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eBay Vows to Protect Sellers from Delivery-Related Feedback

eBay promised sellers it would protect them from negative feedback left by shoppers who did not receive their orders before Christmas due to delays caused by shipping carriers. However, while UPS made headlines for delivery delays Christmas week, the problems extended well beyond that, and it isn’t clear eBay will let sellers off the hook for all of the delivery delays experienced during the holiday season.

eBay said only a “small number” of buyers who placed orders for delivery by holiday deadlines did not receive their packages on time and said it was working to determine which sellers had been affected by the recent carrier delays.

Sellers took to the boards to ask questions about the process: “So do we have any idea on how we can be evaluated for a lows star removal,” asked one. Another wrote, “Can you be more specific in what delays are covered and how it will be determined so sellers can assist by determining if an order qualifies for this protection or not so they know if they should file an appeal?”

An eBay seller told EcommerceBytes he was concerned that the announcement would give buyers upset about a missed delivery a roadmap to leave negative feedback that would not be removed. “If a buyer is that upset that their package was late and is determined to get revenge on the seller, all they have to do is leave negative feedback that appears to have nothing to do with the shipment being delayed, and eBay will refuse to remove that feedback.”

The seller went on to suggest, “If eBay wanted to offer sellers real protection, they would data crunch the orders that were delayed, then disable negative feedback and low DSR scores for those transactions so that sellers do not have to call eBay and rely on their interpretation of whether feedback qualifies for removal.”

EcommerceBytes asked eBay what criteria it was using to determine which sellers had been affected – we’ll provide an update when the company responds.

eBay itself noted on December 6th that weather problems were causing problems across the Midwest and through the Southeastern regions of the United States, but it did not say whether it would protect sellers’ feedback in that instance. Fallout from the storms lingered in some spots – a seller noted a major backlog at a UPS center in Mesquite, Texas on December 11th.

Sellers on multiple marketplaces noted this year was among the worst when it came to carriers meeting delivery schedules – even the US Postal Service workers’ union noted delays.

There are several ways eBay buyers can ding sellers for slow delivery: by leaving low ratings on shipping-time DSRs (and other DSR criteriaI) and by leaving negative or neutral feedback for the seller. In addition, buyers can file Item Not Received claims against sellers.

eBay wrote on its announcement board on Friday, “For those sellers we identify as being impacted, your seller standard will be protected from cases for items not received and low Detailed Seller Ratings for Ship Time. In addition, both negative and neutral feedback where the comment is only related to shipping for impacted transactions may be removed upon seller request.” It provided a link to learn more about how to request feedback removal.

Some eBay sellers were skeptical about which sellers eBay would protect from poor feedback and how many hoops they would have to jump through to get bad feedback removed. In fact, eBay makes Detailed Seller Ratings anonymous, making it challenging for sellers to determine if low ratings for shipping DSRs were related to buyers impacted by carrier delays.

One seller suggested eBay make a sweeping move to eliminate shipping DSRs left over the holidays. “Blanket amnesty would be nice. A simple block on both shipping DSR, for 45 days would solve everything. That costs eBay nothing.”

Another stressed seller wrote in response to an eBay employee’s post about eBay’s promise to protect sellers, “I sure hope this is a real post and there is some meat to it. As a seller from Wyoming we have had all kinds of issues with USPS shipping delays. Dozens of packages are behind. I’ve spent the holidays answering concerned buyer after buyer. I have 100% feedback going back to 1999 and would hate to lose it over something I’ve had zero control over. We always ship same or next day. Feeling stressed…Steve in Wyo.”

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
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). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.