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EcommerceBytes Soundoff: Letters to the Editor – April 15, 2018

Letters to the Editor column

Letters to the Editor columnIn every issue, readers soundoff about issues important to them. From shipping issues to payment processing, from fees to online marketplace policies, EcommerceBytes Soundoff gives you a chance to air your views.


Dear Ina,
I have been a seller on eBay since they started.

A while back they tried opting us into GSP (Global Shipping Program) which we quickly caught (wasn’t even notified by them of course) and opted-out of.

Today, we are furious to receive the email telling us we are automatically Opted-In to Guaranteed Delivery, with our ever declining sales on eBay we only keep our store open because it just about breaks over-even and keeps us online visible whilst we sell on other sites.

We deliberately offered to ship within 3 days to avoid ever being opted into this as eBay said you had to offer 1-day shipping. We, like many sellers, usually ship the next day, but we’re not going to put a noose around our necks having eBay’s metrics grading us by standards they don’t meet themselves.

So, despite thinking we were seeing this malarkey off at the pass, we are being ‘opted-in’ because we ship ‘on time’, albeit in 3 days and not the 1 day they said they required?

The scheme must be failing, and they must also be thinking they can make some extra money off sellers over this once again.

Our customers moan at paying the paltry $4 or so for USPS Media Mail (we ship records, CDs, DVDs, etc) as it is, which is slow and unreliable at best, but the only affordable method of shipping media, and the only way we could possibly make any sales these days. No customer has ever asked for the more expensive Priority Mail in all the years we have shipped music!

Media Mail is rarely delivered, unless local, within 2-3 days like eBay claims things will (even Priority Mail doesn’t always get delivered in 3 days), so whilst we ship promptly, delivery times are variable at best.

In just our case, this week, if eBay intends to be true to its word, HALF our shipments were not ‘delivered on [eBay] time’ and/or not collected from the post office by the recipient within 3 days, etc. etc. Does eBay intend to give $5 or whatever bribe it is offering to each of these customers if they claim late delivery, will it be paying for returns to half our sales just because it arrived a few days later than they hoped?

Are customers now so fickle that they only want what they have bought if it arrives faster than a Dominos pizza? Do sellers even want customers like this in 2018?

We are but one small seller (20-30 items a week, used to be 100+ a week a few years ago), how many sellers will they be paying out to buyers for late deliveries on?

There’s no way they’ll be doing this long-term, so we all know what will happen, it’ll get dumped back on the seller eventually.

It is the seller who will receive bad feedback for ‘late delivery’ (a promise no seller or eBay can keep because we have to rely, usually, on USPS to do their part) which we don’t get at the moment because we don’t, unlike eBay, promise things that we can’t reasonably deliver, more returns just because an item arrived ‘late’ and…well, the possible negative elements for a seller are unlimited here, and the positive might be a more visibility in a defective, idiotic search engine that doesn’t work anyway?

I immediately went to the Opt-Out link, and here’s what it says:

‘Handling Time Guarantee
You guarantee same-day or one-day handling on the items you choose, and eBay determines and guarantees the delivery date to your buyer.
It’s a great time to join! Through June 30, eBay will cover any late deliveries to buyers if they raise a case. This means eBay will provide the buyer the choice of a shipping cost reimbursement, free return label, or voucher toward a future eBay purchase.
After June 30, eBay will continue to cover late deliveries, as long as you meet your handling time commitment.’

So, once again eBay is lying or contradicting itself, we clearly only offer 3 day shipping, we do not offer 1 day shipping on anything.

Yet ebay intends to opt us ‘in’, as per:

‘Simply keep meeting same- and 1-day handling time on the listings you’ve set those times for.’ in the email we received.

Yet, when you go to opt-out, eBay is stating ‘You guarantee same-day or one-day handling’ – so, I can see, if you remain opted in, they’ll change your guaranteed shipping time behind your back and you won’t know it.

Then when you don’t ship as they require, and it’s late, ebay won’t cover you for ‘guaranteed delivery’ – also, what is this ‘After June 30, eBay will continue to cover late deliveries, as long as you meet your handling time commitment.’

What does ‘cover’ mean, exactly? eBay speak for sure.

I thought eBay was getting more desperate ever since that major hack a few years back, after which, our sales plummeted as I know many simply do not trust eBay anymore as a buyer or a seller.

But forcing opt-ins on sellers for clearly failed schemes they come up with is really the pits. This scheme, bizarrely, initially at least, seems to be setting up eBay to be forking out a lot of money for a problem that doesn’t really exist in the first place.

We are another seller that will see it’s store year out, cancel, and then just list a few items as and when…We once made our entire living from eBay alone and employed additional staff part-time!

I find it terribly sad to see what successive managements have done to the once mighty ebay.

Love your site, read it regularly, keep it up…
Kind regards


Hi Ina,
Thank you for the information on seller protection by PayPal that I found today on your website. I am an eBay seller that has been very concerned about the new PayPal seller protection updates, since many, if not all, “guest” buyers can go through eBay checkout and make payment without any PayPal account!! The PayPal “unauthorized transaction” claims I have had have all been from these guest buyers, which PayPal has covered through Seller Protection.

Another important factor is that eBay sellers in the Seller Preferences function can block buyers who do not have PayPal accounts. I had been considering doing so until I read your column today and appreciate the information.

I am hopeful that PayPal notifies eBay sellers of this change in the policy updates as required.

Thanks again


Hi Ina,
Not sure if you saw any articles when the new NJ governor presented his new budget. Here’s a link to an article that appeared in a local NJ paper. Pay close attention to the last sentence in the last paragraph of section 1 on Sales Taxes.

Here’s the text of that paragraph in case the article disappears.

“In addition to raising the sales tax, the budget proposal expands the tax’s base to include ride sharing services like Uber and home sharing services like Airbnb. It also targets online sales where the seller has no nexus in New Jersey, Muoio said, to “level the playing field” for New Jersey businesses that have to collect and charge a sales tax.”



Hi Ina,
I had an odd message from eBay a couple of days ago: I was sending an eBay message w/ a parts # in it to a customer. The message said: “it’s prohibited to send contact info, phone #’s etc. – if you do this you will be fined a final value fee.”

So I guess now computers will be fining me.


Hi Ina,
I read your column and find it very informing and up to date.

I recently realized that the attempt by states to collect sales tax from everyone -with or without nexus – will put any small sellers out of business.

First of all, if the Supreme Court in their doubtful wisdom, rejects the 1992 ruling they made that stopped states from forcing anyone without nexus to have to collect sales tax for them, it would allow all states to force this collection.

Secondly, if Congress passes the Remote Transaction Parity Act, it includes a provision that anyone selling on sites such as eBay would have to collect sales tax without any protection from a ceiling limit where you would not have to collect.

In either case, this would eliminate and put out of business all the small sellers on eBay because there is no way a small seller could file and collect sales tax from the myriad of states, counties and cities that have it.

I thought where you have the ability to confer and get answers from eBay that you could query them and ask how they would react to either event. They could become the ‘vendor of record’ as they are planning to do in 2021. They purchased a company to act on their behalf after the PayPal agreement they have ends in 2020. By becoming vendor of record they would collect not only the sale amount for eBay sellers but also the sales tax. They would then be responsible to distribute the taxes to the collecting entities.

I am sure there are thousands of small sellers that would appreciate anything you could receive from eBay on their direction when one of these events occurs.

Thank you for your consideration and continuing good work,


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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/.