eBay Service Metrics Penalties Update

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It’s been a month since eBay announced that (in the UK) they would delay imposing eBay Service Metrics Penalties until the 1st of February 2019. A month into the the four and a half month respite, it’s time to ask how your metrics are looking and if eBay are delivering the support you need to be ready for February and avoid being fined on every sale.

It’s worth noting that the additional 4% uncapped final value fee eBay Service Metrics Penalties are already being applied in other countries such as on eBay.com in the US. If you have an eBay.com eBay account then check your metrics carefully and keep an eye on your eBay invoice to see if they apply to you.

David Brackin, an experienced high volume eBay seller and Trading Assistant summed it up nicely pointing out that sellers needed more information and better tools to understand it in order for the metrics to be fair.

“The metrics are complicated and the dashboard tricky to understand so it’s absolutely the right call to back off enforcement based on this information until they’ve had a chance to simplify, fix and sellers have had a good chance to understand what is going on. I don’t know about other sellers, but I’m looking forward to having extra business intelligence provided free of charge to understand if I have problems in some category or other. None of us wants more returns, do we?”
– David Brackin, Stuff U Sell

eBay agreed announcing that they would provide guidance and video tutorial to help you understand the metrics.

“We won’t be applying the surcharge to sellers directly listing on eBay.co.uk who are rated “Very High” in the applicable categories until 1 February 2019. This is to give you the time to get to know the Service Metrics tools and dashboard and to take the opportunity to improve your rating if necessary.

In the coming weeks, we’ll also provide new guidance on how the Service metrics work, and video tutorials to explain how the metrics can be used to inform your selling practices on eBay.”
– eBay

Do you have the tools you need to understand eBay Service Metrics Penalties?

eBay have produced a couple of videos, one answering sellers questions regarding eBay Service Metrics Penalties and a second walk through explaining how to use the eBay Service Metrics dashboard.

We’re still hearing from some users that the dashboard isn’t presenting the correct information – do you have he tools section available to enable you to monitor your metrics? For those that do, the question is, does the dashboard give you granular enough information to drill down and identify discrete products which are dragging your metrics down and if so can you figure out the steps you need to take in order to reduce the number of Item not as described cases opened against you?

If you have checked your metrics (and if you haven’t you should) and determined whether or not you are liable for eBay Service Metrics Penalties, do you feel that you have all the information and help that you need?

Unfair Item Not As Described cases

One of the big complaints from sellers is the number of cases claiming to be Item not As described when the product is exactly as described.

Sometimes basic simple customer support can assist a buyer configure a product and, hey presto, suddenly it works and it was the buyer’s mistake. Some categories such as clothing can be subjective, for instance if a particular fashion label has tighter fitting clothes than another it’s not unusual for buyers to claim clothes are mis-sized even when the manufacturers label clearly states the size. In other cases sellers assert that buyers claim an item not as described simply because they’ll then get a return shipping label paid for by the seller rather than having to foot the bill themselves. It’s not unheard of for a buyer to deliberately damage a product in order to claim a return.

Sellers are naturally feeling aggrieved that these false item not as described cases will still count against them, even if the supposed issue that the buyer claims is resolved. Even if a return was claimed to be not as described and post event eBay agree and refund the cost of the return shipping label, the case will still count against you in your metrics.

eBay explain this away by saying that you will be measured against your peers and that all sellers in the same category will on average experience the same level of false item not as described cases. That’s tough to come to terms with when you’re faced with a buyer being economical with the truth to get a free return because they’ve change their mind.

High volume and Low volume sellers

The critical period for high volume sellers with over 400 sales is October, November and December – Your assessment will be the 20th of January which will determine if you’re hit with surcharges in February. With a three month look back period, returns already count towards the total that could incur penalties even if you’re unable to see them in your dashboard.

If you are a low volume seller then the look back period will be a full 12 months. However, the look back period started on the 1st of June 2018 so on the 1st of February 2019 when eBay Service Metrics Penalties start to be imposed you’ll only be measured on the past 8 months performance. If you’re in danger of being charged the uncapped 4% surcharge then past performance won’t drop off your metrics and the only way to improve is to increase sales and become a high volume seller or increase your performance significantly to balance out past cases.

If you have a serious issue with your account, then the best advice is to take a holiday, trade on a second eBay account, and wait until the bulk of the cases dragging your metrics down drop out of the look back period. I remember fondly the day I received a congratulations email from eBay on becoming a Top Rated Seller on an account I put on holiday. Having sold nothing for 9 months and the issues dropping out of the one year look back period, all was forgiven and eBay suddenly loved me again. Having a second trading account with feedback and sales history is a sensible precaution to take for all professional eBay sellers – the important thing to do is go on a self-imposed holiday before your metrics get so bad that eBay step in and take action.

26 Responses

  1. I don’t trust ebay with this system. Not only are we getting hit with the cost of dealing with item not as described cases due to buyers selecting the wrong reason to avoid paying return postage. Then having to spend time dealing with the return and ebay. ebay then want to make money from this with potential penalties with the service metric.

    When asking ebay how to protect myself better the only answer they can give is give free return postage as they are more likely then to select buyers remorse.

    You are not safe even after which ever return period you provide or ebay money back guarantee period as had someone open a not as described 45 days after collecting which still goes on the service metric.

  2. There is nothing any seller can do to prevent a buyer claiming item is significantly not as described.


    If a buyer wants to return an item and wants the seller to pay all postage costs they will select this option.

    The seller is improperly propogated by eBay – the platform does not investigate these claims; it does not tell buyers “no”; it does not change the reason to a return; it does not remove defects; a defect is even registered when the item isn’t returned.

    A button press and the seller is guilty, because some cheapskate tosspot presses a button.

    And if you observe standards..

    If you read eBay’s user agreement, you will recognise that it doesn’t commit eBay to anything nor any standards whatsoever; in fact, it even permits them to not show paid-for listings. And if you have used eBay for any length of time, you will recognise that all they do is find ways to further increase their take whilst hassling and persecuting sellers. I do not consider eBay to be a partner seeking a long-term mutually beneficial and reciprocal arrangement; instead I see it is a parasite seeking to leech as much blood as possible out if its host.

    This service metric is really a metric which shows how much inflammation they have stirred up amongst buyers, who are motivated to try to get something for nothing and is nothing to do with the seller who is merely a victim of eBay’s laissez-faire attitude to managing buyers and their expectations.

    Item not as described is caused by eBay; instead of reiterating that items are “sold as seen” and that the buyer has got what they paid for, instead there is the relentless, ceaseless inflammation towards escalation and returns, whether they be deserved or not.

    I despise eBay; I would perhaps be considered a “good” seller as I have the 0.00% across the real metrics; but even then they are playing games with me, my sales have dropped like a stone since 1st October and I know why.

    eBay are a shitbag company to work with.

  3. Like many am just sick to death of these metrics and constant change requirements ebay keep demanding of sellers which are all about extracting more £&$ from sellers

    I also list items on two other platforms now so ebay are loosing more revenue.

    Its starting to show as stock price down further by about 8% today!!!!! and expect will be even worse when Q3 earnings are realest.

  4. Under UK law you can not charge a penalty for something that hasn’t happened. Ebay are charging business sellers a penalty on return requests. They can’t do that a request can be closed by the buyer with no further action or time out without a return occurring.

  5. “eBay explain this away by saying that you will be measured against your peers and that all sellers in the same category will on average experience the same level of false item not as described cases.”

    eBay’s explanation is absolute BS. Pure and simple.

  6. our company sells on many sales channels and a common phrase in the office these days is “f*ck eBay”. If there extra time required to adjust the way listings appear for example , we just dont do it. More sales on Amazon,Wish,etsy ect.

    Ebay allow multi variation listings but images can only change on one variation option.. why?

    Message from a seller about an order, you have to open another tab, orders dispacted, copy and past the username to try figure out whats going on… why? why not a link to the order info from the message?

    customer opens a request.. Click into request to see the problem… then have to come out of request to see the username to search it… what?

    Ebay has not changed since compuserve days.

  7. The service metric principle is based on the assumption that you and your peers will all get the same percentage of “abuse” of the return policy.

    This is simply not the case in practice.

    It is completely random and uncontrollable.

    How are seller meant to improve on something that is out with their control?!

    The metric should be based on the sellers eagerness and ability to solve the “problem” for the buyer and turn their experience to a “positive”.

    The defects should at least be removable when they are clearly “wrong”. I hear ebay are monitoring buyers and removing the defects caused by repeat buyer offenders. However, how frequent do they need to do this before they are classed as “repeat offenders”. No use at all.

    this should be like all other defects – if it is clearly not the sellers fault these defects should be removable and common sense applied to each individual case.

  8. Online market places should be regulated. Hopefully now ebay are handling finances with the new managed payments system they will be regulated by the financial ombudsman. Maybe then we can get them to look into the issues surrounding the returns metrics penalty charge.

  9. The eBay returns system is out of control, some buyers know exactly how to abuse it.

    Example today – buyer returned a small empty envelope just so tracking would show returned item was delivered. Item originally sent by us in an 80cm postal tube, so would not physically fit in this envelope. Explained all this to eBay.

    Ebay response – “Although we understand that you received your item back in a different condition than when you sent it (HA!), unfortunately we couldn’t determine that this was caused by the buyer or that this was something in the buyer’s control.”. – full refund to buyer at our expense.

    Unbelievable. Just one example of many.

  10. This is an absolute farce of a system. The fact that they are going to be puuting a 4% penalty on sellers with their half assed metric system shows nothing but utter contempt for sellers. We sell car parts on eBay and we plaster as much info in the item specifics as possible about checking fitment, sending reg details before order to ensure fitment and we inevitably get a not as described or wrong item sent return. The thing is that we do send the exact item ordered the buyer has just taken no care in ordering and eBays compatibility guide does not advise a buyer to double check fitment. We would be deemed high atm with peers about half of our percentage. I don’t know what other sellers are doing for eBay to claim this average rate but I find it extremely hard to believe. If we slipped in to Very high eBay could charge us a fortune and ruin our business. It’s a money grab to make up for lack of traffic on the marketplace and that is only Ebays fault with their lack of real innovation or plan.

  11. Ebay is so negative for business sellers. We get scammed by buyers and eBay give them full refunds at our expense. Then eBay themselves decide they will hurt us more by creating a returns metric penalty charge so that what little profit we get they get a bigger slice of the pie.

    No wonder ebay sales are down, it’s reputation is appalling.

  12. Finally, our service metric graph looks like the one in the picture in the story. Since its inception, our peers have been shown as in the ‘High’ category. We’ve now been dropped into the middle of the ‘Low’ section, where before we were above the middle of ‘Average’.

    Pressing the ‘Download report’ button still doesn’t do anything however. Useless.

    When was it announced? August or something?


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