Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
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by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon May 19 2014 20:18:55

eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay customer service reps are faulting sellers for using the U.S. Postal Service when shipments go awry. That's what readers have been reporting in emails to EcommerceBytes over the past few weeks.

With eBay's new defect rate breathing down their necks, sellers are calling eBay to ask why it will penalize them for late deliveries or missing packages, which are outside their control - and eBay is placing the blame directly on sellers for using the USPS.

Here are a few examples:

Seller says Post Office accidentally sent package mailed to Ohio to Puerto Rico instead: "Ebay rep tells me that it is on ME because it is I that chose to use the USPS as a shipper."

Seller said Post Office sent his package to 2 different sorting centers in the seller's own state, then to PA, to TN and finally arriving in LA, for a total of 11 days from shipment to delivery: "Do you know what Ebay said?..... I need to find a different carrier. As a business I am responsible for the carrier I choose."

And another seller said that after a case was opened for an item sent to France where the tracking number showed delivered and she was told it would count as a defect anyway,..."This is absolutely ridiculous that we should be punished for failures of the postal system or the whim of the person opening a case. When I pointed that out - I was told it is my fault because I chose USPS, I should ship with other more reliable carriers!"

Another seller in describing some shipping issues wrote in her email to me: "Another seller said eBay told them to use FEDEX."

I asked eBay's Ryan Moore what eBay's stance was on which shipping carriers sellers should use, and asked him if eBay told its reps to suggest sellers rethink their choice of carrier - "is it part of the script when sellers call in about shipping defect rates," I asked.

"We don't have any such talking points as you describe below for CS members," he replied. "The only time that we provide suggestions to one carrier over the other is on the listing flow if sellers would like their shipping service chosen for them."

I also shared the comments above with Ryan, as well as comments from an eBay moderator named Jeff who in a thread about defect rates last month wrote the following in response to a seller:

"Sellers have always been responsible for the delivery of their items. You control which shipping service you select. If the service you're using is causing chronic issues, you might want to look at other services."



Jeff later said in response to another seller:

"FedEx, UPS, and many other regional services ship items that weigh under a pound. Are they more expensive? Yes they are, but if the alternative is not being able to sell on eBay because you are getting too many defect transactions for "Item Not Received", it may be worth it. Personally, I have no issues with USPS getting items delivered on time, but if you are having that problem and it's so pervasive that you could fall below standard, I'd take a little time to work on a solution."

eBay has worked closely with the Postal Service, knowing that lower volume sellers depend on the USPS for package delivery because of the value. eBay is putting pressure on sellers to offer free, fast shipping with tracking, while at the same time, it's putting pressure on them to have 100% delivery performance.

Stamps.com recently published a report after putting the three most popular shipping methods used by online sellers through their paces: FedEx, UPS and USPS. Stamps.com sent 144 identical packages to addresses throughout the U.S. using the three carriers, and it measured reliability, delivery time and cost.

Here's what the study found:

- The number of total tracking scans was almost identical among all three carriers;

- The USPS was the fastest, with two-day delivery for nearly all packages on average;

- The USPS had the lowest shipping costs across all zones for lower weight packages, while UPS and FedEx offered cost savings for heavier packages.

So for sellers to change from USPS to FedEx or UPS for their lower weight packages would mean higher costs - but the higher the shipping costs charged to buyers, the more their listings will sink in search results. And eBay gives highest priority to "Fast n Free" shipping.

Frustrations were evident in the eBay thread about how eBay counted defect rates with regard to shipping delivery problems. One seller wrote: "There are way too many sellers with issues and concerns over this so I would hope you can see that there are problems with the system. We want to be heard. We just want the flaws in the system resolved in a professional and logical manner. The sellers are making Ebay money. I've never seen representatives of a company so argumentive with people who have legitimate concerns that can make or break a business. I have owned businesses and have never seen such a disruption of this magnitude."

Chime in with your thoughts and if you've been advised by eBay CSRs about what carrier to use - or what carrier not to use.




Comments (74) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS   eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Mon May 19 21:14:04 2014

Clearly, eBay's financial situation is desperate and they view the 20% FVF discount program to be a source of revenue they need to retain in order to improve their bottom line.

As such, as a company, eBay is willing to throw sellers under the bus for issues which are clearly out of the sellers ability to control.

Holding sellers responsible for carrier issues in order to reduce the number of sellers who qualify for FVF discounts shows how desperate management has become to hide their marketplace strategy failures from investors.

USPS is the best option for a vast number of eBay sellers. The fact that eBay is expressing their lack of confidence in the US Postal Service, and using their system issues as a penalty against sellers to reduce the number who qualify for FVF discounts is a testament to how financially strapped eBay has become under the failed leadership of John Donahoe.

eBay is so desperate for funds they repatriated 9 Billion dollars to the US and paid a 3 billion dollar tax bill for doing so. One has to ask why this is necessary?

Given that repatriation and the attempt by eBay to destroy the 20% FVF discounts, one has to wonder why eBay needs the money so badly.

I believe the ship is going to hit the iceberg sooner rather than later as eBay appears to be in dire financial straits based on their recent actions.

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS   eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS

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

Mon May 19 21:14:38 2014

Well... if you think about it, it's not as though experienced and competent sellers actually *need* another reason to leave eBay.

But... there you have it. Yet another good reason. (An excellent one actually.) How many more reasons does one need?

eBay continues to betray its best and brightest sellers. In time, the smartest and wisest sellers will, in turn, abandon eBay... before it's too late.

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS   eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS

by: mjr55 This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 19 22:01:06 2014

I kind of agree with him.

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS   eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Mon May 19 22:13:34 2014

And this is the kind of support you get when they don't know what the hell they are talking about.

I don't take issue with being held responsible with my customer.  My customer has every right to receive the items they have ordered from me and spent their hard earned money on.  What I take exception with is Ebay stepping in and penalizing me.  

I as most sellers understand and respect the importance of our customers.  We want our customers happy.  We want our customers to return and maybe bring friends.  Ebay just goes too far.

Just imagine if we could somehow penalize Ebay for providing incorrect or just plain pitiful customer service!

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS   eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 19 22:31:16 2014

USPS just learned what we sellers already know - eBay will throw YOU under the bus the minute something goes wrong.

Like each and every partner eBay as ever had - when a problem arises, eBay turns its back on you.

Sellers know it as do former manufacturers and Platinums.

Blaming USPS (and I dont believe Ryan for a second - I think we all know that eBay CS did in fact make those statements) is just part of the eBay playbook.

Its "never, ever, ever" eBays fault for anything.

%99.9 of the time its the sellers fault, but when they see that the sellers did in fact ship on time, get acceptance and get it enroute on time ... who else can you blame but your partner .. USPS.

Of course Ryan is here now swearing its not true. Not because its not but because Fed Ex just changed the game on them too.

Like Ming and others have said - when you want to know why eBay does ANYTHING - follow the $$$$.

Fed Ex just changed the rules - dimensional weight. We know Fed Ex is charging eBay more - look at all the eBay GS defects.

Heres one I just got - and its the 3rd email like this Ive received.

"We are contacting you in regards to this item #331180204083 Casio G-Shock GAC110-6A Metallic Purple Large Arabic Numeral Analog Watch. It appears that this item was lost in transit at no fault of yours but ours. The buyer has opened a PayPal/eBay case. Once you receive this notification please go ahead and escalate the case immediately and state that "This transaction occurred through eBay's Global Shipping and I am not to be held responsible as the 3rd party was responsible for the loss or damage of the package." This will protect you in the Pay Pal case.

We apologize for this inconvenience but want to thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation.

Thanks,

Charles - eBay Global Shipping Specialist"

eBay has been handing packages to other couriers besides Fed Ex due to cost. All my Singapore customers have verified that they get their items via Singapore Post and NOT via Fed Ex.

eBays sad sad tricks fool no one - the $2 an hour CS reps they get from out of the country all follow the same script - Ryans ... lyin ... again.

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS   eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS

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

Mon May 19 23:07:00 2014

Ebay makes more FVF money on shipping when sellers use UPS and FedEx because they cost more than USPS.

Lyin Ryan rises from the septic tank to show us his growing nose.

CALL THE FTC!!!!

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS   eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS

by: fancypants This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 19 23:23:34 2014

eBay's in-house wimp, Jeff,
posted time after time that it was seller's responsibility to choose a carrier that would get our package to our buyer on time and as it was described.  Made no difference if it had tow motor forks going thru the box, it was the seller's fault and the seller was held responsible.
 When asked about weather related situations and the day the Fed-Ex semi crashed and burned, he pretty well said the same.  We should have called all our buyers,if they could have possibly had a package on that truck, and warned them that there item may be late (or, heaven help us, not at all).  And beg them not to open a case for INR.  AND, above all we should have chosen a different carrier in that situation.
 And then if we did have something on the truck, to call the CS and get negative FB removed but not the defect, because their research shows that caused the buyer an unpleasant shopping experience and they would never come back to eBay to shop again.  And that was the buyer's fault.

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS   eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS

by: grandmawithacamera This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 19 23:24:27 2014

According to the ebay DSR help page:

''Don't hold sellers responsible for delays in mail services, international custom delays, or for the time it takes for your payment to clear.''

So which is it ebay?  Are you holding us accountable for mail services or not?  The most insidious part of this ''defect'' is that ebay calculates an ESTIMATED delivery ( and yes it says estimated on the auction details) and a buyer can claim non delivery ONE DAY after this estimated time frame.

I'm sure the USPS will be thrilled with these new CS suggestions, as closely as they have worked with ebay ...  they even have ebay branded priority boxes!

At any rate, if a seller has shipped within stated handling time, and uploaded tracking, they should NOT be penalized for a late package. We absolutely feel we are being thrown under the bus with this new system over things beyond our control.

Using the USPS as a scapegoat to allow seller blame for an inept new policy is unconscionable.

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS   eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS

by: fancypants This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 19 23:25:01 2014

OOPS!  it was the SELLER'S fault.

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS   eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS

by: SparklyEyes7 This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 19 23:36:55 2014

I've never had anything lost but have had 4 out of 1000 items delayed last year.  One was going to Hawaii and I didn't know they sit in a service center in CA until they get a full container to be transported on a truck, train or boat (yes, the USPS told me that) for the remainder of the trip.  Er, last time I checked there wasn't a lot of trains or trucks going from CA to Hawaii!

But it did get there a few days after the case was opened and the buyer was happy with the communication by me.

Case opened because this new buyer wanted to ask a question?  Defect.

Happy buyer because of how I handled it?  eBay doesn't care.

Oh, and the eBay CS rep (based in the US) acknowledged the trouble with shipping to Hawaii, but had nothing else she could do for me.

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS   eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS

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

Tue May 20 00:17:33 2014

What incentive does a seller have after receiving an unjustified defect to satisfy the customer?

NONE.

This short sighted Nazi policy will  backfire on ebafia in ways they can't possibly imagine now.

INR? I won't lift a finger to locate the package. Buyer and ebay both have tracking number; let THEM find it.

SNAD? No voluntary refunds here. Let them take the money from my PayPal account.

Buyer receives/keeps the item after a forced refund? A police report will be filed along with a report to the Postal Inspector's Office for mail fraud.

We could all hasten the demise of this rotting corpse and its managing piranhas by driving even more customers from ebay when they file unreasonable, unfair, and unjustified defect cases.

Customers filing defect cases without contacting me first to attempt resolution will get absolutely no help from me.

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS   eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Tue May 20 06:28:00 2014

Ryan Moore's lack of comment about the real problem for sellers (undeserved defects) speaks volumes.

Yep, eBay want that TSR sellers' discount really badly and they'll practically break one's knee caps to get it.

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS   eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS

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

Tue May 20 07:03:59 2014

eBay is trying to run its commercial venture on the Marxist premise of a Socialist Empire. Historically proven to be a failure - one has to wonder why the eBay Board of Directors believes "one size fits all".

The "Defect Rate" feedback system is as flawed as premise on which it was created.

You can not argue logically with regarding an illogically applied behavior modification rating system.

You do not have to share  a canopy in a Vendor Market Place. Diversify and build your own platform.

Why do people continue to deal with this ridiculous situation and sell on eBay?

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS   eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS

by: corpuschristi1956 This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 20 07:44:47 2014

Since ranking affects search results and search results affect sales, one has no choice but to offer what eBay PRESSURES us to do. In response to a mislead eBay spawned buyer who begged that the delivery of her item be as stated in eBay, I responded, ''OUT OF 10,414 TRANSACTIONS, NOT ONE PACKAGE HAS EVER BEEN SHIPPED LATE, however, eBay does allow sellers to pray for the postal services to deliver on time and so I did the only thing a seller has an option to do, I prayed.'' Will eBay ever recognize that they are losing customers by setting them up for disappointment?

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS   eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS

by: Glor This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 20 07:47:57 2014

Since many of items are small - 3 oz. or less - I rely on USPS First Class for the best price and, in most cases, reliable delivery. Since my items are often used for special events, they are time-sensitive and are useless to the buyer if delivered late.

On March 11, I mailed 5 packages. A few days later, I was slapped with a negative: item never received, and an opened case: item not received. I was able to get the negative removed, and the case resolved, but things got worse.
Two more weeks went by, packages still not delivered. I issued refunds to 4 buyers, sent replacement-via Priority at my expense-to fifth.
I soon learned that my 5 packages were just the tip of the iceberg. They were part of a 'bag' of USPS 1st Class Mail that was 'lost.' I filed a USPS Case (go ahead-chuckle) and phoned a 'USPS Consumer Affairs' agent. I learned from my local Postmaster that I was one of several shippers with lost packages. Another eBay/online seller lost 50!
The P.O. 'brass' got involved eventually and the packages were found and delivered. Only one of my buyers decided to keep the package AND the refund, even after both eBay and PayPal sent him emails on my behalf.

I, too, was told by eBay CSRs to go with Fedex. Most of the packages cost $1.93 to ship, a cost other carriers just can't match.

It wasn't a huge loss, but needless to say, I never recouped a cent from USPS, eBay or PayPal.

Getting 'strikes' against me for incidents such as this are beyond unfair, but we all know that eBay will not rethink a policy once slapped in place.

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS   eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS

by: XebayX This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 20 07:55:42 2014

Had a case opened the day after an overly optimistic eBay BS delivery date. I called eBay. I was told by a CSR that USPS is ''technically'' my emplyee, so it's performance is my responsibility! He also said that I should use the tracking records on late packages to negotiate a better postage rate with USPS! What kind of morons does eBay employ? Completely unacceptable. The package was delivered later that day. I got a defect for the case being opened. Thinking about that conversation leaves me at a loss for words.

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS   eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS

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

Tue May 20 07:58:09 2014

I sent Ina a message on this way back on March 28.

I had just gotten off the phone with a CSR about a package that USPS lost, and of course, he told that I was defective because the customer ''opened'' a case by clicking the ''I didn't receive my item'' selection in the Question flow.  Huh!

When I asked why it was that I should be held responsible for something that was out of my control, especially after I promptly refunded my customer (like I can tell the PO not to lose my packages?), he said:

''We consider the Post Office to be YOUR employee, and you are responsible for your employees.''

Those words made an indelible impression in my mind, so using the quotes above is entirely accurate, as I have no doubt those were absolutely the EXACT words he used.

Funny, I don't remember filling out a 1099 for a contract employee named ''USPS'' last year...

Over the years, I've had people ask me about eBay (and my adventures there), and wondered about selling on eBay themselves.  A while back, I'd just say it was time-consuming.  About a year or so ago, I started recommending that people not consider it, since the time factor was ever-increasing, and there were a lot of negative attributes to doing so.

Unfortunately, I didn't find myself surprised at my own comments a week ago when approached by an acquaintance who had thought about selling on eBay.  What didn't surprise me was how vociferously I tried to dissuade her from pursuing the idea, in essence telling her that it was a huge mistake to sell on eBay nowadays, and she'd definitely wish she hadn't done it if she started.  Basically, I told her eBay was now a nightmare.

And so it goes on eBay.  Another day, another headache...

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS   eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS

by: Runs.With.Scissors This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 20 08:02:47 2014

Re the Stamps.com ''survey'':  ''USPS was the fastest, with two-day delivery for nearly all packages on average''

HaHa! Comparing Priority Mail to UPS Ground.  What a rigged survey! (My AVERAGE Priority Mail delivery times are 3 business days, not 2 days).  

My AVERAGE First Class delivery times are 5 business days. (Although there are some 2-3 business day First Class deliveries to nearby states, my overall First Class package average is hurt by the massive inefficiencies and error rates that continue in the Forest Park, IL Sort Facility. Something is terribly broken there, and months of complaints to USPS have not resolved the problems.)  The only reason I use mostly USPS First Class instead of UPS ground is the lower postage cost . . . certainly not for better delivery times.

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS   eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS

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

Tue May 20 08:07:25 2014

Sorry Ina, I don't really consider this news.  Ebay has held us responsible for post office screwups for years.  We've made good on every package lost, damaged or stolen by the usps.  It's just one of the many ways that honest sellers get hosed on ebay transactions.  As a long time seller I know if we sell on ebay, we sometimes have to fork out money even when we do things perfectly. It sucks...a lot...but the choice is to sell on ebay and take the abuse, or go somewhere else.  We're still here, but not as proud of it as I used to be.
tradernick

Perminate Link for eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS   eBay Customer Service Reps Fault Sellers for Using USPS

by: Filadelfos This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 20 08:10:42 2014

One major problem is that buyers don't see when the item was shipped- unless they check the tracking- but that information is not shown when the buyer leaves feedback. It shows when it was supposed/estimated to be delivered, and actually delivered- but not shipped or accepted by the carrier on the feedback page.

If buyers actually saw when the item was accepted by the carrier upon leaving feedback- it may actually help sellers from receiving a low DSR score, as they would realize that the seller did their part. Buyers agree to the use of the USPS when they purchase an item that states USPS shipping.

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