|Mon Sept 23 2013 22:50:37|
Should eBay Dictate Seller Terms?
By: Ina Steiner
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.