EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 387 - February 14, 2016 - ISSN 1528-6703     3 of 0

Sellers Choice 2016 Marketplace Ratings: eBay

By Ina & David Steiner

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In January 2016, EcommerceBytes surveyed over 12,000 online sellers and asked them to rate the marketplaces on which they had experience selling. An introduction to the Sellers Choice survey along with a summary of the overall ratings can be found here, along with links to results for each of the 12 online marketplaces included in the survey.


Customer Service:


Ease of Use:

Would you recommend:

Year Established: 1995
Description: Auction format, fixed price, storefronts and general merchandise
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eBay came in first place this year in the Sellers Choice Awards for Online Marketplaces, a big comeback from its fifth place standing last year. It also came in first out of ten marketplaces in Profitability.

There were many positive comments about eBay this year, with many sellers pointing to a high volume of traffic and sales as a major advantage to selling on eBay over other venues. Positive feedback included comments about its ease-of-use.

Negative feedback centered around high fees - "exorbitant," one called them; "they even take a percentage on the shipping," wrote another.

Some said eBay was best for selling used and vintage goods. One seller wrote, "For used items, eBay is great. For new items, the sales volume is not good compared to Amazon. I recommend it to people if their items appeal to customers who are looking for a deal."

One seller praised eBay's make an offer feature ("Best Offer"), inviting Amazon to consider adopting it for used goods on its marketplace.

A common problem cited was unsatisfactory customer service, though some sellers said customer service had improved. "I do most of my business on eBay. The customer service in the US is great," a seller wrote, but continued, "The outsourced customer service can be very frustrating - the language barrier and rote answers are not always helpful."

Some sellers said eBay rolled out too many changes impacting sellers, and some said eBay interfered too much in sellers' businesses.

A lot of the comments about eBay were along the lines of, "eBay is great, but..." and then went on to describe a problem as well. For example, one seller wrote, "Great site...the best...only issue is that they do not support sellers when it comes to fraudulent buyers leaving negative feedback. No seller protection....but is GREAT!"

Another seller wrote, "High fees, non-existent email support, constant change of rules against sellers... but can't beat the traffic."

Some sellers mentioned problems with eBay's own search engine - "a tangled mess of where your item ranks in the search," said one seller. "I wish they would replace their search functions," wrote another. Others mentioned eBay's poor visibility in Google search results.

Of interest - one seller pointed to the challenges facing new sellers. "On eBay, you can sell your items fast, but they only let you sell 10 items for your first few months and then when you sell something you have to wait 3 weeks for your pending money to be available. Once you get past the beginning stage it's ok, but plan on paying fees to list items, they only let you list a small number of items for free every so often. If you can get past the 50 feedback mark then they start giving you more listings."

eBay received a 6.65 in Profitability; a 5.92 in Customer Service; a 5.89 in Communication; and a 6.38 in Ease of Use. (Only Ease of Use was lower than last year's scores.) It received a 5.76 from sellers when asked, "How likely are you to recommend eBay as a selling venue to a friend or colleague?"

Reader Comments:The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

As a consignment reseller, eBay is still the best market for used/ antique/ vintage items, which constitutes most of our inventory. Fees are reasonable, and we can set our own shipping rates. The Best Offer feature is fabulous - something Amazon should consider adopting, especially on used items.

eBay isn't for everyone, but we have had many years of consistent sales there. When we have issues with counterfeit products showing up on eBay, we have been able to get them successfully removed quickly.

I've had good experience with selling on eBay since 2004.

I have been a long time customer and seller on eBay for 13 years and their marketing and advertising brings in traffic and traffic equals sales.

eBay is a very stable website and source of income. I love it, great customer service.

eBay brings enough traffic per month to my eBay Store. The communication between eBay and sellers is good but can be better. The use of site is very easy.

An excellent site. My store does very well there. Shipping is easy and there are a number of tools to track sales. They have always answered my questions promptly and in person. The only thing I am sometimes unclear on is how on-time delivery is figured.

Seller for 12 years. It has been a great extra income source.

Sometimes you have to do some digging to find sections, but for the most part if you spend some time educating yourself about the site, it is very useful.

I have sold on eBay for many years. I make money and it works. I do not always agree with the decisions they make in regards to buyer versus seller conflicts. I am just glad I have never had too many of conflicts,

My main source of income. The best. eBay has alot of negative press, but I just absolutely LOVE IT!! As a seller and buyer, I've been on eBay since 1998. It's been a very excellent experience. eBay always keeps things fair and honest between buyer and seller, when transactions go wrong. But, I've had 99% of my transactions go very well and I will continue to use EBAY for a very long time... GO EBAY!

eBay is easy to use doesn't cost a lot to get started and already has traffic coming to the site.

eBay is the platform is use most and I am very satisfied with the service I receive.

eBay has drastically improved their seller support over the past year or so. Awfully competitive and fees are too high, so profitability isn't what it could be.

eBay has proved to be a reasonable venue for selling. It is great they offer free shipping purchase and document printing. The electronic posting of "things to do" and status of transactions is very helpful.

I sell a lot on eBay and while eBay does side with buyers more than sellers, I love that you can always reach customer service when you need it and listing and selling I have always felt pretty safe.

eBay has the numbers of people buying that the others do not. It is the most redeeming factor because their customer service isn't the easiest to get ahold of. But they have become nicer to sellers by re-allowing us to relist expired items for free on their free fee special times.

Good overall sales engine. More competition now and buyers have more trouble finding items for sale.

High fee but fast customer service. Get human answer quick. Decently fair to sellers. Easy to list and ease of shipping. No need to mark item as ship once item is shipped from PayPal.

eBay is very easy to use, but they have very high fees. eBay gets a lot more traffic and I have more sales. Simple to give refunds on returns and get your fees back.

I have a lot of experience with eBay so it has gotten easier over time. The customer service is terrible. It is the most profitable selling venue I have tried. I recommend eBay to people if they are willing to put time and hard work into it, not as an occasional seller.

I love eBay as a place to sell. It is easy, efficient and profitable. Customer service stinks. The buyer is always right, the seller takes it in the wallet every time. What does eBay care? They have their money.

eBay has the traffic and helps me move a lot of volume. Their rules are EXTREMELY biased in favor of the buyer, however. They are also extremely greedy with their fees. Their listing fees are ridiculously high (for music). As a seller, I consider eBay as a "necessary evil".

eBay's policies have changed over the years, and have actually made it harder for a seller, however, I can still reach more people on eBay than any other site.

eBay is difficult to list products when you have alot of them. Adding to inventory is a huge ordeal. I get lots of sales from eBay though so I tough through it.

Has the access to the huge worldwide customer base, no contest. Customer service personnel is polite but doesn't provide any practical help or support.

When I want to sell something, I want to sell it now, I don't want to go to an auction.. It's a good site if you want to do it as a hobby.

I like eBay - fees are high but the traffic is there. What I don't like is how easily a customer can abuse a seller and the seller is automatically screwed. I had just a few. Sellers need to rate buyers.

Selling is ok on eBay, and you might occasionally sell a higher ticket item, but overall the quality of buyers are the ones that barely have any money to spend even on an item that is priced very well. If you're selling cheap merchandise for barely a profit you'll do OK.

There is still difficulty using the tools eBay provides. The platform is creaky and old. I wish they would replace their search functions.

A reputable site and well knows so items do sell on here however your ranking may not show items as well as expected. Feedback system is still flawed. The days Sellers could leave negative for buyers was better. Fees can be hefty to sell on eBay as well.

eBay used to be much better than it is now. Would leave if there was a site that items sold from. Have tried other sites and eBay is still the best to get any sales at all. Not like it used to be. Other sites are not good for sales that I have found but still trying and posting.

It is a bit clunky. I think they need to reinvest some money into infrastructure of the site, but you can't argue it's a veteran in the internet selling game.

I use eBay regularly and have a good bit of sales, but no matter what the customer is always right even if they are wrong in a complaint.

I sell on eBay they have great traffic but be very careful - they have buyers that will buy an item an even tho your listing may say item has defect and the whole description of the defect plain to see, they will get the item and then put in a claim and eBay always sides with the buyer. Then you're out shipping cost return shipping cost etc. even tho you site says buyer pays for return shipping etc.

eBay is improving yet needs 24 hour phone support availability based on the size of its operation. Also they need to continue reducing their regulations on what and how one can sell on their web site. They're taking a step in the right direction by not kicking off listings like they used to.

eBay is a good place to sell but they kill you with the fees. I always received double fees (eBay + PayPal fees). It's very sad they take a lot from my profit.

Easy to startup and relatively easy to use. It does not scale as well as the other selling channels and there are system and back-end issues that have not been addressed.

eBay is the best online marketplace in my opinion but the fees they keep from completed sales are a lot and also the limits they have don't let the sellers make more and more sales.

Large market with high competition. eBay's communication with seller is terrible among any platform I have used. You get different answers each time when you communicate with different customer support. It loops you around with different department and with no answers.

Sales continue to slow year after year. Still my most profitable venue.

Customer service needs improvement. You get different results/information from different reps. Sales are down and fees are up so a little less profitable than it once was..

When you combine eBay fees with PayPal fees, it comes to about 20%. Not that terrible, but not great for a small seller. Then if you get ripped off, even worse.

eBay is easy to use, but difficult to use "well". There's a lot to know and do if you want to maximize your profit and protect yourself. Also, eBay doesn't protect its sellers very well and its fees are heavy (but sales/traffic are high).

Been selling on eBay for almost 15 years and have to admit it is my bread and butter. I do have decent sales on there but lately my sales have dropped 60-70%. I am a top rated seller and power seller with an anchor store but still sales have really dropped for me. But this is the one site I sell the most.

eBay protects its buyers, and needs to start protecting its sellers. Much fewer sales vs listings than in prior years. Still the profitable site, but becoming much less so

Best of Pick. Phone call for communication. Very friendly. Some problems if you request a feedback correction, but reasonable.

My highest percentage of listings vs sales. Fees are reasonable especially for lower valued items. Continually changing playing field makes for frustration with rule changes and business planning.

eBay has high fees, especially onerous is the fee on the cost of shipping. Sales are depressed, prices are greatly depressed. It's a very buggy platform, different things break every day; bug fixes and "no brainer" improvements are not done in favor of unneeded and frustrating revamps of perfectly fine screens or processes. For example, how in the world could they NOT be ready for the new First Class >13 ounce thing on 1/17. Unbelievable. Constantly in fear of fraud buyers, faulty returns, just crazy people in general.

eBay, while it can be very profitable and rewarding, is full of so many pitfalls. Ex: I was excited at first to have the short listing form option, as it made listing a lot more pleasant for me. Then I received my first in-state sale of an item that I had listed with the short form; no sales tax included! Being a long time seller, I have always had the correct sales tax selected in my settings and it has always been charged on my eBay sales. After some research and to my not-so-great surprise, I found that since this option isn't part of the short listing form, it isn't charged at all, regardless of your account settings. Just one sample pitfall of several I've encountered.

eBay is fine but it has many rules and restrictions and their customer service people do not know how to correctly address and respond to questions that I have , I can call 3 different times with the same question and get 3 different responses, that is bad!!

eBay's complete lack of seller protection, their 100% buyer guarantee, failure to act on the report a buyer when submitted by a seller, technical issues that cause major interruptions, high fees, no google search, the worst customer service I have encountered ever. A TRS program that favors high volume sellers, a tangled mess of where your item ranks in the search and complete lack of control concerning buyer fraud.

Profitability is nil thanks to eBay's policy of charging for every little perk, basing its fees on shipping costs with postage costs rising substantially, with widespread bogus Feedback extortion and false ISNAD Returns, with surly and discourteous Customer Service who boast that they will do nothing to help Seller members deal with insane Buyer Members who post vile profanity as "Feedback", and unending modifications to site rules, policies, and procedures, as if Members have nothing better to do than read endless drivel about how the term "Bundle" is Okay to use but "Lot of" "Set of" etc are banned from Listing Titles. Too many Customer Service reps give mere lip service to actually handling serious problems on eBay. Some openly lie and then laugh about it when they're called out on it.

eBay does not allow sellers to appeal poor customer feedback when their issue can be challenged.

Lots of recurring site problems that do not get corrected is alarming. Biannual updates are unnecessary, destabilize the system and hurt sales during the month it is implemented without exception. For certain types of businesses, attaining top rated seller status is nearly impossible. Customer service reps in the call center sound robotic and phony.

They charge fees that include postage which is unfair and set too many standards to follow.

Too much interference with a seller's business. Unfair treatment of members when there is a problem. Unfairly charging seller a fee for shipping paid by buyer. Too many rules and rule changes, too often taking effect when it is not a good time in the selling year. Very poor help from CS. Even if one can finally get useful help after repeatedly calling and waiting on hold for long periods, that is not good customer service.

It is very frustrating to get outsourced when trying to get answers to questions. I also feel that eBay no longer has my back as a seller so I am doing more to protect myself.

eBay, in some respects, has improved, but sales have decreased for most categories.

eBay's feedback and refund process is heavily, HEAVILY skewed towards buyers. It doesn't offer enough protection for sellers.

I just quit eBay and I have been with them since 2001. I grew tired of their fees and the return policies. I sell used items and the eBay policies do not support a used seller very well. Also I sell Second hand jewelry and this category is flooded. Awash. Full of crappy items that are mis-catagorized.

eBay shouldn't send emails to customers who are watching your product saying "we found a cheaper option". Seller protection isn't seller protection, it's a side with the buyer situation most of the time. If a buyer doesn't pay, I shouldn't have to wait 2 days to open a case, then another 4 days. I don't run layaway. eBay should let the seller handle their own business more.

During my seven years of selling on eBay, they have never been seller friendly. They say all of the right things, but when you get in the weeds, they will always side with a buyer. I actually had two of my very expensive handbags defaced, and actually lost about $800 after having to lower the price to account for the destruction. eBay helped me in no way, and I've been a topped rated seller for 7 years, with sales 300K - 375K a year.

I was disappointed in how eBay handled the recent rate increases on postal costs which they seemed to lead with whom they were going to negotiate favorable rates for top sellers.

eBay has too many technical issues, lack of search exposure on Google and on eBay, plus their fees are too high. Cassini search engine is horrible.

Fees are too high. Changes are made too often and pushes sellers to conform even though you are a top rated seller. I do not accept returns and never will since shipping cost are high.

I pay eBay for listings, they should not be able to control how I sell, when I sell, how I ship, how much I charge. I am sick of browsing and only seeing cheap China crap

eBay has become the Walmart of Ecommerce. It's all about having the cheapest prices and eBay has created a culture of bad buyers. The site has become slow and cumbersome, photos are slow loading and difficult to see, the trend with sellers is to have no description at all on used items. "Vintage" and "look at the photos" is considered a description now.

Fees are high and there is no monitoring of the items for sale on the site. It's like anything goes.

eBay fees are exorbitant as compared with other venues. They even take a % on the shipping! Really tacky. They don't police their site due to their greed. There are 1,000's of cases daily of category manipulation which I report. Makes buying/selling difficult. Due to its enormous size, it's difficult to sell.

As a small seller on eBay, profitability has deteriorated greatly over the years due to exorbitant final value fees and mostly the fees charged on shipping seem greatly unjust! Shipping costs are always being increased by shippers and eBay is the winner in profiting.

I have been a seller since 1999 and the changes over the years have been both challenging and disappointing with me always looking over my back for an errant buyer causing me grief or a CSR who talks a great talk but knows zip - few few exceptions. It is still my best source for testing market waters and for inventory acquisitions in my niche, but I've had enough of the unfair Feedback system and the un-support for a 2,000+ item eBay store and the costs are no longer the deciding factor for closing the 5 year old store. It's now because my items are buried somewhere even I can't find them in searches! eBay is a better place today to buy than it was a great place to sell pre-2007.

I'm very happy to deal with eBay if they can drop final value fee. 10% final fee is a little bit high for me. That is the reason I'm using different ecommerce site as well.

Global shipping program rates are a complete money grab, it doesn't cost anywhere NEAR what they charge to send to Canada and for Canadians buying from U.S Sellers, again, WAY overcharged...Come on $30 for regular economic mail? It doesn't cost $30 for a couple of stamps. Our business prints all our labels through PayPal, which is partnered with Canada Post, so there is hardly a difference in price or charges...

Awful fees and payment holds placed on new sellers. Can only leave positive feedback for scamming buyers. Horrid selling experience here.

I have a basic store with eBay. Sales not supporting the monthly subscription due to traffic being reduced greatly. eBay requires the use of PayPal and returns up to 6 months with seller paying return postage. Sellers have little recourse of their own business.

eBay is a hard site to work. Every item you list has to be relisted every 30 days. eBay is apt to change the shipping to free without you having clue. Relist something that sold and in general cause as much havoc as possible. I am working as hard as I can to get off eBay permanently.

eBay's policies are very slanted. And they change the requirements for Top Rate sellers too often. They have no business telling seller they must provide 30 day returns, or refuse to remove negative ratings, allow buyers to file SNAD which dings a seller even if the buyer made a purchasing error. eBay asks sellers to perform at a level they cannot perform at. Customer service reps generally have little to no online sales experience so are incapable of actually helping a seller deal with issues.

Highly profitable as in, I get tons of sales through eBay. However their fees will eat a hole in your pocket if you're not careful, but either way, a $450 profit quickly turns into $360 after you pay your fees each month. Customer service has been replaced with foreigners that do not comprehend English very well and will tell you anything you want to hear to get you off the phone quickly, that is, if they even understand the reason you are calling in the first place. Wait time to get a refund or return for claims against negligent sellers is way too long.

Fees are too high - I only list if it is free to do so. Seller standards are completely subjective based on a buyer's mood or opinion. The standards are irrelevant to what has actually happened. Example, if I sell a product for directions to make something (not the finished product) and this info is expressly displayed in the title and everywhere else in the listing, I can still be penalized because the buyer did not read. Another example. If I sell something and detail the shipping/handling time clearly (10 days) but the buyer has and unrealistic expectation of 3 days I am penalized - even though I did exactly what I said I would do. This needs to be revamped so sellers are treated fairly. After all, sellers are the ones making eBay the money - not the buyers.

Sellers Choice Awards:
We thank all readers who took the time to rate the marketplaces. If you have comments about the survey results or the survey itself, please feel free to post them in the EcommerceBytes Blog.

About the author:

Ina and David Steiner are publishers of and have been writing about ecommerce since 1999.

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