I'm not sure if anyone has already reached out to you about these things or not, but I see a lot of posts about people having strange things happening with their listings on eBay and I've had some very odd things as well and I may have accidentally discovered what is causing some of this.
Over the course of just a few days, I started having customers reaching out to me, about the strangest things!
One customer sent me a message, asking if I could forward her the tracking info on her package I had shipped out. She hadn't received the auto email, customers have always been receiving for years, and I found that odd.
Later that night, I had a potential customer reach out to me that was trying to add a few items to her eBay cart for a combined shipping invoice, but she was telling me that the instructions I have outlined in each of my listings for combined shipping were no longer working. I've had customers in the past, where the cart option for combined shipping hasn't worked if customers were on their cell phone, but works fine if they log onto their computer. So I recommended she do this got home. A bit later, she used her computer and sent me a message that when she tried this time, she received an error message that said, "This seller does not participate in Combined Shipping" and would not allow her to request an invoice from me.
Now I was super confused, but I assumed it was just a one-off eBay glitch, that seems to be happening daily. This was pretty late at night that she was messaging me, so I planned to call eBay support the next day to look into what the heck that message meant and in the meantime I had her go ahead and make her purchases and told her I would refund her the difference for her any extra shipping she had paid for.
She had sent me her original message about combined shipping on 1 item from my store, but that ended up not being a part of her order. I believe that because I wasn't able to send her an invoice, prior to her paying, which would have let her know how much I was really discounting my shipping rates by, that she decided to trim her order back and that item...and who knows what else, was left off her order. And.....to be honest, I can't say as I blame her. In the past, I've had sellers that said they offer combined shipping and then you get their invoice could come and their shipping rates were a lot higher than I expected. After getting burned a few times, I started to do a "trial run" where I would start out small and add just 2 or 3 items to my cart and then request a combined invoice. Once I get the invoice back, if the shipping was reasonable and they had other items I liked, I would add more items to my cart. But, this client couldn't do that and after paying for her first 2 items, probably figured she couldn't add more to her order.
I then had auctions ending the next day and a client won an auction and tried to add a Buy It Now item to her cart, to add to it, and she ran into the same issue where she was unable to ask for an invoice.
And that brings me to what I found and has led me to make several calls to eBay Support as I try to sort through it all. There are a few ways to get there, but on the Sellers Hub, I discovered a link for Site Preferences and on a whim, I opened it up and took a look.
If you go to the top, right and click the link that says Show All, it expands all the categories below that. And...as I started looking through everything, I was quite shocked by what I was finding. There were options checked and unchecked, that I would NEVER have made to my account!
It looked very much like eBay had done another update or perhaps had done a systems reset...actually, the further I've been digging and talking to eBay support, the more it sounds like perhaps both things happened, but we weren't told or missed the memo.
I actually never even knew that there was an option to turn on or off, some of these things, but I know that all along, my customers were getting them from me, as it had just been built into my account with eBay as "One of the services you get" type thing and then suddenly it had changed.
Here are some examples of "little" things that I was finding had been changed on my account, along with one pretty HUGE change I discovered, that will have a pretty big impact on how many of us sell and buy on eBay.
1) I discovered a "preference" had been auto-updated to no longer send my customers their tracking info, as soon as I created a shipping label. I had to opt back in for this to happen.
Send buyer an email with shipping information
2) All reminder emails had been lowered to be emailed to me 5 minutes before an item I was watching ended, etc. I had always had these set for an earlier window, but every one of them was now 5 minutes. If that was done for everyone across the board, that would mean that customers are also only getting a reminder email, 5 minutes before one of my auctions ends.
That's a pretty small window and one they are sure to miss. 15 minutes, a half hour, etc., would give them way more time to see the reminder and get in front of their computer, phone, etc. and bid on an item. But 5 minutes....most customers will now see their reminder email for one of my auctions ending....after the auction already has ended and miss out on bidding. So I changed my times around a bit.
Buying alerts on eBay pages
Show the following buying alerts on eBay pages before an item ends:
- Watched item ending alert: Show an alert on eBay if my watched item is ending.
- Outbid alerts: Show an alert on eBay if I have been outbid on items I am bidding.
- Second Chance Offer received alert: Show an alert on eBay when I receive a Second Chance Offer.
3) The biggest change I discovered was around combined shipping rules. It has taken several days and talking to several different reps to finally get a straight answer, but eBay recently rolled out an update and hanged the rules with this and I, at least, completely missed the memo.
Moving forward, eBay wants customers to "Instantly" receive a Combined Shipping Invoice so for Buy it Now items, there is no way to have this come from the Seller directly, no matter what rules you add into the system.
If your Buy it Now listing has Flat Rate Shipping, eBay will NOT Combine the shipping for the customer or send them an invoice. The customer will be forced to pay the total combined shipping, as stated in each of the listings and the seller will have to refund the customer. You can offer promotions for discounted shipping, with different rules set up, but that's it.
Calculated Shipping on is the only option you can have on a listing where eBay will provide the customer with "Combined Shipping" rates and an instant invoice. But, for this to even, sort of work for you, each and every item must have not only and accurate weight, it must also have accurate dimensions.
I personally sell mostly clothing items that are usually for smaller items for children, babies and some adult items....but most of my items are well under 1 pound. So, as you know, the post office doesn't require package dimensions for these smaller items, so none of these listings have this included.
I have also been using Flat Rate shipping, as I have added in a small fee to the shipping, to cover the fee I am charged for eBay on my shipping fees. The first customer service rep that I was talking to about this and why I use Flat Rate fees seemed perplexed and said, well...if you are putting a flat rate in for shipping, then obviously you don't want eBay combining that, so why would they? I was like, what? Of course we still want to offer combined shipping? Having a flat rate, doesn't mean we don't want to combine it...we've been doing just that for years, with no issues.
Your Auction listings can still have either shipping method and receive an invoice, as payment isn't expected right away, but if they win an auction and try to add a Buy It Now item to their cart and the shipping on that listing is Flat Rate, it won't work. That was the issue for my customer and eBay support confirmed for me tonight that, that was the issue.
Support reps told me that eBay will select the shipping method used, once the customer's order gets over 1 pound. Today, I was told that if your listing offers different shipping options, then once you get over 1 pound, eBay will "Most Likely" select an option from that list, vs one of their choosing.
But, it sounds like gone are the days where we could save our customers money by putting their actual order together, weighing it and then finding the most economical shipping solution for them.
I use flat rate shipping envelopes quite often, but I don't know which of the 3 sizes I need for an order or even if an order will fit in one, until I put their order together. Or say their order has a pair of baby dress shoes. Their weight and measurements might seem similar to a shirt, for all the computer knows, but I would never ship them the same way. I won't shove the baby shoes in a plastic flyer or a flat rate envelope and hope them being squashed during delivery doesn't affect my 100% positive feedback rating.
As I told the reps, each order is different and it's impossible for me to create a rule for the system to think of everything, like they now want us to do. It sounds like a disaster in the making.
Shipping is going to look a lot more expensive to customers now, and it's going to cost us more sales that we will never even know about because customers will get sticker shock before checking out and never reach out to us.
I'm also worried that if I create rules and I'm off by just a bit in one area or another, that the system will undercharge the customer and I wouldn't be able to fit their order in a flat rate envelope, etc. I hate the idea of not having an order packaged up and knowing all the facts before they pay.
I'm still trying to replace all the photos that were lost on my listings last month and now I need to go through and confirm I have the exact correct weight for each listing, add dimensions for each listing and change the listings to Calculated Shipping. I also need to update the description on each of my listings, as my combined shipping instructions currently outlined, no longer apply, as I won't be sending them an invoice. It's like I can't recover from one eBay issue and then I'm off working on another one. ARGH!!
- Offer the Global Shipping Program
- Offer combined payments and shipping
- Offer flat shipping
- Offer calculated shipping
- Offer promotional shipping discounts
- Offer carrier-specific discounts to buyers
4) Some of my payment preferences had been changed and the wording is a bit confusing on some of them. I left it how they had it for International orders, which I do accept. 2 days later, a customer was somehow able to commit to purchase an oversized item I was selling, Buy It Now...but hadn't paid for it yet..?
When I tried to send an invoice, the shipping dollar box, was empty and highlighted in red. After a few hours on the phone with eBay Support, I was told it was a glitch and they weren't sure what caused it, but that this customer's country would only accept either a Med or Large flat rate shipping box. neither of which, would fit the item she purchased.
My listing had included the proper weight, dimensions and International shipping method I needed to use, if the customer wanted to purchase the item and should have prevented the client from purchasing my item.....especially without confirming the shipping costs, prior to her committing to purchasing the time, but failed to do so. (The support rep, put me on hold and did some research and did get info that even though I'm not a part of eBay's Global Shipping, I could possibly use if for this item...but the cost would have been $1,000. The item the client purchased, was a large doll toy, for $19. So, no...this wasn't a reasonable request when for the same package to most other countries was around $70. The rep 100% agreed with me)
I didn't realize I had forgotten to ask how to cancel the order, without it negatively impacting the client or I, so I called back in the next day for assistance. That rep did help me, but she first had me go into Site Preferences and make some update around blocking customers whose addresses I don't deliver to. I honestly, didn't understand the wording and would never have known that was what it meant...that by my checking that box, I was telling eBay to not allow purchases to come through, if the package size, etc isn't allowed in their country. But again..this was something I have never had an issue with and then BOOM, somehow this preference that sounds like it had been previously pre-selected for me, was no longer selected.
5) But there are rules on here about listings with Best Offer, Returns, etc., so I really think sellers should check this tab out, to confirm their settings are all the way they want them.
I also discovered that there were "3rd parties", working on each of our accounts and these glitches. They actually show the names and dates of when they were working on our accounts (third-party authorizations). Due to the size of eBay, it only makes sense that we probably all have different 3rd parties working on our accounts at different times and perhaps they each had set rules to put on accounts, that varied a bit. This may be what caused the reason that some people have 1 issue, while others have a different issue.