Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon Sept 29 2014 13:05:21

How Accurate Are eBay's Estimated Delivery Dates?

By: Ina Steiner

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How accurate are eBay's "estimated delivery" dates? While eBay used to talk quite a bit about managing buyers' expectations, we've been hearing from sellers for years now that eBay displays unrealistic delivery dates in sellers' listings.

In a recent letter to EcommerceBytes, an eBay seller said the estimated delivery dates on his listings have been way off, resulting in "pissed off" buyers.

"Sold something on Monday, shipped on Thursday (I use 3 day handling on all my items). eBay told buyer they would have by Friday...if you look at the tracking on the USPS website it says estimated delivery date of Monday the 29th yet they give the estimated date of Friday the 26th...now I have to deal with most likely a defect of some sort and a very angry buyer."


Last year, eBay acknowledged that it was using sellers historical delivery times to a buyer's area in addition to other factors - though it said this applied only for listings eligible for its "Fast 'n Free" designation.

How do you manage buyers' expectations about delivery dates on the venues on which you sell, especially as the holiday shopping season ramps up?

Do marketplaces do a good job of helping to manage buyers' expectations?

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by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 30 08:36:35 2014

On ecrater there are NO delivery dates given at all. Each seller can mention their time to ship in their store, but other than that the buyer doesn't get any unrealistic times for when they will get the package except what the USPS shows within the delivery tracking system. So they can see if they check that I mailed quickly and then they can generally see their package working its way to them.

Amazon gives estimate delivery times based upon our shipping time. I ship within less than 24 hours and from their they estimate when it should ship and from that date even for first class mail, they give a three week (21 actual days) spread for delivery. I did get a feedback lately that said "came early :)". Tracking showed it arrived on the first day within the spread of estimated dates. I get many feedbacks for fast shipping because of my shipping times. Most of my shipments to Australia arrive within 8-12 days and that makes customers very happy.

Folks there are other options than the ulcer causing eBay.

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by: Runs.With.Scissors This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 30 08:50:38 2014

USPS delivery time performance record seems to be seasonal.

Most of our USPS mis-sorted (thereby delayed) packages seem to occur during the summer (personnel shortages due to vacations? ... maybe inexperienced temporary summer help?)

End of November through Feb. are the worst months, due to holidays and bad weather.

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by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 30 08:58:42 2014

ebay wants the sale. Doesn't matter that they lie about the delivery time.
Lousy business practice.  Will the buyer be turned off at the individual seller or ebay???  See that ebay is looking for more buyers-way to go JD.

Maybe things will change next year with JD gone. Gone but not forgotten on how he screwed up a good site.

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by: DJBrady This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 30 11:17:37 2014

In comparing an identical item we have listed both on Ebay and Amazon shipping via First Class Mail to the same zip codes Ebay has ''on or before October 3rd'' while Amazon has ''estimated delivery Oct 3rd to Oct 8th''. Huge difference in the mind of the buyer.

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by: val2525 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 30 12:37:25 2014

Those of you who have one day handling or same day shipping won't notice anything, and to you, it will appear the delivery dates are correct.  It's sellers with more than one day handling who are affected by this issue.  eBay does NOT add in the seller's stated handling time to estimated delivery dates shown to buyers.  eBay HAS ADMITTED THIS, in posts on boards by pinks, numerous times.  CSRs have also said this on phone calls to numerous sellers.  If you have selected more than one day handling, eBay uses your historical shipping time, NOT what you selected.  Because I usually ship within 24 hours, eBay is basing MY buyer delivery time on that, NOT on the 3 day handling I've selected in my listings.  Which technically, might be illegal on eBay's part under interference of trade.  The only way a seller can get the selected handling time included by eBay in ship time estimates is to select 4 or more days.

And yes, many of us have the proof of what I'm saying.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Shop and Ship

Tue Sep 30 12:52:26 2014

Again, we see fairly consistent delivery by USPS between large cities with the exception of the "black holes" of Bell Gardens CA and Kearney NJ. It's not uncommon to see USPS Priority mail linger 3 days after leaving Bell Gardens before entering Pasadena USPS just a few miles inland. However, an occasional mishandling doesn't detract from USPS outstanding job on most occasions. Out of 5,000 packages last year I'd say we had 1% go walk-about and not be timely delivered by USPS. I agree, however, that eBay has created a hyper sales market that is not focused on reasonable product and service variations. Any Buyer with a problem arising in a purchase now has to deal with Sellers who are paranoid about Feedback without a fair reading of the Buyer's concerns. eBay has created a hostile work environment with its heavy handedness that has effectively put the Sellers off limits to meaningful follow-up communication from Buyers. I still question the wisdom of posting both my sales and my purchases on eBay for the public to view when in any other context - like Amazon - such data would be strictly off limits.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Shop and Ship

Tue Sep 30 13:03:49 2014

@val2525 I think you nailed it: same day service. The USPS delivery predictions work for us because we mail within hours of the Buyer's payment. If it's not out by 10:30 a.m. for pick-up then it goes out before 4:30 p.m. for drop-off so that it will catch a ride to the USPS sorting center and be en route by midnight - same day service. Anyone who sits on a sale for 3 or 4 days is going to get dinged. And I agree with you that many eBay and PayPal policies appear to be trade violations (except, apparently, in Texas) and no doubt could be the subject of some really intriguing fair business practices violations lawsuits in the right venue. Reliance on obscure technical language hidden under a false title in an email is prima facie over-reaching.  

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by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 30 17:43:58 2014

@SHOP AND SHIP===

Thank you for pointing this out--There are a LOT of things that ebay does that are --at best---questionable---if not downright illegal.

I have a 3 day "ship time"  but I often ask friends on the Left Coast what dates  my listings might be showing--AND how much the shipping is showing to GET it there!  Shocking that ebay REFUSES to let a seller SEE what they are claiming I charge to ship!

I have had many issues with the Illinois sort centers and our "local"  one in Western Mass.  I have had packages circle the drain in Ill for a MONTH on a FIRST CLASS PACKAGE!  I have also had an item going to a town about 40 MILES from my house (from NY to VT)  go to TEXAS and then get sent BACK.  I have also had items destroyed by the sort center machinery and not gotten any compensation from the PO.  So I was out the item cost;  the initial shipping;  the FVF and my time and fuel on this one.  And probably a DEFECT to boot as I had to refund ALL of the transaction AND the buyuer never GOT the item (altho no case was opened).

Some PO's out here in the rural areas are known as "duds"  and so we AVOID them.  We should not HAVE to go out of our way to actually SEND a package with the expectation that it MIGHT get delivered---this SHOULD  be a given.

AS to the ebay system of dates for shipping and expectations--deeply flawed. Deliberate falsehoods in order to award DEFECTS to their own customers.  

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by: lostinNYC This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 30 19:02:24 2014

The eBay delivery estimates are fairly accurate. Most items I order arrive a couple of days before the estimated date. With shipping it's the same. Of course that doesn't apply if something is mis-shipped by the USPS, gets lost or gets stuck in customs, all of which happens occasionally. But then even eBay states that the dates are the anticipated arrival dates, nothing else.

One major drawback of the estimates: when changing my shipping window from same day (usually) to next business day (occasionally), eBay doesn't seem to factor that in and seems to go with an estimate based on prior performance.

So far my shipping time ratings have stayed consistently at five stars with only one low shipping rating (undeserved) for the past 12 months with 2,000+ items sent out internationally and domestically, mostly via USPS. So all in all the system works mostly fairly accurately and it has gotten better over the past few years.

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by: lostinNYC This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 30 19:05:51 2014

@Shop and Ship
Kearny, NJ is definitely a postal Bermuda triangle. I too had shipments linger there for really excessive amounts of time.

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