Why eBay DSRs should be retired as worthless

By Chris Dawson June 6, 2011 - 12:01 pm

eBay introduced Detailed Seller Ratings in an attempt to differentiate between good sellers and bad sellers. eBay knew that Positive, Neutral and Negative feedback didn’t identify poorly performing sellers so initially eBay focussed on high DSRs in an attempt to raise seller standards. When this still couldn’t differentiate eBay switched to focussing on low DSRs which indicated the worst customer experiences.

Since then DSRs have become less and less useful. Firstly sellers are still unable (officially) to identify bad buying experiences due to the anonymous nature of DSRs. Secondly the DSRs are becoming automated thus worthless.

First the simply for offering free shipping. So long as the buyer doesn’t pay for carriage you get an automatic 5 stars.

Second on under some circumstances the . If you specify 1 day handling, upload U.S. Postal Service, UPS, or FedEx supported tracking information by the end of the next business day and tracking shows confirmed delivery 4 business days from when the payment clears then bans the buyer from rating you and gives you an automatic 5 stars.

Now eBay have taken over communications with buyers. They’ve removed all bulk email capabilities and handle all payment, dispatch and feedback emails to your customers. It’s time for eBay to make the communication DSR an automatic 5 stars in all instances bar where the buyer sends a message to the seller. If they buyer doesn’t initiate any communications then the seller has no need to communicate and it’s hardly fair for the seller to be rated on eBay’s standard automated emails.

Finally we have the Description DSR. Arguably this can be ranked by the buyer, but eBay are rapidly moving towards a catalogue based inventory. I’m seeing ever more new products listed against eBay’s catalogue information with no (or at most minimal) seller description added. If a seller is listing against eBay catalogue data (which is now mandatory in many categories) then there’s an argument for an automatic 5 star DSR for the catalogue data as it’s out of the seller’s control.

As 50% of DSRs can already be an automatic 5 stars, and as the communication DSR most definitely deserves to be an automatic 5 stars, do they have any value left or should the be retired in the near future? When the DSRs are greyed out and automatically awarded just what’s the point of having them?

  • Mike
    10 years ago

    Totally agree Chris, the whole system is full of flaws and is generally pretty unfair to the seller.

    I send out around 60-70 packets a week all round the world, sometimes they get stolen – one did the other day, I refunded the buyer in full (even though I didn’t have to) and my reward was neutral feedback and low marks, cheers!

    One curious thing about the new global rating system is that it says more about a nation’s temperament than about how you’re selling – in the USA my ratings are 5.0 or 4.9 for everything, in the UK, they’re about 4.7 and in Europe they’re around 4.6 despite the fact I’m selling the same items in the same way.

    I really dislike DSR, simple feedback linked to what you’ve sold with maybe an overall star rating would be better (and simpler) for everyone.

  • northumbrian
    10 years ago

    if you sell loads you can get away with murder,
    though get just a couple of sales wrong if you sell little in quantity though you may be selling items worth thousands of pounds, and your buggered for months

  • Glenn
    10 years ago

    DSR’s fly in the face of Domestic and International Law !

    Every person is entitled to hear any allegation against them and No punishment without trial.
    Anonymous buyers can allege poor performance and there is no way to responded and eBay punish sellers with poor DSR’s without any attempt to establish the accuracy of the facts.

    Accounting records – EBay use DSR’s as a performance indicator which in turn effects TSR status and possible discounts, which means that DSR’s are an accounting document and as such eBay have a duty to ensure they are accurate.

  • JD
    10 years ago

    I will be very surprised if DSR’s last more than another 12 months.

    My expectation is that a Net Promoter Score will be along soon.

  • OP
    10 years ago

    Nortumbrian – I can’t agree more, as a private seller who is getting rid of a collection of sporting programmes I’ve been buggered for the last three months because of one person who took umbrage to the fact that the Dutch postal service held onto his package for a bit, and I’m sure that was the person who marked me down as a 1 for everything.

  • Gary
    10 years ago

    It is not so much about the DSR system of marking sellers and we can argue until we are blue in the face about the rights and wrongs of how buyers score sellers.

    It is absolutely about how eBay use the system. If eBay made the system a stand alone entity for buyers to review and make their own judgement and did not draw from the DSR data for the purposes of manipulation then the system as it stands is probably OK.

    The fact that ebay do use the data to manipulate search, provide fee discounts and ban sellers from selling is open to question.

  • 10 years ago

    Most of our buyers I would say 75%, prefer to order and pay over the phone, of the ones that do order online only about a 1/4 actually bother to leave any feedback.

    The whole thing is skewed towards bulk sellers but we’ve learned just to ignore it and get on with doing a good job, eBay’s opinion of my operation is about as interesting to me as buying a bottle of non alcoholic scotch, as for the buyers, I’m sure ebay think they are all idiots who need guiding.

  • northumbrian
    10 years ago

    ebay think were all idiots just phone customer support to confirm it
    I know those guys have a job to do, though when some snot nosed brat with nowt ,tells me how I should conduct my business its a tad annoying

  • stuart
    10 years ago

    We recently lost our TRS status on an account, we have had the status ever since it came out.

    Our sales jump from 300 ish a month to over 800 and have done over the past three months. We went from having say the odd one low mark to it taking us over the threshold by 0.05%!

    Oddly at the same time we had someone from ebay ‘reviewing’ our account as a general thing they were doing in offering telephone guidance to sellers.

    Basically I was told we need to offer free shipping on our items to stop this. But really that is not a far deal for the consumer, as a lot of customers by two or more items from us if I added the shipping cost to the product they would in effect be charge twice as we always combine shipping!

    I asked several times why this had suddenly happened to us with no reason as we hadn’t changed anything, not products, postage charge or anything we do on ebay for this to happen…I was told there was nothing they could do to help!

    Very frustrating indeed as I know we are a good seller and I want to find out what the issue is that is causing this but can’t find out what.

    Basically at the moment it is looking like it is better to sell less on ebay as we would of kept our TRS status….who is losing out there ebay?

    • northumbrian
      10 years ago

      we have a number of IDS all use the same staff the same postage method and and the same stock, all list auction only
      yet some are top rated some are not and vice versa, with no rhyme or reason
      it all depends on the weather, the postage service,or the awkwardness of the buyer, we have no effect!, TRS pops up and down across the ids like those splat the rat games at fairgrounds

    • stuart
      10 years ago

      Totally take your point norf, but it is frustrating not knowing why…but I can’t be bothered to worry about it anymore

    • northumbrian
      10 years ago

      we dont worry about it either
      as long as ebay makes us money we dont care if a troop of red arsed baboons are in charge

    • Dave
      10 years ago

      Once your account is permanately suspended because some buyers leave you positive feedback and slam you on DSR’s…. all of you will sing a different tune.

  • 10 years ago

    Good point norf.

    We’ve not been able to send an invoice for over 3 weeks now, all support tell me is it will be fixed in 42 hours or I get “do you know how to send an invoice?”

  • JB
    10 years ago

    The dsr system was flawed from the start.

    Donahoes own words …” We don’t have the skills to be a retailer”…His words not mine, How can Donahoe create and implement a policy that directly controls the Retailers ability to sell when eBay does not have the skill to sell in the first place.

    Their lack of skills exemplified in their words and policies implemented to “control the Retailers” to whom they have nothing in common with in the first place….. And for that line of thought he gets paid millions…go figure.

  • mary wong
    10 years ago

    Lets name some things that are worthless on Ebay……DSR’s Worthless,Best Match Worthless,All the Crap on Ebay Worthless,John Donahoe WORTHLESS!! Forced Paypal Greedy!

  • 10 years ago

    I must disagree with your assessment on the description DSR. The items you sell may be cataloged but if I buy a “Brand New” copy of “Fallout: Las Vegas” from you and it turns out to just be “Good” I’m going to ding that star and rightfully so.

    • 10 years ago

      Equally if you pay for “Free postage: Special Delivery” and get “Free postage: 2nd class” you’re going to be pretty annoyed but you already can’t ding my stars.

      In that situation depending how the seller responded you could use positive, negative or neutral feedback to express yourself.

      Oh – hang on a minute! Isn’t that what people did for a decade before eBay started mucking about with DSRs 😉

    • 10 years ago

      But you can ding the others Chris if your annoyed.

      We had a neg the other day (now removed) the buyer left us 1’s for everything, even though only gripe was our carrier cocked up delivery but he marked us down on the other 3.

    • MB
      10 years ago

      I have just seen this post flag up from another member’s Linkedin account and thought I’d share my recent eBay experience that’s quite relevant to this topic.

      In summary, eBay and PayPal ended up seeing approx £100k a month in turnover from us. My business has successfully doubled year on year in terms of turnover, GM, profit etc. However, eBay indirectly limited that growth as I’d occasionally pass lucrative opportunities such as the purchase of refurbished laptops (which sometimes can be more complex compared to other lines), in case our eBay scoring would reduce VERY slightly. My business model is strong but unfortunately we ended up having 95% of our eggs in the eBay basket. Throughout the four years of selling on eBay, I can sincerely say it was no pleasure (maybe a little in the early days!) and we were always working on tender hooks. My team and I would walk in the office every morning worrying if we received a negative overnight, working out how that could jeopardise our account and whether that pushed us closer to the account being closed down. Also the threats from buyers was tiring, annoying and demotivating for my team who always do a great job in customer service, but they always felt unappreciated from eBay and eBayers even though myself and management would always commend them. Additionally, PayPal installed a 30% monthly reserve to further help us out! Reason being, they didn’t like our rate of growth even though they were impressed with our P&L and Balance Sheet.

      We worked so very hard in trying to keep ALL 100% of our customers happy, but the simple fact is you’ll never achieve it in volume, and my opinion is the levels we achieved (mentioned below) were very good, and certainly more than most large conventional retail businesses.

      In March eBay decided to indefinitely ban us selling on eBay, because our ‘Opened Cases’ had increased over their 1% threshold by a trivial 0.08%! All the other eleven areas were good as we fell below eBay’s threshold. Our overall feedback was 99.9%, we were a TRS in 2010 and our average DSR’s were 4.8-4.9. I even had a phone call last week from PayPal in the US asking why they no longer see revenue from us. Once I explained the situation and the rep saw an overview of our eBay account, they too thought it was ‘ludicrous’ and found it frustrating that eBay lost them a client they’d rather retain and not have lost to Google Checkout.

      With these near impossible targets set by eBay, PayPal holding a £30k reserve, PayPal taking 3-5 working days to process each withdrawal, threats from buyers and the concern of eBay shutting us down measured on inaccurate customer ratings, there’s no way I could continue to run my business via eBay. I needed to get back on track with growing my business instead of wasting time in analysing and understanding eBay’s goal post changes.

      I decided last year in Q4 to diversify our revenue mix across other channels, so if (when!) eBay closed us down then at least the other channels would support the business, unfortunately eBay closed us down before we had our main channels significantly working. However, with a crisis plan in action and many long hours, I’m pleased to say our own ecommerce site is now receiving thousands of unique visitors per day with efforts concentrated on SEO, Comparison shopping sites and CPC campaigns mainly.

      Taking the emotions aside for a moment, eBay works very well and pushes an unbelievable amount of traffic to listings. Without eBay we wouldn’t be where we are today, that’s evident. We’re now able to allocate what we used to spend with eBay (approx £35k a year) on various forms of online advertising to drive traffic to our ecommerce site. In the first month we saw £15k of sales (average sale is approx £400) and this is growing exponentially.

      Even though eBay is a great platform, I want to highlight to other eBayers the potential danger of becoming completely and utterly reliant on eBay, which happens to many people/businesses because there’s no other competitor offering a similar easy and lucrative platform. If eBay close you down (in a number of cases either unfairly, measured on inaccurate and unaudited feedbacks or because they’re not too keen on your type of business which doesn’t fit their strategy) then it could be catastrophic. That’s why I’ve highlighted this to a number of CEOs running UK PLC’s interested in SME’s. I’ve already had some great responses and they too are concerned. There’s currently much effort in encouraging young people/entrepreneurs in setting up small businesses which contributes significantly to the UK economy, and yet eBay is making it very difficult for some good sellers to keep trading.

      I’m looking to set-up an online marketing company specialising only to help eBay sellers who has the budget and need to diversify their revenue mix. This marketing company will manage budgets (what eBay sellers were already paying eBay) concentrating on Comparison Shopping sites, CPC campaigns, Voucher sites, SEO/SEM, Social Media etc to drive traffic to their own ecommerce site. Unfortunately a reasonable budget will be needed that can be reallocated away from eBay to get the traffic to their own site. The thought of generating similar level of sales to eBay, but completely independent I think is a far better way to run a business not having the thought of eBay possibly pulling the plug on your hard earned business. This idea is different to the likes of Channel Advisor, eSellerPro etc which are great but not tailored enough for independence as you’d still be reliant on the likes of eBay, Amazon etc. We ourselves still use channels such as Play, Amazon, Pixmania etc but from this nasty experience with eBay I ensure they only contribute to around 10-15% of our overall turnover. This idea is to help eBay sellers who have used eBay to ramp up their business, to transition away independently. Thoughts on this would be appreciated.

      I was told by many people it would be impossible to achieve similar sales independently compared to eBay, but we’ve managed to do it and it’s like working for/running a whole new business with no limits, VERY exciting! It was certainly hard work, and by no means was it easy, but we can now concentrate on the business instead of eBay, as that’s what it’s all about for us.

      Apologies if this ended up being too long.


  • Glenn
    10 years ago

    As a regular reader of Tamebay I have noticed that articles by Chris or Sue relating to eBay’s inability to manage eBay generates more comments than other subjects. Clearly the professional sellers amongst us are interested in a whole range of subjects relating to online trading, but it is eBay’s incompetence which really unites us in our annoyance and frustration.

    • Gary
      10 years ago

      True. No matter how professional we are as sellers eBay do their very best to make us seem incompetent!

  • implog
    10 years ago

    Ebay has stated that Feedback and DSR’s are only “opinions”. Ebay then treats those “opinions” as facts and uses them as the basis for seller punishment or banishment.

    Ebay is damaging and destroying sellers because of unverified “opinions”.

  • Bunchy
    10 years ago

    Will ebay be making moves to adopt a more Amazon-style feedback system of feedback for sellers service and reviews for products (and never the twain shall meet)?
    I think the wheels are already in motion ….

  • BigPoppa
    10 years ago

    Feedback is not unique to eBay, as we know. I had a call from a company called TrustPilot, get this…They wanted me to pay them so that my customers could leave feedback about us.

    …No prizes for quessing what I said to this guy.

    Firstly, the feedback is not removeable and you are tied in for 12 months (at a cost of over £1000)!

    My god, people actually pay companies like this…Don’t get me wrong, “reviews” have their place on the internet (not feedback, there’s a difference) but to pay another company is just daft.

    • 10 years ago

      I heard that search engines love third party feed back on websites as the website gets fresh updated content left by customers and also customers can leave reviews on products. You can get this service for nothing with an EKMPowershop website.

  • Paul Davis
    10 years ago

    My wife has just had her Ebay account suspended for ever! she can no longer sell on Ebay due to buyers giving her 1 or 2 stars for postage? The amount she charged for postage just covered the cost of the stamp! She spoke to Ebay this morning and was told that even though they thought her postage costs were fair if the buyer decides to only give you 1 or 2 stars that is what they take to assess your account. She has over 3400 as a score and no negatives in the years she has been selling on ebay. As you can imagine she is devastated as she was only selling our kids clothes and had spent hours listing over 50 items only to have them pulled the next day! I think there is a hidden agenda with Ebay as they only seem to want corporate accounts – long gone are the days when Ebay was for the person on the street wanting to sell a few personal items! I wouldn’t mind but a buyer can clearly see the cost of postage on the item listing, if you don’t wish to pay it don’t bid!! The Middle East is currently enduring riots to get rid of dictatorships – me thinks Ebay is getting too big for its boots!

    • 10 years ago

      If eBay did the same to me, then they would lose my custom for ever as I would never buy or sell on there again.

    • northumbrian
      10 years ago

      seems ebay already made that decision for them

  • isleman
    10 years ago

    Hi,agree with the DSR comments,this is a worthless system that:

    1 Doesn’t tell you who it is from

    2 Buyer can give you a green dot then 1’s for stars.What is that all about.

    Ebay needs to get it’s act together otherwise,it will find it’self on it’s own.

    Go back to the feedback system,that you originally had,or anyone giving 1& 2’s must contact the seller beforehand to work things out.

  • dd
    10 years ago

    Ebay is out of touch with business reality. I have two low DSRs out of more than 400 given to me. My average score is 4.9 in each category. Both ratings were unwarranted and as I say – simply there are more stupid people (percentage wise) in this world than ebay has accounted for (0.5%!). So eventually you are left with no margin of error, you make one genuine mistake out of 400 things you have done right and you are a bad seller now! The second thing, if only I could rate ebay somewhere with 1 star, they change things and some things are broken. I remember there was a time when bulk emails weren’t sent out or were sent with a week delay. Needless to say, I was rated 3 and 4 stars for communication instead of 5! I bet some sellers got 1s and 2s as well. And then they decide that it is better for me to send feedback reminder by default which torment my buyers. And idiots work at ebay – when I inquired if they could change unreasonable stars I got, they asked ME to identify the bad transaction, knowing that ratings givers are not disclosed. Imagine a seller with thousands of transactions doing this – guessing back and forth! I just wanted to contact the buyer, give him the money back for postage and hopefully turn him into a happy buyer which in turn could change that bad rating! NO, can’t do that!

  • Mike
    10 years ago

    At the end of the day, eBay is a platform to allow sellers to hawk their wares.

    eBay should remember where their money comes from – it’s not from the buyers is it?

    Maybe one day eBay will stop treating sellers as a bunch of idiots and/or crooks.

    Dear Mr eBay, without sellers, there is no eBay – period.

  • gr9ce
    10 years ago

    The DSR’s are totally subjective and as a seller having to complete them as a buyer once i realised how confusing the ratings were. Sellers know it’s a method to force free P&P as that’s the only part they can’t get full fees on (just the Paypal aspect)
    However to restrict or ban sellers on the basis of DSR’s is criminal.
    eBay would argue however that without them internet selling would not be what it is today. Retailers would also rub their hands at the reduction in spare room sellers undercutting those with overheads.

  • fishinahat
    10 years ago

    I think the important point to draw from the concessions ebay has already made is this one; that ebay have aknowledged that buyers are not to be trusted rating sellers in certain circumstances. This is the most interesting thing about them suspending stars for tracked mail in the US, and for Freepost items – and for collected items, even for the ash cloud.
    It is important because what it says is “That we realise that customers are messing this up or not understanding or penalising unfairly because they may have another agenda or simply just not understand ……..”.

    The logical follow-on from that is the question “Well ebay, are you saying that customers are only incompetent/spiteful/muddled in these limited cases?” If so – that is ridiculous – if not – then you have already made your own case for abolishing the stars. The argument already applies to every star left by every buyer.
    The fish…………:)

  • JohnC
    10 years ago

    They should have fixed feedback first before grafting on the stars.

    Any system in which less than about a 96% positive rating indicates a bad seller is already broken. Trying to grade sellers on top by counting statistically insignificant low ratings makes it even worse.

    Is a seller who gets 0.6% lows and thus a demotion really less trustworthy than a 0.5% who doesn’t, when the count difference may be just 1, and the reason for getting it down to a failure of the buyer to read a listing?

  • chris oliver
    10 years ago

    I have a full time business on ebay and have 100% positive feedback and over the course of the year i have had 4 low ratings (mainly from buyers who didnt understand how big 4cm tall is on an ornament). I had positive comments of smaller than expected! what the hell??? The worst thing about it was my low ratings which have took me quite close to getting banned.

    Im fed up with ebay and use ebay mostly as a buyer more than a seller, as im only a small business owner, but if i get banned from there, i will never be buying from there again.

    outlet sellers have atrocious feedback and they seem to avoid these bans! so why pick on small businesses – i thought the uk government is after small businesses!

    Im fed up with the stress these dsr’s cause! If there were no dsr’s, the only stress I would ahve is worrying about feedback, but these dsr’s are pathetic and shouldnt be giving me ill health, but at present the only platform i use is ebay!!!!

    • northumbrian
      10 years ago

      tell me about it, I have to put up with its smaller than expected for 50 years lol

  • Andrew
    10 years ago

    I’m a TRS on eBay right now but will lose this at the next evaluation due to 3 low scores.
    My biggest worry is getting banned, as I know that eBay don’t want me and I would be easy to get rid of.

    I have over 1000 +ive feedbacks and sell about 500 items a month.
    Average DSRs are 4.9 across the board.
    Despite this, I go to sleep and wake up scared because I know they are after me.

    What kind of world do we live in?

    • Gary
      10 years ago

      That is why it is important to have several sales channels and maybe even multiple accounts on eBay.

      Commit to eBay 100% and they can hold you to ransom.

      Give them a small piece of the action and you can hold them to ransom!

      Which from eBay’s point of view is totally daft as they surely want 100% of any business?

      Or do they? They have a strange way of showing commitment if they do.

  • Gerry007
    10 years ago


    We’ve seen all of the above over the last few years.
    We pulled many listings simply because ebay has simply stopped listening to their sellers unless they are TRS.

    But buyers know what they are doing & just over the last month decided to list a few things (seasonal items) that sell well.

    Using a fairly dormant ID, 100% feedback, with ‘less than 10 DSR scores (so no rating), we thought lets see what happens.

    So 1 month later, 20 feedbacks, 15 DSR ratings & HEY back to the ebay norm:

    Item as described 15 = rating 4.9
    Communication 15 = rating 4.7
    Dispatch time 15 = rating 4.9
    P & P charges 15 = rating 4.6

    What to do, as this system is simply just broken.

    One item is very small & weighs only 70g when packed, BUT is packet post @ £1.58p to post (we charge this).
    Other sellers of a similar item has all 5’s.

    Ebay have simply given to much power to the buyer as we do not know who, why this is happening AGAIN…….

    By the way thank god for our own shop

    • northumbrian
      10 years ago

      buyer pays the wages they cant have too much power, ebay has it right,
      if buyers are not happy they go elsewhere,
      sellers go where the money is
      I dont care if bin ladin comes back to life and buys from me as long as I can spend the money

  • sam
    10 years ago

    Its amazing how many people thought these dsr’s were a great idea and now not so.

    The DSR’s have been used and abused. And were never going to be used as intended due too human nature amongst other factors

  • board_surfer
    10 years ago

    One of the problems with the current system is that there is simply too many choices (can any one explain the difference between a 4 and a 5 star rating?) and buyers have no clue as to the consequences of those choices.

    A better way would be to do away with stars a replace them with a simple yes or no.

    A little notification telling a buyer that their choice could effect the sellers ability to sell wouldn’t go amiss either.

  • BigPoppa
    10 years ago

    stars, red or green spots…all very dull and childish.

  • Fozz
    10 years ago

    One of our sites looks like failing this month, 0% for 3 ratings and 0.6% for dispatch.
    Can anyone name any other industry where 99.4 % satisfied customers isn’t considered impressive ?
    We already operate same day / next day dispatch , and have no plans to improve on that.

  • Daniel DeLuca
    10 years ago

    I do agree that DSR’s were another horrible idea by a corporate stooge who is totally out of touch with the user base of the company he works at. It just shows really how far out of touch the top brass is at ebay, and how far ebay has gone from when it first started. Now ebay is a company that EVERYONE hates, but uses because they have to at the moment. Before it was a company everyone LOVED and used because they loved the community friendly feel and vibe. I think ebay will be a distant MySpace/AOL type memory 10 years from now, and replaced by the new next best thing of the day. Every giant corporation once thought they could never be toppled or worse be bankrupted. Im going to name three companies, as previously stated, MySpace, AOL, and IBM. Where are they now? Yes they’re still around in a ghost image type form, but totally irrelevant in the online world. Im sure I could come up with many more if I thought long enough. Facebook is currently king of the castle, but word is already floating around that they just recently peaked, and are on thier downslide, theres even talk that they’re going to do a IPO this fall, and sell the company off completely, as they also see the writing on the wall. Who would have ever though Facebook would be toppled? Twitter still isnt profitable, and another CEO just left. The only thing really keeping ebay afloat is Paypal, and thier recent sale, at a good profit, of Skype. But with so many people unhappy with them, I think their days are numbered, I give them less then 10 years, probably around 7, MAX.

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