Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon Nov 4 2013 22:17:26

Vacations Can Be Costly for Online Sellers

By: Ina Steiner

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It's difficult to go on vacation when you have your own business. Some entrepreneurs bring their work with them. But online sellers can't ship items without access to their inventory unless they have trusted staff who can ship items or use a fulfillment service.

An eBay seller recently wrote about her experience on a discussion thread - she had put her eBay Store on vacation, but received orders while she was gone, thereby losing her Top Rated Seller status for failing to post tracking information within the required time period.

A few other eBay sellers shared their stories of problems stemming from hospitalizations, funerals and Hurricane Sandy (that seller was able to get her orders in the mail, but the post office was unable to provide her with tracking numbers!).

Another seller asked why a store that had been put on vacation mode would still accept orders. This eBay help page explains that placing an eBay Store on vacation only displays a message in listings letting buyers know the seller is on vacation.

"If you'd like to hide your fixed price listings and prevent buyers from making purchases from them while you're away, select Hide and block purchases from my fixed price listings."

The page also recommends sellers on vacation set up an "out of office" reply "to let anyone who tries to contact you know that you're not responding to your messages. When you set up an out of office reply, any email you receive will be replied to with the message you create."

What's your strategy for taking a planned vacation, and do you have a plan in place for coping with unintended downtime?




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by: JustTheFacts This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 4 22:58:27 2013

I learned about this problem years ago and since then HID all listings.  Buyer do not read the descriptions as it is so do NOT expect them to read the TINY little vacation message ebay puts on the listings (I think they use a 2 point font).  Nor do they care two cents about the "out of office message".

Buyers today are impatient, incompetent and down right mean.  Well not all of them, but a majority of them on ebay anyway.

I know I should sugar coat it and say that, "buyers are wonderful and how lucky I am they shop at my store" and all of that politically correct mumbo jumbo, but I live down here in REALITY where political correctness is totally useless.

selling on ebay has awaken me to just how ROTTEN people really are.  They lie, cheat, steal and are very vindictive.  And those are the nice ones..lol

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

Mon Nov 4 23:30:54 2013

Yep... back when I was selling on eBay, the only solution was to EMPTY the shelves. Completely.

During the last week before our vacation, I'd let listings expire naturally... and previously I'd not have created any new listings.

BUT... if there were any active listings the day before we were to leave, I'd just cancel the listing cold. Even if the listing still had time on the meter, I'd just take the small loss instead of risking a bigger loss.

Whew! So glad I don't have to worry about that nonsense any more!  

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by: ruthie This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 4 23:41:47 2013

Even if you have store listings hidden, if the buyer finds them through an outside search engine, or from a bookmark, they can still buy. IOW, they're only hidden in ebay search.

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by: RickT This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 4 23:48:37 2013

I do not have an ebay store so when I leave town for any length of time I price my items SO HIGH no one will ever buy them.
If an item is normally priced at $20, it gets priced at $250.00

No one has ever bought an item while I was on vacation.
Works every time.
But when I get back I have to re-price everything again back to normal.

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by: Oleander This user has validated their user name.

Tue Nov 5 00:58:03 2013

I have not been on a vacation in over a year, but did have a death in the family earlier this year and had to buy a last minute plane ticket and fly half way across the country the next morning. I was worried about the shipping times, but also couldn't close my store down for the 6 days I would be gone- I needed the money, and ebay is my full time job and only income.
So I did bulk edits and changed my handling time over to 5 days from 1 day. Since I was going to be gone over a weekend- that gave me the needed time to ship everything the day I got home, and still they would all fall within my stated handling time, since it had just been changed to 5 days. I put my store on vacation but did not hide my listings. I brought my ipad to answer buyer questions if I had any.

I had great sales while I was away and when I got home I spent the afternoon and evening getting everything packed and shipped. It worked out fine and I didn't lose TRS or have any buyer issues.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Tue Nov 5 02:19:26 2013

This has been a problem for as long as I can remember on Ebay.  It's a known problem.  They have known for YEARS.  I've personally reported it several times.

What happens, is a seller puts their store on Vacation hold.  They do so in good faith that Ebay is going to take care of things.  

If a buyer has one or more of your items sitting in their cart, and then purchase from the cart, the sale will go through even if you have your store on hold.

And another way for this to happen is through the Watch List.  If a buyer has your item or items on their watch list and then purchase from there, the sale will go through even though you have the hold on your store.

There may be more ways, but I know for sure they can do the above.  

*******************

@oleander

There are two levels of TRS.  There is TRS and there is TRS Plus.  Regular TRS meets all the qualifications EXCEPT 1 day handling and uploading of tracking.  So regular TRS does not get the discount on the FVFs.  TRS plus does meet those requirements at a minimum of 90% of the time and they receive a discount on the FVF for those transactions with 1 day handling and tracking uploaded.

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by: Oleander This user has validated their user name.

Tue Nov 5 04:39:38 2013

@Marie

You have to meet YOUR STATED handling time 90%+ of the time. So I was still at 100% even after using the 5 day handling on those sales. I just did not get the discount on THOSE items sold with a 5 day handling time. I switched everything back to 1 day when i got home. It had absolutely zero negative impact. The only thing I did not get was the TRS discount on THOSE sales. My tracking uploaded in the stated handling time did not decrease at all, because I changed my handling time.

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by: JoyfulA This user has validated their user name.

Tue Nov 5 04:55:38 2013

Anonymous Annie, how do you handle vacations and other absences on your own website?

I've never had a vacation problem with Amazon or Biblio: they shut down access to my "store" until I return.

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by: sasikat9 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Nov 5 06:25:31 2013

We are not carrot jumpers so when we go on vacation we just go.. All our 10,000 plus items have 5 day shipping. Nice to be able to go and not worry what some buyer is going to give us.  We raised all our prices when carrot jumping became the thing to do and haven't had a problem. We have our own built in carrot all cooked and ready to eat.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Vintage Touch
Web Site

Tue Nov 5 08:07:57 2013

On eCrater you can put your entire store on hold.  When I'm away I usually put my store on hold and then put a message at the top of my home page that states when the store will re-open which I usually do on the morning I'm traveling home to arrive that day.  That way, if I get a sale on my traveling home day, it can ship the following morning.  I have my ipad with me to answer any seller inquiries and yes I've probably lost some sales because of the down time, but better than trying to cope with unhappy buyer.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Captain Nemo

Tue Nov 5 08:25:11 2013

OP didn't use the correct vacation setting to actually hide fixed price listings.  

Current vacation settings hide fixed price listings AND block purchases, even if a user has the item on a watch list and can go to it directly.  This was done a few years back - according to Ebay announcements in 2010.  I've tested it myself and it blocks the purchase.

Someone commented about the shopping cart - I didn't test that.  @Marie - are you sure about this?

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This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Tue Nov 5 08:28:24 2013

No vacation in over 30 years.
Cha-CHING...ouch....

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Tue Nov 5 09:19:58 2013

@oleander

Yes, exactly.  That is what I said.  There are two levels of TRS sellers.  One with discount and one without. Sellers getting the discount are TRS Plus.

@sasikat9

If you have a moment and you have the opportunity to read through what the OP stated and what has been stated here, it has NOTHING to do with jumping for carrots.  That is so insulting.  But it has EVERYTHING to do with a known glitch in the program.  What would you do if you were leaving for a week or two.  That 5 day handling time will not cover that.

@captain nemo

There is no magic setting on Ebay.  You are correct, there are some options, but that still does not resolve the glitches as I stated in my posting above.  You may not have experienced the problem when you use it.  But that would only be because you got lucky no one purchased from and existing watch or cart.  

While you most certainly can hide your listings, they don't just disappear off ebay.  If you know an item number, you can call it up.



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by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
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Tue Nov 5 10:34:47 2013

My last 'vacation' was over 2 years ago to go to my sons wedding. I'm very thankful that I didn't put my store on hold at ecrater for that time period as I got my biggest sale ever ($300+!) during that weekend. that is what helped me to leave my store open was 2 of the days we were gone was a weekend. We had plane problems getting back but my other son came over and pulled all the orders for me which saved me a bunch of time considering we didn't get in until 1 in the morning and all orders needed to go out by 11AM. Whenever I have had to go to the ER due to physical problems that I had no idea when I'd be home, I would put my store on hold which is easy enough at ecrater and also Amazon.

I don't know what I would do if I wanted to take an extended vacation at this point, but that is probably a moot point as we can't afford to nor can we afford to turn off sales for a week or more!

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This user has validated their user name. by: Captain Nemo

Tue Nov 5 11:03:28 2013

@Marie - Yes you can call it up with a direct link, and yes, prior to 2010 you could make a purchase, but now it is blocked. I'm not trying to be argumentative, just stating a fact.

You cannot complete a purchase even with an item number, or a watch list, or a google search. if the shop is on vacation and has the items set to hidden.  Even with a direct link, you get a message that the item is unavailable and that the seller is away.

I also just tested the shopping cart and it works the same way.  You cannot complete checkout.

I have tested this many times because I use it many times each year.

If you have had a purchase in the past year using vacation mode with a fixed price item while the store is hidden, then yeah, it was a glitch.  It did not work cause ''I got lucky''.  That's how it works now.  I think you are using old information.

But for the sake of other ebay sellers reading this article with the title indicating how ''vacations can be costly'', I think it's important to note that in this case it happened because the OP made a mistake and not because of any glitches in ebay.  This is also not some hidden option, it's very visible and one of the very few options you get when setting up vacation mode.

It's also important that they know how the system actually works and that these items are blocked from sale if done properly.

If anyone has an actual link to a live item on ebay in a vacationing store and is able to get past the buy it now or add it to the cart without getting an immediate error, I'd like to see it.

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by: papergoy This user has validated their user name.

Tue Nov 5 11:41:19 2013

Funny you should ask- just got back from an eight day vacation (I haven't taken one that long in years- usually go for four days at most which I can keep up on).  Also had no internet access, so I had a trusted friend accept offers and put out fires.  Came back- my sales stayed about where they historically have been, and not one person has complained about late shipping (about 100 orders while gone).  I think if you treat your customers well and are reasonable in things, and aren't looking for fights as some people on this forum seem to be (it seems they think eBay buyers are terrible so they go in with the mindset that everyone is ripping them off...and things go downhill from there), you will be fine.  That being said, no more eight days away for me- it drove me crazy not being able to work for that long!

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by: Gina This user has validated their user name.

Tue Nov 5 12:34:13 2013

vacation?  Whassat?

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This user has validated their user name. by: NaruMessenger
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Tue Nov 5 12:49:36 2013

eBanged!

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

Tue Nov 5 15:12:35 2013

JoyfulA: Depending on the season (busy or slow) and depending on the length of the vacaction, I'll post a site-wide announcement (a banner that appears on each page) letting people know that the business office will be closed.

As part of the announcement, I also provide a coupon-code for a free item, or a small discount on a popular item... just as a way to encourage people to go ahead and complete the sale (and as a small ''thank-you'' gesture for their patience.)

Other times, instead of a coupon (which would discount the current sale) I'll give a 10% ''store credit'' that can be used toward a future purchase. --- This has the added benefit of encouraging the customer to buy more NOW, and if they want to take advantage of their earned-savings, they'll have to return again. :-)

It works wonderfully! Sales continue to come in during the time we're away... sometimes it's even MORE than normal.

NOT ONCE have I ever had a customer complain about their item being delayed. Never! :-)

Everything is very clear from the get-go. There are no surprises and no last-minute ''gotchas''. (I hate it when some retailers only reveal the ''gotcha'' on the next-to-last page of checkout.)

I suppose it's entirely possible that my ''vacation mode'' is a turn-off to some buyers... and perhaps they leave and buy elsewhere. It's completely understandable, and I don't hold any grudges or resentment against those folks.

But in my case... we're always very pleased with the fact that sales continue to steadily arrive even while we're away.

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by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Tue Nov 5 16:48:19 2013

When we go on vacation I try and make sure that a family member (who is very familiar with my items)  knows what is listed and not and where the item is and any special handling etc.  That way I don't have to worry.

However---several times inc very recently I had to wander off for hospital stays with no warning.  In addition to having items listed I had items SOLD that were waiting for payment which was made WHILE I was in an ICU--not the best place to try and keep in touch with shoppers with that whole breathing tube/helicopter ride/ anesthesia dealie after all.

I was lucky----with few exceptions my family was able to find and mail my items.  For the ones they could not locate I asked them to tell the buyer what was going on and offer to refund them or wait for their items.  ALL of the buyers  chose to wait.  Two items were mis-placed and did not turn up for WEEKS---fortunately one had only sold the day before and one was OK with the buyer to wait---but that guy did leave me a very odd pos FB.  

If that is ALL of the fallout---

Another time I had some person inquire WAY too deeply into my med issues and would not STOP emailing me about my problem.  Hmmmm---that got a bit---creepy--and I had to hit IGNORE for awhile.  

Knock wood I have been lucky on this!!!!

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