eBay Defect Seller Standards: 1st Assessment

Stars hmToday is the date that you will find out your seller status as measured by the new Seller Defect rating. We’ve heard lots of concerns both on is the new policy too draconian and possible glitches to the system which may need refining.

We’re really interested to hear your experiences and whether your seller status has gone up or down or no change.

If you’ve lost Top Rated Seller Status, please do share where you think the biggest hurdles are for you. For instance, is it shipping and “Where’s my item?” questions or is it something like the reports we’ve heard of total defects not tallying with the individual counts.

Discounted defects

First up, some good news. With the new standards now in effect, some sellers who are on a 12 month look back schedule will be protected from selling limits or restrictions in this assessment in order to help them understand the new system – even though in fact their seller status may be below eBay’s new standards*.

Sellers who have received this protection will see this as an update in the notification section on their seller dashboard. The defects are displayed for all sellers to provide insight into what happened in the past, so that you can learn moving forward. Whilst you may not agree with all of the defects, you do at least have the chance to assess what caused them and have the opportunity to take preventative action for the future.

Automatically removed defects

There are three main instances where eBay will automatically remove defects from your account:

  • If the buyer doesn’t pay for their order, the seller can open an unpaid item case against the buyer and any associated defects will be removed.

    Tip – Use the automatic unpaid item tool

  • If eBay take action against a buyer for any activity that violates the eBay buying practices policy, they will remove any associated defects left by the buyer

  • If eBay can determine through valid tracking that a defect was the direct result of circumstances outside of the seller’s control, they will remove the associated defects. For example, wide-scale carrier delays or when items are stuck in customs. These events will be listed on the eBay announcement board

Concerns from Tamebay readers

Thank you to the many readers that have emailed us regarding defects. There are two instances where we tend to agree with you that eBay could help with small policy changes:


It seems wrong that the only way to close a case without incurring a defect is to escalate it to eBay, especially as this means keeping a buyer hanging on for several days until the case can be escalated. We’d love to see eBay put a process in place where a buyer can say “Hey, I’m happy, please close the case and don’t give the buyer a defect”.

Delivery Estimates

eBay take an optimistic view of carriers delivery promises. Carriers don’t always meet these standards. For instance we know that Royal Mail have a target of delivering 93% of First Class post the next day and 98.5% of Second Class post within 3 days. As eBay use these time scales as measurement, potentially 7% of your first class post and 1.5% of 2nd Class will be delivered late.

eBay do add on one day before a buyer can cause a defect, but often with post being delivered late in the day (2-3pm isn’t unusual for my Postie to call), a buyer can ask “Where’s my item?” at lunch time just for it to arrive a couple of hours later.

We’d like to see eBay add a second day’s grace, not to block buyers from asking where their items are, but for it not to count as a defect until a pessimistic delivery date has passed.

My Defects don’t add up

We’ve heard a couple of instances where the total number of defects don’t tally when you tot up the individual cases. eBay have told us that there are three reasons why this may occur:

  • The transaction defect report is a global report and therefore details the defects from all countries whereas the dashboard only covers the UK.

  • Any DSRs prior to 29 April will not show on the transaction defect report so there may be more defects displayed on the dashboard.

  • The seller dashboard is updated every 24-48 hours whereas the transaction defect report is updated once a week as its purpose is to help sellers understand and give insight into trends which cannot be given over just a few days.

Do the outlets get special treatment?

No. Whilst they may have named account managers their main contact is tasked to focus on best business practices. If Outlets want to appeal a defect it becomes a customer service issue and eBay tell us it goes to the sames customer services team that deals with everyone’s defect removal requests. The aim is for customer service to be consistent.

Are defects a fair measurement?

We know some readers will have defects that they don’t think are fair.

We also know that some eBay sellers are still operating as if it’s five years ago and as an example use 2nd class post as well as taking a couple of days to despatch orders. Unfortunately ecommerce has changed along with buyer expectations and in today’s world buyers do expect a higher standard.

If your seller status has been lowered today or if you’re hovering in the danger zone it’s time to take a dispassionate look at your defect report and understand where the problems lie. Are most of your defects delivery related, are they particular products with a high failure rate, is it your descriptions or images that are letting you down? Are you delivering on time but still getting buyers asking where their item is?

If you can nail down what causes the greatest number of defects on your account there will be some actions you can take. The only real question you then need to ask yourself is having identified where the issues lie, is it financially viable to fix them to lower your defect rate?

Finally don’t forget that Thinkspring Interactive offer a free eBay Defect Report Viewer to make interpreting your defect report more visual.

*eBay asked us to “clarify the section on ‘discounted defects’” which previously read:
For sellers on a 12 month look back there is some protection from any consequences from not meeting standard. Any defects prior to the 11th of March will be displayed on your dashboard but they will not count towards your defect rate.
eBay will automatically override these defects and not count them when assessing if you meet the minimum requirements.