Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Trouble at eBay,? No Sh*t Sherlock!

This is one of the better reasoned and most accurate articles I have read on eBay in a long long time. Congratulations.

Although the 'decrease in Insertion Fees & adjustment in Final Value Fees' (quoting John Donohoe) resulted in a net fee increase of 65% in the tranche of the majority of sales (and most small sellers sales), that was not the main cause of the one week seller boycott from Feb 18th through Feb 25th; followed by a total boycott by many sellers from May 1st.

John Donohoe and his wonder boys messed with feedback. Most small sellers have spent literally years building and maintaining perfect feedback. Feedback is your online reputation, it is the only thing a buyer has to judge the seller by. Internet sales are based on trust.

eBay has declared war on its customers, the sellers. Yes there are some rotten apples in the seller barrel, there always have been, there probably always will be. But why is eBay treating their good sellers as though they are criminals? It is to a point that buyers, who are constantly being told that eBay is cleaning house to protect them from bad sellers, are so nervous they don't want to buy on eBay.

Brian Burke decided that neutral feedback should be scored as a negative 'because it is not positive'. This is retroactive. If a buyer left a neutral 6 months ago, today it is scored as if they left a negative. Why? If the buyer had wanted to leave a negative they could have but they chose to give a neutral. eBay is selectively rewriting history. This hits the lower volume seller hardest expressed as a percentage of sales and has resulted in account limitation, suspension, or closure.

eBay prohibited digital download sales as of the end of March. This is their right. eBay is now retroactively removing feedback from buyers and sellers of digital and other low cost items, items that were sold at a time the product was permitted. These were legitimate sales on which IF, FVF and PayPal fees were paid. Sales in which buyers bought, sellers sold and feedback was made. Lowering feedback totals makes those sellers more vulnerable to 'demotion' (eBay's word and what a strange way to talk about your customers).

The neutral and negative feedback options are still available to buyers, they may give a neutral not realizing it is equivalent to a negative. Every time a buyer goes to leave feedback they are bombarded with pop-up after pop-up encouraging them to leave negative feedback. Why?

A buyer who bids and does not pay, (Business 101 tells us there is no contract without consideration) may leave a negative feedback which will directly affect a sellers search placement and may result in account limitation, suspension, or closure. Why? Who broke the rules? Who is getting punished?

If a buyer pays and claims a package is not received, even if the seller provides tracking information & proof of delivery as required by eBay, chances are very good that PayPal will refund anyway, leaving the seller with no goods, no payment and a bunch of selling fees. Why?

eBay has no customer service. Any email query is answered by bots. Most responses have no bearing on the question asked. Unless you are a high volume seller, (PowerSeller) you will never speak to or communicate with a human being. If your account is limited or suspended in error you may never know why or be able to communicate with someone to straighten it out. There is no appeal procedure. Does this sound insane? It gets worse, PayPal is known to make errors resulting in freezing of accounts for 180 days. Money goes in but you can't withdraw. They have no customer service either.

The Detailed Seller Ratings rolled out last year are slanted & poorly phrased. On a scale of 1 - 5 eBay tells buyers 4 is good. DSRs of 4 will have your listings moved to the back of the line in a dynamic search, and may result in account limitation, suspension, or closure. How does this equate to 'good'? There are provable instances of sellers with free shipping being given DSRs of 4 on shipping cost!

Best Match has been a disaster from the get-go. It is dynamic (things move) so if a seller is being penalized by those 'good' ratings of 4 the listing will remain at the end of the line. Even if a buyer goes from the first to the last page the listing will not be there. You will see listings you clicked on pages ago, listings that are promoted in search come up again and again. Demoted listings are not seen, YET eBay continues to take IF for listings that will not get visibility. Featured Listings which pay an extra $20 fee for increased visibility suffer the same fate if a seller is not promoted in search. In my opinion eBay is skating perilously close to bait and switch on this one.

eBay is flailing, spinning around and hitting out without any discernable plan, causing unbelievable damage to their paying customers. If they have an ultimate vision they are not sharing it. Ominous phrases like "You ain't seen nothing yet" from Lorrie Norrington are not business friendly. Policy changes are rolled out weekly and are often so poorly framed that nobody knows how to implement them or what they mean. An example of this:

Removal of the Multiple Listings Limit Policy

Starting early June, the Multiple Listings Limit Policy, which limits sellers to 15 identical listings at any one time, will be removed. Soon sellers will be allowed an unlimited number of identical listings.

To prevent buyers from being overwhelmed by identical listings, advancements in Finding will limit the display of duplicates from the same seller. The listing displayed will be determined by the sort option that the buyer chooses, such as Time Ending Soonest, Newly Listed, Total Cost, and Best Match.

Also, the number of listings from any one seller will be limited to ten per page, unless the only available listings that remain are from the same seller. This change ensures that buyers will have a variety of sellers to choose from.

There are direct contradictions in this policy issued May 19th. There has been no clarification.

The boycotting sellers who were disparaged as 'noise' and 'would be routed off eBay' were the smart ones who escaped with feedback and reputation intact. Many other sellers are unfortunately discovering that they left it too late.

Trouble at eBay? Yes. Does management think so? No.
Time will tell.

Y'all come back and PLEASE be sure to click VICTORIOUSLY on any interesting advertising links in the sidebar!


Anonymous said...

Congratulations. Your entry far more accurate and to the point than the fairly good article you referenced at the beginning.


Anonymous said...

Ebay closes accounts daily with ambiguous or no reason, they will shut down your home business without giving you a chance for any explanation or defense, no notices, nothing. It is very easy to violate an eBay listing policy without knowing it. There is a website that has free information on getting back to your ebay business

Anonymous said...

Aloha Henrietta

Here, here!! Bully for you! An excellent post! eBay is coasting perilously close to a class action lawsuit!! When it happens, I doubt that "Sorry" will cut it.

Anony Mouse