eBay on-time shipping metric flow chart

By Chris Dawson September 16, 2015 - 7:30 am

eBay’s new has been the topic generating most emails to Tamebay HQ in the last few days. Readers are asking a ton of “What happens if…?” questions so we thought to try and answer some of them we’d create a flow chart of the process.

Basically the good news is that pretty much the only way a delivery can be considered as late is if they buyer says it was late. If you’re using tracking then the buyer’s input won’t even be considered unless there was no acceptance scan and no delivery scan or the delivery scan shows the item was delivered late.

Good news

If you ship untracked if the buyer doesn’t leave feedback the transaction will be ignored in calculations, which is pretty much the status quo for the despatch time Detailed Seller Rating!

More good news

If you ship untracked the buyer will be shown the estimated delivery date and asked if the item arrived on time. We know there’s a lot of concern regarding eBay’s estimated delivery dates but it’s probably an easier metric to get an positive result from than asking the buyer if you despatch quickly.

And yet more good news

Even if your tracked courier missed the acceptance scan and shows a late delivery but your buyer still says the item arrived on time then you get an On-Time delivery credit!

eBay’s On-Time Delivery Flow

If you’re still unsure when you’ll get an on-time delivery, when it’ll be discounted from calculations and when you’ll get a late delivery here’s a flow chart which will hopefully answer your questions:


  • Kieran
    2 years ago

    The changes to the way defects are being handled by ebay are overall positive, but i just ask myself why!

    Why are ebay still meddling with sellers in this way and trying to play god, they are not even a retailer themselves, we have people in an ebay office basically trying to justify their job by coming up with these ideas, at least Amazon are a retailer and actually can say they understand all the issues related to online selling. Selling on Amazon is so much more pleasurable for sellers, if a customer has a problem they email you, you resolve the issue by email, end of story, no naughty boys step system, or at least a much more seller controlled process.

    Over promising the estimated delivery dates and making them sound like a guarantee is the biggest cause of our queries on ebay, and this is caused by ebay, ebay are creating these unhappy customers by over promising, again not an issue on Amazon, they provide a more realistic window for delivery and when 99% of our products arrive early the customer is happy and we get almost zero contact from buyers asking where the order is.

    I believe that if ebay extended delivery times by even 1 day for Royal Mail it will cut queries for delivery by about 70%, a massive difference to the defects on sellers accounts and costs in handling these queries.

    I do believe that customer problems on ebay are created by ebay themselves, ebay create the unsatisfied customers and we get left to deal with it, it costs more to sell on ebay than other platforms when you factor in the higher level of customer support tickets we get on ebay compared to any other platform and the higher level of fraud compared to anywhere else, again i believe ebay essentially encourage fraud with their resolution systems.

    • james
      2 years ago

      the Why? of this, is to address the problems you just mentioned.

      they have made unrealistic and unacheivable goals with the old defect system, it backfired (predictably), this is the redress.

      i really dont understand why everyone’s insistent on whinging about the best thing ebays done for sellers in years.

      just look at the flow chart. if its your fault, beyond a doubt, then its your fault. if its not your fault, ebay have you covered under this new system.

      it doesnt matter any more if ebay over-promise on delivery dates, you dont need to worry about RM having a 95% on-time rate. as long as you give it to RM when you said you would, and have a scan, then you’re bang on target.

    • JD
      2 years ago

      You overlook the millions of transactions on eBay, many of which (but certainly not all) are low value and go RM large letter, where the buyer does not want to pay the extra for a tracked service even when offered.
      If eBay sellers only offered these items with a tracked delivery then the buyers would very soon find the items elsewhere for much less.

    • james
      2 years ago

      i’m not overlooking them. they havent changed much in either regard:

      untracked items:
      before: customer says its late; then its late.
      now: customer says its late; then its late.

      under the new RM barcode system, you’re possibly going to have an acceptance scan, whether its tracked or not, which solves everyones problem.

    • RCG
      2 years ago

      What about my overseas stuff? I ship a lot to Italy/Spain etc that isn’t worth enough to be tracked. It’s almost a given these deliveries will be late, and at least now a customer can check the postage date and see it wasn’t my fault. Under the new system it will be.

    • Matt C
      2 years ago

      No plans for scans of letters or large letters. Only parcels.

    • Phil
      2 years ago

      Absolutely – this is so true

  • 2 years ago

    Whenever this subject comes up for discussion there are always possible reasons for Late delivery. These include such as Bad Weather and Industrial Action etc. But never does anybody mention Ill Health. I work alone in my spare bedroom. However consistently for several years I have enjoyed, if thats the word, ill health. Usually I can get around this when my health is particularly bad by getting my Daughter or a Neighbour to take the post to the Post Office.

    In the near future my Daughter and her Fiance will be moving and the Neighbour is not always available. So I am going to have very real problems. It looks as if the New Rules are almost designed to exclude from ebay anybody with health problems.

    • AnotherEbaySeller
      2 years ago

      Sorry to hear about your health issues, it’s awful and it’s out of your control, of course.

      BUT, that is a poor experience for a buyer and it’s definitely something that would anger most people, I know it would annoy me.

      If you sent an email apology afterwards explaining the issue etc. then I’m sure I’d be happy to not punish you on the on time delivery metric if I was explained to the damage it would cause.

      I’m sure a lot of your customers would feel the same.

    • Tinker
      2 years ago

      , ebays not a hospital , ?

    • 2 years ago

      I do have health problems. But I would point out that I get a very high proportion of customers leaving Feedback and many of them make a point of mentioning how fast the delivery was. This is because I do try to meet my obligations in this regard. However if m,y health got worse it might not always be possible.

      Could I comment on Tinker’s Comment. He regularly comments and it is obvious to me that he is a very stupid bloke.

    • 2 years ago

      Tinker says that ebay is not a Hospital. I would agree. However these days it is not considered sensible or PC to critisise or discriminate against somebody because of their colour, Religion, Sexual leanings etc. However it looks as if Tinker is very happy to discriminate against somebody because of their health problems..

      In my case my health problems go back decades. Certainly back to 1997 and possible back to 1992. Some have their origins to problems with my body when I was born in 1950. I have worked hard to keep going but it is not helped by people such as Tinker discriminating or making stupid remarks as he did.

    • tinker
      2 years ago

      yes I am stupid
      ebays an asylum for book sellers

    • JD
      2 years ago

      Que? Tinker? Most REALISTIC regular poster in here by far!
      Please re-evaluate.

    • 2 years ago

      Thank you JD I have re-evaluated my replies to Tinkers post and I must admit that I agree totally with Tinker’s post of the 19th September except I would have serious reservations about ebay being an asylum for anybody and certainly not book sellers.

  • Joe
    2 years ago

    I don’t think the flow chart is correct, sorry to disagree, but the FAQ seems to indicate that if a buyer leaves feedback but doesn’t answer the ‘did it arrive by…’ question, then it’s not classed as a late delivery.

    Your chart says ‘bummer’ if a buyer leaves feedback but doesn’t tick to say it arrived on time.

    The FAQ says ‘If an item doesn’t have tracking information and the buyer doesn’t respond to let us know whether or not the item arrived on time, the transaction will not be used to calculate your on-time delivery rate.’ – it doesn’t mention feedback.

    Even clearer is the eBay community manager who has repeatedly confirmed that if a buyer leaves feedback but doesn’t answer the question, eBay will presume everything was ok.

    See here for an example

    ‘If the buyer doesn’t answer the question or doesn’t leave feedback at all, we consider the buyer satisfied = no negative consequence for the seller. ‘

    • Joe
      2 years ago

      To add to this, from the same thread, one page back, same eBay person ‘For the on-time shipping metric to be impacted the buyer will have to actively inform us i.e select ‘no’.

    • Danny
      2 years ago

      If this is the case then a simple fix is to perhaps rephrase to “Did the buyer leave feedback AND respond to the delivery on-time question?”

    • james
      2 years ago

      if they leave feedback, they will probably HAVE to tick the “on time?” one way or the other.
      if they dont leave feedback, they dont answer. if they leave feedback, there is an answer.

  • Danny
    2 years ago

    Brilliant flow chart! Sorry to be ‘that guy’ but could you clarify if my assumptions are correct…

    Did the buyer leave you feedback > YES > Did the buyer confirm delivery on time > NO (they actively clicked no to say it didn’t arrive on time) > “Bummer! Your delivery is considered late”

    Did the buyer leave you feedback > YES > Did the buyer confirm delivery on time > NO (they neither clicked yes or no, they left it blank) > Does this still result in a “Bummer! Your delivery is considered late” ??


    • 2 years ago

      To clarify Danny, if the buyer said it was late (and there’s no tracking or tracking said it was late) then it’s a late delivery

      If the tracking says it was late with no acceptance scan and the buyers says “Actually it arrived on time) then it’s an on-time delivery.

      If the buyer doesn’t answer the question then you’re ok (Except when there was no acceptance scan and the tracking said it was late. In this instance the buyer has to specifically say it arrives on time or it’s a late delivery).

      Sorry but the chart would have been very complicated to take into account a buyer leaving feedback but not answering that question!

    • Danny
      2 years ago

      Thanks for that Chris, that’s great.


    • Stuart
      2 years ago

      ‘Sorry but the chart would have been very complicated to take into account a buyer leaving feedback but not answering that question!’

      i feel that is a very important element of the ‘on time’ calculation and should have still been included within the flow chart

    • JD
      2 years ago

      And only as complicated as eBay itself LOL

    • 2 years ago

      Just for you Stuart, I’ve redone the flow chart! :D

    • Stuart
      2 years ago

      great stuff! thanks

  • steve
    2 years ago

    Its arcane ebay nonsense to penalise sellers for things out of thier control. If you have proof of postage, job done. If ebay insist on this nonsense , then at least they should accept the real world postal service.

  • Neil
    2 years ago


    If the buyer doesn’t answer the On Time question, eBay has quite clearly stated that it will not be considered late.

    • 2 years ago

      Hi Neil, eBay have said there are two ways a delivery will be considered late:

      Deliveries will be considered late only when:
      You do not upload tracking information and your buyer states that the item arrived after the estimated delivery date.

      Tracking shows that there is no acceptance scan within your stated dispatch time and the item arrived after the estimated delivery date, plus your buyer either does not confirm that the item arrived on time or states that the item arrived after the estimated delivery date.

      If there was no acceptance scan and the delivery scan was late and the buyer doesn’t confirm the item arrived on time then the delivery will be considered late.

    • Neil
      2 years ago

      I don’t agree with your interpretation of that.

      That reads that if it’s untracked, the buyer HAS to state that it arrived late. If they don’t state anything, they haven’t stated it arrived late.

      If it’s tracked, the tracking shows delivery time, only if it doesn’t would the buyer’s opinion apply.

      For that reason you are better off NOT stating that the item is tracked and NOT uploading tracking.

      I don’t think you actively sell on eBay any more, so maybe aren’t that familiar with feedback levels, but think about it. If what you state above is correct, as at least half of all buyers don’t leave feedback, every single seller would be below standard within a few days…

    • John
      2 years ago

      Your wrong on that Chris.If that was the case every single tracked APC,XPD,TNT shipped item would be a defect as Ebay doesnt integrate with those couriers.
      If what you say was true then nobody shipping with those couriers would upload tracking.That would mean every item over 150cm long because they are the only couriers who ship that size.

    • 2 years ago

      Hi John, firstly NO late delivery will be classed as a defect (tracked or untracked).

      When eBay say “no acceptance scan within your stated dispatch time and the item arrived after the estimated delivery date” referring to a delivery made with tracking, what they actually mean is “tracking with one of the couriers we’ve integrated with”.

      If you’re using APC, XPD, or TNT (or any other courier that’s not integrated) then eBay will treat your delivery as untracked and it will then only be considered late if the buyer says it was late.

    • John
      2 years ago

      Chris where does it say that?.The release says “Deliveries will be considered late only when:
      You do not upload tracking information and your buyer states that the item arrived after the estimated delivery date.

      That doesnt say anything about the courier having to be integrated.It simply says if you do not upload tracking.

      Those three couriers are the only ones who will carry over 150cm.Are Ebay really saying sellers of large items who enter tracking for every single order wont be protected?.If that is so i will be onto CS every week to get any “not on time” marks removed as 100% ship on time,with tracking,with APC and XPD.

    • John
      2 years ago

      Perhaps you could raise this with Ebay Chris.If those three couriers arent integrated then sellers of large items who use 100% tracking are at a huge disadvantage.At the very least we should be able to see the transactions that had a bad mark,so we could then have CS check the tracking and delete the bad mark if proven wrong.

      The way i read the release though(even though it is a pigs ear as usual) is that if they can see the scan (integrated) you get a +,but as long as you enter any valid tracking (integrated or not) you cant get a -.
      The release is fine,but sellers shouldnt be put at a disadvantage just because Ebay hasnt integrated with their courier.No courier on the to be integrated list will carry over 150cm.Only Parcel Force will carry over 120cm up to 150cm from the list.There is no option for sellers of bigger items to use any of the to be integrated couriers.

  • james
    2 years ago

    jeez people. ebay give us plenty reason to complain on a daily; this isnt one of them.

    all of this is a vast improvement over previous.
    it may not be “perfect”, nothing is, but its a damn huge step from where they were before.

    previously ebay punished sellers ad-hoc, whether this was constructive, useful, productive, profitable, or exactly the opposite.
    it wasnt fair, it want just. now, its a lot better.
    so why all the whinging?

    i really cant see how anyone can expect this to be fairer to sellers. you post on time, you get proof, you’re covered.

    you dont post on time; you’re probably getting a defect, simple as. you dont deserve any further protection from yourself.

    nobody forces you to select same-day despatch with next day delivery. you can choose a 5-day despatch lead time, if thats how long it’ll take you, thats the one to choose.

    • 2 years ago

      James it’s even better than “you dont post on time; you’re probably getting a defect, simple as”… Late deliveries won’t even count as defects!

      Late deliveries will be monitored and if you’re an over-promiser and under-deliverer then eBay might limit the delivery options and despatch times available to you.

      That’s it (currently) :-)

    • james
      2 years ago

      quite right, sorry, just so used to “defects for everything”; though i suspect they may tweak that nearer to february.

      incidentally i also love the “limit your delivery options” as a punishment, it should really help with all the china-based shippers promising three day delivery, then it takes three weeks.
      – we know ebay wont actually ban them, there’s too much money for ebay there, but if they are limited to offering only postage times that they can achieve, well then ebay should improve greatly overall.
      – and if the china based sellers do achieve 3-day delivery 99% of the time, then we know they have a UK warehouse, and can have HMRC check for a valid VAT number.

      dont get me wrong; i love the chinese sellers on ebay.
      they dont really encroach on my category, and i dont mind waiting three weeks for an item if thats how long it says it’ll take, but i know many sellers on here are affected by an unlevel playing field in this respect. hopefully the new standards will help level it a little bit again.

    • Matt C
      2 years ago

      And remove your TRS, thus removing your discount, thus removing your visibility.

  • Karen
    2 years ago

    I had a sack of just over 60 LL rate of post go “Missing” from Royal Mail.
    I knew something was up when there was no feedback left for those items and in around a week it started “Where’s my item”.
    I got in touch with each and every one of them to say RM had lost a sack and so went ahead in replacing the items around 10 days after I posted the first lot.
    The “Missing” post turned up around 2 weeks after I first post them first class….No explanation, no excuses RM just didn’t know where the sack had been.
    Am I a bad seller ?
    Was I in the wrong ?
    NOPE yet eBay want to tar me with the same brush as the cowboys.
    If it happened today I would be looking at being kicked off ebay after 13 years with over 78,000 items sold….5 stars across the board and 100% feedback
    So I ask again, Am I a bad seller ?

    • 2 years ago

      Same thing happened to us. Royal Mail lost a full sack, never found it. Contained 50 large letters. Part of a 6 sack batch so we did not know which 50 parcels it was. offered replacement parcels for item we still had stock off, offered alternatives for items sold out and from previous season so could not order in to send replacement. Most buyers happy but as always on ebay the buyers who will never be happy, subsequent cases, negatives and low DSRs lost our Top Rated Status after 10 successful years without incident. To cut a long story short, after contacting ebay as our sales dropped from 2K a day to £200 a day. Heres the reply

      GS=CU0676 Message from eBay Money Back Guarantee SR# 1-52395725987

      Hello Susan,

      This is Kursten from Appeals Department of eBay Customer Service. I will be assisting you on your concern with your account as your sale have dropped and you identified several cases that should not found against you. I’m sorry to hear that you have an issue with your seller level.

      I acknowledge the fact that you’re putting in your honest efforts in order to comply with eBay policies and to maintain a good reputation for your account. Let me investigate this matter for you.

      Susan, I have completed my review of your account and based on the defect rate aspect of your Seller Performance level, your account is not meeting the minimum performance standards required to sell on eBay. We’ve placed a selling limit on your account to slow down your selling activity and provide you an opportunity to address any underlying issues that may be driving an excess of bad buying experiences.

      So we sorted this out by selling elsewhere. While ebay have a call centre in the Phillipines selling on ebay will always be a be battle. One of the cases counted against us was a buyer who we sent a fully tracked parcel. Tracking showed next day delivery attempted. Buyer opened case 2 days after purchase date. Advised buyer parcel waiting to be collected, Buyer replied, thanks I will collect it tomorrow, escalated case immediately, ebay of course refunded. Buyer did indeed collect parcel next day. Emailed buyer who replied ‘You better find out if Royal Mail have any cameras to see if it was me who collected it then hadn’t you ha ha
      Yet case counted against us.

    • Simon M
      2 years ago

      >> Emailed buyer who replied ‘You better find out if Royal Mail have any cameras to see if it was me who collected it then hadn’t you ha ha

      You can’t collect an item from Royal Mail unless you take photo ID with the address on, so it seems to me you have either a good case against the buyer, or Royal Mail. Personally, I’d file a claim against Royal Mail – there’s a reasonable chance they’ll contact the buyer as part of their investigation and hopefully at least give the ****er a fright.

      Good luck

    • 2 years ago

      All takes time Simon which is something we constantly struggle with. I did ring eBay 5 times about this. First call on hold 30 mins then cut off. Second call asked registered users name .. Susan Smith .. Can a name get any easier than that.? Reply, I,m sorry ma,am I do not understand that name. Repeated my name several times. Reply thank you for that information LINDA. You know it’s not even worth persuing the conversation if they cannot read your name off the screen. Three more calls in similar vein.

  • Richard
    2 years ago

    It says something about how badly this stuff is put together when a bunch of eBay veterans are struggling to make sense of it.

  • dan
    2 years ago

    By acceptance scan…. do you mean the initial… hand it over at PO and they scan it into system, eg in front of you, the day they print the reciept, to show you were handing it over in person?

    OR accepted at local sorting hub, for onward posting

    OR accepted at buyers house, eg, handed over to them?

    sorry if its a silly easy question, but i still hand over my mail at a PO, and just wondering at which point in my parcels / letter journey is the OK point for it not be classed as late, as in the chart.



  • Mark
    2 years ago

    Hey Chris,

    Still seems to be a bit of confusion about how this new metric is calculated. Unsurprisingly, CS give different answers.

    (Note: the figures below are plucked from the air!)

    Say a seller sends orders to 1000 buyers, all untracked (i.e. no scans to confirm dispatch)
    Only 50% leave any feedback (500 buyers)
    Of those 500 who leave feedback, 50% don’t answer the ‘on time’ question (250 buyers)
    Of those 250 who DO answer the on time question, 225 answer yes, it was on time, 25 answer no it wasn’t on time.

    How does the formula work? Which number is used to calculate the %age?

    (25 / 1000) * 100 (the total number of buyers who were sent parcels)?
    (25 / 500) * 100 (the total number of buyers who left feedback)?
    (25 / 250) * 100 (the total number of buyers who left feedback and answered the on-time delivery question)

    Obviously they all give very different answers.

    Best Regards

  • JD
    2 years ago

    There is much confusion on the PSB at the moment, in particular a concerned seller who has spent (wasted?) much time on the phone to CS.

    The answer confirmed by CS after supervisor referral seems to be against all reasonable logic:
    (25 / 250) * 100 (the total number of buyers who left feedback and answered the on-time delivery question).

    This just has to be a CS foul up else eBay will soon be bereft of large tranches of inventory as buyers of small (size/cost) items will simply not pay for a tracked service.

    I hope that Chris and Dan can quickly sniff/snuff this one out.

  • LG
    2 years ago

    It is my understanding that this would be 25 in 1000 as is disregards those that have not answered, or left feedback.

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