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eBay May Count Late Deliveries as Item-Not-as-Described Defects

eBay sellers are concerned that buyers will be able to claim late deliveries as “Item Not as Described” claims, which count as defects against their performance standings starting next month.

A seller stumbled across the fact in a weekly chat session hosted by eBay’s head of community, Jeff Terrell. The seller, who wished to remain anonymous fearing retribution, told EcommerceBytes it was troubling and punished sellers for factors outside their control. He linked to a chat session on the eBay discussion boards and pointed to message 16 where Terrell wrote:

“Your handling time and shipping method are part of your listing, so if an item arrives late, then the issue could be classified as a “not as described” issue. It’s important to note that just because a buyer makes a not as described claim, the seller is not helpless to defend themselves. Uploading tracking showing that you did ship within your stated handling time is a great way to prove your side of the issue.”

eBay is instituting a new seller performance standards next month.

At first blush, the new system appeared to give sellers more leeway when it came to late deliveries: Previously any DSR less than a perfect 5 could hurt a seller’s performance. Under the new Defect Rate standards, only a Shipping Time DSR of 1 will count as a defect when it comes to buyer feedback about delivery times. This change was particularly well received by sellers since delays are frequently the cause of shipping carriers.

But sellers reading Terrell’s comments fear that if buyers open an Item Not Described case against them for late delivery, it would count as a defect. Sellers are only allowed to have 5% of transactions with one or more defects, and the percentage drops to 2% for eBay Top Rated Sellers.

For the seller writing to EcommerceBytes, the problem is compounded by what he calls eBay’s “overly-optimistic Delivery Estimates, plus the declining service levels at USPS (and a potential problem discovered in their own Delivery Estimates recently).”

He also raised another consequence of counting late deliveries as Item Not as Described: how eBay would handle refunds for such claims. “If they give refunds for 1 day “late” delivery saying that’s “not as described”, that’s just nuts!”

EcommerceBytes reached out to eBay for clarification on Friday but did not hear back by press time.

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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). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.