|Sun Aug 24 2014 21:13:01|
eBay Sellers Fume over Out-of-Sync Tracking Scans
By: Ina Steiner
eBay's sellers have to work hard if they wish to retain Top Rated Seller status, so when it appears eBay is penalizing them for its own shortcomings, it's no wonder they're angry or concerned.
I've seen countless reports from sellers who say eBay shows no tracking on their shipments, while the USPS website does show tracking scans. (Sellers must upload a validated tracking on 90% of their orders to maintain Top Rated Seller status.)
With the new seller performance standards that went into effect on Wednesday, sellers say eBay is causing them to lose Top Rated Seller status because they don't meet its validated-tracking requirement. And they're spending hours on the phone to eBay customer service to try to rectify the issue.
For example, a seller wrote, "Just checked my dashboard and was surprised to see that my tracking number went from 99.8% down to 94%. I ship every day, and I watch my postmaster scan every package." When he wrote, he said was on hold with eBay customer service for over an hour.
Another seller wrote, "After fighting my way back to TRS after being slammed with negative feedback from two buyers of many items, I'm now slated to lose it again because only 83% of my items show as validated by the carrier. eBay provides a report of items not validated, and when I spot check it, each item on eBay shows now tracking, but when checking the number with the USPS site it will show scans all along the route and delivery. Have you had other reports of this problem? I can handle a few percentage points, but close to 20% is unbelievable."
But is this the problem sellers think it is? One seller explained her understanding of the tracking scans to me and why it's causing so much panic. When you first go into the seller dashboard, you see a message that states, "X % of your transactions had tracking uploaded within handling time and validated by carrier."
That message is what has sellers concerned, but there are a few things that need to be considered when you are looking at that number, the seller said.
The metric indicates the performance to date - this is not the number that anyone has been evaluated on yet. "So let's say a seller got fortunate enough to sell about 50 items yesterday. When looking at the dashboard the next day, that tracking percentage is going to go way down because the seller has probably not yet loaded tracking. But even if they were that fast, there is no way eBay has been able to verify it. So the percentage appears low. In my experience it takes eBay about 2-4 days to catch up."
Since the numbers are not used in an evaluation until Sept 20th, there is plenty of time for the percentage to correct itself as of August 31st, she said. (Although why eBay's system would take much longer than the USPS website to update is a mystery since it should be done through an API.)
To further clarify, she said, "It is extremely important to remember that evaluation periods are NEVER on the current month you are in. The Sept 20th evaluation would be based on numbers as of August 31st. So if you had a bunch of sales on Sept 1st through 19th, none of those numbers affect the Sept. 20th evaluation. They don't come into play until October."
There doesn't appear to be anyplace in the seller dashboard where eBay shows the tracking information that it will use in a seller's evaluation, and both the seller and I couldn't find where eBay explains this. She said, "It may be explained somewhere on eBay, but I haven't found it. This is all something I figured out on my own after a few extra gray hairs showed up. I completely understand why this is confusing and concerning so many sellers."
And many sellers say they're spending hours on the phone to eBay trying to get the problem resolved.
Hopefully we can get eBay to nail down this issue for sellers, because this letter from a reader indicates there is a problem with the way eBay handles scans when evaluating sellers:
"I just noticed another consequence of the new eBay performance standards that punishes sellers for something they didn't do wrong.
"I noticed that my upcoming evaluation for "Tracking uploaded within handling time and validated by carrier" was at 82.06% which would put me below the required 90% and knock me out of TRS status which I have somehow, just barely, managed to hang on to. I knew this couldn't possibly be right so I did a little investigating. I couldn't do a report for the upcoming review so I looked at last months (May-July). I noticed that several items that were paid for on the last day of July were counted against me as not validated because they were shipped on August 1 and not validated by the carrier until August 1 or after. So if you get a lot of sales on the last day of the month and don't ship until the following day or the packages aren't scanned at pickup you will be penalized. It will be even worse if the last day of the month falls on a weekend or holiday.
"I also noticed that one that was counted against me was a buyer that purchased on 07/30/2014 but their payment wasn't received until 08/09/2014 (a Saturday) so it wasn't shipped and scanned until Monday the 11th. So it appears that they start counting not from the date of payment but from the date of purchase. So if your buyer waits a few days to make payment you will be penalized for that 3 month period. As I understand it those will no longer count for the following review as long as the tracking was uploaded within 24 hours and it was eventually scanned but then August's end of the month purchases will be counted against you so it is a never ending cycle."
Sellers are discussing the apparent out-of-sync USPS tracking on the eBay boards as well, such as this discussion.
Let us know what you think!