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Do Customer Claims Kill Your Ranking in eBay Search?

Do Customer Claims Kill Your Ranking in eBay Search?

An eBay seller became concerned about the impact that customer claims could have on his visibility in search after listening to a presentation at the eBay Open conference last month where executives described the latest factors that influence search ranking.

When a buyer searches for a product, eBay’s search engine identifies matching listings. eBay’s algorithm then uses a number of criteria to determine which of the matching items to display in the first page of results – for example, price. This “Best Match” search determines the default sort order of listings on the search results page, called ranking.

In an eBay discussion-board thread titled, “eBay’s Ranking Algorithms Are A Joke,” the seller going by the user name djdaniel2015 wrote in part:

“As part of eBay Open 2022, director of product management & search, Pravesh Katyal, explains how eBay is further punishing sellers ability to rank based on aspects that remain completely outside of their control.

“Katyal explains the more SNAD and INR claims you receive, the lower you will rank.

“Too bad sellers have no control over the garbage estimated delivery dates eBay gives to buyers. eBay ignores sellers shipping policies, including handling times, and eBay is the one who decides what the estimates are.”

An eBay moderator responded in the thread by identifying three parts to the problem raised by the seller:

  • Whether eBay should hold sellers accountable for timely delivery or not.
  • Whether eBay should do a better job in taking into consideration seller’s challenges with shipping estimates
  • Whether eBay should penalize the sellers based on off cases from fraud buyers trying to game the system.

The eBay moderator went on to address those three areas and wrote, “Ranking doesn’t get impacted by these one-off used cases, unless a significant portion of buyers complain that they don’t get the item on time, we don’t hold it against the seller.”

She bottom-lined it for the seller: “Our recommendation will be to increase your handling time for the listings that may take longer to deliver.”

The reason eBay and sellers zeroed in on estimated delivery date was because if it is unrealistic, customers may file a claim of non-delivery (Items Not Received) before giving the order enough time to arrive.

As the seller had written, ” How are we supposed to avoid INR’s when we haven’t an ounce of control over what the delivery estimates are?”

The seller replied to the eBay moderator, saying he found that adjusting his handling time had no effect on the estimated delivery date displayed to shoppers, though some other sellers said they found it did.

During the eBay Open presentation, Pravesh Katyal, eBay’s Director of Product Management, Search, stated:

“The customer service that you provide which gets reflected in your history. So any escalations like item not received, items not accurately described, or any of the former bad buyer experiences impact your ranking in a negative way,”

That seems to be somewhat at odds with what the moderator stated when she wrote on Thursday, “unless a significant portion of buyers complain that they don’t get the item on time, we don’t hold it against the seller.”

The eBay Open presentation included a slide that showed how eBay Search works: it looks at Listing Title and Item Specifics, and category intent and relevance. It then ranks the results based on the following criteria:

  • Conversion potential
  • Relevance
  • Price
  • Listing quality (title, image, item specifics, description, etc.)
  • Shipping speed
  • Return policy
  • History of bad buyer experiences
  • And more

During the presentation, eBay’s Katyal also shared some changes the marketplace had made in how it uses category information in search and how it handles duplicate listings:

Category Optimizations
“We are improving our category constraints for searches that belong to particular categories.

“List the item in correct category, even if it’s the less popular one. You will have higher chances of visibility in queries for the right category.”

“We are pushing out duplicates from the same seller for some of the sort types to provide a better experience for users.”

Given the importance of search visibility, the presentation is worth watching. Let us know if you see any surprises. And let us know if delivery estimates are realistic and whether customer claims impact your visibility in search results.

Ina Steiner on EmailIna Steiner on LinkedinIna Steiner on Twitter
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/.

9 thoughts on “Do Customer Claims Kill Your Ranking in eBay Search?”

  1. Why you would ask Pravesh anything – or why he has the job that he does is the issue here – not the sellers record.

    If you know the criminals in San Jose, then you know that they always push any issue(s) on sellers as its NEVER the buyer or eBays fault, ever.

    eBay is only his 3rd job and its a job thats MUCH bigger in scope then he can handle.

    Pravesh’s REAL job is advertising – always has been. So to ask him about product listing placements CANT get you a truthful answer since HIS JOB is to get (produce) ONLY listings that make money.

    If your listing placement goes down in search, theres room for listings where the VIG is being paid to be placed at the top.

    Before this he worked at DoubleVerify, Inc where he was in charge of DV’s entire ad viewability platform.

    After that he went to GroundTruth where he was responsible for leading all performance and data products for the self-serve ad platform

    Notice a trend?

    Now he claims he’s Director of Product Management at eBay, but if you read his resume it states “multiple high growth product lines which power a majority of eBay’s +$1B advertising business. ”

    So in English – unless you are paying eBay money – what ever your issue is – hes not the guy to help or answer anything. Hes another leg breaker in a suit.

    MORE eBay lies/BS

  2. “Ranking doesn’t get impacted by these one-off used cases, unless a significant portion of buyers complain that they don’t get the item on time, we don’t hold it against the seller.”

    That’s exactly the problem. There are factors completely outside a seller’s control that can result in a pattern of complaints. For example, I ship a lot of items in tubes. As I’ve mentioned on here many times, tubes rarely arrive by the estimated delivery date, and they can sometimes take weeks longer. Also, some regions process mail a lot quicker than others. I receive a lot of packages from both Brooklyn and Boston. The Boston packages meet (and even sometimes exceed) the USPS delivery estimates most of the time, while packages shipped from Brooklyn are practically never on time, and sometimes weeks late.

    So, the excuse that it won’t effect you if it’s isolated (even if true), ignores a significant part of the problem.

  3. Pushing out duplicates is a JOKE, the last couple weeks been listing certain items, I’ve come across a dozen that have 2 to sometimes 8 exact items, the title heading exactly the same. I even called on a few because I didn’t have hours to report them, guess what, even after 2 weeks nothings done, their still listed.

  4. #1 factor in placement: Conversion potential–a successful sale. If eBay thinks your item will sell to a satisfied buyer, you get high placement. eBay thinks OOAK items that have been sitting there for a time are unlikely to sell, which is why those old items should be ended and a new listing, using sell similar, created.
    Most of my items are multiple quantity fixed price and many of them sell regularly, so they stay highly placed. Those that have been dormant awhile I do end/sell similar and that often results in sales.

  5. We have had several buyers copy some of our titles and take our pictures from the listing and produce homemade fake shirts. We report them, we have called explained the situation and nothing is done. Ebay only cares about sales and not its legitimate sellers! Plain and simple!!!! We think calling and complaining has actually hurt our ranking of listings and has hurt our sales.

  6. Recently I shipped an item to Brazil. The buyer waited a week or 2 after the delivery estimate and filed a INR claim. I responded the same day with the tracking # (sent with eBay International Standard Delivery) after looking at the details which showed the last scan at Brazil Customs. Ebay status was then changed to waiting with no timeline for further action.
    Curious that any further attempt to look at the details of tracking (clicking on the tracking link) was now routed to that page showing the waiting status of the INR claim rather than the tracking details. (I took a screen shot of what I thought was a bug). Attempts to find details on Google were also unsuccessful.

    Days past and the buyer escalated to a case and eBay status page now showed that they would make a decision soon. Soon was a week and the buyer was given back all their money from my account, so I appealed. I lost the appeal with the reason being I didn’t upload the tracking # “in time”. I replied to that with the screenshot from the day the INR request was originally filed showing I had entered the tracking # in the record (something that is simple for their computer to do with trivial programming) That was 5 days ago and I haven’t got a response.
    On google I quote this from the PagBrazil website:

    ” Nearly 20 days after the arrival of purchases, most of them are sent to Brazil Customs in Curitiba – which receives approximately 300,000 packages daily. After that, the parcels go through a verification process, meaning a package may take up to an additional 40 business days to arrive at the delivery address. For that matter, consumers and even merchants may have the impression that the purchase has been lost or retained by Brazil Customs for legal matters, when, in fact, the delivery process is delayed only because of the extensive and bureaucratic system.”

    I’ve quit all shipping using eBay International Standard Delivery, and only use the Global Shipping Program. I’m also wondering if not letting me see the tracking info after I entered it into the claim is truly a bug? I’m curious if the buyer will get a free $100 item eventually, but won’t ever know.

  7. It is not new. It has been happening since metrics service became effective couple of years ago, It is unfair as it is too harsh due to inacurate reasons for returns open hastily. There maybe bad sellers but that system affects good sellers who have any types of returns open (about 2-3 a month) which is not a lot. The sales are slowed and sometimes stopped completely for some time. I am Top Rated. Ship within same or next day. Test my items, provide numerous pictures and description mentioning everything. Ebay makes it difficult to read descriptions on mobile so buyer may not order correct items as taping to unravel specific or description in separate window is not ease of access. Buyers are prevented from contacting sellers first before making snad claims (some maybe resolved if buyer is installing stuff incorrectly or he missed on reading description). Buyers think they are messaging seller when they commenting on return reason ( not knowing that damaged to seller was already done) as the option to contact seller first is burried and not easily visible. Ebay is downgrading picture quality and hides pictures very often when they have issue with their servers and do upgrades. Other issues buyers maybe opening snad are out of sellers control when buyer wants seller to sponsor shipping back and forth and to be safe that they have option for abusing MBG.

    So all of it is Ebay making and punishes sellers who actually are good sellers. The worst part for sellers is to have fraudulent buyer returns and not being able to make up for loss when they get the sales refuced (as they hidden in searches). It is like double punishment.

  8. I am not a Seller, but I am a buyer and I have been cheated several times by Sellers..eBay did NOTHING..except delete the earned negative I left..of course the Seller went on to cheat other buyers since..and their negs also disappeared..my purchases have dropped dramatically because of this…from $100 a month, down to $20 here and there…

  9. I’ve been selling on Ebay for a long time, 20+ years. Most of those years were as a hobby, but I opened a store 3 years ago and went full time. My store has 5000 items in it now. It’s clear to me from the past three years that Ebay doesn’t care about sellers. I think they have too many sellers for the number of buyers they have, which is dropping. I can’t say what their motivations are other than they are being led by a team who’s simply out of touch with reality.
    Just yesterday I ran into a draft listing limit of 266 max. What Ebay doesn’t tell you is when you create a new draft, #267, it deletes the oldest draft without saying a word. I ended up losing 150+ drafts before I realized what was going on (using my phone to quickly list media). The CSRs were nice but in the end, Ebay didn’t care. My store has 5000 listing, I need more than 266 drafts sometimes. Not telling me that you are deleting my work is unacceptable. I lost 2+ days worth of work.
    Of course they also delete existing listings randomly. I’ve made the decision to move into another business. I can’t run a business when Ebay is making all the decisions and I have no control. It’s sad, but it’s time to go. In reality it will take 2 years to ramp up something else and shut this down, but it’s my only choice with this management team.

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