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eBay billing problem in October

By Dan Wilson November 14, 2016 - 4:22 pm

You might be in a for a higher than expected eBay bill in November. eBay UK has been contacting sellers to say that some final value fees were miscalculated in October and will be added to their November invoice.

As they say in the email: “During the month of October, we experienced a system error that miscalculated some of your final value fees.

To adjust for this error, you will see the missing final value fees listed on your next invoice. In addition, the accurate final value fees will be reflected on your account status page in approximately 72 hours.”

What we don’t know is the scale of the problem. Is this just a UK problem or are sellers in other countries impacted too? What proportion of the FVFs were miscalculated? How many sellers have been impacted.

Let us know if you’ve been affected.

Find the email below. (Replete with two ways to spell apologise/apologize)

billing

  • David Brackin
    3 months ago

    We’ve had this email through too. If there’s been a mistake, then it’s fair enough — we are none of us immune from errors — and we’re happy to pay what we owe. However, finding out what that is, and how much it’s going to be, is turning out to be rather hard as i look into this further.

    This email doesn’t include that detail — you’d have thought that was the natural place to put it — so all I’m left with is a nagging worry that I’m going to take a cashflow hit going into Q4. It’s all a bit last-minute too. The billing cycle is tomorrow, so you get the overall sense that there’s a lot of shooting from the hip going on over there in Luxembourg as someone realises they made a slip-up and rushes to fix it. It’s not a sense of being in control that I get from this communication. It’s barely proof-read. The link in it just goes through to a generic customer service page. When you contact customer service through that page, they haven’t heard of the problem (would you mind sending me the content of the email so that I can see it?). When they try to find out what the solution is, the eBay finance system is so creaky that they can’t actually load our invoice to look at it (in fairness we do have a big invoice — 336 pages last month).

    In doing this, I’ve noticed a few fees that I don’t recognise on our bill, and I’m left with a general sense of unease that I can’t check my invoice and no-one really knows if it is right or not. Great that they’ve caught this error (how was it made? how did they find it?). But what else might be wrong in there?

    To be honest, there are many commercial aspects that I would fixed at eBay before their invoicing system, but I would certainly like the ability to analyse what amounts to a solid 6-figure bill each year for my business, and see where I can make savings!

    • 3 months ago

      Amen.

    • Ian
      3 months ago

      David

      Could not agree more. Marketplace fees are our second highest cost line, behind people, and it is painfully difficult to analyse it to see where we can make savings. Perhaps it is intentional? Amazon is a lot clearer.

    • Kev T
      3 months ago

      Sorry, mate, you’ve got it all back to front – can’t you see a rip-off right in front of you?
      Amazon sales up 58% on the year, ebay only 3%.
      No specifics in the mail – they’ve written themselves an open cheque on your account.
      Look, if I mis-read the scale, undercharge my customer on postage because of that, I can hardly go back to them later, and ask for the difference because of my incompetence, can I?
      So, let’s say: grow up, ebay, start being a business – like the people who pay your bills – take ownershiop of your problems, dont’t share them with your clients.

    • David Brackin
      3 months ago

      I’m afraid I simply don’t believe any of the suggestions that this is malicious or cunning. That’s just nonsense. Someone has pushed a button they shouldn’t have and someone has noticed the error and is scrambling to fix it.

      Furthermore, I have no issue paying what we owe. I think every professional seller should look at this the same way. You pay eBay to provide the sales. The more you pay, the more sales you are making. I’m happy to pay the fees because it means I’m making sales. I want eBay to be properly paid for making those sales happen because I want them to make them happen next month and the month after that.

      However, I do have an issue around the communication and handling of this error. I’ve since heard back from Customer Services to tell me that I’m not being charged extra, but that I am being charged more. How much more they haven’t said. They’ve given me an example of a single listing that was charged at 0.00 FVF in October (so this appears to be what the error was and how to identify it), but no hint of an overall amount. It can’t be that much as we were charged more in October than any other month in the last year, so wouldn’t the right thing to do be to tell me how small it was when they sent the message?

      The invoicing is based on trust. I’m left deeply uneasy that I cannot check the calculation for myself. And if can’t check it, why would I believe that eBay has? The CS response has made this feeling worse.

  • james
    3 months ago

    ebay dont make costly mistakes, ebay’s mistakes are paid for by the sellers.
    maybe if they did feel the pain of their own mistakes they’d make less of them in future.

    • Kev T
      3 months ago

      They are feeling pain – shares in the company have dropped in value by more than half in 12 months – they’re going to be left behind in the slipstream of internet history.
      Amazon’s shares on the other hand have gone like a rocket inexorably higher since they were first floated on the exchanges.
      When ebay get to the point where they feel they have nothing to lose, then sellers will be plucked like turkeys at Christmas – don’t leave more in the Paypal a/c than will cover your invoiced fees only.
      And to the big sellers out there: why do you rely on a company that can’t invoice their clients properly? It’s like paying for an accountant that can’t add up properly, but keeping him in his job because he can make a jolly nice cup of tea that you can sell.
      That’s why, in parallel with selling on ebay, I’m developing my own brand via a website that I own.

  • Jon
    3 months ago

    Nothing come through here.

  • Andy R
    3 months ago

    We’ve had this and we can’t check our invoice as it is “too big” to download.

    What stinks is the constant stream of fees Ebay takes which they are not entitled to from system errors, refunds for failure to combine postage etc etc.

    It would have been a bit of positive PR for Ebay to say they’ll waive it.

    In any case, I can’t tell whether it’s a few pence or tens of pounds we’re talking about., or even if their assertion is valid at all.

    Big fat raspberry to Feebay / Greedbay / Leechbay

    Someone should put in a call to Trading Standards, we can’t see this bill, why should we pay it?

  • Andy R
    3 months ago

    Afterthought:

    All these system errors that never seem to get fixed, they all have the habit of benefitting Ebay in terms of extra fees.

    A few pence/cents here and there, it must add up to millions over a year.

    And most sellers will not be ars*d to spend the time on the phone to try and sort it out.

    Isn’t is about time this was flagged up big time?

    And paypal are at it too. They don’t give back the transaction fee when you make a refund.

    It all stinks.

    Does anybody regulate Ebay or Paypal and make them play fair ????

    • Fred
      3 months ago

      I think they’re regulated by the people that they pay the bribes to.

  • David Brackin
    3 months ago

    CS latest response:-
    “Thank you for writing back to us with regard on your invoice.

    I truly understand that you would like to know how many transactions you have on your upcoming November bill from October period. However it appears that you have too many transactions to display that is not yet invoice and we don’t have tools where we can see the number of items you have sold during this period. ”

    I give up.

    • 3 months ago

      So, to recap:

      You will have some of last month’s fees added to this month’s invoice. You have no idea how much. eBay won’t tell you. And you have no way of finding out.

      That’s pretty outrageous.

    • David Brackin
      3 months ago

      Ok. I lied when I said I had given up.

      I was given an inkling of the type of error when one of the CS agents said that some fees were billed with 0 FVF in last month’s invoice (ie the % charge was used). While consumer pricing is very simple at a flat 10% inc VAT capped at £30 all round, the business prices are category specific and VAT and caps do not apply. I assume someone put a zero into the price table where there should have been a %age.

      So I downloaded 150,000 invoice records from October (takes three 10MB dwnloads) and stitched them together and started searching for suspiciously cheap FVFs. An hour of research or so, and I found that this seems to apply to exactly six listings from last month. Six. All of them were FVFs on postage fees, but otherwise little to tie them together — different postage services, some domestic, some international, different days (although mostly around 9-14th Oct, one in Sept).

      Total fees payable less than a tenner. A very easy to find fact if you own the database and know what went wrong — and one that could have gone into the original communication and would have meant this was met with a shrug.

      At least for my account. Other readers will have to do their own analysis to see if they have a big bill coming.

    • james
      3 months ago

      “pretty outragous” is par for the course here at ebay.
      they have absolutely no concept of being on the other end of the ebay treatment, find it impossible to put themselves in other’s shoes for two seconds, and every week issue statements along these lines.

      cant wait to hear ebay bleet when HMRC turns up to say “oh you owe us money, we wont say how much, but you better make sure theres plenty extra in your bank next week!”, i bet they’ll find it pretty outrageous to be treated that way.

    • Andy R
      3 months ago

      You forget, James, where they will get the money from when HMRC comes knocking

    • Kev T
      3 months ago

      ebay pay tax?
      LOL!
      Why do think their registered office is offshore in Luxembourg?
      Another reason I am developing my own portfolio of websites – a lot of businesses are doing the same – ebay shares have lost more than half their value since last year, and their sales were up only 3%, they’ll soon be a footnote in the evolution of the internet

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