eBay sellers have already begun taking action to reduce their exposure in the event of a postal disruption in Canada. As we noted
on Wednesday, some have put their stores on vacation and are ceasing all selling activities. On Friday, eBay reached out to Canadian sellers, urging them
to keep their stores open and continue listing.
Some sellers plan to continue selling regardless of a strike or lockout - one seller noted they planned to use couriers for domestic shipping, Cash Pickup for local sales, and daytrips south to use USPS for international shipments. "It may be more convenient and less expensive to use Canada Post but if CPC isn't available, I'm not going to let that stop me. The big online retailers aren't closing for a mail strike/lockout either."
However, others see no viable alternatives to Canada Post, and some sellers were skeptical on whether eBay would fully protect them in the event of a mail disruption. One said the reason eBay wanted sellers to keep their listings active was "so that eBay can continue to collect fees."
Another seller wrote, "I don't get it...why is eBay telling us not to put our stores on vacation? What if the strike lasts 3 months, Buyers are expected to wait 3.5 months to receive their orders? And we just sell and give refunds and get negative feedback?"
"What a mess," the seller continued. "I'm not going anywhere near this type of crazy. Putting both stores on vacation immediately and ending any auction listings. I just hope everything I already sent out makes it. Maybe I'll do Craigslist and store consignment this summer. Well at least it didn't happen in October/November!"
Another seller referred to the "where possible" clause in eBay's message, where it wrote, "eBay will be monitoring, and where possible adjusting, estimated delivery dates and eBay Money Back Guarantee timelines to ensure that sellers are not penalized for shipping delays."
"That leaves a lot of outs," the seller noted. "eBay can do as they please without the outs and clauses, but they refuse to commit to help sellers. Just more wishy washy of the same non concrete answers."
While not all sellers will feel this way, here's an example of the kind of thinking eBay Canada must overcome if it doesn't want to see a decline in listing activity:
"Really? I don't mean to be harsh, but all I can say is, good luck with that. Honestly, over the years I've come to be extremely cynical about eBay's pronouncements and announcements. They almost never work in practice after the fact in the way eBay touts them in advance, and it's the seller who is left holding the bag. That has been especially true where eBay fee revenue/cash flow is concerned.
"As if that history isn't enough, can you imagine the flood of calls to CS after the strike by sellers who remained open, got burned, and are expecting action on eBay's part?
"I agree with Pierre. eBay is desperately trying not to lose fee revenue if the strike ensues. These glib assurances don't convince me that it's worth the trouble or the risk to continue to remain open for the few customers who might be willing to pay courier charges, given eBay's history of poor follow-up.
"eBay's stated "seller protection" in such situations has never been guaranteed in reality. I prefer to protect myself and my hard-earned reputation 100% - besides, I can use the time for R&D or R&R."
Today, Canada Post issued an update on its negotiations with the union, saying it had recently tabled offers for the separate negotiations under way with Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW-Urban and CUPW-RSMC), which represent its delivery agents and plant employees. Canada Post stated:
"We understand the impact that a work disruption would have on you and your customers and are therefore doing everything possible to reach a negotiated settlement quickly. We are not there yet, which means a work disruption remains a possibility at the end of this month. There is still time to reach a deal and we remain at the negotiating table."
It also stated, "In the event of a full disruption, Canada Post will not operate, deliver or accept new items."
If eBay wants sellers in Canada to keep selling, it may have to put some concrete policies in place to reduce risks to sellers rather than offering vague reassurances.