Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon Apr 29 2013 12:18:29

eBay's New Immediate Pay Policy Already Impacting Sellers

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay is changing the way it handles "Buy It Now" transactions, and it is causing some inconvenience to sellers already. As eBay said in its March 19th announcement about the 2013 Spring Seller Release:

"Beginning in May, eligible fixed price listings and auction-style listings purchased with Buy It Now will remain for sale unless the buyer pays right away. This change will be rolled out slowly over the course of the year and will eliminate a significant number of unpaid items on eBay by the end of 2013."

Put another way, "Today, when a buyer clicks the Commit to Buy button on a Buy It Now listing, the item is considered sold and is not available for purchase by another buyer. Beginning in May, eligible items will continue to be available to other buyers until a payment is made."

Sellers are running into buyers who are encountering problems when trying to purchase multiple items from them, so the buyers are purchasing each item separately and then asking the seller for a refund for the savings they would have received with combined shipping discounts.

Initially I believed it was due to buyers changing their behavior in anticipation of the new policy - shoppers were purchasing each item immediately so they wouldn't risk having another shopper come along and purchase the item before they've had a chance to pay.

Here are excerpts from a seller's April 24th post on an discussion thread, "What A Nightmare - Ebay' New Instant Pay - Venting":

"Over the last two days I have had to refund over 20 paypal payments to combine invoices for my customers. I sell only books and tried to explain the shopping cart, but they don't want to put them in the shopping cart because they don't want to take the chance on loosing (sic) them.

"Why they had to take something that was available to everyone voluntarily (instant payment) and force it on everyone is just one more "What Are They Thinking" moment."


Another seller responded:

"Yup, I had the "pleasure" of dealing with this Sunday. It's just another eBay money grab. You have to find the hidden button to request a combined invoice if you use the Cart, and someone else can still buy it while you're waiting on the invoice. This stinks, to put it mildly."

However, there appears to be a problem with the shopping cart, possibly related to the new policy.

In another eBay discussion thread titled, "When did immediate payment...," a seller said his buyer had problems purchasing more than one item from him. The buyer said, "I just bought 2 games, 1 PS2 and 1 Xbox. I could not select CONTINUE SHOPPING option to get the deal on shipping to Canada. Could you please refund $3.95 US for the shipping deal on your site."

The seller posted the buyer's response to his request for more information about the problem:

"Normally if I bought more then 1 item from the same person I could normally click on CONTINUE SHOPPING. When I clicked Buy It Now it went straight to the payment screen instead of giving me the option Continue Shopping which seems very odd. I did not see Add to Cart or any other options."

In announcing the new Immediate Pay process, eBay said sellers must set up calculated shipping rules in order to offer combined shipping discounts for buyers purchasing more than one item from them:

"If you use the combined shipping discounts feature, your buyers must create a combined order by adding eligible items to their eBay Shopping Cart. The discount will automatically be applied to the order total. If you don't use this tool but still offer combined shipping discounts, your buyers must add the items they want to purchase to their Shopping Cart and request a new invoice reflecting the revised shipping cost by clicking the Request Total button."

But it's possible buyers will not be willing to wait for an invoice due to fears someone else could snatch the item away from them before they have a chance to pay. In that case, sellers will have more headaches trying to refund buyers who still want the combined shipping discount. (And since PayPal charges a 30-cent fee for each transaction, it will be more costly for sellers as well.) Will that inconvenience (and cost) outweigh the current problem of shoppers placing items in their shopping cart but never coming back to pay?

Does it make sense for eBay to allow other shoppers to come along and purchase an item that's been placed in a buyer's shopping cart? And have you encountered any problems with buyers who wish to receive combined shipping discounts?




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Readers Comments

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This user has validated their user name. by: Nolle

Mon Apr 29 13:04:02 2013

Ina - you do realize this is how online shopping carts work on every other site, right?

I'd love to bash ebay for this, but this is simply how online purchasing works everywhere.  

in fact, isn't this an issue only because ebay has allowed purchases without payment?


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by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 29 13:19:51 2013

Egads!  These people simply cannot get out of their own way.  So what happens if the item gets another bid while being processed to be paid????  I suppose this sets the seller up for negatives?  Does the buyer have to sit by their computer and immediately hit the pay button when the auction goes off??  Ebay never had good management but now its just plain insane!

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by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 29 13:22:13 2013

@Nolle - do you really think Ebay will work this like any other shopping cart?  If I put something in my cart and get ready to pay and its scooped up by someone else...am I going to be angry....YES!  This already happened to me on Amazon while I was trying to purchase an IPad.  Do you think Ebay would allow me to neg the seller?  Of course they will....Do I think they would remove that negative....NO!  Therein lies the rub.

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by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 29 14:01:00 2013

This has always been my one disappointment with buying at Etsy. Until the item is paid for, it can disappear form the cart. Even when I buy multiples from the same buyer, I won't risk losing my buys, so I pay ONE AT A TIME. Immediate payment defeats the whole PURPOSE of a shopping cart!! This should be a seller's option; not a platform limitation.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Sandymenu

Mon Apr 29 14:37:22 2013

Nolle is correct to state '' Ina - you do realize this is how online shopping carts work on every other site, right? ''

Yes!

@Patricia - no buyer will give to add cart seller any feedback because its not theirs until PIF (paid in full).

I offer both BIN (Buy It now) and CSD (combined shipping discount) but in order for any seller to avoid getting caught in that mess is to decide either on one or the other option and not both. I'll be changing mine (today) to BIN only and let the CSD go.

But you MUST make sure to go into your preferences to uncheck and remove that CSD (and save) because if you don't then you'll be stuck in the story INA describes.

I'll go get those instructions for anyone that wants it next (back in a moment).

I'm like most here, I just don't care/agree for these ongoing changes BUT then again, I now have CHOICES to sell other places and shall come July 1st.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Forestt

Mon Apr 29 14:46:40 2013

I'm not sure how this works with Final Value Fees on shipping? If a buyer pays for each items seperate, then seller refunds the difference in shipping, is the seller still taxed for shipping FVF's on each item?

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

Mon Apr 29 15:24:22 2013

BINGO!! Forestt nails it!

''If a buyer pays for each items seperate, then seller refunds the difference in shipping, is the seller still taxed for shipping FVF's on each item?''

I believe that's correct, Forestt! If a seller issues a full-refund, or a partial-refund... the seller is not given any credit on the FVF or on the PP transaction fees.

That's all gravy for eBay/PP.

Oh, sure... for most sales we're talking about pennies, nickels and dimes. But if you add-em-all-up... hundreds of thousands of sales over the course of a year---well---that's a nice chunk-o-change, eh?

And even if the buyer doesn't care, and doesn't ask the seller to refund the difference, this eBay gimmick ''forces'' the elimination of combined shipping discounts (by making it harder) and eBay/PP still benefits in the end.

Ugh! What an oogie mess!

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Mon Apr 29 16:07:07 2013

eBay is different from other retail sites in that a buyer can purchase multiple items from multiple sellers. (eBay is different from Amazon, which has one payment system and collects the money from the buyer once and then parses out the money to the different sellers.)

That's what makes combined shipping more challenging for eBay sellers.

In addition, buyers are used to shopping on eBay a certain way, so this will be an adjustment.

Also, as on Etsy, many items on eBay are unique - even if it's the same item, each one might have a different condition. So there is likely to be a greater incidence of items that are in Shopper A's shopping cart but unpaid for being purchased by Shopper B.

And that is why shoppers may decide to simply purchase each item immediately rather than using the eBay shopping cart, and then email the seller asking for their combined shipping discount.

So I would say eBay's shopping cart is quite different from other retail sites.

Actually, Etsy has a hybrid system. Shoppers can use Direct Checkout to purchase their items, it's similar to the way Amazon works - Etsy processes the payment on behalf of the seller - but only for items in which the seller has opted in to Direct Checkout in cases where the shopper chooses to use Direct Checkout.

So I'll throw another question out there - should eBay offer a similar Direct Checkout as Etsy (keeping it optional, as Etsy does)?

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This user has validated their user name. by: WOODJUNGLE! ON EBAY

Mon Apr 29 16:37:26 2013

I don't think Ebay should be doing anything with their checkout system.  It was fine for their site, IMO.  It's just part of their continued process of breaking things that are working fine.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Sandymenu

Mon Apr 29 16:46:31 2013

I did fail to remember that

''eBay is different from other retail sites in that a buyer can purchase multiple items from multiple sellers''

I think that is somewhat beneficial for some sellers that prefer that option.

I don't mainly because my items are set Fixed BIN at $75.00 and up with Free Shipping.

I could see those that have small bid auctions or items not in high dollar amounts using that feature (but not me).

''should eBay offer a similar Direct Checkout as Etsy (keeping it optional, as Etsy does)?''

No. They seem to do best with PayPal only now that we're trained that way...

I'm curious to know what others might suggest?  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Mon Apr 29 18:48:26 2013

With PayPal previously announcing they will be tracking seller refunds, this comes as a troubling issue eBay management either did not foresee or wholly disregarded in their ignorance of buyer seller behavior on their own site.

Sellers are wise to issue refunds for separate purchases by the same buyer, especially when eBay's system if forcing buyers to complete individual purchases instead of including multiple purchases as a single transaction.

Other than to make mention that they will be monitoring seller refund activity, it is not known what impact high refund activity will have in the way of negative consequences for sellers.

Like so many double secret probation monitoring, eBay/PayPal has not defined the purpose of monitoring refunds or how sellers will be effected by a high rate of refund activity.

With PayPal tracking seller refund activity, it is not possible to know what negative consequences this will have on seller accounts down the road. Suffice it to say that the implications do not involve anything positive for sellers, even though this eBay change is going to cause partial refund activity to substantially increase.

The left hand continues to be unable to work with the right hand at dysfunctional eBay Corp.

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

Mon Apr 29 19:46:11 2013

Whenever possible, sellers could establish at least two PreyPal accounts.

If ebafia is going to use the quantity or frequency of refunds are yet another stock to beat us bloody with, then refund from the second account.

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 29 19:51:16 2013

I dont have the same issues as the many good sellers above - I just have TONS of non paying buyers.

That was all I wanted eBay to fix - not multi shipping discounts, not cart issues, not anything else.

You buy and you pay - right away - but even that eBay managed to screw up (see the being forced ito global shipping thread).

Of course now that eBays "fixed" things - I have more NPB's then ever ..... they just take the -1 and walk away - angry at me.

Another eBay screw up!

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

Mon Apr 29 20:05:56 2013

Of course ebafia cloaked this change in terms of eliminating or minimizing unpaid items, but the real reasons they did it were:

1. Eliminate layaways and channel that segment into PreyPal's Bilk Me Later

(2) Force near 100% PreyPal payments instead of money orders/personal checks if the seller accepted them.

Ebafia has always gotten its FVF immediately after the sale regardless if the seller got paid then or not.

These sociopaths aren't satisfied with 95% PreyPal payments; they want 100%. And they'll do whatever is necessary to achieve that goal by any means necessary.

IT'S ALWAYS ABOUT THE MONEY. ALWAYS.

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by: happyharry This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 29 22:55:43 2013

we stopped combining shipments on ebay years ago, also have a 1 item limit every 10 days to all buyers...this stops all the "if i buy 15 items will you change only one shipping charge" ...ebay buyers have been trained to pay zero on shipping and believe we pocket all the P&P fees….they are that dumb, i guess 99% of ebay buyers have not been in a post office for over 20 years, and have no idea ALL postage charges have increased Worldwide some by as much as 65% this year alone.

We actually make a profit on ebay now ..offer NO free shipping etc

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by: scissors This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 29 23:48:16 2013

This is a horrid situation for me. I have customers who buy up to 44 items from me. I cannot afford the time or money to refund each purchase. I need customers to be able to hit that ''ask seller for a total button''. I can ship all 44 items for one flat rate purchase price - I cannot afford 44 bad feedbacks because I cannot combine shipping. What a bloody mess this creates. Who are they fooling? Why not take 11 percent of 2.40 times 44 rather than 11 percent of 5.99? Its a scam and a great one. I am moving on, and I see those other big sellers in my category are as well, which would have been a great thing for me if the things were not so dire. If everyone is leaving who will be left? I send everyone a note '' Check out my store at..'' when they check out now. Its no longer a good place to sell.
1. Asian customer support upsets me and my customers. I hear this a lot that they have called in and not been heard or helped correctly.
2. No combined shipping - people cannot find the button ebay has hidden it.
3. Fee hikes at the worst point in the history of ebay - please.
4. The open a case problem is totally out of control and the people who are doing it to me know exactly WHAT the deal is - they know they will get their money back
5. The fact that Rich whats his name has not come back here to talk to us tells us all we need to know about the direction ebay is going.
What I do not understand is that with so many sellers leaving is that it does seem they feel any impact at all. In my category lots of big players are gone. There has to be some impact being felt. I feel used, and beyond disgusted. My plans are underway. I am so embarrassed to admit I even sell on ebay. I look forward to the day I am done for good. They should be ashamed of themselves.

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by: blaumann2 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 29 23:56:10 2013

This is an example of true insanity.  

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by: Tim This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 30 00:53:39 2013

About 15% of my customers buy more than one item... but, to be honest my people are sheep.  If eBay says "YOU MUST PAY NOW or LOSE THE ITEM".  They will do so... even though they have three things to buy.  eBay reaps the reward.  The problem here is messaging, which makes me think it is on purpose - it is eBay way of getting another 30 cents from me... or worse, the 30 cents AND the FVF on the s/h that I have to refund.

It is greed or stupidity.  Or both.

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by: Paul W This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 30 01:16:44 2013

On some sites, items placed in the shopping cart are unavailable to other shoppers for a set period of time, giving the buyer a little breathing room to add other items before paying.

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by: PowerSeller2007 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 30 02:34:29 2013

Stupid ebay!   I offer ebay's fake 'FREE SHIPPING'   Others charge extras for shipping.  I hope the buyer won't NEG me on shipping charges.   Ebay behaving like a wild boar.  Doing things without thinking of their consequences.  Someone is sick in the head!

Griff, another excuse and retraction on the ebay Radio.
Make it entertaining as usual!

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