|Wed May 30 2012 08:30:32|
eBay Suspends Consignment Sellers over Low DSR Ratings
By: Ina Steiner
In an article for Wednesday's EcommerceBytes Newsflash, Dave Saltman writes that consignment sellers are being suspended from eBay thanks to anonymous feedback left by buyers through the DSR rating system. (Link to article.)
I've spoken to many consignment sellers and eBay drop-off store owners over the years - there was a time that eBay was throwing its support behind the model, and many eBay sellers invested in their businesses based on promises made by eBay managers, though management has since lost its enthusiasm for auctions.
I spoke to BikeWerx's Val Snider (featured in today's article) who is different from many consignment sellers, because he uses eBay consignments to supplement his bike shop and online website sales, and is not a long time seller. He started selling on eBay after the CEO-change in 2008, and he was incredulous at the treatment he received from eBay.
Val said his business has a no-questions-asked return policy, but said when one of his buyers wanted a 50% refund on his purchase and demanded "if you don't give me my $50 back, I'll leave you a negative feedback," an eBay rep told Val, "just give him the $50."
Consignor don't have this flexibility, since they're selling items for their clients. They either need to give the client the money or hand them back the item. Val felt the buyer was blackmailing him, but the negative feedback he received from the buyer was allowed to stand.
Val said he successfully sold used cycling gear for thousands of dollars on eBay with no problems, but said it was always the lower cost items where he ran into what he called "bad buyers." Adding to the frustration was the anonymity of the feedback ratings - sellers can't see who is leaving them low DSR feedback.
Many eBay sellers are incredulous that a 4.8 out of 5 stars is cause for concern, and that a 4.7 can get sellers kicked off of eBay. Val said he uses calculated shipping on eBay, meaning buyers were paying the actual shipping costs - but he received an average of 4.7 out of 5 stars for shipping-cost DSR. As Dave Saltman writes, Val said he received warnings about his seller performance but said nothing indicated eBay was about to close his account with no further notice.
All eBay sellers are under pressure to offer free shipping and provide 100 percent satisfaction even to "bad buyers," but consignment sellers face additional challenges. They don't own the inventory they're selling, and their consignors don't see the need to offer free shipping or provide partial refunds, since it isn't their eBay feedback that's on the line.
Dave reached out to eBay in an effort to understand the company's approach to buyer feedback and consignment sales. He asked eBay spokesperson Johnna Hoff several questions, including why these sellers seem to think low DSRs aren't a good reason to be shut down; whether eBay feels that in light of these concerns, DSRs do a good job of evaluating sellers; and whether DSRs inadvertently favor certain business models or ways of doing business on/with eBay. She responded, "I'm happy to have our customer service reach out to the sellers you've noted. Please just get their permission and send me their names and eBay IDs."
Should eBay have one set of standards and policies that apply to all categories and both new and used goods? And should buyers expect the same level of service and quality even when they are buying a used item that retails for $200 for $30?
I'd welcome readers thoughts about consignment selling on eBay and the company's policy on DSRs, and would very much like to hear tips from successful consignment sellers about how they cope with these additional challenges on eBay.