
    all the messages eBay had sent. Patantly either he, or the messages,
    must be wrong, but he would not accept this when I tried to establish
    how such matters would be handled in future. Your Philipino colleagues
    are just culturally unable to accept that eBay can be wrong, even if
    that involves telling callers things both parties know are incorrect. If
    you think I am being unfair, just get someone to listen to the tape of
    my conversation on 30th June at 20:35:48 BST which elicited a credit
    against item 371981935118.

    Good luck with your quest to change eBay, I sincerely hope it doesn’t
    ultimately prove Quixotic.




    I agree this may all come to nothing, but I am personally willing to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. He replied to me the following day and may actually be keen enough to get some changes made to help make the site a simpler place for us to trade.

  16. would be nice to see some think done to help sellers more
    as most know sellers dont have a leg to stand on at times
    but we will see if any good come out of it

  17. Hi Rob keep getting insertion charges every time you invite me to re advertise unsold item , I always make sure its free insertion fees but since Feb 2017 to date have accumulated or £5 oo fees unbeknown to me . If you check my account items are only 99p to start so it seems of no point to sell on ebay ,

    Also I have found that Paypal charge for selling my item as well as ebay when a transaction goes through . Example sold an item for 99p Ebay took 10p and paypal took 38p so it seemed i only received 51p plus I had to chase ebay purchaser for one one month and put into resolution centre and finally after 6 weeks got my 51p REALLY Would appreciate your refund for these fees regards andreas

  18. I have sold full time on ebay for 12 years and can say in all those years i think it has stolen from me , insulted me and made my life a misery . If ever there was a chance to jump ship i’d be gone like a shot and would hope once my money was being spent with a company that cares one iota that ebay would go bust and all its useless people had to find employment elsewhere

  19. If he’s reading I for one would like to see investment back in to your British & Irish customer service so we are talking with a person on the end of the line who comprehends what the conversation is about. Speaking to CS these days is nothing short of brain anneurysm, turns me off the company entirely!

  20. I would like Rob to respond to my email to him to explain why their 8th June update caused an overnight 60% drop in listing views and effectively killed our thriving business.
    There are many thousand of other small business sellers who have experienced the exact same fall. I assume the the new shopping experience is to blame. But this will be the final straw for many eBay business sellers.
    CS deny anything has changed despite looking at my performance graph that show the cliff edge and as yet I have had no response from Rob. Time is running out for us unless this is addressed urgently

  21. You never replied to my email Rob. You’ve had a week to respond. You are probably wishing you never took this on. I suspect there are hundreds of emails sitting in your inbox.

    At least now you get the picture Mr Hattrell. I’m hoping to eat my hat but I’m pretty sure you’ll do the bare minimum & expect a standing ovation. Unfortunately it’s what we’ve come to expect from eBay.


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