Saturday, 14 May 2011

To Ebay or not to Ebay

I discovered Ebay later than most.  Just prior to the birth of the twins somebody suggested I look on there for clothes for the babies.  What a world it opened up to me.  I soon became hooked on biding and buying, within a few weeks I realised I could also make money by selling on there too.  My items sold quickly and feedback was fantastic because of the quality of my items.  I soon built up a great reputation for myself and went from strength to strength.  I took the step of opening a shop on Ebay and found suppliers in America to start selling new designer clothes thanks initially to an American friend of mine. 

When the twins were 3 years old I had built up a regular supply chain and customer base, I had become a powerseller, sales were great and my husband who knew I was not happy at work and with ongoing childcare issues suggested I turn it into a full time job.  Along with my new website I took the plunge.  At this time Ebay had started already to change what was once a vibrant buying and selling community into a much more unstable environment for sellers.  Bringing in lots of little terms and conditions that worked for customers but in the main against sellers.  I can understand the need to ensure that customers are treated fairly (ebay did have a reputation for some rogue sellers and fake sales) but in the main most sellers were honest, hard working and most sales went off without a hitch.  I prided myself on my 100% feedback going everyday to the post office, sometimes twice if a customer really needed something in a hurry.  I answer ever sale with a personal email and only sell items that are immaculate and beyond reproach.

My first negative feedback was literally like being hit in the face !  I know that sounds melodramatic but when you get into selling on Ebay, a bit like blogging - you want comments, you want people to enjoy what you write its all part of the experience.  I can't remember now what the negative was for but I remember how it made me feel and how I raged about it.  I also know it was totally unwarranted.  At this time Ebay also bought in a new rule whereby only buyers could leave negative feedback !  What had happened to the fair two way communication and the basis on which the original owner of Ebay had established his community on. 

As with most things like this, if it is your livelihood you have to just suck it up and carry on and ebay knew this, they knew they had most sellers by the short and curlies and they continued to introduce more and more impossible regulations.   They would be laughed off the high street if they tried to impose such rules on bricks and mortar shops !  The Star rating system (totally anonymous of course) ment that customers could give you written feedback as usual but could also rate you on item as described, communication, despatch time and postage and packing charges !  No problem I though, I work hard in all those areas I have nothing to worry about !  Stupid Karen !  I have had several positive comments written where the buyer has obviously then gone on to mark me down in the star rating section, usually because they don't like how much it cost to post to them.  I send all items recorded delivery in the uk or international signed for service overseas, because if I don't, I can't get my money back if the item is "lost in the post" .  I clearly state the cost of postage and the customer is agreeing to that when they commit to buy so why should they be able to make me down in that area.  I also received 3 low rating on despatch time in January this year when anybody with an once of a brain would know that the majority of the country was snowed in and Royal mail was having difficulty delivering.  Would Ebay remove these low ratings ?  Would they hell.

You might wonder why the feedback is so important to me. 

  I recently lost my top rated seller status (which affects where your items are listed on ebay pages, discounts you get and your standing as a reliable seller)  a big deal if you are in a category that has lots of items like the clothes category that I am in.  All because a few customers  0.68% of my total sales for a year gave me a low seller rating.

 0.68% of my total sales in a year !!!!

Can you imagine again the high street retailers with a failer rate of less than 1% in customer overall satisfaction, seeing that as a FAILURE !!! 

I've had 2 negative feedback's in the last year one customer said "great ebayer. Never received the item"   - OK so it failed to arrive, royal mail said it was lost in their system, we had tracking info everything but still Ebay refused to remove it.

The second ebayer said " bad communication.Sent me wrong size and did not make me a full refund.DISSAPOIN"   This was for a second hand Armani top I sold her for £4.50 which was correctly listed but because it didn't fit her she lied on the feedback. Again Ebay refused to remove it.

Today I have had a customer who I gave a discount of £8 off the original cost with free shipping to Germany for 2 baseball caps.  She sent me the following email :

hello, the cap has some errors. a cap has a hole in the back seam is 7 mm long and the other cap has the wrong seam in the middle (where there is polo rider), and these approaches is also to 1cm! short front and rear short by 1 cm than the other cap, so small and tight Wiesent looks flat. I think it are wrong products. I'm very disappointed, I will be refund the caps only when I was 50% decrease in both, I think it's fair. if you want, I can send them photos with meter stick next to it, so you can see the differences. shame that the controls determining CAPI not have before sending it.

in a nutshell, she is lying about there being holes in the caps, I check everything I send out, nothing goes out if I have the slightest concern.  As for her argument that there is a 1 cm difference in the sizes of the caps !  Is she for real and then comes the crunch line she wants 50% discount on them !  Got to the bottom line in the end. 50% off an already discounted pair of caps that I had again discounted for her.  I wouldn't play ball and told her to return them to me for a full refund. She then told me she had cut all the labels out of the inside of both of the caps ! Really, how convenient, and so it went on.  I remained calm and told her I would consult with Ebay and paypal on Monday but she knows what she is doing and has put a claim into paypal already. The money has been taken from my account, I can do nothing about it, I know she will probably get to keep the caps and get her money and yes, because I sent it international signed for service I will get my money back, but that's not the principle !  I am outraged at the unfairness of this system.

What would you do ?  Is it time to go ........


  1. That is one of the reasons why I've been really afraid to start selling on ebay. I've sold a few books but I worry about being wrongfully accused of lying about item condition or something. I know a gal who buys on ebay regularly and is constantly pissed if she doesn't get her items within a few days, and she rails about wanting her money back. It's like, how does one combat pissy ass customers? You have my total sympathy.

    I'm mostly a buyer on ebay, but I remember the older days before the change, and I actually had a few incidents with bad sellers who sent me crap stuff, lied about it, and then threatened to say i was a bad buyer if I didn't give them a good rating. It was those bad eggs who ruined the basket for the majority of the awesome sellers.

    What it comes down to is ebay is basically just a "most people are honest" crapshoot business. Both seller and buyers have to pray that the majority of the people on it are honest people, and right now the sellers are getting burned cause of it.

  2. Sorry to hear that Karen.

    The rules ebay keep introducing are ridiculous - and like you say weighted in the buyer's favour.

    I used to sell a lot on ebay, in fact I earnt a decent amount from selling on vintage clothes and crockery etc.

    The new postage restrictions are crazy. A maximum charge for clothing items for example. This is ok for a Tshirt, but it doesn't quarter cover the cost of sending a winter coat, and as you say you have to cover your arse by sending everyting recorded so you don't get charge-backs.

    They also now INSTIST on accepting paypal payment even when the item is collection only. so of course you lose even more in fees.

    End of the day, if you want to keep up your reputation, because of stupid way feedback now works, you have no choice but to give in to these buyers - most of whom are clearly trying it on :0(


  3. I'm so sorry you've had to put up with this behaviour from people buying your products. You raise loads of great points about the unfairness of eBay terms and conditions for sellers. Personally I wouldn't buy or sell on eBay at all. Perhaps it is time for you to set you your own site and not use eBay as it sounds like things are rapidly going down hill in terms of sellers rights.

    I hope business continues to be brisk and that your customers appreciate the excellent service you offer. Very best of luck whatever decision you make xxxxx

  4. I am not a power seller but even I have had issues. I sold one guy an optic, which had a Bacardi cover or something. It was in perfect condition but he said it broke first time he used it. So I sent him another optic. He said that wasn't a Bacardi one. You just put the cover on the new optic, but no he wanted a refund. So I said fine send it back & I'll refund it. Would I cover the charges? All for an optic that cost about £4. Some people take the piss & you are effectively held at ransom because of the ratings system. Shame. X

  5. Thank you for your comments. Its such a shame that so many people have bad experiences of Ebay and as you all say it really is just the few both buyers and sellers who spoil it for the majority. But the system is so one sided now if offers no protection at all for buyers and causes so much grief.

  6. Karen-I think that if you have built up customers, and if you have their emails, why not just take the plunge and get rid of ebay?

    Sometimes, things happen in our lives for a reason. Maybe this is the kick you need to go solo and not reliant on ebay? Or maybe, depending if you really enjoy it or not, to do something else. Just a thought.

  7. Hi Susie, I have tried for the last 18 months to get my ebay customers to buy direct from my website offering them free postage and discounts but to no avail, they seem content with sticking with what they know. Its very hard, but I agree I am in the porcess of moving into other areas and am having some success with Etsy selling vintage so maybe its time to move on like you say. I really don't need or deserve the stress Ebay gives anymore : ( xx

  8. I only sell a few bits of daughters clothes shes grown out of on ebay and have been lucky i guess with buyers so far but i also buy alot off ebay and have had a few problems with sellers but luckily nowt too bad its just disgusting the attitude of some ppl on there the other week i brought an x-stitch kit it arrived with no pattern so when i asked the seller where the pattern was she said it doesnt have one and that it doesnt say on the listing it has a pattern with it!! real bad attitude especially as she didnt say it didnt have a pattern in the listing fgs grrrr

  9. Miss Daisy, this is the problem I think with some sellers. I go to great lengths to explain if an item had additional detail etc. I always answer emails quickly and really try to stay polite even though I might be really cross. I know people respond differently to situations and we all have "bad days" but as a long standing seller on Ebay I have seen a real shift in attitude of buyers towards the negative. This time last year I was averaging 100 plus feedback a month now I am lucky if 30 or so bother to leave feedback.
    I'm sorry you had a bad experience with this seller x

  10. I only sell the odd things the Ebay, I don't run a shop or anything I just use it to get rid of clutter around the home but even I worry about getting negative feedback, so can understand that if it is your livelihood then it's a big deal.

    I'm not sure if it's just me but I've noticed that most buyers don't leave positive feedback anymore. I haven't had any negative feedback yet, but am puzzled as to why i've stopped having any positive feedback for things I've sent.

    I've also noticed buyers are taking longer to pay for things, probably because sellers can't leave them feedback saying they are lazy payers.

  11. Sorry to hear you have had such a hard time of it on ebay recently. I have only sold a few things but sometimes it does feel like it worth it. I think people just take the piss. Hope things get better x

  12. Toybuzz ,you are so right about the feedback thing. Mine has dropped dramatically since all the changes I still get reasonable sales but a much less feedback .

  13. Susan , I am shocked. I have never seen you swear before xx Bless, thank you for your comment lovely xx

  14. I agree with ebay screwing over the sellers, ive bought and sold for over 8 years on ebay and have seen it change so much, the negative feedback thing was a joke. Its the reason why ive never gone into opening an ebay shop and doing it for a living as its so hard with all the rules and regs, such a shame. Scarlett x

  15. Thanks Scarlett, well as much as it grieves me to move away from my comfort blanket of Ebay I think its probably time. Just about had enough of the nonesense. Can you imagine a high street shop having a customer return an item with the labels and tags cut out of it and then the customer demanding a full refund !!! It just wouldn't happen. So sad.

  16. I honestly didn't realise alot of the things that you have highlighted in this blog. It really has mademe think. I truly hope that eBay - put something in place to help honest and fair sellers such as you! Good luck Amanda - gidders1

  17. we don't sell much on ebay, but I have started to put on a few items lately, but these new rules really scare me. I think the first time somebody pulls some stunts like the ones I've just read about I'll probably quit selling for good. Sellers need rights too!

  18. I can completely identify with everything that you are saying here Karen - I know just how it feels to have your honesty and integrity as a person and as a business walked all over. I do believe it is quite unique to Ebay!

    We have experienced exactly the same issues and we also had Top Rated seller status which we lost in similar circumstances. Ebay does indeed need to address these areas but sadly I think it is too late for the excitement and buzz of the "old" Ebay to return either for buyers or for sellers.
    One thing about Ebay that holds us there though is definitely its ability to draw customers. We have tried leaving completely, downsizing and selective listings for the same reasons, but for us as far as we are able to measure, we feel that we cannot afford to completely walk away. In fact we are right now in the process of rebuilding listings following a period of testing "almost leaving" for the second time in nearly 6 years as this business.(I joined Ebay donkeys ago lol)
    Interestingly enough, our recent reduction in sales/listings prompted a telephone call from Ebay, offering a mentoring session on how to regain Top Rated Seller status. Perhaps change is in the air?

  19. Hi Bath Bomb,

    Thank you for your comment, its really interesting to read what you hve experienced. I am unfortunately in total agreement. Although business has dropped off dramatically, it still represents the lions share of my business income and as you say it does give you great exposure, although I am at a loss as to why they seem to have this "visability" of your products to different regions. I know that they do because most of my sales come in "area cycles" i.e orders from ireland one day, london the next etc etc never a spread across the country.
    Although them contacting you is a step in the right direction ,I take exception that the emphasis is always on the seller to improve when in most cases we are working our backsides off and its spiteful customers that cause the loss in the first place.
    But yes, maybe baby steps in the right direction, we will see xx

  20. I fully agree, eBay is an pain. Even as a individual, I got done selling some goods by someone claiming he never received the good. I was a rookie, he knew how to play the game. I was fuming! That is probably why eBay is suffering and Amazon is picking up big time? I assume you sell on Amazon too? That will remove the dependancy? (loved the 0.68%, it's so insane, as you said, high street retailers would kill for a below 1%).

  21. I agree I had a disagreement with Ebay today, they asked if I was unhappy with Ebay, when I said yes the agent said to me well why dont you go elsewhere to sell,it doesnt matter that I pay them nearly a £1000 a month in fees, the buyer alway comes 1st.

    Ebay cant get it into their head the sellers are their customers NOT the buyers the seller pays the fees, the buyer pays them nothing.

    The feedback system is a joke,

    We have reduced our Ebay shop by over 300 items in the past week and are sifting through all the listings that dont sell very often, we have to keep the profit making items on for a while yet but are hoping by the end of the year we can wave goodbye to Ebay for good.

    We have 0.12% and still cant get to top rated, but they wont give the discount now unless you are top rated.

    We have moved to Amazon its so much easier and you dont get the abuse off the buyers



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