eBay Enters the Customer Service Race to Win the Respect of Its Sellers

Posted on August 23, 2008. Filed under: eBay, eBayInkBlog | Tags: , , , , , |


It isn’t often that I have something complimentary to say about eBay so I thought I would warn you now – I actually intend on saying something nice about eBay in this blog post.   

I have to admit that these round of announcements, in which sellers were told about some major changes, was handled much more professionally and respectfully than previous announcements.  While I am still digesting the message itself and will be sharing more of my thoughts from a seller’s perspective about the upcoming changes, I will say now that I much prefer this method of communication from eBay in comparison to previous announcements.   

When eBay announced changes this week, they did several things:  

1. Significantly more “detail” was provided this time than in the past announcements.  For example, eBay announced a minimum 4.3 DSR standard for all sellers and then actually explained what sellers could expect to happen if they fall below the standard.  

2. Webinars were offered to members, two webinars were scheduled the same day as the announcement  

3. A special Workshop / Community Board was set up and staffed by eBay to answer real-time questions asked by concerned eBay members  

4. A Town Hall Meeting was held a few days after the announcements  

5. eBay employees involved in the decision-making process answered questions on the eBay sponsored blog , eBayInk Blog, as well as communicated directly with members via email and even by phone  

6. The message this time was less “harsh” in terms of changes being “absolute” and restrictive.  For example, for some changes occurring in October, eBay has said that they will not enforce the rules in terms of policy violation reports until after the holiday season so as not to disrupt sellers’ businesses during the busiest time of year.       

7. eBay invited members of the blogging community to San Jose to learn about the changes being announced
See Randy Smythe’s blog : My Blog Utopia


In my 10+ years as an eBay seller, I have never witnessed this kind of effort by eBay to reach out to the community.  Perhaps eBay has finally faced the reality of it all — they really do need us as much as we need them.  And perhaps eBay experienced for the first time something unique after the January announcements — more sellers have alternatives today and more sellers than ever before overcame their reluctance to try something new.  For example, in one of the small niche categories where I sell on eBay, there are only a handful of professional sellers.  I saw more than a few of my competitors set up shop on Amazon shortly after I did and I expect that, across the board, the same phenomenon occurred for lots of other categories as well.  

While eBay’s recent efforts are admirable, it will take time as well as more efforts like the ones this week in order to convince sellers that eBay is sincere.  As someone who has personally been kicked around more than once by eBay in the past 10 years, I will need to see a consistent effort over time from eBay before I am a believer.  It is not that I will ever forget the injustices or the disrespect or even the many times I have been ignored by eBay but I will acknowledge that this style of communication from eBay is a welcome change to what I have experienced in the past.   

My relationship with eBay is changing.  It used to be that I was forced to accept whatever changes were dictated because of my overdependence on eBay.   As time passes, though, and my dependence on the auction site lessens, the balance of power is changing.  eBay is going to have to work harder for my business if it wants me as a seller.  And I think eBay knows that.  eBay’s recent actions of reaching out to the community in an effort to more fully explain the upcoming changes is a step in the right direction. 

The biggest problem for eBay right now, though, is that they have a lot of ground to make up for and so they are going to have to make bigger strides with sellers if they want to close the gap.  While eBay’s largest competitor has consistently earned the gold medal award every day for customer service, eBay actually surprised everyone when it showed up to enter the race this week for the first time.  The question I have is this — Will eBay just stand around and flex their big muscles until the photographers finish taking pictures, and then walk away… or will eBay actually break a sweat to go the distance against the competition? 


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11 Responses to “eBay Enters the Customer Service Race to Win the Respect of Its Sellers”

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I have noticed an attempt by quite high level executives to reach out, I do see essentially the same parroting of the party line. ‘We hear you’ and look, we are writing to tell you why you are wrong in person.

Whoop de Poop.

Like to extend a personal invitation to you, come check out Bonanzle.com, I am not going to say more because I hate spamming comments but feel free to email me bananas@200westmaindotcom

Brews, I hate to say it, but I am seriously underwhelmed by many of the attempts to communicate.

Case in point: the announcement board. Not only was it open only during west coast business hours, but many, many posts were removed by moderators, despite the fact that most were calm, factual requests for information.

A post by me was removed because I pointed out blatantly incorrect information posted by a pink and called them on it. No vulgarity was used. A simple: this is incorrect and it was removed. Nothing that reflects badly on ebay was allowed to remain.

The other problem: once again, the media reported these changes hours before any official announcement. Not good enough and shows a blatant lack of respect for us.

Finally, the combative, harsh, and dare I say snarky posts made by Griff on that forum illustrate the contempt that most ebay employees feel for an average seller. They were disrespectful, dissmissive, and completely apathetic to the real harm these changes are doing to many OUTSTANDING sellers on the site. The people on that forum were not subpar sellers–they were nearly all excellent sellers with long established businesses on ebay. And they were were treated like criminals and / or infants who didn’t know what was in their own self interest.

” Town Hall Meeting was held a few days after the announcements ”

They get negative points for this one as well since the callers are always carefully screened and the answers are always less than helpful.

Case in point: concern about shipping magazines and the new media cap. One exec mentioned Bound Printed Matter rates as an option–something the PO is in the process of eliminating except by Permit only.

It further illustrated that the people making these policies have no clue what it costs to ship, what services are available, and how sellers on the site really do business.

communication that illustrates ignorance doesn’t qualify as ‘good customer service’ in my book.

I found eBay’s efforts at communication interesting.

For those who pay attention, it seemed like a step in the right direction and admirable, if minimal.

I think it will be more telling when these changes actually go into effect to see how eBay handles the thousands or perhaps millons of users who are not signed up to get eBay announcements, (let alone even know that there are discussion boards) who sign on one morning (as a buyer or a seller) thinking it is business as usual.

Will there be another informational cycle or will they take the approach that hey, we gave you a chance to get the information.

Me, I will never trust this company again to do anything in the best interests of the users.

Thankfully, the internet is a big place and amazingly, once one goes out an explores other options, the big bad gorilla that is eBay, doesn’t seem quite as strong and/or domineering anymore.

I just recently went to GoAntiques to check out their site as a sales venue. I decided I wanted to register,just to experience selling somewhere else.. There is no way to register directly on the site, you can only submit an application.I had no idea what was to come of the application, as many things like that on the internet sometimes don’t reply..So I mindlessly filled it out, left my work phone number, then clicked “send”.

The experience that followed was one that I will never forget as long as I am an antique dealer…

What blew me away, was that the “representative” called me the very next day (ON THE PHONE) to explain the site, how to register, and the pricing structure, and then proceeded to ask me what types of items I sell, and what my experience is in antiques and collectibles selling.

By then, I was bubbling and frothing at the mouth…I couldn’t believe any selling venue would be so nice as to try to get to know me, and my interests, even a LITTLE….and spend the time personally explaining what I had to do, to complete my registration.

I was so overwhelmed with the kindness and complete availability of help, for as long as I needed to ask questions, was offered. The fees are high, yes…but guess what?

I couldn’t wait to sign up! And when I got home I had 3 wonderful emails and more help and guidance offered!!I tell you, there is nothing like the real thing!

Customer service is not about “public announcements”. It’s about serving even your smallest customer by giving them just 30 minutes of your personalized time.

Ebay never came close to that,.and they never will. Anyone who experiences the “real thing” will instantly be made aware of how deficient and robotic ebay service is to it’s sellers, especially it’s smaller antiques and collectibles sellers.

I nearly choked on a forced BETA MY EBAY test that I could not get out of. I was thinking I would try selling again, even though I realized I was now a sitting duck for extorters and nutcases, and that my feedback would suffer the same slams as everyone else who bravely took that on the chin…but then 5 weeks of that, and all robotic replies to my cries for help. No one listened, and no one cared.

Is that customer service? Don’t think so.

Is that kind of service going to keep ebay users happy and remaining as sellers. Nope.

Is ebay going to lose customers to places who offer the best customer services to their sellers? You can bet your auction dollar on it.

They will be losing many now…it’s just a matter of time.

Huh? Quit drinking the Kool-Aid. The whole message board setup ended up being Ebay staffers ignoring valid questions and points. I also loved how this was announced to the media before it was announced to the community (at midnight?).

I think this latest feebay attitude toward sellers is a feeble attemt at foreplay!

I’ve become all too cynical to believe ANYTHING they say in any context…& if it is a veiled attempt to be “Nice” or Considerate it concerns me even more!!

Just wondering what the next changes will cost …what % of sales?

Will it come at the hands of feebay “Improvements” or from some scamming thief who wrecks my business as a part of his “Improved” buyer experience?

By the way, ever since I posted this comment, some ebay sellers received some phone calls from ebay reps. Couldn’t be a coincidence could it?

Turns out that their calls were just as “canned” as the emails we all get. That figures.

Auctionwally had some really good advice for ebay when it comes to customer service. I think someone who can read, should get a copy of his recent article and read it a few times. It might actually make lots of sense.

OCD, although I am certainly flattered that you think I have influence over eBay… it just ain’t so. I can’t imagine that there is any connection to your posting on my little-known blog and phone calls to eBay sellers.

OCD, one more thing… the blog article you actually posted to mentions that eBay is making phone calls to some sellers. So, if you posted a comment to that article then there could be no connection between your post and phone calls (made after your post) since the phone calls were occurring BEFORE my article was even written (which is why I made mention of them).

I am sorry to disappoint you, OCD, but I am not part of the eBay Conspiracy Theory.

[…] communication from eBay that is one of the most disturbing aspects to me.  In my blog post titled eBay Enters the Customer Service Race to Win the Respect of Its Sellers , I wrote about how eBay did make a concerted effort recently to better inform the community of […]

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