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by Ina Steiner, Editor of
Thu Sept 9 2021 23:14:42

When Late Deliveries Help eBay's Bottom Line

By: Ina Steiner

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When buyers return an item because it arrived late - even if it's the fault of the shipping carrier - it can grow eBay's coffers. That's because of "penalty" fees eBay charges sellers. This week, a seller said eBay customer service reps contribute to the problem and called it "self-dealing."
The seller said they have talked to buyers who requested returns because they no longer needed the item, but return requests show up as SNAD claims (item not as described), which incur a 5% penalty fee if they reach the threshold established by eBay. 

The seller described such a case that occurred on Wednesday in a thread on the Seller discussion boards on eBay:

"Today, I had a buyer TEXT eBay for the return. I shipped an item and it took 10 days to arrive (USPS FirstClass) and in the mean time, they opened an "ITEM NOT RECEIVED" case. When the item arrived, they TEXTED eBay to close that case and explained they no longer needed the item and to help them do a return.

"The EBAY EMPLOYEE opened the new case with SNAD, when clearly it was NOT!"

The seller posted a screenshot that showed the text exchange between their buyer and an eBay rep. The buyer said, "I did not need it after all. It arrived too late for us to use."

The seller then posted a screenshot of the claim notification they received:

Reason for return: Doesn't match description or photos.

Comments: It arrived too late for us to use.

It appears the buyer never stated the product didn't match the description or photos, despite what eBay's notice to the seller stated.

Note that eBay displays the estimated delivery date to buyers, which can differ based on criteria such as the buyer's location - the delivery date is not part of the seller-provided product description. 

The seller noted, "If I get enough of these defects over the miniscule threshold, they can make thousands in additional income."

eBay implemented the practice of assessing penalty fees in 2018 (it started as a 4% fee and rose to 5% the following year). At the time, eBay said claims for Item Not as Described and Item Not Received would count in its calculations. 

But in 2019, an eBay moderator wrote, "The estimated delivery date is considered a part of the item description,..."

Should sellers pay a penalty fee when packages don't arrive by the estimated delivery date eBay displays - even during the busy holiday shopping season when carrier backlogs are common? Have you ever been hit by an eBay penalty fee?

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 13 22:08:57 2021

There are none so blind as those that will not see ...

In this case like many others the emperor DOESNT have new clothes.

The OPs topic is that eBay (once again) created a situation that pushes sellers into paying MORE in fees for no reason. In his case the buyer INTENTIONALLY used the wrong reason - to get what they wanted.

My reply of GOOD customer Service would have eliminated his issue - but eBay would rather engorge themselves on free food and drink then spend $1 on helping the very people they rely on.

Others here have also voiced their thoughts - and lucky for me - it puts me in GOOD (excellent) company.

eBays behavior ALWAYS hurts the very people they claim they are helping.

Your post made it a "nothing burger" because it DIDNT happen to you - yet it does happen - and a few here gave personal examples.

It hasnt happened to me (yet?) but the $20+ fee for the "opportunity" to win a chargeback CERTAINLY did (2x) (and I was told I was LUCKY that I didnt have to pay MORE) - despite your assertion that it doesnt happen. Ina had a column on THAT last week - is that too a "nothing burger".

Im not here to infuriate ANY poster - whether I agree or not - but the blindness that eBay is some benevolent corporation that deserves the better of the doubt - is pure hogwash.

I dont need eBay telling me how to sell. I've been selling ONLINE before there was an ONLINE.

"Since not a peep about it was in the recent Fall Seller Update, clearly it isn't coming this year." .... this isnt the Soviet Union. No one needs a 1 year plan or a 5 year plan.

What we need is to be left alone - no forced to deal with change after change after change, that only benefits eBay.

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by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 14 12:28:06 2021

What it boils down to is this….

How many times - situations - circumstances - outcomes - in this case what the OP described - should ‘improper’ (to any degree), be shrugged of as ‘tolerable’ before It, Itself, becomes “infuriating” enough to justify outrage?

Use camels and straws if that helps.  Tolerance may render them apparently weightless, but not non-existent.  

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by: Fistfulofdollars This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 14 14:19:52 2021

It's not only the of late deliveries that eBay uses to ding you, it's items received damaged by a buyer - if a buyer files a damage claim, eBay counts that as INAD, regardless of whether you refund the buyer or send a replacement and, of course, regardless of the fact that carrier damage is out of your control. I have several of these particular INADs against me at the moment, waiting for them to expire so I can once again qualify for TSR. Carrier damages item in transit, eBay screws me because of it...

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Wed Sep 15 01:10:33 2021

It is Ebay's return system that is at fault for how difficult it is for a seller to win an INAD, even a false one.  This however is nothing new.  As I said before, it has been horrible for sellers since October of 2019 when Ebay started the Simplified Returns.

However that doesn't change the fact that the Service Metrics, while also a horrible program IMHO isn't kicking so many sellers into the penalty fees as some might like us to believe.  I find it hard to believe that if this was a serious issue for sellers that there would not be more of them venting on the Ebay threads.  And the fact is that the penalty fee issue rarely comes up.

And on the rare occasion that I have noticed a thread on this subject it has not been because of the service metrics but because of the seller getting too many defects in one stat or the other on their Seller Dashboard.

I have never been blind to this stuff even though others will post otherwise.  I see it for what it is.  And on the specific subject of this article this is unlikely to be a huge issue for a whole lot of sellers.  Just more of some not liking the rule and venting about it and anything else they can think of.

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 15 09:32:07 2021

I dont want to burst your bubble - but eBay has ZERO legal authority to make up metrics out of thin air and then create a penalty to match - they just dont.

The TOS (that no one reads) is what lets eBay do the wicked things they do. eBay counts on people not reading it, not understanding it, and not being able to work with it when an issue arrises.

eBays mantra (and I dealt with it last night due to yet ANOTHER returns issue) "sorry we cant help you" ... geez no kidding. And why should they? Due to MP - they are in control over MY money, MY item and MY life.

Dont know about you - but I never asked them nor gave them that kind of authority.

"You know you can report the buyer!" ... sure - and I can empty the Atlantic Ocean with a Dixie cup - just as useless since nothing happens.

eBay isnt an anything - just a platform - a poorly run platform - but that doesnt give them "controlling legal authority". eBay bets you dont have the money - for a $100 item to take them to court to assert your rights - and you know what - %99.9 of the people dont ... but thats not a reason to steal from them - just because you can.

Because eBay is so large - different facets of eBays mafioso behaviors effect different people in various different ways.

I'll bet you - all of Bidens money in China that you never had to deal with VERO like I did, but that DOESNT mean its not a valid concern, or that it doesnt/didnt happen or that they were just %100 plain wrong in their assertions. I had invoices from distributors and dealers proving every item I sold was %100 real + they had metal foil tags on them .. what more should a seller do? I was right, eBay (once again) was wrong - and it cost me ALOT of time, effort and money ... Did I get an I'm sorry? NO, Did I get a refund or any other monetary remuneration for all that expense? NO ... just heartache - for NO REASON

LAST time (column) it was the $20 for the chargeback issue - and again - it effects YOU (for what ever reason) differently then others (like myself - but I wasnt the OP).

Theres ZERO reason that if you as a seller are in the right for what ever it is - you should have to eat $1 of any kind of fee like that.

eBay wanted to play CC processor SO BADLY - the extra %, keeping the vig, keeping the float, lieing about rates and savings - those were all the good things - too bad so sad about the chargebacks and their associated costs.

PERSONALLY - I dont care if only 1 person on the planet (the OP) got caught up in the metrics fiasco - thats 1 person too many. And its NOT 1 person.

Common sense says that sellers after dropping off items at a carriers location - are %100 DONE. Delivery time is NOT something that anyone has control over, period. If there IS going to be a metric - it would be if a seller promised X days in handling, but continues to do X+ instead, and even then - life sometimes gets in the way of eBay (so sorry).

eBay should NOT be involved in returns, PERIOD.

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by: SoniaD This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 16 06:57:22 2021

We no longer sell on ebay (MP was the final push), but we still occasionally purchase.  The estimated delivery time given to the buyer has NEVER, in our case, been close to accurate and is nothing more than an irritant.  That said, we didn't care how quickly we received our item.  If a buyer does care, eBay is just aggravating them.  Our worst experience was for a book being shipped media mail across country.  eBay had it arriving in 2 days.  It took  10, which was both expected and normal.  But some buyers would have believed ebay and given the seller grief.

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by: AB This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 17 00:53:31 2021

Service Metrics was a product of the old eBay.  I cannot see a path by which it is legal to charge an additional 5% under the guise of so called 'peer comparison'.  Moreover, I see it as a way to shadow punish sellers it may disagree with for one reason or another.  Hope to see it removed all together from the site, because at a minimum, it shows an unethical and non-transparent approach to business by eBay.

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