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EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 305 - February 19, 2012 - ISSN 1528-6703     5 of 5

EcommerceBytes Soundoff: Letters to the Editor


By Ina Steiner
EcommerceBytes.com

February 19, 2012
 



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In every issue, readers soundoff about issues important to them. From shipping to payment services, from fees to online marketplace policies, EcommerceBytes 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" 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 January 23, 2012 to present:

Why No Pushback on eBay's Failure to Credit Fees for Refunds? (February 18, 2012) - Link to letter

Does eBay Allow Suspended Sellers Back on Platform? (February 17, 2012) - Link to letter

In Defense of Florist with Frozen Amazon Account (February 15, 2012) - Link to letter

eBay Customer Service - Being Persistent Pays Off (February 14, 2012) - Link to letter

Mom-and-Pop Seller Fed up with eBay Fees, Moves to Bonanza (February 13, 2012) - Link to letter

Selling Used and Vintage Goods Puts eBay Seller in Jeopardy (February 11, 2012) - Link to letter

eBay UK Ignores Reports of Shill Bidding (February 9, 2012) - Link to letter

PayPal Holds Percent of Seller's Funds on Rolling Basis (February 8, 2012) - Link to letter

eBay Prohibits Links to Facebook and Twitter (February 7, 2012) - Link to letter

eBay Seller Charged by PayPal Recurring Billing for Unused Service (February 5, 2012) - Link to letter

Seller Says eBay Has Compassionate Side (February 2, 2012) - Link to letter

eBay Anonymous DSR Ratings Punish Good Sellers (February 1, 2012) - Link to letter

Is eBay Refunding Seller Fees for Cancelled Orders? (January 31, 2012) - Link to letter

eBay Can't Combine Shipping for Multi-Item Purchases (January 29, 2012) - Link to letter

Marketplaces Encourage Merchants to Take Sellers Choice Poll (January 28, 2012) - Link to letter

Beware Possible Dupe Orders Thanks to PayPal Glitch (January 26, 2012) - Link to letter

Using Google to View Private Feedback on eBay (January 25, 2012) - Link to letter

Could eBay Force Sellers to Provide Access to Email? (January 23, 2012) - Link to letter

eBay Mixes Medicine and Living Wills with Historical Romance (January 23, 2012) - Link to letter

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Re: "Sellers Choice 2012: Merchants Rate Ecommerce Marketplaces" - link to report

Very odd survey results, sounds like you got blasted by new ebid sellers who do not understand ebid does not work exactly like ebay.

All auctions are automatically send to google shopping/google, which is a great way to advertise ebid and my sales. No, wait, ebid should take out advertising on tv for that????

New sellers MUST learn new rules of selling in order to have their sales take off. Notably, lots of listings attract lots of attention and lead to daily sales. Most new ebiders do the ebay thing, put on 10 or 20 items and wait for bids. Since we rely on google "advertising" having just a few items does not do it. Neither does having no descriptions, trying to start auction at 99 cents, and other ebay tricks. Our buyers come from all over web, and do not fall for those little tricks. If they do not sell quickly they have fits and complain that the site is not run correctly. Truth is that the selling "skills" they learned on ebday to not translate well to ANY other site. There are site specific.

New sellers should be prepared to do lots of multiple sales, also unheard of on ebay. Most do not understand that if a buyer likes a seller's items they will buy 5, 10, 20 items if offered a discount. Most try to complete each sale separately and apply no discount for shipping. Buyers hate that and will pull out of sales.

We who sell on ebid attempt to help these new sellers because we learned by trial and error, but most are upset that their wonderful selling skills do not work here. i.e. google shoppers want a description of the item. ebay sellers now offer a one line description which they think works here. No it does not. ebid is an excellent site for auctions, is respectful of buyers and sellers, does not play games with feedback, and everyone has a chance for their items to rise to the top of the listings (not reliant on one's feedback like on ebay). If seller/buyer gets unfair feedback it is removed quickly. If a buyer or seller is trouble, they are removed quickly.

I am not sure where your sellers came from who reported on ebid, but they do not reflect the majority of sellers who actually sell here and have daily sales.

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Re: "News Brief: PayPal Fights Phishing, Amazon Accused of Bullying Small Sellers" - Link to article

I am more amused than ever at the people on here that rave about how great selling on Amazon is. All the rules, endless picayune rules have been bad enough.

The forcing sellers to raise their prices is as bad as any of Ebay's garbage. Does not seem like a better alternative to me...
Sign me,
Phil De Basquet

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Hello Ina & Company,
Half.com is the poor stepchild of Ebay, but it is still kicking. However every time the postal rates go up, why doesn't the reimbursement rate for sellers go up?

Right now BUYERS pay $3.99 to ship a hardback, $3.39 for paperback.

Yet reimbursement rates (to sellers) are $3.07 for hardback and $2.64 for paperback.

With the raised Media Mail rates of $2.47 for up to one pound, sellers are getting squeezed while Half.com continues to take the same cut.

Thanks for keeping us all informed.
Leigh

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Hi Ina,
I just started to edit all of my eBay listings (600 plus) because of the new USPS shipping changes. I noticed that the new Express Mail Flat Rate Boxes are not yet an option on eBay for either Domestic or International shipping.

I called eBay and was told by the CS rep that she would let the tech people know (I already told some of the CS reps about the new Exp. Mail FR boxes a couple of weeks ago). She also told me that eBay was "ready" with the new shipping USPS changes. I told her that if eBay was "ready," then the Express Mail Flat Rate boxes would be an available shipping option now. She told me it might take a month or so (or longer) before the Express Mail FR boxes would be an option.

Maybe if you check into this, you could get them moving on it faster than I can....or, maybe, encourage the readers of your great newsletter to call eBay Customer Service and complain about the option not being available.

Keep up the good work!
Sherry

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Dear Ina,
Anyone having trouble with the "improved" Terapeak website? Terapeak made huge changes to a page that had been very easy to use. Now, it's a confusing mess. I've been using Terapeak for about four years and have liked their service and their website. Now, everything has changed so much, it's very difficult to use and what use to take one step is now taking 3 steps!! Anyone else have input?
Signed,
Gail in Florida

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Re: Coupon Site RetailMeNot Gives away $150,000 in Post-Christmas Promotion - Link to article

Dear Ina,
Thanks to your newsletter - I won one of the $250 prepaid VISA gift cards from RETAILMENOT. I just received it and have already used it at my local grocery!
Thanks again.

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Hi Ina,
Just received this from eBay. There is a pattern I am seeing with regard to how eBay gradually builds non sale related volume in order to prop up the marketplace and try to make GMV and profit look more appealing to their Wall Street Masters..

First there was the gradual push of sellers toward free shipping, then eBay slowly ratcheted up the pressure on small sellers to include shipping costs into the selling price with incentives such as the alleged boost in visibility.. The initial goal was to persuade enough sellers to go for the carrot so that the additional volume generated by including shipping would conceal the decline in eBay's marketplace.

Eventually, push came to shove, eBay needed to show better numbers so they took the final step and imposed a Final Value Fee on shipping costs. Bottom line needs to boost GMV even though sales are not increasing., eBay could not persuade all sellers to offer free shipping to boost GMV, so they found it necessary to impose the FVF on shipping just in time for the holiday rush in a last ditch effort to convert as many sellers as possible.

eBay is doing the same thing now with their attempt to persuade sellers to switch to eBay shipping platform.

eBay obviously makes a profit on when shipping labels are processed through either eBay or PayPal.

PayPal has no problem with cash flow or showing profits, but eBay still has the problem. The latest plan is revenue shifting - moving shipping volume away from PayPal and over to eBay where revenue is needed to look good to Wall Street.

First, eBay tried to shift sellers over by not making certain shipping services for USPS available through PayPal such as Regional Rate and Padded Priority Mail postage.

Next was decision to entirely close PayPal for shipping. This failed because eBay quickly learned that sellers would take their shipping business to a third party rather than use eBay's clunky shipping process. After 2 weeks, eBay corp decided that rather than continue to lose the revenue from shipping completely, they restored PayPal shipping but still refused to update PayPal with Regional Rate and other USPS services which were still only available through eBay.

Now it appears that in order to achieve their revenue shifting goals, eBay is willing to cut their commission and entice sellers to process shipping through eBay by discounting delivery confirmation costs, and emphasizing that this discount is available only when labels are processed through eBay.

When eBay rolled out their shipping process it was loaded with the obligatory glitches. Delivery confirmation numbers did not consistently transfer to the PayPal transaction. eBay's shipping system was subject to frequent outages as well. These two issues combined with the clunky system which was so different and more time consuming than sellers were accustomed to caused many sellers to refuse to utilize eBay's shipping platform.

Now eBay finds they need to offer discounts as an incentive to get sellers to utilize their glitch prone system. It's kind of like having to hang a piece of meat around an ugly child's neck as the only way to get the dog to play with them.

eBay could make this process much less painful for themselves and for sellers if only they were smart enough to realize that sellers do not use eBay shipping because the process is so different from the process at PayPal. If eBay made the system for preparing labels as familiar,simple, and streamlined as PayPal's system is, (and got all the glitches out prior to release) they would not have the problems they are facing getting sellers to convert with or without the discount.

Sellers are not fooled by eBay's attempt to shift revenue to artificially prop up eBay's lagging numbers. Sellers may be enticed by the discounts eBay is currently pushing, but they also realize that eventually eBay will remove those discounts because they will eventually need to recover that revenue too.
Regards,
Ric

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If You Don't Take Care of The Customer Someone Else Will!

In the last ten years, companies have made it more difficult, more confusing, and more frustrating to deal with them than ever before. They give all the "special offers" to the new customers; they've removed human beings from answering phones and answering questions. They make us pump our own gas, check on our packages, book our own airline tickets and figure out when they've made mistakes on our accounts. They've cut their training budgets and have trimmed their service staffs to the bone. They moved their customer service departments off shore, where people don't understand how we think. Then, they charge us fees for the privilege of using their "customer" services!

Is it no wonder we've become rather selective to whom we pledge our loyalty? No, customer loyalty is not dead, but it is hurting bad. It is given only to those companies that earn it and keep earning it by delivering value and positive experiences on a consistent basis.

"If You Don't Take Care of The Customer Someone Else Will", Simply means that there are a whole lot of other companies that will gladly give customers what they are looking for. When they walk away they walk away quietly. Problem is you have to find them.

LOYAL customers give you referrals and sing your praises in your advertising and testimonials. Referral business is like "free" new customers. So the money you would have paid to GET the new customer reflects back down to your bottom line.

When we FEEL good about doing business with a company we form emotional ties, not just financial ties with them. Let's face it, customers are emotionally attached to their money - if we want them to give some of it to us - we need to get them emotionally attached to US.

Employees and Customers are people. As people we are perceptive, conscious, sensitive, alive and feeling beings! It's an essential part of our nature. When we finally recognize that in business, we'll work harder at building the emotional equity with a customer that determines whether or not they become a loyal customer or a lost customer. We come back to companies that have what we want and create a positive experience for us. We leave companies that don't have what we want or create a negative experience for us. Experience is emotional.

I want to give my money to companies that want to help me be the best ME I can be - whether I'm buying cosmetics or computers or telephone service or food. I want to do business with someone who has my best interests in mind.

"If You Don't Take Care of The Customer Someone else Will" This means a whole lot more than we ever thought. Let's start doing a better job of creating experiences that the customer perceives as positive, caring, and yes, maybe even loving.

I find it is sadly true that most companies don't have a strategic plan for keeping customers, keeping them happy OR keeping them coming back time and time again with their money and their friends. Even though Customer Loyalty was determined to be a #1 concern of major corporations, how many companies do more than pay lip service to the importance of customer service and loyalty in their organization? Your guess is as good as mine. Based on the service I receive as a customer, well, I can understand why more customers aren't loyal, can't you?

Recently, I wanted to do some spring cleaning and I wanted to rent a trash bin. I proceeded to call 10 disposal companies in my city. Only one answered the phone within 3-5 minutes, sad but true. Do they really want our business, the message while on hold says, "your call is important to us" but I wonder just how important and how they stay in business. This is a small sample of the kind of services one can expect, not only from a disposal companies, but other service companies thought out the USA. In this case, guess who got the business? Yes! the one that actually answered the phone.

What can YOU do to change that? What can you do to turn the tide on this disturbing trend and develop long lasting, loyal customer relationships?

I'll do my own research, haul my own lumber and pump my own gas - but if I'm doing the service work - then I want the lowest price possible! I'm not loyal to companies that don't care enough about me to make my experience with them easy, stress and hassle free, and pleasant.

How about you?
John Baca (bacpro)

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INA,
I posted this on the powerseller chat board. It's a serious flaw in the eBay TRS rating system, and I think it should be brought tot he attention of affected sellers.

"I put my store on vacation this morning, for 1 day. Why - because I have 395 US transactions as of this morning. If I sell 6 things today, I will go over the limit of 400, and be rated on a 3 month instead of a 12-month lookback.

While that's a good thing for many - it's not a good thing for me. I got 2 low ratings in IAD (including the bogus neg) in the last 90 days. If I sell just 6 more items, that puts me over the .50% line, and a single bad rating in the next 60 days will cause me to lose my TRS.

If I keep sales below the 400 mark, I could have 5 more bad ratings and still keep my TRS. I hope I never get that many, but buyers aren't required to be honest or truthful on the ratings they leave, so anything can happen.

What a truly stupid thing - I'm better off NOT selling than selling. Only on eBay is success punished...."
Regards,
Leslie

PS: It's just crazy that I can lose my TRS over a statistical fluke. at 399 transactions with 3 bad ratings, I'm a TRS. At 401 transactions with the same 3 ratings, I'm not......

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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