Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Tue July 2 2013 15:10:37

Nervous Buyer Blames Seller for eBay Policy SNAFU

By: Ina Steiner

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What would you do if you were awaiting an important eBay purchase and it appeared the seller was dragging his heels in sending it? Now imagine if the item was a gift for someone's birthday and you purchased it online because of an estimated delivery date that gave you a cushion of 3 days?

That's the scenario described by an eBay buyer on the eBay boards but, unbeknownst to her, the SNAFU was on eBay's side, not the seller. The angst that played out on the discussion boards was due to eBay's practice of displaying unrealistic estimated delivery dates on sellers' listings.

I had described eBay's practice in this June 17th Newsflash article. eBay is ignoring sellers' settings for handling time, which helps shoppers determine how long it will take to receive an item. Instead, eBay appears to be using the average time it takes for a seller's packages to arrive and are using that in factoring the delivery estimate displayed in the seller's listings.

Seeing the repercussions from an actual buyer's point of view, and how eBay customer service handled the issue, brought the problem into even sharper focus.

The buyer was growing increasingly worried said she was concerned that the seller might not ship the item at all and might refuse to refund her money, and she was looking for advice. Other users quickly spotted the problem - the listing showed that eBay displayed an estimated delivery of 3 days, despite the fact the seller had indicated a 3-day handling time.

Despite other people advising her that the seller had done nothing wrong, and that eBay's estimated delivery dates were off, the buyer remained concerned and said she was considering filing a claim. She contacted eBay and the customer service rep told her that the seller should have contacted her to let her know of a "delay in shipping." The eBay rep also asked the buyer if she wanted to file a buyer protection case.

Interestingly, neither the buyer nor the eBay rep accounted for the fact that the estimated delivery date uses business days - the buyer was wondering why the seller hadn't mailed the item on a Sunday.

In the midst of this, a reader wrote to me: "Yet another change in My eBay. This time the Order Details page has been pointlessly rearranged and the shipping estimates are inclusive of the day the sale happened. Even on items that are shipped via Media Mail. "Order placed on Monday, July 1, 2013. Estimated delivery Monday, July 1, 2013 - Saturday, July 6, 2013.""




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Readers Comments

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by: walrus2646 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 2 15:43:15 2013

"Pretty much" same scenario happened to me - I am "pretty much" done with eBay after 16 years

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by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 2 15:43:53 2013

Only a fool would buy mail order in a time critical situation.  That's just ridiculous.

She should have gone out and bought the item locally.  

Now the seller who did everything right is on the hook for assumptions of others.

Ridiculous.

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

Tue Jul 2 15:45:43 2013

It's always, always about the money, and this is intentional. Not even ebay could be this stupid.

Its purpose is knock down seller DSRs to eliminate discounts and to force ebay sellers in adopting the coming same day shipping 'option' which could have the effect of eliminating still more discounts.

Rich Matsuura: still MIA.

Is this Brian Burke's work?

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by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 2 16:28:46 2013

A new wrinkle.

Order Details
Order placed on Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Estimated delivery Tuesday, July 2, 2013 - Sunday, July 7, 2013

In addition to same day delivery, these nitwits are promising buyers delivery on Sundays.

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

Tue Jul 2 16:39:43 2013

More of eBay's brand of special stupidity and yet another reason why we're shutting down our eBay biz after 12 years on the site. Bye bye eBay!

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

Tue Jul 2 16:45:09 2013

I guess the business principle of under-promise and then over deliver is lost on the powers that be on eBay.

Seems to me that Griff once offered this same advice to eBay sellers: under promise and then over deliver. Does he even still work there?

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Tue Jul 2 16:51:48 2013

Unfortunately, there is not one single individual at eBay who has any compunction about throwing a seller under the bus.

eBay's nasty habit of setting unrealistic buyer expectations is intentional.

Contrary to eBay's statements otherwise, this is an intentional maneuver which was purposefully implemented so that eBay has an excuse to boot more sellers out of the Top Rated Plus program.

If eBay spent as much time implementing things that help sellers be successful instead of focusing on how to denigrate already successful sellers, eBay would become a significantly more successful marketplace.

John Donahoe wants to be dismissive of the "noise", however that "noise" from sellers is the result of the many blunders imported management has committed in the name of destructive innovation.

eBay needs a new broom wielding  CEO and an entirely new C Level management team. The new bodies must have ecommerce experience, and their compensation packages and stock awards tied directly to the genuine rate of increase in eBay's transactional volume.

Unless and until a new management team is put into place which is laser focused on increasing transactional growth for all sellers, eBay is going to continue to lag behind growth rates as seen over at Amazon.

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Tue Jul 2 17:02:23 2013

Agree with Steevo. Any person would be crazy to buy through the mail unless there was several weeks' of lead time. Not even Express Mail can be counted on. I had a buyer who wanted to be sure she had the item with a couple of days so she had me send it Express Mail. For some reason, not due to weather or any other discernable event, her package got routed to a completely different state, got stuck there, and then finally was delivered seven days later. As it turned out, she probably would have received her item if I'd just sent it first class mail. (I did get the Express Mail postage refunded to her.)

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by: mazelgirl This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 2 17:12:48 2013

Same thing happened to me. I sold a duffel and did ship the same day--even thought my  TOS say the next business day.    After the buyer bought the duffel she emailed me to tell me she was leaving on a vacation the day after eBay said the duffel would arrive.  It worked out fine--but only because I got it out the morning she bought it-and the USPS got it out quickly  If I'd waited until the next day the person most likely would have been on vacation without the duffel. I don't know why she didn't buy local or why eBay gives the dates they do.  

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by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 2 17:40:50 2013

Since I have no intention of trying to meet the unrealistic buyer's expectations eBay is promoting, I'm thinking of putting this slogan on my listings.
''If you want it today, go away.''

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This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Tue Jul 2 18:05:50 2013

Most times I ship same day. I try to cover my tail by sending an email to the buyer once the item has been shipped. That way they know it is indeed on the way.


I don't even send the email until I get back home from shipping the item. You never know, I could get struck by lightening on the way to USPS. In that event I've instructed Mr. Basset to check for a pulse, then go ship any labeled packages sitting around.

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by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 2 18:16:36 2013

Please have Mr. Basset take you to the hospital first as we like you around here basset.
MH
When I drop dead in line at the post office I have instructed my friends at the post office to call 911, and then to please ship my packages

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Tue Jul 2 19:57:33 2013

@Basset - I do the same as you with regard to tracking numbers: Never send them to the buyer until I am back from the post office. I don't drive, so I have to walk to the post office, and the way people drive in California, there's always a chance someone will hit me as I'm crossing the street.  

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by: TomH This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 2 21:05:26 2013

I agree with most that eBay is intentionally screwing up the delivery estimates and misleading buyers.

However also, the buyer written about in the post unfortunately typifies the average eBay buyer I run across these days - a bit stupid and winy.  

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by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 2 21:54:17 2013

Apparently, eBay thinks they look good by promising something that sellers can't realistically deliver. The obvious flaw with this is that buyer's are just as likely to end up being dissatisfied with eBay in general, instead of merely being dissatisfied with a particular seller.

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by: OnlyPollyPocket This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 2 23:36:42 2013

Since that narcissistic, dim bulb took the reins at ebay beginning his tenure with calling concerned sellers ''noise'' and beginning his reign of ''disruptive innovation'', I decided that I would ''adapt''...until it was time not to adapt.

In the past two months, my STR on ebay has dropped from 60-70% (on the low months!) to 10-15%.

This ''disruption'' has taken so many forms having sellers jumping through hoops to please ebay (my customers are more than happy with the service I provide without ebay's interference).  Now this giving buyers impossible expectations at the expense of sellers just may herald the time when many of us will fold up our tents and steal away into the night.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Wed Jul 3 08:41:51 2013

So when a seller has his/her vacation settings on, does this unrealistic estimation of delivery still exist?  I'm guessing so.

If eBay keep heading in the direction that they are headed, I predict one day, when sales are abysmal (that day may be here), eBay will be begging sellers to come back and spouting out "we listened".  It will be too late.  Sellers will laugh in their face. No one will forget the way that they have been treated. No sane company treats their customers this way.

I have no sympathy though for a buyer who buys on-line at the last minute.  Any time I get an email from a buyer stating "I need this in two days" I immediately send them packing.  I refuse to make someone else's poor planning my problem.

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by: Truk This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 3 09:24:16 2013

I understand many think Ebay is intentionally setting up sellers to fail

But I think things are much more serious than that I believe they really think they are doing the right thing

Concerns from disgruntled sellers as a rusult go unanswered  as in the grand scheme of things the vocal are a small percentage to Ebay

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This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Wed Jul 3 09:30:02 2013

Thanks MH.

Like you & IHjacksparrow indicate (and many others who post here) - eBay has had the fortune to have a lot of dedicated sellers under their umbrella.

That dedication SHOULD be treated as a valuable asset, and encouraged. Not constantly pulling that umbrella away to leave the sellers to weather the storm without protection.



Rexford speaks of abysmal sales - I think one barometer of the health of our sales is just how much comment activity ebbs & flows on this blog.

Always an excellent info site & blogs, I do think that when comments come forth in large numbers, it can be a reflection of just how much time sellers have on their hands.

No business to conduct, so grab a cup of coffee & see what's up at the Ecommercebytes virtual café. Enjoy the company of others. Pass the brownies.


BTW, Today I notice the ''popular on eBay'' feed (for me anyway) seems to be all Pressure Cookers - A bit ominous.


Back to OP's subject: I did read the new Priority Mail time frames starting in July. I wonder if eBay is trying to absorb that in their estimated delivery.


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

Wed Jul 3 10:16:08 2013

Truk observes: ''...as in the grand scheme of things the vocal are a small percentage to Ebay''

You're probably correct about that... but it doesn't tell the whole story or paint an accurate picture.

Instead, I think it's worth pointing out that even though there may be a ''small percentage'' of *vocally* disgruntled and disaffected sellers... the undeniable fact remains that MANY, MANY more rank-and-file sellers (outside of the vocal group) are ALSO affected.

Why are they silent? --- Are they actually doing okay? Do they approve?

If they're anything like I once was, they probably fall into one (or more) of several different categories:

-- People who fear rocking-the-boat.
-- People who fear retribution from eBay.
-- People who believe things will get better.
-- People who believe that it's their own fault.
-- People who believe that eBay is their only option.
-- People who don't know how to diversify.
-- People who fear diversifying.
-- People who fear taking risks.

There are likely MANY more categories, but all the ones I listed above described ME at one time. Those were the reasons that I remained silent (and paralyzed) for so long.

It's definitely a mistake for people to believe (and for eBay execs and policy-makers to assume) that simply because the ''vocally disgruntled'' appear to be a small percentage of sellers... there are VERY MANY ''silently disgruntled'' sellers who simply endure without publicly complaining.

Or, in some cases, they'll just quietly abandon eBay and move on to other sites (or make their own site) without feeling compelled to storm-out and loudly slam the door behind them as they go.

Or... their eBay business fails (or eBay forces them out) and they just disappear without a trace.

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