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eBay Fields Questions about Impending Seller Standards

With the clock ticking, eBay reminded sellers of new seller performance standards that are taking effect and fielded a question-and-answer session on its discussion boards on Thursday. On sellers’ minds are shipping tracking issues, delivery deadlines, and returns,

On February 20, 2016, eBay will begin evaluating sellers based on a new system announced as part of the Fall Seller Releasethat will be based on two key metrics: defect rate and on-time shipping – and eBay is changing how it calculates those metrics.

Tracking for Boomerang Packages
During the session, eBay revealed it has just changed the way it handles tracking for “boomerang” packages – a seller explained that if a package was returned to a seller due to a problem with the buyer’s address, the seller was penalized if they uploaded a second tracking number into eBay’s system when they resent the package to the buyer at the corrected address.

eBay explained that sellers could upload a second tracking number and not be penalized under the new On-Time Shipping metric; an eBay moderator explained, “As of yesterday, the system has been changed so that second tracking number uploaded doesn’t pre-empt the first tracking number. As long as the first tracking number shows that it’s on time, the second tracking number will not change that.”

When eBay Customer Service Can Remove On-time Shipping Misses 
eBay also revealed that its Customer Service department does have any ability to remove on-time shipping misses after a seller raised the issue and pointed to conflicting information that had surfaced the week before.

The seller was concerned about defects in cases where buyers requested them to delay shipment because they are out of town. The seller was particularly concerned because a member of eBay’s Shipping Team had written in a chat session on the eBay boards on January 13, 2016, that, “The one way to protect yourself is once you ship it, ask the buyer to leave you feedback, including saying that it was received on-time – since it was on-time from the buyer’s desired arrival date,” and adding, “PS: CS doesn’t have any ability to remove on-time shipping misses.”

The seller noted that the answer from the prior week contradicted eBay’s FAQ on the topic, available here, which states: “Just make sure you have proof of your customer’s request through member-to-member communication. If your shipping performance is negatively impacted as a result of the delay in shipping, you can contact eBay Customer Support and we will review and remove the late shipment if we find that it was a result of the buyer’s request.”

The moderator first asked for the link to the FAQ, then confirmed that the information in the FAQ was correct. “Customer support will review and remove the late shipment if it was the result of the buyer’s request to put the shipment on hold,” she said in this thread.

Antiques and 30-Day Returns: Do They Mix?
In this thread, a seller said a 30-day return policy just doesn’t work for the types of antiques they sell – electronic audio and radio vacuum tubes that were made 40 to 85 years ago.

You can find eBay’s response to the seller’s concern, which includes its standard response along with the statement, “If your competition believes the same as you do that 30-day returns are not viable, then no seller will have an advantage with the products. However, if you or another seller can offer 30-day returns they will gain an advantage while providing buyers the level of service they have come to expect when purchasing online.”

What About Snow Storms?
One topical question went unanswered, coming in 10 minutes after the end of the session: “Since the shipping metrics is such a large part of the new sellers standards, How are weather related problems handled. Such as the massive storm that is about to shut down airports, possible roads. I am on the east coast & this will have a big impact on all carriers, USPS, UPS & Fedex.”

You can take a look at the special discussion board eBay set up last week to peruse all of the seller questions and eBay responses here. The session was not well attended, perhaps because it was announced only hours ahead of time, and the email announcing it was sent after the event had taken place.

eBay had also set up a discussion board in September devoted to all of the changes announced as part of the Fall Seller Release, which you can find here.

Comment on the AuctionBytes Blog.

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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. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.