EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 275 - November 21, 2010 - ISSN 1528-6703     6 of 6

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 with "Letters to the Editor" 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 November 7, 2010 to present:

eBay Shipping Expectations Unreasonable for eChecks (November 20, 2010) - Link to letter

Photobucket Changes Disrupt Online Sellers (November 19, 2010) - Link to letter

eBay's Newest Features (November 18, 2010) - Link to letter

Seller Unhappy that eBay Retired Enhanced Photo Uploader (November 16, 2010) - Link to letter

eBay Sold-Items Showing Free Shipping (November 15, 2010) - Link to letter

Seller Protection Does Not Apply to eBay Performance Standards (November 11, 2010) - Link to letter

eBay Top Rated Seller Vulnerable to DSRs (November 9, 2010) - Link to letter

eBay Seller Needs Proof of State Sales Tax (November 9, 2010) - Link to letter

Shipping Insurance Needed for International Parcel (November 7, 2010) - Link to letter


Amazon has really poor policy for tax exempt purchases.

"First, place your order through our website. After you've received your shipment confirmation, please submit the necessary information by fax or e-mail in order to receive a refund of any sales tax."

If you are forbidden from processing a transaction with sales tax I don't care for a refund - I want my exemption at point of sale.

I don't know how many Millions of dollars they are passing up by not making this a seamless process.


To the Editor:
My company is currently suffering a "selling restriction" on eBay UK imposed without warning in early September. This restriction is jeopardising our business (a VAT-registered UK Limited Company) and my polite enquiries to eBay have been replied to with near-identical, "cookie-cutter" standard responses which do not acknowledge, never mind address, the questions I have asked.

Surely it is time we recognised that eBay dominates the UK internet sales arena so far as small businesses are concerned - and as such it should be treated as a monopoly and regulated accordingly.

Any small business hoping to sell brand name products on line will be only too aware that it is impossible to compete with eBay in search results from major engines without a marketing budget out of all proportion to their business model. In an environment where a presence on eBay is a necessity, not a choice, eBay should not be permitted to change their terms and conditions without notice, alter targets and minimum standards to manipulate sellers and fee levels, and otherwise exploit its dominant position.

In telephone conversations with eBay UK customer service representatives I have learned that the new system which caused our restriction was imposed by eBay US and eBay UK does not have control over it. With my earlier remarks in mind, perhaps a regulator should force eBay to be broken up into independent companies in each country in which it operates?

These are serious concerns and there are many similar comments to be found on internet forums and AuctionBytes. Sadly, much of this is ill-informed, inarticulate and potentially libellous to eBay - and so achieves little. We urgently need an eBay "Ombudsman" with authority to examine complaints against eBay and enforce changes where necessary.


Looks like the new reporting hub is up this time. Another useless ebay idea !


Dear Ina,
Tell the gal who had problems with buyer who said, did not receive item despite delivery confirmation that it was delivered, I make it a policy anything over $15.00 that is fragile I have add extra on shipping to cover the cost of insurance, when in doubt insure insure insure, because it is the only way to prove that it was received because someone has to sign for the package - or has the post office changed that unbeknown to us. I will have to call them. Regards, Shirley


Threatening to use Feedback to get refunds, goods and services not included in an item description is now specifically prohibited by eBay policy.

Have you heard anything about the reason for this announcement? It seems they have just opened themselves up for lawsuits. admitting that they allowed people to blackmail up until this point seems well........odd.


Good Morning,
It seems that the pinch from chargebacks for SNAD eBain purchases is starting to be felt by credit card issuers and they have become sick of it.

The link below leads to a posting stating that a member's Citi credit card TOS agreement was amended to say, "...that the credit card company will no longer honor chargebacks for "items not as described" made for purchases made via "online auction sites."

I believe this is only the tip of the iceberg and is likely a harbinger of identical disclaimers from other big plastic issuers, PayPain's extension of SNAD coverage to off eBain purchases will only exacerbate this situation.


I'm an eBay seller, and my and other's experience suggest eBay search engines rotate items listed by location, so not everyone in the country (world?) can view the item at all times for the entire duration of its listing.

Do you have any information on this? I called eBay and when the agent who answered acknowledged the search visibility was computer generated, I was transferred to a Power Seller Agent who denied it.
Thanks in advance,


Hi Ina,
eBay has changed something in the search results page that can be very, very confusing. If you mouse over the "enlarge" link to view the larger image and the image doesn't fit on the screen eBay now moves the position on the current page to make room for the enlarged image to be displayed BUT in doing so your mouse is no longer over the "enlarge" link for the desired item and in some cases another image is enlarged.

If that image doesn't fit the page moves again, and so on. In some case the screen is jumping up and down relentlessly and it's nearly impossible to view anything.

Of course it all depends on the items being displayed, the size of the listings in the display, your screen size, the image sizes, etc. So it might work most of the time but then again it might be totally useless and you can't see anything.


Was reading about that Webgistix service on your news story.

With this service, will the Chinese sellers be able to say they are based in the U.S.? And more importantly, will they have to pay listing fees?

Thanks for all your answers to my questions


Hi Ina,
I don't know if you've seen this yet but the letter in "Griffs inbox" provokes a pretty interesting response from Griff about the "expedited shipping" on ebay. Please strip out any personally identifying info from the email if you use it.

GRIFF'S IN BOX - The word "expedited"

Dear GRIFF, Can some one explain to me - and to the REST of the thousands of ebay sellers AND buyers that this affects - what the bizarre new shipping system is about? The dates and times and even the odd NAMES of the shipping seems almost calculated to get buyers hopes up unrealisticly and guarantee sellers will be hit with lower DSR's for shipping and costs.

Was the nomenclature of the United States Post Office not clear? There is NO such service as "Expedited" and the closest thing they have is EXPRESS - which starts out at something like $30.00. Hardly a realistic amount for a used ski jacket, say.

There seems to be no way to figure in the distance of the buyer from the seller, holidays, weekends, bad weather, combined purchases, post office hours that get changed with out warning, and a host of other obstacles that might occur with even the best sellers best intentions. As an example just today I attempted to mail two boxes of books to a family member - fortunate for me that this was NOT an ebay sale huh? - and I was told my boxes were "Hazardous". Hmmmm - they had formerly held wine - now they held pre-schoolers books. All markings had been inked out - as the PO had told me to do the LAST time I used a re-cycled "toxic" box - last WEEK. This week tho this was NOT good enough. Now I had to lug the heavy boxes home and either cover them completely with colored packing tape - hard to find and not avail in my tiny rural town - or wrap the boxes in brown paper. Which I have been told by the PO is NOT acceptable other times I have used it. Enough to make you despair - and this as I mentioned was NOT even an ebay sale!!!! What if I NOW had to go home and correct this AND tell my brainwashed ebay customer that their widget was going to have to WAIT a day before it could get to the PO???

We really do NOT appreciate policies that seem poorly thought out and that will almost certainly cause sellers to suffer from lowered DSR's - the very rating system eBay came up with to police us mean bad sellers in the FIRST place!!!! Hmmmm - who exactly ARE the ONLY customers eBay HAS??? That would be the SELLERS that pay the FEES.
Yep - me!!!!
Thanks, judith


Hello Judith,
There seems to be two points of confusion: The meaning of the word "expedited" and why eBay uses it to indicate both USPS Priority and First Class. The definition of "expedited"

tr.v. ex•pe•dit•ed, ex•pe•dit•ing, ex•pe•dites
1. To speed up the progress of; accelerate.
2. To execute quickly and efficiently: was trusted to expedite the directives of the board.
3. To issue officially; dispatch.

The word "expedited" was chosen, by eBay, to indicate that the seller is offering faster shipping than just Parcel Post (Standard) or UPS Ground (remember, there is more than just one available service on eBay. Sellers can offer USPS and UPS, and many also offer FedEx). "Expedited" refers to all USPS First Class and Priority Mail and all non Ground services for UPS and other carriers (FedEx, etc). We use "Standard" to indicate slower services like Ground, Parcel Post or Media Mail. This gives buyers a reasonable expectation of the type of service the seller provides without stating exact delivery times.

(BTW, USPS indicated on their web site, to their customers at post offices, and to eBay, that both First Class and Priority are treated the same with regards to processing time (2-4 days, 3 on average).

There is a reason we chose a single word - "expedited" - to indicate the type of service a seller is providing: it let's buyers know that the seller is providing at least one option that is faster shipping without setting specific expectations about delivery dates, etc. However, a buyer can click the details link to see the one or more choices for "expedited" shipping the seller provides.

Your example is an exception, not the rule. It had nothing to do with the time it takes to ship an item from drop off to customer. Nothing we use to indicate to a buyer the overall class of service provided would have mitigated your situation and regardless of what is stated on the item page, if this were an eBay sale, you would still have to contact the buyer to let them know there was a delay in shipping (for whatever the reason).


You might want to write about a BIG software glitch that has been ongoing at eBay for 5 plus days, and that eBay reps have supposedly have told users may take 30 days to fix.

Info here:

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

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