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eBay Sheds More Light on New Seller Standards

eBay launched new seller performance standards on Saturday and held several information sessions this week to answer sellers’ questions about the new policies. Here are some of the points we found interesting, some of which may come as news to some sellers.

Seller-initiated cancellations count against a seller. During a chat session on the eBay boards, eBay revealed one way that cancelling an order could result in a defect for a seller that they may not realize.

Seller: “Overall, I applaud eBay’s move to lighten up on the hard-working sellers. Many of your new policies will certainly help. However, when sellers generate eBay’s Cancel Transaction feature, the buyers aren’t given a reason why the seller is cancelling. Are there any checks & balances in place to stop sellers from falsely claiming the buyer requested the cancellation, thus avoiding a defect?”

eBay’s Jim “Griff” Griffith: “Yes, If a seller initiates a cancellation and selects Buyer Requested and there is no My Message communication from the buyer prior to the cancellation by the seller, it will be marked as a Seller Cancellation and result in the defect.”

A question from a seller who was concerned about international buyers who win an auction even though the seller doesn’t ship internationally resulted in an interesting response from eBay with instructions that many sellers may not realize:

“Please make sure to take the following actions to make sure buyers in countries you don’t want to ship to don’t purchase your items. You’ll need to do all three actions listed below.


  • Make sure your ship to policy in your listing is US only;

  • Buyer requirements – need to check box for block bidders or buyers who are registered in countries to which you don’t ship;


  • Excluded shipping locations in the listing flow.”

Since on-time shipping is also crucial as part of the new standards, sellers expressed concern about how to measure “same day shipping.” eBay’s Griff said, “For all US sales, the cut-offs are measured in PT (Pacific Time). So if the payment is made before midnight PT and you use 1-day handling, you will have until the end of next business day to ship out. While our cut-off is midnight, you should ensure that the carrier has received the package before close of business.”

A seller said that would mean if they were on the East Coast, they’d have to treat that order with “same day” handling even if they specify “1-day” handling in their listings. Griff said, “Your example is correct. Having said that, we are always looking at ways to improve and using sellers’ specific timezone is something we are considering for the future.”

Another seller asked for clarification about the number of defects that would impact sellers; eBay employee Ann replied, “The defect rate will not have an impact on your seller standard level until you have received defects from at least 4 unique buyers.”

Sellers also had questions about the Return Rate metric that eBay added to the Seller Dashboard over the weekend – you can learn more about it in Tuesday’s EcommerceBytes Newsflash. eBay addressed those questions in the chat session as well – you can access it on this eBay board.

eBay also addressed the changes to Seller Standards on this week’s eBay Radio show and had Linda Cornelison from eBay’s Seller Standards Team and eBay Top Rated Seller “That Kat” Simpson on as guests. When asked what she was hearing from other sellers about the changes, Simpson said, “The only thing that I’m hearing from sellers is that they are really struggling still with the on-time shipping.” She said, “Most of the issues are from the Post Office people not scanning the packages.” That seems to be the only sticking point right now, she said.

Cornelison told sellers they had total control – and that’s the beauty of it. “Make sure you have your items in stock, make sure you take care of your customers if something goes wrong, and upload that tracking and ship on time. That’s it in a nutshell.”

As EcommerceBytes reported, while eBay continues to display Detailed Seller Ratings (DSRs) and negative feedback on sellers’ feedback profile page, the marketplace now hands out rewards and punishments based on different criteria – unresolved claims; orders that are cancelled by the seller; and late shipping.

You can find how readers reacted to the changes on this EcommerceBytes Blog postfrom Saturday.

Update: See this Letter to the Editor about the advice eBay offered on blocking international buyers.

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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/.