Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed Mar 10 2021 19:59:02

eBay Standard Envelope Doesn't Deliver on Its Promise

By: Ina Steiner

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Kudos to eBay for trying to solve a problem for sellers with a unique approach - the eBay Standard Envelope. But it doesn't appear to be a completely foolproof solution when it comes to providing buyers and sellers with peace of mind and protection, in part because it doesn't come with Acceptance Scans from the US Postal Service.

eBay Standard Envelope is an "affordable shipping service for trading cards up to $20" that promises to give buyers and sellers the ability to track packages. Typically tracking through the USPS would cost too much for inexpensive, lightweight items that are mailed in an envelope, yet tracking is crucial for sellers so they can prove to eBay and their buyers that they sent their orders.

The eBay Standard Envelope option promises tracking - but it only allows the buyer and the seller to track such items - and only through the eBay website. When buyers and sellers think of tracking, they think of traditional USPS tracking with door-to-door transparency.

During Wednesday's eBay weekly chat on March 10, a participant asked about the relatively new shipping option: "Could you explain how tracking works with the new eBay Standard Envelope? And what seller protection is available for INR claims and INR chargeback complaints?"

The eBay moderator did some digging and pasted what they found:

"Tracking for eBay Standard Envelope is an agreement set up with several of our partners. It is not a USPS tracking number, and is only trackable via the eBay website (via a buyer's Purchase History or a sellers Order History). 

"While you shouldn't expect to see an acceptance scan from USPS at the counter or by the letter carrier, there are systems in place to ensure that, as a seller, you get credit for shipping items on time and with a valid number."

The moderator also found an answer regarding protections for INR situations (Item Not Received claims):

"eBay Standard Envelope doesn't provide any special protections when it comes to INRs or payment disputes. However, the standard protections will apply - if the item scans as attempted or actually delivered we would find in your favor in the case of an INR. Since payment disputes are decided by the financial institution we cannot promise that it will always be found in your favor, but we will always work to provide the institution with the evidence of deliverability. If you encounter an INR payment dispute for an eBay Standard Envelope item please consider contacting Customer Support so they can review your options with you."

That sounds less than reassuring, and a seller responded by pointing out buyers would expect a USPS acceptance scan and asked, "shouldn't there be a bit of education by eBay to THEM? Might forestall THEIR questions to sellers."

Several sellers who used the new service reported their concerns about tracking on this eBay discussion board thread.

On Friday, March 5th, a seller wrote, " I stopped using standard envelope. Tried 3x. Tracking showed no progress. One 3 oz envelope I got to pay $3.54 as the buyer was charged for insufficient postage. So far it was a failure for me."

And on Monday, a seller wrote, "I have had two that say it has been delivered and it has not. Buyer has not received. Any help would be great. Any ideas?"

eBay Standard Envelope promises to fill a crucial need for certain types of items, and sellers really want it to work - but if it doesn't, they will likely ask themselves why they are paying extra for the service.



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Readers Comments

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by: Silver Ice King This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 10 21:45:59 2021

Actually the Sellers are not paying extra for the Ebay Standard Envelope tracking as the cost is less than the shipping with a regular forever stamp.  A seller can send an envelope for as little as $0.51 with the so called tracking.  

The problem that is happening is the employees at the local post offices know absolutely nothing about the program which also does not allow for scheduling a pickup if that is all you have going out.  The scan that Ebay talks about it supposed to be happening when the item goes through one of their sorting machines and that is not always happening, but even when it does is showing up late because of the delays USPS has been having with even getting the items to their sorting hubs and the backup that is already occurring at that stage of the game.  This causes the Seller to now have a defect for late shipment because their is no proof that Ebay will accept that you mailed the item within your stated handling time unless you have moved that out also.

Again the final scan is happening at the last sorting but before being delivered to the local post office for delivery which makes the Buyer worried that they did not get their item and in fact they still may not see it for another 2-3 days after that last scan.  This program is nothing but another scam for Ebay to be able to charge the Sellers that additional 5% for falling below average because they depended on a poorly designed and implemented program from Ebay, which as we all know are always looking for another way to reach into a sellers pockets and this is what they came up with since they were losing out on all of the potential revenue from those sending PWE's.

The seller who had to pay the postage due amount probably had an envelope that was thicker than the 1/4 inch that USPS designates is the maximum thickness for anything being shipped via First Class Mail without paying additional fees for doing so.  This issue could have also happened erroneously due to the USPS employees not knowing about the program and them seeing the printed label and thinking the mailer was trying to cheat the system and flagged it for shipment via First Class Package which is why the increase was made.  That allows USPS to then charge the package as if it had been shipped at the local PO via Retail rates but of course Ebay does nothing to help explain these problems to their customers as it is all about collecting more money down the road when the seller winds up with to many late shipments or complaints from the buyers and fall below standard and USPS has done nothing to educate their employees about this new program.

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by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 11 00:11:20 2021

“”... there are systems in place to ensure that, as a seller, you get credit for shipping items on time and with a valid number."”

AKA — We are eBay. Trust us.

Now that’s funny, I don’t care who y’are.

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by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 11 00:53:14 2021

“ USPS has done nothing to educate their employees about this new program.”

And indeed they won’t. It’s not their responsibility to train their people in all the foibles and pitfalls that may ensue from some shipper’s scheme to bypass USPS specific tracking processes.

For example, UPS employs their ‘Sure Post’ program to effect handoff and last mile delivery of a significant number of items shipped via UPS (as far as the customer is informed). Though they also too frequently plaster their sure post label over the USPS bar code making the delivery scan impossible to achieve without frequent delay at delivery units to try and decipher the scan barcode or number, meaning sometimes a delivery is made, but not verifiable. But when that happens, it is not a fault of the USPS, nor is any ‘training’ involved to overcome all that. That’s on the shipper in the end. Stop covering up the USPS barcodes.

Also, there are some packages that are ‘delivered’ to USPS facilities by Amazon and FedEx intended for USPS customers - most often to PO Boxes, but sometimes to street addresses - that have no readable USPS barcode to scan at all. In those cases, the item is indicated as ‘delivered’ because the shipper considers their job done as soon as it hits the USPS door, even though the intended customer doesn’t have it in hand yet - but will most often next business day. More customer confusion for which no USPS ‘training’ would apply to overcome.

So if eBay want’s to interleave their own tracking into the USPS established processes in order to save a few pennies, it’s on eBay to do better than having their ‘moderators’ hunting and pecking for answers to seller’s valid concerns on a case by case basis, and it’s on eBay to ensure their tracking dynamics are compatible with USPS procedures to verify deliveries.

Otherwise issues such as that very well analyzed and described by SIK above are inevitable. And, as with everything else schemed by eBay, not surprising.

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by: BobNJ This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 11 01:04:26 2021

It could also have been a cardboard type photo mailer instead of a regular envelope which my local post office will consider a "package" and charge postage due.

Personally I mail cards in a standard 6x9 manila envelope that must NOT have any clasp. I use some thin cardboard inside for protection and mail regular first class mail. This works all the time but doesn't have tracking. I'm typically mailing low cost items so if it doesn't show up, reimbursing the  buyer isn't anything major. More expensive items I ship in regular padded envelopes with tracking as packages and no one complains.

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This user has validated their user name. by: cfrphoto

Thu Mar 11 01:18:04 2021

I ship less expensive stamps in square floppy disk envelopes. Rigid envelopes are a must for color slides and often helpful for protecting stamps. So far, paying the extra 20 cents for nonmachinable envelopes has paid off in reliability. If I understand @Silver Ice Kin's comment, nonmachinable envelopes might never be scanned. Based on the description, I am not sure what eBay is selling. I would prefer a First-Class tracking label from the US Postal Service allowing use of stamps to pay postage. Older postage stamps can be purchased at about  50% of face. Buying labels from eBay and accounting for postage costs in Managed Payments could create an accounting nightmare that is not needed right now. Has anyone received any substantive communication from eBay about the details of the program - every detail, not a vague overview.

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by: bb6 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 11 01:25:34 2021

Funny all the complaints about this program.  When we first got wind of this program months ago, I asked a lot of questions in the comments because I didn't want to have all these issues and multiple people on this chat attacked me for asking questions and how I should just be happy that ebay is finally putting out a new program to help sellers. Now you see why.  

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 11 02:47:14 2021

Sure...... just call eBay and they will “help you out” ESPECIALLY to the buyers financial institution!

That’s a chargeback you will loose since the buyers bank won’t be able to track it.

Never mind the extra %5, get ready for a total loss with an “I’m sorry but there’s nothing we can do to help” coming your way!

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by: wrslss1222 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 11 06:03:02 2021

I asked about this at the Post Office where I ship from and everyone, including the Postmaster did not know anything about it.

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by: Silver Ice King This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 11 06:49:41 2021

@cfrphoto

Unfortunately at this point in time the ONLY way to get this service and to TRACK this service is through Ebay as this is a program they worked out with USPS executives that only they seem to know about.  The label must be printed through Ebay and has a special tracking number that is only able to be scanned at the sorting hubs so there is no additional work for USPS whatsoever which is why nobody in the local post offices know anything about it.  So if your item winds up being a non machinable item it will not get scanned at all and as far as Ebay is concerned you may very well earn a defect for it.  I still prefer the way i have mailed these lower end cards in the first place which is in a PWE with the card in a top loader and sealed in a team bag which I then tape to the inside of the envelope so it cannot slide.  I use a stamper to put "Do Not Bend on the Front and Back of the envelope and in the last 2 years of shipping these types of items on ebay I only had 2 of them not arrive which I refunded the buyer immediately and then blocked them going forward.  I did not get into any argument with the buyer about whether they did or did not get the card but just did an auto block as I just did not need the hassle going forward and its not like they were a regular repeat customer.  For me at least, all the repeat customers always wanted their items shipped with tracking in a  padded envelope for protection.

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 11 10:54:14 2021

eBay Never Delivers on Its Promises

There - fixed it for you

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by: I Must be Crazy This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 11 17:09:51 2021

Sounds to me like it isn't really much different than using a regular envelope and a stamp.

If there isn't a procedure to scan, and protections are not guaranteed, then what exactly is the point??

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Thu Mar 11 18:29:49 2021

If you are still an eBay seller, and are surprised to find this eBay program underwhelming, disappointing, and dishonest, then you have not been paying attention as this is standard operating procedure for a company that is sorely lacking in both ethics as well as transparency.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Bill

Fri Mar 12 00:15:23 2021

Like cfrphoto said why use eBay when you can buy postage for at the most 60% and send it non-machinable with stiff cardboard so the item does not get bent. I would never send a collectable through the mail as a regular machinable item (even though many idiot sellers do). You are just asking for trouble since it has the possibility of being chewed up by the sorting machines.  

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by: Shay This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 12 10:51:14 2021

This doesn’t surprise me at all.
I wish they would fix their outdated website. They should take a lesson from Etsy.  

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by: Shay This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 12 10:52:21 2021

Bill,
Maybe to save on shipping?

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This user has validated their user name. by: Bill

Fri Mar 12 23:31:59 2021

Shay:

Well they are doing a dis-service to their customers by trying to save a few cents.

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by: MissDidi This user has validated their user name.

Sat Mar 13 15:48:38 2021

The tracking numbers are EasyShip/DHL numbers.  That's why there's no equivalent of a scan form.  USPS isn't responsible for anything other than intake and final delivery.  You can search the tracking numbers on sites like PostalNinja or ParcelsApp as well as through eBay.  There's some internal issue where eBay isn't always receiving the updates.

In resolving an INR claim, I actually had to explain this to my phone rep, although once he was able to see the item delivered (just not from his internal system), he did close the case in my favor.  He also had me take a screen capture from the 3rd party tracking site showing the item as delivered and send it to the buyer.  It worked, but the whole process felt sketchy.

eBay also failed to provide accurate information about width and uniformity requirements and about how IMB should be placed, so it's easy to see why folks are seeing their stuff treated as first class packages.

On top of that, all these people printing a screen capture of the label to their envelope have no clue that they need to orient it in a specific way, without altering the image size, and depending on their image quality, may not be producing scannable results.

I realize it's pretty early in the program, but I haven't had any issues with the carrier part of the equation over the hundreds of envelopes I've sent so far.  All my issues have come from eBay glitches in combination with poorly informed reps and the same old failure to set realistic expectations for the buyer.

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by: jpwest13 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 14 10:39:27 2021

It gets even worse. eBay deletes the tracking numbers and tracking history, leaving you with no evidence that you shipped the item.
I had a Standard Envelope order reported for non-delivery. I responded with the tracking number, and even quoted the tracking history all the way through "out for delivery."
Today the case was resolved in the buyer's favor - he got a refund and I don't get the money. But when I view the order details now, there is no tracking number.



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