The eBay Battle of the Glitches & More
What a tough week! I have had no “free time” to read the eBay news or to post on my own blog because I am losing my fight against the battle of the eBay glitches.
The number of known ebay system technical glitches has gone from about 12 known problems for us with 1 or 2 new problems a week to more than half a dozen new listing problems a day, especially in the area of bulk relisting. It seems we are living in a nightmare. Because we were spending half our day on the phone with eBay reporting the problems, they gave us a special person to email to report the problems as they occurred. Just SOME of the problems:
* Errors are received indicating that some of the items we are attempting to relist cannot be relisted because the shipping costs are not specified. These items do have the shipping costs specified and we have been listing / relisting / selling simliar of the same exact items for months.
* At times, we attempt to bulk relist and about 50% of the items come back with the error “This item cannot be processed or relisted due to a system error”. No specifics are given. Interestingly, some of the times the items are actually relisted even though the error is displayed. Of course, we have to be careful not to relist items we thought were NOT relisted (due to system error) or else we would have the same item listed twice. Not so good for inventory management.
* Another error we receive when attempting to bulk relist is “The item specifics of the item above have been updated. You may want to review the listing before relisting…” This error specifically occurs for listings where the item specifics are custom fields. There is nothing wrong with the item specifics. We are told that if we individually go in and “pretend” like we are revising the item even though we do not actually revise anything then after “revising” each individual listing we can then bulk relist. Hmmm….. and how is that any different from manually relisting each individual item? It still takes an enormous amount of time to manage the tedious job of manually relisting items where there is no actual item specifics error.
I have given just a few examples of some of the technical glitches we are experiencing. We are losing the battle to manage our eBay listings because of all the problems the eBay site is encountering. They are changing their coding so quickly that the errors just seem to multiply like rabbits.
Now, in addition to losing the battle of the eBay glitches, we are struggling to hang in to fight the battle of the “new” bidders. I’ll give an example. On one of our eBay selling IDs, we offer shipping only to the U.S. because our intent is to discount the stale inventory items significantly to move them on and to do so with the least effort possible. International shipping takes a great deal of effort and there is much more risk involved. For many reasons we do not sell internationally on that account. And we use eBay’s bidder requirements to block bidders who are outside the United States. But because we sell the items so cheaply, there are many buyers who will try to force us to sell to them even when we have stated that we do not want to. This includes bidders who are international as well as bidders who we have previously blocked.
Today we are battling one bidder from Indonesia who has attempted to bid on our auctions a few times with a new eBay ID and eBay continues to suspend each of his new IDs. But, of course, each time someone else is a high bidder for a few hours or days then the Indonesia bidder is the high bidder but when eBay cancels his bids then the previous high bidder is notified they are the high bidder again. The bidders are getting confused and nervous and are concerned there is something we are doing wrong to cause them to be receiving so many conflicting messages.
Today we were notified that the Indonesia bidder registered a new eBay ID with a U.S. address then won three of our items. He then changed his shipping address back to his original Indonesia address and demanded that we quote him an airmail shipping price for all the items he won. Never mind that the items he won were too heavy to ship airmail to Indonesia and we clearly state that we do not ship outside the U.S. and this bidder worked around the eBay system to purchase our items.
There are a great many “new” zero feedback bidders on eBay. Some of them are probably new to eBay. Some of them may have eBay accounts that have previously received neutrals and/or negatives and so their feedback percentage is really low and these buyers probably have started over on eBay with a new ID so that they can obtain a 100% feedback rating. And then, some buyers are creating new IDs to get around buyer requirements or because too many sellers have blocked their eBay ID and by starting over they can go back to buying from the very sellers they abused because their new ID is not blocked. I’m sure all these new bidders will be hailed by eBay as a great increase in new bidders which eBay will interpret to mean that their new seller policies (beating sellers over the head with a carrot tied to the end of a stick) are working exactly as they had hoped.
We are still fighting the battle to sell on eBay but we’re losing ground. Thank goodness our efforts elsewhere are paying off so that overall we are successfully managing our online sales. Our sales on Amazon have doubled each month for the last three months. We have 100% feedback on Amazon and no customer complaints. In fact, we have had no emails from customers at all. No one asking what we charge for shipping; no one emailing to tell us they can’t pay; and nobody emailing after the fact asking for a partial refund so they can get the item at a cheaper price.
I am not sure what eBay can and will do to make it possible for sellers to remain on eBay but I know they must act quickly. Sellers cannot continue to work harder and harder for less money on eBay. There is a limit and many sellers have already crossed that threshhold of eBay pain they can endure. eBay may be able to dole out enough coupons to keep buyers happy since the buyers can continue to purchase the product cheaper on eBay but at some point the sellers will have exhausted all means of fighting the battle. And without sellers, the coupons will be worthless to buyers who will have nothing to choose from on eBay.