eBay Goes Too Far with the New Seller Requirements

Posted on August 26, 2008. Filed under: eBay | Tags: , , , , |

Within the last year, eBay developed a seller non-performance policy which they are now enforcing.  Directly from the eBay website:


eBay expects sellers to deliver a consistently high level of buyer satisfaction.

When a seller lists an item and a buyer purchases it, the seller and buyer have entered into a contract that both members are expected to honor. For sellers, this contract includes both formal requirements, as well as informal, common-sense obligations to provide good service to their buyers. 

Sellers who do not fulfill these requirements and obligations are not honoring their contract and create a bad buyer experience.  Sellers who generate excessive bad buyer experiences relative to their selling volume are at risk of violating the seller non-performance policy.   

Buyer experiences are reflected in areas such as Feedback (including overall scores and detailed seller ratings), as well as item not received or item significantly not as described disputes.

Source: http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/seller-non-performance.html  


Under the current standards, to continue as a seller on eBay, one must make greater than 95% of the buyers satisfied.  An “unsatisfied” buyer, according to eBay is one

(a) who leaves a negative feedback or
(b) who leaves a “1” or “2” Detailed Seller Rating in any of the four areas or
(c) a buyer who files a claim of nonreceipt of the item or item significantly not as described. 

A seller who has too high of a dissatisfaction rate faces short-term restrictions and then ultimately suspension.  One would think the stringent seller non-performance rule would be enough to keep out the poor performing sellers.  But, according to eBay, these requirements are not enough.   Beginning November 1, 2008 eBay will require all sellers to have a minimum of 4.3 Detailed Seller Rating in every area.  


New Requirement copied directly from the eBay website:

What are the minimum DSR requirements to list on eBay?
Starting November 1, 2008, in order to list, sellers must have a minimum of 4.3 over the past 30 days in all four detailed seller ratings (DSRs): item as described, communication, shipping time, and shipping and handling charges. Sellers with less than 10 DSRs over the past 30 days will be evaluated on their DSRs over the last 12 months.

Is this new Seller Standards policy likely to impact a large number of sellers?
No. The vast majority of sellers on eBay, about 96%, have DSRs at or above 4.3. The main purpose of this new policy is to protect the interests and reputation of that large majority from the impact of the few sellers whose customer satisfaction levels are below a reasonable standard.

What happens to sellers who do not meet the DSR requirements by November 1, 2008?
Sellers who do not meet the requirement will be blocked from listing on eBay.com, eBay Motors Parts & Accessories, and Half.com.

What does it mean to be “blocked” from selling? Is this the same as suspension? How long will a seller be blocked?
Sellers not meeting the standards will not be allowed to list, but will not be suspended. Sellers will continue to be blocked from listing as long as their DSRs do not meet the 4.3 minimum standard. Blocked sellers may list items again once their DSRs meet or exceed the threshold. Blocked sellers can accomplish this in the following ways:

  • Complete current transactions successfully and receive high DSRs
  • If 12-month DSRs are above the minimum standard, wait for low DSRs over the last 30 days to roll off until the 30-day DSRs are above the threshold or a full 30-days have passed
  • If 12-month DSRs are below the threshold, wait until low DSRs to roll off

Will existing listings of sellers falling below 4.3 DSRs be removed from the site?
No, existing listings will not be removed but sellers will be blocked from new listings and from relisting, and Good ’til Cancelled listings will not renew. Blocked sellers are encouraged to complete existing listings and earn high DSR scores to meet the minimum standards and regain listing privileges.

What happens to sellers who meet the thresholds by November 1st, 2008, but fall below the threshold in the future? Will I have an opportunity to improve or appeal?
Sellers will immediately be blocked from listing if they fall below the threshold after November 1st, 2008. Sellers will not be given warnings and opportunities to improve, but there will be an appeals process.

Source: http://pages.ebay.com/sell/August2008Update/OtherFAQ/#4    


The “new” seller requirements begs the question “Why?” 
Why are the new requirements necessary?

(1) There is already a seller nonperformance policy to measure buyer dissatisfaction and to restrict and/or suspend nonperforming sellers  

(2) eBay has publicly stated many times that anyone with a 4.3 or below MUST be receiving some “1” and / or “2” ratings since 70% of ratings left by buyers are “5”  (note that there is no transparency so sellers do not know the ratings used to obtain their DSR averages; only eBay has that information)  

(3) If 4.3 ratings are the result of “1” and “2” ratings, as eBay has publicly stated, then the seller nonperformance policy would already account for those dissatisfied buyers  

So, I ask the question again — Why are the new requirements necessary?  The answer is this:  

eBay is hell bent on reducing the shipping costs that sellers charge and they are so focused on achieving that objective that they will do whatever it takes, including ruining the eBay marketplace, to make it happen.  The new DSR 4.3 seller requirement is just another way in which eBay is attempting to FORCE sellers to reduce their shipping costs.  Let me explain:  

Almost every eBay seller’s lowest DSR is the fourth criteria – Shipping and Handling Charges.  eBay has publicly acknowledged that the Shipping DSR is the lowest for most sellers, a random review of sellers’ feedback profiles will easily confirm this, and the average DSR rating for EVERY category for the top 500,000 sellers on eBay.com shows that the fourth DSR is the lowest for every single category.  Not one exception.  See the Seller Dome website for confirmation ( Click here for SellerDome

So, then, eBay’s intent with this new DSR minimum requirement is to punish sellers who otherwise have a good buyer satisfaction rate but who won’t lower their shipping costs to achieve more “5” ratings in the Shipping and Handling Detailed Seller Rating criteria.  These sellers are NOT getting the “1” or “2” ratings or else they would be failing the seller performance requirement of having 95% + satisfied buyers.  No, these sellers are the ones who ARE likely getting more “4” ratings than eBay would like for them to receive.   According to eBay, the small percentage (about 4%) of sellers who will be impacted by this new DSR minimum are causing unhappiness with their low DSR ratings.  How many more are on the edge and are just slightly above the minimum required?  I personally know of a seller who currently has a 30-day DSR rating for Shipping & Handling of 4.31 and will thus be very near facing possible sanctions in November.  I know what she sells, I know what she charges for shipping and handling, I know how she packages and I would say without hesitation that she is a top eBay seller that eBay should be begging to stay on the site.  Her profile looks like this:  

Feedbacks received 2,990
Feedback percentage 100%
12-month DSRs of 4.9, 4.9, 4.9, 4.6
No disputes in paypal  

Now, let’s just say that her 30-DSR dropped to below the minimum allowed (which would probably only take one or two DSRs of 4) and she were restricted from listing anything new and/or from revising any current listings.  Just how does eBay expect her to raise her DSRs?  Anyone who has already purchased an item but not yet left feedback or makes a new purchase will be leaving feedback based on the shipping charge that was already entered at the time of the listing.  How is it realistically possible to change the shipping cost AFTER a buyer has purchased?  Without lowering the shipping cost (assuming the seller is even able to absorb the loss in shipping cost), how does eBay propose that this seller raise the Shipping & Handling DSR for her 30-day period?     So, while the seller is waiting for the low DSRs (ie “4” ratings) to fall off, she is completing the sales and shipping items already purchased and being purchased while she cannot list new items.  So then new “4” DSRs get entered which then just continues to stretch out the time she is unable to list.  She may get a brief day or two where more “4” DSRs than “5” DSRs fall off and she can list but then she is back to the vicious cycle again in another day or two.  

eBay is telling the seller community that this is not the type of seller they want — someone with 100% feedback and with DSRs of 4.9 in all other areas is not welcome to sell on eBay because the buyers have determined that her Shipping and Handling Cost is “Reasonable” (rating of 4) rather than “Very Reasonable” (rating of 5).   The new DSR minimum requirement is all about forcing sellers to adopt free shipping or incredibly low cost shipping and those who won’t comply, those who simply cannot afford to lose money on postage, are being shown the door. 

There are so many things that eBay could and should do to “improve the buyer experience” but forcing good sellers off the site makes absolutely no sense to me.  In my opinion, eBay has such a myopic focus about Shipping and Handling charges that one has to wonder if they are not irrationally driven in their attempts to force shipping costs lower on eBay.   

Setting minimum seller standards I can understand.  Requiring sellers to make 95%+ of buyers “happy” is admirable.  On the other hand, forcing good sellers who are providing an above average buyer experience to leave eBay because they won’t offer low or no cost shipping is just plain ignorant.  eBay is attempting to force good sellers to conform, in effect by asking them to make bad business decisions.  If more than 95% of the buyers are happy with a seller, as indicated by all three performance measurements established by eBay, then a seller who gets restricted for 4.3 DSR in Shipping and Handling Cost is prohibited from listing only because they are not making eBay Inc. happy.   eBay satisfaction trumps buyer satisfaction beginning November 1, 2008 when these new seller requirements will be enforced.


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26 Responses to “eBay Goes Too Far with the New Seller Requirements”

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The real problem with the changes is the simple fact that EBAY TELLS THE BUYER A 4 MEANS THEY WERE SATISFIED WITH THE TRANSACTION.

They say a 4 means the description was accurate, the communication was good, the shipping was fast and they are satisfied with the shipping costs.

Then, they penalize the sellers who get 4’s.

The double speak is what is wrong with the system. WE are left begging the buyers to be fair.

The whole SNP policy is a joke. The DSR requirement isn’t the worst part. The worst is their blatant lie that neutrals would no longer count as part of the SNP. After all, they aren’t negative anymore, right? They changed the FB scores back.

In other words…wait until the 100% rating sellers start getting SNP warnings due to neutrals on their account that were supposed to be neutral and not negative.

Ebay is losing sellers left and right already as a result of them voluntarily leaving. Go ahead and boot the others who still provide good service. Ebay has been making bad changes for the last 2 years but the changes made in the last 3-4 months are the ones finally starting to break their back financially, stock price wise, sellers leaving, etc. They dug their own grave.

I also love how they mislead sellers by the whole non-suspension thing….”we won’t suspend sellers if they fall under 4.3.”

No…maybe not…but here is the likely scenario. A seller gets under 4.3…..he has 100 current listings up. He cannot relist. Let’s be honest….if you get under 4.3….there is nothing you will be able to change in those remaining auctions that will get you back above 4.3. You likely would have to lower shipping costs, ship faster, mod your auction description, etc.

So now those 100 don’t get you better DSR’s….and everyone rolls off eventually meaning you have less thsn 10 DSR’s in one month….and if you have an overall DSR of less than 4.3 you are now gone for a year.

Trust me…once most sellers hit that 4.3, they won’t be coming back for a year.

‘eBay satisfaction trumps buyer satisfaction beginning November 1, 2008 when these new seller requirements will be enforced.’

At some point, stockholder dissatisfaction has to trump this management team.

With each change the eBay management team gets closer to diminishing returns because of the ongoing manipulation of the very people who generate the revenue.

Like all their changes, I’m not worried. This is just another unwise, un-thoughtout decision that will be reversed when it doesn’t work. I’m hanging in until the end of year, partly out of curiousity and mostly in the hope John Donahoe gets the boot and Ebay will return to it’s roots.

I do not understand their new obsession with FREE shipping/handling — there is no place in the world that offers free shipping just in general and overall! If they are trying to be a leader and create this as the new default for Amazon and others to follow, should they not be offering *incentives* for sellers to do this instead of punishments? I know buyers detest paying for shipping and handling, I am none too fond of it myself, but it is part of buying something online, regardless of where it gets purchased. There are plenty of websites and catalogs that offer “free” shipping once a certain order amount is met, but eBay appears to want FREE shipping/handling just as the rule for every transaction, and I really have to wonder what business model they are following or hoping to establish.


eBay Inc and/or its Directors & founder own a majority of eBay’s common stock. I believe Pierre is still the majority owner.

As of December 31 2007 eBay had rebought $3.2 billion of common stock in a program approved in July 06.

As of February 08 there were approximately 4600 stockholders of record of which I was one. I consider myself fortunate to have unloaded at a time when I broke even.

A corporation which does not have to listen to its customers or stockholders is not a good investment.

I’m confused! I thought eBay did away with seller feedback manipulation when they stopped allowing sellers to sell digitally delivered e-books. Instead, eBay has opened another door to feedback (DSR) manipulation, but it is expensive for the seller.

eBay’s “fix” for an “unsatisfactory” shipping DSR is to offer free shipping. Okay. Let’s say I want to manipulate my unsatisfactory shipping DSR by offering free shipping. I list several items with free shipping at the fixed price of $1.00 (eBay insertion fee of $.35 and final value fee of $.09). If the packaged item weighs 8 ounces, my small box, packing material, tape and label will cost approximately $.60 and First Class shipping would cost $2.36. So my total cost would be $.35 + $.09 + $.60 + $2.36 for a total cost of $3.37 and most likely I’ve lost money on the sale of the item at $1. I have no guarantee that the buyer will post any feedback at all or post feedback of 5 for shipping. In fact, because shipping cost them nothing, they may not rate the shipping DSR at all because the buyer thinks the shipping cost doesn’t apply. AND, I’ve also paid $35 insertion fee for all the items that did not sell.

I suppose the feedback manipulation for the shipping DSR depends on how badly a seller wants to sell on eBay.

Thanks Henrietta.

I’m by no means an expert on the stock market and that certainly explains why there is not more outrage from shareholders.

When I was a kid, and got into trouble and then lied about it, my grandpa used to tell me that there was no one more deluded than those who delude themselves….. I feel like I’m watching that adage play out on all fronts with eBay.

As an ebay member of 8 years in total, a seller for 5 of those years and a business / powerseller for most of that time, I’ve had enough of it all. It feels too much like my previous life of working for another faceless corporate again.

Heaven knows I’ve tried, but it’s becoming so complex to actually get your items seen and sold that it’s no longer worth the time or the effort.

The future is your own web site, where you call the shots, you run it how you see fit, the cost in money is much less to sell although it takes time and effort, that I have plenty of.

For those considering getting out of ebay, just do it, what appears to be a selling platform is actually little more than a prison in which they’ll suck you dry of money, ideas and most of all motivation.

The worst part of all is the most fundamental – ebay does not even have the concept that it owes fair treatment to its customers as individuals. They see nothing wrong with instituting policies and enforcing them by computer. That the policies are stupid only increases the injury. They simply don’t care how many good sellers who have done nothing wrong are destroyed through the malice of a competitor or a single pyschotic buyer. They just don’t care. Sellers only exist as aggregate numbers in thier minds, never individuals.

I think you’re all missing the point. Ebay does not make money on your shipping and handling charges. If they force you to offer “free” shipping you then have to move that cost into the price of the item from which they will now get a cut.

I sell an item at $9.99 plus $5.00 shipping. Ebay only gets their percentage from the $9.99. If I offer a bullshit “free shipping” and instead have to sell my item for $14.99 ebay now gets a percentage on the hidden shipping charge.

That is the real plan people.

I sold approx 65,000 items on FEEbay, have a 98+% feedback rating and currenly have $250K+ worth of equipment listed. Ebay and PayPal”s new policies are HORRIBLE. W e just got a merchant account and are migrating off of Ebay too and we are dealing with high margin items unlike most sellers. Ebay has shown time in and out that they do not care about the sellers or buyers. The time for competition is here and ebay’s days are numbered. They are but a junkyard with Gestapo squads as employees. it is a horrible place to buy and to sell, and wonder why the shareholders are not going for a “no confidence vote” for current management. FEEBAY please die and do it quickly.

eBay’s new dsr policy is absolutely ridiculous: you have all made great points, but to me the most baffling is that a 4 is considered “satisfied” . A seller could have 1000 positive feedbacks, a 100% pos feedback standing and all “satisfied” customers and be removed from the site for being a bad seller. How dare eBay mislead buyers into choosing 4 stars out of satisfaction and punish the seller thereafter. If a satisfied buyer doesn’t qualify the seller as a quality vender, then i don’t know what does. This is like an abusive father who criticizes his son for getting a 95 on a test. I hope the influx of angry emails, phone calls and severe loss in generated revenue this round of B.S. causes will have eBay eating there words like when they FINALLY noticed that A neutral feedback shouldn’t count as a negative a couple months back. GEE WHIZ guys, who would have thought ?

I closed my ebay business down last month, DSRs and SNP being the primary reason. I was one of the sellers with 99.4% feedback and 1476 positives . However the nature of my wares as well as the high cost of shipping and logistics inherently account for some lower DSRs.It takes only a couple low ratings to get an account restricted. 30 days with no revenue is a death sentence. Most buyers dont understand that 4s Do not mean what they say they are actually unacceptable according to Ebay. I dont know about you but I eat at plenty of 4 star or less rated restaurants and I am a satisfied customer,Ebay logic would have these restaurants shut down unless they get 5 stars. That is insane , I was not a huge seller my average was around $6000 per month with a best of $14,000 ,but I worked my ass off for every penny. The fact that Ebay can just pull the plug at any moment using data that I do not even have access to is unbelievable, I figure I paid EBay and paypal over $25,000 over the past 4 years. Now I am out in the cold and Ebay has no remorse,The fact that my account is still active just adds insult to injury. If you are going to kill something at least have the decency to do it quickly , the 30 day restriction from selling is just cruel.

I just logged off from a chat with “Mike L.” on eBay after venting anger over my suprise seller restriction status. After basically telling me with an aloof, uninterested attitude, “hey, thats the policy and theres nothing he can do”, I told him that thats not an acceptable response and that HIS dsr ratings would suffer as a result. I’m a decent seller, 9 years-98% positives-2500+feedbacks, but I might as well be just some bum off the street as far as ebay is concerned. These people have taken the fine idea of a free and open marketplace, and worn it down to a an overregulated, gestapized nub that is a downright unpleasant place to work. I believe each day, with each new “improvement” that eBay makes to the marketplace, they are sliding down a hill that they won’t be able to climb up out of. They are also increasingly creating a vacuum into which a competitor with less regulatory fervor and incessant nitpicking will jump, and thrive. God willing.

They want sellers to give FREE shipping because they know that sellers offering free shipping will raise their price to cover this additional burden. Hence ebay gets their 12% of your “free shipping”. I ironic that they chastise sellers for excessive shipping charges (often incorrectly) yet have no qualms about making excessive profit off the “free” shipping component. Ten years on ebay and the current admin has made the site valueless to a majority of sellers. Way to go GREEDBAY

Yes… 8 Years on eBay with a 1378 100% positive feedback rating. Now because of a 4.1 “star” rating on my shipping charges, my listing ability is suspended. eBay indeed seems to be clueless regarding the metrics involved. 4.1 out of 5 stars? So I’m batting over 800 on the S&H issue, and that’s bad?!! eBay promotes this culture of cry babies who complain about handling charges by pushing the “free shipping” concept. Free shipping is a lie, plain and simple…. a “make people feel good” lie, but a lie, none the less. It costs time and money to ship, period. And eBay supposedly promotes “honesty,” that’s bull. I believe eBay’s ulterior motive in this is the ability to collect listing and final value fees on the amounts that a seller must charge in order to process an order, even when auction fails to produce an order, plain and simple. So, if I have an item that I’m willing to sell for 99 cents, but it’s going to cost me 7 bucks to process and ship the order, eBay would like me to list the item for 8 bucks and lie that S&H is “free.” This way they get to collect a listing fee based on a higher price, whether or not the item sells, and a final value fee on my shipping and handling costs if an item does sell. Isn’t that special? My operation has expenses of about 60 dollars per hour, or 1 dollar per minute to operate the office. Therefore, an order that takes me 5 minutes to process, costs me five bucks, add to that packaging and postage costs and I’m at about break even on “shipping.” A very small percentage of buyers have griped, but when I explain to them the costs involved with handling, to deliver their item in a safe and speedy manner, they usually seem to understand, and the matter is resolved. No one has ever lodged a formal complaint against me to eBay regarding this issue. Shouldn’t that be the basis for restricting free trade on eBay, unresolved complaints, that have specifics which can be proven? My S&H charge is the same amount that I charge on sales from my website to clients who pay 15 bucks for the item, which I start at a promotional 99 cent bid on eBay with a BuyItNow of 8 bucks. That’s right, a “below my cost” opening bid and a 50 percent discount to eBayers, many of whom come to eBay via a link from my website… and I’m being punished. Sellers are indeed being abused on eBay, and in these hard economic times, it’s insane that eBay is artificially restricting free trade. Just who is eBay, to tell me how to run my business, anyway? Seems to me that the IRS might be interested in eBay’s attempt to put a hand in the operation of my business. They are overstepping the line of business conduit, into partnership, and I don’t believe that it’s right. do so.

Ebay will not show you the DSR’s. Ebay itself is manipulating the DSR to avoid paying fee discounts they offer. I have proof. Yesterday 01/09/09 my DSR for shipping time was 4.91 today, the day they figure your discount, my shipping time dropped to 4.69. Now I had between 75 and 78 feedbacks in the past 30 days. we will say 78 just to be fair. On 01/08/09 I had 74 feedbacks with a score of 4.91. If you take 4.91 times 74 you get 363.34 Ok. Now if we take 363.34 and devide by 78 assuming the last four feedbacks were 0’S we get 4.65. pretty close to the 4.69 they say I dropped in one day. Now those four sellers, while knowing that they could be lying, left feedbacks say, “fast shipping, Best ebayer, etc, etc. I really dont think all of the sudden four very happy customers just decided to put 0″s in there. Is there any recousre to force Ebay to prove DSR’s are true or are we forced to take this crap. By the way the exact same thing happened last month on the exact day they determined my discount. Thgey gave me this mularky that one good DSR had dropped off and a bad one had just came on.

Suspect ebay of manipulations and fraud? I do.

Sign this petition to report them to the us attorney general and federal trade comission…who can investigate. Pass it on!!!


The reason why eBay has such an unreasonable shipping rating policy is because eBay is trying to force free shipping and discounted shipping in order to collect more fees from the seller. The lower the shipping cost is, the more the buyer can pay for the actual item, and thus the more FVF fees that eBay can collect. The problem is that eBay is not only making many of its customers miserable, it is forcing out more and more sellers of used items (like myself) and other sellers of items that have expensive shipping and handling costs.

Corey Chambers is a Trading Assistant on eBay with a Registered eBay Drop Off Location store in Santa Ana, CA. Corey offers free pick-up in Orange County, Los Angeles Downtown, Los Angeles West Hollywood, Long Beach, Torrance, Diamond Bar, Corona and Palm Springs, California. Call Corey Chambers at (714) 361-2655 or visit coreychambers.com

I am a small seller on ebay. I noticed recently for the first time my DSR ratings fall when I wasn’t even using my Ebay account, I’ve only been selling for about 10 months. My shipping suddenly dropped form 4.8 to 4.6. I always checked them after a sale too see if there was any change, they were always consitent in the past. Just makes me want to FART real loud in the closet

eBay is encouraging FREE shipping for one and ONLY one reason…

Ebay does not make a % of the shipping price from the seller -Only on the sales price of an item.

Give free shipping and people will spend a little more = Ebay makes more.

Even a small percentage of billions of dollars in sales equals a rise in Ebay’s profits.


It’s a consignment store I’m having trouble. Corey Chambers has told me on two occasions that he was processing my check. Three months have gone by and no check for a Mies van der Rohe table he sold for over 400 bucks. Now it looks like I got to sue the guy. He will not return email, or phone calls now.

Today All of my listings have been removed due to low seller performance ratings & I have been restricted indefinitely even though I have a 100 percent feedback with 242 feedbacks. Lower your shipping so you have to raise the item cost, so ebay can get more money. The greed of ebay will be their downfall

Yes, free shipping that is what ebay want you guys to do, look at Amazon free 2 days shipping from prime customers.

I hope there is another company to replace ebay and paypal… no competition and they can do whatever they want to do.

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