Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun Mar 18 2012 16:58:24

eBay Relaxes Seller Performance Standards in Some Cases

By: Ina Steiner

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Sellers have been reporting that eBay has relaxed seller performance standards for becoming a Top Rated Seller in certain cases. A message displayed in some sellers' dashboards say that despite going over the maximum number of low DSRs, eBay is excluding those low ratings when evaluating their seller performance.



In a 3-month evaluation period, the maximum number of low (defined as 1s and 2s) DSRs is 2. (Sellers with 400 or more transactions in three calendar months are evaluated on a three-month cycle, for all other sellers, the time period for evaluation is the most recent 12 calendar months.)

While we saw a couple of reports in which eBay excluded some low DSR ratings from sellers' evaluation a couple of years ago, there was an uptick in the number of reports in December and again this month. For a few examples, see this thread on the eBay boards and on a discussion board for a site called "MoneySavingExpert.com" from December, as well as this thread in the eBay Seller Central discussion board on March 2, 2012.

An EcommerceBytes reader sent screenshots today showing his counts for Shipping Time and Shipping and Handling Charges criteria were one, and the counts for his other DSR criteria (Item as Described and Communication) were 4 and 5.

At the top of his dashboard was the message, "Thanks for being a great seller! eBay has protected your seller performance status." When he clicked on the "Show" link, eBay displayed the following message:

"You received multiple low detailed seller ratings or cases from a small number of buyers, which is inconsistent with your excellent performance on eBay. We have excluded these ratings from consideration in your performance evaluation."

I don't recall any policies in which eBay makes exceptions for low DSRs when performing seller performance evaluations. The sellers seem surprised when they encounter the announcement. If you've come across this phenomenon or have any theories, let me know.

I also received an email from a reader today who said, "You should do a story on how eBay is now asking everyone to call for every little thing." She was requesting that eBay remove negative feedback from a buyer because the buyer said she was charged for shipping when the seller did not charge her for shipping.

The email the seller received from eBay provided a link and stated:

"In order to help you more quickly, please contact us by phone. Click on the link below. You may be prompted to sign into your eBay account. Once you are signed into your account you will be given a contact us  option. Select the Call Us option. You will receive a phone number and PIN that will give you access to a dedicated phone specialist. We are available from 5:00AM - 10:00PM PT, seven days a week."

Feel free to share your stories about dealing with marketplace issues.




Comments (18) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Relaxes Seller Performance Standards in Some Cases   eBay Relaxes Seller Performance Standards in Some Cases

by: mumofflo This user has validated their user name.
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Sun Mar 18 17:30:41 2012

Hi Ina. I have spent ALL DAY researching this subject I am so glad to see your article.  I have tried to get low DSRs removed from my feedback profile as I am aiming for powerseller status and these 3 have just appeared within the last 2 weeks.  I have told the 'live chat' assistants that I consider the statements to be defamatory as they lower my reputation but they are not included in the defamation policy.  If I send the user ID they will look at it but obviously as the DSRs are anonymous I cannot do this! Needless to say I have had a very frustrating day being cut off from live chat and continuously asked to provide suspect user IDs.  I suspect it may be a competitor trying to ruin my reputation as all my feedback in the given period is super positive, with these underhand ratings being left in the background.  As it happens, I am studying for my LL.M in IT law and am in the middle of writing an essay on defamation and internet intermediaries so I have also had a great deal of inspiration!  I must say it is a surprise to see that eBay are using some discretion on DSRs, and whilst this is to some degree a positive thing, it does not go any way to making their complex policies any more transparent.  As a business you need to know where you stand, a 'business plan' is not based on the discretion of third parties or the untrue comments of online posters who hide behind eBay's buyer friendly policies.  

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by: mumofflo This user has validated their user name.

Sun Mar 18 18:07:23 2012

ps, do you know what happened with the US class action against ebay in Dec 2010 Garon et al? I can't find anything. Is it ongoing or did they quietly settle?  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
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Sun Mar 18 18:33:51 2012

This announcement should be read as, “we misjudged, we thought that the savings we would make on discounts to seller would outweigh any overall loss of sellers, unfortunately the reverse was the case; once again we apologise, but we are so desperate to try to get the algae covered chain of stagnant ponds flowing again (ie improve the marketplace bottom line) that we simply have to try every possible imbecilic idea that the headless turkeys in the executive suite can come up with; once again, our apologies …”

eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Sun Mar 18 18:34:55 2012

eBay recently acknowledged (through a statement from Jim Griffith) sellers do receive Low DSR scores which were in error caused by buyer mistakes and/or failure to understand how the DSR system works.

The actions taken by eBay to relax seller standards and ignore low DSR scores for some sellers reflects a change in attitude by eBay. Previously, low scores went on a seller's record and counted against the seller regardless of their feedback & DSR history.

The problem here is the haphazard manner in which eBay is relaxing standards. As is typical for eBay, it would appear that yet another ambiguous policy has been implemented which is wide open for interpretation, meaning that outcomes will vary from one seller to another and from one agent to another.

Sellers will find that like so many other situations, dealing with different CSR's on the same issue will produce different outcomes.

Knowing eBay, this is an automated algorithmic program that looks at a sellers over all feedback and DSR scores and acts autonomously to decide when to disregard low scores.

On the other hand, when sellers contact eBay, they are unlikely to get a CSR to see their side of the issue, and in most cases  nothing happens.

Back in January, we received 2 low DSR scores ( One for description and one for communication). Prior to then our record was perfect.

We appealed them to eBay because there was no corresponding negative or neutral feedback ( a policy violation in and of itself).

We were fortunate enough to make a good case with the CSR we spoke to and were transferred to Trust and Safety. Apparently, T & S is the only division that can deal with DSR policy issues or investigate feedback policy violations.

We were asked by T & S if we reported the buyer, which is a trick question. We explained to the T & S CSR that we were aware that we are prohibited by eBay policy from running reports to determine which buyer left the low scores, and as such, could not use the report buyer function. My impression was that if we had responded yes, the conversation would be over because we had violated the rules.

We also explained that we could think of several scenarios where low scores might be left despite the fact that there was no corresponding neutral or negative feedback left.

We explained that we felt that the low DSR scores could have been left for any number of reasons including:

  1) Frustration that one day shipping and free shipping made leaving anything other then 5 stars for those categories impossible, so the low Description and Communication scores were revenge.
   2) A new buyer did not understand the DSR system and left low scores in error ( Now acknowledged by eBay to be occurring)
   3) A competitor left low scores with positive feedback in an attempt to damage a perfect reputation.

T & S promised an investigation would take place and that we would be notified via email in 72 hours or less with any findings.

Of course no such email was ever received, but, one of the low scores was removed from the 3 month view.  Strangely it was not removed from the 12 month view. This begs the question in what reality could a new low DSR score be removed from the recent period but still remain on record for the 12 month period.

We never went back to Customer Service out of frustration with the process and simply chalked it up to the fact that as usual, eBay's inefficiencies rule the day. Instead, we will bring the issue up the next time we need to contact eBay when the agent asks if there is anything else they can help us with today.

Perminate Link for eBay Relaxes Seller Performance Standards in Some Cases   eBay Relaxes Seller Performance Standards in Some Cases

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
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Sun Mar 18 20:44:48 2012

“The actions taken by eBay to relax seller standards and ignore low DSR scores for some sellers reflects a change in attitude by eBay. Previously, low scores went on a seller's record and counted against the seller regardless of their feedback & DSR history.”

The only reason eBay is even publicly now recognizing this fact, a fact that they would have known very early on, is not because it was disadvantaging sellers, but because it was disadvantaging eBay too. In these desperate days of trying to keep the eBay marketplace afloat, that’s the only way these turkeys are able to think: eBay, eBay, eBay; actually, they are really thinking: me, me, me …

Both the eBafia and PreyPal have always been utterly clunky operations, and any maintenance that was done was only ever directed to looking after eBay’s interests. What amazes me most is that they appear to have all these CS reps constantly phoning eBay sellers and asking, what can we do for you today? It simply has to be a lunatic asylum.  

Regrettably, the damage to the eBay marketplace has been well and truly done, and the wallowing old scow undoubtedly has not long to remain a surface ship. …

eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking

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This user has validated their user name. by: Nan
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Sun Mar 18 23:51:59 2012

Hmmm.  The 'great cleansing' must be complete.  Let the rebuilding commence.

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by: JoelHellmann This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 19 11:45:38 2012

The cleansing is not done it will continue. Everyone for your own sakes leave Ebay and find other sites. our sales are down 10% but with neglible fees, our profit is up 20%! you can do it. and opne day you will need to do it!

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by: Carol This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 19 13:05:21 2012

Here's the link to ebay's page about this:  http://pages.ebay.com/sellerinformation/sellerprotection/sellerp
rotectionoverview.html

It
may be accessible from other places, but I first saw it in a "Power Up" email in February.

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by: xcergy This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Mar 19 14:02:22 2012

I'm glad to see that eBay is trying to handle the Dolphins in the Tuna net problem.

That said, the new policy of no communications auto 5 score makes no sense at all.  If buyers do not know what the eBay wording is in marking a score, they should do away with it.  Why not replace it with:
Would you buy from this seller again?

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by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 19 14:35:51 2012

BEWARE the OTHER "Trick Question" from the CSR's.

If you are done getting a question answered by a CSR and you have a different UNRELATED question to ask unless you have encountered the true exception to the ebay CSR world HANG UP and call back.  

I had a very long and very complicated series of conversations with several CSR's over a undeserved NFB.  Not only was the actual COMMENT a policy violation (name calling etc) it was possibly even being left for the wrong item.  So when I finally after several HOURS on the phone,  hang ups etc got some one I THOUGHT was helping me i.e. AGREED to remove the NFB as per ebay's OWN POLICIES I must have had a temporary insanity moment.

I was asked "Is there anything ELSE I can do to help you today?"  Since I had a photo posting question and this person was so nice and English speaking and competent I said Why Yes YES there IS!

She listened to my question and said Oh that is best handled by a different dept.  I will transfer you there.  Thanks!

I was on hold for a short period of time and then some one who def did NOT grow up speaking English came on SCREAMING at the top of their lungs that "How DARE I even THINK of asking for feedback removal this was an outrage the FB was going to be REVERSED (back to the buyers favor) and I would be "lucky" if I wasn't kicked OFF of ebay"!  

Well.  

It seems that sometimes these "extra helpful" questions now get sent to some form of "Punishment Unit" and IF I had NOT asked for photo help I would have been OK.  But by daring to ask a completely UNRELATED question I was sent to the Gulag.

In the end it took another entire DAY on the phone and the best I could get even tho several CSR's acknowledged that I was RIGHT was to get the visible comments portion of the NFB blacked out.

So----beware.  Yes it's beyond annoying to have to call back.  But if takes your "issue" out of the system and you will be dealing only with the NEW issue.  

This was a very stressful couple of days and I now have to live with the posted NFB for the full year altho the extremely nasty comment was removed---I think that if you are going to have to have  a NFB this actually makes the BUYER  look like some sort of a putz but of course the whole POINT was the BUYER violated the policy and I will be the one paying the PRICE for it for a YEAR.  And if could have and SHOULD have been removed.  

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by: jewelrysuite This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 19 15:05:02 2012

I received a neutral and all ones from a competitor that was not top rated and is known as trouble by other sellers of similar items. I had blocked this seller under the sellers selling id and did not realize that he had a buying id. Another buyer/seller informed me re the buying id of this seller since they had both bought and sold to this buyer/seller. I called CSR and they stated that I had no case because I would have to block the buying id. However this made no sense because I did not know all their ids. I was told that each id is treated separately therefore even though I blocked the selling id, I could not remove the all 1s. I contacted the bad seller/buyer and just asked why they would leave a neutral and all ones and never asked to return the item. They also left this on the last possible day to leave feedback. Apparently they were happy enough with the item to resell it. They won it for a song in a no reserve auction, which is fine except for the fact that they were trying to remove my TRS status as a competitor. Ebay csr transferred me to T&S in the Phillippines who said that they did not violate ebay policy because they left a neutral. End of story - any similar experiences? Also the reason ebay prefers all handled on phone is that there is no paper trail involved as is with email. It is to protect them. Since many CSRs have no authority to answer questions they go to a supervisor or have to transfer calls to trust and safety. It's a CYA move on their part. Make us wait on the phone and hope we just give up. You sometimes get a good one, other times a bad one. On this DSR review, it is seems that ebay should retroacively review these. I don't know why it happens suddenly; maybe a big $ seller complained. It seems that whenever they change a policy it is RIGHT AFTER I am eligible. In the end, it is a great idea but I would think that they would listen to complaints about competitors. I can't believe sellers would stoop that low but some people have no ethics and that is the problem with ebay right  now. How can you live with yourself? Well in the end everyone spreads around how rotten the seller/buyer is so karma will take care of them but they do win at times by trying to kill off the competition at least temporarily. Amazon doesn't tolerate that type of thing.

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by: jdbok This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 19 15:22:50 2012

I'm a 10 year ebay seller about to loose TRS for a 3rd low star rating in 3 months on shipping time.
previous to January I had no low stars for about a year. My average sales are about 200 items per month
-that's 3 low stars per 600 sales to loose TRS. the last time I lost TRS like this it was 3 months+ of half STR....without TRS my items are hidden in best match.
after reading this I called CS and was not only told no they would not exempt me from loosing TRS and not even look into it but they had never heard of such a thing, it was "unfair" to exempt any sellers and they also had never heard of ebytes. they asked me if I had evidence of post office delays due to closings which I could not give definite evidence on or if one of the low stars was from a minor ( I'm convinced a lot of my mobile sales are to kids now-- they start asking me where it is the day after they pay in textglish) -- I told the CS there is no way for me to prove who gave the low star since DSRs are anonymous and I'm not legaly allowed to ask!
I demanded a supervisor who said exactly the same and was extremely dismissive.
he actually said it was my own fault for not protecting myself by shipping within 24 hours and items arriving within 4 days.
as far as I can tell there's no hope on this.
please allow me to repeat
a 10 year full time ebay seller,
200 sales per month looses TRS for 3 low stars within a 3 month 600 sale period.

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by: Biloxims This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 19 18:13:44 2012

Haphazard is the perfect description!

I had a 99.9% for almost a year (100% for years before the one negative because "the color" was a little lighter than they thought). Okay, that's fine.

I got on my computer one morning and my rating was 99.8%. I had no negatives or neutrals added. I called about their mistake and was told that it was no mistake....the drop in percentage was due to the overall sales that I had this last year (was a little lower in volume than years before).

So, you can work your tail off for what you know is perfection (and even try to improve on that) and Ebay will find yet another way to slap you down and keep you down.

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by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 19 18:56:33 2012

I still don't understand how it is that they even BOTHER paying for the tech "programmers" to set these things up and "maintain" them when it would seem to me that if you were just going to DISREGARD all of your OWN rules to make more money---wouldn't you just SAVE that money in the FIRST place by :
A.  Eliminating the programmers expense of setting up all of these nonsense DSR's and "Updates"

B.  Just eliminate the TRS category

If the next thing to go---or be charged for ---is the small "Stores" then the next thing I see coming is the elimination of the larger individual stores on up to the so called "Diamond Level"  where the sellers can do no harm.

The future as you see it?

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by: unknown This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 19 23:19:14 2012

I got burned on this one. Neutral and all 1s for DSR by a competitor for feedback left a month after she got the item with no contact or communication. I was floored. Never had anything like it. Buyer said she made a mistake so I sent a 'revise' request which she said she couldn't find in her 'my ebay' so she couldn't revise it, ebay wouldn't do anything nor would they let me send another request to revise (never sent one of those either). Buyer did post a comment in reply to the feedback that it was an error - but I'm still sitting with a mistaken neutral and 4 1s for DSRs.

This is why I'm in 'going out of business' mode. I lost any respect I may have still had for ebay with this.  

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by: mumofflo This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 20 18:47:36 2012

well, the plot thickens.  I have just found out my status has been protected:
''eBay has protected your seller performance status.  
You received multiple low detailed seller ratings or cases from a small number of buyers, which is inconsistent with your performance on eBay. We have excluded these ratings from consideration in your performance evaluation.'' SO it definitely does happen.  Am very relieved.  However, I have taken professional advice and they are in agreement that there is no legal reason why DSRs would not be considered as defamation under UK law.  Maybe a class action is just around the corner?

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by: Donkey This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 20 21:45:57 2012

To bad Top Rated Seller status won't mean a thing when the new rules kick in.
Fail to ship in one day and provide tracking on everything or you are done.

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by: sparky This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 30 00:07:24 2012

I had a hip replaced, have a disability, was a powerseller until 1 seller left a 2 in shipping. I am 0.71% below okay. I lost powerseller status, have holds on the paypal account .. can't pay for items, food, rent, electricity bill, gas... have 'free listing' promo for stores nixed .. all for %0.71 below "okay" for ebay.  I have nearly 6000 feedback, one neg ever. I have called ebay, requested repeatedly to talk to Trust and Safety to ease up the tiered penalties for this infraction. No answers.  There is now close to $1000.00 on hold in paypal which I cannot access. I am eating very little, purchasing medicine tomorrow - using what money remains to ship items.  This Draconian punishment is inhumane... especially since I have a very good reputation, a huge customer base, pay hundreds of dollars a month in fees, 6000 transactions with only a Christmas usps took 10 days neg. I would be so glad for help. No let up in sight.



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