Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed Aug 13 2014 18:02:25

Sellers Grill eBay in Fall Release Town Hall Meeting

By: Greg Holden

Sponsored Link

eBay Town Hall Meeting on Fall Seller Release has commenced. EcommerceBytes Contributing Editor Greg Holden is blogging the event.

Hi folks, it's your fleet-fingered reporter here, Greg Holden, ready to cover the eBay Town Hall on the Fall Sellers Update. From the looks of the comments on the EcommerceBytes blog, this should be a real love fest. Let's all sing Kumbaya as we listen to how eBay explains its new Managed Returns policy, among other things.

Vice-president of merchant development Michael Jones: Acknowledges the impending holiday season, which several sellers mentioned in the blog comments (they'll be out of eBay by that time).

Changes, he says, will make it easier for buyers and sellers to do commerce globally. "It's all about continuing on the journey with sellers, to help them be more successful globally, to help them down that path."

First Question comes from:
Donna in New York: "Will Hassle Free returns be mandatory for all sellers by holiday season 2015 and beyond, including Chinese sellers? This will increase the number of TRS+ sellers? Plans to get rid of program by that point? For all GSP cases, will resolutions still be handled by GSP department?

Jonathan Haney: We are going to make this mandatory for all DOMESTIC sellers. Our goal is to get everybody in, domestic and international. We are going to work on how to scale this in an easy to manage matter. It's only going to be for domestic sellers, with domestic transactions.

Griff: By making Hassle Free Returns mandatory, are you making returns mandatory for all sellers?

Jonathan: No. Sellers can have a no-returns policy.

Aparna: It will still be handled in the same fashion. If the seller issues a refund, it happens automatically. If there is a SNAD (item not as described), we expect the buyer to open a claim with the resolutions center.

Donna (the seller): By the end of 2015 we are going to be responsible for SNADs, for return ship costs, for all transactions?

Brian: When it comes to cases that get opened, we are not asking the seller to refund the return shipping cost.


eBay executives on the call:
Griff, Lee, Michael Jones as well as:
Post Transaction: Brian Burke
Returns: Jonathan Haney
GSP: Aparna Lahiri
Tools: Dennis Pereira


NOTE: Greg's reports are coming fast and furiously, this is not a transcript, and apologies for any mis-identification.

Next question comes from:
Michael in Chino California: two-part question. First, we have a lot of customers tell us that lately that have been directed to open a case not as described when they were just trying to contact him. Second, the search results, are they going to be affected by the new performance standards?

Brian: Today, when a buyer goes throughout the flow, they have a number of options to communicate with the seller: the item was not as describe, and not as received. With the announcement today, we are changing the flow. The buyer can communicate with the seller and that will not result in a defect for the seller. They can still use the other options in the system.

In September, they will have that option: "I have a question about using my item or I want to send the seller a question." This was one we heard directly from the sellers and wanted to meet their needs. Second, around how we use search, there are a whole bunch of factors that go into our search algorithm, and your performance as a seller is part of that.

Griff: What I have been hearing that the number of defects you have currently incrementally lowers you in search; that is absolutely false.

Jonathan: I researched this question. I wanted to make sure that was dispelled.

Next Question Comes from:
Danni: Regarding returns, would it be possible to add a field for the buyer to say item broken or damaged, so the seller can say Return not Necessary?

eBayer: This is one of the changes we are super excited about. In Hassle Free Returns, there are seven codes you can choose. In future, there will be eight. Things like damaged in transit will be in there.

Griff: If I require my buyers to pay for shipping for returns and they figure out they don't have to pay if they say it is a SNAD, and they want to get the seller to pay for shipping, how will that work?

If you get the return, as a seller you can inspect it, and either issue the refund, or step in and ask eBay to help. that will get escalated to our customer service team and if we decide in the seller's favor we will issue the refund to them. We can continue to monitor that buyer, and if we see it happening multiple times for that buyer, we may remove them from the site.

Next Question Comes from:
Brian: Regarding seller standards, as you are aware USPS does not send their packages in order to have top rated we have to have our shipping validated by a carrier, but in half of my cases our packages are not scanned on pickup.

Griff: We're not asking for a scan, but verification of tracking.

Brian (the seller): It's a 90-day window. Let's say it's the 31st.

Brian Burke: 90 day window doesn't matter in this case. If an item is not scanned and you upload the tracking number to our system within your handling time, and they don't scan it along the way, but they scan it in New Jersey, we will pick that up. Any point along the flow it gets scanned, we will pick that up. We have a cycle evaluation that occurs on the 20th of the month, and we look at the three months prior (not the end of the month).

Griff: So you have a three week buffer period before anything gets lost in the cracks.



Next question comes from:
Wayne and Betty: We part in the eBay hassle free returns program and previously used the option that allowed the seller to issue an RMA. It was very useful. Will it be coming back?

eBayer: This is a Return Merchandise Authorization. As we looked at this internally we found a portion of small sellers that were using this; they had it turned on but they weren't monitoring it. We saw a lot of that abuse in the early half of this year so we made a decision to limit access to this. But you can contact customer service on this and they have a validation program.

Next question comes from:
Derek: We've had quite a few customers unintentionally open cases when they only wanted to get in touch via eBay messages. Ebay reps have told me there is no way to remove a defect. What are you going to do about this in future?

Brian: The reason we use the open case is when we look at the data on the site does a buyer come back and purchase more frequently depending on their behavior. We use the term Open because buyers who open cases come back less frequently, and no one wants that. We want to make sure we mitigate those things from happening at all. We've heard from sellers on this and one thing that is coming soon is the option for the buyer to ask the seller a question and it does not affect your score. With regards to removal, we created a simplified removal policy that addresses all defects, not just feedback, and it went live today. It enables sellers to focus on the business and have defects removed in an automated way.

Derek: my concern is that a customer thinks it is malfunctioning but it was a mistake they made -for instance, they ordered the wrong part. If they want to remove the defect, can we provide a statement so we can get that removed?

Brian: My expectation would be that the buyer would use the new top reason.

Derek: But what if the buyer is angry and what they ordered was wrong?

Brian: I would look holistically across your business and see if it is improving frequently and, if so, improve your titles and descriptions. It goes back to we expect there to be some errors. If a buyer got the wrong part and they are just going to use the replacement part they are going to use that first option.

Griff: But if the buyer chooses the wrong option and they open a case, is there something a seller can do that gets this looked at?

Brian: It depends. In that particular scenario you reference, the answer is no, these things will come up. If it is something persistent, I would ask the seller is there something I can do with my business. I don't want the seller on the phone for three hours calling the CSA. If a seller is on the edge (of the number of defects allowed, such as 2%), the reality is there are probably a bunch of other things where we didn't pick up the signal. If you are at 2%, it's time to look at the business holistically.

MJ: Number one, the spirit for us always is to do the right thing in running the business. Make sure you do everything you can to not get to this point. If you do, call us, and we will help. As we go through these flows we will look at them and seek to improve them.

Next question comes from:
Patty: Right now a buyer can open a case a day after. As a seller, I ship within one day. If the buyer doesn't get the package because it is sitting in the Miami hub for three or four days it's not my fault though I understand why the buyer might be upset. Can we extend the day they can go ahead and open a case instead of 24 hours later, they can open a case?

Brian: I'm glad you raised this issue. We have a pre-claim check. When a buyer goes in to open an item not received claim and it hasn't been the estimated delivery time plus 24 hours, we prevent the buyer from opening that claim. In this instance, that system is designed pretty well.  If there is a situation where it sat in a post office and she has got tracking and you can show it sat in Ft. Lauderdale for four days, an agent can look at that and I would call about it and we can do the right thing.


Next question comes from:
Email question from Mary: As of last week in seller manager pro you could only save 19 drafts. They said it should be 5000 and it was not working yet.

Dennis: In selling manager we have a new feature, you can create a listing and finish it later. Currently it is only 19; ion two weeks we will be rolling out the ability to do 5000.

Next question comes from:
John: I was an executive in entertainment distribution business. Started with eBay. Defective rate was 1/2%. I have gone into sunglasses business and my defect rate is 4%. The 2% rate is not going to work for me because I am in the jewelry/fashion industry. Has there been any consideration given to the idea of a variable return rate?

Brian: We did, when looking at the defect rate, quite a bit of analysis on the variability of defects across categories. The other thing that changed in March was that we only looked at detailed seller ratings before. Now we're also looking at negative/neural feedback, open claims…That's why we only expanded to 2% under the new seller's program. We believe there's enough room for a seller to work within those thresholds.

Griff: What is your return policy?

John (the seller): I have a full 14 day return policy. The problem is that they put "item not as described" and simply return it. I've done everything I can to manage my return rate down to 2% and I can't do it. Now I'm trying to manage it to 4%. I'm at 400 SKUs; other sellers are limiting to 100 SKUs.

Griff: Do you make buyers pay for returns?

John (the seller): Yes.

Griff: That's the problem. You could pay for all return shipping, or if you have a buyer who claims Item Not as Described and you get it back and the item is clearly as described, you can dispute the return. If paying for all returns does not work for you.

Jonathan: I would recommend hassle-free shipping because it will be a simple, easy process.

technical difficulties!

(broadcast has returned, stay tuned for more updates)

Back on the air after signal died.
Amazon.com probably found a way to "jam" it. (Just kidding.)

Next question comes from Reisa (sorry if that's spelled incorrectly):
The last gentleman talked about cases where returns were labeled "not as described." Is there any way to escalate if the buyer says Not as Described but we can prove it was a case of buyer's remorse or the customer ordered the wrong item?

eBayer: For the next month, we will have two paths. In September, when you get that case, you can give a refund or ask eBay to help. Provide the information and our customer service teammates will be able to tie out that was false "not as described."

Jonathan: I would stress that, if you're looking at your business and your buyer is doing it and you think, I described that item really well, and it's a one off, use the escalation path we have provided. If it is happening multiple times or often, step back and ask, is it the buyer? It might be some other factors.

Next question comes from:
Cary: My question has to do with the new seller standards. Since I joined eBay I have sold a lot of pre-sale items in die cast. In the past few months since the new seller standards have been announced, I have had 23 cases opened for Item Not Received. These are pre-sale orders and the item is to be received in 30 days. Sometimes there are production delays and the buyers were aware of it. 13 of the buyers decided, I'll wait for the item.

We give them three choices: We'll give them a refund, or item in exchange, or they can wait. Out of the 23 cases, the buyer had no idea the case was open. My question is, if the buyer is willing to wait, why is it a defect?

Brian: Whenever we're doing something like pre-sales, there is a higher risk that the buyer is going to misunderstand how the process works. Even if the message is crystal clear, there is a higher risk that a case will be opened. On eBay we do say that you can't have a pre-sale that is longer than 30 days. If it is going to take you 17 or 20 days to get the item, your descriptions should state that.

Griff: If someone has a handling time of 30 days and a buyer inquires in two weeks, can they not open a case?

Brian: I'll have to get back to you on that. No, I see a thumbs up from someone here: So if you have a four week handling time, you get four weeks and one day before you can open a claim.

Griff: I would proactively contact the buyer to let them know there has been a delay in production.

"About half of the visits to our site now go through a mobile device." (Did I hear that correctly?)

Next question comes from:
Karen: I would like to ask about manual defects removal or de-scoring. What are some examples of objective information you have to have to get a removal.

Brian: Seller files unpaid item claim; buyer does not respond; seller closes. If buyer then leaves negative feedback we automatically remove it. That removes the defect.

Another case is, we choose to suspend a buyer; at that point we might remove defects as well. Or there is a postal strike in the UK. If it goes on days and days, it will impact a seller, and we'll move in and look at that.

(At one point, Brian Burke backtracked on an example he had cited. - Ina)

Next question comes from:
Elena: I am a top rated seller, a perfect five star rating, and I will be losing my top rated seller status on August 20. Part of my defect rate is due to packages not arriving. Seven are from six months ago that I had no way to escalate and I am on a 12 month evaluation. I have had three come up; I have two removed. Currently, I shipped an item; I received payment the same day; the mailman scanned it in the same day; it was shipped; it never arrived. Because there was never a delivery, that item is counted as a defect. Why would that be counted as a defect, when it was not the seller's fault at all.

Brian: If you think about the old system, we were looking at certain types of information. That information was only what buyers were most concerned about. You can look at it from a seller's perspective and say, I did everything right, but from the buyer's perspective they will file a claim. That is why we have thresholds, and you might lose your top rated seller rating. Put yourself in the buyer's shoes.

Next question:
Why are you getting rid of the categories for Lego sets?

Mark: We had a seller write to taxonomy@ebay.com and ask why don't you have a category for my Lego sets? We decided to pull them out and make them Item Specifics instead. One is Theme, for example.

Griff: So when we change a category like this, we're not getting rid of it, but we're making it more specific.

The next question and final question comes from:
Catherine: Several times you have said "We should escalate" a claim. If we use Hassle Free Returns and do not succeed, the consequences are grave for small sellers. Doesn't that count as an unresolved case?

Brian: You are absolutely correct. When a case is escalated, if it is not ruled in your favor, that would count toward that .3% threshold for unescalated claims.

That was the last question and answer, Michael Jones (MJ) winds up.

MJ: At the end of the day, we are trying to break down all the barriers of connecting buyers and sellers. That was why we have things like the Global Shipping Program. We do have roughly 50% of transactions happening on a mobile device, and we are trying to make the desktop and mobile device experiences more consistent, and you'll see more of that going forward. Know that we are here for you and you should contact us if you need help.

Kumbaya!

Greg Holden is EcommerceBytes Contributing Editor. He is a journalist and the author of many books, including "Starting an Online Business For Dummies," "Go Google: 20 Ways to Reach More Customers and Build Revenue with Google Business Tools," and several books about eBay, including "How to Do Everything with Your eBay Business," second edition, and "Secrets of the eBay Millionaires," both published by Osborne-McGraw Hill. Find out more on Greg's website, GregHolden.com, which includes his blog, a list of his books, and his fiction and biographical writing.




Comments (62) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Sellers Grill eBay in Fall Release Town Hall Meeting   Sellers Grill eBay in Fall Release Town Hall Meeting

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Wed Aug 13 18:17:25 2014

Regarding   ''Will Hassle Free returns be mandatory for all sellers by holiday season 2015 and beyond, including Chinese sellers?''

- ''Jonathan Haney: We are going to make this mandatory for all DOMESTIC sellers...''


Seriously, is anyone surprised with that?  ANYONE?

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This user has validated their user name. by: laurengrace

Wed Aug 13 18:23:53 2014

"Just a venue" Seriously??

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by: maxmad This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 13 18:39:43 2014

regardless of any UA  it's almost unimaginable ebay is not breaking any laws,?????


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This user has validated their user name. by: laurengrace

Wed Aug 13 18:43:51 2014

I am pretty sure they are breaking some laws...

Perminate Link for Sellers Grill eBay in Fall Release Town Hall Meeting   Sellers Grill eBay in Fall Release Town Hall Meeting

by: mjr55 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 13 19:54:23 2014

LOL....Amazon must have jammed the line.

No, Amazon is focused on taking care of business and not coming up with BS policies every 6 months. They let their sellers sell. That is why their stats are where they are at and why Ebay is and has been behind them.

Perminate Link for Sellers Grill eBay in Fall Release Town Hall Meeting   Sellers Grill eBay in Fall Release Town Hall Meeting

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

Wed Aug 13 20:27:29 2014

rian Burke, you are despicable. How about YOU putting YOURSELF in the shoes of sellers for a change?

The vast majority of buyers except those Burke has so carefully trained to be thieves, liars, and extortionists understand that when a seller can show proof of timely shipment, then USPS delays or losses are NOT the seller's fault.

Burke, however, being the sociopathic sycophant that he is, knows that such this policy benefits ONLY ebay and he along with Devil Wenig have significantly escalated their war against sellers.

A pox on your house, Brian Burke.

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

Wed Aug 13 20:29:47 2014

Find an open Pacific Rim proxy and create a "Chinese" account on the US site.

Perminate Link for Sellers Grill eBay in Fall Release Town Hall Meeting   Sellers Grill eBay in Fall Release Town Hall Meeting

by: used2luv2sell This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 13 20:33:35 2014

This blew my mind:

''Currently, I shipped an item; I received payment the same day; the mailman scanned it in the same day; it was shipped; it never arrived. Because there was never a delivery, that item is counted as a defect. Why would that be counted as a defect, when it was not the seller's fault at all.

Brian: If you think about the old system, we were looking at certain types of information. That information was only what buyers were most concerned about. You can look at it from a seller's perspective and say, I did everything right, but from the buyer's perspective they will file a claim. That is why we have thresholds, and you might lose your top rated seller rating. Put yourself in the buyer's shoes.''

First of all, he completely ignored the part about the Post Office losing a package.  I'm sure there was tracking on the package to show it was mailed, so he has verified that sellers are responsible for the mistakes of the Post Office.  I really hoped one day they would recognize that the Post Office makes mistakes!  But no, the PO is perfect, Ebay is perfect, buyers are perfect, sellers make ALL the mistakes.  If I read one more time that if it happens often, you should go back and look, is it the buyer? ARGH

Secondly, as a BUYER, I am a bit insulted, because I am smart enough to go in and click on the little numbers to see that a package was shipped!  It's so darn easy, but there are still those favored uneducated buyers who whine about anything.  Packages usually even show progress along the way, and although that can be random, most packages show they were shipped at some point.  

What a frustrating conversation, and Brian and Griff are both excellent masters of spin and not answering the actual question.    
 

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by: Annne This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 13 20:50:41 2014

Breaking laws? No worry, they have their own rules about what we are and are not allowed to do in court now too....
"You may assert claims in small claims court, if your claims qualify, so long as the matter remains in such court and advances only on an individual, non-class, non-representative basis."

Perminate Link for Sellers Grill eBay in Fall Release Town Hall Meeting   Sellers Grill eBay in Fall Release Town Hall Meeting

by: Xander This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 13 21:28:21 2014

Only one word comes to mind. Douchbags.

These are the questions in which ebay has pre screened. Just think if they had to field some of the more serious questions sellers have?

Like allowing a buyer to keep the item and giving them a full refund.
Sellers lose the item, the money and as well as a defect and might even get saddled with FVF's, what a mess.

Time to get out of ebay Dodge.

Vote with your feet!

Perminate Link for Sellers Grill eBay in Fall Release Town Hall Meeting   Sellers Grill eBay in Fall Release Town Hall Meeting

This user has validated their user name. by: FIERCEI

Wed Aug 13 22:32:06 2014

@Xander I agree Douchbags!!

They have really lost it!!!!. I'm closing shop on 12/31/14, maybe sooner!!!! I'm not putting up with this BS anymore! I am tired of this sh$t! Excuse my tone, but I can't deal with this craziness anymore.

Sales are down 70% and these idiots are coming up with unnecessary BS.

Buyers are constantly opening cases. You called customer service and they don't know their own policies.

I have over 5200 item and I haven't had a sale in 2 day...

If wasn't for this Annual Anchor store...I would be done right now. I refuse to pay theses idiot 539.00 to cancel my subscription.

I have already cancel over 1500 listings today and stop offering international shipping!!

I'm done!

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This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Wed Aug 13 23:14:07 2014

Hey, when are yo' all going to come to terms with the fact that eBay does not care about you unless your are a one of their preferred national brands or the like ...

It’s past time to move on, people; in fact, you’ve got a week to make other plans ...

In the meantime, Retail Payments (and PayPal)—The Reality ... http://bit.ly/1nSA1Zl

Perminate Link for Sellers Grill eBay in Fall Release Town Hall Meeting   Sellers Grill eBay in Fall Release Town Hall Meeting

by: thomaszr This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 13 23:28:58 2014

These 2 ebay responses to the First Question asked concern me:

Griff: By making Hassle Free Returns mandatory, are you making returns mandatory for all sellers?

Jonathan: No. Sellers can have a no-returns policy.

My concern/question!?  - To qualify for your monthly top rated seller discount don't you have to ship items with in 2 days and allow items to be returned?  So by deciding to not allow returns do you forfeit your discount?


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by: DVDsandMore This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 13 23:33:57 2014

I've used eBay exclusively until yesterday.  I made my first uploads to Amazon, and I'll see how things go there.  Next, my own eCommerce site.

That answer on putting myself in the buyers shoes was just over the top.  It's just an outright refusal to THINK.  

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by: mindelec This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 13 23:40:47 2014

"At the end of the day, we are trying to break down all the barriers of connecting buyers and sellers."

the biggest barrier has become ebay itself

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by: MovinOn This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 13 23:53:00 2014

@FIERCEI, if you signed a contract with ebay for a 1-year store subscription and ebay changed the rules of the game part way through your contract, wouldn't that be a breech of contract on ebay's part? Consult your lawyer. You probably have an out.

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by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 13 23:57:55 2014

Where did they ever get the brilliant idea that if a buyer contacts a sellers post-sell it is because they are dissatisfied? I don't sell on ebay but I did back in better days until Meg started this down-ward slope, but in the majority of all the post-sale emails I have gotten from customers, from all sales venues, it has bee a positive email on the ordering of thanking me for the item, letting me know it arrived, pure chit chat, etc. I can't believe that ebay sellers are letting their stores go down the toilet with these idiotic rules.

The guy with the sunglasses trying to keep returns to 4%. If I was reading the drivel correctly, they figure itis his fault that he has so many returns and to control it, he should pay for return shipping or offer hassle-free returns (which I don't know what that includes but sounds like more money out of the sellers pocket) all of which while perhaps keeping his numbers at ebay better, does bad things to his bottom line. I know when I buy something on line that I know I will have to pay the return shipping on, I'm much more careful hen ordering than when the return shipping is free. It is human psychology. Oh wait, those dudes at running ebay aren't humans, they are Bainbots! None of this makes logical sense, because there is no one way that this many different stores should all run under the same policies because they are all different.

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by: Xander This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 14 00:11:02 2014

As mentioned by Mindelec
''At the end of the day, we are trying to break down all the barriers of connecting buyers and sellers.''

This statement displays ebays malcontent towards their sellers.

Before JD came into the picture, any existing barriers between buyer and seller were minute. Today, ebay has purposely placed large barriers between buyers and sellers. This statement could not be more erroneous and misleading.

Reading such rubbish is an insult, nothing but spooned rhetoric from a source we're supposed to trust.

What on earth is the word ''Kumbaya'' written at the end? Did Michael Jones end with that?

These town hall meetings are nothing short of the type of BS we see with many modern day politicians. Nothing other than empty words. (poppycock)

Vote with your feet!

Perminate Link for Sellers Grill eBay in Fall Release Town Hall Meeting   Sellers Grill eBay in Fall Release Town Hall Meeting

by: BB2 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 14 00:40:26 2014

There are few things in this world that actually make me angry. But, these guys managed to do it. I could see the arrogance oozing from their pores with every word I read. Their disdain for sellers was breathtaking. I read it twice, certain my initial reaction was a projection of my own emotions. It was not.

I put myself in the buyer’s shoes every day. Like all quality sellers do… every day. We are not children. We are business owners.

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by: ConnecticutGal This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 14 00:49:00 2014

@Moonwishes.....you are so correct.  Just watch QVC or HSN for 5 minutes and you'll hear "Just bring it home and you have 30 days to send it back if you don't like it."  And, most of the time, the buyer has to pay return shipping on those tv channels yet people still buy into the shtick.  

And, these tv shows offer returns till Jan. 30th beginning on November 1st. (I think they even started that in October last year...). QVC and HSN don't care if you send it back in January because they can inflate their holiday sales and get the cash flow.

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