eBay executives and managers were caught off-guard by a complication in the new Good Til Cancelled (GTC) policy that will roll out in mid-March. The Vice President of Seller Experience at eBay, Harry Temkin, was forced to issue an update on March 1, three days after eBay announced the Early Spring Seller Update (though eBay has yet to post the update on the main Seller Announcement board).
Temkin said eBay was aware of concerns about the 30-day auto-renewal period not syncing with monthly billing cycles. Since some months have 31 days, a 30-day automatic renewal for all fixed-price listings will result in double-billing for some months. Temkin wrote, “We’re looking into this. Thank you for your patience.”
Unfortunately, eBay managers compounded the problem by providing incorrect information. In a video webcast on the eBay for Business Facebook page on February 27, Kristi Diemoz, Senior Manager of Seller Operations, assured sellers that eBay would not charge them twice for a GTC listing in a 31-day period.
Fielding a question about whether eBay would consider making GTC duration 31 days instead of 30, Diemoz incorrectly said:
“We saw some questions about this, it’s like, “Oh, what if it’s 31 days, are you charging me twice for that one?” And no, it’s Good Til Cancelled is a month-long period. So even in those few months that are 31 days, we would absolutely not charge you for two Good Til Cancelled listings in a 31-day period. Some months are 28, some are 31, they’re generally thought of as like one month, 30 days, so we won’t charge twice for 31-days.”
eBay has offered GTC listings for years, so it may disturb sellers to find out that the Manager of Seller Operations didn’t understand how the fees worked.
She repeated the inaccurate information on the eBay chat session on Wednesday, though her response was later edited to correct her post.
The issue may also crop up for sellers who keep their fixed-price listings under the free-listing threshold. On months where there’s a double-billing issue, would they also be subject to listing fees, which would be bound to come as a shock since they’re promised a certain amount of free listings every month by eBay?
A moderator writing about the issue was rather cavalier about the impact of the double-billing problem on sellers:
“If a seller is concerned with fees from this occasional situation, they can simply list towards the center of the month and would not run into any renewal date vs. insertion fee credit date conflicts for at least 2 years. Since moving to a GTC model for all listings should contribute to higher conversion and thus higher sales, sellers may find that the increased revenue they receive within those two years will offset any possible insertion fees that are charged from time to time.”
(Of course, imagine the surprise sellers would get in 2 years when they suddenly have 13 months of fees instead of 12.)
eBay stated in its February 26th announcement that the GTC change would start in mid-March 2019, leaving sellers little more than 2 weeks to deal with the changes for which even eBay itself is unprepared.
Temkin wrote in his post, “you can determine how long a listing has been active – but, currently, this requires you to do some math. By the end of March, we’ll do the math for you and will show you the number of days each listing has been active.”
In other words, eBay will roll out the changes with 2 – 3 weeks’ notice and won’t give sellers all of the information and tools necessary to adapt to the changes until after those changes have rolled out.
Sellers have been discussing the issue on this February 27th EcommerceBytes Blog post about the GTC changes announced in last week’s Seller Update, feel free to join in and see what others have to say.
Update 3/21/19: eBay said it would address the billing issues in May.