eBay's New Defect Rate Policy In Effect August 20th

ebay seller performance frustrates users
eBay Sellers once again frustrated with policy changes

The Evolution Of Seller Performance On eBay

eBay has always tried to find ways to evaluate sellers based on their performance. The first and simplest system was the feedback system which allowed both buyers and sellers to leave feedback for one another. This system wasn't without it's problems as many buyers and sellers would leave negative feedback as retaliation. Or some sellers would only agree to refund an item if a negative feedback was removed. Because of these problems eBay implemented the DSR system (Detailed Seller Ratings) with a one to five star rating on things like shipping time, item as described, and communication.  Generally buyers though didn't understand the system very well and sellers hated it. A three star review which the buyer may view as satisfactory would actually count as negative in eBay's eyes. Now eBay has a new policy which looks at factors that buyers don't see when looking at your feedback or DSRs.

What Is The New Defect Rate Policy?

The new defect rate policy takes into account the following:

  • Detailed seller rating of 1, 2 or 3 for item as described

  • Detailed seller rating of 1 for shipping time

  • Negative or neutral feedback

  • Return initiated for a reason that indicates the item was not as described

  • eBay Money Back Guarantee (previously known as eBay Buyer Protection) or PayPal Purchase Protection case opened for an item not received or an item not as described

  • Seller-cancelled transactions

All of these various scenarios can't add up to more 5% percent of all your transactions or 2% if you wish to stay on as a Top Rated Seller. The complete eBay policy can found here. I've highlighted some portions that I find unfair about this new policy. First neutral feedback is not a great indicator of whether a seller did a good job or not. For example many buyers leave a neutral when they don't end up liking the item. One buyer actually left me neutral saying "I didn't like this book". Most of the time I would let those things go because it wasn't enough to bring down my rating but now we'll all have to fight to remove neutral feedbacks from people who don't get it.

The second portion is returns, eBay has been encouraging sellers to accept returns and issue refunds as a way to gain the trust of buyers. In a perfect world buyers would contact the seller and allow them to try to solve the problem before starting the return process. Most buyers though will go directly to opening a case to get their refund. Also, many will state the reason as "Item Not As Described" when in actuality it was buyer remorse or some other reason. Buyers aren't dumb they know if you say that the item came damaged or wasn't what was advertised that the seller will have no way to dispute it.

The last part that seems unfair is that as a seller you will have to think twice about canceling a transaction. Now I know that some sellers cancel auctions when they don't get the price they want and that isn't fair and hurts the reputation of eBay sellers. However, some transactions are canceled for valid reasons. Sometimes buyers will contact you after a sale and try to modify the price, shipping or other conditions. Sellers should be able to cancel these "problem transactions" before they turn into negative feedback.

In the long run I don't think that this will prove to be the answer to measuring seller performance. It is too complicated and requires sellers to fight every error made by uninformed buyers.

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