Are eBay’s tests costing you money?

By Chris Dawson September 10, 2013 - 6:30 am

20pLook after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves, or in this case look after the twenty pees. Tamebay reader Andy has just contacted Tamebay because he’s added up that a few 20p pieces here and there are costing him around £7000 per year.

He points out that as announced in the last Seller Release, eBay are testing compulsory immediate payment. Buyers taking part in the test will no longer see the “Commit to Buy” page but are taken straight to checkout and the item won’t be considered sold until paid for.

The good news is that immediate payment for fixed price items means no more unpaid items. The bad news is that every time a buyer pays it’s a separate PayPal payment and you’re charged at your merchant rate discount plus 20p. If the buyer made all of their purchases and then made a single payment you’d only get charge the 20p once.

Andy, who runs the shop on eBay, has some buyers that who buy ten items one at a time over half an hour or so, who used to either request an invoice total or pay all at once. Now they’re making ten separate payments costing Andy £2 where it used to cost him 20p.

According to Andy’s calculations he’s already getting about 100 extra 20p charges every day which adds up to over £7000 per year.

eBay say “If you offer postage discounts for multiple purchases, make sure you update your listings with how to add all items the buyer wants to purchase from you to their shopping basket“. Quite frankly we think that’s a bit daft! Are eBay really suggesting that you put instructions on how to use eBay in your item descriptions – surely it’s eBay’s job to make sure buyers know how to use the site?

Descriptions should be, well descriptions of the product, not an eBay instruction manual. Quite apart from anything else how many buyers even bother reading descriptions these days anyway? I know I don’t.

Is this a problem that’s badly affecting you? It’s likely to only affect sellers in categories where buyers routinely order multiple items from a single seller. It won’t affect you if you’ve got savvy buyers willing to add items to their eBay shopping basket and then make a single payment, or if they’re making all of their purchases before they pay in one transaction.

Those pennies do add up though, especially when it’s twenty pennies at a time. Do let us know if you’ve seen a dramatic increase in multiple single orders from a buyer where previously you’d have seen one multiple item order.

We’re pretty sure that it’s not eBay’s aim to fleece you out of every twenty pence they can get their hands on. It’s much more likely an overlooked unforeseen consequence of them trying to ensure you get paid. That being the case here’s a suggestion for eBay… how about if a single buyer makes multiple purchases within say a four hour window, PayPal waive the 20p charges from all but the first payment.

  • Stuart
    4 years ago

    Sadly I think this shows that ebay is under strain to get things right for both sellers and buyers and I think with some many departments doing their own thing, bits are getting missed.

    Is crazy to think that ebay still have ‘awaiting payments’ I can’t think of another ecommerce site that you can buy items but not pay? With them owning such a big payments company as paypal the checkout and payments on ebay should be the easiest to use and the best in the world showing the rest how to do it!

    • Mick
      4 years ago

      Absolutely spot on, with everything else ebay has changed (ie everything) why not this? Even if bidding on an auction the buyer should have cleared funds ready to automatically pay for the item once the auction finishes. Try walking out of a real auction house without paying.

  • Jono
    4 years ago

    The shopping basket works great in the UK and quite often many people buy lots of things all together as they should. The real issue is international buyers – many other eBay sites simply don’t have a shopping basket option or at least not when ordering abroad. So yep there are 1000’s of 20p here and 20p there going.

    We do prefer immediate payment however and have had it turned on ourselves for well over a year – gone are the days of seeing 20-60 unpaid items hogging the stock.

    eBay say “If you offer postage discounts for multiple purchases, make sure you update your listings with how to add all items the buyer wants to purchase from you to their shopping basket“.
    I would suggest that’s not to write a how to guide in your product description, simply use rate tables and additional purchase discounts correctly. You know the first costs £1 and all additional items cost 50p etc.

    However, there lies another problem as eBay doesn’t work it out correctly for MVL when a buyer orders say one green hat and then one black hat. eBay charge 2x £1=£2 instead of 1x £1 + 1x 50p=£1.50. So we end up with a buyer ordering two green, getting the discount but then requesting a black instead for the second – hardly ideal for a good buying experience.

    This is talked about regularly in the eBay Powerseller forum and really needs to be sorted out if this trial will roll out to be full time for everyone!

  • Mark
    4 years ago

    So I wonder why instead of forcing immediate payment, they don’t just test removing the BIN button, leaving only the ‘add to basket’ button? Forcing people to use the basket would surely remove most of the problem?

    • 4 years ago

      Imagine how frustrating it would be to try and buy one item in a hurry and have to add it to your shopping basket – eBay’s new two click checkout is world class for buying a single item, it’s just not great for multiple item purchases and buyers don’t seem to use the shopping basket.

    • Mark
      4 years ago

      It would only need to be one extra click/tap though. Well, at least in my head it would be 😀

      I’m sure this is where they’re going anyway – after the BIN and Basket buttons have co-existed for a while, I reckon they’ll ditch the BIN button and force the basket.

    • Stuart
      4 years ago

      Every time you add another step in the checkout process you loose customers and sadly that is a fact.

      BIN button can stay, it should just simply be that when it’s bought it is paid for much easier than all this messing about with non paying buyers.

      The 20p for multi purchases, not sure about it’s an issue but more of a paypal issue than ebay and as we all know they are not the same!

    • 4 years ago

      There are some things eBay could be doing…

      Assume for arguments sake that the old checkout process and basket had simply replaced Buy it Now. eBay could have renamed “Add to Basket” to “Buy It Now”

      That would leave them free now that they have their two click checkout to change what used to be “The old Buy It Now” to “Quick Pay”. If it was a new service (which it effectively is) then call it a new name!

    • 4 years ago

      This is a problem that has already been solved – it’s called a shopping basket! eBay just need to roll it out consistently, and decrease inventory only when checkout is complete. It’s a pain for buyers as well as sellers to make lots of little payments.

      The real speed improvement of the two-click checkout is the link to PayPal – which works for basket checkouts as well as single items.

      Adding items to a basket then checking out is second nature to shoppers – offline and online. It’s about time eBay properly aligned their checkout experience with every other ecommerce site.

  • JD
    4 years ago

    Sadly it’s not just the 20p’s.

    Each item bought singly as part of what is a multiple sending will also get a post/pack refund and so it is 10% FVF extra to eBay of the post/pack refund. Some of these sales are International so the 10% can be more than 20p on each item.

    Then there is the packing slip. 20 items bought singly will require 20 packing slips. When you sell stamps the packing slip may well weigh more than the product. eBay had better start planting trees.

    Then there is the time that all this takes. Add that in and selling on eBay has got very inefficient.

    With all the other changes in this seller release I feel that I am being jerked around to a far greater extent than ever before.

    I won’t be alone.

    • Stuart
      4 years ago

      With a stock management system you can merge orders printed that day so it does stop this issue, you do get multiple purchases on Amazon as well.

  • JD
    4 years ago

    ‘Quite frankly we think that’s a bit daft! Are eBay really suggesting that you put instructions on how to use eBay in your item descriptions – surely it’s eBay’s job to make sure buyers know how to use the site?’

    A bit daft? I would put it far more strongly than that.

    My items are available to be sold worldwide without any exclusion.

    To do as eBay suggests would be somewhere between meaningless and downright confusing to buyers on some sites!

    • 4 years ago

      Maybe eBay should rename “Description” to “A little bit about the product and a lot about how to use eBay”

  • 4 years ago

    This affects me mostly with international orders, quite often it’s the same price to send 2 or 3 items as it is to send one, so not only do I pay the transaction fee 2 or 3 times, the buyer pays more, and not to mention eBay now take a cut of the FVF on postage so everybody ends up paying more than they did a few weeks ago.

    The tone of the messages (IMHO) from the rare eBay staff posts on the eBay forums is that it’s up to sellers to make sure that buyers use the basket (which is only available in a few countries) and that our discounts should be set up properly, so eBay is definitely putting the onus on sellers to make sure buyers use the site ‘correctly’.

    Just to add the regular advice that if your transactions are regularly less than £9ish, look at PayPal micropayments, at least it will only be 5p a time, not 20p a time.

  • Val
    4 years ago

    Hi, it seems to me that ebay are losing the plot, all the insertion fees have gone up, discounts are lost unless you send post free and now the threat of buy it nows being paid for individually?? What is the thinking behind all these changes? How are sellers supposed to make even a minimal profit for all their efforts? Sellers who offer a very good service but cannot drop the postage will no longer be considered “top rated”, those who sell post free and do not necessarily give a good service will be top rated. Lots of buyers also sell, if they cannot afford to sell they will stop buying. These changes should all be put on hold and re-thought.

  • Jimbo
    4 years ago

    Anyone know what has happened to the new “business policies tool”, which was going to launch “Between March and July”?

    • David Brackin
      4 years ago

      We’re on Beta for Business Policies: there are…errr…a few teething problems. It’s a great idea and we’ve had some support in resolving issues: but as in the article above, the law of intended consequences lurks out there waiting to trap project managers who have little experience of selling on eBay (and have probably only been in the chair a few months).

    • JD
      4 years ago

      It launched and I believe some sellers are using it and are happy.

      I was offered the opt in a few weeks ago and declined as, at the time, I didn’t want the extra initial work. Also some people were reporting that it was a big pile of work and wanted out.

      I havn’t been offered the opt in again!

  • northumbrian
    4 years ago

    I am with JD , these days it seems if were playing the Ebay hit the Gopher solve a problem then another pops up game

  • elvis
    4 years ago

    I offer 50p postage discount for each additioal item. It’s amazing how many people pay individually for several items, and then message asking for a refund on the 50p discounts, rather than just adding all the items to their basket and completing payment once which also automatically applies the discount.

    I also receive messages everyday asking “how do I get the 50p discount”. At least I have a template reply for this which I just copy and paste now, which explains how to add items to your ebay basket.

  • plasticman
    4 years ago

    Any comments on local collection items please .

    Cash on collection is the best way for pickups – rather than paypal payment

    Fraudulent buyers get paypal refunds by telling p.pal they haven’t received goods – when they have actually collected

    Any comments please

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