I first began using ebay as collector and greatly enjoyed the ebay experience. In purchase after purchase I was constantly amazed with the ease and simplicity of the system which allowed me to acquire items from people throughout the world to add to my collection. I recall the first feedback I received and the first feedback that I left.
I then began selling an item here and there. It was fun, it helped me streamline my own collection and provided a stream of funds to acquire other items to add to it. After getting the basics down I dove in with both feet. I spent every spare moment seeking items to sell, listing my items and managing the flow. I had a vision of building a business around my passion for 20th Century design with ebay being a core component of my overall business plan.
I worked hard, and smart, and built a business that stretched out past my little corner of ebay into the real world with a bricks and mortar shop. Utilizing ebay helped me realize this and helped me maintain my new business venture.
It was a great world and I shared ebay’s values.
Remember those values? Perhaps not, so allow me to refresh your memory.
– We believe people are basically good.
– We believe everyone has something to contribute.
– We believe that an honest, open environment can bring out the best in people.
– We recognize and respect everyone as a unique individual.
– We encourage you to treat others the way you want to be treated.
I ask if you remember these values after reviewing the new fees and policies for ebay sellers. These new policies demonstrate the ebay management is abandoning these values by implementing policies which I feel are seriously misguided. As a member of the ebay community I wanted to express my concerns in the context of ebay’s longstanding community values.
The core of ebay’s success has not been because of its slick programming and advertising campaigns but rather has come as a direct result of the honesty, trust, friendliness and commitment to excellence shown by the users of ebay – buyers and sellers alike. At the root of this has always been ebay’s feedback system which, while sometimes not perfect, has allowed the community to police itself and alert both buyers and sellers to users who are not living up to the basic standards of fair conduct in their ebay transactions.
This system has served us well over the years for several reasons. First, it was a mutual rating system and recognized the fact that there are two sides to each transaction. Secondly, the system was transparent and details regarding the history of each person were readily available to place context to the feedback. Third, each buyer and seller was associated with the feedback they left which prevented anonymous statements and false claims from being made through the feedback system.
The first reversal of this standard occurred last year with the beginning of the Detailed Seller Ratings (DSR) system. This allowed buyers to leave unsubstantiated and anonymous ratings for sellers. While the intent of the system (to hold sellers to a higher standard of customer service) is correct, by allowing DSRs to be made anonymously with no recourse by the seller the DSRs have created an uneven playing field.
My experience has been that some buyers are using the DSR system to express buyer’s remorse and, in some cases, leverage lower prices or make unreasonable demands upon sellers. An example of this was something I experienced when my DSR rating fell after a buyer left very low ratings because I would not lie on the Postal Service International shipping forms regarding the true cost of the item. Because this buyer wanted me to conspire with them in evading tariffs and I refused they were able to take their frustration out through the DSR system. I have no ability to respond, dispute or correct this under the DSR system.
In addition, the DSR allows for rating on factors which are, at least partially, completely out of the control of the seller – shipping time and cost specifically. I disclose the shipping cost on each listing using the ebay shipping calculator based on actual weight and dimensions and offer a variety of shipping methods. This allows buyers to know before bidding exactly what the shipping costs are and that they are fair. In times where the calculator has overestimated the cost I have routinely refunded the difference to my buyers. In spite of these efforts my DSR rating for shipping cost is 4.6 – the lowest DSR I have. I have seen this same thing with other reputable sellers. It seems buyers don’t believe that it costs what is costs to ship an item and the seller takes the brunt of their criticism.
I also almost always ship within 48 hours of receiving payment – usually faster. However, my shipping to DSR is 4.7 due to a “perceived” slowness from buyers who do not consider that I have no control over the time of delivery once an item leaves my door.
The new fee structure directly ties the amount of ebay fees a seller will pay to the DSR system which is flawed due to its anonymity and its reliance on factors outside the control of the seller. The sellers fees might just as well be tied to the direction of the wind. The DSR system was the beginning of the chiseling away of the ebay values.
This problem is made worse by the new policy of only allowing positive feedback for buyers. This changes our community values from “all people are basically good” to “all buyers are good and some sellers are good.” The feedback system has worked because it was mutual. The system is worthless without being mutual. If there were abuses, as ebay claims, with sellers leaving unwarranted negative feedback then other policies, already in place, could have ben utilized to resolve this. To make the feedback system entirely one sided destroys its basic premise and is contrary to ebay’s community values.
I say all of these things as a good member of the ebay community. I am proud of my 99.9 percent feedback rating. The two negatives I have gotten were both years ago from International buyers who did not pay – prior to the policy which prohibited non-paying bidders from leaving negative feedback. I have a great number of return customers and take great pride in providing excellent customer service. Sellers like me have been the foundation of ebay.
I will be thoroughly reviewing these new policies over the coming weeks to re-examine my future plans as they relate to ebay. Although ebay has been an important part of my business model these new policies are a dramatic change to the ebay terms of service. More importantly, they are an even greater reversal of the ebay values. It was those values which brought me to ebay – and their loss will likely result in my exiting.
I hope ebay reconsiders these misguided and ill-conceived policies which will primarily benefit large-scale, high-volume sellers of drop shipped items. To those like us, who as buyers and as sellers have used ebay to trade unique and collectible items, these policies are damaging. I urge you to remember how ebay began, the buyers and sellers who built it, and those values we shared as a community.
The Modern Guy