Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun July 31 2016 03:56:03

New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay's policy of siding with buyers in disputes is under scrutiny once again, this time in the New York Times. An eBay seller asked the Times columnist "The Haggler" to look into a case in which a buyer claimed his item, a $1,400 doughnut fryer, was defective. And it's clearly touching a nerve with EcommerceBytes readers, who are sending us emails linking to the article.

The seller claims eBay overruled his return policy and wrote to The Haggler, "eBay demands I pay return shipping and refund the buyer, or the company will give her the refund and let her keep the machine."

Despite the columnist's best efforts, he says he failed to help the reader.

"The Haggler emailed eBay on Mr. Erike's behalf in the hopes of persuading the company to re-examine its conclusions. That didn't work. It only produced the following bit of email boilerplate:

"While the overwhelming majority of transactions go smoothly, eBay has designed a set of robust polices and standards geared toward fairness in cases where eBay needs to step in to adjudicate. We've reached out to this seller to provide best practices to avoid similar scenarios in the future.""

The seller told The Haggler he had provided eBay with proof the item worked while the customer "declined even to send a photo of her electrical setup" (the item requires a specific electrical environment - the right wattage and amperes - in order to work, information he said he had included in the listing description).

The Haggler said eBay's response to the seller's case "underscored that evidence was kind of beside the point."

You can find the column, titled, "Lesson From a Doughnut Fryer Debacle: Let the eBay Seller Beware," on the NYT website. What do you think, and have you run into problems with eBay overriding your returns policies?




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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware   New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware

by: gizmo This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jul 31 08:12:57 2016

I have indeed , this is my main reason to quit all , with deadbay. I lost $2700.00 on a marshall amp. Not only did it undersell , I got waylayed when I was out of town. I lost the amp & money. Screw ebay & its theft . Criminals !!! Theyre nothing short of criminals. Never again will I make a sale or purchase on this criminal site.

Perminate Link for New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware   New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Sun Jul 31 09:43:37 2016

eBay executives wonder why they are stuck in single digit growth rates, yet they are unwilling to face up to the fact that the corporate policy of siding with buyers virtually 100% of the time is what drives sellers and their inventory out of the marketplace.

The seller appears to have provided the details necessary to enable the buyer to make an informed decision in making their purpose.

From what I have read, the buyer apparently ignored (or failed to read)the electrical specifications the seller included in their listing description.  In ignoring that information, the buyer made a poor choice when they decided to complete the purchase and their dissatisfaction with their purchase is due solely to their poor decision.

Bottom line, IF eBay was truly neutral and wanted to make a FAIR ruling in this case, they would have told the seller that eBay would absorb the cost of return shipping as long as the seller agreed to accept the return.

Instead, eBay has decided to allow, permit and condone buyer ignorance while at the same time financially punishing the seller for the buyers poor choice and lack of due diligence.

No seller in their right mind should place high ticket or bulky items for sale on eBay knowing that they are selling their items through a marketplace that does not in any way support their sellers or treat them fairly when a transaction is disputed.



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by: HappyOne This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jul 31 09:51:52 2016

As said many times before ''Don't sell anything on Ebay you can not afford to lose.'' I sell yard sale treasures (junk). I rarely get a return but I do build % into selling price for return shipping just incase. Usually buyer does not return unless something is really wrong. Even if broken I want item back; that way no questions if true or not. I can see my errors in my packing and handle USPS refund documentation easier. Return for refund with me paying return shipping has resulted in few returns; either many are too lazy to go to Post Office or their mailbox to return with free shipping label; or those wanting ''free money'' or ''free item'' just go away.  I do not sell anything electronic or clothing online. Used USA made tools, china, silverware, toys, and collectibles are enough for fun money.
Electronics, cloths are best sold at yard sales or flea markets -  testing/try on available - cash no returns. Bigger items are best sold carefully on Craig's list - cash only.
I sell at flea markets only taking cash. If someone wants something ATM's are available to get cash. I have heard many sad tales of the $10 bounced checks costing $35 with bank fees. Also tech savvy sellers using smartphones with ''Square Reader'' getting credit card chargebacks losing expensive items (but they did make the sale by having this payment option available).  

Perminate Link for New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware   New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware

by: gizmo This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jul 31 10:46:56 2016

Happyone @ I agree! I sell at several places. Do very well considering the ebay rug was jerked out years ago. Adapt & move on. All sales are final!

Perminate Link for New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware   New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Sun Jul 31 11:32:23 2016

I'm afraid that the article transcribed eBay's response incorrectly. The letter should have read, "eBay has designed a set of robust polices and standards geared toward screwing its sellers."

This is just the kind of bad publicity that eBay needs more of if there is any hope of treating sellers fairly. And in a publication like the New York Times, the seller (Erike) may still have a chance at a resolution in his favor.

Perminate Link for New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware   New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Sun Jul 31 13:33:19 2016

Everyone should STOP selling on eBay for FEAR of being ripped off!

In fact everyone should stay home, you could get killed crossing the street!

Perminate Link for New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware   New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware

by: 27tcle This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jul 31 14:47:16 2016

To be honest, if a buyer files SNAD you're screwed pure and simple. I'm sure we all know this. You will loose the money, be billed for shipping, and have a 50/50 chance of loosing your item. You risk: The buyer sending you something you didn't ship them it all, Ships what you sent, but it has parts removed, Or they did not have a clue how to use it, and broke it. To add more salt to the wound they can neg you for spite as well.

OTOH, I've had a few sellers try to bait and switch me. I really don't understand why they bothered to attempt this fraud on ebay. What's the point? Ebay always sides with the buyer.

It all boils down to risk, I usually buy stuff that is broken for parts or repair anyway, fix and resell it at very reasonable prices, so for the most part it's a non issue.

Bottom line stay away from selling items with high intrinsic value or items that can be be nit-picked to be worth anything. Only sell items you can stomach loosing to a thief. The good news is that it isn't as bad as it was in the 2008 to 2012 years though.

Perminate Link for New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware   New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware

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

Sun Jul 31 16:18:16 2016

Yep, last week, eBay screwed me out of $10 shipping by allowing idiot Buyer who didn't bother to read description, to claim SNAD.

Then, trying to see if I could avoid a Defect, I clicked to refund Buyer before eBay "made a decision in this case", and that closed the case with no obligation of the Buyer to return the $80 item.  I wasn't given an option to demand the item be returned.

Called eBay and they had me go through and buy a 2nd postage label for the item, with addresses reversed (making it then a "return" label), and they sent the Buyer a note with the label.  He must have thought it was an OFFICIAL notice from eBay to return it (not a courtesy attempt to override the actual finished case result), since he's put it in the mail.

Not doin' that again...

Perminate Link for New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware   New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware

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

Sun Jul 31 16:20:11 2016

Forgot to mention that NONE of this was in line with my stated return policy (just a waste of typing and bandwidth).

Perminate Link for New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware   New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Sun Jul 31 17:04:12 2016

The No Return policy is a farce

It took me years to convince a friend who sold on ebay that he would be better off offering returns.

He finally see's what happens when a customer is unhappy.

Ebay forced him to offer a return label, once his item was "delivered" ebay refunded the the buyer. He had a NO RETURN policy in affect when he sold the item.

Buyers can rip off any seller anytime on ebay.

Most sellers know this and assume the risk.

Perminate Link for New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware   New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware

by: comments This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jul 31 18:20:07 2016

Why is it that no story about ebay is EVER positive? I fail to see where everyone just has it in for ebay. This might explain a mere 1% growth to Amazons 30% last quarter. Allowing buyers to destroy sellers results in less quality listings and more all profit generic junk. Why sell expensive high quality merch that is risky when you can sell low cost junk? When will ebay learn?

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This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Sun Jul 31 19:27:26 2016

Ya, I'm in the middle of losing over $100.00 on one sale now. Electronic transactions really aren't the way to go.

Perminate Link for New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware   New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware

by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 1 01:01:02 2016

I don't sell on ebay anymore, so that's good.
Ebay's behavior as the arbiter of disputes is outrageous.
I sure wouldn't take PayPal anymore.  

Perminate Link for New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware   New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware

by: RPSJP This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 1 01:27:35 2016

All my items on eBay are 'Good' Till Cancelled "(GTC) and some are" International Site Visibility "(ISV). The ISV fee is $0.54 and is charged at the time the item is automatically relisted to every 30 days.

But this is what has not happened are charging me this fee when we revise an item. That is, every time I revise an item changing images or the quantity, the $0.54  fee is charged again.

I communicated with several emails with the support, but they ignored the problem every time.

In some emails I have attached the printscreen that showed what was happening in that way was impossible they do not understand.

I realized that they were already making fun in my face, they pretended not to understand, but they know that this is happening.

Perminate Link for New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware   New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware

by: KE6HTS This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 1 01:56:55 2016

I quit selling on eBay a year ago when a buyer filed a fraudulent SNAD dispute (description was clear saying no returns and his emails basically said it was not what he wanted.) I was out of Internet Access when the dispute was filed for a couple of days, and eBay pulled the money out of my PayPal account with no requirement for the buyer to return the computer (I still don't have it.) The Fraud Promotion department (sometimes misrepresented as Customer Service) said it was my problem. I was a power seller at the time and the buyer had zero feedback. Now, I just warn everyone I meet to avoid using eBay as the chances of Fraud are just too great.

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by: AuctionMonkey This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 1 02:01:36 2016

Even if he gets it back and it works perfectly, eBay doesn't care... Accept the return or get a defect and lose anyway. Another great reason we're cutting our listings back and leaving asap.  

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by: imbloated This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 1 02:21:09 2016

Ebay return policy is a fiasco. My buyer said he just did not like the item, but ebay ruled in his favor. My auction said no guarantees, no returns. I escalated my complaint, and the ebay employee escalated the claim illegally, because neither buyer nor seller asked for this. He then ruled in my favor, refunded my money, and told the buyer to take his complaint to paypal. Paypal then froze my funds, even tho the buyer wrote that he ''just did not like'' the item. Paypal immediately and illegally found in buyer's favor-illegal because Paypal's policies have stringent requirements on what can be returned. Paypal ignores their own policies. I stopped almost completely selling on ebay.

Perminate Link for New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware   New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware

by: Jester This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 1 04:09:43 2016

I have always taken returns and still do. I have been on eBay since 2008. I have had a few scammers and some buyers remorse but the vast majority of my buyers have been honest. The most expensive item I have ever sold was $250. I am by no means completely pleased with eBay. I buy and I sell on ebay and Amazon neither is perfect or ever will be but they have offered me a chance to run my own business that has supplied at first a part time income and for the last 4 years a full time income.

Ebay needs a vast over-haul but they also need to quit changing things over and over. By changing things constantly it adds confusion to frustration. Find a system and stick to it and tweak it, till near perfect, then leave it alone. I just read where they want to add 100 million more accounts. If they do this, without revamping their servers and infrastructure, it would be a catastrophe. EBay needs to restore the confidence of the buyers and sellers they have already by making things run more smoothly. If they did eBays revenue would rise just from their existing customer base and growth would happen organically.

My business has changed over the last 8 years. And now I focus on items that get very few returns. This year my return rate is slightly above 1% on eBay. My sales have dropped, on eBay, in the last 2 years by more than 50% but my Amazon business has increased my over all revenue and profits by more than I have lost on eBay and is growing at a 25% per year increase. Amazon's returns are about 4% a year and I am still learning what to sell there. I am selling about 4 times more on Amazon then what I am on ebay.

If I allow any one site to dictate my sales it would be devastating but the over all goal is to create a brand or business model and find multiple good sales outlets including my own platform. But this requires a progressive business posture to cope with the market and the outlets I have to do business on and with. Ebay is only one of those options.  

Perminate Link for New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware   New York Times Advises eBay Sellers to Beware

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 1 05:34:31 2016

eBay executives wonder why they are stuck in single digit growth rates, yet they are unwilling to face up to the fact that the corporate policy of siding with buyers virtually 100% of the time is what drives sellers and their inventory out of the marketplace.
^^
That's only one part of the reason.  The other is that it doesn't develop and research "devices" like AMZ (Echo, Kindle) and it doesn't have a streaming service (like AMZ) and it doesn't allow its Half.com site to sell ebooks (like AMZ).  It's stuck in the 1990s mode of doing business.  AMZ has figured out that buyers will think about AMZ FIRST before other sites because it has such innovative and diverse services.  When downloading music, I think AMZ first.  When I want to rent a movie, I think AMZ first.  

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by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 1 05:37:38 2016

My business has changed over the last 8 years. And now I focus on items that get very few returns.
^^
This.  Sell stuff that people won't return.
As for the $1400 donut fryer, it sounds like it's a commercial fryer and I would like to know about the transaction. Was the buyer a commercial buyer?

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