Is this the worst defect rate on eBay?

By Chris Dawson August 21, 2014 - 12:15 pm

Stuart has been selling on eBay for about 10 years or so in one way or another, so you could probably class him as an experienced seller. However he has the worst known defect rate on eBay – 32.5% (at least until we can find someone to beat his record!).

Stuart explains that until about three weeks ago he never realised you could block buyers from countries you don’t want to send to. Even worse if you don’t do this buyers from those countries can still buy from your listings even though you don’t offer international postage on them. Here in Stuart’s own words is what’s happened:

What went wrong

We would get 2-3 buyers a month from the USA buy fragile items we could not send, we did the polite thing sent them a message and said we were sorry we could not dispatch the item to the USA opened a case and then it was closed.

The bloody annoying thing is that only a couple of weeks prior to finding this issue with our USA defects did we discuss selling the smaller, non fragile items to the USA as we were receiving a lot of interest from there.

I called eBay and explained the situation and the problem that there is no point in us listing anything for there as we are soooooo far below standard it will take a month of Sundays to get it back. Not interested nothing they can do! Basically eBay have now shot themselves in the foot as I can’t list products. Instead I emailed Amazon and within 24hrs we opened a USA account and sold the first item within 48hrs.

eBay is crackers and still keep cocking this type of thing up! All they had to do was think ‘ah yes we can see this not really a defect as you don’t list in the USA and it’s an honest mistake. To now help you list in the USA (plus make us some more money) we will wipe the defects for cancelled transactions so you can have a fresh start’ easy, simple and makes total business sense, doesn’t it?

Go to JailWhat can Stuart do?

Stuart added that it might be worth a warning to others thinking of international expansion, unless it was just him that missed the memo about blocking countries…. warning delivered!

I wish we had some constructive advice for Stuart, surely eBay’s defect rate is not intended to punish eBay sellers but more to educate them on how to improve. Now all Stuart can do is sit there for a year until the defects drop off his dashboard.

A year is a long time to wait and I can promise eBay it won’t make him a better seller. He’s already learnt what he did wrong and put steps in place to prevent it occurring again.

Come on eBay… how about some parole for a reformed seller?

What’s your defect rate?

Are you still top rated? What’s your defect rate for UK, Germany/Austria, USA and Global?

  • Chris L
    3 years ago

    To answer the last line questionaire:

    My Statistics as a start are:

    Feedback 100% (10344)

    UK: 0.75% Defects TRS OK
    Germany: 0.51% Defects TRS OK
    USA: 0.51:% Defects TRS OK
    Global: 0.09: Defects TRS OK

    Would be good to hear from others here if you still made it to TRS in the 4 regions on the seller dashboard.

    And I guess it is not even worth calling Ebay Customer Support today, there are probably hours of waiting time or did anybody try to call them today regarding defects?

    • mw
      3 years ago

      Over an hour and a half on live chat to try and get defect lifted for the 3rd time of asking. CS are under pressure and multi-tasking like mad. You know because the answers are so slow in coming back and as soon as they think they have answered your problem they want you off there quickly. If you have the time keep the pressure on them. It’s the only way they will address the situation.

    • Steve
      3 years ago

      I am still TRS everywhere except USA but that is because my annual sales volume is now at 98 transactions for the previous year (you need a minimun of 100 transactions a year to maintain TRS in the USA).

      Defect has not caused me an issue. I notice after examining it carefully that with the new defect system you can only accrue 1 defect from any transaction and will only fall below TRS if defect transactions exceed 5% (thats 50 out of 1000). Its also worth noting that the minimum seller defect performance standard is 12%.

      What this means is for a seller who receives Feedback on 1000 transactions p/year, they can have 50 transactions with a defect before they lose TRS and 120 transactions before they are kicked off eBay. 120 unhappy customers out of 1000?? cmon, thats insanely high and IMO just incredible. even 50 out of 1000 is terrible but 120 out of 1000?? . If anyone gets 120 defects out of a 1000 then they must be doing a terrible job and should not be on eBay.

      The defect system is certainly a concern but I believe a much bigger issue will be Managed Returns. I advise every seller to examine the new Managed Returns system as this may prove to be a bigger challange than defects.

  • Niel H
    3 years ago

    I have have kept my TRS with a 1.25% defect rate though I don’t really feel like celebrating as I know so many will be hurt by this new system through no real fault of their own.

    I feel I have more satisfaction that I have beaten Ebay & foiled their attempt to sabotage my business by getting my defect rate down from an initial 3.42% than any feeling like a good seller or having happy customers. I suspect this may well be a common feeling amongst most who have managed to retain TRS too, what a sorry state of affairs.

    How did I get my defect rate down? Simply by popping a signed letter in with all items shipped asking buyers to choose “Other” as a method of contact in the event of a problem. However even this is seen by Ebay as “undermining the feedback system” and not allowed. So essentially Ebay are hoodwinking buyers into opening cases when they think they are asking a question and any attempt by a seller to inform our customers about this against Ebay T&C. One has to ask why Ebay seem to be trying their best to get sellers to rack up defects through this misinformation to buyers?

    • Steve
      3 years ago

      The answer is very simple. By removing TRS eBay then don’t have to give discounts on FVF’s which, small as the discount may be, will greatly increase their monthly revenues.

      I believe Defects has always had a hidden agenda but of possible more concern to business sellers is Managed Returns which will start soon and opting out is not an an option.

    • Simon M
      3 years ago

      >> By removing TRS eBay then don’t have to give discounts on FVF’s which,

      I’m not necessarily a fan of defects (although I am a TRS), but I have always found this point of view odd. It’s eBay’s business ultimately – they don’t have to give discounts on FVFs at all if they don’t want to…!

    • Steve
      3 years ago

      Yes, but they do give discounts on FVF’s and Defects are something that will enable eBay to “justifiably” remove TRS and therefore the discounts, which I would think add up to many millions each year. If they simply scrapped the discounts TRS sellers would argue its unfair.

      Please bear in mind that Defects will actually make no difference to most sellers as the limits are insanely high: TRS sellers can have 50 Defect transactions out of 1000 (5%?) before losing TRS, and minimum selling standard allows for 120 Defects out of 1000 transactions (cmon, 120 out of a thousand – 12%) before eBay close your account, so its really only the worst sellers (and rightly so) who will be affected by Defects.

      I think the real issue for most sellers will actually be Managed Returns which start in September. Many sellers will be so fed up dealing with Defect related complaints and after the considerable time spent calling CS will probably be reluctant to repeat that process for a Managed Return complaint. I believe Managed Returns is the real objective and introducing Defects a month before Managed Returns is a bit of a smoke screen, designed to put people off from complaining.

      Defects will hurt bad sellers. Managed Returns will hurt good sellers.

      I have no concerns about Defects but if Defects worry you then perhaps you should ask yourself if you are meeting the expectations of your buyers.

      In the meantime I would suggest all business sellers familiarise themselves with the real issue – Managed Returns.

    • mikelowrey
      3 years ago

      “I have no concerns about Defects but if Defects worry you then perhaps you should ask yourself if you are meeting the expectations of your buyers.”

      Ah so its my fault Royal Mail fail to deliver and a customer opens a case against me?

      Ah its my fault that a customer purchased an incorrect item and chose ‘item not as described’?

      Ah its my fault when and item is not received when the customer stupidly gave an incorrect/invalid address?

      eBay can do one. My sales have dived drastically and these defect ratings are ridiculous

  • Ross
    3 years ago

    There lies the difference between EBay and Amazon. Where Ebay won’t or can’t resolve a seller problem Amazon can. Not all the case here but Ebay don’t employ people to look at, read, understand and resolve a problem at all, Amazon can and do and usually in under 24 hours.

    • Gerry007
      3 years ago

      What do you want for a 10% take on all the money for each sale.
      Clearly ebay’s blood is not in the offering….

      Increasingly the World is being dominated by Corporations, who know doubt will control our/all businesses within a few decades.
      I have a colleague that supplies a big Supermarket chain & they do really deep due diligence (as they should with any supplier), to the degree that your costs, expenses & selling price to them is all calculated, then they TELL YOU how much they will pay you, allowing a MAX 5-7% nett profit margin…..

      Ebay are just going down that road, no responsibility of wages, staff, warehouses, etc, etc, you do all that & you keep what’s left after they have swiped a big handful.

  • Simon
    3 years ago

    Can I ask what maybe a stupid question.
    Is the defect rate based on the percentage like feedback is.
    If it is then if you can, sell something that is VERY cheap and you can sell quickly in lots of sales, thus dissolving the negativity.

    • JD
      3 years ago

      Yes – BUT it will only ‘dissolve the negativity’ if your cheap/quick sales attract defects at a lower percentage rate!

    • Stuart
      3 years ago

      Yes you could sell something cheap, but the problem is if your already below standard ebay with hide/mask your listings. Therefore you can’t get a really good sales volume going.

      We also had a problem in Germany as well as this one, we actually sold there but after two months of selling I found out ebay override the estimated delivery times, even if you pick a longer delivery time, by the time I had noticed that we had a couple of defects for postage time and we were below standard!

  • Robert C
    3 years ago

    This is ridiculous…

    After I’ve read this article, I’ve checked my dashboard for USA/Global/Europe etc.
    I’ve now just noticed I have 1 defect (Neutral feedback) for Germany/Austria/Switzerland…

    I know which transaction this relates to, and I’ll explain what happened:

    A buyer contacted me from Germany to see if I would send to Germany. I responded by saying unfortunately I didn’t offer international delivery at this time.
    The buyer then bought the item and had me dispatch it to a UK address which then forwarded it on to them in Germany.
    They then left neutral feedback stating that they were annoyed they couldn’t have it dispatched to Germany.

    I’m lucky as this is one occurrence and you’re allowed up to 5, before the defect rate is judged off a percentage.

    I just find it bizarre that ebay would hide it away on the dashboard for USA/Europe etc. It really is hidden, I look at my dashboard religiously, but I never change it to the USA/Europe view because I know I haven’t sold there!

    I tightened up my buyer requirements a couple of months ago, so luckily this hasn’t happened since that transaction.

    • 3 years ago

      This shouldn’t be a defect. It’s eBay’s fault for not rolling out the Global Shipping Program a bit faster – that would resolve all such issues as the buyer could pay eBay to have items shipped from the UK to Germany if they so wished….

      …although it does of course open up packaging issues – are your packing materials good enough for a domestic delivery immediately followed by an International shipment? The longer a box gets kicked about by couriers the more it’ll be dented and damaged and more likely the contents will arrive damaged.

    • Erik
      3 years ago

      “The buyer then bought the item and had me dispatch it to a UK address which then forwarded it on to them in Germany.
      They then left neutral feedback stating that they were annoyed they couldn’t have it dispatched to Germany.”

      Then you can have that feedback removed. It doesnt relate to the actual transaction and the buyer is complaining about something you have explicitly stated that you do not offer.

  • Andy R
    3 years ago

    Blocking specific countries doesn’t work.

    We blocked Israel (nothing ever arrives there) and Russia / Ukraine (ongoing war).

    We still get people buying from those countries, seemingly not blocked by Ebay.

    The Ebay system is total pants.

    Besides, you can never be top rated in USA unless 90% of your items have tracking. Why bother.

    • Martin
      3 years ago

      Sorry, this isn’t true.
      Israel – most things arrive OK. 1 item lost in 5 years. All untracked.

      Russia – these days most things arrive OK without tracking, although occasionally delayed. If buyer provides Cyrillic script address, I address with both Cyrillic and Arabic(English) characters (use Google translate)

      Ukraine is not at war as such for most of the country and the mail service is not affected. Business is low, but again, most arrive OK without tracking.

      Royal Mail will not ship to Crimea, and war affected regions because of break down in postal service. (at the last time of checking)

    • Erik
      3 years ago

      “We still get people buying from those countries, seemingly not blocked by Ebay.”

      Then you’re doing it wrong.

    • Martin
      3 years ago

      Not so, Erik. I have just 2 items out of 2000+ which are too big to economically ship (economic that is for the customer against the value of the item). They are offered only as UK only and are not available worldwide. In addition I state customers outside UK should contact me before buying so I can advise on mail rates, and I give examples of what the cost might be.

      Despite the products only being available to the UK, on a fairly regular basis I still receive purchases, mainly from the USA, and when I then invoice them £50 post for a £25 item they want to cancel.

      If the settings are you only ship UK then non UK buyers should not be able to see it or buy it.

      Because my post rates are basically very simple I don’t use the complex and time consuming ebay post rate table, and I suspect this may be where the problem is.

      So I do sympathize with Stuart if he is suffering from this problem. Perhaps his only option is start using the post rate tables if he is not already.

    • Steve
      3 years ago

      Israel post is quick and reliable, never have a problem and buyers seem very reasonable.

      If you do not want to sell to certain destinations then change your “Site Preferences” settings (under the Account tab on the My eBay page) and tick all the countries you do not want to ship to – it’s a long list but worth doing as it includes war zones, third world, etc. In addition, also select which eBay sites you want your listing to appear on. If you don’t want to ship to Germany then remove from the list. Default settings assume you are happy to take orders from everywhere.

      I always find it extraordinary that so many business sellers don’t bother to take the time to customise their preferences and then whinge when something goes wrong. Some sellers don’t even know about these settings which begs the question of why. If you install software on your PC you look at the settings so why have some sellers not bothered to look at the various eBay site settings when these settings impact their business? I review them frequently to spot whatever recent “improvements” eBay’s web designers have made to the site. I advise you do the same.

  • 3 years ago

    I’ll share mine – as its a mixed bag and there is little I can do to change it

    We struggle from the leadtimes that ebay put on sales, and also the fact that it is now quite hard just to ask a customer where the item is – many customers open cases without realising

    I also agree with Andy R – as low value items , these are not tracked overseas, so little we can do to get TRS in USA

    Our dashboard shows:

    108133 Positive Feedback (last 12 months): 99.7%

    UK & Ireland TRS+ 0.53% defects

    USA Above Standard 1.69% (This is from customers opening Item not received case because of the silly lead time that Ebay put on USA delivery times – most are closed as they arrive within the 10-15 days we predict

    Germany, Austria: Below Standard 5.61% defect – This equates to 1 cancelled transaction (customer asked to cancel), 18 Not arrived (but arrived after cases opened , and 4 of those were flippen Brazil and Puerto Rico that we have blocked as countries– again Ebay have got silly lead times

  • john
    3 years ago

    UK: 0.89% Defects TRS OK
    Germany: 0.00% Defects
    USA: 0.00:% Defects
    Global: 0.88: Defects

    We stopped 95% of all international sales after DSR’s were implemented. This was due to the higher risk of theft and negative feedback.

    We used to do a fair bit on international sales, however its just not worth risking our account. I assume there were many that followed the same tactic.

  • Jez
    3 years ago

    I was kicked off ebay earlier this month because on 20th July my account dropped below standard from above standard, the reason, my item as described DSR was 1.06%, all other DSRs fine, feedback rating 98.6%.

    After spending a total of around 5hrs on the phone to customer services I’ve given up trying to get a reason for the harsh decision and exhausted all appeals.

  • knickerlessparsons
    3 years ago

    What is Stuart worried about?

    Customers don’t see your TRS status, just that you don’t have the logo.

    You don’t get any discount for overseas sales even when you are TRS.

    Your international performance doesn’t impact on your rating for UK.

    Too many folk are caught up in navel gazing or is that defect gazing to grasp the bigger picture.

    Stuart, ignore all the bluster and tales of woe, just get on and flog the stuff to Yanks if they want it. The worst that can happen is they don’t buy it and that was your default position up to now anyway.

    • knickerlessparsons
      3 years ago

      Incidentally is defecate the correct verb for issuing a defect?

    • 3 years ago

      I think it must be 🙂

    • Robert C
      3 years ago

      I was under the impression that if you entered the “below standard” area you were at risk of being suspended indefinitely. Is this not the case for the defect rates? or would you not get banned if it was just in a USA or Global region?

    • Stuart
      3 years ago

      I am not worried as such as it’s ebays loss not mine. I just thought I would share it so others don’t make the same mistake.

      With the defect rate being so bad sales just won’t come so there is no point in me listing products and wasting the time to do it now.

      We started selling directly on and it was going well for around three months, then we had a couple of mark downs on dispatch time, account went below standard and sales went off a cliff, the following month they were 80% down on the previous.

  • Richy
    3 years ago

    I don’t think anyone has to worry in sale terms. As after hours of searching anyone who has lost their TRS are still above anyone who have lost their TRS. I truly see no change in search terms. And to be honest as a buyer who know who is a TRS. Even as a TRS ourselft with only 0.81% defect sale are Sh** Thank god for Amazon and website sale.

  • Martin
    3 years ago

    Can anyone tell me the purpose of being a TRS outside your own country?

    1. As someone said above – no fee discount
    2. Best match is a broken and dysfunctional search system – TRS does not work effectively to promote positioning in Search results. So many crass examples on ebay it is totally tiresome

    So, what is the point?

  • Erik
    3 years ago

    “Stuart explains that until about three weeks ago he never realised you could block buyers from countries you don’t want to send to.”

    And how is that ebay’s fault?

    “Even worse if you don’t do this buyers from those countries can still buy from your listings even though you don’t offer international postage on them. ”

    And yet when it kept on happening he kept doing the same thing instead of investigating how to stop it happening.

    Did he think that ebay didnt allow seller to only send dosmetically? – what about items too big to viably send abroad or items like aerosols that Royal Mail do not allow for international postage.

    He is the author of his own downfall. I’ve no sympathy whatsoever.

    • DBL
      3 years ago

      I’m sure Stuart has shared this in case others have the same problem and maybe save them the future problems he’s experienced, I thought this was what Tamebay and it’s contributors were all about.

      There are many other successful business owners on eBay who don’t know all the ins and outs of eBay, stop attacking people this only goes to stop others highlighting their eBay troubles and therefore helping others who may not know there’s a problem here.

  • 3 years ago

    Perhaps the answer is to open a new account selling the same items in the US? Start it fresh and don’t let the same thing happen again.

  • 3 years ago

    That’s unfortunate. I may be mixing up stories but didn’t Stuart also get banned from eBay entirely for an entire year back in 2008 or 2009 simply because an old employee got his account somehow linked up with his and eBay would do nothing about that either?

  • hod
    3 years ago

    If sellers had been properly warned there would be mass culls because ebay didn’t like their “business model” (selling internationally) they would have all blocked places like China – and maybe not have been banned.

  • Sarah
    3 years ago

    I don’t know where the 5% TRS comments are coming from?
    TRS is now 2%.
    Any more than 5% is ‘below standard’ and incurs restrictions.

    This may seem an ‘insanely high’ limit for unhappy customers (actually, unhappy isn’t correct as a defect covers so many eventualities your customer may well be very happy with their purchase or the outcome of their issue but still = a defect in ebay’s eyes) when selling something such as a phone charger or a box of biros.
    How about selling used items, or items where description is open to interpretation eg, colour, feel. It’s then a different story.

    Or defects due to the way the customer has navigated through to contacting you.

    How about having a case opened for item not received where in the body of the case message the buyer advises he’s missed 3 deliveries & asks us to rebook a slot as he can’t figure out how to do it on his phone & he can’t phone the depot to do it as he’s already binned the courier contact calling card?

    Or case opened for item not as described where, again, the case message is: please can I return it, sorry I only read the title where it says Renault Clio, I didn’t know what ‘Mk 2’ meant, but now my brother says it doesn’t fit because my car is older.

    Our customer service is top notch and we very rarely have bad feedback.
    But our postive feedback and defect rate now show 2 very different stories!

  • Gary
    3 years ago

    Ive been a member of ebay for 10 years, have approx. 1900 positive feedback. Recently had a influx of customer returns, of which whilst unfortunate – all were fully refunded and handled properly and fairly with full refunds + postage made. However some customers refused to return items and instead demanded partial refunds else they would leave negative feedback. I refused to refund partially and instead offered a full refund upon items return – this resulted in no item being returned and negative feedback on my account. Now – heres the interesting bit – I complained about the feedback being unfair to ebay – and it has since all been removed by ebay – so 100% positive again – but next thing I know – defect rate is below global seller standard at 11.5% based on last 12 months and now I have been “Indefinitely suspended from ebay”. I’ve tried to call eBay to talk about it and was told “the executives upstairs have decided that you can no longer trade on ebay – ever!” So with over £13K sales, 10 Years an account holder, and 1900 positive feedback – eBay have sacked me off overnight. I even wrote a letter to the “head office” in Ireland – no response. I’ve tried to set up other accounts – but they have been blocked as have been linked to my main account. They wont even communicate with me. I heard a seller in the USA is taking ebay to court over these “bad business practices” as they always seem to rule in favour of the buyer. I prey for the result of this case to win in the plaintiffs favour as the repercussions against ebay could be massive. As I was in process of setting up a small business (and using ebay as my main outlet) I now find myself at risk of bankruptcy as I can not shift any of my stock nor pay bills.

  • frustrated
    3 years ago

    Gutted. We have traded for seven years and turned over five million quid. Our eBay manager left in May and wasn’t kind enough to tell us of the changes – on 21st August our defect was 5:2 we lost 90% sales and are now restricted, we could lose our business and have payments for pre ordered stock we can’t pay for, we set on seven full time staff so now the tax payer will fund benefits for them and we might all become homeless … Thanks eBay our loyalty and paid fees mean nothing our defects are for items reported not received that were received and average star ratings, we send letters we have a phone line we bend backwards, our biggest downfall has been cancelling orders at customers request 52 cancelled sales … we are now going to go bankrupt …. for those who have no sympathy all I fan say us, thanks for my future job seekers allowance 🙁

  • john
    3 years ago

    Roughly speaking the same thing happened to me, my USA defect rate is at 17.5% due to problems with a courier & some lost parcels. Now ebay have restricted me from listing even in the UK even though I am a TRS in the UK & most other regions apart from the USA. Surely this cannot be rite! It will be into December before a couple of defects drop off then hopefully should be able to list again. Any advise would be appreciated!

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