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Old 08-06-2009
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Default Survey Results Part 4 - eBay Changes to Buyer-Seller Relations

Part 4 of AuctionBytes survey series deals with eBay's pending changes to buyer-seller relations, including the unpaid item claims process, dispute resolution, and email communications. Part 1 of the series, published on Tuesday, dealt with changes to the PowerSeller program. Part 2, published on Wednesday, dealt with forthcoming policy changes. And in Part 3, published on Thursday, we looked at how sellers reacted to news of forthcoming changes to eBay's Best Match search.

Survey respondents gave eBay's new Unpaid Item (UPI) claims process a mixed review, but many liked the automatic claims process (64.6% rated it as a good change). However, only 18.3% rated the new dispute resolution process as good.

A majority of respondents (67.5%) rated eBay's decision to keep buyers' identities anonymous until after a transaction is completed as bad. Respondents were evenly split in rating eBay changes to emails that a buyer gets after a transaction is complete between good, neutral and bad.

Respondents were overwhelmingly positive about eBay's change that will allow sellers to ban buyers by specific countries rather than by broad geographic regions. And a majority rated eBay's shipping tracking and delivery confirmation information more visible as good (64%).

As in previous articles, we've included some comments that are representative of the hundreds of comments left by sellers for each section of the survey that give more color on exactly how they view these changes and why.

Faster Process for Unpaid Item Claims - Questions and Responses
1) eBay is making the UPI process faster, with emails about the dispute coming from eBay rather than from buyers and sellers. Also, unpaid item-related language is being softened throughout the site (the term "unpaid item strike" will no longer be used in communications, for example, even though unpaid items will still have the same negative impact on buyers' accounts).
Good: 41.2% Neutral: 27.0% Bad: 31.9%

2) Unpaid Item Assistant lets eBay open and close cases for sellers automatically. "When enabled, the Unpaid Item Assistant allows you to automatically open a case if your buyer doesn't pay after a specified period of time. You can choose to set that time as four, 16, 24 or 32 days after the listing closes. If four days pass without payment after the case is opened, an unpaid item will be recorded on the buyer's account, the case will be closed and your Final Value Fee will be automatically refunded. At that time, the buyer won't be permitted to leave Feedback for that item."
Good: 64.6% Neutral: 20.9% Bad: 14.4%

Faster Process for Unpaid Items Claims - Comments
Many people suggested that the Unpaid Item Assistant's ability to open a claim in 4 days was too soon, but that 16 days too late, and wondered why there was no option for something in between.

  • I think they do need to do something about non-paying bidders, but this solution needs some serious tweaking. The automatic reminders will be sent out too soon IMO (almost like it's harassing buyers for payment). "automatically open a case if your buyer doesn't pay after a specified period of time. You can choose to set that time as four, 16, 24 or 32 days after the listing closes"- You can choose 4 days, or it jumps up to 16- why such a gap? Most buyers and sellers are accustomed to payment expected within a week or 10 days. I think if a seller were to choose the 4 day option this would discourage multiple item transactions where a buyer may ask to wait to pay in order to bid on other auctions a seller has ending later in the week.
  • eBay is trying to take all communication between buyer and seller away. This is NOT good.
  • Unpaid item-related language is being softened ?? your kidding right ?
  • One of the FEW productive changes with SR2.
  • Currently we can close UPIs on the 8th day. Why is that not listed above - 4, 16, 24 & 32 - 8 days should still be an option as 4 days can in some cases be too short and 16 days is too long.
  • The seller truly has no protection without being able to leave negative feedback. Ebay has been slow to non-responsive to the seller's issues regarding non-paying / abusive buyers.
  • This could cause further buyer dissatisfaction, especially for those bidding on more than one item hoping to combine postage for their purchases. If EBay sends out these auto messages it may anger buyers leading to a lower DSR in the communication star.
  • I think the UPI automated process is a fabulous idea, however, I think the seller should be allowed to choose how many days, For example, I ask my buyers to submit payment within 10 days, so 4 days would be too short, while 16 drags on.
  • At least it is up to the seller to choose whether or not to use the features from ebay
  • So you're going to soften the Unpaid Item strike language. So tghey'll have even less to be concerned about and less reason to pay. And an unpaid item strike doesn't carry much might. It can either be removed or they set up a new buying ID and buy more stuff they don't pay for.
  • I can handle my own UPI's just more paperwork.
  • Another example of eBay putting itself between the seller and the buyer and interferring in the selling process. If they really want transactions to go more smoothly, eBay needs to let buyers and sellers communicate without interferance more of the time not less.
  • High time the UPI process was sped up. These changes are way overdue.
  • Gee, lets not offend deadbeats that don't pay for what they bid. Perhaps ebay can start automatically leaving them positive feedbacks so they continue on as unpaying users of the site.
  • This is great! Finally something that actually helps the seller! I've always thought that ebay should handle the disputes for an unpaid item. Shouldn't that be part of what we pay them for?
  • Anything Ebay automates does not work well...ever.Favors the buyer no matter what.
  • It's about time!
  • I really don't know how this will work in actual practice. From a seller's perspective, I find it worrying and don't trust eBay. On the other hand, as a buyer, "four days" is not enough - people get sick or have emergencies, etc. Yes, all buyers should be prepared to complete the deal quickly, but sometimes life happens. I DO agree that once the case is closed and the FVF is refunded, that the buyer should not be allowed to give feedback. However, what I really want is eBay to kick of non-paying buyers much more quickly; instead it lets ongoing deadbeats hang around.
Dispute Resolution - Questions and Responses
1) eBay is introducing a new dispute resolution process (first announced in April) for when buyers claim their item was not received or the item they received was not as described in the listing. This new on-eBay Resolution process will be the primary avenue for settling eBay transactions.
Good: 18.3% Neutral: 45.7% Bad: 36.0%

Dispute Resolution - Comments

  • I've had no problems with the existing dispute resolution system, and have actually gotten my most enthusiastic +FBs from "bad" sales where I was able to service my customer and fix the problem.
  • I am hopeful about this one also but a little nervous too. That things might be biased towards abuse of sellers. But we'll see.
  • Better to move it from Paypal to eBay, but do not feel confident that eBay will make logical intelligent decisions regarding claims.
  • I guess we won't know until we see how they settle disputes. Tell buyer to destroy items if buyer won't agree they're authentic?
  • Allowing EBay to resolve disputes is like giving the chicken to the fox. They (EBay) have always constructed a set of their own rules that may not be appropriate in real world selling situations.
  • It never made sense to have multiple processes. HOWEVER, eBay continues not to ensure that the buyer contact the seller first. 99.9% of errors are resolved when the buyer and seller communicate. Yet eBay wants to go to the Amazon model where the seller is just a wharehouse that fills orders. BTW, I am NOT enamored of the Amazon process. It's fine for widgit selling - not for a real business that focuses on filling customer needs.
  • Will see how it works before passing judgement.
  • I have not yet read the details of the process, but, I think this could be good, IF handled properly, with fairness to both buyers and sellers.
  • Needs improvement. Too many avenues for abuse here.
  • Why am I leaving mostly neutrals....well, because I'm unsure how I feel about it. But we all know in ebayland, neutral means negative.
  • This may be the most positive aspect of their changes
  • What this means is that eBay decides -- almost always in favor of buyers. Sellers are further at the mercy of eBay rather than the marketplace.
  • Can't sell them insurance, but we can make it easier for them to file a claim if it is damaged in transit or lost
  • Some buyers complain that their item has not arrived 2 days after they paid for it. If they contact me directly then I can tell them that Fedex ground takes 7 days to reach the east coast from the West Coast. I doubt ebay will consider this.
  • I just had a buyer file a claim with Paypal then put in my tracking number and never returned the item. He lost the dispute because he used a false tracking number. He then called Ebay and they gave him his money back with no questions asked of me and no knowledge of him trying to scam Paypal. The buyer then leaves me a negative and Ebay does nothing to help. Again everything is for the buyer and again nothing for the seller.
  • As I understand it, this system will, in some cases, allow a buyer to keep an item that was allegedly not received or not as described. Many sellers of collectible items mark their items with UV sensitive ink or other marks. If the seller isn't required to return the item to the seller, the seller has no way to confirm that the item not as described is the same item they sent. Another ding for the seller and a bonus for the buyer. Not well thought out, poorly planned.
  • It may be good, hard to tell at this point. Not good if they don't require return on SNADs.
  • Once again, eBay has made it so complicated that I fear the process. In addition, Seller Protection is completely removed - but they don't tell you that part....
Buyer-Seller Communications - Questions and Responses
1) Starting this fall, buyer identity will be kept anonymous until after the sale is completed.
Good: 10.4% Neutral: 22.1% Bad: 67.5%

2) In October, eBay will be consolidating and improving some of the eBay emails that a buyer gets after a transaction is complete. These include emails like the order confirmation, order update/shipping notices, and payment reminders. A Payment Reminder will go out if your buyer doesn't pay after 48 hours (first reminder) and 96 hours (second reminder) of hitting the "commit to buy" button. An Order Confirmation email is sent after your buyer goes through checkout and serves as a receipt of their order. You can do limited customization of this email through Selling Manager Pro. An Order Update email will be sent when the status of any item in the buyer's order changes (i.e., either their payment status or shipping status has changed). You can customize this email through Selling Manager Pro.
Good: 33.2% Neutral: 31.8% Bad: 35.1%

Buyer-Seller Communications - Comments
Many buyers felt quite strongly that keeping a buyer's identity anonymous until after a transaction is completed is very bad. Many also felt that eBay's reminders to pay for an item would aggravate buyers, who would take it out on the sellers' DSRs. A number of people wondered why customization of these emails would only be available to sellers who paid for a subscription to eBay's Selling Manager Pro software.

  • Lack of ability to communicate with customer is always a bad thing. canned payment reminders at 48 hours is too quick and may irritate customers.
  • There is no reason to keep the identity of the buyer anonymous. As a seller I should be able to look at my customers past record whether it is good or bad.
  • eBay is continuing to intrude itself further in between the buyer and the seller in the process. This will result in more difficulty in communicating and also result in more friction where there is no need for friction. If they do this, then they should remove the DSR for seller communications with the buyer.
  • Hiding buyer identity takes away a seller's ability to protect themselves by blocking scammers or neg-happy buyers. The payment reminders going out so soon almost seems like harassment of buyers.
  • Payment Reminders should be at Seller's request only.
  • These are positive changes and will contribute to the overall seller experience. streamlining is key to being a successful seller
  • I hate that buyer identity is hidden. In a world where we are striving for transparency, you want to hide IDs? You encourage shill bidding and people who are blocked, or would be blocked, to bid. Since ebay is so buyercentric now, we have to check bidders feedback and decide of we want to sell to them.
  • Since sellers can no longer leave neg feedback, this takes away another avenue of protecting ourselves from bad buyers
  • eBay messaging system is unreliable. A question to ebay Pinks revealed that sellers will NOT be copied on these messages (only an indication that they have been sent). I want to be CC'd on anything regarding my sales, I want to receive it in the same form as my customers do, and I want to receive it at the same time.
  • Being forced to use Selling Manager Pro is unfair. eBay does have some good points enforced but Sellers should be permitted to do this without yet another eBay enforced program that is subject to create more problems for sellers.
  • Two very bad ideas. This give the seller no way of knowing if they are dealing with a reliable, honest buyer. The idea of anonymous buyers opens the door for scammers. As for the payment reminders, another case of eBay over stepping their bounds. EBay's wording in emails is often poorly written in the extreame. Not good. It also takes away more of the sellers ability to communicate directly with the seller. EBay has forgotten that eBay does not sell or own the merchandise, the seller does.
  • This is fine as long as Selling manger Pro is free..........
  • Payment reminder should be after 7 days not 48 hours. people don't always use their computers every day
  • Wow, now this is way over the top. Ebay has a serious control issue problem. Reading this survey is very upsetting. I would quit selling on Ebay in a heartbeat, but unfortunately, and we all feel the same way, Ebay has the monopoly on this market and they know and they are ABUSING it!
  • Not sure about the reminders, I think it may anger a lot of buyers and cause bad dsr marks to sellers.
  • eBay is becoming a secretive society soon you will pay through paypal anonymously and have to ship the box to an unknown location and where they will then forward the package to the buyer so you won't know who the person is, it's all so clandestine. If I buy something from Nordstroms they give me personal service, what on earth is ebay so afraid of, ebay used to be a community what was wrong with that.
  • Shill bidders, bring it on! Why wouldn't they want me to know who is bidding on my item? Sounds fishy to me
  • Let the sellers handle the communication process or quit rating us on it.
  • If eBay is taking over the communication with OUR customers, why are we still judged in DSR's for communication
  • Small sellers with basic selling manager should be able to customize emails too
  • Eliminating a seller's ability to personalize correspondence with buyers is bad business. Let the nameless faceless inventory liquidators do this if they can't be bothered, but small to mid-sized sellers need to be able to personalize the service they provide to buyers as this is an integral part of what they are selling.
  • Many of my buyers purchase multiples over a period of time-I don't want them being dunned by ebay to pay when I haven't even invoiced them
  • I already send out, on average, 3 or 4 personalized emails to every buyer for every transaction. An email when they buy, another when they pay, another when it ships, another the day after shipping and then another when they leave 5 DSR on communication, too....(got all 5's, actually..=)
  • I don't want to have impersonal robots dealing with my customers. I am doing well on Ebay by providing personalized top notch service. I find every communication I get from Ebay annoying and purely phrased, I don't want my customers feeling the same way. I hate this change, I think it will effect my scores and my enjoyment of dealing with customers in significant negative way.
  • I would like to see customization options in Selling Manager as well as Selling Manager Pro.
Exclude Ship-to Locations - Questions and Responses
eBay is providing a ship-to location exclusion option. "For example, if you specify today that you ship to Europe, buyers from all European countries can purchase your item. If you wanted to exclude buyers from Italy or Russia, for instance, you are unable to do so. The ship-to location exclusion option allows you to specify countries you do not wish to include in your international listings."
Good: 70.0% Neutral: 18.4% Bad: 11.6%

Exclude Ship-to Locations - Comments

  • This is 10+ years too late, but better late than never.
  • I thought we already had this option?
  • An obvious improvement, overlong in coming
  • Wouldn't it be easier to simply indicate which foreign countries a Seller WILL ship to?? ~ Why can't I just indicate "UK-only" instead of "All of Europe... except: France, Italy, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria...)
  • Overall, the outcome of this policy is good... the implementation of it was LACKING FORETHOUGHT!!
  • Think this is a good change, some countries do not have reliable mail service.
  • Okay, WHEN aer they going to allow me to exclude PR and HI/AK?? All it takes is a zip code list, for cryin' out loud.
  • It's about time. eBay should be embarrassed for having New Zealand as an Asian country. eBay is NOT smarter than a fifth grader.
  • Doesn't affect me...I'll ship to Timbuktu if the buyer wants it.
  • We don't ship internationally so this is no change for us but they need to break out PR and the US territories.
  • Makes shipping overseas a lot better.
  • I ship Internationally but only via Priority and Express. So far (fingers crossed) I have not experienced the loss and diversion of other sellers. Still, I think this is a good change. Allows seller more options.
  • Extremely long overdue, but knowing eBay, expect a limit on how many countries you can exclude, and an inability to create a default exclusion set applied to all listings - this will be a manual selection process for each listing individually to encourage non-use of the feature.
  • This is my favorite of all changes.
Shipping Tracking and Delivery Information Update - Questions and Responses
1) eBay is making shipping tracking and delivery confirmation more visible by enhancing the add/edit tracking numbers page, adding support for more shipping carriers, and sharing shipping tracking and delivery confirmation information in more places on the site.
Good: 64.8% Neutral: 25.5% Bad: 9.8%

Shipping Tracking and Delivery Information Update - Comments

  • I always provided this through printing labels (its sent automatically and can be seen in paypal) through paypal so why the big deal?
  • What is the use when International registered mail is not recognised by Paypal Or Ebay ????
  • Generally good but I use and already email DC numbers and ship confirmations directly to buyers. Why should I have to also update ebay with the same info? I fear ebay will use a slow delivery unfairly against sellers with all the additional information in the ebay resolution process. Ebay is TOO slanted towards buyers already.
  • Providing a way to keep the buyers better informed is great. Sending out notification e-mails to my buyers and not giving me the option to opt out is bad. I keep my buyers informed but I know many do not. I'll believe the added support for more shipping carriers when I see it. We've only been asking for that for years.
  • This is good because some buyers get really anxious if they do not have that tracking number. This is a plus I think.
  • We send our tracking confirmations automatically through UPS; all this does is create more work for us.
  • We ship USPS, they don't provide tracking. DC is for the seller, not the buyer.
  • Before delivery confirmation numbers are advertised all over the place, there needs to be a better statement with the number that explains that a delivery confirmation number does not always show tracking information... often there is no updated information between the notation that the postage has been printed and the notation that the package has been delivered. Buyers often believe that the failure of the system to register package movement means the seller has not actually mailed the item.
  • It's good, but eBay needs to specify clearly to the buyers that the USPS does not provide tracking. And that the delivery conformation numbers may not even show till the item is delivered. And make the language clear that this is a USPS policy issue, and not a seller issue.
  • Why is there nothing on this survey about the ludicrous free shipping requirements? Why do we have to offer free shipping on books, which are often hard to sell at a reasonable price anyway, and are extremely heavy? There is no "media rate" shipping in the UK.
  • It seems like a good idea, but eBay is so glitchy that I'm nervous about potential problems with this.
  • This was needed all sellers should included tracking and delivery conformation to their buyer. It cause less confusion and provide the seller and buyer more protection on the item that is being shipped.
  • This would be good if the eBay tracking matched the USPS tracking, which it currently does not.
  • This would be better if ebay kept this info updated - I have more shipping questions from buyers now because this info is not current on ebay - but it is up to date on USPS.
Look for our wrap-up of the survey in Sunday's AuctionBytes Update newsletter.

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