Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Tue Mar 11 2014 09:45:48

eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay is making a major change to seller feedback as part of its Spring Seller Update 2014. eBay will eliminate two Detailed Seller Rating criteria in what will be a welcome part of the changes.

eBay will replace the four individual Detailed Seller Ratings (DSRs) as the main way eBay evaluates seller performance with a new single measure called the "transaction defect rate." Item as Described and Shipping Time will remain. The factors that make up a seller's defect rate include the following:

- Detailed seller rating of 1, 2 or 3 for Item as Described;

- Detailed seller rating of 1 for Shipping Time;

- Negative or neutral feedback;

- Return initiated for a reason that indicates the item was not as described;

- eBay Money Back Guarantee (previously known as eBay Buyer Protection) or PayPal Purchase Protection case opened for an item not received or an item not as described;

- Seller-cancelled transactions.

Starting in August, sellers can have a maximum 5% of transactions with one or more transaction defects over the most recent evaluation period. Only transactions with U.S. buyers will count.

eBay will implement the new defect rate as a seller performance measure in August.

eBay will be holding online workshops to help sellers understand the new standards on March 13 at 1 pm Pacific and on March 26 at 11 am Pacific.

eBay's seller checklist:




Other changes are on the way in the U.S., including changes to Managed Returns and a new extended holiday return policy. And in an effort to optimize for Google, eBay is making category and item specific changes.

Another change likely to be unpopular is changes to tracking: Top Rated Sellers, who must have tracking uploaded to eBay on 90% of their transactions within their stated handling time, must now have validated tracking numbers - meaning ones that eBay can validate - eBay must receive at least one carrier scan.

See more details about the eBay Spring Seller Update here - And details about eBay UK changes here - which will include fee changes.

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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback   eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback

This user has validated their user name. by: Bidonmine

Tue Mar 11 11:28:35 2014

My New-Years resolution was to experiment with other selling services... I guess eBay has just forced me to accelerate that process!

Perminate Link for eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback   eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Tue Mar 11 11:35:59 2014

Look closely at that rating system.  While it takes 5 different buyers during your eval period, that list of things is pretty darn easy to meet.  

• Detailed seller rating of 1, 2 or 3 for item as described
• Detailed seller rating of 1 for shipping time
• Negative or neutral feedback
• Return initiated for a reason that indicates the item was not as described
• eBay Money Back Guarantee (previously known as eBay Buyer Protection) or PayPal Purchase Protection case opened for an item not received or an item not as described
• Seller-cancelled transactions

So if you have 1 instance in each category above, you are in big trouble.  And for those eval’d in a 90 day period, not as bad as for those with an eval period of 12 months.  This is plain CRAZY !!!

What the heck is “return initiated for … NAD”?  So if a buyer opens a claim for SNAD and you and the buyer resolve it before the claim is escalated, it is still held against you?!?!?!?

Point 5 stays “…case opened…”.  So the sheer fact that a buyer opens an INR or SNAD [by the way Ebay, the only two options there are for a claim] it is held against you?!?!?!

And finally the cancelled transactions.  So a buyer requests a cancellation and it is held against a seller.  The buyer files a claim in PP and you accept the return and you refund the buyer.  You then need to go to Ebay and file for the cancellation to get your FVF back.  So the claim itself is counted against you AND the cancellation request?!?!?!  

These are bad.  These are very very very bad.  Even the best of sellers aren’t going to be able to withstand these rules.

I’m scared to look at this thing any closer.  Between this and that 90 day return policy for the holidays.  Well all I can say is OMG!!!!

Our only hope is that enough outrage is expressed about this before them implement it so that they may consider some adjustments.  The DSR system as it stands today is better than this by a long shot.  And as we all know it is bad.

Perminate Link for eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback   eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback

by: PowerSeller2007 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 11 11:43:35 2014

Did ebay hired some ebay thieves to cook up the new sellers' DEFECT RATING?  

It all favored ebay thieves!  It appeared like they are taken out from

Ebay Guide Book for Thieves.

And many will be double to quadruple counted.  ALL low DSR give will hurt your feedback, claim Item not as Described and force seller to cancel transaction.  Ebay is allowing ebay thieves to NUKE seller with a $1 transaction.



Perminate Link for eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback   eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback

by: auctionguy This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 11 11:49:24 2014

No doubt ebay has analyzed the data carefully, and their main goals for these changes are (1) increase fees by eliminating more TRSs, (2) increase fees by reducing transaction cancellation requests from sellers for returned items, and (3) more effectively weed out the ''undesirable'' sellers.

I predict a 30% decrease in listings on ebay next November and December. I know I will be one of those that won't list anything on ebay then, but on other sites instead.

Perminate Link for eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback   eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback

by: auctionguy This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 11 11:53:51 2014

I just received an email from ebay with the subject: ''(my userid) Spring Seller Update: Top Rated Seller program updates - you're in...'' (truncated by the length of the subject field displayed in my email program). The first thought that popped into my mind was that by hovering over it, it would display the end of the subject as ''you're in trouble now'' LOL, or maybe not...

Perminate Link for eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback   eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback

by: scaryguy This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 11 12:03:08 2014

No one even mentioned the fact that when a buyer tries to ask a question, it automatically opens up a case against us sellers. So in a performance period of 3 months, this will happen a lot and then I just lose my rating?!?!

I think its time we all woke up and accept the fact that ebay wants sellers to leave. They admittedly stated numerous times how much they want to be like Amazon. Perhaps they will eliminate all sellers and just sell their own goods. Too bad we already have an Amazon!  :/

Perminate Link for eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback   eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Tue Mar 11 12:04:21 2014

Here is what stands out for me.

First, we find that eBay has not learned from past lessons and is going to once again implement a way for neutral feedback to count negatively against a seller. By utilizing semantics like "transaction defect rate", eBay believes they are side stepping the "negative" connotation and enabling neutral feedback to once again count against a sellers reputation.

eBay will also make it easier for competitors to harm our seller standing by taking the buyers word that an item is not as described.

As a computer parts seller, I can not tell you how many times I have had to work with a buyer who expects a seller to ship what they wanted, not what they purchased. It looks like buyers who purchase the wrong item by mistake are now going to have a serious detrimental effect on seller ratings due to their own ignorance. Sellers will pay a heavy price for buyers who do not take the time to read descriptions and learn they can leverage eBay's system to extract blood from sellers.

Another red flag is the holiday return option that mandates an extended return period. Who wants to bet that this is the precursor to a site wide 60/90 day return policy required to retain TRS?

eBay knows that sellers will have to revise listings to comply with this policy, and that sellers will likely forget to roll back those edits at the end of the holiday season.

The issue of seller cancelled transactions counting against a seller is totally wrong headed. Buyers returning an item is one thing. But, counting seller initiated transaction cancellations against the seller is unfair. Buyers do not understand how the transaction cancellation process works and as such they are unlikely to initiate a cancellation after a return. Sellers do understand how the process works, and often initiate the cancellation process to make it easier for buyers.

What this change amounts to is eBay telling sellers that they want to keep the fee proceeds from every sale, even when items are returned. If a seller initiates a transaction cancellation to recoup fees from return transactions, then eBay will punish that seller by using the cancellations as a strike against the seller which will eventually result in the seller being kicked out of the TRS program and lose the 20% discount.

All in all, the Spring Seller update amounts to eBay finding new ways to claw back the 20% TRS discounts and make it easier for sellers to be kicked out of the TRS program.

Carl Ichan may be wrong about separating PayPal, however, he is spot on when he states that eBay's corporate governance is the worst ever.

These changes are short sighted, and will encourage more sellers to abandon eBay in favor of it's new competition once 11 Main goes live and opens their site to more sellers.

Perminate Link for eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback   eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback

by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 11 12:05:31 2014

I just got that message, indicating our ''seller performance'' is below the 2% maximum 'defect rate'.  

Well, we sell IT items and computer/industrial stuff.  Often these are things we cannot test, but also often things you can't get anymore.  So we list them and guarantee them, because any buyer of that item probably can test it. which we cannot.

It's a technique, I admit.

If we had the ability to test a $75,000 unit that connects to an OC-48 line we'd have tested it, but we can't have that ability and still be able to sell that for $800.  

Buyers save a lot buying from us but we cannot be responsible for whether something works other than having a return money back guarantee.  Would it be better to be able to test things completely? Sure. But then we wouldn't be able to sell them.

With the standards ebay is pushing our ability to sell very expensive items at 95% off is going to be limited, maybe eliminated. Ebay is pushing for all new Chinese items being sold on ebay.  You can see it in their ads.  ''Buy it new, buy it on ebay''.  

Pretty far from ebay's roots, where you could find *anything*.  Even things that were just impossible to find.

Going forward, ebay is going to be a shadow of it's former self.  

Perminate Link for eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback   eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback

by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 11 12:09:20 2014

As to selling cheap items like postcards and stuff like that, the handwriting is on the wall.

You can't sell those that cheap on ebay anymore. You have to have tracking and that about eliminates cheap USPS mailing or ''free'' shipping.  

Ebay wants tracking on everything so you are going to have to ship UPS or FedEx. If you don't no one will be able to see your stuff.  

Perminate Link for eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback   eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback

This user has validated their user name. by: Puck

Tue Mar 11 12:14:33 2014

"To qualify for the Top Rated Plus seal and 20% final value fee discount between November 1 and December 31, your listings must include the new extended holiday return option, with returns accepted through January 31..."

Designed to skunk many sellers out of the 20% FVF discount during their peak season.

Perminate Link for eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback   eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Tue Mar 11 12:18:13 2014

I would love to know if these rules apply to ALL sellers big and small, or are they just devised for the ones that Donahoe seems to loathe.

Perminate Link for eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback   eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback

by: exdwh This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 11 12:18:23 2014

Sounds like many sellers have been gaming the tracking number requirement to qualify for the 20% discount?

On the flip side, international letters ($1.15) do have a valid tracking number and some even show tracking all the way to the destination: LN032483769US

Perminate Link for eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback   eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Tue Mar 11 12:25:49 2014

I’m thinking eBay is expecting a lot of sellers will voluntarily give up TRS status over the holidays – giving them a nice profit.

90 day returns does not make sense for quite a few categories: special occasion clothing, computers & appliances (with post holiday sales starting in January, same items could be purchased at a discount & original returned to seller). I personally don’t have a holiday oriented category, but even I would question if 90 day returns are worth it for me.


It is still bothersome that eBay thinks it is fair for sellers who ship quickly as documented in their label tracking system to be rated on the actions of a third party. I’ve seen USPS take over 10 days to get a priority item to a USA buyer – with the reason a complete mystery. Then there is the weather, as we have seen plenty of this winter.

Seller initiated transactions – I think one of the “reason” choices is something like “buyer request” or “buyer changed mind”. I question if that would count against the seller? I have cancelled a few due to buyer buying the wrong item then asking me if I would cancel. I don’t have a problem with that but feel the weight of that is on the buyer, not the seller.

Is this a prompt for the seller to just forget about doing a “transaction cancellation” in these cases & take the hit on final value fees? Hmmmm…


So, “Shipping charges” and “Communication” are going away? Communication was more an issue with me on the buying side, but I just don’t buy if a seller ignores my question.

Shipping Cost is quite another issue as shipper rates continue to rise. Most sellers don’t abuse shipping costs, but as shipping a heavy item cross country gets quite pricey, buyers can feel they are getting a raw deal paying actual shipping! If this goes away, it is good news.

Perminate Link for eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback   eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Tue Mar 11 12:26:59 2014

I had the same thought, Rexford, but I think we all know the answer to that.  

Perminate Link for eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback   eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback

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

Tue Mar 11 12:32:49 2014

After reading the eBay "terms of servitude" - there may be a way out of having tracking for 1st class letters or flats.

Just specify "local delivery", include your costs in the handling section and in the description make it clear that you will be mailing the item without tracking and the buyer can be assured of delivery. A long shot, but it is within the rules.

Talmudic scholars are invited to comment......

Perminate Link for eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback   eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback

This user has validated their user name. by: MJRock

Tue Mar 11 12:35:10 2014

My response to this will be to raise prices on eBay, and use eBay more as an advertsing forum for the other sites I sell on.  I've found people Google my products, and eBay was always the lowest prices for my items that they could find.  

Now, I'll jack prices sky high on eBay, and if I sell anything it will be worth it.  If customers want a better price, they find me elsewhere with lower prices on sites easier to sell on, like ecrater, amazon, and our own website.  

We started on eBay, it's sad how low they have sunk.  They have used us all these years, now it's time to use them for their traffic, and funnel that to our other sites ....

Perminate Link for eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback   eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback

by: Donkey This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 11 12:43:01 2014

That tracking number requirement is needed.
To many Top Rated Sellers upload a tracking number and then wait days to ship the item.
I usually give them a 2 for communication when they do this since they are misleading the buyer.  

Perminate Link for eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback   eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback

by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 11 12:49:59 2014

I list so little on Ebay these days that I tend to not pay much attention to their new edicts...who cares?  I was amused by JD's large pay cut...now if we can only do that with congress.....

Perminate Link for eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback   eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback

by: JAY This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 11 12:53:58 2014

Several bloggers lament that they will have to give up their postcard and small paper goods sales rather than jump from plain old 49c stamp first class envelope shipping to minimum $1.93 (with eBay discount) first class parcel with tracking number shipping to keep their 20% discount service.  SOLUTION- do as I did long ago- open a second eBay account.  Easy to do- you need a new email address for it (I picked up a free Gmail one) and a new
eBay'' moniker- I just took my main account name and put a ''2'' after it- easy to keep track.  On this new account give up all hopes of the 20% discount- and sell ONLY the lightweight postcards and paper goods you can stick in an envelope and mail for one ''Forever'' stamp (or up to 3.5 oz. with a bit of additional postage). The new account does NOT affect your main account in any way- just use the main account for items you would always mail in some sort of method that includes tracking.  The loss of the 20% FVF rebate on a $5.00 item is WAY better than spending almost $1.50 more in postage to receive it.  Do the math.  As a bonus, you now have a second account with another set of the periodic 500,000 free items listing and the ever-present 50 items freebies a month. Should you get really energetic and exceed those numbers on your regular account- nothing stopping you from listing a more expensive item on the new ''postcard'' account; you just won't get the 20% rebate on FVF.  Try it- it works. And people buying $5 postcards rarely leave bad ratings.

Perminate Link for eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback   eBay Makes Major Change to Seller Feedback

by: ccdanger0624 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 11 12:57:08 2014

This is a step in the right direction in my opinion.  eBay is giving sellers a lot of what they've asked for.  I've seen sellers complain about not wanting DSR's.  I've seen seller's complain that shipping charges shouldn't be rated because they are clearly stated before purchase.  Both of these things are going away.

Sellers are going to be rated in SOME way.  Those of you complaining about this need to get over yourselves.  You'll never be satisfied.

Seller-cancelled transactions SHOULD be counted because you shouldn't be cancelling at a buyer's request anyway - they should be getting an unpaid item strike.

If you're post office isn't scanning packages, that's a problem you need to take up with the postmaster or USPS customer service.  I've never NOT had a package scanned and I don't stand in line. I think it's good eBay is verifying scans.

November 1st is a bit early to be accepting holiday returns IMO, but I can understand the logic behind it.  Holiday sales were very competitive last year and eBay was not on the "winning" side of that.  And you're getting a DISCOUNT - meaning you're going above and beyond.  eBay is rewarding you for bringing buyers to the site.

I'm not a troll by any means.  I'm just tired of seeing sellers complaining about things they should be doing anyway.  I sell a lot on eBay.  I rarely buy.  Why?  Because I cringe at the crap eBay sellers get away with and I've had HORRENDOUS experiences as a buyer.

eBay is giving buyers what they want so that they stay on the site and so YOU have customers.  Most buyers who have a bad experience on eBay aren't going to say "oh I'm not buying from buyer X ever again..." They are going to say "I'm not buying on eBay ever again".  For that reason, the whining some people have doesn't make me feel bad at all.

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