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Wed Sept 23 2015 22:05:03

The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay is making major changes to the way it measures a seller's performance, but one thing that's not changing: eBay will continue to display an "estimated delivery date" on seller listings using its own formula, rather than allowing the seller to specify how long a buyer should expect to receive an item.

In doing so, eBay is injecting themselves into the process, adding a layer between the buyer and seller. Sellers have complained that eBay sets unrealistic expectations through the practice (see this blog post from last year for one instance).

And last week, we saw another example of how bad things could get: eBay screwed up the dates it showed shoppers during a 2-week period, leaving sellers vulnerable to defects from buyers. In a message to some sellers, eBay wrote:

"We recently became aware of a glitch causing inaccurate shipping estimates for some orders placed Sep 3–15, 2015. This means your buyer may have received an incorrect estimated delivery date during this timeframe."

In April, a similar glitch had occurred, which eBay blamed on "the robots" - it reached out to buyers to let them know.

But there's another problem with the estimated delivery dates. As we explain in Thursday's Newsflash, eBay doesn't provide sellers with the date it provided to the final buyer. Here's a letter I received from a seller:

"Currently eBay removes the estimated delivery dates when the item shows delivered. I would like to know if eBay will show estimated delivery dates in comparison to actual delivery dates.  

"If we are going to be held accountable for a buyer saying they did not receive by the estimated date then both sets of dates need to be shown to the seller the buyer and eBay."

In response, an eBay spokesperson told us that as of November 5th, eBay would provide sellers with access to a preview in their seller dashboard based on the new seller standards. "We'll also include a shipping performance report with details on transactions with late shipments. The report will include details on why the shipment was considered late and specify if it was based on a late delivery confirmation or buyer response."

While that's positive news, she didn't actually say eBay would provide sellers with the estimated date it displayed to the buyer, and she didn't respond when we asked her.

What do you think of eBay estimated delivery dates and the changes eBay will be making?




Comments (48) | Permalink

Readers Comments

The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates   The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates

by: Will This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 24 00:21:33 2015

Who knows if the dates will be honest and correct? It's like the ''Site Who Cried Wolf'' now. eBay may very well be truthful about it, but they've blown it so many times, can't believe a thing they tell buyers or sellers.  

The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates   The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates

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

Thu Sep 24 00:28:33 2015

Ebafia continues to look for ways to demote sellers and assess defects in spite of claims to the contrary.

More bait and switch and more shell games. Business as usual for this criminal enterprise.

The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates   The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 24 00:46:50 2015

I think the line on DEFECTS related to these amorphous delivery estimations is telling::

"The report will include details on why the shipment was considered late and specify if it was based on a late delivery confirmation or buyer response."

There is that odd buyer evaluation of the date of delivery they have been slapping on our FB pages for a few weeks in action.

We are going to now not only be rated on the buyers "opinion"  of us and our items but ALSO their memory of WHAT they got on whatever DAY they got it and if this MATCHED or did not the day EBAY SAID IT WAS GOING TO ARRIVE.

This is just another way to blame the seller for something else;  they are not ALLOWED to have the information ebay gives to the buyer;  and no way to CONTROL what the delivery service does after your package is dropped off to them.  

Ebay is THE most dishonest company on Earth--with the possible exception of the pharmacuetcals and Wall Street.  

The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates   The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates

by: pianogirl This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 24 01:53:15 2015

No matter how hard I try, I cannot control the postal workers. I almost always ship same or next day. Last Saturday dropped a first class package in box at 9 a.m. Checked tracking on Monday and it had not been scanned. Filed complaint online and got immediate call from PO rep...whoever worked on Sat. didn't bother to take it out of the box so it sat there all weekend. Today is Thursday and pkg is still in transit. eBay needs to realize there is NOTHING we can do; shouldn't be penalized for lazy USPS workers.

The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates   The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates

by: Tiffee Jasso This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 24 02:35:31 2015

My comment: Ebay needs to get real. All of Donahoe's down the rabbit hole policies need to be done away with. The "King of Bain" chopped the head off the biggest venue in the world and amazingly enough, no one working at Ebay has been able to blow the smoke away long enough to see red ink.  

The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates   The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates

by: Postthoughts This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 24 04:32:06 2015

I just had a buyer ask me to hold their package until they came back from a trip.  Does this mean ebay will give me a defect for giving the customer what they asked for?  What do we tell the customer, ebay will punish me for providing you with excellent customer service?  

The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates   The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates

by: JQ This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 24 06:04:53 2015

After years of experience I no longer expect eBay to get anything of a technical nature correct, and even if they do get something right, I expect they will mess it up periodically when they push updates out onto the site without any testing.

Personally, I would much rather have my selling performance judged by subjective buyer feedback than ''objective'' eBay supervision. I just do not think eBay is capable of running this program well even if they enter into it with honest good intentions.

BTW, I have absolutely no problem with Amazon objective seller ratings. Over the years I have come to trust Amazon to get things right, and eBay to make a mess of anything management touches.

The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates   The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates

by: JQ This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 24 06:22:23 2015

For those not familiar with the objective Seller Rating system Amazon has been using for the last couple of years.

If you mail an order out with tracking in 48 hours you get 100 points.

If the order arrives within three days you get an extra 10 points.

If you mail an order out late (after 48 hours) you get 0 points.

If you cancel an order you lose 100 points.

If you receive negative feedback or  provide a refund for cause you lose 500 points.

Add up the points, divide by number of orders, and you have a score.

If your score is 85% or better you are okay.

The scores are used by Amazon, and shown to sellers, but not displayed to buyers. That is the only part I would change. I wish the scores would be shown alongside the subjective feedback score in the item listings.

This system has been in place for a few years. I am not aware of any problems. At least I have not had any problems with it. I am not aware of Amazon ever screwing it up with "glitches" (i.e. "incompetent programming changes occurring under negligent management oversight").  

The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates   The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates

by: angryllama This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 24 06:35:50 2015

@pianogirl I see an immediate answer HIDDEN in the text of your post. IF that SATURDAY @ 9am box drop you did was into a Blue-Painted Legitimate USPS collection box that was NOT ON THE PREMESIS of a REAL USPS post office station it would NEVER be picked up until the FOLLOWING MONDAY. That is USPS POLICY and not any sort of Laziness on the part of any USPS employee.  IF the box you dropped in was the Drive-Thru box at a REAL post office, YES, it should have been collected and SHOULD have made it into that station's Saturday OutBound collection to YOUR local Regional Sorting Center.  NOBODY I have ever yet spoken with on a face to face basis both at Garage Sales on Saturday mornings NOR while standing on line IN a REAL post office to have my eBay outbound packages receive their acceptance scan has EVER already been aware that the USPS now does NOT COLLECT mail from any BLUE BOX other than THOSE that are on-premesis at their OWN stations on SATURDAY or SUNDAY.  This means that any time AFTER the LAST COLLECTION from one of those OFF-Premesis Boxes on EVERY Friday afternoon is just MOULDERING inside until the following MONDAY collection as there is also NO SUNDAY pick-up, either.  I long ago took the ten seconds to READ and UNDERSTAND the Pickup schedule posted on EVERY ONE of these drop boxes. I have had to as my own house's mailbox at t the end of MY driveway is a Home Owner Association Mandated CUTESY, but functionally USELESS Cast Aluminum 1890's looking piece of Lawn Art that serves NO USEFUL purpose as a MAILBOX.  Worse this part of Far NorthWest Houston has  the distiction of being at the TAIL END of our VERY NICE letter carrier's delivery route.  Even if I were silly enough to risk dangling $100 worth our outgoing shipments from this Lawn Art odds are VERY good that a Late Afternoon Houston Duck-Drowner Torrent would Soak it or that our carrier wouldn't even visit MY mailbox before DARK.  ONE bit of good news is that IF your package on that Saturday morning WAS at a real post office the first time it gets a SECOND scan the usps/tracking will almost certainly FILL IN THE BLANKS and then show the activity at YOUR local post office station that DID collect and process their own Saturday mail.

The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates   The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates

by: kazaly This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 24 07:09:40 2015

Giving us the estimated delivery date should not be that difficult.
We already have it on our sold product view of the listing via Selling Manager post sale.
The only problem, which I noticed this week, is that the delivery date is estimated on our own location.
One would assume that a simple change to the database call would yield the correct result by referencing buyer zip or postcode.
Come on eBay; it's just not that hard!

The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates   The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates

by: Chip This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 24 07:30:39 2015

I make it part of my item description to tell the buyers to disregard the ebay expected arrival date and have never had an issue with a buyer.

The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates   The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates

by: Volvo351 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 24 08:14:08 2015

@postthoughts

Is the parcel being MAILED? If so, then the buyer will have the mail held, right? I'd tell her you have to comply with eBay policy which requires prompt shipping. As a "member" of eBay, she must do the same.

The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates   The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Thu Sep 24 08:26:53 2015

As part of the post purchase email we send to every buyer we include the following:


Thank you for your purchase and for your instant payment. Your _________  been packed and will be hand delivered for shipping to your confirmed PayPal address first thing tomorrow, ______ , ________.

Shipping for your order will be via USPS _____________ and will include delivery confirmation service as described in our listing.

The delivery confirmation number for your package is: ­­­­­­­______________

We will set up an email delivery confirmation notice for your order as soon as your package has been scanned through our regional processing center and the delivery confirmation number is live in the USPS system.

Delivery confirmation numbers may, in some cases, take 24 hours or more after drop off before they are updated by the USPS.

Please note that the estimated delivery dates displayed by eBay are just that - estimates, as sellers we have no control over the estimated delivery dates eBay chooses to display.

Delivery dates displayed by eBay frequently do not take into account Federal Holiday closures, high holiday volume, and never consider possible seasonal weather complications which can result in delays in delivery by the Postal Service. We apologize in advance if eBay's estimated delivery display fails to accurately represent the actual date of delivery by the Postal Service.



Over the past decade, eBay has worked hard to promote an adversarial buyer - seller relationship so that sellers are denigrated for issues beyond their control.

Despite their best efforts we have managed to maintain our Top Rated Seller status, along with the TRS FVF discount since we first qualified.

It is my belief that by resetting buyer expectations for every transaction we have been able to mitigate eBay's attempts to beat us over the head with unrealistic metrics.

The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates   The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates

by: Mark4 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 24 08:36:59 2015

Until ebay starts delivering packages they should stay out of the postal business. Hell, these idiots can't even keep their website running properly.

The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates   The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Thu Sep 24 09:22:14 2015

I ship the next day 95% of the time, the other 5% is the same day.

I haven't had any problems with late deliveries from the USPS.

The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates   The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates

by: cillianred This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 24 09:48:18 2015

Unless I'm not understanding this correctly, the "on time" delivery ONLY comes into play IF the tracking does not show an acceptance scan within the seller's stated shipping time.

Since USPS got glitchy around the 1st of the year, I've been standing in line at the post office or scheduling pick-ups in order to make sure that my items are properly scanned into the system from the get-go. If I have a lot of packages, I use a scan form. So, this new rule won't change a thing for me as I can't remember the last time I didn't ship within my stated shipping time.

Though the new standard may cause issues for the sellers that print out a label right away, but don't actually ship the package for several (or more) days.  

The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates   The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates

by: meci This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 24 09:53:06 2015

Message  from frustrated buyer over the time its taking for her to get her item:

“I need it for an event that's why I order through you. It said that I would have by the 18th . If it's here after the fact o won't need it. Please make sure to let me know if I will have it by th 18th like promised when I bought item”

Notice the word promised is used.  This is the perceived bs that eBay expects us to live up to.  The listing clearly states estimated but all buyers will read what they want to read and force that down our throats and when the “promise” isn’t made we pay the price.  Either the buyer is asking for a refund even though they have the product or want us to pay for return shipping.  This seems illegal in so many ways that we are being punished for eBays terms which they turn it around and blame us for.

I called eBay for the ummteenth time and expressed my option on the matter and they followed up with this email:

“We recently became aware of a glitch causing inaccurate shipping estimates for some orders placed Sep 3–15, 2015. This means your buyer may have received an incorrect estimated delivery date during this timeframe.

Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused. And please be assured that we have identified and fixed the problem.

We are also taking steps on impacted orders to automatically remove any defects related to shipping time. Please note that in order for feedback to be considered for removal, it must exclusively concern shipping (meaning not combined with negative or neutral feedback for reasons beyond shipping speed or item arrival).

If you feel you have received negative defects related to shipping time on one of these orders, please contact eBay Customer Service to request removal.

Once again, we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. And as always, thank you for being a loyal eBay customer.

eBay Shipping Team”

Defects are still being held against us as expected and their email is just lipservice.

The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates   The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Thu Sep 24 09:58:15 2015


angryllama addresses the USPS blue boxes.

Yes, you have to read the blue boxes you use.  Several near me were serviced by the same reliable carrier, but only one of those had Saturday pick up.  

Side note: There is a schedule on each box, AND a box number.  If there is a problem with the box - jammed - then you can call the 800-number and give them the number of the box for location purposes. At that USPS, they came right out to empty it.



Then there are KNOWN delays - I read somewhere this week - maybe it was an Ina tweet? - that USPS delivery may be delayed just about anywhere the Pope is visiting, due to the immense security in place.  

They are completely removing some blue boxes and locking others. Some zip codes will not have delivery or pick up.  

I have a package originating in Philly that seems to be part of this. Thankfully I was forewarned.   Just not by eBay.

Since I was warned - eBay should have been - therefore any seller punishment from late delivery defects should be removed. And buyers should have a banner in the feedback window during this time period that there may be delays. How hard would that be.

The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates   The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates

by: Postthoughts This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 24 09:59:05 2015

@volvo351 - I have no idea if the buyer has their mail held, however, your statement proves my point, ebay won't allow me to provide excellent customer service by simply doing something reasonable that my customer asked me to do.

I personally won't have packages held at the Post Office after they misplaced one and never found it.  I was reimbursed but I didn't want my money back, I wanted my package.  I wouldn't be surprised if my customer had a similar experience.

The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates   The Problem with eBay Delivery Estimates

by: Trying-My-Best This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 24 10:10:02 2015

Would eBay care to comment on the US most trusted, independent Consumer Reports findings on the 3 major mail carriers providing service to ''their'' buyers?  None attained a perfect score of 5 or even a 4 on reliability of their stated delivery times, in fact, all 3, are considered Defects under eBay rules and are unacceptable service providers for ''their buyers''.  This means we can all expect our fair share of 3's on our DSR. scorecards.  An eBay planned good riddance to their core small sellers.

eBay labels state  USPS an eBay Preferred Carrier.  Based on this report,  USPS 87.5% Reliability score means there really are no problems or issues considering hundreds of millions of packages are mailed.   There is a high level of confidence USPS delivers on time.   So why, eBay, why are you micro-managing shipping times when your site has so many other more important buyer issues like search?  


This article statistics are as current as possible from the 2013 holiday shipping season and evaluation results had to be similar as Consumer Reports evaluations appeared published in the December 2014 issue of Consumer Reports Money Adviser.  

Consumer Reports put and rated FedEx, UPS, and the U.S. Postal Service to the test to see which can get your packages to their destinations most economically and quickly. Consumer Reports Money team, using a 1-to-5 scale, where 1 is the lowest possible score and 5 is the highest on evaluating service levels.

This report evaluated all 3 carriers on several factors ( convenience, reliability, and cost)

On Reliability:   FedEx rated 1.   UPS rated 1.  USPS rated 3

For the 2013 holiday season, the countless packages didn’t arrive on time because of poor weather conditions; this situation was made worse by a crush of shoppers sending gifts late. Still, given the steep prices for overnight and second-day service, on-time delivery is critical.   (UPS and FedEx wouldn't tell us about their track record, which hurt their score.)

The USPS says 87.5 percent of package deliveries were made on time in 2013. If FedEx and UPS did better, wouldn’t they want to crow about it?

On Overall Score:  Fedex rated 3.1.    UPS rated. 2.6.       USPS rated 3.8


Editor's Note: This review is based on an evaluation by the Consumer Reports Money team, using a 1-to-5 scale, where 1 is the lowest possible score and 5 is the highest. Individual scores are averaged within category, and the category scores are averaged to produce the overall score.  This article also appeared published in the December 2014 issue of Consumer Reports Money Adviser.  


Get details on our review here:  http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/12/shipping-compari
son-fedex-vs-ups-vs-us-postal-service/index.htm


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