Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed Sept 19 2018 20:45:10

Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations

By: Ina Steiner

Sponsored Link

A seller reached out and told us his sales had dropped precipitously and thought he knew why: eBay has been using his Global Region sales - a subset of his international sales - to evaluate his overall performance instead of using his total sales as it had been doing. (Let's call him John Smith, as he wishes to remain anonymous.)

If you sell online, you already know international sales are more likely to experience issues due to the added difficulty in proving delivery.

The problem has its roots in a change eBay made in August 2017 when it made changes to its geographic regions - including one called "Global" composed of a subset of a seller's international sales. 

When eBay introduced changes to Global performance standards, it didn't adjust how it evaluated sellers to account for the fact that Global now included only sales from countries EXCLUDING the US; UK and Ireland; and Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. 

We easily confirmed this by viewing how eBay was measuring Smith's PowerSeller level. eBay downgraded his level to Bronze, but it was *only* basing that evaluation on transactions in the "Global Region," which includes Canada, Australia, Russia, Mexico, Italy, Spain, and all countries, but not the countries named in the paragraph above.


Above: The chart shows eBay used the seller's 6,000-plus US transactions to evaluate his PowerSeller status, but used only the 400-plus transactions he had with buyers in the Global region, a subset of all international transactions, to determine his PowerSeller level.

Another astute reader had brought to our attention an issue with PowerSeller evaluations in the Spring. An eBay customer service rep told the seller that eBay had downgraded their account to Bronze based on the sellers' Global transactions, excluding US sales. 

The seller wrote, "If you now look at the criteria "Global sales" are the measure for Silver and above vs domestic sales for Bronze. I always thought that Global sales included everywhere, but I was informed that is not the case. Global Sales exclude domestic sales."

As the seller indicated, the eBay rep's logic didn't make sense and seemed unfair. But what we failed to realize at the time was that the rep was incorrect in another way - eBay was evaluating the seller's PowerSeller level based on a *subset* of her international sales, making it even more unfair and illogical. 

Clearly having a region named Global that doesn't include all global sales is confusing to eBay and everyone else. Here's a link to eBay's help page defining the four regions.

Our readers weren't the only ones who noticed the impact of the introduction of geographic regions, here's a thread on the eBay boards from July with a screenshot that shows a seller being evaluated as a PowerSeller based on nearly 4,000 transactions, but being downgraded from Gold to Bronze level based on only 254 "global" transactions.

If that's where it stopped, it would be bad enough - frustrating sellers and hurting their morale, potentially harming them in Best Match search (if PowerSeller level matters, which we believe it still does), and quite embarrassing for eBay. However, the confusion over "Global sales" appears to have much more dire consequences for sellers.

We know that eBay employees (all the way up) failed to understand that the new definition of Global impacted PowerSeller level evaluations in a way eBay had not intended. (Didn't anyone at eBay notice that suddenly, many of their PowerSellers dropped to Bronze?) 

So it's not hard to image eBay made the same mistake in sellers' overall evaluations. Smith is certain that the "Global" region flaw harmed his overall performance standings, causing his visibility in search to plummet and his sales to drop in all regions.

He provided us with screenshots that showed the decline in sales in his biggest sub-category: A report he printed in July showed sales were up 17.9% compared to the prior 31 days. The same report printed this month showed sales had declined 9.7% compared to the prior 31 days. 

Overall, Smith estimates the evaluation issues has caused a drop in sales of between 33% - 50%. "You simply can not evaluate 3-5% of your transaction pool the same way you evaluate 100%. Doesn't make sense," he said.

The PowerSeller who posted on the eBay boards shared screenshots with his colleagues showing a dramatic dropoff in impressions after his account was downgraded based on Global-only transactions.

Extremely concerning is the fact eBay will begin to impose a penalty fee on sellers whom it determines have high rates of claims. An error in evaluating sellers in that scenario wouldn't just mean a drop in sales for those sellers impacted - it would mean a 40% increase in fees.

Is eBay up to the task? If it isn't, it would simply mean more money in its coffers from the penalty fees.



Comments (76) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations   Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations

by: eBay Shill Buster This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 19 21:11:01 2018

The gross incompetence of Devin is like trickle down economics, the lunacy extends down from the very top of eBay, all the way to the bottom lower level employees, just ask those who were laid off by the 'Moron in Chief', they will tell you all about it.

eBay under current leadership is doomed to a slow death.

Perminate Link for Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations   Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations

This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Wed Sep 19 21:59:50 2018

Here are instructions Smith provided so sellers can find their PowerSeller report like the one above (apparently it's not intuitive):

Click Account Settings in the top left corner under the Hi! Dropdown.

From there, scroll down to your Seller Dashboard Summary and click on the Power Seller Level box. You will see the information there.  

Note: I would advise readers to print reports and/or take screenshots right away to document what they are seeing now, in case it changes.

Perminate Link for Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations   Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations

by: eBay Shill Buster This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 19 23:00:34 2018

Devin's entire business plan is to invent new schemes to extract more dollars from the seller base any way he can, sellers are hip to all of his scams because he invents a new fraud by the day.

Instead of finding ways to increase marketplace traffic and bring in buyers, he is shooting himself in the foot by extorting the sellers with one criminal scam after another.

Without sellers eBay is nothing, because Google sends organic traffic to unique inventory, Devin is too stupid to understand as he drives those sellers off of eBay, his Google traffic is cut with each listing taken down.

Deven and his Stooge Hal Lawton by pulling down millions of unique listings of one of a kind items like the postcard inventory he pulled down from the seller who was running GTC listings is an example.

Perminate Link for Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations   Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations

by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 20 00:00:42 2018

Working as intended probably.mbit hopefully ot gets changed

Perminate Link for Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations   Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations

by: Shackles4Devin This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 20 00:07:02 2018

Devin has received so many Botox injections, that is brain has become stiff. When looking at pictures of him, he actually looks like a stiff. If you are dead, how can you think?  Hey stupid, your punishment system isn't working. ''Global'' by definition, is  
relating to or involving the ENTIRE EARTH.
Like I told an American CS robot, if I am being downgraded to Above Standard next month, it's eBay's problem, not mine. Who gives a flip!

Perminate Link for Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations   Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations

by: smallstuff This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 20 00:53:01 2018

I noticed the same change when eBay changed the criteria by introducing sales regions.  I suddenly lost my global top rated seller rating because my annual global sales dropped below 100.  It left me confused because my US sales alone were above 100.  I wasted a couple of hours figuring out what they could possibly mean and then decided I didn't care.  I sell mostly to the US and that is where I like my top rated and power seller ratings to focus.  Rather than fight the impossible fight, I focused on selling.  I keep a separate spreadsheet to track my total sales and US sales in $ and items just so I know where I stand each month.  This is not for the discount since I won't (for now) provide free return shipping.

Perminate Link for Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations   Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations

This user has validated their user name. by: Lightning

Thu Sep 20 01:22:25 2018

Ina, I followed your exact instructions with no avail.  I get to the Seller Dashboard, been there MANY times before.  It says Region: USA, ''Your seller level'' right under that.  But there is no ''Power Seller Level box'' anywhere on that page, at least not on my view of it.  The page is all about Top Rated, how many listings, returns, late shipments, tracking, etc., but not a mention of power seller to be found.  I even used Ctrl+F (find) and typed in power, not showing up according to the browser.  So it's not like I missed it.  

I then figured maybe I'm not a Power Seller, but last I remember I was Bronze.  So I look into it more. On that same Summary page, there is a link on the left bottom that says ''All program details''.  I click on it, and the new page is entitled ''eBay Top Rated seller program standards''.  Near the bottom, it says to be Top Rated you have to be at least a Bronze PowerSeller.  That's fine, but how do you know?  I must be Bronze because I do get the Top Rated discount.  

Over on the right side of that page are a couple of SHORTCUTS.  One of them says ''Powerseller requirements''.  I click on it and it brings me to a page called ''Powerseller Level'' and indicates that I am a Bronze Powerseller.  Wow, THAT was easy.  I bookmarked it so I don't have to go down that rabbit hole again.

Perminate Link for Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations   Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations

by: yesmikan This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 20 01:24:19 2018

No offense but what good is the Powerseller status now anyway? It's just a metric that ebay has left by the wayside and doesn't impact the metrics used to judge a seller nowadays. Practically deprecated at this point. There is no badge shown to buyers anymore and no perks given out as far as I know? There was a time in ye old days when having 95% positive feedback meant you were doing well; not anymore, and now they'll charge you extra fees if you don't jump through the increasingly shrinking needle eye of whatever new scheme some exec has concocted.  

Perminate Link for Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations   Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations

by: eBay Shill Buster This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 20 01:25:01 2018

Devin is a worse CEO than Donahoe and more cut throat for sure, he actually thinks his schemes are fooling sellers and he is pulling the wool over the heads of the unwashed.

How dumb could a CEO be?

eBay hired the wrong guy at the wrong time in Devin, that is a documented fact now.

Look at all the foolish programs Devin has come up with that are complete flops, Seller Hub, Promoted Listings, Structured Data, ePID and the eBay catalog, downgrading sellers to extract additional fees, then hold on to the sellers cash so eBay can use it with the latest and greatest Devin scam, eBay Payments.

Great guy for sure!

Perminate Link for Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations   Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations

This user has validated their user name. by: Lightning

Thu Sep 20 02:19:12 2018

@yesmikan
Excellent point!  After I re-found that I am bronze, I thought to myself ''and so what?''.  It's not promoted or shown on my store homepage, not on any of my listing pages, not showing most importantly on my listing entry in a search where a buyer might decide to go with ''that powerseller'' instead of a generic.  We have no idea if it is doing anything at all for us.  It's like we're SECRET powersellers, like secret agents.  We have to keep a low profile and work in the shadows.  But I guess there's the old fallback saying - it can't hurt.

Perminate Link for Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations   Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations

by: nsc This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 20 02:25:02 2018

Yep, I've been downgraded to Bronze from Silver based on "Global Region" sales alone. How stupid does an organization have to be, to do this? I also just reported another bug to eBay, where sending a 2nd invoice in Seller Hub changed the Sales Date of the transaction.

To see the Powerseller Level report, don't start from Seller Hub, where it seems to be unavailable. Start with the "Hi,  " menu entry at the top left of the ebay home screen.

Perminate Link for Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations   Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Thu Sep 20 02:40:59 2018

@Lightning

If you feel you are following Ina's directions and end up on your Dashboard.  You are not following Ina's directions.  I mean this in a light hearted humorous way, look to your other left.  I think you are actually going right when you need to go left at the top of the Ebay screen.

On the upper left it says Hi Lightening or whatever your name is in Ebay [not your ID, your first name].  I hope this actually helps, if not, just ignore me.  LOL

Perminate Link for Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations   Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Thu Sep 20 02:44:06 2018

I am not sold that being a PS has any value on Ebay anymore at all.  I'm just not convinced.  But with that said, if Ebay has these numbers all screwed up, the stuff I said about the way they are going to eval us on SNAD rates scares the hell out of me.

For myself it isn't likely to affect me as I have a low return rate, but the holidays are coming and that could change with no notice at all.  And sellers that are in a category that has a higher chance of returns is really going to suffer.

Perminate Link for Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations   Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations

by: maxmad This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 20 04:13:38 2018


Constant on going never ending errors, draconian rules and policies programming that conflicts with programming, and all mostly against it's customers, at the end of the day, all it accomplishes is less money for ebay.

ebay is a company truly destroyed by itself

Perminate Link for Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations   Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 20 06:09:08 2018

I don't ship internationally.  it causes toooo many problems.  If the overseas buyer wants to buy, they will contact me direct and we'll discuss it.

Perminate Link for Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations   Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 20 06:10:49 2018

@Marie is correct.  Power sellers don't get anything out of being a Power Seller.  I would much rather that EB do like Bonanza and give us a badge on our stores.  I don't think AMZ has power sellers....so what's the point.  A lot of stuff EB does is from the 1990s, they need a complete overhaul.

Perminate Link for Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations   Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations

This user has validated their user name. by: Beanie

Thu Sep 20 06:19:36 2018

What is it with all of these selling "venues"? Are they in in a Cult of BDSM? Seems every move they make is to punish. They don't seem to care about moving merchandise as much as dreaming up schemes to do underhanded things to grab money and not have to lift one finger to get it. Make a policy, get money, tamper with settings, get money, change wording, get money. On and on. All of them are scamming sellers in one way or the other. Sickening!

Perminate Link for Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations   Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations

by: marty This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 20 06:59:25 2018

People (many) waste too much time on this. There is no way to prove any of this. If the next month Smith's sales returns to normal, will he write about it? Lowering his status helped him to increase his sales? I don't think so. People complain when the sales are down. When they go up again, they don't complain, of course, they don't look for the explanations, they don't endlessly analyze why they went up.

It is a cycle, sales go up and down. I have days when sales are up like crazy, then next few days there are almost no sales, without me changing anything.  

Perminate Link for Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations   Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations

by: HardWorkingSeller This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 20 07:23:57 2018

I can't get the report discussed for any of my accounts.  Ina's correspondent may be homed on a server running old code, or they are maybe classed as a C2C (low volume) seller?

Global is a poor choice of title for eBay's coverage.  'Rest of World' would be better as it's a bucket for the countries left over after the named ones are counted.  Most of us won't have $1000 revenue/100 sales in this bucket so a buyer in Ethiopia won't see a TRS flag when they browse my listings.  I can deal with that.

Powerseller has long since been abandoned by eBay as a meaningful seller metric (as they say they prefer to acknowledge/reward performance not revenue) and they've been flagging plans to abandon it for a while now.  I do not believe that it has any impact on Cassini search ranking.  My guess is that they're leaving it in its current vestigial form until they launch the next version of seller performance measurement rather than take flak on sites such as this for dropping the logo.

So I doubt that this is a big issue.  Provided that you make TRS in your main markets (ie. eBay correctly records the minimum of 100 sales and $1000 in revenue) then you should not be losing out in search placement.  I doubt any buyer cares what Powerseller level you are.  I certainly couldn't tell you what it takes to be Silver or Gold and I'm more aware than most buyers.

Perminate Link for Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations   Uncovering a Catastrophic Error in eBay Seller Evaluations

This user has validated their user name. by: VV

Thu Sep 20 08:45:57 2018

There is only downside to selling internationally.

Click to view more comments
1 2 3 4  [Next Page]


Login is required to post comments.
To sign in to leave a comment using your AB Verify User Name, fill in the form below. If you have not yet signed up for AB Verify, or if you'd like more information, go to the Registration Page
.

Login for AB Verify
Be sure and use your email address and password to log in.

 
Email:
Password:
 
 Forgot Your Password?
 Even though you are signed in with the AuctionBytes Blog, you will have to sign in to the EcommerceBytes blog. But you can sign in with your existing AB Verify info.