eBay continues to raise the bar for sellers as it tries to keep buyers happy, and the Fall Seller Update offers further evidence that eBay finds it a lot easier to just side with buyers when disputes arise.
To wit, a new requirement around tracking that takes effect on September 10. The crux of the issue: eBay won't protect sellers from claims of non-receipt unless they've uploaded tracking prior to the estimated delivery date.
What's changed is the timing and method of providing tracking information: even if sellers can prove their packages have been delivered to buyers by providing shipping carriers' tracking numbers, they're out of luck unless they've uploaded tracking by a certain date. Note that sending the tracking number to buyers via member-to-member messaging does not meet the protection requirements at all.
Upload tracking to prevent "item not received" claims
Starting September 10, 2018, you will be required to upload tracking in the structured data field before the estimated delivery date has passed in order to appeal an "item not received" claim. eBay will not protect you from a claim if you send the tracking number to the buyer via email.
Without tracking information, eBay can't protect you because we won't be able to confirm your item was delivered. Tracking also benefits buyers by enabling them to track the status of their deliveries. We will also update the eBay Money Back Guarantee policy with the new guidelines.
There was much discussion about this on the eBay boards (though many sellers may have missed it in the onslaught of news in the fall update).
Did eBay really mean it would side with buyers if the seller provides tracking after an "Item Not Received" claim (INR) is filed?
An eBay moderator made clear the answer:
"Yes, if a seller doesn't upload the tracking by the estimated delivery date we cannot guarantee they will be protected. The seller will still have the opportunity to provide the tracking through the case but if the buyer still insists that they didn't get the item the case will be closed against the seller."
A reader wrote to us about the change and pointed out a related mandate: "eBay is now going to require that the proof of Delivery show the address it was delivered to. USPS only shows the zip code and that has always been adequate, but now they are saying that is not. Wow what a massive change that they just buried in with all the other minutiae."
The problem: no carrier provides buyer addresses in their tracking reports, which are visible to third parties, for obvious reasons related to privacy. Nevertheless, eBay spells out in several places, including its help pages
, the need for buyer addresses in tracking:
"To be protected, the tracking information will need to show proof of delivery from a shipping company that clearly displays the delivery status of the item as "delivered," the date of delivery (which reflects that you shipped within your stated handling time), and the recipient's address."
Sellers asked over and over for clarification - would eBay side with the buyer if the tracking information did not include the full buyer address?
But the moderator jech77 continued to obfuscate.
In responding to eBay seller bubbleman2010 who wrote, "Does tracking when the new features roll out have to display the buyers address if a INR dispute is open in order to be found in the sellers favor? YES or NO," the eBay moderator responded, "I want to reiterate, the only thing that has changed is the requirement to upload tracking before the estimated delivery date. The information that we look at to validate the tracking will continue to be the same. We have not made any other changes," leaving sellers to worry there was a reason eBay left itself lots of wiggle room. Is it possible jech77 isn't sure him or herself?
A different eBay moderator also weighed in on the issue in this thread
"USPS does not disclose a full delivery address publicly and for good reasons. We also don't validate to the exact street address for the same reason - sorry, I wasn't clear about that. We do look for a matching zip code.
"International shipments can be a bit more challenging as standards of data quality differ across countries and shipping carriers delivering to those countries. We do our best to manage policies according to what the standards are in those countries, but for US shipments, the main thing is making sure that the item was delivered within the same zip code as the buyer indicated in Checkout."