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Mon Aug 24 2009 23:42:29

Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?

By: Ina Steiner

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If eBay changes a policy and forgets to announce it, does it count? This may sound like an ancient philosophical question, but to eBay sellers in certain categories, it could have serious ramifications in today's real world.

On August 22, Jim "Griff" Griffith said in a discussion board thread that sometime in the past several months, eBay changed its policy regarding shipping caps in the media category. But, he said, "Unfortunately, the shipping team did not communicate this change broadly either externally or in some cases internally. Thus, I have been providing responses to this topic based on the original policy and not the newer loosened policy (which has been discussed by the shipping team on the Shipping board)."
 
In other words, the shipping team did not tell a lot of people.

I have a question in to eBay to verify Griff's statement that now sellers are allowed to use the shipping calculator to charge actual shipping costs in the media category, because I can't find any such statement on the eBay.com website.

In fact, a search on eBay's help pages to find the original policy on shipping caps in the media category netted no results. I had to search Google for "eBay shipping caps" and found it. It appears that while eBay announced the shipping caps in their August 2008 announcement, they never published the policy in the help pages or seller information pages.

One of the readers who alerted me to this latest issue said, "After the PayPal unannounced policy change which resulted in a fee increase, I have started referring to these unannounced changes as Drive By changes."

This case truly highlights how difficult it is for sellers to keep track of all the changes. Griff's depth of knowledge about eBay is far greater than anyone inside or outside of eBay, and if he can't keep track of it all, it's impossible for me to believe that eBay's customer service reps and Trust & Safety reps are doing half as well, and that's a shame.

Here's a link to Griff's post dealing with the new policy.

And here's the August 2008 policy that deals with the shipping calculator and the August 2008 FAQs dealing with the policy.

 




Comments (74) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?   Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?

by: Denver ebay seller

Tue Aug 25 00:11:35 2009

In August, ebay used the firm, LUNTZ, MASLANSKY STRATEGIC RESEARCH to complete focus group research on ebay sellers. I have no idea how many of these were done or where, but I know several groups met in Denver.

The goal is to learn how sellers (and buyers) respond to the wording of things...in other words, how to spin things around so people will miss key information and believe that a bad deal is actually a good deal....

LUNTZ MASLANSKY uses this at their sales pitch to clients like ebay: ''IT'S NOT WHAT YOU SAY, IT'S WHAT THEY HEAR''...just go to luntz.com to find out more.

From the Luntz website: ''

We deliver a unique combination of strategic communications and market research. We are the only market research firm in America that truly specializes in language. Whether using surveys, traditional focus groups, or Instant Response dial sessions, we find the exact words and phrases that make a real difference.

Our language is effective in both the political sphere and the corporate world. We help our clients speak in the language of their target audience – whether they are constituents or consumers. By treating communication as a two-way street, by listening before we speak, our messages have a proven record of success in both the political and corporate arenas''...

I'm posting this so sellers will really sit down and do the math before they continue to invest their time attempting to sell on ebay....read, read, & read through all those policy changes to determine if you are really going to be making any more money on ebay....if it isn't even minimum wage for all your time, why keep it up?



Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?   Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?

This user has validated their user name. by: Mercy the Mingless

Tue Aug 25 00:19:34 2009

Count your blessings.

Griff has made other mistakes in replies to questions posted in his Seller Central ''Ask Griff'' thread.  IF he acknowledges any error, it is often done via a private email to the person who posted the question or corrected Griff's answer.  The rest of the ''Ask Griff'' readers never learn of the error and are left with the original incorrect information.

It is rare and to be celebrated that Griff has publicly acknowledged posting at least this bit of misinformation.

Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?   Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?

by: RicRoe

Tue Aug 25 00:26:20 2009

I think I understand the logic behind eBay's unannounced change with regard to the shipping cap policy.

Barely a year after placing caps on media shipments, this change essentially amounts to a reversal of the shipping caps.

Everyone knows how reluctant eBay is to admit they implemented unworkable policy and even more reluctant to widely publicize they are acting to reverse the policy.

The simple thing would have been to announce the policy change in conjunction with the Postal Service rate hikes, but at that time eBay was stating there would be no changes to the shipping cap policy.

Then low and behold, policy is revised, not as part of the policy change announcements, not in a General Announcement, but in a discussion thread seen by a handful of eBay users.

Does anyone at eBay even stop to think about how buyers are confused with a shipping cap in place which can be legitimately exceeded but no formal announcement was made?

What happens to sellers that received lowered DSR scores from buyers that simply assumed the seller was exceeding the shipping caps, bought the item anyway and then issued lower scores?

By silently slipping the reversal into play, eBay seeks to minimize the 'noise' from sellers saying ''I told you so''.

Of course, one must also consider that many sellers increased their selling prices to cover shipping costs which exceeded the cap. That as much as anything explains why eBay failed to make an announcement as sellers would utilize calculated shipping, and lower prices. The end result would be a reduction in Final Value Fees.

Reduced Final Value Fees are probably the real reason this policy change fell through the cracks and went unannounced.

Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?   Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?

by: fruity

Tue Aug 25 00:32:57 2009

that's funny, drive-bys. I call it WATERBOARDING

They just keep doing what they're doing and everybody lets them until that little rock coming our way turns into a Raiders of the Lost Ark size boulder. Anyways, whatever the changes, its all our fault. We BIRTHED ebay and they turned into Satan. They sucked our teets raw and the only way to deal with them is to send them right back to hell! lol



ps. i dont know what thread you want people to look at. On the AG threads, people post and then Griff deletes them and reposts them on a single post periodically.

Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?   Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?

by: fruity

Tue Aug 25 00:41:53 2009

ps the person from the shipping team made a post on that special ebay discussion board because people had brought it up and he made some kind of comment err clarification about it. This isn't Griffs fault you know, its the product managers for whatever given product and program. They seem to think their job is done once they spew their garbage out on an announcement, and that's totally incorrect. Maybe if that clueless North American manager of marketplaces wasn't so busy daydreaming about how fast she's going to get to the top, she'd take care of the problems there instead of believing it'll work its way through. there, i said it. its her fault

Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?   Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?

by: Joyful

Tue Aug 25 00:59:08 2009

Thanks, Denver, for letting us know eBay is using the notorious Republican spinmeister Frank Luntz, who sold the country so many bad ideas in the past eight years. If figures.

Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?   Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Tue Aug 25 01:09:38 2009

To understand the new and highly devious marketing techniques The Ho uses, it's important to note that the Luntz in Luntz, Maslansky is none other than Frank Luntz, the insidious Republican argument "framer" and master of Republican catch phrases like "up or down vote."

Luntz engages in what I call psychological warfare marketing development in which strategies (ethics plays NO role here!) and phrasings are tested in focus groups in order to develop effective and deceptive persuasion campaigns for his clients.

Frank Luntz is one of the most dangerous men in America.

Ebay uses its members as guinea pigs without full disclosure.

Their 'testing' has devastated thousands of small businesses, and they invite buyers to participate in sophisticated psychological and personality testing without disclosing same to the member taking the survey.

Claiming that these surveys are voluntary doesn't relieve ebay of the ethical responsibility to inform the survey taker of the content and purpose BEFORE taking a psychological or personality inventory test regardless of its length.

This is an unimaginably despicable corporation headed by a sociopath of the first magnitude.

DEATH to ebay corp. in 2009.

Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?   Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?

by: Media seller

Tue Aug 25 01:14:46 2009

http://forums.ebay.com/db2/topic/72709-Announcements-Discussion/S38h-C
ap-On/510120036


Rich
Matsuura has commented on the 7/27 special announcement forum re: the shipping calculator issue.

The current shipping caps policy is buried in the details of the excessive shipping policy:

http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/listing-shipping.ht
ml


''Categories
with maximum shipping charges:
In some categories, eBay sets maximum shipping and handling charges. When listing in these categories, the only time when sellers are allowed to charge more than the maximum is when using the shipping calculator to set the actual size and weight of the item, including packing materials. When using the shipping calculator, sellers should make sure the calculated cost isn’t higher than the actual shipping cost or it will be considered excessive shipping.''

That marked a substantial change from the original announcement (and the corresponding help pages) which stated that shipping had to be at or below the maximum on 'standard' items whether using flat rate or calculated shipping.

This isn't the only change made by the shipping team that wasn't communicated to eBay at large or the selling community until Griff has gone searching for answers.

Selling on eBay is very complex. I doubt there is anyone at eBay (or any seller, really) that truly knows EVERY potential policy violation or rule for listing on the site.

I'm hopeful we'll see an announcement about this policy shift soon. At the very least, I'm happy that Griff publicly acknowledged the policy change.

Too bad they can't or won't do anything about the international sellers forced to use flat rate shipping.

Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?   Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?

by: mindelec

Tue Aug 25 01:24:59 2009

i'm not sure what the change is.  ebay has always said that you can use the shipping calculator to overide the caps.  the "exact cost" thing has always been vague, what is exact cost?  shipping?  shipping and packaging?  i know that i often see books that i know can ship for a post office cost of $2.70 with a shipping calculator charge of over $4.

Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?   Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen

Tue Aug 25 01:32:56 2009

Has anyone considered that there may not be ant staff left to tell customers what is happening. After all, all but the most essential of staff have been "pink slipped" to compensate for the continuing reduction in revenue and the consequentual devastating of profits. If will be interesting to see how Donahole spins the undoubted further decline that will come in September. Should be an excellent lesson for all students of Wall Street "spin".

Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?   Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?

by: gaz

Tue Aug 25 02:07:32 2009

eBay's ongoing refusal to exempt overseas sellers from shipping caps is a direct result of the excessive noise (on every eBay site) from domestic buyers and sellers regarding them being unable to compete with prices from those overseas sellers.

Instead of waking up and looking at their own business practices, they continue playing the childish game of pointing the finger, and eBay policy makers feed them the sop of forcing far flung sellers to have the same shipping costs as local ones.

Until they (both domestic users and policy makers) recognise the value in terms of product variety and appeal to bargain hunters that overseas sellers bring to eBay, total visitor numbers, page views, and bids will continue to decline as overseas sellers (outside of eBay site countries especially) continue withdrawing inventory to other venues, and replacing their quality and premium ranges on eBay with "cheap Chinese crap" just to reduce fees and continue buyer harvesting.

If eBay wants that last set of actions to stop, they have to redress the balance and return genuine usability back to the overseas sellers - even domestic users will see a marked difference in site popularity and overall usability if they do that.

Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?   Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?

by: ebaysucks

Tue Aug 25 02:19:51 2009

Hahahaha the blind leading the blind.......that's eBay for you.

Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?   Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?

by: matza

Tue Aug 25 02:26:25 2009

Oh wow so LUNTZ MASLANSKY must be behind all the free listing offers and special ebay promotions they have been "offering" up as specials. I thought there had to be some con men working in there somewhere.

He's not very good. You'd have to be really really stupid to fall for any of the lame scams he's come up with.

Why is it really hard for ebay to just be honest?

They are going nowhere with these lies and manipulation tactics. It's really incredible what goes on with this insane evil company.

I hope Karma pays them all back in spades. In the end they can't take the green paper with them and the green paper can't buy them anything where they're going so I hope they enjoy all the green paper they can now because they will all pay someday and it won't be with green paper.

The hatred I have for the heads of ebay grows larger and larger each and every day!

Donohoe is a disaster. It's disgusting how much he gets paid to do absolutely nothing constructive. I suppose LUNTZ MASLANSKY writes his lame speeches he gives for earnings day too!

I am so sick of these evil greedy mental people.

Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?   Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?

by: Another Wronged Seller

Tue Aug 25 02:40:17 2009


This is just indicative of how poorly run the company is.

They have changed such a huge amount of things, it IS IMPOSSIBLE for not just the average seller but even an EXCEPTIONAL seller to keep up with.

When our ''seller advocate'' doesn't have the right answers, what chance do we have of getting accurate information from the customer service and trust and safety employees down in the trenchs?

These CONSTANT, poorly thought out changes, point to lack of a unified plan for the company. They may think they know where they want the company to go but they truly have no REAL idea of how to get there.

Without debating the intelligence of morphing ebay from the great company it was into the disaster it has become, it is apparent that whatever plan they THINK they have is being horribly implemented.

Great companies have great internal communication so All the divisions can understand the company goals and know what they need to contribute to the company success.

This company has no vision, no leadership, horrible communication (both externally and internally) and terrible implementation of its ill conceived ''plan''

A recipe for failure.

Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?   Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?

by: have no mercy

Tue Aug 25 06:16:20 2009

Fact : ebay lies and griff is simply their tool. To put any stock or reasoning in that buffoon's "answers" is silly.

Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?   Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?

by: unhappy

Tue Aug 25 08:07:39 2009

@all of the above.

You people need to get a divorce from Ebay and move on.

Get a life. Worrying about what Ebay is doing is definitely giving you ulcers.

Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?   Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?

by: N

Tue Aug 25 08:14:06 2009

This from the same Co. with a VP that one day brags about signing Zappos, and the next week Zappos is bought by Amazon.  
At e  bay, the left hand has no clue what the right is doing

Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?   Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?

by: Puzzled

Tue Aug 25 09:01:41 2009

Why is anyone STILL selling (or at least listing) on ebay at this point. There are now enough other venues and cheap ways to have your own website that you can go off on your own and don't have to worry about ebay's nonsense and inattention to it's customers--the sellers. I'm so glad I'm gone and selling more than my last few pitiful months at ebay.

Who wants to sell on a venue that tells you how much you can charge for shipping when their only reason for doing so is to extract a few more cents in fees and to make buyers think ebay is as on the ball as Amazon--too bad it isn't.

Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?   Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?

by: Karma

Tue Aug 25 10:13:05 2009

@ Puzzled

I am still listing on ebay because I am still SELLING on ebay (which is more than I can say for bonanzle, eBid, OLA, iOffer, bidtopia).

Hate all the changes though!!!!

For now I will adjust/roll with the punches....

Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?   Drive-by Policy Changes: Even eBay Can't Keep Track?

by: In The Event of Fire

Tue Aug 25 10:20:41 2009

Appears to be more of that patented eBay communication similar to ''You spoke we listened'' with their fingers firmly crammed in their ears.

If small sellers provided the customer service level that eBay does to their customers (the sellers) they would be shown the door so fast it would make your head spin.

The double standards and hypocritical policies spewing from eBay corporate are further evidence of the absolute arrogance of Donahoe. His disdain for the small seller is obvious and his total non communicative style is appalling. The sooner that pusillanimous megalomaniac gets the boot the better. And take that useless Griff too.  

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