eBay July 2009 Announcements: It’s Just Water Off a Duck’s Back

Posted on July 28, 2009. Filed under: eBay | Tags: , , , |

ducksinpoolThis sure has been an interesting summer for me.  I have owned my home for more than 8 years and I have spent more time outside this one summer than I have all my previous summers. 

We live in a small neighborhood where the street winds around into a cul-de-sac in the back and another cul-de-sac is to the the right so there is no through traffic.  It is a rather small neighborhood.  One of the neighbors in the back of the cul-de-sac stopped last week while I was out in my front yard. 

My neighbor stopped to “welcome me to the neighborhood” and it took me 10 minutes to convince him that we have lived here more than 8 years.  Until this year, I always left in the morning before the sun was up and didn’t come home until very late in the evening.  I ended up explaining that we had made some changes, including a major change in our selling venues, which allowed me significantly more time to be home.  My kids were outside with me and later that evening at the dinner table we had a good laugh about being welcomed to the neighborhood.

I have been undertaking many outdoor home improvement projects this summer including getting a new fence put up, cutting down dead trees and getting new shrubs planted as well as getting my swimming pool re-plastered and re-tiled professionally as I am not skilled in swimming pool rennovation.  Remodeling the swimming pool was quite an event and I got more than I bargained for in the process.

One Saturday morning a crew showed up to retile my swimming pool.  They dug a hole underneath my backyard fence and ran a hose from the pool out to the front so that they could drain the pool.  It didn’t take long for all the water to disappear.  Then they spent the day scraping off the old tile and putting on the new tile.  The pool stayed empty for a few days.

A few days later a crew showed up at 6:15 am to replaster my pool.  Six guys worked 4 hours and transformed my pool into an amazing oasis.  They loaded up and left but were laughing when they drove off.  I looked out the window and was amazed at how beautiful my pool looked.  It would take about 24 hours for the water to fill up in the pool and I was instructed not to put any chemicals into the pool until it was filled with water. 

I walked outside into my backyard and then, all of a sudden, I realized why the crew had been laughing.  I saw a mother duck with four small baby ducks waddling all around my backyard.   The kids and I watched from the back porch as the baby ducks waddled all around.  Then the baby ducks headed for the pool area and I held my breath.  They waddled back and forth and one baby duck in particular teetered on the edge of the pool several times but always managed to walk away.  You can guess what happened next.  Yep, the baby duck fell over the edge and right into the pool.  

The kids and I ran down to the edge of the pool and the baby duck was walking all around below us in the pool trying to figure out how to get out of the pool (see insert picture) and was making lots of noise.  The mother duck went back to her nest and left me to deal with the baby duck in the pool while the other 3 baby ducks were waddling all around in chaos.  I used the pool net to fish out the baby duck and managed to get him turned loose without touching him.  But, by that time, two of the baby ducks had found the hole underneath the fence and were headed out to the street.

So, I put one kid out front to keep the 2 baby ducks from getting in the street and put the other kid on pool watch to try and keep the other ducks from falling into the pool.  My daughter couldn’t herd the 2 ducks out front back into the yard so I went around front.  The 2 baby ducks remaining in the backyard then promptly fell into the swimming pool and began paddling around.  The three dogs next door then got wind of the commotion and began barking and running along the fenceline, adding significantly to the chaos at hand.

When I set out to have my swimming pool replastered and retiled I had researched in advance and had talked to the pool rennovation company at length so that I knew what to expect at every point.  But stepping outside after the rennovation was finished, a completely unexpected series of events occurred.  And I was caught up trying to save the baby ducks while trying not to ruin my newly rennovated pool.  I probably have a few duck feet imprints at the bottom of the pool where there was still some soft plaster that the ducks walked on but I think it gives my pool some “character”.

That feeling of surprise, when something completely different occurs than what we are expecting, surely does make life interesting.  And yesterday I experienced another feeling of surprise which I know many eBay sellers, both former and current eBay sellers, can certainly appreciate. 

I read through the new eBay announcements and, in particular, I read about the newly created Top Seller account program which I had already known about prior to the announcement.  I have multiple eBay selling IDs and there is one eBay seller ID of mine that I was pretty confident would qualify for the Top Seller account program.  The stats for that account are:

Feedback score: 9000+
Feedback percentage: 99.9%
Search standing: raised (qualifies for 15% discount)
Buyer satisfaction: good
DSR average ratings: 5, 5, 5, 4.9 (30 day); 5, 4.9, 5, 4.7 (90 day), and 4.9, 4.9, 4.9, 4.7 (12 month)

So, in my seller dashboard I clicked on the link that allows me to check my eligibility for the Top Seller program.  I was expecting to see that I qualified but I really wasn’t going to be upset if I didn’t qualify. 

Imagine my surprise when I found out that not only would I NOT qualify for the new Top Seller program but if the new seller performance policies were in place today that I would be suspended from the eBay site.  I have a 2.68% rate of low DSR ratings for the S&H charges.  My short term DSR average for S&H is 4.9 and my long-term average is 4.7, both of which are above the sitewide average for S&H DSR.  What that means is that 1 buyer who left multiple low DSR ratings has the effect of making my selling account one in which eBay would take action against in a few months (for more detailed information about how eBay plans to compute a seller’s low rating percentages, click HERE ).

Yes, that is correct.  A seller with 99.9% feedback who is raised in search standing, whose DSRs are ALL above the eBay average would be unwelcome to list on eBay when the new seller performance requirements are enforced.  Fortunately for me, my customers AND the other venues where I sell do not share eBay’s unfavorable opinion of me and my customer service practices.

Today, eBay tells me I am wonderful and rewards me with a 15% discount and raised search standing but the exact same performance results will get me suspended from eBay next year (April 2010).  Today, eBay loves me but next year, well, not so much.  On the bright side… I’ll have much more time for my home improvement projects next summer when eBay ushers me off the site.  And, honestly, that is okay with me.

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29 Responses to “eBay July 2009 Announcements: It’s Just Water Off a Duck’s Back”

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Brews,
I have been through on eBay for over a year now. My two sons are 3 and 1.
I have spent more time with them, my wife and friends this year than I had years previously.
I feel like I was in a haze while selling on eBay for 7 years and I suddenly woke up.
I see clearer now.
I miss the people I used to deal with as they became friends ( some I do keep in touch ).
Basically, all I am saying is that, this blog is one of your best yet.
If you are ever in Canada, come by for a drink on me.
Brad

Oh yeah,

I forgot to add my new blog:

http://mysoapboxrant.wordpress.com/

Now go back to enjoying your summer!

Brad, thank you so very much for the compliment! I feel so liberated now.

And I would love to have a drink with you sometime…. I extend the same invitation to you — let me know if you ever plan on making a trip to Texas!

Feedback and DSR extortion will really get fun.

Nice post. I too have spent more time outside this summer- but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the quality of my garden of woe.

I just don’t even know what to say!

It left me speechless for awhile too, Mechelle!

No kidding!

Looks like April will be the birth of ghostbay, because there won’t be anyone left!

Amazing. 😦

But so happy you had the time to spend with your loved ones because 15% couldn’t beat that with a bat!

Come over to BONANZLE and have a great time with us.

Hey Brews,

I’m really gonna have to see it to believe it, if 99.9% positive sellers are going to get suspended from the site. The way I read it you’d lose benefits and perhaps face “eBay rehab” of some sort before any suspension:

What happens to sellers who do not meet the new standard?
“Sellers will be lowered in search standing. They may be offered coaching and training on selling best practices. In more serious situations, other consequences may also apply including limits to further selling, loss of PowerSeller status and discounts, and in some cases account suspension.”

That’s on this page under “New minimum standard for all sellers”

Thanks, Cliff

Cliff, the way the DSR requirement works today is as follows: you are required to have a 4.3 min avg DSR rating for 30 days and if you don’t then you are “restricted” from listing until the avg DSR improves. Now, assume that you don’t sell anything else and you can’t list anything new then you have to wait 30 days to list again (assuming your overall 12 month avg DSR scores are acceptable). So, we are talking about a 30 day vacation from listing.

Beginning April 2010, all sellers will be required to have less than 2% low DSR ratings in S&H and the evaluation period is either 3 months for high volume sellers or a full year if you don’t have 400 transactions during the quarter.

Now, assume I have a buyer who purchases 10 items (and currently I can only limit a buyer from purchasing MORE THAN 10 items) and that 1 buyer leaves me all 1s. I am thus “restricted” from listing until the DSR measurement improves. But now the rating period is a full quarter or a full year. So, as a high volume seller I have to sit out a full quarter and by that time then the measurement reverts to a full year since I won’t have enough transactions to be evaluated only by the quarter.

It is no longer a 30-day vacation but it turns into a full year “restriction” because it is impossible to overcome the effects of those low DSRs because they won’t “roll off” for a year in the computation eBay plans on using to evaluate sellers.

So, yes, eBay is calling it a “restriction in listing” but because of the measurement time-frame being used, it is actually a 12-month suspension.

It’s a big document, so there’s every possibility I’m missing it, but I didn’t see that anywhere.

I understand the math, but I didn’t see the automatic suspension. Can you point me that part?

Cliff

Cliff, it says on the page you pointed me to sellers would face restriction until the low DSRs improve. Today, that improvement takes 30 days at most because that is the measurement period. In the future, the measurement period is 3 months / 12 months depending on your volume. So, the restriction becomes a 12-month restriction. It is not an automatic suspension but rather it is a restriction that, due to the measurement period, will end up being 12 months long. A 12-month listing restriction in my mind is a suspension but it’s just a terminology difference.

So, let’s say my percentage of low DSR ratings for S&H is 2.68% for a 3-month period so I am restricted from listing until that average moves down to below 2%. While I am restricted, the earlier “good” DSRs fall off so that next month and the next month I am still “restricted” (because the DSR low percentage is now greater than 3 or 4% since I have fewer and fewer high DSRs impacting the average).

But, then by that time (2 or 3 months later), I have less than 400 transactions so I am evaluated on a 12-month basis the next month but since I haven’t had sales for 3 months I am really evaluated on a 9-month basis so that the 1 buyer who left 10 low ratings has an even greater impact.

I liquidate product that competitors often buy from me and re-sell (on eBay or Amazon or elsewhere) and they have bought multiple items and left all 1s so it happens. I have had to block numerous repeat customers because they leave low DSR ratings.

When a seller receives low ratings and those low ratings do not “roll off” the calculation period for a full year then the impact and, subsequent consequences like restrictions, occur for the calcualtion period — 12 months.

A 12-month listing restriction is the same as a suspension.

Brews, I’m sorry, but I’m still not seeing this.

I see restrictions occur for “shill bidding, selling counterfeit items, and manipulating Feedback, DSRs, or other performance measures”

but for sellers not meeting the new selling standards all I see is “… lowered in search standing. They may be offered coaching and training on selling best practices. In more serious situations, other consequences may also apply including limits to further selling, loss of PowerSeller status and discounts, and in some cases account suspension.”

I’m sorry to be so adamant about this, but obviously this is an important point, so I’m trying to discover as much clarity as the looong new rulebook offers.

Also on the page with the chart or requirements, the triple-asterisk under Requirements for All Sellers reads “Sellers who do not meet these minimum requirements will be subject to a demotion in search results and other possible consequences.”

The more I read the more it looks like more of a list-slapping and withdrawal of performance based incentives than any immediate suspension???

Thanks, Cliff

lol, sorry for the extra post but “list-slapping” above should read “WRIST-slapping”…sorry 🙂

I think “list slapping” is a pretty good term. Ha!

The way it was explained to me:

Initially (like October 2009) sellers who do not meet standards will receive “coaching” and possibly have to take tutorials. eBay is trying to be a “kinder, gentler” eBay and give sellers more time to adjust.

But in April 2010, all sellers should be better informed and will have had more time to change their selling practices so that sellers who do not meet the standards will not be able to list new items or revise items (ie automatic listing restriction).

A seller who has greater than 2% low ratings would receive a message when they try to list that informs them that they cannot list until their DSR measurement improves. This would work much in the same way it does today for those that do not meet the min avg DSR rating of 4.1 (previously 4.3) — no new listings for you!

And while that could be very disturbing today, the seller should only experience that “listing vacation” for 30 days because the rating that caused the avg DSR to fall below 4.1 would “fall off” the calculation in 30 days.

What I am trying to point out is that by having a 12-month calculation period, when a DSR low rating percentage exceeds 2% for the year then restrictions in listing will continue for the year because the low ratings will not “fall off” the calculation period for a full year.

I agree that it is such an important point that most people don’t even realize is this critical and won’t realize the full impact of the new policies until next April.

My sales are down almost 90% on eBay from just a year ago and that is by choice. So any 12-month restriction / suspension on any or all of my eBay accounts would not cause my kids to go hungry. But I know quite a few eBay sellers personally who could be in real financial trouble next year if they run into a problem where one buyer purchases multiple items and leaves low DSR ratings “anonymously”.

I have voiced my concern about this issue to as many people at eBay that I know and my hope is that some consideration will be given to the “unintended consequences” that will occur if things proceed as planned.

The whole idea of using the DSR system as a “punishment tool” should be abandoned (but I’m sure it won’t). Short of that, eBay needs to change the evaluation period for the low DSR rating requirement or back off on the listing restrictions that are planned for April 2010. While I doubt either of those will occur, I have done by best to put the information out there in advance.

Yeah, I had to correct that “list-slapping” pronto before you thought I’d coined a new term or something 🙂

Okay, I’m going to root for your rep not being clear on this and go with their in-print playbook for now, it’s long, yes, but so detailed I feel like they would have made any suspensions/restrictions as clear as possible.

Actually, I feel that they did and that your rep contradicts what they’ve written, but I absolutely believe that this is what you were told.

Now I know clarity is not their strong point, but there’s so much detail here, and in the end I’m really working from the assumption that they want sellers on the site–they just want them to be good sellers.

I really do not think eBay wants or intends to kick sellers off the site who potentially have feedback as high as 99.9% overall–I fully expect that if that is something which can possibly happen that they’ll tinker with the numbers prior to April 2010 implementation.

In other words, I think the Oct-Apr period is as much about them getting a grip on the numbers as us.

But hey, the more people raising a fuss about potential consequences the better–we’ve seen eBay under JD respond much better to outside complaints than ever in the past, so possibly they will adjust and/or issue some kind of ultimate statement on this as we near the deadline dates.

Thanks for taking the time with this,
Cliff

Cliff, you have more trust and faith in eBay than I do. I have too many memories (including recent memories) where eBay has been less than forthcoming. And their favorite tactic is not not to outright lie but rather to claim something is a “glitch” which later turns out to be a policy change being enacted before sellers have time to react.

“In other words, I think the Oct-Apr period is as much about them getting a grip on the numbers as us.”

This is the classic eBay operating policy. It goes like this.

Scene: a conference room in San Jose filled with eager and ambitious young things none of whom earn their living on eBay. PowerPoint is present.

“Hey! That’s a really good idea!”
“Let’s run the data on this”
“Get a survey on it”
“Lots of sellers are telling us this is what they want us to do to clean up the marketplace”
“We can improve this metric by making an additional tiny little adjustment”
“Good Point! Maybe if we did this too”

Bingo!! Presto!!
Something that started out praiseworthy has metamorphosed into a great white shark with no ability to discriminate and no thought in its brain except HUNGER.

This is a rerun of ‘a neutral is not a positive’
Yes they will be forced to back off when too many non diamond sellers (diamonds will be exempt) get caught in the net, but meanwhile, what happens to people who have stuck with eBay, make a majority of their income there and are suspended for months or a year?

Brews,

I’m in the same boat as you. Too many 1s and 2s from a buyer in offshore states like Alaska. 99.9 feedback, all 5.0 to 4.9 on DSRs, on 500 sales per month…
but with the new polies, I will be suspended from ebay. I’m reading all this the same way you are.

Everything ebay does is the guide seller behaviour toward ebay getting a greater take rate on their own profits (they really couldn’t care less if the seller makes anything at all).

So, yes, they rolled back Neutrals counting as Negatives after a period of sellers adjusting their behaviours toward their goals. Maybe they will do that again, but it’s a bad move to merely hope ebay will do what you wish they would do….

I’m pretty sure ebay inc. is resigned to the marketplace side of their empire as naturally declining in the future. So, they will keep increasing their take-rate until they are at a point of fiscal stability they are happy with. Honestly, they really would rather just manage 100 diamond sellers like Buy.com with all of their effeciences than worry about the us little guys and are knicks-knacks.

Their actions speak pretty clearly now; they are planning for ebay inc., not ebay the markeplace…

PS-I’m very sorry about all the typos in my last post! Ebay has me pretty upset this week….

Dan, I think it’s good to be prepared, but I still insist this is being read wrong–I don’t see anything implicitly stating that you or Brews would be outright suspended.

Lowered in search, yes, not qualify for discounts, yes, but kicked off the site? I’ve yet to read that anywhere on the eBay site.

Cliff

Cliff, I suppose you explicitly heard it today directly from Brian Burke on the Town Hall? Sellers who have greater than 2% low DSR ratings WILL face restrictions and suspensions.

So, yes, after April 2010 my 99.9% account which, today, receives 15% discount and raised search standing will not be welcome.

My blog is not meant to “scare” folks unnecessarily but rather to inform people so that no one is caught off-guard next year. Next April will still be interesting, though.

I heard Brian Burke’s comment as well, Brews. They are not going to commit to a hard and fast rule about penalites. Burke says the degree of penalties, (yes, including a suspension), will be on a case by case basis.

Volume sellers who pay alot of fees to ebay will obviously have less to worry about than a medium size seller. Who does ebay value more? A seller who pays a million dollar a year in fees, or me, who pays ebay a meager $30,000 a year in fees….

I think a sellers best strategy going forward is to sell on ebay all that makes financial sense-but absolutely, don’t make it serious revenue your business depends on.

There is more risk now of ebay pulling the plag on you because your competitors decided to smear your DSRs to disadvantage your listings.

Dan, yes I got that as well — they would not commit publicly as to exactly when a seller would be restricted / suspended but only that a seller could be restricted / suspended at any time and that each seller would be evaluated individually (ie translation means that sellers will be evaluated differently so that some sellers get special considerations)

Cliff clearly the “MAY” is to allow them to evade having to follow through when the diamond sellers fail to me these new “standards”.

Detailed information does not include “MAY”. The only certainty involved in a list of consequences containing MAY is there is no way to gain any clarity of what will happen, which is exactly why eBay continuously uses the term “MAY”. If you want to know how committed they are to the term “MAY” you should ask them if it would be a best practice for you to write a return policy stating:

If these is a problem with the product I may give a full refund including shipping, a refund less shipping, exchange for other products, or nothing at all depending on the circumstances.

Does that sound like something eBay would recommend you write in your return policy? No, eBay would not evident by the 3 options they force a seller to choose for their listings. MAY means only I’ll do whatever I feel like doing to whoever I feel like doing it too. For eBay that means they’ll suspend/restrict for 12 months any non-diamond seller.

I don’t mean to be rude, but I just can’t think of another way to express my thought. Where have you been for the past 18 months?

By the way, I don’t think eBay is trying to push sellers into leaving. I think eBay is quite confident in the power of their monopoly controlling the lives of millions of people. eBay’s intent is to whip you into shape so they can ride you and your inventory until you have lost any value to their benefit, they have stripped you of all dignity, and they have driven the price of your products through the floor while cracking the whip over your back to motivate you to bust your A.. managing the volume of low dollar sales. Once you are wrung dry you’re out of there and that is what these measures are about.

Simply put, you are eBay’s free labor and inventory. They are deliberately removing you – in its eyes the middle man- out of the buyers view so they can heighten the perception of the charade that eBay is a retailer that provides service at the level no other entity of commerce provides complete with free insured over night shipping, 100% money back guarantee regardless of reason, on demand email support, and the most competitive prices to be found.

Hey, me too with 11,000 plus positives.

So let’s get it together and baby step a couple other sites, OR BEG GOOGLE http://www.google.com/contact/ (en mass, please) to start their long awaited auction.

‘Cause by April we are ALL history.

And if you’re smart? You’ll be find your competition with searches, and blocking them ALL. They will be masking the IDs until the auction closes very soon.

The star system is NOT fully explained, I’ve had buyers give 1 star when there was NOTHING wrong with the transaction, and they said: “Thank you! Item just as described, Fast shipping!” (direct quote)

So it’s TIME, appears they are getting ready to close up, and if you still want to work from home, you WILL get your ducks (no pun intended) in a row, and sign up to a few other sites, see which one works, so you have a history by APRIL.

They did warn you, with 8 months notice!!

Quite frankly if the only sellers who will still be there in April are buy and the other diamonds whose numbers are artifically manipulated, what incentive is there for a buyer??

Bad news for all of us who used to love this site before the JD disaster.

BTW for everyone who doesn’t get it:

EBAY IS NOT A RETAILER.

THEY DON’T STOCK INVENTORY. WE DO!! (thank GOD we didn’t get roped into that one!)

Youre not alone…I know there are many sellers that seem shocked to find the red flag in their inbox:(…Nice Article!!!

The restriction/Limitation for listing is real and if you are below standard seller for 2 months in a row they will hand down a 75% limitation on quantity of listings open sales and closed sales…This percentage is based off of who knows what and is actually 1/2 of what we currently have listed and 1/4 of what weve had on in recent months…In effect this limitation has restricted from listing anything new or relisting unsold items for at least 2 weeks easily more… To be under limitation in all 3 (Quantity open and closed sales) while we wait for auctions to end and then do not know what will happen with the next evaluation….
It amazes me that a 98.8 positive seller with above 4.8 DSRS in each category is completely stopped from listing in septmeber for being above 2.00 % in May in Jun….Many people have seen it coming I guess But there needs to be a rebalance between sellers and buyers in this “community” They are placing restrictions on some of the better/best sellers not weeding out the problem trading partners..And not increasing their bottom line .Someone on Wall Street or wherever they will listen talk some sense into these people…


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