Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Tue May 14 2013 17:15:13

Is eBay Doing a Better Job Catching Bad Buyers?

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay has done its best to reassure shoppers worried about bad sellers on its marketplace, but some of those shoppers have figured out how to game the system unfairly, especially after eBay took away sellers' ability to leave negative or neutral feedback for buyers.

With no consequences to their feedback reputation, some buyers have gotten bolder about making unreasonable demands of sellers, including partial or full refunds or even a second item to replace supposedly faulty products.



eBay now claims it is seeing positive results after improving a feature that lets sellers report bad buyers. This month eBay has been sending emails to sellers telling them it increased buyer account suspensions and restrictions from October 2012 to March 2013:

Buyer account suspensions have increased by 900%
Buyer restrictions have increased by 450%
We've protected the seller performance ratings of
over 100,000 sellers. (Check your seller dashboard to track
how your own seller performance ratings have been protected.)


eBay credits its own policies, detection systems, and dedicated Seller Protection team, as well as an enhanced "Report a Buyer" feature resulting in more reports submitted by sellers (though it did not disclose how many more).

I'd be interested to learn how many readers actually use the "Report a Buyer" feature and what happens as a result.

Have you been impacted by bad buyers, and has the problem gotten better? Worse? Remained the same?




Comments (71) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Is eBay Doing a Better Job Catching Bad Buyers?   Is eBay Doing a Better Job Catching Bad Buyers?

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 14 18:03:18 2013

Total %100 BS

Its similar to then Pres Clinton saying what the deinition of IS is.

Bad buyers are the ones that eBay is forced under duress to remove - not ones that "just deserve it".

The obvious question is "What is a bad buyer"?

One that doesnt pay? Well eBay fixed 1/2 that problem but didnt do a complete job (as usual).

One that gives a positive feedback but negative DSRs? (is that even still possible?

One that waits till the 45th day to neg a seller but never file a complaint either in eBay or paypal?

Reporting a buyer is like reporting an item - useless and they know it.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Island_Sam

Tue May 14 18:08:58 2013

We've been using the report buyer functionality. We have been notified by ebay that they took action with certain sellers (no info on which seller) Also, there's been a big increase in returns from buyers, about a 60% increase. Some are flat out lying about the condition of the item. We ARE experiencing an impact in our business. We feel that some buyers are now exploiting ebay's liberal return policy.

Perminate Link for Is eBay Doing a Better Job Catching Bad Buyers?   Is eBay Doing a Better Job Catching Bad Buyers?

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Tue May 14 18:25:21 2013

No buyer issues lately, knock on wood. One NPB is all - I can't even remember if I reported them or not. Seems like that should automatically show up on eBay's radar.


Recently I have had a consistently better experience with buyers - but I think it is partially due to going to a   return policy.

For the first several years of business I had a ''no return'' policy. Although I miss an issue now & then, in some cases buyers were clearly abusive.


After some research, I gave 14 day ''any reason'' returns a try.
Returns seem to come in spurts but I'm talking a couple a month at most. So far they have all been on a friendly basis - even gained some new repeat customers.   In my case, I'm having a better experience with buyer behavior than when I had a ''no returns'' policy.  

Of course that could change in an instant, and returns certainly may not be the same experience or fit for everyone.

It would be hard to measure if eBay's actions are having some effect. There is really no way to know!

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This user has validated their user name. by: TFG

Tue May 14 19:04:55 2013

I've tried a few times to use the ''Report a Buyer'' feature. Every time I attemped it, I got an eBay error page. The ''Report a Buyer'' feature works just about as well as most things on eBay.

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by: Truk This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 14 19:34:41 2013

We sell mostly higher end industrial items
We get some kind of scam several times a month
We have called ebay as a scam develops or happen's
I have yet to see any evidence of any seller protection on ebay

It's always the same ebay will add the buyer to ebay's secret list of bad bad buyer's and they will watch these bad buyer's for more proof they are bad buyer's

Then I get kinda confused what happen's next to these "Bad Buyers" either they go on a different list or get a really stern email kinda thing so they just get a new buying ID  

Perminate Link for Is eBay Doing a Better Job Catching Bad Buyers?   Is eBay Doing a Better Job Catching Bad Buyers?

by: happyharry This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 14 19:41:43 2013

This shows by ebays own admission that there is a HUGE problem with buyers on their platform…the home of fraudsters as we all know far too well and have bitterly complained about for years.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Merciful Minga

Tue May 14 20:19:02 2013

The ''Report a Buyer'' feature does not work.

It just doesn't.

Besides, from past experiences with EB, if you report something or someone, they might look into it and then find something bad in Your store, so now, I just turn my cheek the other way and move on. Sad butt true.

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

Tue May 14 22:05:37 2013

I've reported three buyers and haven't a clue what the outcome was.

Still far too many returns for flimsy reasons. Some are legitimate but most are caused from buyers not reading descriptions, buyers wanting to rent merchandise, buyers' remorse, and even transaction interference when another seller contacts the buyer offering a lower price on the same item.

If the criminal syndicate didn't have so many gotcha fees like the 30 cent non refundable PreyPal fee, likely multiple ebafia relisting fees after the first one to re sell the item, and another 30 cent PreyPal fee when the item sells again, the impact of returns would be less.

Sellers should have to the ability leave anonymous buyer ratings including the ability to record returns.

If buyers knew their returns were being closely monitored, I think returns would be lessened. Some of the country's largest chains keep records of returns to minimize abuse, and ebafia should do this as well.

The entire feedback system needs to be overhauled with a lot of seller input.

Perminate Link for Is eBay Doing a Better Job Catching Bad Buyers?   Is eBay Doing a Better Job Catching Bad Buyers?

This user has validated their user name. by: Forestt

Tue May 14 22:28:26 2013

My biggest hassle with selling on eBay is non-paying buyers. This month, May 2013 has been my slowest month of sales in 13 years AND I've had more non-paying buyers than ever before. Over $560 in unpaid items this month alone.

With slow eBay sales, there's no way in the world I can afford to exclusively list my items on eBay, but when an eBay buyer makes a purchase I have to wait at least 8 days for payment, meaning my item can't be sold elsewhere.

I really have no problems with returns or scam artists. My biggest problems with eBay are lack of traffic, exorbitant fees, lack of adequate customer service and non-paying buyers. All tell-tale signs that eBay is headed towards teh grave no matter what their department of spin says about mobile, Pyapl, etc leading the new future for eBay. This company is foul.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Forestt

Tue May 14 22:34:24 2013

I agree with Ming,

''The entire feedback system needs to be overhauled''

On other sites i sell on, a non-paying buyer gets an automatic negative feedback. For heaven's sake, if there's any reason a buyer should deserve a negative, it's non-payment.

eBay is so stupid, they cater to the few bad buyers instead of making their site a better experience for sellers. who incidentally, they collect fees from.

eBay just refuses to listen to sellers' input. They're digging their own grave. Just like with Enron, later than sooner, the FTC and other government agencies will step in to curb eBay's clandestine activities. eBay is far too ''public'' to not have regulators step in. It's only a mater of time before the whole house of cards collapses.

Perminate Link for Is eBay Doing a Better Job Catching Bad Buyers?   Is eBay Doing a Better Job Catching Bad Buyers?

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

Tue May 14 22:36:54 2013

I received one of these vague emails from ebafia about "seller protection" with the same meaningless statistics.

By meaningless I mean they were about a enlightening as ebafia trumpeting their 18% sales "increase."

If ebafia hides behind the curtain of "privacy," sellers will have little hard data to judge the effectiveness or thereof of their "seller protection" programs.

I wonder why it is when I see or hear the term "seller protection" I think of the "protection" the mafia offered 'customers,' and the vig their customers had to pay.

Perminate Link for Is eBay Doing a Better Job Catching Bad Buyers?   Is eBay Doing a Better Job Catching Bad Buyers?

by: mjr55 This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 14 22:44:24 2013

Ebay and Amazon seem to be trying to one-up each other in terms of protecting sellers.

Amazon started by removing all feedback that are product reviews, obscene language, etc. I think they have a very good and more importantly....fair...feedback policy.

Ebay now has stopped counting opened cases....definitely a step in the right direction.

I wish Amazon would follow suit with Ebay and stop counting opened A to Z claims unless they have been closed in buyer's favor. We get too many claims where the buyer never contacted us (even though Amazon is normally really good about encouraging buyers to contact the seller first). That being said, from our experience.

Ebay needs to take a more pro-active approach with removing feedback that shouldn't have been left....not necessarily because the buyer did not contact the seller first...but feedback that is about dissatisfaction with an item even though the seller's services and description were accurate.

This will only serve to make sellers feel more secure and really does result in buyers getting a better buying experience.

Ebay has made some strides in customer service....but they still aren't Amazon.

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by: bunnspec This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 14 23:17:42 2013

In nearly 10 years of my growing knowledge of ebays 'practices' I have seen them devolve into  appearances of soundness, for the investors eyes only. The loyalty is gone, no dividends, no transparency-just a house of cards that can't hold up to the winds of investors bailing; The MBAs don't care, they have no genuine longterm plan of action, just itchin' to activate their Golden Parachutes...

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by: rstpete This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 14 23:33:10 2013

Seller protect is a slap in the face.  Total joke.  The report a bad buyer does NOTHING.  

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by: rstpete This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 14 23:40:09 2013

Hey, its ebay - all buyers are 100% positive gold plated saints.  What happened to the promise that ebay was going to make buyer contact sellers before opening a complaint.  Oh, ya, instead they made any contact an automatic complaint.  Wonderful work ebay. Thats the way to show the non-existent bad buyers!

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by: AgendaSwallowsAll This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 15 01:00:10 2013

Smoke & Mirrors B.S. Well over 2,000 Reports sent on sellers in clear violation of ebay's TOS and multiple reports sent re: 4 Bad buyers, 3 of which were clearly competing sellers who had set us up, the 4th a death threat which is per ebay grounds for immediate account closure.

We still have all of ours negatives with the attached DSR's and 2,000 plus reports on sellers in violation have resulted in nothing.

There is no one at the other end of those report functions, it's Smoke & Mirrors fluff just as is ebay's statement of cleaning the site up.

Perminate Link for Is eBay Doing a Better Job Catching Bad Buyers?   Is eBay Doing a Better Job Catching Bad Buyers?

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Wed May 15 02:49:30 2013

The numbers quoted in the OP look great to those that have no idea what it is like for sellers on Ebay.  For Ebay, it is easy to show such exciting numbers.  BUT and OH yes there is a BUT, what they fail to tell you is what the numbers were BEFORE.

So showing / stating these huge percentage increases is pretty darn easy when you weren't doing much of anything before.  So just by doing a limited amount, they were able to achieve these percentages.  But again, they don't mean a darn thing without knowing what the old numbers were to begin with.

While I do believe Ebay is doing more than they use to do about non payer, they still are no where near doing enough.  And I'm not so sure they really ever will.

Something to understand about this.  Even when a buyer doesn't pay, Ebay does not reduce total sales for that period of time by that sale that never got paid for.  And many sellers don't or won't file UIDs, so in many cases it is a win win for Ebay.  They keep the fees and they get to report how good sales are.  This is my personal opionion of why they have never done much about this problem.

Now the scamming buyers is a different breed all together.  Ebay needs to be far more active in this area than they have been or are now.  Lots of sellers are being hurt by this behavior and Ebay does not move fast enough to make a real dent in this problem.

As for using the "report buyer" function.  I personally have found that pretty useless.  Each time I have tried to use that function, somewhere between 4 and 7 days later I get an email from Ebay telling me NO ONE read the email and that if I want action, call.  

AS for their protection of our performance ratings, that is beyond laughable.  At every turn they do something that is potentially harmful to a seller in regards to DSRs.  Whether it is these so called ETA dates, FB reminders, or whatever.  They are always doing and saying stuff to undermind the seller.  Leave it alone.  So many things they do is not necessary to the function of Ebay or the security of Ebay, but has everything to do with micro managing sellers.

If Ebay was sincere about helping to protect sellers, they would have already fixed these lop sided rules.  Here is an good example.

When a buyer doesn't pay and a seller files the proper UIDs.  Lets say this buyer bought 15 items.  Then the buyer pays before the UID closes.  Comes along and then leaves positive FB for the seller but dings some of the DSRs on all 15 FB they leave.  Those DSRs count all 15 times against that seller.

Now if we had this same type situation, but the buyer did NOT pay.  The seller closes the UIDs for non payment.  The buyer gets ONE [yes ONE] strike against them, NOT 15.

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

Wed May 15 08:39:10 2013

Marie NAILS-IT! when she writes: ''BUT and OH yes there is a BUT, what they fail to tell you is what the numbers were BEFORE.''

Yes! The very moment I saw the boastful statement of ''we've protected the seller performance ratings of over 100,000 sellers'' my *first* thought was about the fate of ALL the sellers who had NOT been protected!

How many are there? If eBay is proud of ''protecting'' 100-thousand sellers during this brief 6-month period... what can we deduce about the YEARS prior?

How accurate are these numbers? What criteria does eBay use to determine that a seller's performance rating has been ''protected''?

Is this number inflated? Are we to assume that 100-thousand sellers have had bad FB and low DSR's *removed* or *reversed*? (ie: ACTUAL abuse)

Or, is eBay exaggerating the number by also including buyer-abuse that never happened? In other words, is eBay saying ''hey, the buyer didn't leave low DSR's for you, so obviously our 'protection-policy' is working! Add one more to our running total!''

The whole thing is a HOT MESS, and Marie's examples (in the last two paragraphs) clearly show WHY.

These are problems that are EASILY IDENTIFIABLE... these are issues that sellers have complained about for YEARS. The solutions are OBVIOUS... yet nothing substantive is done. Why?

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Wed May 15 09:12:24 2013

@ Annie

And what is 100,000 against millions of members.  Although I don't know how many members Ebay actually has, I've seen reports of 88 to 100 million active users worldwide.  Again, I have no idea how accurate those numbers are, but that is a whole lot of members.  And 100,000 against that is an extremely small number.

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by: coindealz This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 15 09:23:13 2013

Ebay actually is starting to suspend bad buyers. I had a buyer contact me with nasty emails about how the item is not worth the $$$ and requests for a better deal outside ebay. I reported him and he was NARU several days later. This is obviously an extreme case though. I think that ebay still lets buyers abuse returns with theats of bad feedback or ratings.

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