Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Tue Feb 28 2012 04:09:48

eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback

By: Ina Steiner

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There is good news and bad news with eBay's Spring Seller release 2012, which eBay will announce today. eBay will stop charging sellers for images (it will give them up to 12 free photos), but it will introduce additional "quality standards" for photos.

Sellers may not add text to their pictures, although watermarks for attribution purposes only will be allowed. And when listing a used item, stock photos may no longer be used as the primary item photo for the listing (with the exception of Books, Movies, Music, and Video Game categories).

eBay will roll out automatic 5-star DSRs on communication for transactions in which there is no communication between the buyer and seller (not counting invoices and invoice requests or Best Offers). However, sellers will not qualify for automatic 5-Star DSR ratings in Communication if they notify buyers of order status or delivery information. (eBay sends automated emails to buyers regarding order status and delivery information, so buyers will have to upload tracking information to eBay.) This provision is bound to be among the most controversial of today's announcements.

Sellers must also specify same-day or 1-day handling time and must upload tracking information by the end of the next business day in order to qualify for the automatic 5-star Communication DSR.

One change that is a long time coming: eBay will remove all feedback and DSRs for transactions in which buyers have an Unpaid Item record whether or not the seller is using the UPI assistant, as long as the seller required eBay Checkout, used an approved payment method, and local pickup was not offered.

We knew eBay was retiring 3-day and 7-day returns, and today it will announce that the change will take effect the first week of May. This will also be controversial, even though previously announced, particularly among sellers of clothing where sellers feel the policy may turn them into "rentals."

See today's EcommerceBytes Newsflash for more information. Sellers will want to pore over the changes in great detail - for instance, eBay is making item specifics and product codes such as UPCs and ISBNs more important in Best Match search.

eBay will hold a Town Hall Meeting, we'll keep this blog post up-to-date as news happens.

Update 2/28/12: Lots of questions about photos - here's a graphic that shows two photos - the one on the left will no longer be allowed beginning in the fall, the one on the right shows an acceptable watermark.

What does this mean for sellers? Lots of sellers will have to spend many, many hours reformatting their images and then swapping out compliant images with the photos they currently have, and on top of that, will have concerns about photo theft by unscrupulous competitors.

While the Spring changes may not be as dire as some Seller Releases have in the past, many sellers will find they must spend a lot of time readying listings to be compliant with new policies, such as this one.

Update 2/28/12: eBay will hold a Town Hall to discuss the changes on Wednesday February 29, 2012 at 3:30 pm PST.

Update 2/28/12: eBay VP of Merchant Development Michael (MJ) Jones and Senior Manager of Community and Development for eBay Marketplaces Jim (Griff) Griffith joined EcommerceBytes Editor Ina Steiner to talk about Seller Release 1 in this Ecommerce Industry SoundBytes podcast interview.




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Perminate Link for eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback   eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback

This user has validated their user name. by: Pete

Tue Feb 28 04:23:05 2012

Not allowing text in images except for watermarks is another way that eBay will keep sellers from branding themselves. My watermark may just be my web site domain name. :)

Perminate Link for eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback   eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback

by: shushubing This user has validated their user name.

Tue Feb 28 04:37:29 2012

Overall, not bad, but I was hoping for free listings.

Perminate Link for eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback   eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback

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

Tue Feb 28 05:22:40 2012

I will already be losing my discount as I doubt I can meet all the new requirements as I will not offer returns on books. So my dilemma will be lose the books from my stock or lose the discount.
I think one of the real problems Ebay has is understanding that there is no such thing as free shipping. A seller that takes back an item, is out the shipping, regardless of whether the buyer pays for return shipping. The cost of shipping can wipe out any hope of making a profit and can create a loss on books or any other low cost item.
To give an example. I sell a book for $4.00, plus shipping. It costs me $3.02 to mail that book, plus zip lock bag, bubble wrap, polybag, label, time, gas, etc. Ten days later, after both husband and wife have had time to read the book, they return it and pay $3.02 to send it back to me. I am out of pocket approx. $8.00 plus the cost of the book. The buyer will also expect me to pay their return shipping. Yes, I know Ebay states the buyer is to pay return shipping, but in real life it doesn't work that way. Nine out of ten buyers expect to get all their shipping costs back. Also whether I get get the book back in condition to resell it, doesn't matter. There is no way of gaining any profit for the item and there is every chance of losing even more money on it.

Perminate Link for eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback   eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback

by: tappyfingers This user has validated their user name.

Tue Feb 28 05:55:30 2012

''...eBay [is] retiring 3-day and 7-day returns...and the merchandise exchange and merchant credit feature.''

The above new Ebay policy is bad business. Similiar to major retailers, to prevent financial losses sellers who sell software must offer an exchange of the merchandise. Otherwise, a buyer is free to burn/copy the software, claim that the disc is defective and demand a refund. Ebay is constantly making policy changes to improve buyer  satisfaction. However, Ebay is unnecessarily making its sellers vulnerable to fraud and feedback extortion. With committment, Ebay continues to drive its better sellers to other websites.

Perminate Link for eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback   eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback

by: blaumann This user has validated their user name.

Tue Feb 28 05:55:57 2012

I will lose my discount. I can't guarantee 1 day shipping. I can't accept returns on my small volume especially on photos and other items that can be copied. Ebay just wants to wipe out the discounts and drive away small sellers.    

Perminate Link for eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback   eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback

by: blaumann This user has validated their user name.

Tue Feb 28 05:58:37 2012

What means "for attribution purposes only"?

Perminate Link for eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback   eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback

by: ibs This user has validated their user name.

Tue Feb 28 06:07:38 2012

automatic 5 stars in communication for NO communication? Am I missing something here......????

Perminate Link for eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback   eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback

by: tappyfingers This user has validated their user name.

Tue Feb 28 06:40:03 2012

1950birdland  
       
Tue Feb 28 06:07:38 2012
automatic 5 stars in communication for NO communication? Am I missing something here......????  

1950birdland, no, you are not missing anything.

The boost in 5 star ratings for ''no communication'' is Ebay's tool to drive sellers to sell more!

Perminate Link for eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback   eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback

by: go-figure This user has validated their user name.

Tue Feb 28 06:47:25 2012

@1950birdland

Yes, the world of eBay logic rules! Let's penalize customer service and sellers really should avoid communicating with their customers!

Chances are, in ''their'' world, if a seller communicates with their buyers, they're probably trying to take the sale off of eBay. So, hence no communication, no offsite sales--5* rating! Yea!

Now of course, if a buyer has a problem and you don't try to resolve it, you'll certainly get dinged for that. It's another no way to win for sellers!

Perminate Link for eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback   eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback

by: manny This user has validated their user name.

Tue Feb 28 07:05:50 2012


I don’t quite get eBay’s obsession with eliminating communications between buyers and sellers, doesn’t that contribute to good customer service? Isn’t  a simple note from a seller to a buyer confirming date and time item was shipped constitute a good after sale practice?
Why don’t the “policy makers” on eBay get a reality check and address issues as they actually occur in real life and not as they may appear on a drawing board or on a pretty story sketch line?   Consider this:
Countless millions of low value items are listed and sold e daily. Here’s a scenario for you guys in the high tower:
A low values $5 item sells by a UK seller to a US buyer, tracking details will cost the UK seller $7.50 to implement aside from the actual shipping cost, now; is a US buyer willing to pay $10-$12 for trackable shipping of a $5 item from Europe to US? We all know the answer to that one, now, here’s the question;
since seller has no option but to send it by ordinary Airmail, would eBay offer him or her any form of protection if his or her item goes missing during shipping or receipt of goods denied?  A good investigative journalism initiative would be for one of the high tower lords to try and file a claim with UK postal services for a missing item and sample the treatment a UK seller gets if he attempts such a move; but hey! Its easy for them to build the wall and push your back hard against it, after all, they are only amusing themselves watching from their high tower.
Wouldn’t be a fair trading practice if eBay was to carry out some sort of a random feedback verification checks, where a buyer is asked to justify and give a logical acceptable reasoning behind the feedback he left a seller? Again, we know the answer to that one; it could upset buyers by taking the feedback whip off their hands;  sellers? They are ten a penny, they don’t count.
Carry on eBay, soon you will become an item on Amazon’s acquisition list!




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by: ibs This user has validated their user name.

Tue Feb 28 07:15:09 2012

''ask seller a questions'' is not mentioned.
If the buyer contacts the seller after the sale..does the seller get penalized..?
Is it me..I am having a problem wrapping my head around this communication thing......

Perminate Link for eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback   eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback

by: ibs This user has validated their user name.

Tue Feb 28 07:22:51 2012

and what about the "happy" thank you notes I sometimes receive from my buyers??????

Perminate Link for eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback   eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback

by: frustrated This user has validated their user name.

Tue Feb 28 07:27:00 2012

@baumann

Sellers must also specify same-day or 1-day handling time and must upload tracking information by the end of the next business day in order to qualify for the automatic 5-star Communication DSR

IN ORDER TO QUALIFY for automatic 5 stars.

Meanwhile it makes ZERO sense to lose the automatic 5 stars if you write a personal note with tracking info.

Whose brilliant idea was that?

I am coming to the conclusion that ebay trolls the Bay area shelters and drunk tanks to find their employees sleeping on sidewalks.

Or the pay is so low, and they treat people SO bad, that turnover is horrendous.

And AGAIN, a huge policy change that tries to cover every possible scenario with one or two rules.

After all, why adjust for variables? Why bend the rules in the case of people who sell unique items??

NAH!! That sounds WAY too much like actual work to me, let's just give a blanket policy for everybody, and if you don't fit in, tough cr**.

The better sellers have left already. Most of my favorites are gone, how about you? I NEVER buy there anymore, the good cheap stuff is no longer there to buy.

The only people who are still here and haven't done their own websites are desperate folks who cannot afford to hire someone or don't have the skill set to do it themselves.

Word to the wise, get your customers' e-mails from pay-pal before they shut that down too.

Perminate Link for eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback   eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback

by: ssusannss This user has validated their user name.

Tue Feb 28 07:32:39 2012

I sell used clothing and am dismayed by the 14 day return option that will be forced on us.

I offer returns postmarked within 3 days of receipt now, and that's plentry of time to open the package, inspect the item, and try the item on.

14 days gives clothes 'renters' plenty of time to wear an item to a special occasion or a weekend away and return it. It already happens to some sellers with a more liberal return policy, but now it will happen to more of us.

I don't even know if adding a restocking fee would be worth it.

Perminate Link for eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback   eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback

This user has validated their user name. by: 360

Tue Feb 28 07:38:19 2012

Encourage us NOT to communicate with a buyer. How utterly eBay.

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by: Long Time eBay Seller This user has validated their user name.

Tue Feb 28 07:51:16 2012

Here's where eBay is going to lose me: ''eBay will also begin requiring Top Rated Sellers to upload tracking information to eBay on at least 90% of all transactions with US buyers.''

Right now, about 75% of my items sold on eBay are below $10 in sales price. I ship those in plain envelopes without DC, for free.

I have already given in to the demand to provide free shipping, and increased my selling price to reflect it (there's only so much that can come out of my net before it's not worth selling on eBay at all.)

Now, if I have to provide tracking on 90% of my items, it will mean I either a) eat the extra cost of the increase in postage, or b) try to again roll that cost into my item price.

I am sure I will reach a point where eBay will force me to make my items too expensive for customers to consider buying. When I wasn't forced to use free shipping (in order to retain my stars), I could put that price in a reasonable shipping cost, and customers could see I charged actual shipping.

Now, with this new requirement, I either price myself out of business, or I lose my slender profit margin.

Or I leave eBay.

I guess this is going to be the final push to send a long-time, small seller like me (been selling since '98) right out the door. I'll move to Etsy and make my own website (finally.)

So long eBay, and thanks for nothing.

Perminate Link for eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback   eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback

by: flyingdutchman This user has validated their user name.

Tue Feb 28 07:54:45 2012

A 5 DSR for NO communication?  Here's a better idea, an auto 5 if you respond to every message sent to you as a seller within Ebays messaging system and provide a customer service phone number?  We do both and still get dinged for communication.  Ebay claims its 'your tone' in your messages which can be completely misinterpreted via text.
Of all the DSR's communication is the most ridiculous!

All of these impossible mandates for DSR's and their hokey structures makes it simply more attractive and easier to just stack the would-be TRS discounts into your prices charged to buyers and negate them entirely.  With Ebays Buyer Protection, DSRs serve no purpose other than to provide carrots on sticks and punish great sellers.  This BUYER no longer cares about a sellers feedback or DSRs because I know it is a crock!

Perminate Link for eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback   eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback

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

Tue Feb 28 08:05:08 2012

No communication is good communication. An interesting concept for the eBay Community to embrace.

Who doesn't enjoy buying something and being ignored!?!

Blow the dust off the Blocked Bidder List. You might want to block the chatty customers who will force you to write to them.

Can't take a chance. Be afraid.

A lot of business people spend time trying to gain new customers. eBay sellers need to spend time deciding which customers to avoid selling to.

Same day or next day service... sounds like you can work ALL THE TIME.

Do NOT take even one day off without thinking about eBay. When the Spring rain and floods come through, remember you have same day or next day delivery. Heat of Summer? ''Get in the car kids, we're off to the Post Office.''

Fourth of July? Don't worry about hot dogs or traffic. Check your email to see if you have orders to fill.

At the end of the 20th Century did you ever stop to consider how you and eBay would work together to sell to the World? Did you think you would be a business person?

It seems more like you have become a 365 day warehouse worker, and eBay views you as a vending machine.

Is selling on eBay still profitable for you?

Is it fun???

Perminate Link for eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback   eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback

This user has validated their user name. by: basset

Tue Feb 28 08:14:51 2012

LOL! I guess I'm going to have to respond to those hints & offers to sell things "off ebay" now ~ or risk bad communication DSRs:)

@Sssusansss: I sell pre-owned clothing, too. I've always had a "no returns" policy. I've always accepted returns when a buyer has contacted me about a problem. I did this even before the one-sided feedback came about.

I send an insert & an email that lets people know to examine the item ASAP & contact me if I missed a flaw - I DO miss things sometimes! I want them to know up front they are not stuck with a turkey! I have a lot of repeat buyers & several of them have had to return something at one time or another. That being said, requests for refunds really do not come up very often at all! Basically, you can have a "no refunds" policy and still give all the refunds you need to - at least that is an option instead of the 14 day returns you might look at!

BTW - The only person who opened a SNAD dispute with me in the last several years was another seller of pre-owned clothing. (she emailed me of a problem and going from the time listed on her email, 2 minutes after the email was sent opened a SNAD dispute) Go figure!!!

I doubt I change anything I do as a result of this new rollout, from what I have seen so far. I DO hope eBay addresses longer postal delivery times in their DSR's. I am losing the USPS distribution center where I live & shipping is going to take 1-2 days longer.  I feel obliged to give myself a "2 day handling" cushion (even though I consistently ship same day or next day) until I see how the USPS thing shakes out.

Perminate Link for eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback   eBay Rolls Out Major Policy Changes along with Fees, Feedback

This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Tue Feb 28 09:12:39 2012

I've received questions about eBay's new requirements around photo images and watermarking - see update at the bottom of the blog post (above) for an example.  

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