EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 3088 - June 17, 2013     2 of 4

eBay Ignores Seller Handling Time in Delivery Estimates?

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Some sellers are reporting that eBay is ignoring their settings for handling time, which helps shoppers determine how long it will take to receive an item. Instead, they believe eBay is using the average time it takes for their packages to arrive and are using that in factoring the delivery estimate displayed in their listings. Sellers discussing the issue on the company's discussion boards say eBay is over-promising delivery date estimates, which they fear has an impact on buyer expectations.

"I chose 3 days handling time for a reason, and I want my buyers to receive estimated delivery dates that reflect that. Anything else is just setting me up for disappointed buyers and low DSR ship time ratings," an eBay seller explained to EcommerceBytes.

The Delivery Estimate is important in setting shopper expectations, especially since buyers can rate sellers on shipping time in the Detailed Seller Ratings, a performance measure that can make or break a seller on eBay. eBay also ties a seller's handling time to its Top Rated Seller (TRS) program. Sellers must offer same-business day or 1-business day handling time in order to qualify for the TRS Plus discount, which offers a hefty 20% off of final value fees. In addition, eBay flags listings that have longer handling times in the Delivery field of the listing description.

The eBay seller described how she discovered the discrepancy. "I sold an item on May 27 and happened to check the estimated delivery, something I don't normally do. eBay's estimated delivery time to the buyer was on or before May 31. I am telling eBay through my specified handling time that I will not even ship this item until May 30 and they are telling my buyer it will arrive by May 31. What is wrong with this picture? In what universe would my buyer have gotten a first class package in one day?"

A seller on the boards wrote about a case in which one of their buyers paid for an item on June 5th and complained when they hadn't received by June 10, despite the fact that it was sent Parcel Select from California to Florida, which the post office estimates would take 8 days. When the seller asked eBay customer service, he said the representative said, "we don't base the estimated dates on the USPS anymore, we base it on your history and how quickly your previous buyers got their packages."

A couple of sellers pointed to instances where they had a 3-day handling time and eBay displayed a delivery date of 4 days after purchase. Another wrote, "I have a 2-day handling but my estimated (I hate eBay) delivery times are 2-3 days because I, 99.9% of the time, ship next day and probably 50% of that 99.9% is same day. Hence, I've established my fabuloso timeline (groan, pun)."

Sellers are actually correct that eBay uses a new way to estimate delivery times - at least for certain listings. eBay announced a new Fast 'N Free designation for some listings, and in an FAQ, explained:

How does eBay Fast 'N Free work and how is it different from the way delivery time is estimated for all other listings?
Estimated delivery is shown on eBay today as a range of days based on stated handling time plus the carrier's published service delivery times. This often distorts the true picture of delivery. For example, if your stated handling time is one day and you use Economy Shipping, the delivery estimate appears to your buyer as 2-14 days - even if your shipments are consistently delivered in 3 days.

The new way to estimate delivery powering eBay Fast 'N Free gives buyers a personalized delivery date based on historical delivery times to the buyer's area plus other factors, which is more accurate and highlights your fast service. In this example, if your economy shipments are consistently delivered in 3 days to buyers in a particular area, instead of showing a range of 2-14 days your qualified listings would have the Fast 'N Free logo and show an estimated date of 3 days for buyers in that area.

More information is available on the eBay announcement board.

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to

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