Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon Sept 23 2013 22:50:37

Should eBay Dictate Seller Terms?

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay has been pushing sellers to offer terms and conditions favorable to buyers, including pressuring them to offer free shipping. Now eBay is, in at least some cases, dictating seller terms.

Its new User Agreement forces new sellers to use eBay's Managed Returns process and gives it the right to impose Managed Returns on all sellers - "We may automatically apply the eBay returns process to listings where returns are accepted." (See Tuesday's EcommerceBytes Newsflash for more on this.)

But beyond eBay's policies, what exactly are its practices?

I spoke to a seller today who said eBay refunded her buyer without the buyer having to ship the item to her. She had agreed to a return and indicated she would issue a refund to the buyer once she received the item - all according to eBay accepted policy.

But only 2 days after agreeing to accept the return, eBay refunded the buyer and closed the case, despite the fact she hadn't yet received the item from the buyer. She is now out the item and the money (nearly $400), and the buyer gets a free product.



eBay refunded another of her buyers for non-delivery, stating she failed to provide tracking information, despite eBay's own report showing the tracking information - and that the package had indeed been delivered.

The post office had attempted delivery unsuccessfully, and the buyer then opened a case when they didn't receive the item. The seller provided tracking information whereupon the buyer picked up the item at the post office, and the next day, eBay refunded the buyer and closed the case, writing, "We received insufficient tracking info from you. You must provide tracking info in the Resolution Center before a case gets escalated." But the information shows the case was escalated the day after the seller provided the tracking number.

The seller said eBay had suspended her account for reasons she has been unable to understand before refunding these two transactions. She said she had been selling items "as is," and believes that was what ultimately got her account in hot water.

Longtime readers might remember Bargainland, a poster child for eBay's change in stance when it came to selling broken or untested items "as is." The company left eBay in 2007 when eBay began its shift away from auctions and began its move toward offering a more "retail like" experience. eBay couldn't figure out how to advertise a "safe" marketplace while allowing an auction/liquidation environment at the same time.

The seller I spoke with today, who'd grossed $10,000/month on eBay, learned this lesson for herself last week. But she said buyers still turn to eBay for broken items they can use for parts.

Her frustration with eBay is that customer service would not give her a straight answer as to why the company suspended her account. And she said, "There shouldn't be a policy where eBay refunds item when the seller works within the system."

Should eBay have leeway to decide when to refund buyers when they open a claim, and does it generally get things right? Or does eBay go too far in acting on sellers' behalf when it is "only a venue?"  Let us know your experiences with eBay when it comes to setting your terms and conditions.




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by: NetWatch This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 23 23:19:36 2013

What are the longterm overall consequences of all of the actions ebay had taken against sellers since 2008, including the most recent purge of 15,000? I can tell you it does not make those small sellers' mother or wife or brother or cousin want to buy or sell on ebay. The adverse publicity on a word-of-mouth level is incalculable. Anyone know the negative impact of a "whisper campaign" of negative gossip? 20 years ago a false rumor got started that Jack in The Box fast food restaurant was serving horse meat instead of beef. It wasn't true and was quickly addressed and satisfactorilly dismissed as being false. Yet sales dropped nationwide at various Jack in the Box restaurants for several months, and a few locations went under on acount of it. So ebay has succeeeded in tarnishing its image with a large segment of the population... and if they continue with the DSR system as it now operates and they continue with further purges and they continue limiting item visibility as they have granted themselves permission to due in the new user update, LOOK FOR EBAY STOCK VALUE TO DROP LIKE A LEAD BALLOON.

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by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 23 23:30:50 2013

Why not google ''Tortious breech''?

I think that's what we have here.  

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by: sellerfish This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Sep 23 23:51:39 2013

A new, zero FB buyer has purchased 30 items and has now opened a return a defective item case for all $3100 of products.
Just received back some junk and 2 of the original 30 items so I complained about buyer to ebay...
Based on some past experiences, I am not confident. I will keep you posted

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by: spirit-of-shiloh This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 23 23:52:35 2013

If eBay EVER gives my future buyer a refund BEFORE I receive the item back I will sue their pants off. How the HELL DARE they?????

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by: Gina This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 23 23:54:04 2013

IF Jack in the box had been shut down at the time, they would never have been responsible for killing a few kids and elderly by serving half-cooked burgers a few years later.  Maybe eBay needs to be shut down before they can kill more family's sole income!  Naturally, another company will come on the scene to "gobble up" all of eBay's disgruntled sellers....  And that may be a good thing!

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by: Gina This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 23 23:55:39 2013

sue eBay?  What lawyer would dare do that?!  Sure, run full steam at a charging locomotive with hundreds of lawyers behind it!  eBay knows it can do what ever it wants...and it does!

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by: spirit-of-shiloh This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 24 00:07:47 2013

Sue eBay???I live in Calif. and ther IS a way,trust me ;)

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by: NetWatch This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 24 00:09:13 2013

People, there's enough TORTIOUS INTERFERENCE going on at ebay that enough sustained calls to the FTC should get an investigation into ebay going. Call them www.ftc.gov If you don't know what's going on at ebay, go back and read Ina's articles and these blog threads from the past several weeks. Then make the call, ESPECIALLY if you are an ebay seller being impacted.

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by: BlueHoundAuctions This user has validated their user name.
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Tue Sep 24 00:44:37 2013

Well, I can tell you that we put 10 items on ebay.com, 7 did not sell, three sold, and within the 90 days - the 3 items were given to the buyer for free.

I did not have any kind if items at all returned.  eBay did not care about that.

So we are out $200, and eBay still has not fixed the problem.

We left ebay three years ago and came back to sell off items that don't sell well on other venues - and now that we have been defrauded - that ended our relationship.

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by: BlueHoundAuctions This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 24 00:47:38 2013

Look at it like this - there is enough interference in which it makes eBay an Online Auctioneer.  Which, in our state, requires a license.

Which, by the way - is coming.  When it happens - I plan on going nuts with marketing - because we are licensed.

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by: ySirTinLee This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 24 00:51:09 2013

I've worked in direct sales for many years as an independent contractor. It is my understanding, unless the law has changed, that a principle or project owner, can not dictate how, when or where a contractor sells goods or services.   When they do, the IRS considers the relationship to be one of employer/employee and the principle is thus responsible for all employment ramifications (including taxes, disability insurance, etc.)  I say this because I believe, one of these days, the IRS is going to recognize eBay as a good source of tax income because of eBay policies.  I could be wrong, but that's how I see it.

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by: ethan_au This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 24 01:46:20 2013

this is just another perfect example how misinformed and ill conceived policies create havoc for sellers.    Its not enough we pay fees for listings that are only visible when eBay chooses or put up with constant glitches in the system ... now we have to contend with buyers who can keep goods and the money by just crying SNAD ... beautiful ...

i sold a $5000 state of the art Macbook Pro ... the buyer received it and low and behold it was not windows 8 ... strange ... its a Mac ... no where did the listing say it was Windows 8 but no problem, its a computer so eBay decided it was SNAD because every computer should have Windows 8.    Result ... the buyer was allowed to keep the item and get a full refund because the item was not a computer if it did not have Window's 8 ... because i refused to refund the buyer myself my account was suspended ...

but wait, that was not the best of it ... a buyer who purchased 2 x iPhones from our store for $2000+ was able to keep the items and get a full refund after claiming SNAD and saying the items were fake.    all done and dusted in less than 48 hours ... even after receipts from Apple were provided which included serial numbers, IMEI numbers and proof that the phones were activated onto the Apple system at the same location as the address shipped to and the address which eBay/PayPal provided to us.   Why?   because the system allows for it ...

Why was the proof of activation at the buyers address not accepted ... laugh as you like ... eBay stated, Apple are not a reliable source as they are the manufacturer of the item and not able to provide an independent 3rd party assessment.   Net result ... the buyer got 2 brand new iPhones for free and we lost $2000+.

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by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 24 01:49:16 2013

I spont over an hour today with various and sundry eBay CSRs on a similar case.

I sold an item NEW NO TAGS (altho there was a partial retail tag I did not feel it was large enough to use the NEW WITH TAGS descriptor)  I received payment and mailed the item within 24 hours.  I got an email within that 24 hours--while I was at the PO!!!!---inquiring WHERE was the item--it had to go from NY to MINNESOTA!---and had I sent it Priority Mail (Which was NOT the class paid for!)  

As it happened this was one of those odd PO cases where the standard and Priority mail were so close that I did indeed up the class to Priority.  But that was NOT what I had listed or charged at!

I posted the Del Confirm info and also sent an email to the buyer about this. The item arrived in jig time and I got an email claiming that the item was NOT new and had been "Worn"  and had "Spots".  I asked for the buyer to send me pics via MESSAGES--is this NOT how eBay DEMANDS we do this???

The buyer claimed she sent me pics but there were=--no pics!  (I did not know then that there was a huge site wide pic issue)  I gave her my email as she was being a real bully--"You WILL refund my money AND the outbound shipping AND the inbound shipping within 24 HOURS and I am NOT returning the item until you DO!!!!!"  Um---no!

I politely responded to this--even the buyer mentioned that I was polite!---in the CASE she filed.  Before I ever got to see the damaged item!

Now--I can see the pics.  And--it does not look like the item she bought from ME!   IT is lighter by far than my item which was almost black.  The huge "spots"  look like bleach stains--this would have been clearly visible in my listing photo and even using the MAGNIFY feature these are NOT visible!  

So after she left me NFB today--while the case is still open!---I called to see if I could get anyone to look at these pics side by side.  I got passed around from CSR to CSR and TRUST AND SAFETY--please--don't make me gag!!!---and each one told me that the last person I spoke to DIDN'T KNOW WHAT THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT.  

The first CSR claimed that the buyer could NOT refuse to return the item--that would settle the case "In my favor"  (Um---sure it will)   AND she claimed that she was NOT ALLOWED TO LOOK AT PICS IN MESSAGES!   Seriously????  Then she claimed I was going to be passed onto Trust and Safety to review the FB and to go look at those pics.

Needless to say---T&S was--less than helpful.  They claimed that THEY can't look at pics--ONLY the RESOLUTION CENTER CSR could do THAT!   Gee--wait--wasn't that where I just WAS?   And as for that NFB--too bad so sad if I was a POWER SELLER then they would NOT have been able to GIVE me NFB on this???   Can that BE????

I finally asked for a Supv as I was having a very hard time understanding the accent.  IT took me OVER an HOUR to get one--I kept getting told MY SUPV IS DOING OTHER THINGS AND WILL CALL YOU BACK IN TWO HOURS!  IS THAT OKz?     No matter how many times I said NO this is not acceptable---I kept hearing this.  Finally Mr.  Comet got tired of this and leaned over and yelled into the phone--She is NOT going to wait 2 more hours!  Get her a freaking supervisor!  Gee---why didn't I think of that?  I DID get the Supv---'''

Who did---exactly--nothing.  Told me BOTH of the CSR's did not know what they were talking about.

Gee that was--helpful.

But I suspect from the crinkling of pages in the playbook they were desperatly trying to find the script for ITEM NOT AS DESCRIBED:::BUYER ATTEMPTING TO KEEP AND GAIN REFUND ON ALL MONIES.  

I never DID get an answer on any of the questions I actually called about.  I might--or might not--be able to "escalate"  this--on Thursday.  OR---if the buyer responds again--I might be able to do---something.  No one seems to KNOW.  

IF I am forced to give this item up---and this is not a million dollar item it is a $26 hoodie for petes sake!!!---I won't starve.   But to put up with the RUDENESS and the ARROGANCE and the IGNORANCE---I see it whenever I have to call ebay--but Mr.  Comet has never seen it in action before.  IT bothered him--who deals with customer complaints all day long for a major retailer---so much that he could not stop talking about it and even involved several people we met during our day in this discussion--one of whom turned out to BE a fellow ebay seller!  But who agreed--ebay has gone to the dogs.  

Sad.  But--I don't think they can claim to be "Just a venue"  anymore.  They are now acting as our employer;  judge;  jury AND executioner.  I think they have gone far far beyond a mere VENUE.

And I want ALL of my EMPLOYEE BENEFITS including health care;  Social Security;  COLA;  my own labeled parking space and a seat on that LEAR.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Tue Sep 24 02:00:19 2013

Seriously, EBAY RULES DO NOT APPLY.
They are Moot in the context of the Legal Landscape.
Ebay can't even develop a decent home page, so it needs the Hush Up.
GAG EBAY.
Remove the CEO and all the money bleed management and employees. Take it off the stock market.
Just have the programmers.
Then Ebay will be something we can enjoy using.

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by: marcello This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 24 02:23:54 2013

Ebay loves giving away your stuff and your money!

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by: blaumann2 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 24 02:52:55 2013

The beatings will continue until morale improves.  

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by: Cassie This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 24 03:51:45 2013

They will see a drop this holiday season if issues arise after cyber Monday. They stand losing a huge draw as more seller sites are popping up.

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

Tue Sep 24 03:55:36 2013

No I don't think morale is going to improve. Ebay will keep on urging U.S. sellers to leave the site. It is in their best interests to do so as their are no Federal taxes owed for items sold by China.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: baconsdozen
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Tue Sep 24 05:10:22 2013

I believe there is only one way to use ebay know that makes economic sense. Use a private account and list of free listing days only,try and divert anyone who looks at your items to your own site where they can buy the same items cheaper.
Works reasonably well for me!
Ebay deserves to fall flat on its face and as it seems determined to self destruct we should help it.

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by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 24 06:22:28 2013

For some time ebay not ''just'' a venue. Passed that stage when the came up with dictating, and judging whichever way they want. No set rules. When you do that- your doomed for failure.
They can no longer dictate to me - due to the fact that I will not sell on the site anymore. Also, will no longer purchase 40-50 thousand a year re our business. Have already found better sources. Sad part - ebay does not give a dam about anyone but themselves and what they can put in their pocket.
Looked at stock prices the other day. Why they still have any stock and the feds haven't come in is beyond me. Only logical explanation is people are being bought off. That has been a part of large corps for the last 100 years. So that's not really a surprise.
Looking at the stock quotes it's very obvious which company Amazon or ebay, are interested in growing a business or just raping it. Both started the roughly same time. Exception - ebay started the ball going and was on the fast track to be and stay number one for the next 100 years. However, Whitman realized she was not smart enough to keep in front of the up and coming Amazon so, she bailed and -her words- gave a monkey they helm.  JD is only smart enough to hire the right lawyers to let him steal. Not smart enough to run anything. He knows it- that is why he is still working on his 3 year plan. Will continue to work on the 3 year plan till ebay goes under or breaks up. The more lies - the more it allows him, others and the board to steal.
The stock quotes should be reversed. WHAT HAPPENED JD?????

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