|Sun July 31 2011 17:50:43|
eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program
By: Ina Steiner
eBay is conducting an "Experience Enhancement Survey," according to a user who posted screenshots of the survey on the eBay discussion boards. Survey questions ranged from, "How would you feel if eBay provided you with a way to finance your eBay purchases?" to "How important is it to you to inspect and approve items purchased on eBay before committing to make the purchase?" and "How would you feel if you could shop on eBay from Facebook?"
Sellers are always concerned about changes eBay is planning especially with regard to new policies that might negatively impact them, and the Experience Enhancement survey had plenty of questions that could fall into that category.
One of the questions that had participants in the forum particularly concerned was:
"How would you feel if eBay allowed you to place a refundable deposit on an expensive item that would then be shipped to you, thus providing you with the opportunity to inspect the item before making your final payment to the seller, or returning it for refund if the item does not pass inspection?"
Many sellers have experienced or have heard tales of "bad buyers" who receive items, initiate a claim, and then send back "rocks in a box" to sellers in order to deceive eBay into thinking they've returned the product. Sellers no longer have leverage with buyers since they cannot leave them negative feedback, and many sellers feel eBay's Buyer Protection program leaves them vulnerable to such incidents.
Sellers commenting about the survey said any policy that would allow buyers to obtain expensive items without paying the full amount upfront would be unpalatable.
One seller wrote, "seems to me this is encouraging buyers to not pay in full if they decide they dont want something for any reason. Encouraging buyers remorse, in other words." Another said, "while I don't sell "expensive" items, you can bet your bootie I won't be shipping anything to anyone without first receiving full payment."
Another seller said if eBay allowed buyers to inspect items before paying and deciding if they want to keep, it would turn eBay into a rental store. Another wrote, "they won't have to worry about any of the answers to the other questions because there will be NO sellers left," and continued, "Ebay would then become a SUPER SCAMMERS Paradise! Yeah, let's inspect that expensive diamond ring first so we can replace the stone with a cheap CZ and then decide we don't like it! Are they out of their freakin minds!!"
Additional survey questions included: "How would you feel if eBay guaranteed that sellers would answer your questions within 24 hours, and that eBay would answer your questions to the best of our ability if the seller hadn't responded within that time?"
"How would you feel if eBay gave you the option of logging onto the eBay web site and printing a return shipping label for any item purchased on eBay?"
"How would you feel if any item bought on eBay from a Seller located in the United States could be delivered to you within 4 days?"
Other questions dealt with topics such as:
- changes to proxy bidding;
- mobile apps;
- electronic gift cards;
- social sharing and Facebook;
- referrals and group discounts (Groupon-like features);
- local inventory (like Milo);
- eBay Bucks;
- search filtering features.
One question in the survey indicates eBay is considering a filter that would exclude sellers unless they were certified by eBay, and could spell trouble for many sellers due to the loss of exposure in search results:
"How would you feel if eBay allowed you to restrict your search results to a special class of sellers, certified by eBay, that offered a 30 day return policy, fast shipping and professional customer service - and to exclude those products listed by sellers who failed to meet these criteria?"
Sellers might also have to compete with brick-and-mortar stores in search results - eBay asked survey respondents, "How would you feel if eBay included stores that are located near to you as well as all of the online options in your eBay search results?" Local search is something eBay has already begun testing.
The survey screenshots and seller comments can be found on this eBay discussion thread.