Ebay Spring Seller Update 2012 - Good Ideas, Bad Ideas

Checked in with eBay to today and was surprised to see that the spring seller update for 2012 is already here. I was happy to see that there was no major fee restructuring although they did throw in a sneaky increase (more on that later). First the good:
    • Picture hosting is free for up to 12 pictures per listing. Ebay has always emphasized the importance of good quality photos for listings but only given sellers one free photo per listing. Ebay's finally listening to their own advice and decided more pictures are better for sales. However, I don't really agree with their suggestion that you shouldn't be put pictures in the description. The extra photos eBay gives you require the buyer to click on them to be viewed.  The good part about putting them in the description is that the buyer will not miss them. Plus photos just make most templates stand out a little bit more.
    • The minimum sales to qualify for Top Rated Seller status is now only $1,000. Another good idea. Some smaller sellers are giving out quality service just like larger sellers. So why not recognize them? Sounds good but of course as with many eBay related things there is a catch (more on that later).
    • Automatic 5 star communication DSRs for items that qualify. Basically if the buyer doesn't need to contact you and you deliver the item promptly then you can qualify for automatic 5 star DSR feedback. It's not a bad idea, a better one would be to get rid of DSRs altogether. Either the buyer was happy with his purchase or he wasn't happy with it. Most buyers aren't really interested in leaving feedback unless it's negative so why make it more complicated. Some buyers think that 3 stars would be considered good service not realizing that eBay actually punishes sellers for 3 star DSRs.
    • eBay put all Business Policies in one section for each seller. Again not a bad idea let each seller enter a default shipping time, refund policy and payments accepted in one place. It never really made sense to have to do this on every listing.
    Now the bad:

    1. eBay will require that every listing have a picture at least 500 pixels across. Forcing sellers to go back and retake photos for old listings, it just doesn't make sense. I could see on new listings but changing all the old ones is bit much.
    2. Only items with 1 Day Handling Time and at least a 14 Day Return Policy will get a discount for Top Rated sellers. It's going to be a lot easier to be a Top Rated seller but you won't really get any benefit unless you play by eBays's rules. And right now eBay wants fast shipping. That's why they are requiring 1 Day Handling, otherwise you don't get the Top Rated discount. The 14 day return policy is reasonable for most sellers unless you sell "as is" items.
    3. The maximum allowable Final Value Fee has been increased from $100 to $250 (mentioned very briefly and then glossed over).  So keep that in mind if sell any items over $1000 in price. This only applies to non-store owners so this is probably another way of getting more store subscriptions. Ebay wants all the "serious" sellers to have a store whether they want it or not.
    The worst part is the one day handling time a lot of small Top Rated sellers are not going to get their discounts any longer. Why? Because it's very hard to have a one day handling time especially if you have a day job as well. Let's say you also combine shipping and try to look for the best shipping option for each customer. This will pretty much be impossible under these new rules. I know why eBay wants to implement this, to compete with Amazon which requires all sellers to enter delivery confirmation within 2 days. Buyers want their items quickly however one day to ship is a little extreme.  I bet we'll see many sellers getting around this by simply printing their delivery confirmation at home but waiting a couple of days before sending the package. In reality nothing will have changed for the buyers but eBay can now boast that they have sellers who will ship within one day.

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