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Thu Oct 22 2009 09:34:46

eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?

By: Ina Steiner

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Listeners to eBay's Town Hall meeting on Wednesday learned that the company experienced a delay in getting all eligible sellers into the new Top Rated Seller program. Those who saw that they qualified but did not see the badge appear by the midnight deadline were nervous yesterday morning. But no information was forthcoming from eBay.

A seller named Patti from Miami, Florida, called in to the Town Hall. She said when she called customer service yesterday morning to find out why her TRS badge was not appearing, a representative told her she would have to wait 30 days.

eBay executives apologized for the 12 hour delay in getting everyone into the program, but Patti pressed the point, asking why she could not find any information about the delay on the systems announcement board or in the discussion forums. "What are you doing to instruct customer reps?" she asked.

Chris (PowerWheelerChris) called in and told eBay managers that when he had called eBay with a question, he was on hold for 90 minutes and was then disconnected. He called back and was placed on hold for another 45 minutes until he gave up. (This echoes some of the emails I receive from readers.)

eBay's Lorrie Norrington said eBay is reshaping customer service so that their couple of thousand reps can all take calls - some of them had been limited to email or live-chat.

Chris asked if eBay was planning changes to feedback. eBay's Brian Burke said eBay was constantly looking to improve feedback and is testing different versions. It's just in test mode, but the goal is to improve the system. (Here's a link to an AuctionBytes blog post about the tests.)

Herb from Texas Called in and said he had noted the Stores in Search test last week, and said his sales improved during the test. He asked eBay to make Store items in core search a permanent feature. eBay's Todd Lutwak said eBay was testing it and made no commitment either way. (Here's a link to an AuctionBytes blog post about the tests.)

Todd Lutwak also had advice for sellers on Best Practices for Best Match search. Choose keywords very carefully - if they are too general, they will drive impressions but not sales, which will hurt under the new Recent Sales to Impressions ratio algorithm.* And he recommended becoming a Top Rated Seller.

*Fixed Price listings in most categories will have a listing performance score based on the listing's recent sales in relation to the number of recent impressions it received. An "impression" is any time a buyer sees a search results page that includes the listing. (link)

Mr. Lutwak also had advice for sellers using the Featured First - if you are a seller who uses this feature, I highly recommend you listen to his advice - it's about an hour in to the program.

Keith wanted to know if problems with Google were responsible for his plummeting sales, while Louse said her sales were up - until she got a neutral feedback on Saturday.

One seller emailed a question: why isn't leaving feedback mandatory. Another seller asked why a buyer is able to leave a negative feedback on shipping costs when shipping is free. While eBay managers said they were "kicking around" this idea, they gave reasons against doing this.

Two sellers called in with examples of search terms that brought back less-than-targeted results. Bernard said the search for "dog doors" brought back everything from dog crates to door stops in the top 50 results. Bernard said he had reported the problem to his account rep over 2 years ago, and he said, now it's worse. eBay's Julie told Bernard eBay was using sales and impressions in search, and said, we could be doing a better job on this particular query.

A little later, Cindy from California echoed Bernard's frustration, saying a search for "twirling batons" brought back listings for costumes and baton-twirling Barbies.

eBay's Lorrie Norrington said eBay is working on opening the search platform and said sellers will be able to crate the catalog, which is only available in certain categories right now. (eBay CEO John Donahoe also told Wall Street analysts about this yesterday, see today's news article.)

Bev in Chicago wanted to know if a buyer failed to respond to a UPI claim, would eBay reimburse her seller fees. eBay's Kristina Klausen said under the new system that just rolled out, the answer was yes.

Another seller mailed in their thanks and kudos for the recent changes that rewarded quality over quantity. There were some additional questions from sellers. eBay generally makes the audio archive available at some point after the events.

After listening to the meeting and writing up these very rough notes, I would say that all top eBay executives should be required to listen to last night's Town Hall meeting. Anyone outside the industry looking in cannot understand what a major change the Top Rated Seller program is, and how complex selling on eBay is these days. To compound matters, eBay is constantly running tests that have sellers scurrying to figure out what's going on and what may be changing next. The Sacred Cows of feedback and PowerSeller Status have been turned on their heads, with yet more changes to feedback being tested.

It's also clear from listening to callers that eBay's customer service is woefully inadequate and that reps are not briefed on what's happening on the platform. The question really becomes, why is eBay constantly moving the cheese? I'm guessing even eBay employees are feeling that way these days.




Comments (32) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?   eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?

by: Saksham

Thu Oct 22 09:58:11 2009

Ebay is my bread and butter. But as a seller I am not happy with ebay lately since they've made it hard for the sellers.

eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?   eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?

by: Patrick

Thu Oct 22 10:42:23 2009

I guess were all adapting to the changes, "Who Moved My Cheese" is an appropriate book to read right now.
It's frustrating to deal with changes that are rolled out with little direction and foresight and a tone deaf management team that just doesn't get it.
Thanks for being an advocate for the sellers!

eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?   eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?

by: J

Thu Oct 22 11:18:58 2009

I guess one of the myriad of problems for eBay is the double standard of eBay expects sellers to give 5 star customer service while eBay gives it's customers (that's us the sellers) 1 star service. And 1 star is being generous as they have the absolute worst customer service I have ever seen.

I too have been put on "forever hold" with no hope of having the problem resolved. It's really hard to fathom how a company can be so hypocritical.

But then again all I have to do is look at what Donahoe hath wrought and I can see that he is leading by example.

eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?   eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?

by: Flowers for Algernon

Thu Oct 22 11:39:01 2009

Ebay tried moving my cheese, but I just picked up my merch & got out of there. They have no right to screw people that PAY FOR ADVERTISING! My sales are WAY UP from a year ago, because I now sell on Ecrater.com, Bonanzle.com & Amazon. Ebay is dead & management is idiotic. Ina, I've asked before, what does it matter how many impressions my item gets if the impression does not correspond to the search term requested? Run Faster, Algernon!

eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?   eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?

by: Sharon

Thu Oct 22 12:07:58 2009

I wanted to comment on the seller who asked why leaving feedback isn't mandatory. I would say, be careful what you wish for. I am exclusively a buyer on ebay. I realize how much negs and neutrals hurt sellers. So when I am disappointed with a purchase, I don't leave feedback. I ONLY leave feedback when I feel that the seller did MOST things right. If I was forced to leave feedback, I would be leaving alot of neutrals and possibly some negs.

eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?   eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?

by: anonymouse

Thu Oct 22 12:14:59 2009

Back in 2000 or 2001 eBay's SEARCH engine was so accurate I abandoned YAHOO auctions entirely, since their search engine was utterly convoluted and seldom returned pertinent results, while (back then) eBay's "SEARCH" would just nail the item I was looking for 1-2-3.  eBay's "SEARCH" (this was before the concept of eBay 'stores' was even thought of) was their shining service.  Not so now.  If I wanted to go to a "STORE" I'd go-to-a-store (B&M type).  Or google whatever I wanted. I sure wouldn't sit, growing older, while eBay pages crawled onto my monitor slower than a snail's pace.  

eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?   eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?

by: Henrietta - Red Ink Diary

Thu Oct 22 12:24:19 2009

WOW!
Ditto Sharon, and Patrick.

Link to the archived program;

http://www.wsradio.com/internet-talk-radio.cfm/shows/e
Bay-Town-Hall.html

eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?   eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?

by: The Great Dontator

Thu Oct 22 12:25:14 2009

At Ebay you buy Vhat Ve tell you! VE know Vhat you Vant, Resistance is futile! Ebay uber alles! Heil Ebay! You vill only buy from TRS Mit $10 dollar Toilet paper! Don't vorry, 500 negatives a month is Nossing! VE are a top seller! Now I Vant to be alone in my bunker!

eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?   eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ed Gadfly

Thu Oct 22 12:30:15 2009

Every time I hear Griff I feel the vomit back up into my mouth.

What nauseating pap! ''Yeth, we gave cr*ppy servith and we hear what you are thaying!'' SO WHEN do they do SOMETHING?

I was greatly amused by the lady crying on and on and on about how she didn't get her TRS Dog Show Ribbon. Go over the calls and see how many callers were members of Griff's ''radio'' posse and how many of THEM were complaining.

But the part that totally slays me are the sellers who admit they provide awful service (send the wrong color, don't have item, etc) and still want the buyer's feedback negated!

eBay, any buyer with a half ounce of brain will look on Google and find the same item cheaper somewhere beside eBay. eBay PLEASE NOTE the word ''FIND'' because that doesn't happen with your useless ''best match.''

Where's the Flat Rate Priority Mail box postage for eBay/PayPal? How many YEARS has that been in the works now??? Oh, but they have plenty of time to design bras and wine and dine little hand picked groups of hard core kool-aid drinkers.

My ears still ring from that patronizing co-host, Lee Whatever, fluffing the fraudsters. Give it a break lady, your check IS in the mail.

Somebody ought to ask about the Rolling Blackouts, but that wouldn't be cheer leading.

eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?   eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?

by: o.c.d.collectibles

Thu Oct 22 12:44:56 2009

When, oh WHEN will ebay EVER have a feedback center for CEOs? AND a feedback center for policies? Yeah! DSR ratings! rate the CEO! 1 through 5! I've always said this would be a great idea, no one else seemed to think it was....How about it, stockholders???

eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?   eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?

by: On Lies and Secrets

Thu Oct 22 12:47:35 2009

@ Sharon

I think you have raised an important consideration about mandatory feedback, but you also must consider the opposite case - the buyers who only leave feedback when they are unhappy/angry, but who don't bother leaving it when they are happy with a transaction.  Inexperienced buyers may leave negative feedback thinking that this will help them resolve their problems with sellers not understanding how ebay works.  Worse yet, vindictive buyers may leave negative feedback out of revenge, mean-spiritedness, spite or sport.  I suspect that buyers who do leave feedback, leave it for a reason and that reason may or may not be consistent with how the ebay corporation states that feedback should be used.  The ebay corporation seems unwilling to force buyers to practice any ethical behavior.

I think that feedback should remain a voluntary system, but I also think that the ebay corporation should *not* use such a subjective and imprecise metric to determine the level of service that a seller receives in exchange for paying a listing fee.    IMO, feedback should **not** be used to determine whether or not an item appears in search, a seller's placement in search or fee discounts.  IMO, one-way feedback should not be used to sanction sellers.

eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?   eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?

by: Charly

Thu Oct 22 13:03:06 2009

OCD, John Donahoe earned a 1 DSR from Ebay Employees and according to Ebay standards he FAILED:
http://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/eBay-Reviews-E7853.htm

I
suspect it would be lower if sellers could vote.

eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?   eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?

by: Ebay run by idiots

Thu Oct 22 13:08:09 2009

Ebay promises to investigate when 1 feedbacks are left on a positive. I got such a feedback, sending me from raised to lowered after getting 2 unjustified 1 ratings from same buyer, who left a glowing positive! Ebay refused to do anything of course. Better Ebay should do like their Hero amazon. Amazon looks at the total number of problem free sales over the few feedback left. Funny that crummy old Feebay can't even manage 73% positive rating themselves but wants 99.95 perfection from it's sellers. Crummy BUY can't manage it, but they are a TSR how?

eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?   eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?

by: unaware

Thu Oct 22 13:08:41 2009

@Herb from Texas

I know Herb from Texas was a questioner in the eBay Town Hall Meeting but I will comment here anyway: Be careful what you wish for.... I would love to have Store items in main search as well (like they did briefly a few years ago) but I suspect if they do that again, they are going to do away with Stores as we know them and just go to Buy It Now listings that are Good Till Canceled and it will cost you .35 cents a month instead of the current .03 or .05 per month. I could not afford to list 90% of my 800 store items (one of a kind collectibles) as they are all $12.00 or less items.... it just would not pay to have them waiting around at .35 cents a month for the ONE buyer a year who will look for and find my one of a kind item. At .03 cents I can afford to wait but at .35 cents I could not afford to do it. If they do away with stores with the low rates it will kill the low priced one of a kind collectibles market. If I had to choose between paying .35 cents a month and being in main search and paying .03 cents a month for the way it is now.... I would MUCH prefer to keep things the way they are now!  

eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?   eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?

by: stores in core sucks

Thu Oct 22 13:19:48 2009

Unaware if they are putting stores in core, they will have to either raise your rates drastically, or cut listing fees drastically. I stopped listing altogether when I heard this, it's a gigantic ripoff to pay 35 cents to compete with FREE diamonds & .3 listings. So again, the idiots at ebay are screwing up.

eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?   eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?

by: Bunch of liars!

Thu Oct 22 13:36:04 2009

Ina, just checked my dashboard on my second account. Saw that I qualified as a TRS & powerseller, but according to Ebay, I declined the invitation! LIARS! You never sent us any notification, I even looked in my messages NOTHING! EBAY IS A SCAM & FRAUD!

eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?   eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?

by: fruity

Thu Oct 22 13:50:00 2009

Because they dont want to get the metrics from frustrated consumers.. because they CANT FIX IT.

If you corner any ebay employee, they always say we see no spikes in customer service calls. You want to know why? Because everytime you log in and log out they will change the customer service section. I mean literally every day I will have a different "view" of the customer service contact section. I am now inclined to just file a complaint ftc lack of consumer support or spew my venom out on the web every time now.Apparently the FTC needs about 500 complaints before their lazy butts do anything. So I file individual complaints now. They're on my speed dial now. Suck it ebay managers!

eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?   eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?

by: Another Wronged Seller

Thu Oct 22 14:13:50 2009

I am getting tired of hearing the same old excuses from ebay staff.

Ebay Julie's remark that '' we could be doing a better job on that particular query''

On that particular query? Try on virtually EVERY query through best match!

Every time a seller asks an indefendable question of ebay, they come up with the same ''we could be doing a better job'' line of crap.

Would ebay accept that answer from sellers who were below standard in DSR's or feedback? Or would they punish the seller with reduced visibility, lost discounts or suspension?

Instead of corporate speak fluff, how about a concrete answer when ALL search will be fixed? As a seller I'd like buyers to actually find my products. As a buyer, I'd actually like to find what I'm looking for instead of getting idiotic results that don't even come close to what I'm searching for.

I just love searching for black pants and getting results for blue shirts!

Regarding feedback I've thought for a long time that buyers shouldn't be allowed to leave a negative without a MANDATORY cooling off period with a specific time period for the buyer and seller to work things out or a late delivery to arrive. A buyer who in anger left a negative because of a slow delivery or missing or broken part would likely feel differently once the shipment arrived or a seller fixed their issue. If they wanted to avoid retaliatory negative feedback from sellers, why not give buyers and sellers a way to work it out and avoid a buyer leaving a premature neg which would remove the reason for a seller to retaliate?

This would avoid negatives and low DSR's  BEFORE they were left instead of getting a feedback revision later.

I completely agree with Ina about what a land-sea change the TRS program and feedback have gone through. To most outsiders, very few realize how complex and convoluted it has become to do business on ebay. In most large businesses who would have to deal with the huge amount of hoops ebay makes us jump through, they would have a full time compliance manager. Ebay has forgotten to ''keep it simple stupid''

eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?   eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?

by: claudia

Thu Oct 22 14:25:21 2009

THe TSRs are unfair, another annoying change from Ebay. I currently have all 4.9 + dsrs and 100 percent rating but don't qualify because a few buyers in the past year rated my shipping charges too high. I sell mostly books and ship mostly media, but we can't pinpoint where the low ratings come from. With the same ratings, next year at this time I would not qualify for the 20 percent discount. Between Ebay and paypal, they are bleeding me. I'm trying different venues, etsy, sell.com, amazon.

eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?   eBay Town Hall Meeting: Who Moved My Cheese?

by: mindelec

Thu Oct 22 17:54:28 2009

"Another seller asked why a buyer is able to leave a negative feedback on shipping costs when shipping is free. While eBay managers said they were "kicking around" this idea, they gave reasons against doing this."

they have been "kicking this around" for years.  what reasons did they give saying this is a bad idea?  it would seem a no-brainer to me.

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