728_header.jpg (23748 bytes)
 EB Blog 
 AB Blog 

EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 248 - October 04, 2009 - ISSN 1528-6703     7 of 7

AuctionBytes Soundoff: Letters to the Editor

By Ina Steiner

October 04, 2009

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.)


Re: "RESOLVED: Reporting Issues with Stores Traffic" (link to eBay's announcement)

Hi Ina
Looks like Ebays Omniture fix didn't last long. I was looking forward to comparing Last October to this one as I sell a lot of Halloween items but it seems that at the stroke of midnight the gremlins struck again and I've had less visits than I've had actual buyers.

Time for Ebay to get the professionals in methinks.
Keep up the good work. This is my first ever email to you.


Ina, From supervisor in account management for paypal in omaha, nebraska that paypal is now using macros in many instances to decide paypal complaints of item not described nature to default to return for full refund resolution if over a certain dollar amount. He would not say what that amount was or in what instances macros were used, but when they were that no human at paypal actually looks at the case or investigates it.


Why does Paypal charge a fee on sales tax and postage? Don't they get enough with the fee on the final price? And why did the Australians fight Paypal to get money orders and checks put back in their auctions? S.


Hi again Ina,
I am writing you to let you know the train-wreck of a story I have with the new ebay so called "best match" and TRS launch or relaunch?. I am sure I am not the only one. Yesterday I got my shiny new TRS badge and had a great feeling about it. I check my search results and as excepted for my product ( ) the BM engine listed me at the top of 8 results out of about 40 total. Its been like this for months now since I employed relisting the same ads again and again and watching my product outsell my competitors over 10 to one.

Then by that evening I recheck BM rankings and to my dismay my top three selling items, which formerly held the top three BM results, now are 2/3 of the way down the list, even under non-TRS and no-items-sold FP listings. You can imagine how its affects my sales and my blood pressure. I have emailed both Mr. Jeff King and " seller advocate" Mr. Jim Griffith with no response thus far.

I thought you might find this interesting, and yet again ebay has a "swing and a miss" for veteran sellers again.
Thanks for your reporting,


In doing a lot of searching on ebay for new products heres what I've noticed.

1) I have a list of 250 Previous PowerSellers that I use for researching for products and costs.

2) Less than 5% of them are still PowerSellers.

3) And even if they still are PowerSellers, I could only fine 4 that had the Top Rated Seller icon.

4) Where do you think this will end up as? Ebay will now save tons of money for rebates to those sellers each month on thier FVF's.

5) Oh, by the way most all of those sellers give FREE S/H. I noticed one with 99.8% FB, with over 220,000 FB, and still he gets a Rating on his shipping costs at 4.8, and he ships everything for FREE.

Why does ebay do this is SIMPLE, if you train your sellers to do what you tell them to do, they will do it, even tho they know that its not practical. But ebay tells them its best, so they do it anyways.

Then after a certain timeframe ebay will reverse what they said the first time, but by now those sellers are in a rut, and won't reprogram their selling practices. Ebay WINS, Sellers LOSE!!!!

In all my 10 years on selling on ebay, I've never have listened to ebay on how to sell, Ebay is only a a venue, if they were sellers they wouldn't have all these policies that they have now. Its like the IRS, not 1 person in the whole mess of them knows all the rules, regulations, etc that make up the IRS.

But it seems like anybody you contact at ebay knows all the rules, thats why the give you canned answers to any inquiry or tell the person they will pass it on, SURE they will???

The only way for ebay to get rid of approx. 95 - 99% of all these policies and rules is for the IRS to classify all sellers on ebay as Independent Contractors.


As you know the new Top Rated Seller program has rolled out - including the very conspicuous TRS only search. HOWEVER, it is apparently going to take up to 4 weeks for all TRS to be included - in other words, though they rolled out the search immediately, they are rolling out the actual sellers much slower. Per Griff: "The Top Rated Seller program is launching this week and will be open incrementally to all qualified sellers over the next four weeks."

As usual the right hand and left hand don't what each other doing. It is not right to roll out the special search prior to having the TRS program fully rolled out. I qualify for the TRS program but will be excluded in this search and demoted in a regular search - for up to 4 weeks - just because they have not gotten around to doing their job?
Thank you,


As an avid subscriber of your weekly newsletters, I though it appropriate to vent to your readers about how Paypal sides with the Buyer and screws the seller.

On July 27th, I shipped a Minolta Camera to a buyer in China. Total value including shipping was $119.00. The buyer claimed they did not receive............BECAUSE they would not pay the duty charges to pick it up. Instead, they blamed us and claimed to Paypal they did not receive the camera and filed a claim. We submitted proof and still Paypal sided with the buyer and we are out $119 plus the Minolta Camera. Further, we cannot leave disappointed feed to the buyer.

Can you air this gripe to other Ebay'ers?


Hi Ina,
I just read the article regarding Etsy's July stats, (see link) http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y09/m09/i17/s03

I feel that these numbers may not be truly reflective of actual moneys changing hands. The site has been running "Weekend Deals" via their Etsy Finds for awhile. These point buyers to sellers who are either offering free shipping or other various discounts.

The process for sellers to change prices on their items is cumbersome and very labor intensive, so sellers often opt to issue a post sale refund via Paypal. When this method is employed the sale is registered by Etsy at full price. This in turn is creating an artificial set of numbers, while giving Etsy the benefit of full value FVF commissions.

I don't know the ratios for All Sales : Weekend Deals, but if sellers are issueing post sales refunds as the discount, the 10% is not accurate.


Hi Ina,
I love your newsletter. Keep up the great work.
I have complained and complained to eBay about buyers who never pay but leave sellers bad feedback and I get nowhere. What is wrong with these eBay-nuts? Now, they are not going to include feedback from International buyers and I sell a lot oversees. I have many repeat customers so my DSR is going to drop drastically once again. Every time I get my feedback up to 4.9-5.0 it drops from these non-payers leaving me negative feedback, as well as eBay manipulating it about 4 days before my invoice is due……..go figure why so many people are bitching about eBay policies and leaving. I make my living selling on eBay and now I am also starting to move into other directions.

The only problem is I have been on Bonanzle for months and have only sold three items………eBay knows the market isn’t there on many of these smaller venues but I keep hoping that will change as more buyers and sellers leave eBay. I am now starting up a ecommerce store with Auctiva so will continue to use eBay to get more customer base but some day I will leave there for good.

What does it take to get eBay to listen to us smaller sellers, and I am not so small as I do $10,000 a month, but now I am not even in the Top-rated and will lose my status with the new policies going into effect this month. I have been on eBay eight years and have gone from several hundred dollars a month to what I do today but I am nothing to eBay!

I have learned not to pay them $5,000 a month. Now I keep that under $1,600. That is my goal for now on…not letting them take my hard earned money to pay those greedy people. What is most frustrating is not getting the service that I am paying for because that went out the window about 4 years ago!
Anyway, enough griping for now. Thanks for listening.


Hi Ina, Any word on any up and coming ebay alternatives. Not seeing a lot of that in your letters lately. Thanks. Duane


Dear Ina,
I have been an eBay store operator for several years with good results. About May, 2009 I noticed a drastic drop in my eBay store traffic and of course reduced sales. The first call to eBay regarding this problem did not give any indication of the overall problem. A call earlier this week solved the problem. I finally got in touch via chat with an eBay representative who was at least honest.

For all eBay store owners, they should know that store listings are now given no priority within the search conditions at eBay. As a matter of fact, auction and fixed price listings are given priority within the Best Match criteria. I had searched a couple of categories and found my listings to be very hard to find within the search. This was the reason for my call to eBay and my questions.

A good warning to ALL eBay store owners is that you are on the "end of the list" regard to buyers search efforts. When I asked what I could do to improve listings appearing within the search, it was recommended that I list more auction and Buy it Now listings. When I asked why this was the case: the answer was that these type of listings are at higher fees.

The lesson is very easy to understand, eBay is only looking for the maximum return. In my opinion, they are not being honest with current store owners or potential new store operators, when they encourage them to open a store. IT IS FALSE ADVERTISING AND PROMOTION.

I hope that other store owners will see this correspondence and realize that they are being sold a "bill of goods" regarding store operation.
Thank you for your time,


After reading your "eBay Lays Off 40% of German Workforce" story I used the Google translation feature to read the German eBay press release. The translation provided a little bit of humor, "A new center of excellence for not taking care of customers in German-speaking countries, to be built in the Irish capital Dublin."


Can you confirm with PayPal/eBay if sellers are covered if a package gets lost in the mail? I was just told by an eBay customer service rep that it is the sellers responsibly to deliver each item purchased and that PayPal Selller protection will only kick in if receipt can be confirmed by signature or delivery confirmation (sounds like there is no longer any actual seller protection). If sellers wanted to be covered for a lost package (or packaged delivered but not scanned by the USPS) then they must pay for postal insurance (since sellers can no longer ask buyers to pay for insurance).

In the past, it was my understanding that sellers were protected up to 2K per shipment if they shipped to a confirmed address, shipped within 7 days, used delivery confirmation (if item valued under $250), shipped with signature delivery confirmation (if item valued over ($250).
I need a refresher course on this. Can you help?


Hi Ina,
I've been a seller on ebay for 3 years and have always paid my ebay fees using the "make a one time payment" option. Last month (Aug) I was not able to use this option. I wrote to PayPal, who gave me the usual help directions (which did not work). I then wrote to ebay, who first wrote back with the same help directions, then wrote that they know about the problem and are working, on it. I tried to pay my fees this month and received the same error as before. Is ebay discontinuing this option? And if so, have they announced it? I sure haven't heard anything.


Also visit the Letters to the Editor Blog, here are links to letters published from September 25 to present:

eBay Hassles Tempt Seller to Get Office Job (October 3, 2009) - link

On eBay, Time Ending Soonest is Back, Baby! (October 3, 2009) - link

eBay Stores in Search? (October 3, 2009) - link

eBay Mobile Does Not Support Sellers (October 1, 2009) - link

eBay Won't Let Seller offer Discounts on Invoice (September 30, 2009) - link

eBay DSRs Don't Provide Feedback to Sellers (September 28, 2009) - link

Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman on Seller Fees (September 27, 2009) - link

PayPal Limits Buyers' Use of Credit Cards (September 25, 2009) - 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.

Related Stories