eBay Sellers: We are Not Alone

Posted on October 1, 2008. Filed under: eBay | Tags: , , |


A few days ago I wrote a post detailing my experiences with eBay Powerseller (Top Seller) Phone Support in an article titled Sometimes No Information from eBay is Better than Misinformation.  Yesterday, I received a phone call from my assigned TSAM and, in my opinion, we had a nice conversation.  He introduced himself, explained to me why he had not called sooner, and then we had what I would call a good conversation for half an hour.  I learned that my TSAM has 162 accounts that he manages and he did have some real-world experience before going to work for eBay.  He manages two Silver Powerseller accounts and genuinely seems like a nice guy.  After our conversation, he sent me his contact information including phone number and email address.  It will be interesting to see how it goes with this new TSAM and I am actually hopeful that it will work out. 

Later, I reflected back on the conversation and thought about how very different my opinion was about eBay Customer Support after I talked to my assigned TSAM versus the opinion I had when talking with the extremely rude eBay Rep the day before.  Just like eBay buyers can get two completely different experiences when they buy from eBay from two different people, sellers can get two completely different experiences when they deal with eBay Powerseller Support.  Unlike sellers on eBay who are rated by buyers, the TSAMs are not rated by their “customers”, the sellers whom they are employed to help.  I am sure that most of the eBay customer service employees are nice people but the few who are intentionally rude are not held accountable since we, as customers, do not get the opportunity to rate them so nobody but us is aware of their incompetence.  And, given the extremely tough time eBay is going through right now, I am sure there are nice folks in customer support who are near the breaking point and treat sellers in ways they might not otherwise be inclined to treat them.  eBay customer service reps can treat sellers with disrespect because, when it comes to eBay and the way it views its own customers (you know, the sellers who pay eBay), the customer is not always right.  Even when the customer is not right, they still deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.  eBay sellers have been treated very poorly for years.

I think that is one reason why so many sellers read my blog and email me — because they can identify with what I am writing because what I am experiencing is not unusual… it is the norm.  However, eBay would have us all believe that the poor experience we are having or the problems we are experiencing with eBay seller support staff are only unique to us. 

I remember calling in to eBay tech support a few years ago and carefully explaining a technical problem I was having.  The Powerseller Rep put me on hold to talk to Tech Support and then came back on the line to tell me that he couldn’t take down a written report of the problem I was having because it had not been reported to Tech Support.  I calmly explained that I was reporting the problem and I walked him through it so that he could recreate the issue (which he did).  But he kept insisting that until Tech Support had one report on file that he couldn’t add my name to that list of people experiencing the problem.  He told me that because I was the only one experiencing the problem that it was not a priority to work on.  I tried explaining to him that perhaps I was just the first one to report it and that if they don’t document the first person who reports it then every other person who calls in would be told that they, too, were the only one experiencing the problem.  He seemed really puzzled as to what to do but, as an eBay employee, he did what he was told and he did not take down a report of the problem.  He suggested that I call back again in about a week to see if anyone else had reported the problem by then.

Through the years, eBay has continually failed to validate my concerns much less be responsive to them.  And I am not alone and I know that.  Yesterday, I received an email from a fellow seller.  The email is being posted here with the permission of the seller, but I have removed identifying information from the email, at their request to protect the seller’s identity.   Note that I have verified the information about the seller – they do have the feedback and the DSRs that they claim and they do appear to be a Plantinum level Powerseller based on the completed sales that I can view.

*****************************Beginning of Email****************************************

“I read and enjoy your blog everyday, but this is the first time I’ve emailed you.

I am an ebay platinum powerseller and have been selling on ebay since early 2001.  I have more than 13,000 positive feedbacks and all my DSRs are 4.9 or above.

I was struck today by your comments concerning how belligerently and rudely you were treated by your TSAM. Your experience sounds exactly like the jerk I’ve been assigned to who routinely makes wild, unsubstantiated accusations against me that have no basis in fact whatsoever. He *really* sounds like someone with a major mental illness on those occasions I’ve spoken to him on the phone.

For example, when I complained about ebay’s new feedback policy, he said my complaint really meant I that approved of rude, retaliatory seller feedback.  When I complained about how ebay was routinely mangling photos or how photos were literally disappearing from listings, he said ebay has probably removed them
because I’d stolen them from another seller’s listing. He refused to understand that the issue was technical, not one for trust and safety.

When I complained several months ago when customers told me one weekend the star rating system was malfunctioning, he accused me fabricating the entire story and demanded copies of the emails I received from customers which I refused to provide. Of course, ebay had already admitted the star thing was malfunctioning, but this TSAM kept telling me I was lying. so I emailed him the links the ebays
announcements about this technical issue and asked for an apology. I received nothing from him.

Finally after 3 or 4 conversations with this guy that my blood pressure rise, I told him NEVER to call me again. I want a written record of his communications.  Since then, he refuses to answer my emails.

His name is [name removed], and I’m wondering what if anything we as sellers can do to get rid of these jerks. Ebay management would not tolerate being treated like this for one second so why should we?

Dealing ebay is a like a bad episode of the “Twilight Zone.” I honestly think [name removed] is a narcisstic sadist and should be interrogating terrorists not ‘helping’ sellers. He hasn’t been of any value or assistance to me whatsoever except to try to deliberately antagonize me.

And, yes, I’m multichannel and will be more so next year.

Thanks for your time.”

************************End of Email*********************************************

What is most interesting about the email I received is that this Platinum Level Powerseller’s TSAM is the SAME person I spoke with.  Unbelievable!  Two long-term Powersellers with great feedback had terrible experiences with the same TSAM.  Perhaps we are both troublemakers or perhaps it could be that we both expect to be treated with respect by someone who is knowledgable. Or, for that matter, someone who will get the correct answers.  Instead, we are frustrated when that person fails to provide even the basic level of customer service to us and, in fact, blames us for the problem(s) we are experiencing. 

What I would like to see is eBay sellers given the opportunity to rate our Customer Service Reps.  How about giving us a system like buyers have – part of the feedback we leave can be seen by the customer service rep and then part of the rating should be anonymous?  Let us sellers tell you whether you are providing quality customer service to us.  It would be easy, then, to determine which customer service reps are providing the highest quality service.  On Amazon, when a rep answers my question over the phone a case is opened and then I am sent an email asking if the Rep satisfactorily resolved my issue.  It doesn’t take but just a minute for me to respond.  I don’t need a long drawn-out survey from eBay, just let me say ‘yea or nay’ as to whether the Rep was helpful when I asked for asssistance and then once a month let me rate my TSAM so that eBay can get some feedback about the service that their Reps are providing to the Seller Community.

If eBay truly wants buyers to have a good experience on eBay, they absolutely must provide quality support to the sellers.  The sellers ultimately determine whether a buyer’s experience on eBay is a positive one or not and for eBay to create a platform that is technically unworkable for sellers and to have customer service reps treat good sellers with such disrespect and not provide answers to sellers is certainly not going to create an environment where the buyer is going to have a great experience.  Everyone knows that you reap what you sow. 

In my opinion, eBay will never be able to provide quality customer service until they admit there is a problem.  The norm is that eBay sellers are given misinformation or no information at all.  When sellers were making money on eBay they tolerated the poor customer service from eBay.  The margins on eBay now are so small and the problems on eBay are so big that sellers are no longer keeping quiet about their frustrations and their poor treatment.  But sellers who have never made noise before are speaking out now.  Every day I hear from sellers, most of whom are truly outstanding sellers whose feedback is amazing and who are obviously successful on eBay.  These are the sellers who are complaining now and eBay should take notice because each of us know that we are not alone now. 

When we each reflect on our own experiences with eBay, we are now much more aware that others just like us have the same opinion about eBay because their experiences are similiar to ours.  And it is not possible anymore for eBay to cover up the problems through a Public Relations approach.  eBay has real problems with customer service and addressing that problem is the ONLY thing that will reverse the bad PR eBay is getting.    Every eBay seller deserves at least a basic level of support where their emails are actually read and answered with a relevant response, at a minimum.  Just like eBay has minimum performance standards now for its sellers, so should eBay have minimum standards for its own customer service. 


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11 Responses to “eBay Sellers: We are Not Alone”

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Brews ~ See that? All it takes is a highly visible blog with a large following, and you’re assigned to that “ONE” TSAM who knows how to smooth the ruffled feathers of high profile, vocal sellers. Congratulations! eBay still has pathetic customer support.

Considering management’s attitude toward all sellers, any system to realistically rate eBay reps would be filed under whining.

Super blog. Even tempered and fair.

I was one who used to defend eBay’s actions and presume thier intentions were both honorable and with good intent.. I am en Education Specialist so it was only natural to keep a positive attitude.

I now have serious questions about their actions. If they are in fact still honorable and with good intent, then they are horrifically administered. I used to say that I doubt that I could do better with such a huge marketplace to manage, but I don’t doubt it anymore. Many of us could do better, with just plain common sense.

I have geared down my classes to only those previously scheduled and do not know when or if I will continue being an E.S. As with your sample letter, I am multi-chanelling and coonsidering developing freelance classes to teach those other channels.

I don’t know where the fault lies. Was it in motion before the management change or a result of the change, but something needs to change dramtically and quickly.

Good thing I am not teaching typing, though.

Gail, it might be that I am vocal but it could also be that this TSAM has experience selling some of the same product that I do and has been a seller about as long as I have. It seems more like they matched me up with somebody who might specifically be able to assist me based on my eBay profile.

My TSAM has only introduced himself to me and he seems like a nice guy. I haven’t asked anything of him yet so I don’t know how it will go.

I agree that eBay has pathetic customer support and I am doing what I can to help people who contact me. I run my own business though and I am not an eBay employee so I can only do so much behind the scenes.

I called PS support the other day after getting conflicting reasons as to why a listing we had was removed. Each time I’d call, I get a different rep and as usual a different reason. On the last call, I was rudely confronted with the statement that “I had already called 7 times regarding the situation and that it better stop!” WHAT? Am I only allowed to call Powerseller support once without being threatened? I was told to write T&S and then I was told by T&S to write Vero and then Vero told me to write T&S. At this point, I had enough of the rude behavior of the Rep and lashed back. I stated that the reason that eBay is failing is because it seems that no one actually knows what the heck is going on. That’s apparent when the listing was removed and no one can give “honest” specifics or the specifics conflict. I instructed her to visit the Powersellers Discussion Board to understand why eBay in in the shape it’s currently in, why so many sellers are leaving eBay for other venues, why sales are down due to a broken Best Match, the alarming rate of UPI’s occurring on a daily basis while eBay continues to profit from UPI’s and sellers continue to lose money. It’s time that eBay take a real hard look at the current situation and find a remedy before eBay finds themselves in the same status as those failed banks. Street.

I don’t use the PowerSeller support that much but I’ve always been treated well. Still, the rancor over Ebay is going to kill it. I’ve been a seller for almost 8 years-never had a complaint-until John Donahoe came on board.

I really wonder what world this guy lives in. He reminds me of the nasty villains Vincent Price used to play. I couldn’t wait until the end when the good guy destroyed him. You can’t treat your fellow brothers and sisters this way and succeed! The Ebay brand is strong but it’s weakening by the second.

Maybe the nastiness is caused by conflict, frustration and confusion within eBay itself. When I spoke to T&S during eBay live you could see that they wanted to say more than they were, but they had to walk the company line. You can not see that by e-mail and sometimes can not pick it up from the phone.

I would bet many are unhappy within eBay as well. I hope they have “an awakening” soon.

Brews ~ I meant no disrespect toward you.

My point was, only after you lit a fire under eBay with your blog entries, did they manage to ‘match’ you with one of their better TSAMs. I’m glad that you may have finally gotten through to them, but your recent experience is not the norm. eBay Customer Service, at any level, is no better for the rest of us now than it was six months or three years ago. It’s getting worse.

Steve ~ I agree with your reasoning. I believe management is no better at communicating within eBay than it is with us. Imagine trying to sound knowledgeable when you haven’t been told what the rule change of the day is. Imagine trying to project assurance when you disagree with the policies you do know. Imagine trying to be confident when you know there’s a layoff hanging over your head. Sad.

Gail, I didn’t take any offense. I just wanted to make it clear that I don’t think that me being vocal about eBay is going to win me any favoritism with them.

I blog because it benefits me, not because it hurts eBay’s reputation. Like most eBay sellers I am frustrated and blogging is a healthy release for me. What I say is very unflattering to eBay most of the time but I don’t write it to be vengeful but rather to shed light on the true practices.

You people are “lucky” you have support. Not everyone is a Powerseller you know, and those that are not, like myself, have nothing. Not, that after reading all this I can honestly say you have anything to be considered “useful”.

our poor TSAM has been converted into a complaint box. He only has vague answers, many times incorrect, to our very specific questions ex, BDR rate and its calculation, best match, etc… He claims San Jose does not give them (the tsams) the information they need to do their job. I am very angry with ebay for what has been a hellish year, I dont know if my company will survive the changes, we are attempting multichannel, but nothing gives us the volume like ebay. Amazon cs has not been much better so far.

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