EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 271 - September 26, 2010 - ISSN 1528-6703     7 of 7

AuctionBytes Soundoff: Letters to the Editor

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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.)

Visit the Letters to the Editor Blog, here are links to letters published from September 12th to present:

eBay Not Enforcing Excessive Shipping Policy? (September 25, 2010) - Link to letter

Etsy Sellers Alarmed over New Cancellation Policy (September 23, 2010) - Link to letter

eBay's Best Match Turned Sellers into Involuntary Hoarders (September 21, 2010) - Link to letter

eBay Changes Best Match Search Algorithm? (September 19, 2010) - Link to letter

eBay Mega Sellers Allowed to Disappoint Buyers (September 16, 2010) - Link to letter

eBay Sales Down 90% after Removal of TRS (September 15, 2010) - Link to letter

eBay Buying Craigslist Scary Given Half.com History (September 14, 2010) - Link to letter

Nasty Gal Vintage Leaves eBay and Thrives (September 12, 2010) - Link to letter

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Hi Ina,
Just wondering if anyone else is worried what the Buyer's perception is going to be with the shipping information changes on Ebay. I knew there were some changes coming up regarding the shipping information but I guess I didn't read it thoroughly. I now see my listings that have first class mail shipping options now show as expedited shipping service with estimated delivery in 4-5 days (which also does not state First Class anywhere visible on the main listing page). I'm a bit concerned of what that is going to leave the buyers expectations at. Especially since USPS does not guarantee delivery in 2-3 days like the new ebay listing format shows. I think this is going to leave buyer expectations at an even higher level than what they currently are & leave sellers paying the dues.

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Ina,
I have seen a couple sellers in your blog tell of their results with the last eBay promotion of the 100 free listings. I would be very interested in hearing from other sellers what kind of results they had.
AC_in_Mich

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To the Editor,
I noticed on Friday that "best match" under the Littlest Pet Shop category was not working.

Usually when I list an item with free shipping I am seen on the top of the first page. It didn't happen on Friday or Sunday when I listed. I have been checking the listings every day since Friday morning and none of the "buy it now listings have changed. It's the same listings today on the front page as there were on Friday. One of my items is showing on the first page. I have a buy it now or best offer. I really want to accept one of my offers, but if I do then I won't be seen. I contacted ebay on Friday, Sunday, and today. I pretty sure I'm being blown off. I'm told it's not a top priority. I wonder how other top rated sellers would feel if they new their items were not being seen.

As I was getting ready to send this I received this email from ebay customer support.

Dear Alexis J,
This is a follow-up email to our phone conversation on September 14,2010 in regards to the eBay Best Match and the categorie "Little Pet Shop". As promised I did have a member of or technical support team review this in regards to this issue and this is the information that they gave me.

Because the algorithm for Best Match is secret and quite complex, we can't share exact information on what must be changed to shift a seller's listing to a higher placement. Best Match works by considering the following elements:

*Demand Factors such as free shipping, recent sales, keywords or Item Specifics common to the most successful listings in a category.

*Listing Factors such as distance and comparable cost to other items in the category.

*Seller Performance Factors (whether a seller is Promoted, Standard, or Demoted in Search Standing)

*Recent Sales your Fixed Price listings that produce repeat sales can get a boost in their search exposure.

*Time ending soonest is considered for Auction-style listings.

Then on August 11,2010 we made the following change: "In order to continue to refine and improve search on eBay, we are adjusting the mix of Auctions and Fixed Price listings that appear in Best Match search results pages to better meet buyer format preferences and demand. In several categories this will result in slightly more Fixed Price listings on search results pages. "

The goal of this change is to deliver a format mix (Auctions and Fixed Price) that better meets buyer preferences by category. We have recently tested these changes and the results have been positive ­buyers are more regularly finding the things they are looking for, thereby increasing overall purchases. That's a win for both buyers and sellers.

Test results show that adjusting the format mix to be more in line with buyer demand and preferences will have a positive impact on overall sales. However, some sellers could see a decrease in sales, particularly if they sell in the Auction format in a category where buyer preference is mostly Fixed Price. In those cases, sellers may want to experiment with listing in Fixed Price

I hope that this information is usefull when listing your items. Thank you for being a valuable member of the eBay community. Have a wonderful time shopping and selling on eBay!
Sincerely,
Vint S.

I guess ebay has changed it's best match. I wonder why they didn't announce it. Thank you for your time. Best Regards,
Alexis J.

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I just spent almost a week going back and forth with ebay to get a false positive feedback left on my profile by a buyer who purchased from me. Essentially ebay finally told me that even though it was totally obvious that the feedback left me was inappropriate, they would not remove it. They also added that the only time they would ever do this, remove a false positive feedback, is if a seller leaves one for a buyer. So, in other words. the buyers are more important than the sellers at ebay.

What is really frustrating is that after the false positive was left for me, I contacted the buyer who then went back an read my ad again. The buyer then clearly stated in an email sent to me via ebay that he was at fault and wanted to remove the feedback. Even though ebay's trust and safety department looked at these emails, they still said tough luck in terms of removing this black eye from my profile.

It just goes to show you that ebay does put the buyer first. This policy of refusing to remove a false positive feedback left for a seller by a buyer just makes it more difficult to operate as a seller on ebay.

From the Editor: If the buyer agrees, you can change it - "There are some situations when buyers can revise the Feedback comment or rating, or the detailed seller ratings (DSRs) they've left for sellers. For example, if the seller fixes a problem with the transaction, or if the buyer accidentally left the wrong Feedback. In these situations, sellers can request a Feedback revision."

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It's Not a Plot But...

I've been a seller on eBay for about six years and have enjoyed double-digit growth each year. Sales have been quite good for much of that time, but plainly, between the economy foundering a bit, some changes in my work life, and the constant policy changes and fee hikes which eBay has foisted upon the sellers in their seemingly irrational methodology to improve the site's reliability and trust factors, my business has diminished by about 15% to 20% this last year over last year's.

I admit that I've been unable to attend to certain aspects of my business in terms of acquiring new inventory, yet regardless, in 2010 at least twice now I'd been "elevated" to Top Rated Seller status regardless, and with my feedback at 99.9% in the Spring of this year and the on-again, off-again TRS status, I was still managing to hold on. But this summer...it's slowed even more. I've lost again my TRS status, my feedback has dipped to 99.6% positive, and even my current DSRs (those damned things) is now in the high 4.8s as opposed to my universal 4.9+s since.

Part of it is that I'm just tired of having to deal with all the incredibly unfair policies and procedures foisted on us by eBay, I'm working one full-time job along with a part-time job now instead of two part-time jobs and the toll is being taken. The biggest risk to my business now is what I would call a general...despondency. Perhaps too strong a word; mostly a "who cares anymore" attitude that is beginning to permeate my approach to what was once quite stellar customer service. Yet here's the thing - at 99.6% this sure isn't awful, and even DSRs of 4.85 or higher aren't horrendous, but still...I feel like a muddling failure.

Anywhere else these sorts of positive numbers would put any customer service department to shame, I'm pretty sure, but at eBay? They reduce my income, they penalize my benefits, and encourage me to give them more money by offering free shipping - all with nothing given in return except more of their baseline, nearly non-existent customer service.

I may still choose to completely move my business off to its own website down the road, but after banging my head against my screen for about a year or two dealing with eBay's continuing idiocy, I can only say that eBay has finally succeeded in nearly wearing me down to nothing. When I tell of my experience with eBay's policies in as neutral a manner as possible to my business buddies, they're astounded and wonder how and why I continue to do business with this corporation.
And I don't have any good answers.
Anonymous please Ina!

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Ina,
Ask Todd in your afternoon interview regarding New eBay Policy Prohibits Duplicate Fixed-Price Listings when "eBay is going to say what they will do, then do what they say." They need clearer leadership with a concise communicated vision and stick to it.

Just because eBay "now has the technology to detect duplicate listings," doesn't mean they should implement another pre-holiday change beyond the two major yearly changes they promised.
Colin
Ebay seller
Top-Rated eBay seller
10+ year eBay seller

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Hi Ina,
I am traveling so I am using my Blackberry a lot. I noticed that on my computer one particular category has 12,276 items. On my Blackberry there are only 3372. On This is quite disturbing. I don't understand how this can be happening as all other sites I visit are the same on computer and BB.

This is a disaster for buyers and sellers alike. A lot of people use only a BB or iphone, especially when traveling. I don't know about the iphone having this problem but it is certainly not good for anyone.
Best,
Joyce

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Something new at ebay for you to report on maybe...I received an auto-reply yesterday (rswebhelp-auto-reply.jpg) from ebay email address rswebhelp@ebay.com, it stated for better service use the link or call us. Ebay says call us, can you imagine that.

The link takes you to an ebay webpage (contact-us.jpg) with more options and a button to call us ebay (I never clicked on it) instead I clicked on the report it link and a whole bunch of unrelated listings appeared with radio buttoms to report items. Unusual because I never reported an item in my email to rswebhelp, I just followed the provided link in the auto reply.

That's as far as I went but it is indeed interesting and I'm sure many will be interested. if you have time let me know what you think about this as it appears like another staff reduction coming.
Thanks
JT

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Hi Ina,
Apparently, eBay has disconnected some telephone numbers sellers had on file for customer service, and have also made it more difficult to obtain a telephone number and PIN from the help section.

Discussion boards have several posts regarding disconnected numbers and excessive wait periods for agents. These topics all seemed to open in the past week or so.

Sellers are paying to list and sell on eBay, they should be able to contact customer service in a timely manner, not sit on hold for interminable amounts of time. If eBay valued their seller's time, they would be making sure that calls were handled in a timely manner.

I guess eBay needs to reduce expenses, so when they added new executives for Fashion, they had to cutback somewhere else like customer help.
Regards,
Ric

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Dear Ina,
I am beginning to wonder if there is not a NEW SCAM taking place especially on ebay, and I was wondering if you could post this on your site to see if it is a bigger problem as I think it may be, or if it is just me, and I am now in the TWILIGHT ZONE!

I have now received TWO buyers on ebay within the last 6 days stating that although their packages are saying delivered, "they have not received them".

In fact one person sent us an email making this claim and at the same time FILED a complaint with paypal stating they didn't receive it, while also acknowledging that it shows DELIVERED!

My first question is, is this happening to others, and my second question is, if so, then is this now a NEW SCAM ebay sellers have to now deal with in order to prevent FRIVOLOUS complaints and RETRIBUTION of negative feedback if we do not start RE-SHIPPING even DELIVERED ITEMS?

Now of course ebay and paypal are SUPPOSED to side with the sellers in this situation and most likely will, however, the seller STILL FACES the buyers WRATH via their Feedback and now that ALL OPENED cases count AGAINST the sellers, they must take a HIT to their stats on the filed cases.

At WHAT point are sellers supposed to say, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
Thanks,
from an ebay/buyer HOSTAGE!


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.


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