Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon Sept 29 2014 13:05:21

How Accurate Are eBay's Estimated Delivery Dates?

By: Ina Steiner

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How accurate are eBay's "estimated delivery" dates? While eBay used to talk quite a bit about managing buyers' expectations, we've been hearing from sellers for years now that eBay displays unrealistic delivery dates in sellers' listings.

In a recent letter to EcommerceBytes, an eBay seller said the estimated delivery dates on his listings have been way off, resulting in "pissed off" buyers.

"Sold something on Monday, shipped on Thursday (I use 3 day handling on all my items). eBay told buyer they would have by Friday...if you look at the tracking on the USPS website it says estimated delivery date of Monday the 29th yet they give the estimated date of Friday the 26th...now I have to deal with most likely a defect of some sort and a very angry buyer."


Last year, eBay acknowledged that it was using sellers historical delivery times to a buyer's area in addition to other factors - though it said this applied only for listings eligible for its "Fast 'n Free" designation.

How do you manage buyers' expectations about delivery dates on the venues on which you sell, especially as the holiday shopping season ramps up?

Do marketplaces do a good job of helping to manage buyers' expectations?




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

Mon Sep 29 14:30:06 2014

Of copurse they're not accurate and were never intended to be accurate.

Ebafia's lying explanation was and remains that they MUST put whatever delivery times the Postal Service gives them.

The purpose of these deliberately inaccurately displayed delivery times is and always has been to annoy buyers enough to file cases and leave neutral or negative feedback. When ebafia deceives enough buyers who leave less than positive feedback or files, ebafia can swoop in and nail another TRS's discount.

It's ALWAYS about the money. ALWAYS.

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by: sasikat9 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 29 14:43:27 2014

We use five business days for shipping on all of our items...Ship usually on day 1 or 2. Haven't had a delay problem as of yet.

We refuse to play the carrot jumping game with ebay.

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

Mon Sep 29 15:52:03 2014

I always over-estimate. I'd rather have a delighted customer who receives their shipment ''early'' ... and who is likely to be a REPEAT customer as a result, or who will likely RECOMMEND ME as a result.

I suppose I could get an extra sale or two by making unrealistic fast-delivery promises that I can't keep, but it hardly seems worth it!

Why would I want to LIE and get an ''extra'' sale by tricking the customer?!

Sure, their package arrives (eventually), but will they EVER shop with Slow-Poke-Annie ever again? -- NO!

Will they recommend me to their friends? -- NO!

Will they warn others about my horrible delivery time? -- Absolutely!

Will they call or write and complain? -- Yes!

Will I spend extra time with someone on the phone? Will I have to respond to more ''where's-my-stuff'' email questions? Will I have to tell MORE lies and make excuses? -- Yes, yes and yes!

What honest and respectable person wants to conduct business like that?!

I certainly don't!

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

Mon Sep 29 15:54:49 2014

PS: This whole thing about eBay LYING for the estimated delivery times suggests to me that eBay is desperate for ANY sale... no matter what the cost to seller's reputations.

After all, it's not EBAY who has to deal with annoyed customers, it's not EBAY who gets their stars dinged and ''defects'' penalties.

If eBay must continually sink this low to eek-out an extra dollar or two, then things must be REALLY dire.

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by: bm707576 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 29 16:45:32 2014

They ae a joke with no basis in reality.  If a buyer inquires they encourage them to open a case.  Regardless of what shipping method you use if an item is free shipping it defaults to 4 days or less with no allowance for handling time.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Shop and Ship

Mon Sep 29 18:46:18 2014

Our eBay/USPS delivery estimates have been fairly accurate. We use eBay shipping labels for our primarily Priority or First Class small packages. The key is that our postal carrier picks up, scans in, and uploads tracking data before 10:30 a.m. 6 days a week. Our packages are scanned into the  USPS sorting center around 7:30 p.m., and most packages typically leave the USPS sorting center around midnight. BUT, if I deposit my packages at a USPS retail center, or at an Office Depot drop center for pick-up by USPS, then it's anything goes - eventually. Too often items are scanned in as ''delivered'' when they're picked up, or not scanned in at all even after the USPS district supervisor issued a written directive requiring ''acceptance'' scans for all packages. Too often no data is entered until after midnight when the packages leave the sorting center. It's appalling to see USPS employees act like a handheld scanner is a complicated unwieldy gizmo when all retail stores use handheld scanners for dozens of items per customer without all the errors USPS manages to enter.  

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by: goldengirl This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 29 18:51:00 2014

Not accurate.   I have shipped 200,000 media mail parcels, and the estimated delivery date ebay displays for media mail is the earliest possible date of a range of times in which it could arrive.  Only about half the time, when put in the mail flow the day ordered (or the day after if ordered in the evening), does it actually arrive by that date.  For some overseas locations, it is not possible for media mail to arrive by the estimated delivery date under any circumstances.  Needless to say this is a huge problem for ebay book sellers since ebay does hold them accountable for ebay's unrealistic estimate.
   Amazon displays a more conservative range of dates for media mail shipment, accounting for the fact that it often is held at a sorting station when they are busy. If only ebay would take Amazon's view that it is much better for the customer to be pleasantly surprised by early arrival of their order than to be upset by "late" delivery of an item they needed and expected by a certain date.  

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by: DJBrady This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 29 19:10:33 2014

We buy a lot of stuff on Ebay and about 1/4 to 1/3 of the time we get items later than the estimate. I just checked on an item Ebay said we'd get last Friday. Paid on Sunday, seller states ships 3 days later (Wednesday) via Priority Mail so an estimated delivery date of Friday is a ''perfect world'' estimation.

The problem is buyers read this as an expected delivery date and can open a case the next day. Buyers should at least have to contact a seller first without being able to open a case.

Lots of other times we take a look at the estimated delivery date and can't figure out how it possibly got calculated at all. Add the seller shipping times, delivery times and there's several days or more shaved off the estimated delivery date.

We ship our sold items the same day up to after 5pm and e-mail buyers it's on the way which helps us limit problems but we still get dings because of the tight estimates.

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by: troglites This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 29 19:52:34 2014

Ebay wants to convey to it's buyers that their package will get to them as quickly as possible, and they do so at the seller's expense by posting what typically is an unrealistic delivery date. This time frame is generated under the seller's shipping cost and method. The seller and the Post Office often can not fulfill the delivery in Ebay's time frame, but Ebay figures it is no sweat off their backs and screw the seller. What they fail to realize that by doing this, they are actually the ones fostering buyer disappointment by promising unrealistic expectations that is beyond anyone's control. We always ship the same or next day, and still at times fall short of Ebay's given timeframe.  

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by: Ebay Seller-Ebay Buyer This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 29 20:04:05 2014

I buy a lot and used to sell a lot and now sell a little bit. As a buyer and a seller I don't think the estimated times are very accurate. But I also don't think it's that big a deal. As a seller; it seems to have helped with sales when I began using 1 day handling instead of 3 day handling, so I use 1 day handling. I haven't had a problem from buyers when I've printed the label and taken a few days to ship.

As a buyer, I do look at estimated times when a seller is slow.  But what bothers me most is when tracking shows the seller was very slow. Some sellers take a week or more to ship

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This user has validated their user name. by: Puck

Mon Sep 29 20:20:49 2014

East coast to Molokai, Hawaii.
eBay estimate - 7 business days
Actual transit time - 22 business days

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This user has validated their user name. by: Shop and Ship

Mon Sep 29 21:28:02 2014

I agree with goldengirl about USPS Media Mail delivert date estimates. Sometimes media mail is delivered within priority mail ranges, but more commonly it's pushed aside in sorting centers for priority mail where as media mail sits until there's space available on trucks. It's not uncommon to see Media Mail sit 2 or 3 days in each sorting center it passes through. Large or heavy Priority mail packages tend to be delivered toward the later date in the estimated range. From the USPS zip codes on the sorting centers, it appears that the difference in delivery times is the result of USPS using air freight or long haul trucking.  

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by: val2525 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 29 23:40:32 2014

eBay totally ignores my 3 day handling.  I ship fast, usually next day, but I have the 3-day handling to cover USPS issues, especially in the winter.  A good winter storm can cut my city off all the way around yet not affect us directly.    Since a buyer can now open a case when emailing me to ask why something hasn't arrived by eBay's totally ridiculous delivery date, I'll be changing my listings to 5 day handling by the end of October.  Holiday buyers are bad enough as it is, I don't need them killing my business because of eBay's stupidity and greed.

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by: GRMarx This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 29 23:58:56 2014

eBay's estimates have been realistic except when I use FedEx Smart Post and then the estimates run sooner than they should be.

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by: RichieC This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 30 00:18:07 2014

I can't complain, TOO Much, about delivery times. But I had one 3 day Priority that took nine days! When I contacted USPS via email, asking where the package was. As it had been 5 days without a scan and my buyer was contacting me! They helpfully wrote back after the package showed up at the buyers local Sort Facility, stating that delivery times were only estimated and are not guaranteed.

So even 3 day Priority Mail means nothing, luckily for me, My Buyer was a Seller! He understood and was happy, left me Positive Feedback!

Yet another, that ALL NEED TO WATCH OUT FOR!!!

Had a buyer contact me 2 days after warranted, I said sure send it back! I'll give you a free replacement! May as well, FleeBay will do it anyways and I didn't want to take a chance on NEGATIVE Feedback! As I printed another label to ship his free item, FleeBay took that second label information as my shipment date! Which of coarse is some 25+ days after the original purchase! This month report, I had a defect on shipping! Strange, it's my Buyers Free Replacement Item!

Now, it's back to the FleeBay phone customer support, nothing in writing now!!!

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by: RichieC This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 30 00:20:30 2014

As for the time, they should add a couple of days on the outside! Would be helpful.

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This user has validated their user name. by: thehosst

Tue Sep 30 02:01:03 2014

How Accurate Are eBay's Estimated Delivery Dates? VERY BAD, and wait for the usual Winter Weather Delays, eBay will TOTALLY ignore the issue, even if is all over the news.

By the way, is not what you see in the Estimated Delivery Time, it is what the Buyer sees, if you get some screenshots you'll be surprised, Estimated Arrival Dates change depending on your location, most of the time, very unrealistic.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: thehosst

Tue Sep 30 02:02:32 2014

I'm always shock to see that the casual seller ( 3 sales a year ) always agrees with eBay, to them, problems don't happen, ever, no to them, no to anyone.  

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by: Dragonfyree This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 30 02:10:45 2014

I don't understand why, unless you need it fast, and then why are you buying it on Ebay do buyers pay so much attention to delivery dates.

Fortunately, I'm in the middle of the country, so my deliveries seem pretty quick, unless it gets stuck in Bell, California.

I ship mostly Media Mail.  Had package leave here (Nebraska) 9/27 - Saturday and delivered today 9/29 in Arizona. But I would hate for that buyer to think they would always get it that fast if they purchased from me.

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by: MLG Jewelry This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 30 05:41:25 2014

It depends what you consider accurate.  If you consider within the same year accurate they are very accurate.  Manage buyer expectations, eBay?  More like throw sellers under the bus.  We have a handful of items with 5 day handling time and eBay tells the buyer they will have the item in 3 days, sooner than the handling time.  We have added this to all of our listings:

***eBay fast n free times are very overly optimistic estimates of eBay, please refer to our delivery times.****

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