Graham Forsdyke – The man who changed British retail forever

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25 years ago today, on the 22nd of November 1996, a man sat down at his computer in Chingford in the UK and registered on a website. In doing so, he became the man who changed British retail forever. The website was eBay, the man was Graham Forsdyke, and ever since he has retailed on his eBay ID, gf-attic.

eBay had barely opened having launched just 50 days earlier. There was no eBay UK so Graham registered on and when the UK site opened Graham became one of the first to be transitioned to the British eBay site. As Graham was already a PowerSeller on, he then became the first UK eBay PowerSeller.

Graham Forsdyke wasn’t quite the first member of eBay UK, records from a quarter of a century ago are a bit sketchy but we believe the first eBay UK member to have been cheshirecat, although that eBay ID no longer exists today. What we do definitively know is that Graham was the first UK eBay PowerSeller (although no longer a PowerSeller as the programme has since been discontinued).

Other active eBay IDs from 25 years ago include suezeeq2, moondust, stephenfrye, roballsopp, and baah55, who all still buy on eBay. The amazing thing is that after a quarter of a century Graham still actively sells on eBay today. Now in his mid-80s, every business trading on eBay today has Graham to be thankful for, as it was he who helped make eBay the success it is in Britain today.

Graham fondly remembers the early days when there were so few eBay PowerSellers that they would regularly meet up in a pub and someone from eBay HQ would come down and sprinkle some largesse – maybe a month’s free eBay listings or a similar perk. Trading online in those days was very different from today and let’s not forget eBay was then a text only site, auctions only (no fixed price listings), no images on listings, and not even a payment system. Back in the early days the only way international trade happened was literally envelopes of dollars being posted across the Atlantic with trust that the seller would then ship the item in return. Then BillPoint came along, later to be replaced with PayPal. In more recent years Graham has had to get to grips with eBay payments which has in turn replaced PayPal as the default eBay payment system.

For Graham, eBay has become so routine that every Sunday he sits down to stick a few listings on and every Monday he logs in to see how the last week’s auctions performed and to do his packing and shipping. He no longer needs to run his eBay business for financial purposes and has scaled back considerably but he says eBay gets to be a habit that’s hard to break so after 25 years he just keeps on selling.

British retail has irrevocably changed thanks to the early eBay advocates. Today eBay, and other marketplaces, are big business opportunities and became even more vital for many during the pandemic. I’m not alone in having spent the last 18 months exclusively shopping online, not even visiting the high street once. This was all made possible because Graham registered on eBay and forged a path which 100s of 1000s of future sellers would later follow.

What were you doing 25 year’s ago, when John Major was Prime Minister, the Spice Girls were releasing their first album ‘Wannabee’, and the Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales, were finalising their divorce? I know many eBay sellers today who weren’t even born back then, some were infants, most were still in school. Hardly anyone owned a computer at home in 1996, so even owning a device capable of connecting to the Internet (with a dial up 28.8 kbit/s modem) was the height of modern tech.

A huge congratulations to Graham Forsdyke for his continuous 25 years of selling on eBay and a huge thank you for shining a light on the future of ecommerce. We salute you as a pioneer of British online retail!

58 Responses

  1. He also had some influence or connection with Parcel2go in their early days
    Ebay was so much fun those days before
    The Henry Knutsfords spoilt things

  2. Aww amazing! Well done Graham! I remember you from the boards ? Glad you’re still eBaying! Love from the woman previously known as georgiegirl18/georgiegirlsgems

  3. Re Parcel2GO. Yes they financed a Powersellers meeting I organised — I think in Hitchin.or thereabouts. Ebay provided some Tee shirts, pens etc and we all complained about ebay downtime and dial-up speeds.

  4. Lovely story and of course congrats Graham. It was always fun, never dull and you certainly helped shape the eBay UK community in those heady days.

  5. I remember Graham, and Jamie pink, I agree with ‘r’ he’s not changed a bit or is that the profile photo 😀

  6. Glad somebody is doing well on ebay. We dumped it a couple of years ago in favour of our own website and have never looked back.

  7. @Alan P
    He probably hasn’t the profit margins to sustain a regular sales agenda on eBay- remember most general fees are now 16% and add in the costs of promotions it’s extortion. Like many sellers, Mark has voted with his feet- and good for him. All that will be left soon is the Chinese tat and fly by night businesses masquerading as private sellers to reduce the fees and returns.

  8. @ Jonty, i have yet to see a web site out perform ebay in terms of “cost” for generating sales.

    In any case you are speculating as he didnt mention margins. It sounded like it was either one or the other – ebay or web site.

    Its best to not have all your eggs in one basket and spread through multiple platforms for safety and security.

  9. @Alan P
    But when does “cost” become too much? Remember the days on eBay of 5% fees (often capped) ?
    I quite agree, spreading through market places is the way forward, but not at any cost. eBay is too expensive, too laborious and with too many returns. Build into that the ridiculous metrics system and a site that has more glitches week on week then it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see why people like Mark have left. More power to him.
    Besides, we can’t even exchange email addresses with our customers? Come on, it’s beyond laughable.

  10. @ Jonty, I was talking relatively speaking – a web site compared to ebay, so the question about fixed cost becomes secondary as we are making a comparison.

    When you consider the normal percentage of a merchant license for a web site plus the normal “fixed” transaction fee. Thats before you even advertise to get trafiic to your web site – ebay suddenly becomes a remarkably good deal.

    Most of my friends with web sites are paying at least 30% of their total revenue on Google Ads – some as much as 50%. Thats before they pay their merchant fees.

    I do remember the days where ebay were only 5% but that was not including any payment fees and the support for buyers and sellers was not a patch on what it is today.

    Dont start me on the email thing. We were able to exchange emails for years but what did many sellers do? They used it to circumvent ebay fees and undermine the platform for everyone. Ebay are quite right to put a stop sharing emails especially when there is no longer any need for paypal. Not laughable at all – couldnt be further from the truth – ebay are only protecting their main income stream. It used to really anger me sellers taking the transaction off the platform – thats what email addresses were mainly getting used for.

    I am guessing you dont have a web site that you advertise online.

    Considering the costs of a website and driving traffic, ebay suddenly becomes very attractive.

    None of the people I know who are actively promoting their own web site online pay less than you pay on ebay – most are paying more than DOUBLE what ebay charge. You got to remember – the fees ebay charge – all the advertising is in with those fees including PPC and national TV ads as well as allowing us to use the worldwide known ebay name.

  11. The big difference between own website and ebay, on ebay I have to deal with a lot of fraudulent returns which take time and money to deal with, lots of messages will you do it for less or what is your best price. Own website people either buy it or leave it no messing about. I pay about the same when taking in merchant fees and ads but I have control over everything and not punished if something goes wrong or some clicks a button to get a free return or parcel got scanned late.

    I started out on ebay and still do ok from it, but the side of the business that I have grown the gift and homeware does not do great on ebay as buyers don’t want to pay retail prices. They only want things for less. I also run a second shop selling retail returns which does well and ebay is the market for them.

    ebay want professionalism but don’t provide a professional site as they allow loads of private sellers to run a business. With category I sell in I could go and find over 100 private sellers running a business where they offer no returns or business information.

    I was at the ebay open in Sep a lot of the content was about how to set up offers, give more away. So basically work for less while ebay still get their same percentage.

  12. @ Rob, its good that you are able to compete with ebay in terms of costs to generate orders. Not many sellers have achieved that.

    It just frustrates me when sellers complain about – what i see – as very low ebay fees constantly believing that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.

    I consistently see ebay as the best “bang for your buck” and easy to use, and most “friendly” and easy to use platform.

  13. @Alan I could not survive on my website alone yet but its doing ok and no where near the headaches ebay cause and when I combine ebay, Amazon and my own it does well. Products are on Google shopping as website is synced up with them so even if I don’t pay any ads in certain times of the year still get visibility. ebay just does not get the sales for a lot of the brand new stock as ebay buyers either don’t trust the site or don’t want to pay.

    ebay seem miles behind when it comes to innovation. If they want to help small business then they should look to make a package so good sellers are queing up to get on the site. With things like deals for accounting software, amazing shipping rates a small business would not get on their own, options to choose account support for an hour or packing voucher each month. Do away with 30 day listings for business and make a shop more prominent and allow to design the shop better to suit each shops own brand.

    I don’t agree they are easy to use, return process is horrendous and even worse when things go wrong. ebay ranks slowest when it comes to listing items and far to many private accounts running a business.

  14. @Rob
    Many valid points you make.
    @Alan P
    We understand what your saying but to me eBay seems to have drifted off down some very dark dead end alleyway. Take for instance the new item specifics. I can create two and quite possibly three Etsy listings in the time it takes me to complete an eBay one. When your selling unique items it’s laborious and off putting. I’m surprised eBay haven’t a category for sub atomic particle count it’s that silly. And to what means? No matter how much information is given, the buyer will just tick the box “not as described”!for a free return anyway. If it’s supposed to let buyers find items more easily then it’s not working because I know many sellers who’s sales have crashed since implementation. And try searching for what you want personally- not an easy task.
    eBay was brilliant for a time, superb for facilitating cross border trade. It was even innovative with the mobile phone App and the ability to work off line when creating listings. It just seems to have lost its way. So sad.

  15. Its clear ebay are aiming at sellers who list a complete container of produce with a single listing
    Then spend the rest of the time paying ebay to promote and tweak

  16. @ Jonty many other issues you bring up – each I could address but that would be going off at a tangent. My original point was that “16%” ebay fees is value for money when compared to advertising a web site brand online.

    Rob has been able to match it but he is very much the minority.

    Its always best to spread your items over multiple platforms and if its not financially viable on ebay it is unlikely to viable on a web site. Considering the low fees, brand name, advertising taken care of etc. I always recommend that ebay be the first stop for anyone selling online. If a business doesnt work on ebay its unlikely to work on other platforms and you can “test” it on ebay without breaking the bank.

  17. not as baffled as we are trawling thru
    item specfic section for a wine glass listing

    Add as many details as you can
    20.4K recent searches for these details
    ColourMain colour of the product itself. If the product has multiple colours, enter the main or most dominant colour in the open field first and then add the additional colours, separating the colours by a comma. If the product has multiple colours with no dominant colours, select “Multicolour”. This doesn’t include the product’s packaging.Required soon

    Frequent: Clear , Green , Multicoloured
    TypeSpecific type of product that is being sold in the product listingRequired soon
    Wine Glass

    BrandName of the brand, designer or artist that produces the product. This may be the same or different from the manufacturer.18.7K searches

    MaterialMain or most used material of the product itself, does not include the product’s packagingTrending
    Bone ChinaCeramicClay

    Production StyleUnique characteristics and peculiarities that define the style of the end product
    Cut Glass

    OccasionOccasion or celebration the product is affiliated with1.7K searches
    All Occasions

    Production TechniqueTechnique of how a product was produced

    VintageWhether the product has a vintage year of manufacture that is more than 20 years old

    DepartmentGender and/or age grouping characterised by the category
    Original/Licensed ReproductionWhether the product is an original or a licenced reproduction of a period or style

    Time Period ManufacturedTime period the product was manufactured in or manufactured to imitate, characterised by named time periods

    Frequent: 1960-1969 , 1970-1979 , 1950-1959
    CapacityMeasured amount the product can hold, not the mass or volume of the product itself
    MPNManufacturer Part Number (MPN) is a product identifier given by the manufacturer, can be the same as the model number, part number or style code. Characterised by a combination of numbers, letters and/or symbols.

    Buyers may also be interested in these item specifics
    FeaturesSecondary attributes or functions that are not essential to the main function of the product698 searches
    Break/Chip ResistantCollapsibleColour-Changing
    CommemorativeCrested ChinaDate-Lined
    DecoratedDecorativeDishwasher Safe
    Double Walled

    PatternDesign on the product450 searches

    ThemeType of visual style or design subject of the product337 searches
    Aller ValeAmericanAngels
    AnimalsAxe ValeBabbacombe
    Beatrix PotterBirdsBrannam/ Barnstaple

    StyleDistinct design appearance of the product299 searches

    Frequent: Art Nouveau , Retro
    ShapeShape or form of the product, may contain many different shapes or have a single shape199 searches

    Frequent: Round , Square
    Country/Region of ManufactureGeographic location where the product is manufactured. This doesn’t include where the individual components are manufactured, nor the country where the product is sold from.144 searches

    Frequent: France , Unknown , Belgium
    OriginGeographic area or cultural style where the product originates from

    Frequent: Bohemia
    Year ManufacturedYear the product was produced by the manufacturer, not the same as the year the product was sold or the expiration date of the product

    Frequent: 1959 , 1960 , 1970
    Product LineManufacturer collection or collaboration that the product belongs to

    Lid TypeType of lid used to cover or close the product

    HandmadeWhether the product is made by hand or by a hand process

    Custom BundleWhether the main product is sold with complementary or additional products

    Item DiameterMeasured distance of the product from end to end through the centre of the product, can be the same as the width of the product
    Item HeightMeasured height of the product when placed in its upright position, measured from the top of the product to the bottom
    Item WeightMeasured amount of weight of the product itself. This does not include the product’s postage packaging nor the weight capacity of the product.
    Keeps Cold ForEstimated number of hours the product stays continually cold for

    Keeps Hot ForEstimated number of hours the product stays continually hot for

    Manufacturer WarrantyType of warranty and the remaining length of time on the warranty the product has. Additional information can be specified in the product description. The product description needs to include one of the following A. the full text of the written warranty or service contract or B. a statement explaining how to get a free copy of the written warranty or service contract upon written request.

    Frequent: None
    Number of Items in SetTotal number of individual pieces included in the product set

    SignedWhether the product is signed or autographed

    Signed ByName of the person or character who signed or autographed the product
    Aaron AngellAndile DyalvaneAneta Regel
    Bari ZipersteinBeate KuhnBetty Woodman
    Brian RochefortBruce M. ShermanBruce Sillars
    C. Matthew Szösz


    Country of OriginRemove
    Contemporary Original
    Type of GlassRemove
    Cut Glass
    Glassware TypeRemove
    Crystal/ Cut Glass

  18. ever feel the comments section has gotten quite far away from the original article?

    25 years on ebay is impressive.

  19. yep impressive we dare to say graham and ourselves [23years] would have serious problems learning to list from scratch these days

  20. @r long post you make illustrating item specifics. i know what they are and why ebay are putting more and more emphasis as time goes on.

    However, I dont see how this illustrated your orignal point and i quote:

    “Its clear ebay are aiming at sellers who list a complete container of produce with a single listing. Then spend the rest of the time paying ebay to promote and tweak”

    I am still baffled.

    And yes we are completely off topic. Hat off to Mr Forsdyke.

  21. Indeed if Graham were to start now, he’d spend the first couple of months with funds on hold due to eBay not trusting him, and he’d have to pay the postage costs out of his own pocket til eBay let him have HIS money. And don’t forget, he’d be having to send everything tracked at extra cost (more costs he would have to absorb) to satisfy eBay that he had actually sent the items.

    Even then, the tracking or a buyer could say the item hadn’t arrived on time, even if it were sent on time, due to no fault of his own (Royal Mail problems, weather, pandemic, or just the buyer couldn’t be bothered to go and pick up the package). Then he could yet be hit by “change of mind” returns even if the buyer had clearly used the item for 14 days. And unfair negative feedback whilst unable to leave the buyer negative feedback of their own. All of this demotivating him and demoralising him to the point where he gives up and applies to stack shelves in the local Tesco.

    Until around 10 years ago it was easy to start (I speak as someone who created my primary account in 2004). Now it’s just too much hassle unless you have a lot of money and patience.

  22. we agree ,a ridiculously long post
    A simple copy and paste of ebays item specific list
    And this without expanding the options ,

  23. @Alan.
    Yes agree a very long post from r. But a truthful example of the ridiculous and just farcical eBay item specifics now needed to create a listing. And that’s WITHOUT expanding further options. ?
    It’s just utter madness

  24. @ r, not ridiculous if you are trying to make a point. I am just struggling to understand the point and why you think that ebay is geared up to sellers buying containers of merchandise. I do believe ebay try to cater for all sorts of businesses including personal sellers.

    When I started ebay a tiny percentage of searches were on mobile devices. Smart phones were in their infancy and iPhones and iPads had not been invented.

    I am sure you are aware that over the years as mobile devices have evolved so has how buyers search on the platform. There is a staggering difference how much time buyers spend browsing ebay compared to other platforms.

    As a result of this ebay have had to stay ahead and study how buyers search. This is what drives the evolution of the item specifics. The vast majority of searches are now on mobile devices and buyers dont want to “type” they prefer to click. I am sure you dont need a history lesson on how buyers search on ebay but this requires a variety of item specifics.

    Also remember that the majority of item specifics are optional and not all need to be completed to achieve your 100% score – a useful guideline on how effectively you have chosen your specifics. But in any case – many can be omitted .

    I realise that ebay item specifics are causing problems with many categories. The system will evolve and improve over time.

    Item specifics will play a big part in ebays growth. When you consider how buyers search and the direction ebay need to point their platform it makes perfect sense.

    With the progress of trying to control global warming and how this will change the habits of buyers ebay are in a very strong place compared to other platforms. While Amazon are receiving bad press for landfilling new products ebay will be skipping happily into the future encouraging a community of reselling and “recycling” existing “used” items. Item specifics will be a large part of “future proofing” ebay and ebay WILL be in line with the changes we will all be making – many changes that will be required by law in many countries. This will be “right up ebays street”.

    Please consider that ebay are trying to construct a search system that will accommodate and categorise almost every item in the world.

    Item specifics may seem annoying and conflated but are an essential requirement for the future of ebay.

  25. @ r, well you obviously didnt understand my post and I am not an “evangelist” .

    Off course the world will live without ebay. However (as you did not understand I shall re-phrase) the WAY people will be required to shop into the future will be buying re-used and recycled items. Now what platform excels at that? Let me think …… its ebay.

    You can go with the tide or against it – but the tide is still going to come in. What a moronic response. Do your parents know you post online?

    And here was me trying to reassure you that you were not ridiculous. Well you certainly proved me wrong.

  26. @ Mike,

    i think you are exaggerating somewhat and remember WHY ebay had to put safeguards in place. There were a significant amount of buyers getting ripped off and sellers using ebay as platform for fakes and fraud. THOSE were the bad old days. Far easier and friendly now.

  27. @ Mike. Your completely correct, and what’s more the new starter would have to go through the mess that is Adyen verification to be able to trade. Despite some 20 years trading with eBay, Adyen didn’t think we were a business and it took a full 3 months to get our account verified. It was a complete and utter shambles from start to finish. A never ending merry go round of sending off passport, driver’s license and other sensitive personal information.

  28. @ Jonty, i think he is exaggerating. Money is withheld for new starts but its not ALL the money for 4 months. Nor do you have to send your items fully trackable.

    I think we can agree that you have been unlucky with Ayden. The vast majority of sellers got set up fine. I know there was confusion with some American terminology and definitions for sole traders, partnerships, companies etc.

    All I am saying is that the experience you describe and the conditions Mike is testifying to is not a true reflection of a new start on ebay.

    It astounds me that existing sellers on ebay would write posts discouraging new ebayers. I am not trading at the moment – my health has not been good – but I think its important that new sellers looking at ebay get to look at it in perspective. ebay is still the most sensible platform for getting started selling online and has greatly improved over the past 15 years.

    I dont want to belittle your bad experience with Ayden. It did not sound good. Most accounts went through fine though and many sellers caused their own problems by initially selecting the wrong category of business.

  29. @Alan, yes ebay is probably the best platform to start a business on. Once you get going though there are much better options. It is good for selling customer returns or end of line stock but buyers don’t want to pay full price on ebay. At one point I only sold on ebay, now I sell on Amazon and also my own website and do better with all my new stock on both.

    Very long and tiresome listing on ebay compared to Amazon and Shopify. The amount of item specifics on ebay are ridiculous, yes you don’t have to fill them all in but if you don’t fill as many in as you can your listing is even further down. Listed some gin glasses today and ticked 3 times that they are gin glasses. Curtains you put the drop and width then there is another box for size. But when searching for size you can only select drop and width as there is no option for the size.

    If ebay became more professional in regards to checking all the private accounts that run a business then maybe the site would be in a better place.
    specialist_in_entertainment has over 1400 listings yet is not a business account, ebay have not done anything about this account for years. No returns accepted, no business information. Mention accounts like this and get the standard line back that to be a business they have not hit the £85,000 threshold yet.

  30. @Rob I agree eBay don’t listen. It’s blatant- people running businesses as private sellers. But nothing happens.
    Then again today- more eBay requirements for item specifics. Another 3 hours of altering listings because they have decided to add extra values. And some items could not be updated because of glitches. They slip further down the rankings even though we have paid listing fees in good faith. Honestly you couldn’t make it up. The site is a pale shadow of what it once was.

  31. @ Rob, yes end of line and returns do very well on ebay. Refurbished, recycled and reused stock is also very lucrative and will continue to become more lucrative when you look at many of the agendas and potential solutions discussed at the Glasgow Summit. Although i am not aware if ebay was mentioned directly, many of the proposals of reducing waste and recycling / reusing merchandise was as if they were talking exactly about ebays business plan. Ebay has a bright future when some of these proposals are implemented and thats not just in the UK – thats worldwide. I think its important to be on that bandwagon both ethically and financially.

    Conversely, my two closest friends on ebay (i am not selling at the moment) are selling personalised brand new items and Aliexpress merchandise from China. Big improvement on previous years and they are not experiencing anything like the challenges that are discussed on here.

    I mean no disrespect to the sellers who post on Tamebay – many are obviously experiencing genuine challenges – like Jonty setting up his Ayden. But many describe a horrible, decaying platform with a selfish motive and myriad of faults. This is not my experience at all. Its as if they are describing a different platform.

  32. cant see what the Glasgow summit and ebay have in common!
    other than ebay facilitates carbon use, with
    billions of products produced , to be shipped world wide using ebay
    massive amounts of packaging ,vast delivery and collection logistics ,
    consuming mega amounts of carbon

  33. @ r , you cant see what they have in common?

    Well I am here only to present a point – not to educate. I suggest you have a look at the minutes and proposals of the various meetings, presentations, proposals and solutions at the Summit.

    Regarding the Summit – I challenge you to find a proposed solution or potential improvement that DIDNT focus on the recycling , reselling, re-use, re-processing (and thats just the “r” letter) that didnt include a business model similar to ebay.
    As I said in my previous post, many would think that the delegates were actually talking about ebay as at least a partial solution. They didnt use ebay by name as far as I am aware but I can spot ebays model a mile off – even if you cant.

    I suppose its not fair to criticise as you are obviously not familiar with the material. Its probably best not to spew comment until you are. It is proposterous to me that you can state that they have nothing in common.

    You should look up “carbon neutral”. Its not what a company puts out – its what a company puts out MINUS what they save. Its a differential. ALL companies will emit carbon. Ebay is committed to carbon neutral within the year.

    When you factor in the massive increase in re-furbished and recycled goods then the uneducated point you are trying to make falls flat on its face – and thats now – without even forecasting the positive impact of ebay into the future. You try to make a point about emissions without a clue of what ebays carbon status actually is.

    Finally , if you cant see what ebay and reducing waste have in common I suggest we engage no further. There is nothing I can really say to that other than it would seem that common sense is not very common on here. I have tried to inform people on here in the past and they have only taken offence and lashed out at me.

    Let us see what happens here …….

  34. ebay do not produce or ,sell anything physical
    cant be that difficult for them to achieve carbon neutrality,
    its coal powered china that will take the hit
    producing and exporting containers of plastic to be sold world wide on ebay

  35. @ r, I am willing to engage if you present a valid argument. In a previous thread you accused me of writing evangelical posts – when absolutely no reference was made to religion, God or the bible. I suspect you do not know what the word means. In fact I could not be much further away from an evangelist with my religious beliefs.

    Your assumption on that thread was that the items sold on ebay were mainly from containers shipped from China. Now thats spewing over to this discussion. Your assumptions about containers are simply twaddle and now undermine what you are saying here.

    Your statements contradict and are based on flawed logic and assumptions that are not accurate. I will not engage further.

    Here is some reading for you:

  36. One thing I will say is that eBay and other major online sellers could do much more to cut carbon emissions by just stopping the ridiculous returns processes that they are currently implementing. I know of some buyers who will buy five of the same item in different sizes and colours – just to get that “right one”. But the others have to be returned at both expense to the seller and the environment. People with huge amounts of returns in their buying histories should be sanctioned or temporarily suspended – it’s getting beyond a joke. Whilst genuine returns are understandable, their actions, in my mind anyway, are not.

  37. @ Jinty, 100% agree.

    Amazon do have something in place for suspending buyers who have a high percentage of returns – but I think it needs to be REALLY high before they take action.

    Not sure about ebay but no evidence to suggest that there is. I used to sell shoes and it was the bane of my life – especially buyers ordering shoes, then wearing the shoes for the wedding / event and then having the audacity to return them for a full refund claiming “fault”.

  38. @Alan I feel your pain. Some of the sellers of tools I know experience the same problem- the tools are returned as “faulty” after the buyer completes their repair. Free repair for buyer, losses and frustration for seller. I don’t know any way of policing this type of activity other than through education. Not only is it wrong morally but it’s wrong environmentally. People need to start understanding carbon emissions and such.

  39. ” In 2020, the carbon footprint of online marketplace eBay was mainly attributed to transportation and distribution, which generated almost 900 thousand metric tons of CO2 equivalent emissions. Purchases of goods and services in the value chain came in second place, emitting some 356 thousand metric tons of CO2e.”


  40. @ Jonty, yes I completely agree. Sometimes I had an order for an entire wedding party of shoes only to have them returned a few weeks later. Sometimes this could have been as much as 2 dozen pairs of shoes. And then you had the buyers using different ebay accounts to try and hide their deed. Same wedding. One order could cost me a weeks profit and then i have the problem of trying to sell them on auction to recoup my money because it was jeopardising my cash-flow. Dont even start me on the defects they caused. Ebay staff cannot remove these defects – even if you are in concierge.

    I decided that formal and wedding shoes was not the thing to sell on ebay.

  41. @Alan, I could not be doing with clothing or shoes and dealing with the returns on ebay. It is bad enough with things like curtains where they can’t use a tape measure. When you speak to some of the higher up people or listen to them, they kind of know it is a issue on the site but they just don’t have answer for dealing with it.

    They want you to be professional and provide good customer service yet, as soon as a return is opened for not as described a seller is punished. You try explain it to them but they just comeback with you are judged against similar accounts who have the same issue and have a certain percentage margin for error.

    They don’t seem to understand the frustration that you get punished for doing nothing wrong and potentially your account could be downgraded for all false not as described claims. You can give the most amazing customer service but still get punished with ebay service metrics.

    The big companies can just write it off or worse case they can survive without ebay. The 1000s of small business ebay claim to support suffer daily with issues caused by returns and returns policies on ebay and end up leaving the site.

  42. @ Rob, I completely agree with what you say about service metrics. You know i am usually an advocate and endless defender of ebay. But not on this topic. The service metric system is horrendous and easily manipulated by bad sellers who have methods of avoiding the defect in the first place – methods against ebay rules. I wont describe these methods as I dont want to advertise them – it would not be beneficial for ebay.

    My health had been poor for a while but I believe it was the service metrics that sent me over the edge. I got 70 “item not received” from one buyer who was snapping up auctions and then asking to cancel them. Not good and although ebay concierge said they would protect my account they were adamant they could not be removed.

    One operator at ebay said to me “you dont like it …. why dont you quit”. That is not the normal service you receive on ebay and I had clashed with this person before on the phone. It was really enough to send me over the edge so I took his advice (i dont think he thought i would literally do it) . Concierge were impeccable with the exception of 1 or 2 calls and this was number 2. Nothing is 100% and Concierge were 99.99%.

    My health gave out later that anyway. so the decision to cease trading was kinda taken from my hands anyway. But I think the service metrics were a lot to do with my poor health. I used to worry about them and it became an obsession.

    However, ebay if your listening dont challenge sellers to quit. Literal people like me might actually follow through lol.

    I still have a lot of friends who trade on ebay and i give them pointers. one of these pointers is to stay away from shoes (and now curtains).

  43. @Alan P
    I’ve seen you talk about this horrific situation before Alan. If the buyer had been UK based I would definitely have given all of the information to a solicitor- either eBay would have had to act in your favour through force majeure or the buyer could be proven to have been malicious and quite possibly a competitor of yours.
    This was a serious situation- one that was highlighted at the very beginning of metrics introduction. It would be very easy for any competitor to end another’s business. Im not altogether sure eBay understand this.

  44. @Alan, sorry to hear about your health and hope you are doing better now you are not focusing on ebay. I sell across ebay, Amazon and own website and it is in that order I get the most stress and worry of dealing with issues. I grew my business part time, but took the leap the other year to go full time with online selling and the biggest worry is things like a lot of false returns wrecking your account and you then get very little sales.

    ebay’s answer is add more metrics to things and see what other ways they can punish sellers. Instead of taking the less is more approach, the more ebay get involved the more things go wrong. Lost count of the amount of times they have supplied the wrong returns label, customer complains to ebay, case opened and told to provide a returns label they will refund the buyer without them needing to send it back.

    I am currently part of the Pro Trader programme but other than looking to add more item specifics and pictures to listings it is not all that great so far. It is about being part of part funded sale events, which when you work it out. Boost your sales to make less profit.

    I find some of the support really helpful but don’t think they realise how bad issues like private sellers are on the account. In half a day I could go and find at least 100 private accounts in who sell returns, clearly run a business yet offer no returns.
    At the Manchester open I mentioned this in a 1-1, just get told to report them. She was a bit surprised when I told her I have over and over but nothing gets done. Got given the email for the head of one department, never heard back. It’s seems a problem ebay don’t want to acknowledge or address.

  45. @ Jonty, thanks for your kind message. I remember you offered sympathysupport a couple of years ago when this happened. I posted my experience on here and you were one of the first to respond and comment on my plight.

    To be fair to ebay – there was nothing that Concierge could do other than offer to protect my account. they are simply not allowed to remove defects under these circumstances. Their hands were tied.

    I looked into the buyer. He was just being an ass. he purchased 70 pairs of shoes and then got upset that I could not combine the postage and told me to cancel every order. We then changed his mind and there was back and forth messages for a few days before he opened INR cases.

    Arguably I should have been content with ebays solution – they offered to protect me. But then I spoke with a member of ebay that I just didn’t get on with. he was the one that told me to quit. lol. I can be a bit intense on the phone. It was obvious he just grew to dislike me (imagine that) as I had spoken to him a number of times over about a year and half.

    My plan was to take his advice but go into second hand shoes instead and do rounds of Charity Shops, car boot sales and markets – a complete change to the new shoes i had been selling. But that didn’t work and I felt uncomfortable carrying cash that these markets always demanded. I think it would have worked if I had been a younger or healthier man and had a body guard. I would go to the car boot sales and markets with a fair amount of cash in my pocket. i felt uneasy. lol

    Concerning metrics – Any system that can be controlled and manipulated by the “bad” sellers – the very sellers that it is designed to expose – is a bad system. And I have seen some very bad sellers. I wont explain on here how it is done because some sellers will take the opportunity to exploit it and suffice to say it is against ebay rules. But if you want to half your INR a bad seller can do that in a heartbeat (although it would take time to take effect). Bad / dodgy sellers always work things out and the problem is then the “good sellers” have an even harder job because the metrics are based on a differential. You couldnt make it up.

    ebay is still the future though. It was my health that failed, and maybe my reluctance not to change my business model sooner. Not ebays fault. I know its a cliche now but its like I always say – ebay dont always get it right but they do TRY and get it right (unlike other platforms with sinister goals).

    I do not blame ebay for putting a metrics system in place. Dodgy sellers need to be exposed. The thought was there but the execution (in my opinion) was wrong.

  46. @ Rob, to address the problem with private sellers – I believe ebay have an obligation to take action against an account trading over the £85k and claiming to be private. You probably know more than me on this topic if you have already discussed it with ebay. They have an obligation to take action to comply with VAT legislation. I am not sure what that action is – other than demand a VAT number which I know they verify before being displayed on site. they have live VAT verification so the number need to be genuine.

    However, I do not believe they have the same obligation for simple income tax. That seems to be a lower level of compliance priority. this is why they seem only to take action when it becomes a VAT issue.

    As I have discovered on Tamebay – many sellers do not know their income tax obligations. many say “I will wait to see if I make any money” or “lets see what happens” or “but I am not making any money” not realising what their tax obligations are.

    Peter Jones thinks the fault lies with schools not teaching these things in the classroom (maybe they teach it in business studies but not in general sylabus). It should be common knowledge for every British citizen of adult age and there should not be confusion. After all it is very simple. I think many are genuinely ignorant and not trying any tax evasion.

    Should ebay simply suspend these accounts? Should they ask for UTR numbers like Amazon or LTD company numbers in order to trade? I know some sellers were asked for this just to be accepted by Ayden but thats not the norm for ebay. Whats the answer?

    I aint touching that discussion with a 10 foot selfie stick.

  47. @Alan, I believe all online marketplaces now have a VAT obligation to make sure sellers are VAT registered once they hit the threshold otherwise they become liable for the VAT.

    Instead of punishing sellers, allow buyers to decide what is acceptable to them. Show buyers the percentage of deliveries that arrive within the delivery estimate. Some buyer might not be bothered if it is likely to arrive a day late for the item they can’t find anywhere else. Others who want it delivered before they even clicked the buy button might be better off looking elsewhere.

    You should look into the markets again as as you can get card readers that link to an app on your phone. This time of year I do quite a few pop up markets and 90% pay by card. Only thing is you have to speak to customers, but the vast majority are nice and you don’t have to deal with returns this way either unless they are faulty.


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