EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 263 - May 16, 2010 - ISSN 1528-6703     7 of 7

AuctionBytes Soundoff: Letters to the Editor

Email This Story to a Friend

In every issue, readers soundoff about issues important to them. From feedback to payment services, from fees to posting policies, AuctionBytes Soundoff gives you a chance to air your views.

Send your letter to the editor by emailing ina@auctionbytes.com with "Letters to the Editor Blog" in the subject line. (Remember to include your name as you would like it to appear.)

********

I am or was a Platinum PowerSeller and a Trusted Seller with over 2200 feedback and a 100% rating and my DSR's were 4.99% across the board and sold around $30,000.00 per month in sales. I worked mighty hard to achieve that record. Yesterday, when I logged in to my eBay account I discovered that my account had been suspended. My suspension came without warning and without any communication beforehand. The only communication from eBay was a form letter that said my account was suspended for feedback manipulation. What feedback manipulation? Give me an example eBay of how I "manipulated" feedback. This is insane! This is how eBay treats their customers?

I pay eBay around $3,000.00 per month in fees and I was paying AdCommerce around $2,500.00 per month and they do not have the decency to have a phone number so I can reach Trust and Safety to find out which one of my auctions was "feedback manipulation"? What is going on with this company? Are they trying to drive away ALL their Sellers? To say that I am disappointed in eBay is an understatement.

********

I'm tracking the PowerSeller forums. With few exceptions, if you've got less than 10K feedback, your sales are in trouble - if you've got more, your sales are great. We're Titanium sellers, TRS (for now) with over (withheld) feedback and over 100,000 FP (formerly store) listings, and our sales are very healthy.

But we're preparing for September by stepping up our game and blocking accounts. Ask too many questions, you get blocked. Leave non-positive feedback for any reason, you get blocked. Open an eBay case or a PayPal dispute for any reason, you get blocked. We're also monitoring our honorable competitors with Toolhaus; any questionable feedback left for THEM, you get blocked.

Keeping TRS is more important than customer service on eBay. Why pay to fix a problem if you already know you can't risk keeping the customer? Better to cut your losses.

(If you are of a mind to quote me in any detail, please avoid using our feedback or listing count. Thanks.)

********

Any chance you could run a survey asking about the following things? Love what you do and thank you.

Since the change of no warning screen that someone is about to leave negative feedback, how many of you have lost TRS?

I feel the lack of a warning screen is designed to cost all non diamond sellers their TRS status. While diamonds keep their TRS no matter what.

I can admit once over a decade ago I accidentally checked the wrong feedback button, even though I left nice feedback.

Many sellers have been taking far more neutral and negative feedback, who had a perfect record for years.

Other problems include ebay glitches where they randomly relist items you sold, and now get negative feedback for an item you did not relist. One seller had 3 of these at once. This had been an occasional glitch, but gotten far worse lately.

Getting 1 star on shipping with free shipping.

********

Hi Ina,
I wanted to write to your Editor section and bring up something. When a seller prints postage online using Paypal and that information is sent to the postal service, does the postal service have insight into what I bought or how much I paid. How about the other online postal companies? Like Endicia.

I wonder what they can see and who then could get access to it after it is transmitted to the postal service companies. Like customs. Useful for them.

********

Hi Ina,
A funny thing happened on the way to the opera last night. I don't recall seeing any publicity on it - then I no longer take any notice of eBay announcements - but I've just noticed that eBay UK has stopped using those most devious "Bidder 1, 2, 3, ..." bidder aliases and is now using the same slightly less-anonymous form of alias as is the rest of the eBay world. Now I will be able to do some multi-auction analyses on some of those 99p-start auctions by some UK Power Sellers. But, seriously, at least UK buyers-at-auction have now got a little better chance of protecting themselves from the many unscrupulous shill-bidding sellers who were undoubtedly having a field day previously.
Regards
Philip

********

Hi Ina,
I am especially concerned about Ebay's Seller Protection Program cases being factored in to our Seller Performance Standards beginning in September. I had a buyer this week open a case because I did not respond immediately to her unreasonable demands to return her purchase price and original shipping in addition to demanding that I also refund her for return shipping as well which is stated in my listing that it is the buyers expense. (Please note: according to Ebay, I am one of their "best sellers")

She felt the item was not as described and that I did not list the "defect" in my listing. It was a Corning Ware teapot that I inspected myself and felt it was in excellent condition. She somehow managed to fit her hand into a 4" opening and felt the inside of the teapot and thought is was "bumpy" and that she could not use it. I responded to her within 24 hours to tell her to ship it back for a refund. She emailed me back and told me she wanted reimbursement for the return shipping as well as the item was "defective". I did not respond right away she opened a case. This all transpired within a time frame of 3 days.

According to Ebay she may have had "buyer's remorse" (since when is buyer remorse a reason to open a case?) and I should just escalate it and let Ebay review it. I did just that, and within 2 hours they gave her money back plus shipping and she does not have to send the item back because that would be too much trouble for her and she now has a free item. (Why am I required to state a shipping and return policy?! it means NOTHING)

I should be happy because the money is not coming out of my pocket as they found neither the seller nor the buyer at fault. However, I now have one open case on my record and the maximum is TWO. This is May; the new policy goes into effect in September, Ebay is already keeping score!

If I am not at fault, why is this case even being counted? The logic of this whole thing just escapes me. At this rate, I will be out of business by next month; forget September! I have been experiencing quite a number of buyers that don't read the listing and just buy something before they know what they bought then can't understand why it's not what they thought it was, or that the item didn't go out the door within minutes after their purchase. Where are these people coming out of the woodwork?

There may be a need for this program to be in place, BUT, if I am found not at fault, I feel I should not have this case hanging over my head. Sorry, if this is rambling, but it is just sticking in my craw.
Thank you for letting me vent.

********

I'm sure I'm not the first person that has commented on this matter and I know I won't be the last, but it just doesn't seem right to me. When a buyer buys multiple items from you in the same week and then leaves positive feedback for all of those transactions, only 1 of those feedbacks count towards your feedback score. Yet if that buyer leaves several negative feedbacks and low DSR's, they each count separately towards your feedback score. I can't figure out for the life of me how eBay even thinks that makes any kind of sense. If negative feedback and DSR's count separately from one buyer then shouldn't ALL positive feedback left from one buyer count separately as well? I don't know, call me crazy! I know this falls on deaf ears but thank you for letting me voice my opinion

********

I have bought and sold on eBay - on and off - for about six years. During that time, I have noticed the many troubling changes others have recounted here and have experienced the same declines in sales that others have reported.

What I do not understand is why no competitor to eBay auctions has emerged. Sure, there are competitors to fixed price listings - the currently much-heralded Bonanzle (I wish them well) all the way to Amazon stores (they don't seem to need good wishes).

But for online auctions, no real competitor has emerged (except, perhaps, Delcampe for collectibles). Why not? We know there is money to be made there. We know there are companies with the technical and marketing expertise to give eBay a real run (Google, Amazon, etc.). So why is there no competitor to the declining behemoth that is eBay?

********

The true nature of ebays "open case' policy has some very nefarious potential. The timing of the implementation of this new policy is scary. The "open case" policy could easily allow ebay to keep all money flowing through their site from buyers and sellers during the 2010 holiday season. ALL OF IT.

The combination of refund/open case policy could also allow ebay to keep collecting reimbursements from sellers over and over and over after issuing the first refund to a buyer without ebay ever having to refund the buyer again and silence sellers when they complain.

Like any good magic trick the magician focuses your attention on one point to distract you from what is being done somewhere else. ebays "open case policy" does this. While you are focused on the open case policy ebay is setting you up on their refund policy. So be prepared.

To understand how dangerous the open case policy is you need to know how ebay handles refunds. According to their site ebay can issue a refund to a buyer in the form of a paypal only credit then collect reimbursement from the seller.

This effectively allows ebay to take in cash equal to twice the purchase price of an ebay sale and keep it by converting 100% of a sellers proceeds from a sale into a paypal credit on the buyers account (only usable for making purchases with paypal) then take an equal amount of cash from the seller in the form of reimbursement to ebay.

The open case policy goes into effect right before the holiday season starts. This gives enough time for seller to be hit with cases and go into the holiday buying season on very shaky ground. This is where the ebay refund policy kicks in allowing ebay if they wanted to keep all money flowing through their site plus that much again from seller reimbursements.

*Buyer makes a $50 purchase and opens a case.
*Ebay issues the buyer a $50 paypal credit only good for making purchases through paypal, it cannot be withdrawn to the buyers bank account.
*Seller has to reimburse ebay $50
*Buyer uses their $50 credit to make another ebay purchase and opens another case.
*ebay sides with the buyer, issues another refund and collects reimbursement from another seller. And on and on without end.

The second time around no cash changes hands, it's all a buyer credit but since the seller has to reimburse ebay what it all boils down to is buyer keeps their credit and ebay collects 100% of the sale price from the seller!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ebay can do this anytime they want.

ebay could keep all money flowing through their site this holiday season by doing this plus get an equal amount from sellers for reimbursement. Would they? The point is they could and have everything in place to do it.

By the time sellers figure out what is going on ebay has taken in tons of money. Sellers will start to complain. This is where open cases comes back into play. Use open cases to suspend or close complaining user accounts so the user can't do anything and silence users. ebay keeps all money.

I have always said if you want to make sense of ebay policy you can not look at it from a rational point of view you have to look at it as a scheme of some type to generate revenue for ebay or make them look good on paper.

Go to ebays site and view their buyer refund policies. Try to find anywhere on ebays site where they tell you how many open case are counted against you before they take action.

Done on a small scale percentage wise ebay has the policies in place to generate a 4th quarter 2010 stockholders report that makes them on paper look bigger than Amazon. Are they posed to do this? Where are they going with their refund and open case policies? Now is the time to find out. Call ebay and ask them, email ebay and ask them. See if you can get a straight answer. I couldn't, which tells me they have a plan for the 2010 holiday season and it's scary what they could do to users.

********

I sell in the Adult area on eBay (mainly VHS). Do you have any knowledge if sales in this area decreased in April? The reason I ask is when they moved everything over to FP and "tweeked" the site map, they glitched the Adult Category and it took weeks to get it fixed.
Thanking you in advance,
Bill

********

I normally do around 10K a month on Ebay and have a 100% feed back with almost 14,000 feedbacks given. In February and March and part of April my sales increase to almost a 16K level. Then during my 3rd week in April I lost my top rated seller rating due to having my communications rating of 1-2s dip to .60 from .50. Now my sales have dropped back to 10K. I believe we also had some changes in how listings appear at about the same time. I really don't see much difference in how my listing are showing up because most categories I sell under I have very few real competitors or I because I due a good job in those areas.

So, I am wondering if losing my top rated seller rating really effected me that much or was it EBay's changes, or both. Maybe sales were just good during that time period and the changes were not a factor.
Joe

********

Hello once again,
I had a buying experience yesterday that left a nasty taste in my mouth. I bid on three items with the opening bid being $0.49.That was a little over an hour to go before the auctions ended. Just prior to my winning those auctions I receive an official, "Bid cancelled", notice from the seller stating that the reason was that she had several bad experiences with me and was not willing to take the chance.

The truth of the matter is that I had never had any business dealings wit this seller and their rationale was that they expected the price to far exceed the $0.49 ending bid. The fact that this seller openly lied angered me and I wrote two emails in return. The 1st defied them to show one transaction between us. The 2nd was to inform them that I was filing a formal grievance through eBay. Of course there was no response to either. If I had been a problem buyer the seller would have blocked me using common sense.

I did follow through with filing a formal complaint for whatever it is worth. I will see if the buyer is King on eBay. I listen repetitively as to how the sellers are victimized but I don't see them admit their own wrong doings. To listen to them on the discussion boards and venues like this, one would think that all are saints but the facts sometimes prove different. I really hate to say this but eBay sellers are forcing me to purchase more and more on Amazon and other on-line web sites. I spend around $2000.00 a month, mostly on eBay but I am seriously considering dropping eBay all together.

I have had to open 14 cases against sellers this month alone for gross seller violations. This is more than I have ever opened since my beginning with 5000 plus purchases under my belt. I have to admit that there are buyers who are total deadbeats but there are as many sellers who fall into that same category. My advice is to clean up their own houses before they invite others in.

********

Also visit the Letters to the Editor Blog, here are links to letters published from May 2 to present:

Seller Applauds eBay's Item Condition Requirements (May 14, 2010) - Link

Survey Indicates eBay May Highlight Business Sellers (May 13, 2010) - Link

Seven-Year-Old Dings eBay Seller's Feedback (May 11, 2010) - Link

eBay Removal of Stores Tab Is Self-Defeating (May 11, 2010) - Link

eBay Seller Dinged by Non-Paying Customer (May 10, 2010) - Link

eBay Items Finally Showing up in Google Search (May 9, 2010) - Link

eBay Hits Speed Bump (May 9, 2010) - Link

eBay Gallery Images Flakey on Store Listings (May 6, 2010) - Link

eBay Stores Report Unavailable to Some Sellers (May 5, 2010) - Link

Seller's Blocked Bidder Function in eBay Not Working (May 5, 2010) - Link

eBay's Open-Case Policy Cracks China-Seller's Standing (May 2, 2010) - Link


About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.


You may quote up to 50 words of any article on the condition that you attribute the article to EcommerceBytes.com and either link to the original article or to www.EcommerceBytes.com.
All other use is prohibited.