Monday, May 3, 2010

eBay Summer 2010 Changes: Sellers on Hook for Opened Cases

More changes are coming to eBay this summer. Most of them I can live with, and in fact I will have to live with all of them. The only one that seems questionable to me is the one where sellers will now potentially face negative consequences, such as having their listings lowered in search standing, based on the amount of cases opened in PayPal or eBay against them - whether or not the case is resolved in their favor.

Why would eBay count even cases resolved in the sellers' favor? Their answer, per one of the pages about the new Summer changes, explains it thusly:

"Why is eBay even including a count of all cases, including those ultimately found in the seller's favor, or cases I resolve promptly with my customer?

"Sellers are always expected to follow best practices that result in smooth transactions and high buyer satisfaction. Likewise, buyers are always encouraged to contact sellers first with any issues. For the vast majority of transactions, this direct buyer-seller communication works just the way it should. When a buyer is motivated to open a case with eBay or PayPal this is a clear sign of dissatisfaction. A high rate of opened cases is an indication that some aspect of a seller's service requires attention�regardless of the outcome of the case."

So they believe that whenever it gets to the point of a buyer being unsatisfied enough to open a case, it does not reflect well on the seller. In many cases that may be fair. I can think of at least one instance where this would have hurt me when I do not believe I did anything wrong.

I sent a buyer a necklace. She claimed she never received it. I sent it USPS and had the tracking info; the tracking info clearly indicated it was delivered. She denied it was ever delivered and was pushing for my assuming responsibility and giving her a full refund. I was prepared to do that even though I do not think it was my fault, but I did ask her to at least look around her house, ask around, etc. She said she was going to file a PayPal case anyway in the meantime.

I did wind up giving her a full refund, by the way. Evidently the necklace was never found.

Now, this does not happen often, fingers crossed, but that kind of thing could be one thing that could hurt honest sellers. I assume eBay has reasons for instituting this policy..they may see a large number of opened cases and think it is not necessarily being reflected in sellers' DSR ratings. I don't know. 

I just hope they keep an eye on how this new policy goes and if buyers abuse it.

I must add that the vast majority of my buyers are wonderful people...and sellers too. I am consistently impressed by the honesty and good quality of items I receive on eBay. But the percentage of things that go wrong - and things inevitably go wrong, I do believe -- are so small, that even a great seller may get burned by some buyers who abuse the system.

Other changes coming this summer, per the personal phone call I received today from an eBay employee:

- "Starting July 27, many categories will require specified item condition when you list or relist.

[ I am  fine with that; it makes sense to me]

- "Also buyer protection cases will count toward your seller status"

[ we talked about this]

- "Other updates include bulk editing, email changes, featured first retirement, and your rewards for catalog photos."

You can get the details at

Starting in September, cases filed through the eBay and PayPal Buyer Protection programs will be considered along with DSRs in evaluating seller performance.

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