Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed Sept 11 2013 23:16:08

eBay Drops Bombshells in New User Agreement

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay updated its User Agreement with a number of changes that are proving worrisome to sellers. The one most sellers are keying in on is eBay's provision that allows it to hide listings in search results for any reason.

"To further create a marketplace where buyers find what they want and drive positive user experience, we updated the provision regarding listing conditions to recognize that the appearance and placement of listings in search and browse results will depend on a variety of factors.  So, in some situations a listing may not appear in some search and browse results regardless of sort order."

Sellers pay eBay fees to have their listings appear on the site, so were not happy at the prospect of potentially paying fees for zero exposure. eBay has muddied the water by granting sellers a certain number of free listings each month in addition to running certain free-listing promotions, many of which apply only to one subset of sellers at a time.

eBay spokesperson Ryan Moore said eBay would not be refunding any listing fees for sellers impacted as a result of the policy.

Some sellers are cynical about whether eBay had already been hiding some listings in search results. Others blame eBay's new Cassini search engine for the company having to create the new policy.

One can only wonder if eBay is poised to push a button and change its search algorithms once the agreement takes effect for all users in October - as the all important holiday shopping season is underway.

eBay also made changes in its User Agreement that some sellers fear will mean its Managed Returns program will soon be mandatory.

And eBay changed its Buyer Protection policy: "if as a seller you choose not to engage with the eBay Buyer Protection process on an item not as described case, we may seek to carry out a reimbursement from you without asking the buyer to return the item to you."

Read the eBay announcement board post and look for Thursday's Newsflash news article for more details, and let us know what you think.

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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Drops Bombshells in New User Agreement   eBay Drops Bombshells in New User Agreement

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

Fri Sep 13 03:41:00 2013

This might be why eBay does not want to hold Live events.

You have a hard time getting the public interested in this rip-off. I told some people about this article and they said "why do business there?"

I pointed out eBay is the best place there is, like I read here.

They just looked at me like I was a clueless child and said, "They are stealing your money."

There are many stories here of buyers stealing items with bogus SNAD claims. eBay is stealing your money and wasting your time when they do not provide the service you pay for.

Sellers are being robbed at both ends. How are you going to get JD to stop ripping you off, and have his employees do their job?

If you are selling one third of last years's volume, you have to really step up sales for a while to catch up and break even, much less make a profit.

Do you realistically think that will happen? How would it suddenly occur on eBay?

Sorry. We make mistakes. You trusted people and had the best intentions to do a good job. Your families and your employes deserve better than eBay.

You deserve to be treated fairly and with respect. eBay does not deserve your money.

Putting off this decision will only cost you more later. Go to Amazon. Go to Craigslist. Sell at a loss, write it off or go bankrupt.

eBay once worked. Now it does not. Your life will go on. There will be a tomorrow.

You should have left yesterday. Leave today.

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by: NetWatch This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 13 08:52:49 2013

Xander, as you may already know, the purge of 15,000 sellers from ebay took place on August 6, 2013, the anniversary of the dropping of a nuclear weapon on Japan by the U.S. Coincidence too?

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by: JustTheFacts This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 13 10:01:03 2013

This part is what gets me the most.

"And eBay changed its Buyer Protection policy: "if as a seller you choose not to engage with the eBay Buyer Protection process on an item not as described case, we may seek to carry out a reimbursement from you without asking the buyer to return the item to you."

So, if I understand this correctly. what ebay is saying is, you either participate in the protection process or they will punish the seller by not just reimbursing the seller who makes the claim (true or not) using the sellers funds of course, but they will also allow the buyer to KEEP the item.

I understand that if a seller chooses not to do anything once a case is opened that they will side in the buyers favor and reimburse the buyer, but to also REWARD the buyer by allowing them to also keep the item and get their money back is unlawful.

This is called UNJUST ENRICHMENT and ebay does not have the right or authority to make or rewrite  LAW.

The only reason ebay feels confident in the outrageous things they are now writing into their policies is because they have stripped their users of the ability to file class action lawsuits, forcing each person to bear the expense in suing them on their own.

Let this be a lesson to everyone when any company decides to strip their customers/users of the ability to file class action suits.

Once they do this you can be assured their wrong doings will increase 100 fold.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Al G

Fri Sep 13 10:03:02 2013

"by: Rexford
     
Thu Sep 12 21:30:43 2013
Xander says "Ebay has used a “slow conditioning” method by making unpopular changes every number of months as to allow sellers to adjust their mindset into accepting them without driving them away."

that is called creeping normality--the way a major negative change, which happens slowly in many unnoticed increments, is not perceived as objectionable."


Reminds me of the adage on how to cook a frog: Place frog or frogs in cold water, turn the heat on low. The frogs never notice that the water temperature is rising until it is too late.

Are small sellers frogs?
(Apologies to the French - no slight implied).

Ribbet, ribbet.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Fri Sep 13 10:43:54 2013

@justthefacts

You may be mis-reading what that statement actually says.  What it is saying is that if a seller does NOT participate / respond to a buyer's claim, then Ebay will step in and resolve it.  Now what exactly do you think should happen?  If a seller chooses not to respond to a claim the buyer should just eat it?  How could that be the right thing to do?

This is another one of those things that Ebay has done for a long time, they are just now putting it into the UA for whatever reason they have.  A couple years ago I had a claim as a buyer and it went much like Ebay described.  The seller just didn't feel the need to respond.  So in time, Ebay just refunded me.

You are correct in what you state, but what alternative policy would you like to see.  If the seller doesn't see the importance of responding to a claim, do they really care about the money or the product involved.  It is surprising to me that a seller would not respond to a claim, but it has been my experience that it does happen.

If a seller is concerned about their rights under Unjust Enrichment, then that same seller should be responding to the claim.  It is doubtful you'd have much of a case when you could have prevented it from happening easy enough, but the seller made a choice not to.  

I'm unsure of how binding that clause really is regarding not being able to file a law suit.  If a contract is found to be in bad faith, there can be significant problems.  So only time will tell if this will withstand testing in the courts.  And it doesn't give them free license to do whatever they want.  There are consumer protection laws.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Puck

Fri Sep 13 10:58:51 2013

Adios, eBain.

Perminate Link for eBay Drops Bombshells in New User Agreement   eBay Drops Bombshells in New User Agreement

by: subsonic17 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 13 11:34:07 2013

So what's a few more crumbs of a sh** sandwich? A year from now when you're being paid in ebay vouchers to list auctions no one will ever see, the very same people will still be whining about the ebay trivialities of the day. Nothing will have changed. There won't be any mass exodus, no lawsuits, no government interventions or FTC investigations. Ebay can and will crush any of that if they have to. Most everyone will stay and accept the new terms, and any more that come about. So long as they have a time and place to vent they will accept anything.

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by: etailer This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 13 11:41:46 2013

e-mail announcement - See third bullet in ''Key updates to the eBay User Agreement''

''Provision regarding hassle-free managed returns. We added a provision describing the eBay returns process, which simplifies returns for our buyers and sellers. We may automatically apply the eBay returns process to listings where returns are accepted. Sellers may remove the eBay returns process from their listings by adjusting their account settings within My eBay. Initially this change will only apply when a new seller account is opened.''

Does this mean that even if a seller does not wish to use the ''eBay’s return process'', they will be forced to enroll/ sign up for it just because the seller accepts returns but wants to manage the process themselves?

This is crazy!  Are we missing something here?

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by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 13 12:02:28 2013

Best one I've read is Ric's about Dell computers. I believe it. Too bad the Depatment of Justice is too busy for commerce. Why doesn't someone SMART set up a petition calling for an investigation of eBay's current practices? I think all of this is unfair restraint of trade. I'll sign!

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by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 13 12:05:32 2013

Oops!!! Just found the petition! Thanks NetWatch

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by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 13 12:13:42 2013

Oh for crying out loud. NINE signatures?? Talk is cheap when the subject is eBay.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Fri Sep 13 12:16:07 2013

@subsonic

I realize that this stuff is disturbing and that it can be very hurtful to many sellers.  Not just mom and pop, but sellers of many sizes.  

Ebay will not be able to provide vouchers to every seller and expect to keep all sellers.  It isn't logical or possible.  They would lose all diamond sellers, all sellers that are here earning and income.  All they would be left with is casual sellers.  And once that happened, Ebay would not last long.  So it just isn't even feasible.  While a voucher system will work great for some sellers, it won't work for many more.

There have been mass exoduses of Ebay and there have been law suits.  Government intervention, not so much.

You talk as if everyone is stupid "So long as they have a time and place to vent they will accept anything."  Completely ridiculous and ill informed.  Just because something doesn't work for you does not mean it won't work for someone else.

@etailer
No, not at this time.

When Ebay announced the managed return system, they said at that time that they were considering requiring new members to opt into this program.  They made no secret of this, however it is easy to understand how some may have missed hearing about it.

We are all so conditioned to brace ourselves anytime Ebay announces any changes and sometime we don't read the change carefully and make some assumptions that may not be there at all.

The announcement says for NEW member accounts they MAY auto sign them up for the managed return process.  It goes on to state that the NEW members can go to their site preferences and opt out of it if they want.

So while it is auto upping NEW members, they can opt out if they choose to.

You aren't crazy, you just need to take a deep breath and read it word for word.
 

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 13 12:36:23 2013

Its a shame but nothing will change. Inna's done a great job documenting this, people have tried to spread "the word" but in the end ......

1) eBays crackerjack legal dept cleared it - eBay is a vengeful lowlife, piece of crap company - but they arent stupid. If they put it in the UA - then its been cleared .. aka you pay to LIST, you dont pay for VIEWS.

Should the FTC come knocking, thats thier out.

The forced returns? Everytime I get back a non warranted return ... I buy one from one of thier Platinums and swap it out ... alls fair in love and eBay.

The truth is that thankfully I dont get all that many returns - its just the ones I do get are so absured that it becomes unfair (ie MONTHS later, used, or damaged items).

I used to have 5-10 sales a day, now 1-2.

Its the new eBay way - but it gives me time to work on AMAZON. I had a long talk with them - Im now authorized for handbags (michael kors specifically) and I will be concentrating on that. Better customers, better margins, and every sale I make on Amazon is one eBay wont make - the best revenge I can do!

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by: alfabarn This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 13 12:52:11 2013

In all fairness refusing to participate in the dispute process is not the same as refusing to answer the buyer. In a SNAD scam the buyer will go directly to Ebay, the buyer will demand a refund that is part of the managed returns program, those reasonable demands include replacement, or full or partial refund without the item being returned. But ignores  that the seller has a refund policy that requires the item be returned and that the seller is not in the managed returns program.

I contacted the buyer after he opened the dispute to offer the buyer a refund but only after the item was returned. What followed was just one example of why sellers are feed up with Ebay, The buyer got a refund and I got trashed DSR's and no item returned.
Yes Ebay is giving the money back to buyers who are getting no response from the sellers who will not communicate. . As they should. But Ebay is also allowing buyers to dictate refund policies to sellers who do communicate with buyers, but taking part in the dispute process should not require that sellers surrender the refund policy the buyer accepted at the time of purchase.    

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This user has validated their user name. by: thehosst

Fri Sep 13 12:53:42 2013

Totally unfair, eBay still thinks that people are not shopping in eBay because of search or any of those useless "enforced" polices they generate every week, is just plain and simple, eBay is not making sales because 60% of sellers are out, no sellers, no products, no deals, period.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Fri Sep 13 13:08:59 2013

@pace

"The forced returns? Everytime I get back a non warranted return ... I buy one from one of thier Platinums and swap it out ... alls fair in love and eBay."  Are you kidding?!?!?!  How does that even remotely seem fair?  Why does your problem suddenly become someone else's problem that had NOTHING to do with anything happening to you?  You are willing to make another person literally pay for a problem you had when they had NOTHING to do with it?

I sure hope you are kidding, but if you aren't, you don't belong selling on Ebay or anywhere else but your own website.  You are committing a federal crime every time you do that. It is called Mail Fraud.  

To knowingly and willingly cause harm to another is completely unacceptable behavior.  You can try and justify it by blaming Ebay, I'm so sorry Ebay made me do it!  Really?  I don't think so.

You are right, thankfully you don't get a lot of return, but not thankfully for you, thankfully for the other sellers that you willingly harm.

I'm not sure why you feel it is OK for another seller of any size to absorb your costs of doing business nor do I know why you think it is OK to jab a Platinum seller.  Just ridiculous behavior and I sincerely hope you get caught doing it.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Fri Sep 13 13:16:51 2013

@alfabarn

You are confusing two separate issues.  The managed return process is one issue, the lack of participation is a separate issue.

In the managed return process it is stated that Ebay will allow the return.  The seller agrees to allowing Ebay handle the return process.  So if the seller is upset by the process, don't opt into the policy.

The lack of participation is a completely separate issue.  And that is when the seller ignores the claim for whatever reason that seller has.  And surprisingly some sellers do this.

If you are in the managed return process and you don't like it, opt out.  I have claims, I handle them myself case by case.  Sometimes a buyer requests a return and I don't allow it for a number of reasons.  Ebay has never forced me to take a return I wasn't willing to take.  But I do pick my battles.  If a buyer wants to return something that in previous emails the story keeps changing or I have other proof they are scamming me.  I fight and I fight hard.  But I get my proof so that Ebay will back me up.  Sometimes it requires a skillfully crafted email [in Ebay] to the buyer to get them to state what the truth really is.

If the seller wins the claim, then any low DSRs or Bad FB can be removed.  

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by: abq1997 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 13 13:18:17 2013

After reading the eBay email Thursday, I went into the user agreement to look at the "listing conditions" that might affect search placement and found them kind of nebulous, but well within what we already do. I then went further into the listing rules and came up with this gem: Sellers "can't list an item you're simultaneously selling outside of eBay." We sell on several venues and some of our eBay items are also listed on other venues, such as Amazon. I would like to see eBay try and enforce this rule, because it would mean they would have to enforce it against all the national retailers selling on eBay, and I don't think they want to lose that revenue.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Fri Sep 13 13:24:05 2013

@abq1997

That one has been there for years and maybe even from the beginning.  What they don't want sellers doing is having one of widget A and listing it on Ebay.  And then listing it on other sites.  Then once it sells someplace you have to go close the listing everywhere else you may have listed it.  

If you have multiples of Widget A, then there isn't an issue.  It's all in how much inventory you have of a given item.  Can you cover it if everything sells.

At one time this was a real issue with auctions.  A seller may list it elsewhere too.  They get some bids on Ebay, but then it sells someplace else you have it listed for at a higher price.  So they close the listing on Ebay even though there are bids.  This is the behavior that cause that rule ebay started last year I think it was regarding closing listings with bids.  The first time you do it, they won't do anything.  But after that, you still have to pay the FVF.  That was to deter this behavior.

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by: Spokonzaga Pete This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 13 13:41:07 2013

Ebay is taking part in sweatshop tactics, misrepresentation and extortion.

Oebay sellers need a union. We are being warehoused and manipulated in ways that are detrimental to the sellers interests. As ebays customer, being forced to comply with  their policy that harms us is illegal extortion.

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