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eBay, it’s time for a level playing field on my metrics please

By Jane Bell February 21, 2017 - 12:45 pm

Jane is the eBay Anorak and has discovered that not all eBay metrics are measured in the same way:

We often hear the phrase ‘level playing field’ when referring to eBay for one reason or another but I’d like to request said field within my own account please.

The not so new metrics are worked out on a percentage of defects over either 12 or 3 months according to the volume of transactions you have. So if you have 400 or more orders over a 3 month period the metrics are worked out over a 3 month period and less volume will be a percentage over 12 months.

The problem being those who sell smaller volumes, as you can see in the screenshot below, both the Transaction Defect Rate and the Cases Closed without Seller Resolution are calculated on a 12 month transactional basis but the Late Delivery metric is calculated over a 3 month period.

The Late Delivery metric should be calculated over a 12 month period as are the other two metrics, this calculation is detrimental to low volume sellers who are therefore more likely to lose TRS as a result.

Come on eBay let’s do the decent thing and sort this out!

Has anyone else lost TRS on lower volume sales because of this?

  • mw
    6 months ago

    Somebody correct me here, but my understanding is that from the numbers above, of the 237 transactions, only 87 buyers answered the “received by question” and of the 87, 6 decided to answer negatively, giving the 3 month delivery defect rate of 6.9%. 81 said it arrived by the date and the remaining 150 failed to answer the question.
    My understanding is that all the numbers cover the same period, just that the difference is the number who chose to answer the delivery question, which is not a mandatory question.

  • 6 months ago

    Either way (and the transactions for the last 3 months added up to 87) they should be on all transactions in the same period not just those who decide to answer, no?

    Just to add, the feedback left over the previous 12 months was 113. Would that also not be a fairer figure to use?

    • mw
      6 months ago

      We are talking ebay here! They do have to affect the listings to maximise their own returns and also to meet their service level agreements. They can easily do this by controlling the smaller sellers, who cannot fight back.
      We lost the Top Rated Seller before Xmas on the basis of this ebay metric. Those asked, didn’t understand it and had no idea they had done it. When it was explained, they were largely horrified and could not apologise enough for the harm they had caused. Buyer views of fairness and a suitable place to buy went downhill.
      Ebay gifted our hard won place in the page rankings to other sellers and we lost around 20 to 30% of our ebay sales for Xmas. Our expansion plans were stopped, as that level of hit could not be sustained going forward.

    • 6 months ago

      And this is exactly my point, by doing it this way they stunt the growth of small businesses and also of low volume sellers and if they are to work out a metric over total transactions on 2 of them they should work it out o the same basis for late delivery too.

    • mw
      6 months ago

      The flaw seems to be that they are using a % of the number who manually elected to answer the question, regardless of how many transactions took place. It’s their way of de-cluttering the site for buyers and also maximising their return & growth as well as meeting their service level agreements, I guess. It does not benefit small independant business’ that are trying to grow. It actually stunts that growth and gives better page placement for the volume and inventory sellers, who may not offer the best value or quality of product.
      We have discovered that alerting buyers to it, when they pay, seems to reduce the incidence of it happening. So far only 1 defect posted for us in January.
      Realistically ebay should be more up front with buyers and advise them of what their vote means for the seller and/or take a fuller interpretation of the stats. They are unlikely to do either though.

    • 6 months ago

      Or, fix the acceptance scan debacle and stop judging a business on their carrier’s performance (see my previous post)

      It also affects high turnover low volume sellers (such as those with large products) as well as start ups and small businesses.

      Just not on, if these businesses do well, eBay do well rather than punishing a seller for their carriers tardiness, is it just me or is it really that simple?

  • james
    6 months ago

    ebay will always use whatever figures work out best for ebay.
    they “protected” you while they couldnt figure out how to monitor and adequeately beat you up for RM’s failures, now that they’ve stopped that protection, they wont be effectively back-dating it by factoring in a year where you were covered.
    the only “level playing field” on ebay is a second-hand wonky subutteo table.

  • 6 months ago

    I have to admit as a regular buyer on ebay although I always leave feedback I never fill out the did your item arrive by x date part. It takes long enough to leave feedback so I ignore that, I generally leave it for a month or so and then do a mass feedback for a couple of dozen or so items.

  • JD
    6 months ago

    But surely eBay run an opt in ‘protection racket’ that any seller can subscribe to? Just upgrade the postage to tracked and get the acceptance scan on time and all problems disappear. Silver bullet style.

    Mind you the customer will have to pay for that in the end. Might even drive them to the High Street.

  • Alan Paterson
    6 months ago

    to mw above. i could not disagree more. I have several friends that i help with their ebay business as well as having my own ebay shops.

    “It’s their way of de-cluttering the site for buyers and also maximising their return & growth” you say.

    Absolute non-sense. This is not how ebay operate. What would be the advantage to them for doing this? How would it be in any way more profitable for them to give preference to the volume and inventory sellers.

    Example:

    Are you aware of the ebay concierge team that was set up back in September? Set up at considerable cost by ebay. The very factor that was NOT considered was volume of sales. They didn’t necessary want high volume sellers in the programme. One of the criteria for the invite was “potential to grow” and ebay profitability and volume of sales were not a priority whats-so-ever. One of my shops that sells only a handful of items per day got an invite while a colleague of mine who dispatches over 400 items per day did not. There were many criteria for this special support but volume was in NO WAY a priority. I use this example only to illustrate my point above.

    I believe that you THINK you are correct but your conclusions must be wrong. Please also consider that ebay generate less profit on a TRS member because a percentage as the selling fees are discounted.

    Buyers are asked a straight forward question – did the item arrive on time? If they answer honestly sellers should not be “following this up” with the buyer and making them feel bad or even making them aware of any consequences. If their item arrived on time the vast vast majority will not put “no”. As a matter of fact you can avoid them even being asked the question providing you upload the tracking information (i appreciate it is not always viable for cheaper items to be sent tracked) within your estimated dispatch time – that way they don’t even get the opportunity to answer “no”.

    As you probably guessed from my post here i think the system is very fair and far superior to what we have had in the past. The old “power seller support” was based on volume but this system is long dead. ebay are constantly striving to improve. they don’t always get it right but they do try. They are not this “sinister” manipulative company that they are often made out to be.

    As for the subject of this thread. ebay have always said that the late delivery metric would be assessed over the 3 month period – this was deliberate. If you think about it you will (hopefully) see why this particular metric needs to be more current than the rest – it makes sense. Please also consider that in certain circumstances it can be an advantage as defects that would “hang around” effecting you for 12 months drop off after 3 months. Its not all bad.

    Too many sellers criticising the ebay system to the point of making ebay sound like “crooks”. Its a good system – learn it, comply and as another seller said above “all problems disappear”.

    Rather than pointing out the “plight” of sellers if the buyers say “no” simply try and get more buyers to answer the question “yes”. “Look at the doughnut and not the hole”. Remember the figure is a RATIO – that means the more “yes” you get – the less the “no’s” effect.

    • mw
      6 months ago

      It’s a view based on experience, not nonsense.

      Ebay’s Board of Directors’ top priority is to legally maximise shareholder returns. That’s by improving turnover and reducing costs, both at the same time.

      They have a vested interest in sellers charging more, because they take a cut of everything (twice if you include the shareholding they still hold in Paypal). Tracked deliveries solves a lot of problems for them and also makes them more money.

      ” If they answer honestly sellers should not be “following this up”….. ” How do you know it was honestly answered if you don’t ask? As pointed out the majority we asked had no idea what a defect was, nor it’s impact on the future of the business on ebay. They steadfastly claimed they left positive feedback, some even providing screenshots of the feedback. Only when explained nicely do they realise what they voluntarily did and mostly apologise for it. The point I tried to make was that they were not in possesion of the minimum information to let them decide what they were going to do. Most do not even answer the question either way.

      “As for the subject of this thread. ebay have always said that the late delivery metric would be assessed over the 3 month period….” Actually if your unit turnover is low, the metric IS assessed over 12 months not 3.

      The issue I have with the metric is it’s heavy reliance on those that bothered to answer the question and it’s disregard for those who did not complete it, then going ahead and using the figure as a measure to judge performance. It’s missing the fuller picture on performance. If you think of it in terms of tracked deliveries automating the response, with all the yes answers going on there without the buyer knowing, that could be read as ebay rewarding those who gave them extra money.

      Ebay are not, as you describe, “crooks” in my view. They are driven to maximise their return through buyers and sellers of all kinds. Loose one…. nevermind they can pick another to fill the same spot. Small sellers are disposable.

      I wish you luck with your business ventures, but please take some advice. Have a plan for when it happens to you (or your friends) as there is very little you can do to change it as you watch your sales fall and the competitions’ rise.

    • Alan Paterson
      6 months ago

      to MW above. i don’t think you have got the correct impression of my experience. I have seen my sales drop and my competitors rise many many many many many times. I have also seen it with my friends / clients. It is my “job” to analyse why and counteract, I have been “doing “ ebay since 2002. To quote Anakin Skywalker “I think you underestimate my power “ (ok maybe bad example as he then got both his legs severed and set on fire – but you get what I mean).

  • Mark
    6 months ago

    I am a high volume seller and closed my shop saying I was away due to a small operation. Buyers did not see the small print saying I was away and my late postage dropped from 2% to 3.8%
    How is that fair ? when you are in hospital and you have clearly said you are away?

    • Jam Jam
      6 months ago

      If you put your shop on holiday settings and you leave your listings visible, you also need to adjust the dispatch times on your listings. You can bulk edit your listings changing your dispatch times. If you don’t do that, your listing pages will still show the normal delivery times.

  • 6 months ago

    I disagree to the “stop judging a business on their carrier’s performance” – you as a business owner are responsible for the companies / people that you employ / contract services to.

    If the carrier you are using is not up to the job, change to a better service, it is your responsibility to make sure you offer the best service.

    Should you not wish to change dues to price or other reason then set your delivery times accordingly

    • james
      6 months ago

      and by that measure, it’s the buyers fault for buying from a seller that uses slow couriers? that thinking is rather flawed.

  • 6 months ago

    I, like many dispatch same day Royal Mail first class even on a Saturday. As a business I do my utmost to get my order out of the door as soon as possible. If Royal Mail do not deliver in the time they say I have to add processing time to my orders and still post out as usual. Lowering my search position due to the added processing time.

    I agree with what you say to some extent but I also stand by that an acceptance scan should be used to measure my performance as a seller on eBay and over the same number of transactions as all the other metrics for the service I provide, if Royal Mail don’t deliver on time, I couldn’t possible change to 24 hour courier due to the size and cost of my items.

    What is there isn’t a better service available than the one I offer? And why should I be judged on the service I opt for not being fulfilled by Royal Mail even with an extra day of processing time added?

    We will have to agree to disagree here, I provide the best service possible and should be measured on that of the scan on dispatch not delivery time by Royal Mail. 🙂

    • Alan Paterson
      6 months ago

      With respect Jane you ARE measured on the scan on dispatch time. This is what ebay call the “acceptance scan” this will protect you even if the item arrives late.

    • Joe
      6 months ago

      Alan – I’d be very interested to know which service you use to get the RM acceptance scan as in my experience it doesn’t work very well on the premium services, and isn’t available on standard services.

  • UlsterGooner
    6 months ago

    Utter tripe Tyler. Who is the most perfect carrier? They don’t actually exist do they?

    • 6 months ago

      I think he means the “defecates chocolate and urinates wine flying unicorn delivery company”

  • 6 months ago

    Here’s another reason for “late deliveries”

    The buyer. Not Royal Mail. Not the courier. Not the seller. The Buyer!

    Here is a classic example:

    I looked at 2 items reported as late by 1 buyer. They were ordered late evening on 5th Dec. Both were shipped together in the 1 package on 6th Dec. Royal Mail attempted delivery 7th. Buyer was out, card left, to rearrange or collect from sorting office.

    The estimated delivery date on ebay was the 8th. The buyer chose to go and collect the parcel from the sorting office (tracking doesn’t say when this was, but lets guess it was after the 8th, perhaps at the weekend) so he fills it in as not received by 8th.

    Technically this is true, but it also shows how utterly flawed the late delivery rating system is. How can a seller deliver safely and securely (ie don’t leave it in the bin/shed/with a neighbour who won’t tell you) by the estimated delivery date, if the buyer is not in to receive the parcel?

    Aside from Father Christmas, there is no carrier that can do this. And yet, if a buyer fills it in without thinking, “well duh, it was attempted on time but I wasn’t in, so that’s down to me” it counts against the seller.

    These are not one offs. I can see it time and again in my reports. Not in. Rearrange delivery. Count it as late.

  • Jon
    6 months ago

    What does a seller do when the only option is Royal Mail? There is no economical alternative for small items. I have had several late deliveries due to Royal Mail’s underperformance. I had one marked late simply because the buyer was in when they tried to deliver & was upset he had to go all the way to the Depot. He was absolutely horrified to hear about eBay’s system of “defects” dished out to sellers & immediately wanted to remove it, which is a common reaction. I tried an experiment & asked eBay to remove it on the basis of the buyers expressed distaste. They refused to remove the late delivery defect even though the seller hed expressed his horror thorough eBay messaging. Top rated support may have had the IQ to see sense but now we are stuck with poorly trained support from the Philippines all comon sense has disappeared. When I revealed the tracking number they immediately used the date it was dispatched to prove it was dispatched on time. Any receipt from the PO would also prove when it was dispatched. We also have a DSR metric called “dispatch time” which is measured as delivery time. It should be eBay’s priority to back up the seller & educate buyers on the defects they are unwittingly dishing out. They think they are rating the local postmen! Well they are actually….but it’s the seller who gets punished! How is that a good trading experience? The problem continues to disrupt business on flawed metrics. eBay is asking the buyer to remember if it arrived early or late up to 8 weeks after they purchased! It is as flawed as human memory & not fit for purpose. Human’s are not robots but eBay expects robotic memory where it does not exist & damages businesses in the process. It is just plain lazy programming….just as lazy as them ignoring a single currency/slug speed shopping cart for over 5 years. It’s so embarrassing for them that they have not mentioned it for years.

  • 6 months ago

    Here’s another example of a buyer causing incorrect late delivery defects:

    Ebay estimated delivery date 16/01/17

    Signed for 14/01/17!

    Reported it as a late delivery!

    What goes on in their tiny little minds?

    • Alan Paterson
      6 months ago

      There were some teething problems at first with the new system. You will always find “flaws” and “exceptions” but some sellers are now looking for these flaws to make ebay look bad (in my opinion. the system is generally working and although not 100% accurate is not far off and is far far FAR superior to anything that has been in place in the past for evaluating sellers.

  • MAHENDRA SHAH
    6 months ago

    I am a high volume seller over 400 a month and my metrics are calculated over 3 months period but i feel that the ” late delivery rate ” is not on a level playing field as according to e bay they send out surveys to all the buyers and the rate is calculated on the number of respondents to this survey. So the ones who did not respond are not included in the rate which i feel is not a level playing field , if they do not respond than they are deemed to have received their order on time and this should be accounted for.
    Even Royal Mail do not guarantee that all their parcels are delivered on time and it is impossible to track small value items as this would become expensive and impossible to sell due to high competition .

  • 6 months ago

    I see we have the usual “trolls”…

    Who is the most perfect carrier? I have no idea, I only use RM, many times on Tamebay I have seen them being slated, but I have yet to see any of those people saying “???” are far better, I use them all the time.

    Unfortunately with all changes in systems, some people win and others lose out.

    If you offer a service and fail to deliver on that promise, then you have to re evaluate what you are doing or how you are doing it.

    As a buyer if I was ordering a product with next day delivery and it did not turn up then I would be a little frustrated. And yes, as a customer I would blame you as it was you I had the contract with, not your courier.

    Customers are also a problem as they do not always seem to know what they are doing.

    • Stuart
      6 months ago

      But if a platform penalise you if less than 97% of your items arrive on time, and the biggest carrier promise for 92% to arrive on time, then you have a problem. You can resolve this by adding to your handling times, but then you’re punished through higher fees and lower sales.

      If the way you identify that items arrive late is to ask people, then you should expect that people with bad experiences will be more likely to report than people with good experiences.

      When you’ve had this metric in place for a year and planned for a further year, and you’re still not able to work with some of the big UK carriers, then there’s a further problem.

      This metric is an improvement in many ways on what came before. Or it will be when they finish preparing for it (based on current progress, we can expect that in 2025). But it’s still full of problems, because it’s not been fully thought through.

  • Jon
    6 months ago

    What does a seller do when the only option is Royal Mail? There is no economical alternative for small items. I have had several late deliveries due to Royal Mail’s underperformance. I had one marked late simply because the buyer was in when they tried to deliver & was upset he had to go all the way to the Depot. He was absolutely horrified to hear about eBay’s system of “defects” dished out to sellers & immediately wanted to remove it, which is a common reaction. I tried an experiment & asked eBay to remove it on the basis of the buyers expressed distaste. They refused to remove the late delivery defect even though the seller hed expressed his horror thorough eBay messaging. Top rated support may have had the IQ to see sense but now we are stuck with poorly trained support from the Philippines all comon sense has disappeared. When I revealed the tracking number they immediately used the date it was dispatched to prove it was dispatched on time. Any receipt from the PO would also prove when it was dispatched. We also have a DSR metric called “dispatch time” which is measured as delivery time. It should be eBay’s priority to back up the seller & educate buyers on the defects they are unwittingly dishing out. They think they are rating the local postmen! Well they are actually….but it’s the seller who gets punished! How is that a good trading experience? The problem continues to disrupt business on flawed metrics. eBay is asking the buyer to remember if it arrived early or late up to 8 weeks after they purchased! It is as flawed as human memory & not fit for purpose. Human’s are not robots but eBay expects robotic memory where it does not exist & damages businesses in the process. It is just plain lazy programming….just as lazy as them ignoring a single currency/slug speed shopping cart for over 5 years. It’s so embarrassing for them that they have not mentioned it for years.

    • Olly
      6 months ago

      I’ve had this problem before Jon. We used to do 300+ orders a day on eBay and relied on eBay customers marking their order as received, which they never did because they cost about £5 on average. As a result eBay suspended us because of our low confirmed delivery metric. With the low ticket value of our products and tight margins we couldn’t offer a tracked service and weren’t provided with a confirmed dispatch for each individual item.
      As a result, we couldn’t prove that the item had been delivered and couldn’t prove that it had been shipped.

      I’m aware of a mail company that have been working on something for the last year and are just putting a new system in place that will help FMCG sellers like us and possibly you by being able to offer a cheap, tracked service.

      So fingers crossed, there should be change coming soon!

  • 6 months ago

    So if they sorted the acceptance scan debacle then non of these would matter, this really is the point, if they are going to go on ‘delivery’ then it should be over all transactions as the rest are OR sort out the acceptance scan they were putting in last year.

  • 6 months ago

    Unfortunately any system that relies on human interaction is flawed, so delivery times should only be judged on real data by a third party.

    This would be the same with despatch time, as it would be easy for sellers to mark an item as despatched and then blame the poor old postman.

    I was told by Ebay support that even if your late delivery rate goes up above their limits they do not judge you solely on that as they also take into consideration other score factors. Not sure how that works in practice as many of these things are automated systems.

  • northumbrian
    6 months ago

    high tide mark, ocean currents,
    phase of the moon ,el nino effect ,sun burst ,cosmic storms, wind direction, jet stream ,
    weather bombs, thunder snow,
    blah blah blah,
    we dont care, we just sell

    • Alan Paterson
      6 months ago

      What he said above.

  • Peer
    5 months ago

    Hi,

    when are sellers going to get an automatic positive feedback if the buyer fails to leave feedback/resolves a problem by the end of the time limit?

    Thanks

    • Alan Paterson
      5 months ago

      To my knowledge that system is not planned. In fact, the new defect system did the opposite with the “one of 3 things” that must happen with an order (before the ratio was simply out of the total quantity of transactions without defects)

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