New eBay Format for the Invoice Request Further Severs Buyer-Seller Relationship

Posted on October 8, 2008. Filed under: eBay | Tags: , , , |

Recently, I wrote about eBay Removing All Traces of Sellers in the New Invoice Format Sent to Buyers

Now, eBay is further attempting to sever the relationship between buyers and sellers in creating a new format for the Invoice Request that is sent from buyers to sellers. 

Sometimes buyers purchase an item on eBay and have a question after they purchase but before they pay.  For example, a buyer who purchases 10 items may want to purchase more items and pay for them all at one time to take advantage of combined shipping savings.  With the 10-limit rule, the buyer has to communicate with the seller before being allowed to purchase additional items.  This is often the case for international buyers who want to purchase many items to save on shipping.  Also, sometimes buyers ask if they can extend the time allowed for combining items for shipping or they ask about alternate shipping methods available, other than the choices listed, where the item would arrive to them by a specified date.

However, eBay has made it virtually impossible now for sellers to communicate with buyers.  Now, on the invoice request:

1. There is no eBay ID of the buyer so I would have to research to find the buyer ID and “hope” I would get the right buyer ID if the purchase is one made where I have multiple quantities listed.  It is not always easy to determine from a buyer’s name and shipping address who they are (eBay ID).  For example, if I have a quantity of 25 in the listing and 3 people from Germany have purchased 1 item each then I have a difficult time matching up which buyer from Germany is asking me a question on the invoice request now that there is no eBay ID listed and no return email address.
2. There is no way from the invoice request to initiate communication with the buyer (I understand eBay’s reason for no email address, even if I disagree, but there is no way to even respond to the buyer through the eBay messaging system).  Even Amazon allows communication between buyer and seller.
I am all for eBay working to eliminate unnecessary communication form buyers in advance of them purchasing.  Too many potential buyers email me with irrelevant questions or request for me to offer them a “deal” if they purchase multiples.  But when a buyer makes a purchase and sends me a request for invoice that includes a question then I am frustrated that I cannot easily communicate with the buyer.  Already it is frustrating for eBay sellers who must have the skills of a collection agency since eBay sellers often have to beg and plead buyers to pay for items that they have already purchased.  But now eBay makes it even more difficult for sellers to get paid.  The result will be an increase in unpaid item disputes and a descrease in the seller rating for communication which doesn’t sound like an improvement in buyer satisfaction to me. 

When I recently brought up this issue to our eBay TSAM, I was told that the solution was for me to send an invoice to the buyer by clicking the SEND INVOICE button and then I could add my response to the buyer’s question in the invoice notes.  However, if I answered in the affirmative in the invoice that I would agree to allow the buyer to extend the bidding or that I have exempted their eBay ID from the 10-limit rule then there are still three problems or possible problems:

1. The buyer may not read the notes in the invoice and assume incorrectly that because I sent an invoice rather than a correspondence through the eBay messaging system that I expected payment right away. 
2. The buyer who does read the message in the invoice may think that because I sent them an invoice I expect them to pay now and that I will simply hold their items and not ship them until they have finished bidding and ultimately make a second payment.  This, of course, would violate the Paypal requirement since I am not supposed to accept multiple payments for one shipment.  Ultimately I would have to refund multiple payments and explain to the buyer what the correct course of action is which would be frustrating for everyone and create a delay in my receiving payment and ultimately shipping the package.
3. If the buyer continues bidding and then wants to pay a combined invoice, they are unable to do so on their own.  Because I have already sent them one invoice, the buyer is unable to proceed automatically to eBay checkout and combine all items.  They must then request another invoice for me, requiring action on my part and the buyer must wait to pay for the items, thus increasing the possibility that the items will ultimately not be paid for.
Sadly, this means that in an effort to reduce the confusion for the buyer and to prevent even greater buyer dissatisfaction (as all three scenarios above will only result in a buyer who is ultimately less satisfied) then I must tell buyers that I cannot make any amendments to my stated terms.  In my adaptation to the change in the buyer request for invoice, all choices now make for a less satisfied buyer no matter what course of action I take.
I will say again what I have stated before — It is eBay’s direct actions that are causing buyer dissatisfaction.  There are plenty of reasons why buyers are leaving eBay in a mass exodus and eBay needs to take full responsibility for buyers leaving instead of blaming sellers for the woes.  eBay needs to focus less on trying to prevent transactions outside of eBay and telling sellers how to run their business.  Stop the insanity of demanding sellers offer free shipping for one thing.  Instead of fixing things that are not broken, eBay should be spending more time and money to make the eBay environment a great place for buyers and sellers so there would be a lot fewer eBay members heading for the door.  eBay’s solutions for the marketplace remind me of our current political climate — too much focus on negativity about the other candidate and personal attacks instead of focusing on the important issue of how to solve the current problems and crises. 

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3 Responses to “New eBay Format for the Invoice Request Further Severs Buyer-Seller Relationship”

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All this is simply disgusting. I am following the eBay Horror Story with interest. It is full of suspense: Will another site arise to which sellers can flee in order to escape eBay piggish nastyness,? Or will you all end up trapped in eBay, forever subject to arbitrary, indifferent managment?

I await the outcome with interest. I hope to God it is resolved positively before I have to begin selling stuff!

All the recent changes are a long-shot, desperate attempt to reverse eBay’s falling stock value. So far, the long-shot is proving to be only precipitating the fall.
Basically, eBay’s decided that auctions are passe and if they can’t compete with Amazon, they have not much to loose at this point. They know very well about sellers shifting their focus to other options, but they’re thinking, oh, well, it can’t get much worse than a $14 stock, we’re most likely done here unless a miracle happens and we can actually become an Amazon competitor, and so they’re focusing on acquisitions instead (they just bought a couple of advertising companies in Europe).
I think it will be several other companies that will fill out the gap once eBay becomes as “relevant” as is(because they’re NOT going to defeat Amazon). Amazon will continue to control the media categories, and other companies will do it right within their niche market, such as Etsy.

All I’m hoping for is 1 more year to continue with the volume we do on eBay, while continuing our transition to Amazon.

Another new trick that borders on a scam is grouping the purchased items under the seller’s id in a band at the top. It looks just like an invoiced sale, but it ain’t.
I just ordered two items from China, requested an invoice, and an hour or so later found the box that looks like an invoice. (Complete with one “pay now” button at the top) I clicked on “pay now,” completed checkout, then went to paypal. Surprise, surprise. There were two separate transactions.
It just ain’t fair.


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