Is the eBay Premium Service badge being devalued?

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What does eBay Premium Service mean to a buyer? We know that what it means to you as a seller is a whole heap of effort to maintain relatively high standards and offer a great service which comes at a considerable cost, so to buyers it should represent the very best of eBay sellers who offer a stellar best in class service and it would seem reasonable that that’s the expectation for buyers and if they don’t get a supremely great service they have a right to feel a bit miffed.

“The listings where you’ve chosen to offer eBay Premium Service will also display the eBay Premium Service badge to let buyers know that you offer high levels of customer service.”
– eBay

The eBay Premium service badge is supposed to denote the listings on eBay which offer the best – the premium – service to eBay buyers. It’s intended to instil confidence and let buyers know that you are an exceptional seller and that not only will you dispatch fast (suggesting a speedy delivery) but that you’ll also look after them if there’s problem with their purchase. It’s a good thing for those sellers able to meet the standards as they are rewarded by being flagged in search results and on the eBay view item page.

That’s why it infuriates me when I see sellers gaming the system. Today I was looking at a listing from a Chinese seller shipping a £1.11 product from China and offering Premium Service.

eBay say that in order to qualify for the eBay Premium Service, you must offer the following on each listing:

  • A minimum returns period of 30 calendar days. Make sure you correctly specify your returns policy.
  • 1-day or same-day dispatch.
  • An express delivery option – offering delivery within 1 day.
  • A free delivery option.

Sellers need to earn the badge – you can’t buy it. The first step is to complete over 100 problem-free transactions, plus any transactions must consistently get 5-star ratings from buyers. eBay say that the check sellers to ensure that they provide premium service.

The Chinese seller in question does indeed offer a free delivery service – the delivery estimate is between Tuesday the 5th of June and Wednesday the 4th of July. That means it will take between 17 to 45 days to receive your item.

The seller also offers what they claim to be an Express Delivery option via an ‘Other 24 Hour Courier’ service but they’re charging £50.00 for this service. It’s irrelevant whether that’s what it costs – it’s a £50.00 delivery charge for an item costing just over a quid.

The problem is that this isn’t a Premium Service experience and if buyers are sucked into purchasing with the free delivery option based on eBay’s promotion of the seller’s service they could well be disappointed at the slow arrival. That in turn will devalues the eBay Premium Service proposition from sellers who do provide a genuinely great service.

eBay need to clamp down on sellers who game the system. It’s hard to blame the Chinese seller for finding a way to qualify for premium service within the rules – for them it makes sense. What’s needed are caps on postage charges and for the free delivery option an expectation (and indeed a policy) that to qualify as Premium Service that items will be delivered in a relatively short time scale.

Ecommerce has moved on from the days when items would take up to 45 days to arrive. The norm for high street retailers is that products will arrive next day with Express Delivery and with two or three days for economy deliveries. eBay Premium service needs to be aligned to the same norms.

11 Responses

  1. eBay premium service isn’t a badge of honour, it’s a stick to beat people with.

    You’d like to think it was an indication to buyers of how good a seller’s service is, but it’s not. it’s an indication of how well their products fit into ebay’s pigeonholes.

    if you exclusively sell envelope-sized items of a value that merits tracking info, congratulations, you’re everything ebay wants, your badge is more-or-less guaranteed. your actual service to customers is utterly irrelevent, probably non-existent.
    sell something that doesn’t fit the pigeonhole well, and your service is automatically sub-standard in ebay’s eyes, and the badge is nigh impossible to achieve.

    sell a big-ticket, large sized item, you often need to spend hours talking a customer through it before a sale, you could be an absolute beacon of service and leave your customer praising you as the paragon of retail virtue.
    but couriers won’t deliver items that size overnight, so no badge for you my friend.
    how much attention do customers pay to that these days? about as much as they should tbh, very little.

  2. As long as we keep measuring “service” as meaning low price and fast delivery, there will be a problem.

    Service is something you cannot measure: it is listening to customers and offering them a solution to their problems.

    How can we talk about “service” on a platform that does not want sellers to communicate with buyers?

  3. Chinese or Klingon

    as I said on another thread
    many sellers need to resort to iffy and slightly naughty stunts to survive
    the hoards of chiselers vagabonds and nere do wells
    ebay policies actively encourage

  4. Im getting pretty cheesed off with buy items located in london, but then shipped from China, Its the 3 or 4th time its happened this month.

    I wouldn’t even be that bothered, but i actively seeked items shipping from the UK, and payed a higher premium.

    They had premium badges and its really annoying.

  5. Hi Guys,

    if you followed tamebay announcement we should all know that eBay is going to change the requirements to become or remain The Premium Service badge, new requirement are becoming effect from the 1st of June and will certainly eliminate sellers riding the system like the above example shows. Here is the link to the new requirements:

  6. Ah! must remember that for a quality hand made leather sofa. Must have delivered in 2-3 days otherwise it is not a quality service. Delivery is only a part of that service and experience and yes it is important. For a pair of Nike trainers that’s easy, pick pack and send, job done. For hand made personalised products, the service can be great, the product can be second to none and the experience 1st class but delivery takes a little longer. Are they to be excluded from the club? Ebay uk has nearly 12 million listings that are “personalised” and may take longer to produce, remember them do not exclude them.

  7. I recently closed my shop on Ebay, fed up with the hoops they want you to jump through plus, low exposure and now higher fees. It amazes me that customer feedback, I had 100% and some great comments mean nothing to them, just low price and fast shipment preferably tracked so it cost us more. Plus the prominence of big brand stores such as Tesco and Argos make it a waste of time for more and more small businesses.

  8. What on earth is wrong with sellers just being able to offer a service suited to them and their abilities allowing the buyer to work out who they would prefer to buy from. Instead of having all the levels set by huge companies on eBay who can afford to meet the standards easily and then seeing smaller companies trying everything within their means to try and hold onto their coat tails. With eBay traffic falling they are just tweaking the wrong areas. Do they think that consumers are thinking there is such a thing as free shipping.
    We have found on numerous occasions when we have an item priced at £9.99 with free shipping and it needs to go up by 49p the minute we increased it to £10.49 and free shipping it bomber sales fell from 62 per month to just 4. When we put it to £9.99 plus 49p shipping sales immediately rose back to 60 plus per month.
    A buyer does not mind working out the total themselves and just want honesty not inflated shipping prices. For a company being left in the wake of Amazon they are doing the complete opposite of Amazon who allow sellers to run their own business in the way best suited to them.


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