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Fri Aug 15 2014 09:19:50

eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassle Free Returns

By: Reader

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Dear Ina,
A few years ago you did a story about my departure from eBay. With this latest fall seller release not solving my main concerns, I thought I'd write you and bring you up to date on my business.

For nearly a year after the article I had turned my back on eBay and focused all of my attention on my website. While I never closed down my store, I never added 1 new listing to eBay, nor did any updates to any products I had on the site. I literally didn't spend one minute working eBay for nearly a year.

Then eBay announced "Hassle free returns". I loved it and thought it would be the solution to all of my problems. I opted into it on day one and remain a HUGE advocate for it. Within a couple months of HFR I turned my attention back towards eBay because I saw a marked difference in buyer behavior. Buyers were still lying to get a free shipping label, but rather than oppose that I decided to embrace it.

Last fall I began going with a "Free return model." Which means I not only accept returns but I ALWAYS pay return shipping... regardless of the reason a buyer wants to return the item.

This past spring I was very alarmed when eBay announced its defect program. Having presented my case I honestly believed eBay would do the right thing and expected to see some bigger changes in the defect program this fall. Specifically, I'm in the HFR program which means buyers don't even have to ask for a return. They don't have to beg, or anything... all they have to do is simply "DO IT".

That is just so awesome for me in terms of buyer friendliness and one of the biggest reasons I remain hyped about eBay's hassle free return program. My preferences are set for 30 day returns, as well as for "Zero restocking fee" and of course all listings are marked as "Seller pays return shipping".

My Free Return model is being embraced by others in the industry as the main solution to the whole "touch and feel" weakness in online shopping. We're moving to a place where if a buyer isn't sure if they want a design on a blue shirt or a pink shirt we're recommending they buy them BOTH and return the one they don't like. Or if they're unsure of their size buy them both, try them on at home and replace the one that doesn't fit. Our vision is to literally turn people's homes into dressing rooms and increase online shopping for clothing by overcoming the touch and feel weakness.

We viewed eBay as a huge partner in this venture because they gave us such a great tool in the HFR process for us to transform our business in this manner. When they announced defects for certain returns we were very alarmed because the buyer, while always right, isn't really always right. For instance, I recently had a buyer return an item as SNAD because it "wasn't like the Irish shirt I bought last month". I'm not even sure what that means except that it undermines my business by resulting in a defect.

eBay has given us a dispute process, but that process robs the buyer of a refund. We have zero desire, or intent, to deprive our buyers of a refund they want. In essence we have no way to protect ourselves from frivolous claims of SNAD short of disputing the actual return. We find this unacceptable.

I went to the boards to try and reason with these folks. I've asked them If we have the highest level of performance standards, such as we're opted into HFR's, we accept returns for 30 days and for any reason, we charge 0 restocking fees and we ALWAYS pay return shipping, why can't you stand behind us and protect us from description issues... or at the very least frivolous claims while letting us take care of our customer.

To protect my business on eBay, I shouldn't have to "go to the mat" with my buyer and deprive them of something I'm perfectly willing to give them. If my customer wants to return for a refund let them do so, at no cost to them, without them even having to ask me or beg me... HFR does that, and I love it for that reason.

I'm confident I can dispute several returns and "win the battle" but at what cost? Not giving my customer something I promised them... something I'm perfecting willing to give them?

Letting buyers who are getting top customer care that includes free returns run us over makes no sense to me. In a world where we can't touch or feel an item, and where we have to depend on such limited things as words and pictures instead of touching and feeling, let us overcome any misconceptions with a great return policy.

Those who have that shouldn't be ran out of business by frivolous, one sided, opinions that can't even be disputed without running over our great customers. If my customers want a refund that's what they're going to get... PERIOD. I will not dispute these wrongful claims or low DSR's in description and rob them of a refund just to protect my business on eBay.

If eBay wants to punish my business model and drive it off of its website, well... that's their stupidity and their right to do so, but for the life of me it sure looks to me like my only wise move, beyond voicing my concerns in an attempt to draw attention to this, is to diversify and protect my business model by finding safer ground to build my business.
Danny Hone, DBA HoneVille




Comments (17) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl   eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl

by: froggie This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 15 10:45:13 2014

Hi Danny, as a TRSPlus on ebay for years, I too embraced HFR's almost from day one, and finally did so based on some of your posts on the ebay forums. I found it to be an excellent way for me to provide great customer service and my returns were very small. Most of the problems I had were with my own brand of aromatherapy body sprays. When it comes to something like that, you just can't please everyone all the time.

So my policy was a customer didn't even have to return the spray. They received a refund, no questions asked. I couldn't resell the used spray anyway, so it was a win-win for both myself and the buyer.

I had no problem providing this great service to customers and my return customer percentages were anywhere from 35% all the way up to 50% as a result.

Then the Spring Seller Update came out, and I saw that I had received defects on those refunds when ebay, the previous year, had said they would NOT result in defects.

I was aghast at this. How could any company that was only a venue, back track on previous policy like that? It was (and is) terribly underhanded. Those defects (and accompanying neutral feedback) were not removable (according to ebay) because they were based on buyer opinion, and resulting in bad buyer experiences. A WOW moment for me.

And, like you, I just could not bring myself to run roughshod over my customers to protect my business from defects. What a completely ludicrous thing to be forced to do by ebay. Not to mention, what serious business owner would spend hours on the phone with CS trying to get those defects descored, knowing that the policy( and the reversal of previous policy) that caused them is the problem, not the sellers (or even the buyers) behavior.

Then, when the breach hit the news, and there was absolutely nothing forthcoming from ebay about it, I closed up shop in May this past spring.

The whole premise of this policy is wrong no matter how you look at it. I just can't fathom how ebay can logically believe that this will keep buyers, considering that most sellers are buyers, too.

As an aside, I've made one purchase on ebay since I closed down my store in May. I used to buy $500 to $1,000 of supplies monthly on ebay. I now go elsewhere.

This past May was when I truly realized that ebay was not a business partner with me. And with the Fall Seller Update, it confirms that I made the right decision.

Ebay is a dangerous minefield for sellers now. Luckily, I had spent the previous 2 years working on my Etsy store and my own website. I wasn't starting from scratch by leaving this past May, but I can honestly say that, not having to deal with the constantly shifting sands (that more often than not become quick sand) of ebay, I have been able to replace the income I had from ebay.

It worked for me, and from what I know of your business model, Danny, it will work for you, too, if you choose to cut loose from ebay. But I know how hard it is. Any ebay seller who has been selling for 10 years or more has invested so much of themselves there. It was a great community at one time. It isn't anymore, and it's such a crying shame.

eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl   eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl

by: tango This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 15 13:25:57 2014

Follow the Money........  this story shows in no uncertain terms that Ebay is not after ''cleaning up their sellers'' NOR 'for a better customer experience and retention' - but for that last incremental $ they can squeeze out of a bad system.  IF ebay does not want any TRS - they should just come out and says so - kill the program - they obviously are trying very hard to get those TRS Discount $$$ at very large expense to their reputation.  Where is the stock price?  

eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl   eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl

by: Winkle Me Evilbay This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 15 21:13:40 2014

Tango gets it. Donahoe's inability to grasp the nature of the community, the site and what drives it from the day he started there. Bean counters are running the asylum and it's all about the false numbers that Donahoe can project to the stockholders in his never ending game of slight of hand.

But there is something else at play as well. Two words that should make any seller cringe in fear: Brian Burke. Incompetent, hypocrite, anti-seller mid level hack that's been promoted above his level of competence. He HATES sellers and has been promoting and defending the defect rate and leading the charge to get rid of half the TRS to improve numbers (slight of hand folks).

No more seller protection soon after Brian Burke gets put into that position. Coincidence? No. Next to the buffoon Griff, there is no other employee at Ebay that hates sellers more (and will defend the lack of policy and procedures at Ebay to deal with the onslaught of sellers who need to fight wrongful defect ratings and slight of hand going on here).

Since 2008 the best advice any seller could follow is to find other sites to sell on. That is now an imperative mandate.

Donahoe and his ship of monkeys have been very clear in everything they have done to show what their true colors are. And when someone works that hard to show you what they really are, believe them.

Mr. Hone -you've been a great voice of rational commentary on the boards. Such a shame that Ebay doesn't value your business and that of sellers like you.

Their loss.

eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl   eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl

This user has validated their user name. by: Mercy the Mingless

Fri Aug 15 22:03:05 2014

Ebay sellers are not the problem.

Ebay's Brian Burke, with his misguided and onerous policies, is the problem.

How many sellers have walked away from selling AND buying on ebay because of this human experimentation?

Sorry you and your business will suffer from this madness.

eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl   eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl

by: AgendaSwallowsAll This user has validated their user name.

Sat Aug 16 00:00:03 2014

Did a seller search on Donahoe & Co. for ''honeville'', nothing and I thought yet another Donahoe & Co. glitch. I then Googled and found the correct store name to be honeville1.

That said, as I was reading your story I thought is this guy nuts? Is he a Donahoes & Co. shill? ''embraced'', ''welcomed'' maybe even a ''loved'' or two. Words to describe your appreciation of that which the masses despise.

I then took a look at this Donahoe & Co. store. I don't sell t-shirts but other than the possibility of the few closeouts listed, I can't imagine profit margin would be anything less than 400-500% give or take and with a ship cost of $3.25 to $4.95 once again give or take, I'd imagine it would be acceptable to a business person to offer 30 days and free return ship.

Unless one is the manufacturer of a given product, purchases wholesale clearance lots or a number of other closely related scenarios, offering free return ship, 30 day return or anything similar, they'd not be in a postion to accept that which you have even if their return rate is similar to ours stated below for I assure you, the flood gates are going to open up with this latest move by Donahoe & Co. .

We've had less than 6 returns in well over 40,000 sales totaling near two million dollars so accepting a program such as ''hassle free returns'' wouldn't harm us in of itself but Donahoe & Co. has stuck its nose in just about every aspect of a transaction between buyer & seller, we haven't run our business for 2-3 years, ebay has and we have a REAL problem with that as is the case with the masses. If there's something we have a choice saying yay or nay to, we're going to take the nay with the last remaining thread of principle we have.

We're doing business exactly as we were 2 years ago when TRS as we had been since program inception, 100% feedback and 4.9 to 5 star DSR's across the board. We were at 100% with the same DSR's 1 & 1/2 years ago when a seller update stole our TRS dropping us to ''above standard'', come August 20 with the same 100% FB rating and similar DSR's, we are going to be labeled ''below standard'', an unintended victim of Donahoe & Co's. latest round of theft from sellers due to another ''defect'' policy that has no place.

Happy you're in a position to accept a wrongful policy allowing ebay one more point of control over a business that is yours but most aren't in a position to do so and I'd like to think they have similar feelings as we do on the rest.

eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl   eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Sat Aug 16 02:23:59 2014

With or without HFR, a claim creates a defect.  Having or opting into HFR was never insurance against defects.

This is a lousy policy for all sellers.

eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl   eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl

This user has validated their user name. by: Puck

Sat Aug 16 20:58:44 2014

There, but for the grace of God, go I.

eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl   eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl

by: MovinOn This user has validated their user name.

Sun Aug 17 13:51:52 2014

Ebay's treatment of sellers gets worse every year with the new seller updates. There has been some talk of class-action lawsuits against ebay. While I would love to be part of a settlement in such a suit, I don't know that that would be the final answer. While ebay treats sellers worse every year, we don't have to take it. We are not forced to sell or buy on ebay. Like others have said, it is best to vote with your feet. Walk away!

This spring's seller update is the straw that broke this camel's back. When I first read it, I immediately made my decision that when the changes become effective on Aug. 20, I will end all of my remaining listings on ebay. Ebay has disrespected the sellers so much that they obviously don't want or deserve our business. There are many other venues with much lower fees and much better treatment of, and respect for, sellers. I'm MovinOn.

I would like to see how many items are listed on ebay on Aug. 19, and again on Aug. 21. I suspect the listings on Aug. 21 will be at least 20% to 30% lower than on Aug. 19. I would also like to see the number of Top Rated Sellers on both of those days. Does anyone know if there is some web site that compiles this information or if there is a way to run a report to get it?

I suspect that within 2 years, ebay, if still in business, will be a mere shadow of what it is today. It is very easy to see why ebay's growth has been stagnant for several years now. Ebay execs think they will increase revenue by devising new schemes to diss sellers more and charge higher fees. It is backfiring on them, but they don't realize it yet. I suspect ebay's revenue will be down 10% in 3Q14 and 30% in 4Q14 due to the new seller updates. Time will tell!

Ebay is laughing at all of us sellers (suckers) right now. We will all be laughing at ebay in the near future as the ship continues sinking! If we don't leave now, we will go down with the sinking ship and be total suckers, not sellers. The real winners will be the other selling venues and the sellers that go there, because they know how to treat buyers and sellers with respect, rather than with disrespect. We'll see who gets the last laugh!

Ebay doesn't need us stinkin' low class sellers (even with 100% positive FB and DSRs of 4.9 and higher), Top Rated Sellers until Aug. 20. We're defective. We are blamed for:

- shipping that takes a day or 2 longer than ebay expects, even though shipped on time
- buyers that ask where their item is even after tracking shows it has been delivered, then the buyer suddenly closes with case without comment or explanation
- buyers that don't read the descriptions properly and want to return an item because it was described accurately but isn't what they wanted
- buyers that change their minds and want a refund but claim Not As Described so they don't have to pay the return shipping cost
- buyers that want to use a Coach bag a few times and claim it is a fake so they can get a 100% refund
- buyers don't like the color of a sweater so they are returning it not as described
- buyers that buy a tool to use for the weekend to build a deck and return it because it is cheaper than renting
- and a whole host of other ''defects.''

It's just horrible that us lowly sellers are causing so many defects on ebay. We are being kicked to the curb. We will leave voluntarily, or we will be forced out, sooner or later.

eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl   eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Sun Aug 17 17:41:58 2014

"I suspect that within 2 years, ebay, if still in business, will be a mere shadow of what it is today."

And that will be just about when the cretinous Johnny Ho enters the tenth year of his "three-year turnaround" of eBay—Well done, Johnny Ho, Ho, Ho, ...

The eBay executive suite, where the incompetent mingle with the malevolent and the outright criminal, and the just plain stupid ... http://bit.ly/11F2eas

eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl   eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Sun Aug 17 20:46:52 2014

@MovinOn - You can check Power Sellers Unite

http://www.powersellersunite.com/auctionsitewatch.php


It
appears that some alt sits haven't been up-dated in a while, but eBay looks to be current.

eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl   eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl

by: rainbowseeker This user has validated their user name.

Sun Aug 17 23:44:39 2014

I'd like to add that buyers and sellers of vintage items are different than those who sell new clothing and mass produced items.  I have also complied up to a point with this hassle free crap.  But for 14 days and I have always accepted returns for any reason and I pay the return shipping if it is my error and lately even if it is not my error because of eBay's phrasing in the return policy on site right now.  And on most items I even offer free shipping in the USA.  I made all the changes and adjustments even when I didn't think they were a good idea...up until now.  And I have been able to maintain on auction sales a 5 star rating across the board.  But like everyone else here I get the occasional buyer who opens a case rather than contact me directly (mostly for buyers remorse) and now that counts against me even when I settle it to their satisfaction.  Not fair at all!  And this hassle free crap actually will encourage them even more not to contact sellers directly.  Then don't get me started on a 90 day return policy....REALLY????  That is just so ridiculous and absurd I have no words...just throwing up my hands.  And now lets follow that up with their global shipping meddling.  Time to walk away folks.  Join me over on Etsy.  Not going to miss eBay at all!

eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl   eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl

by: Whatever This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 18 02:00:28 2014

Danny old buddy - nice to see your still around and kicking - I left a few years ago as well and haven't really looked back. I do check in here now and again and see the ship is still sinking - brother it takes a long time lol. Can't believe you actually went back in for another dose. I didn't give up on the internet but opened a mall. As for ebay well you know what they say right? Fool me once yada yada  Never forget - it's corporate America dude.  Dazzle

eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl   eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl

by: ignatz This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 18 08:05:59 2014

Why does the headline say "even" with Hassle Free Returns?  Brian Burke and Co. have been telling anyone who'll listent that their "research" (ahem) shows that just the VERY ACT of opening a case makes a buyer less likely to return to ebay.

What, you don't believe this pure, unadulterated, shameless, obvious 100% BullShip???  

Aww come on, ebay wouldn't LIE to us!

eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl   eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Aug 18 08:59:30 2014

>>for the life of me it sure looks to me like my only wise move, beyond voicing my concerns in an attempt to draw attention to this, is to diversify and protect my business model by finding safer ground to build my business.
<<

Not sure why you changed your policy when originally you turned your back on ebay (although if I understand your post correctly you left items up for sale)! Now turning your back on ebay was a wise move except you kept much more than a toe in the water. And then now that you can have an abundance of returns you turned around and let them have your business in their clutches some more. Your wise move would have been to have left ebay entirely and spent the time needed to build your business elsewhere. At least that is my opinion. Trying to straddle the fence, especially with ebay from the sounds of it, doesn't do anybody other than ebay any good. I left ebay years ago and as I read ecommercebytes, I wonder #1 why such a huge emphasis on ebay (other than ebay's bad behavior and #2 WHY sellers don't vote with their feet as ebay keeps yanking rugs, floorboard and foundation out from under you?!

Because of my business, I only extend refunds for MY errors. Other than that, I make sure that all details needed to decide if they want what I'm selling are in my listing. I don't do refunds for buyer's regret, buyer's too stupid to actually read descritpions. I sell sewing patterns and I have seen reviews on sewing patterns that were people puzzled about getting an envelope full of paper when they were expecting a completely made up garment or whatever for the $4.88 price they may have paid! I sold a coat pattern once and the lady was quite upset to find that she didn't get a real, NEW coat for her mother for Christmas but a pattern to make her one. That order went to the UK. Why to keep customers, etc. should I have been willing to pay return shipping AND refunding the price of the item, after already paying to ship to the UK? Especially when the liting title and description AND the photo made it very clear that she was buying a pattern. I'm not running my business to go broke over it.

What I learned while selling on ebay for many years is that they will always lie, cheat, steal, and cause ulcers because they care nothing about their customers (the sellers) but then then roll out the red carpet for the buyers (the seller customers). In what universe is that considered acceptable practice? It is insane? Ebay deserves it if everyone would walk away the day these latest new changes go into effect. The wiser move would be to walk away today. The wisest move of all would have been to walk away prior to today. I wonder just how many ulcers and other illnesses sellers have experienced due to the stress of working, slaving away to satisfy the demands of this 'venue'?

eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl   eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 18 10:35:09 2014

As I said to Honeville1 on ebays boards - 1) kudos to you if you have a business model that allows you to absorb "EVERYTHING" and still make a good profit. For the REST OF US, who have slimmer margins - we cant absorb abusive behavior from either eBay or customers. 2) "Just because Amazon (Zappos - is an Amazon company) does it" doesnt mean its right/correct/profitable or even smart.

I quoted you the loss amount from Amazon ... how many HUNDREDS of MILLIONS? Can anyone here absorb those kinds of losses?

Personally, I dont need or want "buyers remorse customers". Those are the ones that are NEVER happy - buddy - I'll send them all your way.

Theres no reason for Buyers Remorse on eBay. In a brick n mortar store MAYBE - but thats the owners call.

Im in the electronics business - where the margins are THIN (to say the least). No one can absorb unlimited returns, 90 day retuns, try n maybe buy ... thats not a profitable business model.

MOST manufactorers dont take non defective returns PERIOD. You can once in a while BEG them to do a stock rotation with you - but they dont want the returns either.

Most manufactorers also have STRICT defective percentages for returns, and some are repair ONLY. Pioneer changed their returns policy - Returns only and you get a %2 rebate yearly.

eBay - who has NO clue about how REAL business works doesnt understand these things either.

Maybe you get 90 days flooring from Trans America OR your local bank loves you JUST thar much - but MY terms are either CC UPFRONT or %2 10 net 30. I dont want goods back from 90 days ago, or even 45.

You buy it - its the right item, its not defective - you OWN it.

DOnt know what to buy - ASK. If you dont trust me - use the internet, ask your friends - hell, even ask Lyin Ryan Moore (hes such a genius), or maybe Brian Jerk, or if you can locate him - the missing Rich Matsura from "seller protection" - these guys all think they are A listers maybe THEY can tell you what to buy.

As for me and my business - returns can and would if allowed destroy my business - and I wont lie down just because it makes life easier for eBay.

I will not do Managed Returns unless forced - Im hopefull by then there will be a legal remedy or another "seller update" that will reverse this abusive policy.

eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl   eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 18 10:36:28 2014

Pioneer changed their returns policy - Returns only and you get a %2 rebate yearly.

that line should read:

Pioneer changed their returns policy - REPAIR only and you get a %2 rebate yearly.

eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl   eBay Seller Honeville Gets Defects even with Hassl

by: Tornad0sRul This user has validated their user name.

Tue Aug 19 13:08:35 2014

Attitudes like this is what the criminals depend on. I am one who doesn't stand back and watch criminals steal from innocent victims. I am one who says something when I see someone abusing or neglecting their children and I will report a crime that I witness. People are too afraid to use any time or effort to stand up for what is right.  Larger businesses have the attitude that it is expected to lose a little money to theft and that it takes more time and money to fight theft so they ignore it.  Larger businesses depend on the smaller ones to fight against the thieves and crooks because the smaller businesses cannot afford losses like that.

Ignoring crimes simply because of time and money only allows them to grow.



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