Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Tue Apr 17 2012 21:16:09

eBay Could Reconsider What Tracking Means for TRS

By: Ina Steiner

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Did eBay realize how many of its Top Rated Sellers would be impacted by new requirements that they upload tracking on the majority of orders in order to maintain their TRS status? While some sellers are unaffected, those who sell items that can fit in a simple envelope and be mailed with a 45-cent stamp say they are unable to comply, and will lose the 20% discount on fees they had been receiving.

Sellers of stamps, postcards, decals and other small items face higher costs and have urged eBay to reconsider the new policy.

A source has told us that eBay may be in the process of testing to see if an IMB (Intelligent Mail Barcode - not to be confused with the IMpb Intelligent Mail PACKAGE barcode) can count as a tracking number for the purposes of its new TRS requirement.

The IMB is the barcode used on First Class Mail letters and flats and looks quite different from an IMpb. While it does not provide proof of delivery like Delivery Confirmation, the IMB does provide some tracking information and would show eBay that the seller sent the item. Sellers would have to use online postage in order to be generate the barcode information.

During its Town Hall meeting after announcing the policy as part of the 2012 Seller Spring Update, three separate sellers said they might be forced off of eBay once the new policies take effect. And it's not clear that buyers want to pay a lot more money for tracking on what used to cost just 45 cents.

TRS sellers will also have to include 1-day handling and a 14-day or longer return policy with a money-back option in order to qualify for the greatest average boost in Best Match and 20% final value fee discount.

Would it make sense for eBay to allow IMB to count as "tracking" for purposes of its new TRS policy, and would it matter to you?




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Readers Comments

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This user has validated their user name. by: Bill

Wed Apr 18 02:15:20 2012

Unfortunately that does not do it at all for Stamp dealers and others that use letter rate FCM.
The whole purpose is that the buyer wants postage on his envelope not a computer generated item.
Many stamp dealers I have talked to are going to be reducing their listings or actually leaving. eBay is driving business to eBid and Bidstart because of this.

Bill

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This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Wed Apr 18 06:32:28 2012

I believe this is eBay's twisted and convoluted way of intentionally forcing sellers to leave without actually having to say ''leave''.

As those undesirable sellers gradually depart... or even if they leave en-masse, eBay will always have plausible deniability, and will claim that those sellers left on their own accord. (Or that for some, they ''broke the rules'' and were forced out for ''violating'' the rules.)

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by: HappyOne This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 18 07:02:20 2012

I think part of EBay's push for Delivery Confirmation is to raise the average selling price to look better in comparison with Amazon with the Wall Street crowd. Low priced stamps, sports card, craft supplies anything less than $10 is bringing down their averages. They want things put into lots with a higher total selling price. Those $3 and $4 items are giving EBay that dreaded ''Flea Market'' look. Adding the shipping into the selling price with ''free shipping'' to raise average selling price made it look better in their last report to Wall Street.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Stockmiser

Wed Apr 18 07:52:48 2012

@happyone - I think you are on the money that this policy change has nothing whatsoever to do with buyer expectations or satisfaction.  Isn't that already covered by the DSR's?

What bothers me is that I am a 10+ year seller with over 10K FB, 100% and all 5's in my DSR's.  So how is  raising my prices to offer DC on most of my shipping going to "improve" customer satisfaction?

Look, if you have somehow managed to maintain TRS status in this economy and somehow managed to follow all of ebay's crazy new policies, you must be doing something right.  

If lack of DC was a problem for your buyers, you wouldn't be a TRS in the first place...right?

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 18 08:58:01 2012

So .... eBay can figure out how to deal with shipping from China and India but still MUST give US sellers a hard time?

I say its Ming's law again (as usual) eBay lying all the time, when ever possible, and when anything ever goes wrong - its always the RICH, super fat cat US seller who  hurts the poor effected buyer.

eBay = NOT winning

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This user has validated their user name. by: Stockmiser

Wed Apr 18 09:03:50 2012

Ina - ''Sellers would have to use online postage in order to be generate the barcode information.''

Do you know that to be a fact?

I'm asking because it looks like the information in the barcode would be generated by your label program and doesn't seem to be related to the actual postage.

Is this a future feature ebay is planning on implementing for first class letters?  I don't see any indication that this is a feature the post office is adding to their software - it looks like they expect shippers to use a 3rd party service to generate the codes.

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

Wed Apr 18 09:04:17 2012

The IMB (Intelligent Mail Barcode) is built into the Dymo LabelWriter450 software that I currently use to print my mailing labels.  I use them for first-class envelopes as well as packages.  So it's available for anyone right now.

I do not use eBay's shipping labels, since I want the $$ to go to my local Post Office (and not ebay).

Problem is, if eBay instituted this new IBC thing, I would have no way to upload that code into the ebay system, unless I had a barcode scanner.  There are no numbers on it to type in.  Just the bars.

And then of course, ebay would have to create software that would read the code and upload it to their system.  

So, thinking ahead, tt will be interesting to see how this plays out - I expect it is  simply another way to charge us for something that THEY decided was essential for customer satisfaction.  

They create a rule that sent a bunch of sellers into a panic and threatened their business, then they create the solution.  And charge us for it.  

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by: fireangel This user has validated their user name.
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Wed Apr 18 09:32:04 2012

Stockmiser and Nan:  I believe that Endicia might already be adding the IBC code as a tracking number in ebay listings.  I received a FC Ltr Rate item from an Ebay Seller a couple of weeks back that had a 'tracking' number uploaded to ebay the day of shipment that obviously wasn't a USPS tracking #.  So that could be something that's coming up.

I'm also one of the postcard sellers who has been on ebay for almost 16 years, been a PS for most of the last 7 or 8 and TRS since the program started.  As of now I'll lose my TRS once the tracking requirement is implemented because I ship using stamps as my customers prefer and request.

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by: sparky This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 18 10:23:02 2012

Anonymous Annie- An ebay agent on phone told me that they want to get rid of sellers that are not up to their standards. And she told me that ebay customers are not my customers because they buy other things.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Wed Apr 18 10:58:42 2012

@nan

By doing your shipping / postage the way you currently are, you are only costing yourself money you don't need to spend.  If you are purchasing all your postage at the post office, especially on packages, then you spend more than you would if you purchase postage online.  You of course have every right to do this if this is how you prefer to do business.  But you aren't teaching Ebay a lesson or anything, you are just spending money you don't need to otherwise.

@Sparky
Well yes, I can believe that a CRS told you they are trying to get rid of sellers that don't meet their standards.  That is logical and they have always been weeding out bad sellers and they should.  The debate would be on how they go about it and how many good sellers get destroyed in the process.

Now the last part of what you said, I don't understand at all.  If someone buys something from you, they are your customer.  It has nothing to do with if they buy from someone else too.  What kind of sense does that make.  You mean if I shop at Walmart and Safeway, I'm not either's customer because I bought at two different places.  HUM !?!?!

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

Wed Apr 18 12:05:05 2012

@Marie  Yes I'm well aware of the cost difference, having previously purchased postage online for many years. And I certainly did not believe that ebay could be taught any sort of 'lesson' by withholding my measly postage purchases.

The reason I want my $$ to go to my local Post Office (and not ebay) is because our small rural PO was in danger of being shut down if the retail sales did not improve.  The next closest PO is 35 miles away.

So, a 70 mile commute 3-4 times a week vs my savings in postage is not a revolutionary action, it simply makes sense cost-wise for my particular situation.

YMMV :)  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Wed Apr 18 12:12:00 2012

@nan

You may want to call your local Postmaster for some clarification on this matter.  I completely respect what you are doing and why.  I too live rurally.  

As my carrier explained to me, it is by volume of mail processed, not where the postage is purchased.  For example, the more mail my carrier handles, the more money she makes as it is kind of like piece work, but not quite.  It has to be provable, which is why I do a carrier pick up whenever possible.  So you may want to ask your postmaster as I believe it is my items processed, so it won't matter where you purchase your postage.  And then you can save yourself both time and money while everyone wins.

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by: kakekr This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 18 12:24:15 2012

@Nan

I is my understanding that your online purchase of postage (I use Stamps.com) is accounted to the counter of the zip code that you state you are shipping from.  Therefore, you save money and your rural post office will see get "credit" for that postage purchase without having to do anything.  That is why I left my local post office because they didn't appreciate my postage purchases and gave me very poor service.

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

Wed Apr 18 12:31:10 2012

>>>You may want to call your local Postmaster for some clarification on this matter.

I did.  I discussed it with her personally.  Traffic does count, yes, but (in our situation) retail sales are also a factor.  And in a town of 300 population, retail sales carry more weight than the norm.

I don't want to steer this off course any more than it already is, so I'll end it here.  I do appreciate you input though, thanks :)

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by: exdwh This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 18 13:11:17 2012

@Nan,

With Endicia DAZzle, you can find the IMB under the [Postage Log] tab. It's in the 'Tracking Number' field just like DC or customs form number.

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by: exdwh This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 18 13:20:38 2012

@Stockmiser,

You're correct that you can obtain electronic DC, IMB, or even a customs form number without actually paying for postage. This alone is yet another loophole in eBay's new policy.

It seems like the only real requirement is that the tracking number be unique. Obviously, bogus tracking numbers do not make happy customers, so a desparate seller would be trading one evil for another.

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by: exdwh This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 18 13:33:20 2012

@Stockmiser,

"Is this a future feature ebay is planning on implementing for first class letters?  I don't see any indication that this is a feature the post office is adding to their software - it looks like they expect shippers to use a 3rd party service to generate the codes."

The USPS website (aka Click-N-Ship) only supports higher-cost (margin?) services. However, USPS Shipping Assistant will print labels for any service along with all the latest high-tech barcodes. For example, SA is the only software I've seen that will print an international letter with integrated customs form. The downside to SA is that the only electronic payment method is a postage meter. Otherwise, it's either stamps or a trip to the post office.

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by: pennyrub This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 18 13:46:47 2012

I'm wondering if I can ever take a day off again for fear I might lose my TRS rating. Vacation anyone????

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by: LSP This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 18 15:12:43 2012

Here we go again with eBay rolling out another half-baked requirement they haven't bothered to think through.

Calling this a loophole is being too kind. This is total incompetence.  

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by: fvh This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 18 15:13:21 2012

@pennyrub: Only if you have a store you can "put on vacation." Aaahhh, another way to try to strong-arm sellers into paying even more fees.

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