Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon Apr 1 2013 20:16:16

eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements

By: Ina Steiner

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In what is sure to be perceived as bad news by many small eBay sellers, the company said its stricter requirements for maintaining Top Rated Seller status is working - meaning it's unlikely to relax its tough TRS standards. At last week's Analyst Day, Senior VP of eBay North America Christopher Payne said higher standards for TRS sellers has had a significant impact on its business.

One of last year's changes requires TRS sellers to upload tracking information within handling time on 90 percent or more of their U.S. transactions. At the time, this was very controversial - and it continues to be so. I received the following email from a seller just last week:

I have been selling on Ebay since 1998 and consider myself a Top Rated Seller, but not according to Ebay and their Tracking Number Policy. I have a near perfect high Feedback Rating with nary any complaints. I ship within one business day and customer gets their product very quickly.

Here's the problem. I sell a low priced product (average selling price about $12.00). I ship it in a #10 business envelope with a 66 cent stamp for USA and $1.10 global stamp for International.

Now, to comply with Ebay's rules, I would have to pay about $1.69 for USA and $6.16 for International shipping. Ebay's 20% discount off Final Value fee does NOT make up for the increased postage costs.

Ebay's Tracking Number Policy for this is unfair for our type of product. Does anyone know if Ebay is going to modify this?


In last week's Analyst Day presentation, Payne specifically mentioned the ship-tracking requirement. Referring to all of the stricter requirements, he said, "The impact was significant on our marketplace. We saw increases in the number of listings that offer free shipping; that offer 2-day shipping; and that provide returns in a window of 14 days or more."



Payne said Top Rated Sellers represent the best of the best and deliver the best experiences to shared buyers. "This program recognizes them and rewards them for their efforts. Today they drive a significant portion of the GMV in North America."

Because eBay rewards Top Rated Sellers with greater exposure in search, it's no wonder Payne said Top Rated Sellers' growth in 2012 not only outpaced non-Top Rated Sellers, but outpaced the ecommerce market overall. However, there is a perception among "regular" sellers that eBay is giving its largest retail customers (i.e., GSI Commerce customers, etc.) special treatment, increasing resentment from non Diamond sellers.

I've also received reports from readers that eBay's automatic 5-star DSR program meant to ensure that buyers can't ding sellers who conform to some of its mandatory requirements to maintain TRS status is not working. "I have found repeatedly that buyers are enabled to rate the shipping time even though I qualify for the automatic 5 star," wrote a seller today. "When I've phoned eBay to request the rating be changed, they either don't understand what I'm talking about or refuse to change the rating! It's unfair for them to have a policy and make a seller jump the hoops to reach for that 5 star and yet still refuse it when they qualify."

Readers of EcommerceBytes are also familiar with some seller reports that sales are declining for them. Payne revealed that over the past 2 years, eBay has doubled the amount of listings on its site - there's more inventory on eBay than ever, doubled to 400 million items in 2012 from 200 million in 2010.

Even when you factor in a higher conversion rate - Payne said it was up 13 percent over the last 2 years - there's no indication that growth in the number of buyers and traffic to the site has doubled to correspond with the doubling of items available for sale. While eBay was boasting about greater selection, doubling the number of listings makes it a more competitive marketplace for sellers vying for the top of search results.

Look for tomorrow's Newsflash article about Christopher Payne's full presentation at Analyst Day and let us know what you think. (Here's the link to the EcommerceBytes Newsflash article.)




Comments (30) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements   eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements

by: happyharry This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 1 21:26:00 2013

the wonderful world of ebay where up is down and down is sideways....spin all you like ebay the true hardcore sellers (many who you have lost) know all too well what is ebay is about

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements   eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements

by: PowerSeller2007 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 1 22:43:08 2013

Again, TRS is biased AGAINST small American seller.  Asian sellers can send 25 cents USD parcels with tracking. It arrived after 17 to 30 days (DELIVERED to US buyer VIA USPS).   But small American sellers paid 66 cents but ebay could not get USPS to grant free tracking.  

SO WHERE IS FAIRNESS to small American sellers?

ALL BUYERS are happy to this seller BUT EBAY IS NOT HAPPY?
Why?  Because ebay did not get 12% of additional postage cost?
Wasn't TRS to make buyers happy?
Or to make ebay happier?


Perminate Link for eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements   eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements

by: blaumann2 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 2 00:27:01 2013

Conversion is up over the lst two years? NO WAY. It is down for many little guys.  

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements   eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements

by: Ebay Seller-Ebay Buyer This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 2 00:29:19 2013

Chris Payne's job is to make Ebay look good.  But in this article, he offers very few numbers to make Ebay look good. The only thing making ebay look good here is Ina Steiners title.  A more appropriate title would be,"Ebay claims to see results from stricter TRS requirements".

Payne gives almost no specifics and very few numbers as to how the top rated sellers are doing better or how ebay marketplace has seen a boost from stricter requirements.  If anything, ebay has many less total sellers and more items simply due to the huge stores that have come on board and the free promos. But more total listings doesn't mean profits are higher for ebay or the sellers.

Also, there is nothing positive about an increase in listings with free shipping because usually the seller simply raises their minimum bid price to cover the free shipping. When buyers search for items using lowest to highest, the free shipping means nothing. And for low priced items like cd's, videos, records, baseball cards, coins and other items where buyers look to win a bunch from one seller and combine the order; free shipping works against Ebay and the seller because each item has had their price raised to cover the free shipping.  So a lot of buyers who want to combine orders will avoid sellers who offer free shipping.  As a seller I know thi sand as a buyer I definitely know this and I almost always avoid sellers with free shipping to buy from

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements   eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements

by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 2 00:58:31 2013

Sellers are coerced into complying with eBay's policies and for some bizarre reason, Payne thinks it's significant when Sellers grudgingly comply.

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements   eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements

This user has validated their user name. by: cfrphoto

Tue Apr 2 01:59:48 2013

It would make more sense to require that 90% of the dollar value be tracked. This would allow more $5 and $10 items to be sold and shipped economically while maintaining tracking for higher value items. The TRS requirement and the spring 2013 changes will result in more Stamps category listings moving to bidStart and dedicated web sites.

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements   eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 2 02:42:59 2013

One pill makes you larger---

And one pill makes you small--

And the ones that ebay gives you---

Make you believe anything at all

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements   eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements

by: admiralh This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 2 04:48:55 2013

All very well for many domestic US sellers, but radically unfair to either low value shippers, or any international shipper into the USA. I offer exemplary service, but it simply isn't viable to track international shipments into the USA because of the additional cost. I always offer it as an option and guess how many buyers choose it? None.

Rather undermines ebay's position

What ebay have done single handedly is introduce an artificial barrier to international trade even though they say they are promoting this. Sales to the USA have slumped, although fortunately I have a large number of loyal customers in the USA who know the service level they receive from me, and also know on the rare occasion there is a problem it is put right professionally and correctly.

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements   eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements

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

Tue Apr 2 06:04:09 2013

@comet

Tee, Hee, Hee! I liked that. Well said!

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements   eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements

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

Tue Apr 2 07:21:46 2013

I think payne drank one to many glasses of LSD spiked kool aid, to come up with that cokkamamey report like that

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements   eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements

by: frustrated This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 2 07:28:25 2013

Senior VP of eBay North America "Christopher Payne said higher standards for TRS sellers has had a significant impact on its business."

What Mr. Payne MEANT is: we are able to kick more sellers off of TRS and so we are making a TON more money in fees.

Great, huh??

Sooner or later, everybody is gonna get tired of this BS and just go sell elsewhere.

Remember when there WAS NO EBAY?


When everyone found ebay, the sellers promoted it themselves, and blogged about it (there WAS NO YOUTUBE)and it became what is is now, a bloated fatcat who wants YOU to do all the work, and make 1/4 of what you did in 2007.

So pick a new site, and away you go.

For the 6,155th time already.

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements   eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements

by: PowerSeller2007 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 2 07:29:22 2013

The chart clearly showed TRS on STAGNATED trend.  There is no other way to interpret it.

Observed the curve hitting a ceiling, plateau and moving up and down.
Clearly an ebay manipulation.

ebay is selectively snatching TRS out of sellers' hand.  They take TRS from one seller and give it to the another seller.  Ebay would not give TRS to everyone all at the same time.  This is same "TIME SHARE" concept ebay does with our listings.  

Payne tried to paint a nice story on the chart presented but only Wall Street fools would agree with his interpretation.  

It is stagnated trend.  Manipulation is most likely the cause.  ebay is gaming small American sellers all the time.

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements   eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements

by: innerpuppie This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 2 08:34:41 2013

Oh, puh-leeze. There are top rated sellers I've found on eBay with crappy DSRs and a rating of 96.3. eBay, you'd better get a healthy dose of reality before you open your mouth  again - really.

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements   eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements

by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 2 09:41:07 2013

Did anyone expect anything else from Payne???  Would he tell wall street - it's not working as we planned???? Free listings have and will hurt as more and more junk listing - many many many duplicates - especially from China or wherever.
Listing matters when you want to play with the books (reports). If you list a million items and only receive a tiny fraction if anything in sell thru rate - what good does a free listing have. Only good is on the reports. List a million items and only a handful actually show up - what good is it - except on ebay books.

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements   eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements

by: JustTheFacts This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 2 10:01:04 2013

They say if you repeat a lie long enough even you begin to believe it.

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements   eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements

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

Tue Apr 2 10:14:59 2013

Seriously? THIS is what eBay is claiming? Is he on dope?

I love this: ''This program recognizes them and rewards them for their efforts.''

WTF?! ~ NO. IT. DOES. NOT.



Perminate Link for eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements   eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements

by: JoelHellmann This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 2 10:15:24 2013

Get out Now. Ebay will get you in the end. I had 39,000 plus feedback paid them $60,000 a year in fees. Now I am on three other sites and my fees are $200 a year! sales are similar as when I left.

to all get out now! have less stress in your life!

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements   eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements

by: ebay refugee camp This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 2 10:51:37 2013

The top rated seller program rewards bad sellers, if you look on ebay you will find many top rated seller plus who sell thousands of items a year with a 98 percent feedback rating with negatives and neutrals out the whaazoo  and their TRS numbers at 5.0 go figure. if you average this out with a small seelers numbers it does not add up.The same seller selling 1500 items a year with 100% feedback cannot be a top rated seller because they are a small business, maybe they sell items that cannot be shipped in one day, maybe they sell custom items made on demand that cannot be shipped for ten days those honest sellers are not allowed to be o top rated sellers but shiesters are. Why? because they drop ship out of somebody's warehouse. I thought there was a class action suit about this, I do not if it was bribed out by ebay yet. Ebay sales are way down and small merchants and sellers are upset. Ebay is not worried about large sellers being cheats printing shipping labels and then not shipping for three days, they reward them, and spend their time making policies that hinder and punish small business. Small business should be embraced on ebay, the TRS system needs work and it one of the sole reasons ebay wanted everyone to opt out of class action. Instead of fixing it so it is fair ebay makes a policy where protecting themselves from lawsuits.

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements   eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements

by: ebay refugee camp This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 2 10:57:12 2013

200 million more listings on ebay equals 800 million more advertisements for click money for ebay. E-commerce as a whole was up more than ebay was up, actually putting ebay at a decline in sales.
Fuzzy numbers presented to wall street investors looking for a return on their billiond, the hell with small business says ebay!

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements   eBay Sees Results from Stricter Top Rated Seller Requirements

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Tue Apr 2 18:33:42 2013

Ebafia likely explains away this blog to any lurking analysts by calling us malcontents, whiners, failed sellers, etc.

But the truth is that many of ebafia's past and present most successful, experienced and insightful small business owners blog here.

Payne didn't and isn't using "levers." He uses hammers -- hammers he and The Ho have used to beat sellers into submission or kill their businesses altogether.

Yes, in terms of raw numbers, there were many bad sellers on ebafia that needed and deserved to be forced off.

What the TRS program accomplished, however, was to either punish or exterminate many outstanding sellers while ignoring many bad sellers (like the she seller assistant whose name can't mentioned) and many Communist Chinese sellers.

Christopher Payne is just as much of an abuser as men who beat their wives or girlfriends. He simply abuses in a different venue using an array of weapons ebafia invented to lie, cheat, and steal from sellers.

This is the truth about today's ebafia from my viewpoint.

1. Gross sales for many sellers are down at least 75% from 2007.

2. Ebafia related costs up 135% since 2007 with much worse to come for many after May 1.

3. Criminal buyers up more than 1000% since 2007.

4. Ebay has committed billions of thefts by deception by taking money for fees and then not displaying or burying sellers' items.

4. Ebafia is complicit in thousands actual theft of merchandise and payments.

5. Ebafia has committed numerous bait and switch frauds.

6. The statistics and financial reports ebafia releases are both deceptive and meaningless and, in my opinion, mislead investors.

7. Ebafia generates the most fees by charging those least able to pay (small sellers/businesses) the highest fees while giving sweetheart deals to mega sellers including and most especially the Communist Chinese.

The contract the Neg Meg Whitman made with small sellers to quit their jobs and sell full time on ebafia has been unilaterally broken without our consent.

8. Small sellers/businesses are presented daily with numerous so-called glitches that substantially impact our ability to conduct what meager business ebafia condescends to give us.

9. PreyPal holds small business funds alleging "security" reason when in fact, many of these holds are for the purpose of collecting interest on said seized funds.

10. Ebafia artificially limits our monthly sales within a range as well as the number of items a small can sell.

This is done for several reasons.

A. By tagging small American businesses, the manipulated search can direct business to larger, favored sellers like the Communist Chinese.

B. By manipulating search to keep most businesses at the gold or lower power seller level which means fewer TSAMS on the ebafia's payroll

C. By artificially limiting monthly sales in terms of both dollars and number of items, substantially fewer TRS businesses will achieve the magic 400 sales quarterly in order shed the unfavorable DSRs that ebafia actually encourages buyers to leave so that they reduce the number of businesses getting discounts.

11. This lawless corporation thumbs it nose at the antitrust and consumer protection laws by bribing some public officials with campaign contributions and lobbying.

12. This corporation routinely lies to its customers about a broad range of issues. In my opinion, it lies or grossly deceives Wall Street.

13. Ebafia's customer service is AWFUL.

14. Ebafia's platform is unstable, constantly changes, confuses buyers, suffers from daily glitches, and demonstrates little concern for customer conveniendce or satisfaction.

15. Ebafia management has completely forgotten who their customer and who pays their bloated salaries and stock options.

The words of Christopher Payne spoke eloquently to the sadistic and avaricious arrogance that is today's ebafia management is.

I believe in karma. One day Christopher Payne, John Donahoe, Devin Wenig, et. al. will get their reward for the unnecessary heartbreak, stress, and despair that their poorly conceived and even more poorly executed policies have created.

And it can't come soon enough.

Life in prison would be too good for these jerks.

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