Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Thu May 30 2013 11:32:11

eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View

By: Ina Steiner

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There's a funny television ad in which a man stationed in what looks like Siberia is handling customer service for a U.S. company. He picks up the phone and tells the customer his name is Peggy in a thick accent, and of course he's quite unhelpful.

Unfortunately many of us can relate to this ad. In fact, many people now refer to customer service reps as "Peggy" in blogs and forums, no explanation needed. (That's not to say there aren't people and companies who deliver great service.) So it was with great interest that I read one particular reader's letter to me about his experience with eBay's customer service department and how it's changed over the years.



During eBay's heydays in the mid 2000's, it appeared eBay management viewed customer service as a pure expense, rather than seeing it as an investment with a positive return - why not get customers quickly back to buying and selling instead of being stuck with a problem, I often wondered after hearing horror stories from readers.

It must also be a source of frustration to eBay product managers to have people complain about features and tools they've worked hard to develop, only to have them hampered because users can't get answers to questions.

Here's one seller's experience with eBay customer service over the years. Please share your story and let us know what kind of service you receive from eBay and other companies in the ecommerce industry.

Dear Ina,
I enjoy reading your news flash. It seems you really have a good understanding from the sellers point of view. I wanted to know if you have ever covered the changes eBay made regarding seller support?

Here is the background: We have been selling on eBay for 7 years. At one time a few years back we were assigned an account manager. This person was assigned to help us increase our sales and answer our questions. That model lasted a year or so.

Then the support model changed and we were assigned to a pool of account managers that would answer the phone at the 866 number using the assigned pin. The assigned account manager and pool model worked very well for our needs. In most cases, the person we spoke to had a good grasp of the problem after you explained it and would provide a resolution quickly.

A year or so the model changed again and now when we call support we get the general eBay support team.

Needless to say calling the general support line with anything other than a very VERY basic question is like trying to nail jello to a tree. The scenario is usually this:

-We call and explain the problem.
-The person on the other side puts us on hold for 2-5+ mins asks someone a little higher up the chain than they for the answer and relays the info back to us.
-Invariably we have to re-explain the question and go through the hold process again.
-More often than not the problem we called about does not get fixed and there is no followup.

I ran a test to see what support group I would get if I was logged into my personal (not business) eBay account as a buyer. The phone number and the support group I speak with are the same as when I call using my business eBay account.

Maybe we are the only seller in this situation. On my last call to support I asked why the change in support. The rep said it has always been this way (another statement from general support that left us scratching our head yet again).

Our support needs are not enormous. We rarely need to call, but when we do it is imperative that the person on the other side be more than a relay, to a mediocre at best, expert.
Thanks,
Ed Castellanet




Comments (48) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View   eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Thu May 30 12:26:50 2013

In the past (long time ago) I did get CS that were also sellers. It was great, they knew right away what you were asking. And sometimes had great advice not related to your question.

These days it is really frustrating when the CS agents have no eBay selling experience. Many times I'm trying to find something that has been moved and renamed. Or a link to turn a feature off or on that disappeared.  

Dead silence. Then politely put on hold so they can go ask someone.


It really helps if the customer service person understands what you are asking. Not only from a language standpoint, but from the point of reference of someone who understands selling or buying on eBay. And also understands all aspects of eBay in the country the caller is from.

For example, I would be a terrible CS if someone was asking me a question about an eBay delivery or shipping question specific to England. I have no point of reference for shipping in England, even though I speak the same language.

So no matter how polite the CS reps are, no matter how hard they try to help - if the help they are able to give is questionable, it will reflect poorly on eBay.


Why can't eBay employ some of the ''work at home'' contingent who have selling experience. I would rather have a barking dog, crying baby, doorbell etc… in the background but be on the phone with someone who knows what they are talking about in regard to eBay selling or buying.

Maybe find some Yahoo employees out there that didn't want to report back to the office when ''telecommuting'' ended.

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View   eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View

by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 30 12:35:23 2013

I'm convinced Ebay uses those "Peggy" ads in training their customer service LMAO

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View   eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Thu May 30 12:44:00 2013

I sold on eBay from late 2000 to January 2008. I never qualified to have my own account manager. Whenever I called CS about a problem, and understand that I read all the relevant FAQs and policies to see if I could resolve my problem before telephoning, no CSR ever helped me, and on every occasion I knew more about eBay policies than they did. Calling eBay CS for me was always a complete waste of my time.

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View   eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View

by: Duke This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 30 14:55:20 2013

@iheartjacksparrow, that pretty much sums up my experience with eBay's CS.   I've never had an account manager, either, but  their regular CS has become ridiculous.  When I call,  the person usually just reads me the information from the public eBay help pages while complimenting me lavishly.  

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View   eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View

by: dans parts This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 30 16:34:43 2013

I've never had an account manager either, but I'm wondering what the sales volume is/was to have gotten one?  Anyone know that?

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View   eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View

This user has validated their user name. by: Island_Sam

Thu May 30 18:15:29 2013

We've been selling on ebay for about 5 years. I've had to call CS 3 or 4 times this year regarding selling issues. In my experience, CS has gotten better the last 2 or 3 times I've called. Compared to last year where I got into a shouting match with "Peggy" at least twice. I can tell Peggy was from the Philippines. One thing to note, I always get CS surveys after almost every CS call. And, I always complete the survey in the allotted time. Same goes true with Paypal CS.

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View   eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View

by: Ed This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 30 18:18:10 2013

You can't get a better group of people than ebays customer service.

Great times to remember: I once ask how I could prevent getting 1 DSR when I ship an item USPS first class mail (4 ounces) I told him I charge actual shipping and requested that the DSR be removed. I was told NO every buyer had the right to their opinion. I was told that maybe I should change my shipping carrier.

I told you they are the best.

It took no time to reply that UPS and FedEx charge much more that USPS. I was told that it sounds like you were not willing to correct the problem. I just shook my head how lucky I was to get some one with so much experience.

What would you Do?  

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View   eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View

by: Xander This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 30 20:53:13 2013

@ Dans Parts

We used to sell in ebay motors, stated in 2001. We did have an account manager at some point, I think it was around three years or so.
Having one was good for around a year but after that he lost his power to help with problems and became useless.

We were doing around 12-15K a month back then.

Now a days, we never call. Since they are so useless, why bother?

Our solution was to reduce our ebay presence year after year.

Considering ebays attitude towards sellers, it made perfect sense to move on to our own site and other venues. We mostly focus on our own site these days as venues in general are nothing more than a sink hole where your profit falls into.

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View   eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View

by: happyharry This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 30 21:06:53 2013

I think many have a cute little image of 5 or 6 people answering the phone at ebay running around asking a supervisor for help…

people get real these call centres have THOUSANDS of screeners when you are put on hold awaiting more info ..They are using a SEARCH function on their computers for answers …or your call in pushed onto a liner who has more authority to take action

Ebay customer support is for 1 section on ebay and that’s the BUYERS so don’t fool yourselves, ebay belives all sellers are expendable…

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View   eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Thu May 30 21:59:11 2013

HappyHarry's first paragraph is the image the call centers WANT to portray since that is one of two replies I usually get -- 1) must go ask a supervisor or 2) must research the problem. Anyone who has called multiple times can pretty well predict how it will go. No one is fooled on how a call center operates.

USA workers probably command too high a salary since eBay seems obliged to contract with CS in foreign (lower cost?) lands.


The last two states I lived in had numerous call centers & I knew people who worked there. Their employment always seemed tenuous - not lasting much over 2 years.

It appears that when call center wages increase to a certain point, contracts are lost & the call center lays everyone off & closes. New contract? Center opens with new name and re-hire at lower wage points.


Maybe the eBay CS contract jobs will cycle back to USA one day - when wages get low enough.  I think wages have joined selling prices in the race to the bottom : (

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View   eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View

by: freedomringsforall This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 30 22:23:04 2013

eBay customer support is a joke.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

unless you are asking a simple logistical question you might as well not even dial the number.

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View   eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View

by: Truk This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 30 22:43:47 2013

When we call Ebay support we are routed to USA based support as long as we call during business hours for ebay
We have a dedicated support group that takes our calls
It's not always the answer you want but communication is easy and we also get follow-up emails and they call us back imagine that so it's not all hopeless
Someone asked how much well about 300 K plus  

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View   eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View

by: frustrated This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 30 22:54:06 2013

In case we all forgot the commercial is for Discover, and the reason it's funny is because the SAME GUY gets back on the phone (not unlike ebay) and says HE is the supervisor "Peggy"

And soesn't bother to disguise his voice, so arrogant they think we don't know they aren't a supervisor. (not unlike ebay)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8Y6QcxhiD8

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View   eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View

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

Thu May 30 22:54:34 2013

To be honest, the CS support team are a complete waste if time and space. Invariably they don't know the answer ( that is, if they understand the problem in the first place) and frequently any answers are incorrect.

This has all happened since eBay moved customer service to a non English speaking country who barely understand the language let alone the problems.

We find eBay have the worst customer service and even telephone calls are frequently hung up on if we don't accept the CS rep answers. We can also phone several times and receive different answers each time.

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View   eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View

by: Just Plain Irritated This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 30 23:03:22 2013

I recently had a Seller Outreach Session because I was concerned about some measuring diagrams and instructions that are a part of our product photos.  We added them to help our customers, and it has nearly eliminated the endless questions we used to get.

I had not received any warnings from eBay, like the two we got for photos which were too small, so The Seller Outreach person thought they should be OK, but since we can't chance having most of our listings taken down, we want to be sure.

The Seller Outreach person was not certain if they would be OK and meet the new photo guidelines, so she told me to do the following:

Call regular Customer Support, ask to talk to Tech Support and have them take a look at my concerns.

So-----  I called, asked for Tech Support and SHE (Christine) asked what my problem was and then informed me she had no line to transfer me to tech.  She said she would need an example listing, would forward it and the question to them, and then wait for them to get back to her, and she get back to me.

So---- here I set, waiting for an answer that I will be astonished if it comes, with 400+ listings that I am concerned about.

I can't figure out WHY the Seller Outreach person gave me specific instructions on what to say to the CSR to get to TECH Support, unless she knew I could talk with them about this issue. Maybe the CSR was the problem, although she seemed very nice and understanding.

A little while ago, I received the usual eBay survey about the Customer support I received on the call I made yesterday, stating I talked to ''Immanuel'' (I talked to Christine), so I have very little faith in getting an answer.  Sure hope it wasn't just a run around.

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View   eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View

by: msiscoe This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 30 23:06:41 2013

I would rather shoot myself in the foot than call eBay "support". I have been a Top Rated Seller for over 5 years, and obviously work very hard to maintain that status.

This is just one recent encounter I had with eBay customer "support".

I sold a very expensive Lalique Crystal Vase. It was damaged in shipping, however was insured through eBay's Ship Saver Insurance.

The first I knew there was a problem is when the buyer immediately opened a case in the resolution center. He stated "I always feel this is best".

The buyer first accused me of hiding the damage in my listing.

Then, he realized I had photos of all angles, so that accusation was out.

Next, he accused me of poor packing, as I recycle boxes and peanuts, even though it was VERY well packed.

Finally, I assured him I would issue a immediate refund once I knew he had cooperated with the insurance company.

Well, even though I have directions in all of my listings what to do in case of damage, he through the box and packing materials away....you see, he never bothered to actually read my listing, or even view all of the photos.

I called eBay support, and was told once the case was escalated, the case would be put on hold, and the buyer would be required to cooperate with the insurance carrier.

Of course, when the buyer escalated the case, eBay immediately ruled in his favor, and even sent him a return shipping label to send the broken glass back to me.

I had to appeal the case, and the appeal was granted, but you see eBay customer support was telling the buyer one thing, and me another, exposing me to negative feedback, and low dsr's.

Every time I called eBay, I had to explain the whole situation anew to each representative, who immediately put me on hold....

It was the most frustrating experience.

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View   eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 30 23:07:54 2013

IF I could get my listings SEEN perhaps I could  make that 300k-plus just like TRUK!!!!

But I can't--and in part because of ebays ridiculous CSR problems.

I  wish some one like Michael Moore would do an "Undercover" on ebay-out-of-country call centers.  

I would LOVE to see how these people are "trained".

When I call I get hold times that re almost an HOUR--and the ebay phone system has an AUTO HANG UP feature that disconnects at---59 MINUTES.  Religiously.  Planned that well didn't they.

And when you DO get hold of one they are ignorant of all rules and policies EXCEPT to bad mouth--in an ever-so-polite way--the SELLER who pays their salary.  According to them sellers are NEVER right;  we are always doing whatever we are doping WRONG--they are ALL ebay sellers too and KNOW this--um--don't THINK so!  

If you are lucky and ALL of the stars align and you get a NATIVE BORN ENGLISH SPEAKER I have noticed that recently even these formerly nice young kids from UTAH have gotten snarky.

That takes a lot---to turn people who are RAISED to be polite and helpful into nasty and surly! I asked one of the how come he KNEW what he was doing (with my account) was WRONG--and yet he STILL was doing it!  And I also asked one of them HOW she slept at night doing the vile things to sellers--like refusal to remove FB that was left--shocker--"Illegally".

Give me better customer service and I would be HAPPY to pay for it.

Best customer service BY FAR--AMAZON.
Next is HSBC--an Asian bank and even tho their CSR's are almost ALL Asian I have NEVER had a problem language-wise OR getting my problem across and SOLVED

Worst-
Ebay
Verizon
DTV


And yet--Paypal (owned by--ebay!!!)   has always had (for me) great customer service--I haven't had all that many needs to call about but when I do I get a HUMAN right away;  one that speaks ENGLISH--and they are polite and HELPFUL.

Wonder why that is?  Could it be--nah---the money????

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View   eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View

This user has validated their user name. by: askalice59

Thu May 30 23:29:33 2013

Just yesterday I called CS to get them to fix the fact that they had taken away my Top Rated Seller status in error. They were counting items combined in shipping as not having tracking info uploaded. I was like WTH so I had them call me and waited about 10 minutes for the callback.

It was a call center person doing their best to use standard english. She read the script to me several times. I said, listen, I only ship with tracking and I buy my labels through eBay. She proceeded to tell me I had to upload the tracking info. I explained how it works 3 times as calmly as I could. Finally I asked her if she had ever sold an item on eBay. No answer. She agreed that it was an error. Then she put me on hold for several minutes before she disconnected the call. SHE HUNG UP ON ME!!!

I requested another call right away and at 10pm, approximately 4 hours later someone left an auto message on my phone asking me to contact eBay if I needed to. I only sold 51 items in the last quarter and they said 11 items were not shipped on time or had no tracking. How convenient.  

The call center people I have spoken with are powerless to make any changes to your account. Their prime directive is to put you off with the script which is designed to make you appear at fault or ignorant of the rules. That is why she put me on hold. She could not help me and she had no other course. She also can't deviate from the script.

I felt sorry for her. Why does all this remind me of Soilent Green?  

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View   eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View

by: auctionguy This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 30 23:52:01 2013

Ebay customer support has gone the way of quality of imported goods. Cheap is better than good. It's a win-win situation for ebay. Ebay saves money by having a call center in a country with low labor rates. The sellers get frustrated with the lack of answers from customer support, the long wait times, the difficulty is being able to understand the CSR because they don't speak English fluently, and the resulting indifference by sellers to call again, as it is a waste of time to get no answers to their questions. Ebay wins by needing fewer CSRs. It's a waste of time to call customer support. It's another waste of time to answer the survey, as nothing is done to improve things. And ebay thinks they are doing fine because they get fewer calls.

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View   eBay Customer Support from a Seller's Point of View

by: Tiffee Jasso This user has validated their user name.

Fri May 31 00:19:39 2013

I have had to call Ebay several times in the last few months and every time, I called, I got a person that spoke perfect English and was able to take care of whatever problem I had. Problems varied from fees to listing problems and buyer problems. On my part, I would say it has gotten better this year.  

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