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EcommerceBytes Letters to the Editor Letters to the Editor
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Wed May 9 2012 22:55:51

eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List

By: Reader
Sponsored Link
Dear Ina,
Recent blog posts and letters to the editor along with various posts on eBay discussion threads started me thinking...

If I suddenly found myself in a position to make changes at eBay, what changes would I make?

I came up with the following rather long list:
 
  • At the corporate level, embrace the reality that new merchandise can coexist next to vintage, collectible and used goods
  • At the corporate level, become sales format agnostic - Auctions can exist side by side with Fixed Prices, encourage buyers and sellers to decide what works best for them.
  • Change the corporate culture that considers small and medium sized sellers to be little more than noise. Sellers of all sizes should be valued for the variety of goods they bring to market.
  • Work to bring eBay back to being a Venue, not an overlord. Overbearing policies, and eBay's current drive to insert itself deeper into the buyer  - seller relationship is not producing any positive results.
  • The company would commit to being more transparent. No more fee increases described as “the lowest fees ever”.
  • End the practice of inflating eBay GMV by pushing sellers into rolling shipping costs into the selling price.  Reported GMV would represent the volume of goods actually paid for as completed sales. Included shipping costs and unpaid items would never be represented as part of Gross Merchandise Volume.
  • End the one size fits all mentality as far as policy creation. Recognize that some categories need special consideration such as return policies, and that some categories may require special treatment  with regard to listing policies in order to remain healthy and thrive.
  • Work to restore eBay's marketplace dominance in categories which have suffered under the one size fits all policy era by revising policies that have hampered growth in specific categories such as antiques and collectibles.
  • Rewrite and revise eBay policies into plain English so they are clear, concise,  eliminate ambiguous terminology and close loopholes. Policy must be simpler to understand.
  • Policy must be black or white in terms of enforcement,  and no longer subject to interpretation by Trust and Safety or by customer service agents.
  • Rewrite the eBay User Agreement into plain English that is also clear, concise and eliminates ambiguous terminology.
  • Reduce all executive compensation packages. Nobody is worth $16 million a year. The growing number of top executives and their outrageous compensation packages are the driver of high fees.
  • C Level executive stock awards would be tied to genuine transactional growth, ie; increases in completed sales volume, not Gross Merchandise Value (GMV).
  • Require all eBay executives to open selling accounts and complete a minimum of 100 transactions annually - on their own time - so that they enjoy the same experience that the majority of sellers experience. There will be no special handling or treatment of these accounts. Executive accounts would be blocked from being accessed by any corporate Internet access.
  • Require that eBay management spend 40 hours annually in customer service assisting buyers and sellers with issues related to their area of responsibility. This will result in management better understanding the challenges buyers and sellers face, and will make the policy creation process more effective over the long term.
  • With massive salaries reduced, fees will be reduced - across the board - with the exception of Diamond Sellers....
  • Revise the sweetheart fee deals Diamond Sellers were given under the table. Diamonds would pay fees to list as well as final value fees. Fee schedule for Diamonds would be indexed based on actual transactional counts, not dollar sales.  Higher fees would apply in cases of high percentages of neutral and negative feedback counts. Diamond Sellers will no longer be able to disappoint thousands of eBay buyers a year and will pay additional fees based on neutral and negative volume.
  • The Final Value Fee on shipping would be eliminated. Sellers would be discouraged from inflating shipping costs by the redesign of the listing page and the "shipping included" process detailed below.
  • No more interim fee increases. Any future fee increases will be effective on the first of January each year. Sellers will be able to make better and more informed choices regarding their inventory and business planning and utilize the holiday selling season to liquidate inventory if needed.
  • Seller facing changes will be rolled out twice annually in January and July to afford sellers the opportunity to better manage inventory and business practices and to allow for timely adjustments.
  • System or technical issues effecting the site would be posted on the announcement board. In addition, an alert box would appear when buyers and sellers sign in to their account alerting them that a system or technical issue is ongoing. Visible announcements of system or technical issues will reduce the strain on customer service while increasing buyer and seller satisfaction.
  • Rebuild the sense of community that eBay once enjoyed. End the relationship with Live World with regard to moderating discussion boards and restore that functionality back to eBay. eBay will be better informed and make better decisions by being directly involved with the community.
  • Restore the Ask Seller Question link back towards the top of the page. The company will no longer hamper, impede or fear communication between buyer and seller.
  • Eliminate Unpaid Items. Test an auction listing format which allows sellers to require immediate payment from the winning bidder when the auction closes. Buyers would be advised when placing their bid that if they are the winning bidder, they then preauthorize the payment. Payment will automatically be completed using the buyers available PayPal balance first with any remaining balance due pulled from their funding method or credit card. Buyers would also be given the option to have the entire payment applied to their credit card through on file with PayPal.
  • Unpaid item strikes would become visible on buyer's feedback page. Buyers would have the ability to respond to UPI strikes the same way sellers can respond to negative feedback.
  • Sellers would be given increased  flexibility in blocking buyers with Unpaid Item history.
  • Reduce or Eliminate the expense of developing new search methods.
  • Retire Best Match as the default search once and for all, and let buyers select the search method they wish to use when they begin their search.
  • Eliminate the use of the term "free shipping" . End the charade Buyers know that shipping is not "free".
  • Redesign the listing page so that every item appears as "shipping included".  Fixed price items display the total of item price plus the cost of the primary shipping option as the selling price of the item. In the case of auctions, the opening bid would be the price the buyer sets plus the calculated primary shipping option cost which would be displayed. This makes every item on eBay "Shipping Included" and would still compel that sellers be competitive with pricing.
  • Reconfigure the processes that trigger payment holds. Clearly define the issues that will trigger payment holds. Sellers would be notified by email of the exact reason as to why their payments are being held, and what steps they will have to take to receive their payments. The email will also identify the precise steps the effected seller will have to take in order to be removed from the payment hold process.
  • In the event of payment holds, 75% of the shipping cost identified in the listing details will be cleared immediately so that the seller can have access to funds, ship items on a timely basis, and assure buyers are not negatively impacted by the payment hold process.
  • Limit the number of accounts an individual may have. Credit or Debit Cards and Social Security number would be required to open an ID. Personal accounts would be limited to one buying ID and two selling ID's per individual per address. Business accounts would be limited to one buying ID and a maximum of 4 selling ID's . In the event of account sanctions for violations, all linked accounts would be effected. In the event of account suspensions, all linked accounts would be suspended. Circumvention of the multiple ID policy would result in a permanent ban of all accounts linked to that address and social security number.
  • PayPal would clear eCheck payments in 24 hours. If a buyers eCheck payment does not subsequently clear, the buyer would be hit processing fee. Processing fee for declined Check payments would be $25 or 10% of the transaction value whichever is greater.
  • Restore the option for sellers to accept checks and money orders as payments if they so choose and revise peripheral policies such as the Unpaid Item process and Dispute process accordingly.
  • Restore the option for sellers to set a 7 Day Return policy in categories such as clothing to eliminate buyer abuses such as wear and return.
  • Revise the return policy. Sellers should not be forced to accept returns for certain categories of merchandise such as underwear and swim wear.
  • Items that are listed as "For Parts" would be considered a final sale.
  • Eliminate the partial refund policy as this amounts to negotiating the price after the sale has been completed.
  • Mandate that merchandise must be returned to the seller in order for buyers to receive refunds.  No return - no refund period.
  • Mandate that delivery confirmation numbers are obtained by buyers for all returns and that refunds are completed within 24 hours of delivery confirmation showing item was delivered.
  • Revise the Claims Process and prevent buyers from opening a claim until they have communicated with their seller. Seller would have 48 hours to respond. If the 48 hour window closes without a response, or if buyer - seller communication fails to reach a resolution that both parties can agree to, then the buyer would be able to open a claim.
  • In this day of cell phones and digital cameras, buyers would be required to upload photographs of items when filing claims for SNAD. Photographs from the buyer must show the product deficiencies that qualify the item as SNAD. Photographs will be used by the Resolution team to compare to seller listing description and photos and either uphold or deny the buyers claim.
  • The resolution process would include messaging regarding the Resolution teams  decision in every case to both the buyer and seller. In the event a claim is decided in the buyers favor, the buyer would still have to return the item to the seller with delivery confirmation and the seller would be required to issue refund within 24 hours of DC showing delivery.
  • Restore the level playing field between buyer and seller by enabling sellers to leave neutral and negative feedback for buyers. Enable buyers to respond to negative feedback as sellers do. Sellers would have to leave feedback first to minimize the opportunity to use feedback in a retaliatory manner.
  • Revise the feedback page. For buyers, unpaid item strikes would be displayed as previously mentioned. Buyers would also have a display of how many resolution claims they have opened and have the opportunity to include a response. Sellers would have a display of how many resolution cases had been opened against them and would be able to include a response.
  • New Filters would be enabled to allow sellers to block buyers with high resolution process counts.
  • Revise the DSR system. Positive feedback would make leaving less than a 4 star rating impossible. Neutral feedback would make leaving less than 3 stars impossible. In order to leave a 1 or 2 star rating, feedback would have to be negative.
  • DSR scores would be transparent to sellers so the DSR program becomes the true tool promised by eBay to help sellers improve performance. 
  • Revise the Top Rated Seller Program by restoring tiered fee discounts. Discount levels would be at 20%, 10% and 5%.
  • Improve the quality and consistency of Customer Service with a goal of one contact resolutions in most cases.. Customer Service supervisory staff would be increased to enable on the spot resolutions of issues. Foreign accents and phone conversations do not offer buyers and sellers a satisfactory experience so we would restore Live Chat Help option to enable clearer communication. Contact Ticket numbers will be attached to every case. Ticket numbers will be given to callers or displayed in chat when at the start of the session in the event follow up contacts are necessary. Chat transcripts will be emailed to sellers before the close of every session.
  • Restore the ability of sellers to have store inventory to encourage sellers to bring back hard to find items so that eBay can once again offer a higher SKU diversity and bring more buyers back. Store inventory would have a  60 day listing duration. Items with 60 day listing durations would not appear in general search results unless buyers select an option to include store inventory.
  • Revise the re listing process. When sellers re list items from the end of item email, the new listing quantity would be the number of items that remained after sales from the previous listing instead of the initial quantity which was originally listed.. This will afford sellers improved inventory control and help reduce out of stock issues.
  • Open a survey thread when policy is being considered for revision which is open to all buyers and sellers for a single response per ID for 30 days. No more secret surveys, no more cherry picking for invitations to take surveys. Cumulative results of all responses will be displayed after each question has been answered by participants so that the process is more transparent.
  • Open a special Discussion Thread after changes are implemented to obtain buyer/seller input. Team members from the effected areas would moderate the threads and respond to questions. Board would have posts by topic regarding any changes being shaped well before changes are announced. Topic would remain open for 30 days after changes are implemented for  buyer/seller input.
  • Sellers will be afforded the choice to opt in to having third party ads placed on their listings. If they opt in, sellers would share in the revenue generated. Sellers would receive fee credit when ads on their listing receive clicks from buyers, and additional credit if a click through directly results in a successful sale.
  • Abort plans for eBay to open fulfillment centers - open  International package forwarding service centers and encourage  sellers to expand their business by opening their listings to International buyers who would have to sign up for the eBay forwarding service. Forwarding service would have an annual fee.
While I believe that these changes would drive down profits in the short term, I strongly believe that in the long term, eBay would regain its place as a strong and vibrant marketplace.
 
It would be interesting to see your readers reactions, likes and dislikes about the changes proposed here.
 
Let the debate begin.
Regards,
Ric
Reading EcommerceBytes Letters Blog: eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List
Comments (20) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List   eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List
This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie
       
Wed May 9 23:05:43 2012
I adore you, Ric. ♥ (Thank you.)
eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List   eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List
by: NullApps This user has validated their user name.
       Web Site
Thu May 10 06:14:07 2012
A system in which sellers are forced to leave feedback first is functionally little different than one in which sellers cannot leave feedback.  All you've done is made it so sellers can delay buyers from leaving feedback by not leaving any feedback at all.  Do you really think sellers who can have their account ruined are going to leave a buyer a deserving negative first?  This is why sellers were 8x more likely to retaliate with a negative than a buyer.
eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List   eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List
This user has validated their user name. by: Stockmiser
       
Thu May 10 07:55:31 2012
Great suggestions, but I don't see how integrating price+shipping into the listing page would discourage sellers from inflating shipping costs as a form of fee avoidance.

If they don't charge an FVF on shipping, and they equalize the impact of shipping costs (versus ''free shipping''), then what would be the apparent difference between someone selling a $1 SD memory card with $20 shipping, versus a $20 card with $1 shipping if it is displayed equally as a $21 item?  One seller pays a LOT more FVF's.  Seems like we'd be right back where we started with some sellers gaming the system.

Other than that, I like most of these - especially some of the DSR changes.
eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List   eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List
This user has validated their user name. by: Ric
       
Thu May 10 08:24:34 2012
@ Annie,  Thanks

@Null Apps, Point Taken; How about amending feedback then as follows... Seller leaves first or can not receive feedback. Retaliatory feedback left by buyers subject to appeal and removal.

@ Stockmeister To avoid the $1.00 item with $20.00 shipping & handling I would then suggest: FVF on shipping still eliminated. Item details require the weight of the product be predetermined based on UPC code specs and inserted in the listing as an item detail. Shipping weight would then be compared to the Item Details. Entered shipping weight would not be allowed to exceed Item Details except for an allowance for packaging. The ability to add a handling cost would be eliminated to prevent abuse. Seller would have to add any handling cost into the price of the item. Flat Rate Shipping option would be eliminated to prevent abuses. Buyers still have the report item and DSR rating which can be used to hammer down sellers who abuse the process. If sellers persisted in setting excessive shipping costs, eBay could always use some of those programmers who were creating search algorithms to create an excess shipping scanning bot. Sellers who receive multiple violations for abusive shipping cost would see their accounts suspended. Repeat offenders would be blocked from selling.
eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List   eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List
by: Gypsy This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu May 10 10:02:32 2012
EXCELLENT! Ric, you should be in charge of eBay!!♦♦♦♦
eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List   eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List
by: blaumann This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu May 10 10:16:20 2012
This is a joke, right? Donahoe is going to reduce ebay's take?
eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List   eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List
by: Deltamaster This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu May 10 10:28:48 2012
Ric,
You have obviously taken a lot of time to consider all these suggestions and most of them are really great.

Two issues could use some tweaking, though.

1)  Feedback...  Neither buyer nor seller should be required to leave feedback first or even at all.

Might I suggest something that I suggested to Griff and many others back in late 2007...

Create a double blind feedback system.  Feedback would not be visible until either both parties have left theirs or until feedback can no longer be left (currently 60 days).  This way there can be no retaliation as someone can not retaliate against something they do not know exists.

2)  Shipping charges FVF... this was implemented in order to discourage shipping gougers.  This has been a bit successful but is not fair to those that did not abuse the system.  Maybe a better system could be implemented where the seller would receive a FVF refund of the shipping charges if they use eBay or Paypal to purchase postage... OR they upload the shipping fees from their third party shipping company.


Another thing I would like to see is the word SIGNIFICANTLY re-introduced in tot he SNAD process.

Something else that could be considered is that if a buyer looses a claim any negative feedback or DSRs left as a result of that transaction WILL NOT count against the seller's performance rating.... the buyer gets to leave whatever feedback they want but since they lost the claim the feedback does not affect the seller's account.

Of course we all know that your fantastic suggestions are all a pipe dream and eBay will NEVER go for any of it!
eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List   eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List
by: racecarguy This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu May 10 10:40:46 2012
Good stuff, Ric.

I've always said that eBay needs some people on their board who have actually DONE eBay sales, but that might put them too much in touch with reality, so it won't happen.
eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List   eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List
by: 10 year seller This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu May 10 10:41:20 2012
@ Ric
This is the best one.

''Eliminate Unpaid Items. Test an auction listing format which allows sellers to require immediate payment from the winning bidder when the auction closes. Buyers would be advised when placing their bid that if they are the winning bidder, they then preauthorize the payment. Payment will automatically be completed using the buyers available PayPal balance first with any remaining balance due pulled from their funding method or credit card. Buyers would also be given the option to have the entire payment applied to their credit card through on file with PayPal. ''
eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List   eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List
by: Naturelady This user has validated their user name.
       Web Site
Thu May 10 12:13:57 2012
High Hopes...but don't see it as ever happening...especially about the rich taking the pay cuts.
eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List   eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List
by: cayenna This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu May 10 12:44:24 2012
I would prefer they remove all FB and only have a star rating scale from 1 to 10 as to what they thought of this seller over all. Then others would see what rating you received. There would be no place for someone to leave any comments at all. There’s just too many abuses going on.
If the FB commenting has to stay, then how about make it so that it cannot affect anything other than being informative; and sellers and buyers can reply back twice to be fair. Esp since it has gotten so out of hand and abusive. It is no longer left for the right reasons, it is left more to sabotage people more than anything else. People can be held accountable by just following through with resolving the matter; whether it be a return, replacement, refund etc. after all policies are supposed to mean something and be affective. Like a real business which is what these are. This makes more sense to me since eBay's not always fair in making the decisions on behalf of the buyer or seller. Give us back the ability to deal with problems ourselves. Other than legal and security issues. People have become way too picky (not to say that there is not some valid complaints); and the least little thing causes them to damage your business. If neg FB is going to stay in place the way it is; then remove judging the seller on communication, especially now that we are encouraged not to communicate with our buyers. Reduce the topics a person can judge the seller for and only allow how fast the item was shipped, shipping cost, and item as described. Allow to judge these on a star scale without comments. Get rid of the commenting.
eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List   eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List
by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu May 10 12:51:15 2012
The only problem is - as stated by the top eBay brass - they dont want ANY of these changes to be made - even if they result in a ''better'' eBay.

A better eBay is NOT on the agenda of Noah Hershman and JD.Noah is simply paying back his buddies in the CE industry aka his past employers and those that helped grease the wheels to get him THIS job. He couldnt do all of this at Amazon - except block certain brands and categories, but in eBay he has a clean slate to do so.

His buddies HATE eBay as it is. It muddies up thier strategies of having themselves and ONLY themselves in charge of who sells what. Noah is helping them do so. Where do you think all the MDF that the companies he worked for went to?

JD? Hes asleep at the wheel. Why work when you make $16million. What will change if 1000 more good sellers come or go on eBay?

He knows quite well the Wall Street will treat him right - so why push it? Why make any changes at all? Do you think he or Noah or Johanna of Griff or any of these other people really care if you can leave negative feedback for buyers or if the playing field ''is even''?

The points made are all EXCELLENT, and in a ''real universe'' a smart CEO would act on some if not all of them. But, this universe is eBay, where every rotten, underhanded, dirty trick is used to create an agenda that pumps out money to those who control it.

eBay ISNT about ecommerse - it hasnt been for 10 yrs - its about making money for the top brass, then dumping it when theres nothing left.

First ''fashion'' ponied up funds, now its ''electronics's'' turn.
eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List   eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List
by: cayenna This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu May 10 13:03:07 2012
Yes, I'm afraid you're right :-(
eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List   eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List
by: Mr. Me This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu May 10 14:20:08 2012
stop wasting your time, ebay is broken beyond repair, find another venue!
eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List   eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List
This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford
       
Thu May 10 14:36:31 2012
They are too arrogant to listen. What you have written is brilliant and if they cared even the slightest bit about making their sellers happy they'd listen.  But they won't.
eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List   eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List
by: cayenna This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu May 10 14:36:39 2012
Yes, I have three other shops, and a website that will be ready to launch soon. my eBay shop is now my wholesale Outlet for all of my low discounted inventory for vendors...and to drive traffic to my other shops. I never put all my eggs in one basket. I would encourage others to do the same, or get rid of eBay all together. However, I am a Top Rated Power Seller and worked extremely hard to get there as all of my items are handmade, so I would like to keep the discount if I can. But with the rate eBay is going with destroying their foundation, I am guessing power seller status will be changing for many too. Especially if they keep making more and more ignorant and harmful rules to follow.
eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List   eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List
by: Beth This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri May 11 08:36:59 2012
a lot of common sense in this post...which is why it will never get implemented.  And the Poster should be getting a consulting fee from eBay but we know that won't happen either... unfortunately.
eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List   eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List
by: Ed This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri May 11 10:26:14 2012
Get rid of the selling price and the shipping price all together.
Let the computer show the final price shipped to the door just like when you search lowest price with shipping or highest price with shipping.
 
Who cares if the price is .05 and the shipping is $19.95 or if the price is $10.00 and the shipping is $10.00
This is an ebay game and its running up to much cost.  

The buyer should see one choice based on calculated shipping to the zone they live in Price of $20.00

If the buyer buys the item he is happy if the price is to high don't buy it. Simple who really cares about the details?

If a person goes to buy a gallon of milk does he care how much it cost to ship? what was the cost prior to shipping? Was the shipping reasonable? Was the shipping Very reasonable.
How much do I have to pay.

Get the feed back system simple.

1. Would you buy from the buyer again Yes__ No __
Explain ___________________

2. Were you Happy with eBay Service Yes__ No __
Explain ___________________

3. Were you Happy with PayPal Service Yes__ No __
Explain ___________________  

4. Were you Happy with shipping Service Yes__ No __
A. USPS  ____
B. UPS   ____
C. FedEx ____
Explain ___________________  

Buyers would have a feed back percentage.
I think our store would have a 99.96% and daily nightmare of a system would end.

This would get rid of sellers overcharging for shipping.
This would reduce calls into customer service.
This would reduce buyer extortion and let ebay know the truth of how the market place was doing.

eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List   eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List
by: The Danni App This user has validated their user name.
       Web Site
Fri May 11 10:31:53 2012
Was really hoping to see some suggestions here that eBay might actually take a look at but when you throw this sort of stuff out there that is unrealistic it sort of goes to deaf ears.

There are some good points made, but the overall tone is so negative even I stopped reading.  We have to stop being so angry with eBay that our voice is tuned out.

To get that community back we have to BE a community... and present real tangible fixable issues in a problem solving fashion.  

I personally would like to see eBay put more backing behind the meetup groups and Education Specialists who are out there on the front lines helping sellers who want to succeed.

I'd like less push for Top Rated Seller - make this about smart business decisions which are going to mean different things for different sellers.

And all sellers need to stop running their business like they are eBay dependent, discount dependent, TRS dependent...  provide good products at good prices with good customer service do your best and don't worry about the dsrs and feedback, because you can't control them, you can only do your best!
eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List   eBay Needs to Make Some Changes - A List
by: Bruce Hershenson This user has validated their user name.
       Web Site
Sun May 20 06:59:05 2012
How about just start a second site (call it ''classic eBay'') where only vintage items are allowed, and the rules are exactly the same that existed on eBay in the glory years of 1999 to 2004, when both eBay AND vintage sellers made plenty of money? Just have that alternate site with the old rules exactly as they were!


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