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Sun July 31 2011 17:50:43

eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program

By: Ina Steiner

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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.




Comments (68) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program   eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program

by: NullApps This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Sun Jul 31 18:44:03 2011

Half.com has now introduced rentals.  I'm not surprised by this http://rent.half.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?HalfRentals

eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program   eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program

by: Joe Average

Sun Jul 31 20:48:18 2011

The type of buyers that eBay is trying to entice with these programs are the kind that will never be satisfied. These buyers are more likely to leverage eBays protection schemes into a discount, free shipping, or free item.

eBay does not seem to appreciate that buying online, esp. at a third party site, is not like picking a box of chips off of the shelve at Walmart.  

eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program   eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program

by: Ron

Sun Jul 31 21:39:14 2011

Hey eBay, "How would you feel if you actually owned any inventory, sold it, and had the buyer return it after using it for a week?"

Hey eBay, "Why do you think that any sellers would actually agree to this insane scheme?'

There's nothing wrong with asking questions, but these guys over at eBay are still kicking a dead horse.  Their great turnaround scheme isn't working, just check their Marketplace growth numbers.  And it's not working because they are CLUELESS.  So clueless, that they're not only continuing with their failed strategy, but going to extremes with it.

eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program   eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program

by: Rich(y)

Sun Jul 31 22:33:33 2011

I have the following policy already in place for my media items:"try it for 90 days and play/read/copy it to your hearts delight. If you are by that time not completely delighted, please return it in any condition you choose for a full refund!" My feedback rating has soared but my return rate is 97%.

eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program   eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program

by: Rich

Sun Jul 31 22:35:39 2011

I read many of the questions on the questionaire and I didn't like most of them.  I think they are unneeded and would not help me increase sales.  Ebay needs more buyers.  Advertising on the TV and radio would be a good start and better than all the questions I read.

eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program   eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program

by: Amazon FBA

Mon Aug 1 00:31:54 2011

ITS VERY SIMPLE.

GET INTO AMAZON FBA and don't look back.

DO it now.

eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program   eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program

by: Toneee

Mon Aug 1 00:41:29 2011

Glad I could be of help here.  When I saw the first page of the survey I felt it was something worth preserving for others to see. Funny thing, this survey was sent to my sellers account (not the one I posted with).  I got the impression they were trying to give me a warm feeling about them so I would start buying again ...

eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program   eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program

by: Phil deBasquet

Mon Aug 1 00:55:26 2011

they have finally lost it completely. i am about done with ebay. This would be the final insult. Clueless is a faint description

eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program   eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program

This user has validated their user name. by: elpereles
Web Site

Mon Aug 1 01:00:33 2011

Waaoo! Another joke from eBay. Right now I was back selling in eB because I use the 50 free promo items and the $0.01 promo, but every time I read these things make me more secure to stay only using the 50 free promo.

It is amazing.

1) Sellers to offer returns.
2) Customer service (answer all question within 24 hours).
3) Fast ship (items delivered in 4 days for US sellers).

As a buyer in the better days in eBay I never found a seller that can have that 3 things.

Interesting signing with Facebook, Gmail or Yahoo.

The dangerous one is the ''rent'' idea. I read/hear a lot of stories from people getting items in retail stores making tricks/fraud to get money back or new items.  

eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program   eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program

by: A

Mon Aug 1 01:11:07 2011

I've never seen a company so absolutely intent on destroying the very business model that made them successful.  In this economy, the flea market sellers should be going gangbusters with second-hand clothing and used kid's items, but eBay has driven those sellers (and buyers) totally off the site.  Somebody please tell them that there's already an Amazon.

eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program   eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program

by: Joe Average

Mon Aug 1 01:16:24 2011

Try this before you buy case:

Seller sent $900 in Jewellery, buyer sent back pasta sauce! PayPal sided with buyer. Seller documented everything in front of carrier on vid and film.

http://s1090.photobucket.com/albums/i376/brandescharf/paypal%20dispute
/

http://forums.ebay.com/db2/topic/Seller-Central/I-Have-Been/5100015525&start=15

eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program   eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program

by: nobody

Mon Aug 1 01:22:50 2011

"...to inspect and approve items purchased on eBay before committing to make the purchase"

April Fools Day already?

eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program   eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program

by: eBay Seller

Mon Aug 1 01:56:48 2011

After reading all of this it sounds like the last round of changes etc wasn't enough. They are trying to drive us crazy. To see how much we will put up with? It doesn't matter if we leave because people continue to BUY on eBay, that's what keeps eBay afloat; not the leaving. As long as there's buyers they will do whatever they want to. I think they think eBay is SOOOO big that they can do whatever their hearts desire, and that's just what they are doing. We are one big experiment for the rest of the world at OUR expense. I started moving my shop inventory to a new shop and have the bare minimum in my eBay shop now. I thought I would feel bad but it is actually such a weight off of my shoulders. Less problems to deal with, less FEES! Less rules! ETC. I can now pay someone else less and list more and have less problems, and still get some exposure. I finally have some peace of mind and I don't feel like I am going to be broke at the end of the month for nothing. I think it is absolutely ridiculous for anyone to think they can any longer really make a profit on eBay. You can list cheap or even free occasionally but that won't stop them from charging the high final value fees and all the other fees. Believe me they make it look good but they get you in one way or another. Nothing is for free. If you have money to throw away and you like extra stress and love dealing with crooks then go for it. Otherwise start fresh somewhere else where you can have a REAL business. Things are just going to continue to get worse. They are at rock bottom now. If eBay ‘wanted’ to make it REALLY better, they would.

eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program   eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program

by: ScrewedAgain

Mon Aug 1 03:20:20 2011

If you have a return policy what the hell is the point of a deposit except to allow ebay to grab and keep the buyers money? Just another ebay cash grab scam for them to get their hands on everybody's money.

How they gonna do it? Buyer puts up deposit, ebay keeps the money until buyer decides, if buyer keeps item paypal places 21 day hold on account, if buyer returns item ebay keeps the cash and issues a paypal only credit, is that the way it will work?

I can't help but feel their only goal is to find ways to get their hands on all the money involved in a transaction, keep as much of it as they can and hold the rest as long as they can then tell all the sap users, stockholders and wall street see all the wonderful things we are doing to protect users and look at all the money we are making by being so @&*#?:( honest.

The only thing buyers and sellers need protection from is ebay and paypal.

eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program   eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program

by: Temp
Web Site

Mon Aug 1 07:22:02 2011

The cheerful "Lawrence A Dickerson" (observations-of-life, troubadore9) said about this kind of Ebay situation

http://letters.auctionbytes.com/cgi-bin/blog/blog.pl?
/pl/2009/12/1261351918.html
In
all actuality,eBay knows exactly what they are doing and has projected with a degree of accuracy the effects on the bottom line.
I have found out first hand how far eBay will go to lie,cheat,manipulate and change directions midstream.

http://www.my3cents.com/userBlog.cgi?id=82186
If You Enjoy BDSM,Try eBay

eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program   eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program

by: Dman

Mon Aug 1 07:43:40 2011

Let's just hope they don't certify buyers. that would really put a damper on the supply of chemicals and supplies for terror attacks.

''Breivik, who is being held in solitary confinement at Ila Prison, near Oslo, mentioned eBay repeatedly in his purported 1,500-page manifesto that rants against Muslims and lays out meticulous plans to prepare for the attacks.

The author of the manifesto described how he used eBay to procure various items, some of which were not discovered during the Sunday Telegraph investigation, suggesting Breivik could have had more than one eBay account, the newspaper reported.
'' --CNN

http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/europe/07/31/norway.attacks
.ebay/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program   eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program

by: Steve

Mon Aug 1 08:19:59 2011

A says "I've never seen a company so absolutely intent on destroying the very business model that made them successful."   AMEN A.

My guess is that the "try before you buy" would only apply to small sellers.  I think that eBay have done everything in their power to drive the small sellers off the site and this is just another sick scheme tossed around to drive more small sellers off the site. Does eBay ever tire of being hated?  I see a lot of mail fraud cases being filed if this is implemented.

Ebay never ceases to amaze me when it comes to inventing utterly ridiculous ways to hurt the small and medium sized sellers.   They must have Monday morning meetings every week with the "How can we hurt them this week" theme.

Oh yeah, and eBay is just a venue.

Hey eBay, you need to look at the sell-through rates of some of your Mega sellers.  Not too pretty.  And it looks like you have recently welcomed near bankrupt American Apparel into your fold.  American Apparel, whom recently received the dubious honor of being a company that is predicted to not be around in 2012.



eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program   eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program

This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Mon Aug 1 08:30:27 2011

I wouldn't mind a "certified seller" type of thing, as long as it doesn't include powerseller=level volume or dollar value requirements. There are many smaller sellers like myself, who sell lower-cost items, and with the decline in sell-through, no longer meet the volume requirements to become powersellers or TRS. Yet, we still have 100% feedback and 4.9+ DSRs. We are *good* sellers, but don't meet the top-rated criteria of eBay due to those volume or sales value requirements. Being "certified" would certainly not hurt us and I would be happy to produce whatever documentation they would require for such. Anything that can help my business get more exposure on eBay would be good, IMHO.

@elpereles:
You're obviously buying from the wrong sellers. My own business meets your three requirements quite easily. In fact, I'll bet there are a huge number of small sellers who do so on a regular basis.

eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program   eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program

by: feehike

Mon Aug 1 09:03:31 2011

@Steve

My guess is that the "try before you buy" would only apply to small sellers.  I think that eBay have done everything in their power to drive the small sellers off the site and this is just another sick scheme tossed around to drive more small sellers off the site. Does eBay ever tire of being hated?  I see a lot of mail fraud cases being filed if this is implemented

No way would I want to run a rental service for ebay buyers.

All a buyer would need to do is bid on an expensive dress wear it for the night, then return it, same for the next night out.

Read a book then return it.

So glad I no longer sell on ebay
Before long ebay will be full of scam buyers & Chinese retailers selling copies, other retailers sell off their seconds, shop returns.

I will stick with Ebid Net auction site where buyers & sellers are quickly kicked off if they break the rules.

eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program   eBay Mulls 'Try Before Buy' Plan, Certified Seller Program

by: Ron

Mon Aug 1 09:44:39 2011

Yeah, this type of policy makes sense for replaceable, ubiquitous Chinese junk.  Volume sellers simply have to price in the percentage of returns that one is likely to experience to the items that they are selling as these items are easily replaceable.  This type of policy also makes sense in the context of large B&M businesses, because customer retention is important due to the importance of a closely located customer base upon which a B&M business would rely.  And for a B&M, there are no shipping costs as for an internet seller, costs that can be considerable.

It appears that Donahoe et al have certain cliche business "mantras", such as "the customer is always right", and think that by applying them to their marketplace that they will find success.

Unfortunately, customer retention is very difficult on the internet due to the wide selection of items and suppliers that are available.  And most sellers have to focus on a certain line in order to be efficient, so repeat customers apply only to items that would need to be purchased on an ongoing basis.  Of course, for eBay, there's no downside to offering buyers their hearts' desires - except that small sellers will probably flee the site.

This policy makes no sense for most small sellers.  As a small seller myself, I've always adhered to best practice policies, just as a matter of principle and maintaining good customer relationships.  But, I've never advertised to the buying public that I would simply cave in to any demand.  This is just asking for trouble.  In business, everything is negotiable, but you don't start by simply encouraging fraud.

It appears, as it has for sometime, that eBay is throwing its small sellers under the bus in exchange for the Diamond sellers.  These type of policies are just in line with what eBay has been trying to achieve for some time.  I personally don't think that they'll be happy with the final result.  Ebay Marketplace growth is already suffering - I don't understand why they would keep pushing a strategy that is failing.  Maybe it's the same type of flawed thinking as that which makes them apply policies that really don't fit a real world situation.

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