Just Another Typical Monday Morning as an eBay Seller

Posted on October 26, 2009. Filed under: eBay | Tags: , , , , |

It is lunchtime on Monday so I’ve spent half a day in the office thus far.  I try to keep a quick log of things I do in the day so that I can review later and possibly find ways to become more efficient.  Monday is my day to help out with eBay customer service so, I thought I’d share a few action items that I’ve taken care of this morning so far:

 

1. An eBay customer won an auction over the weekend and paid for it.  We packaged it up and sent them an email notification of shipment this morning.  A few hours later the buyer emailed to say that they made a mistake and decided they no longer want the item.  Never mind that the auction ran for 7 days and the buyer won and paid for the item.  Since the item has already shipped, I had to email the buyer to explain that the email notification of shipment really meant that her item had shipped and to tell her what her choices are at this point. 

2. An eBay buyer has purchased multiple items for a few days and continues to make payments for 1 or 2 items at a time paying for full shipping with each payment.  We have tried emailing and calling the buyer for 2 full days to let them know that we will gladly combine items into one package but we need only one PayPal payment for all the items as is required by PayPal and is as stated in our listings.  I tried emailing and calling again this morning.  The buyer doesn’t respond to emails and doesn’t answer the phone.  From previous experience with eBay buyers, I know what happens when we ship multiple packages when they pay separately and that is the buyer demands a refund of all the extra shipping even though they don’t pay with one PayPal payment.  So I have been persistent in trying to communicate with this buyer to avoid an unpleasant buying experience for her that we will have to take responsibility for.  And, now finally, the buyer just responded an hour ago telling me that they didn’t know how to combine eBay items and they thought if they paid when they received the end of auction emails from eBay that somehow all the orders would be combined later and they would receive a refund (common story from eBay buyers who don’t know how to use the eBay system).  I had to refund all her multiple payments and then reinvoice her for all items.  Now I’m just hoping that she will pay.  If she is like most eBay buyers, she will not pay and then claim that she already paid and has no intention of paying twice.  She won’t understand that she received refunds despite me explaining it to her and despite the emails from PayPal. 

3. An eBay buyer purchased and paid for an item and then almost immediately emailed to let me know that PayPal provided the wrong address to me.  She gave me the actual address where she wants the item shipped.  I communicated right back letting her know that I can only ship to the address provided in the PayPal payment and that I would refund her payment so she could provide the new address.  I did so and sent her a new invoice through the eBay system.  A few hours later she emailed me to tell me that she did not receive the new invoice from eBay and asked me to resend.  Unfortunately I cannot since the eBay system does not allow me to.  I called eBay to find out how to handle this “new system improvement” which does not allow me to reinvioce a second time for someone who intially paid but provided the wrong address.  After the eBay customer service agent walked me through the process, I pointed out to her that she was helping me to send an end-of-auction email and not an invoice and I also reminded her that PayPal has removed seller’s abilities to send a PayPal invoice for eBay items.  So she put me on hold to find out what to do.  She came back and suggested that I send a PayPal invoice using the “goods” option in PayPal.  I then reminded her that it is against the policies for me to do so AND doing so removes the buyer’s protections for Significantly Not As Described item — PayPal users receive SNAD protection for eBay items but not for items purchased outside of eBay.  So the eBay representative was recommending to me that I violate PayPal / eBay police AND to remove some of the buyer’s protections.  The eBay customer service representative’s response was that she would submit a “Voices of the Customer” complaint for me because what I had to say was so valuable.  I’ve heard that almost every time I have called in to eBay now.  And that is how the conversation ended — no assistance but an offer to submit the information for me through the Voices of the Customer program.

4.  There was a noticable dip in our DSR scores for one account so I ran a few quick reports and found out that we had one customer purchase 8 items and leave DSR scores of 3 for all 8 items.  It happens because eBay uses subjective measures and I can’t argue against someone’s subjective opinion of the transaction.  The signficance, though, is that the buyer who left all 3s is one who we had previously blocked.  He then came back under a different eBay ID and bought 8 items.  We shipped the very same day, packaged outstanding, and notified our TSAM of the problem.  The buyer, who is also a seller of the same type items, was involved in shill bidding between the two eBay IDs as well.  I’m assuming this buyer was warned but not suspended and so he knew that leaving all 1s or all 2s in the DSRs would cause us to report the issue and the DSRs would (probably) have been removed since he was an unwelcome bidder.  However, because he left all 3’s instead of 1s or 2s, nothing will be done.  We’re obviously not going to take the time to report and follow up on the matter but it is just another example of the issues we face as an eBay seller.

As a business owner, I have to take care of all sorts of things that are out of my control such as damaged items that arrive to me from the manufacturer or thunderstorms that knock out the electricity for a few hours.  It is part of “the job” and you just deal with it.  But dealing with “eBay problems” are what give me the most headaches.  The problems I experience as an eBay seller are tremendous and they are caused almost entirely by eBay’s poorly designed system which is full of glitches.  Ebay’s complicated system of buying and lack of decent customer service put the burden of customer service on me so that I have to try and compensate for all of eBay’s failings.

And the funniest part of the day for me was reading about how eBay is looking for ways to raise eBay seller’s fees.  The problems on eBay are getting worse for most sellers not better and now eBay wants to charge even more to bring fewer buyers to the site, many of whom have to be educated by the sellers about how to buy on eBay.  There is a reason why the number of 3P sellers on Amazon is increasing and why more people are buying from Amazon.  It isn’t rocket science.

And now that I’ve enjoyed my lunch, I am back to the grind.  I can only imagine what Monday afternoon will bring but whatever it is I can assure you I’ve probably dealt with it before.  For an 11+ year eBay veteran, handling eBay customer service problems is kinda like living through the Ground Hog Day movie — it’s the same old eBay problems with just different names and perhaps a slightly new twist.  For a new eBay seller who does not expect the mountain of problems, though, it must be more like a horror movie.

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16 Responses to “Just Another Typical Monday Morning as an eBay Seller”

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geeesh! can you just refund the money to the customers and then block them? sometimes I think it’s just easier that way! you don’t have to accept crazy customers!lmao!I mean, if they can’t read or answer their emails or phones, you know what the outcome is gonna be…sometimes it’s just worth losing your reputation over the aggravation..I don’t know, I have a different way of looking at things..

Brews, which eBay policy does it violate to send a Paypal money request for eBay items?

Buriedbybooks, that policy violation would be “Circumvention of eBay Buyer Protections” because sending a money request through PayPal for “goods” means that the buyer gives up their right to file a SNAD claim.

On the PayPal website it says the following:

*********
What is PayPal Buyer Protection?

If you bought something on eBay but didn’t receive it or you received something that’s significantly not as described, PayPal can help.

PayPal Buyer Protection will cover eligible transactions for the full purchase price plus original shipping charges. (Some purchases, including vehicles in the Motors category, capital equipment in the Business & Industrial category, and Real Estate, aren’t eligible for PayPal Buyer Protection.)

To qualify for PayPal Buyer Protection:

Use PayPal to purchase an eligible item on eBay.

Pay for the item with one payment. Items purchased with multiple payments are not eligible.

Send the payment using the Pay Now button or the eBay invoice.

Let the seller know there’s a problem with the transaction by opening a dispute in the Resolution Center within 45 days of the payment date. Then, escalate the dispute to a claim within 20 days of the date you opened the dispute.

Keep your PayPal account in good standing.

***********

Notice that the buyer has to make a payment using the “Pay Now button or the eBay invoice” to receive the protections. By paying the Paypal money request for “goods” sent by the seller, the buyer is giving up their right to file a SNAD claim with PayPal but can still file an INR claim. As a result of sending a money request for “goods” on Paypal the eBay seller is, therefore, circumventing the buyer protection process for SNAD claims.

Lynne, often times I do block them from future purchases but I always try to get the current outstanding transaction resolved. Sometimes I am successful and sometimes not.

I’m not sure i see the issues here, all are taken care of through usual biz practices.

1. buyer decides they don’t want item. It’s already shipped. When they receive, they can ask to return, when I receive, I can offer them a full, partial, or no refund at my discretion. The ebay part of the transaction has been completed already.

2. buyer purchases and pays for multitude of items singly. too bad, they pay for all.. I package them into ONE box, ship, and indicated we were able to save them money, and we’ll offer a refund of approximately $xx when they confirm items have arrived safely. Makes me look good.

3. ebay buyer wants item shipped to another address? Fine, tack on an extra charge, the contract was for registered address. OR Cancel the transaction. then deal with buyer by direct email, or relist item with raised price to cover relisting. (wasn’t there once a way to ONLY sell to verified address buyers)

I don’t understand why any of the above would cause so much time wasted trying to deal with them. There are simple solutions in place for you to use. Much simpler than your approach. I would deal with those three buyers issues in 10 minutes max.

as for item 4. ch*t happens everyday, everywhere – no comment.

Vince,

I don’t sell antiques so I don’t experience some of the issues that you probably do and you obviously don’t sell what I sell so my experiences are different. For me, these “issues” I describe are ones I have to deal with on a DAILY basis. Nothing about eBay is “usual” in regards to business practices.

1. ONLY on eBay does a buyer bid on an item for 7 days, win it and pay for it, and THEN just after receiving notification of shipment do they email saying they changed their mind. Never in more than 11 years in the mail order business has a website customer, an Amazon customer, or Bonanzle customer emailed me the same day as the shipping notification was sent and tell me they changed their mind. ONLY on eBay do unreasonable buyers expect that you can stop a postal shipment already enroute.

And maybe you aren’t a high volume seller on eBay or you haven’t been selling long so you don’t realize that the return is NOT “at your discretion”. If the buyer refuses the package or returns it for whatever reason you WILL be required to give them 100% refund of their eBay purchase price and shipping cost. On Amazon, the portion I return is at my discretion. I can charge a restocking fee and Amazon will back me up. EBay will not. There is no “discretion” for eBay sellers.

2. Your suggestion makes you look more foolish than it does good. If the buyer paid for 15 items by making 3 separate payments for 5 items each then all the buyer has to do is claim they received only one package and file a claim for the other two payments. You will lose the claim because you have only one delivery confirmation number which you can use for only one of the payments. Oh, if the buyer really wants to make you look foolish they will claim nonreceipt for the 2 most expensive packages.

3. You didn’t make sense here. Tack on an extra charge and ship to the alternate address? I guess you don’t mind asking the buyer for more money for shipping (gonna make that buyer really happy, aren’t ya?) and then losing out on PayPal seller protections? It won’t matter if you ask for extra money to ship to an alternate address because if the buyer claims nonreceipt you will lose both payments every time. No exceptions even if you have ironclad proof of delivery. Guess that is one way to simply deal with the problem.

4. You’re right that ch*t happens everyday but only on eBay. I don’t have these ch*tty problems on any other venue.

Your “simple” solutions are not actually solutions at all. It is foolish, in my opinion, to give up your right to seller protections on PayPal just because it is simpler to do so. I would love to see how long you would last on eBay selling electronics or commodity goods with your “simple” solutions. I wouldn’t dream of telling you how to sell antiques because I don’t have experience in that area. I can tell you, though, that if I followed your “simple” solutions that I wouldn’t last long on eBay selling in the categories that I do. But I guess that is why I sell what I do… and you sell what you do.

1. buyer can return, as per our listing. for damaged goods. We’ve had this happen before, ebay and paypal backed our stand. For neither is buyers’s remorse allowed. We’ve had various SNAD claimed, in all cases we provided clear docs, stood our ground, and were shown justified.

2. Good point. hadn’t thought of that, as usually we communicate with customer on single pack, but you’re right. I think in future, if they buy 5 seperate items and pay 5 seperate shipping fees, we’ll ship 5 seperate packages. No loss for us. Perhaps we’ll take the step of having the customre formally request it via eBay email system in future.

and
3. no, we have no issue with asking extra charges if a customer’s requests warrant extra handling, such as dealing with alternate address. We don’t make profit on shipping, but neither will we lose on it, regardless of buyer’s wishes.

Even though eBay is only a tiny portion of our business, we’ve lasted 6 years so far – with ATTITUDE! (& some fairness thrown in)

cheers.

Vince, I still don’t think you’re getting it — if you ship to a different address than the one specified in the PayPal payment (even if it is an address supplied in the PayPal notes or in a separate email through the eBay messaging system) you will definitely 100% no exceptions every time lose an INR claim no matter what documentation you provide. You could have the Postmaster General himself deliver the package and get the signature of the recipient and PayPal will still side with the buyer. Every time. Let me say that again — every time. You can charge the buyer extra but if you ship to a different address than the one supplied you will lose the original payment AND the “extra charge” payment if the buyer files Item Not Received.

Unfortunately an eBay seller cannot always use “common sense” guidelines when it comes to selling on eBay. I agree that it would make sense to combine 5 items into one package and provide partial refunds for shipping for each of the 5. But that “simple” common sense solution could cost the seller hundreds of dollars if the buyer is more knowledgeable about the system than the seller. One never knows whether the buyer is simply ignorant of how to combine payments for multiple items or whether the buyer is hoping the seller will not know the policies and the buyer will get 4 free items.

Since eBay is a tiny portion of your business, you probably haven’t been “educated” about the systems and policies like I have. I have paid out thousands of dollars over the years in learning how the eBay and PayPal systems really work. Nothing about eBay and PayPal is “simple”.

Vince and Brew,

On #2 since we use PayPal for our shipping we can combine orders in the multi shipping tool and it all gets the same numbers for each payment and PayPal has the record of it including the weight etc.

We do charge an extra fee in the handling charge to cover the cost of multiple payments and headaches and then refund them the difference. Most are very happy. The ones that aren’t who cares since our business model is not based on getting a discount (even though we do). We use eBay do dump out dregs and excess inventory that we don’t want around any more. We came up with that conclusion a couple of years ago when all of the changes started. We aren’t going to jump through hoops to worry about a few of the idiotic eBay buyers.
eBay has become a dumping ground and that is all it is good for. Real buyers are on our web site or other venues.
It is sad being a 10+ year veteran but the old days of eBay are long gone and so we adjusted our selling strategy.

As far as #1 goes I agree with Vince since we have had the same problem a couple of times through the years.

#3 I tell them to change the address on PayPal, let me know they did it and I will send them a new invoice and it should go through OK. I tell them we only use PayPal for the shipping address and if it is wrong then they need to correct it. I could care less about the buyer protection if they do not have things set up the way it is supposed to be.

#4 I agree with Vince on that also.

Bill

Bill,

Of course you CAN use Paypal or Endicia or any other shipping service to combine items where you received multiple payments but using PayPal to print labels doesn’t give you any additional protections over the other methods. Have you ever had an INR claim filed when you combined several payments into one package? At the time of the dispute, PayPal requires unique tracking numbers for each payment. Otherwise, if you provide the same tracking number for all INR claims then PayPal rules in your favor for the least expensive payment and rules in the buyer’s favor for the remainder of the claims. I’ll be the first to admit that eBay / PayPal has made quite a few changes recently and I have not had an INR claim in awhile so let me know if you have had a different experience where eBay has ruled in your favor for all INR claims where you received multiple payments and shipped only one package. That would be a welcome change. I would love to be wrong in this case so somebody let me know if PayPal has made a recent change.

Re #3, the eBay system will not allow you to resend an invoice if you refunded an Immediate Payment purchase and you are allowed to resend an invoice only one time for all other refunded payments. So, sending a request for payment through PayPal is really the only way to get paid. My biggest beef is the time I have to take to send a PayPal invoice for “goods” where I have to manually do that AND go get the eBay item number and total cost, etc. …. all the while knowing that I’m doing so in violation of policy. And then having to explain to the buyer why they are receiving a request for payment from PayPal and when they ultimately do pay why it is not automatically marked Paid in the ebay system. Just a lot of unnecessary extra communication requiring too much of my time.

Re #4, I guess I’m the only one who has problems on eBay but not on Amazon or my website. I literally have zero problems on alternate venues. I guess I should be glad that eBay is the only place I get ch*t on.

Brew,

I have not had an INR in a few years but if I did, in this circumstance, I would simply tell PayPal that the item was combined in their shipping tool and show the weight of the package and the weight of the individual items and compare that and then show them the refund that I did on each purchase that they bought. Remember we charge for the extra PayPal fees and also for the extra “handling” and never had a complaint (knock on wood as I hit the side of my skull LOL).
I have never had a problem with PayPal and I have been with them since the beginning. The couple of INR’s that have happened showed the tracking and it got delivered and nothing else became of it but PayPal does trust the system that they have in place and that is why we use it. It is when you buck their system that you can run into trouble as many people have claimed through the years.

#3 Unfortunately yes it is a pain but you have to figure that cost into your profit margin in the customer service column. Customer service always has a cost and it has to be always factored in. That is why out handling charge is the higher on eBay than any where else. That was another situation we saw developing a few years ago when we decided to change our eBay strategy. That is also why eBay in our opinion has turned into a dumping ground and nothing more. Donut Hole was right when he came up with that ides a couple of months ago when he said eBay is going to be a clearance site. The problem is it was already that and he did not even know it. It just high lights the absolute dim wits that are running eBay.

Like I said it is a shame the way eBay has evolved and people long for the good old days. Those days are old and the one constant in life is change, be it better or worse depending how a person reacts to the change.

Bill

Bill, I certainly appreciate what you are saying about the combined shipping and generating a PayPal label. But unless a “real person” reviews the claim I really don’t think it would matter.

And if a real person reviewed the claim, it may come down to something as simple as how the buyer funded their payment — if the buyer made multiple credit card payments then PayPal may decide to follow the strict guidelines and find in the buyer’s favor in all but one of the INR cases with the reason being that PayPal could not win a credit card chargeback with only one tracking number. It’s all just speculation, though, until it happens. My personal experience and the experience of every eBay seller who I have provided consulting services for is that PayPal will find in the buyer’s favor for INR cases where multiple payments are made and only one tracking number is supplied. If other sellers have had different experiences recently I most certainly want to know about it. One would hope that PayPal would use some reasonableness in this instance but that has not been the case in the past.

Regarding eBay being a dumping ground, you and I are in total agreement there. It is the world’s largest online flea market. That isn’t a “good” or “bad” thing for ecommerce sellers… it just is what it is. The “good times” and easy money that sellers once had on eBay are gone. I say — we had a good ride while it lasted but those glory days are gone. As you said, the “real” buyers are elsewhere — other venues and our websites.

And I also agree that it is really funny that eBay management all of a sudden had the great lightbulb idea that eBay could best function as a liquidation / secondary market venue.

Bill, I appreciate you contributing to the conversation. I’m certainly going to see what I can do to track down a definitive answer to the Paypal question regarding combined shipment for multiple payments and whether PayPal has relaxed their requirements. If I’m able to find out anything that I think is solid one way or the other, I’ll be sure to share.

How did it all get so hard? Really, all that any of us online retailers want to do is sell stuff to people who want to buy it. eBay has placed too much power with buyers and we’re all so much worse off. Buyers and sellers. Another great article, Brews, and very interesting comments.

Brews description of the paypal/ship-to address loss scenario is completely accurate.

Full time business sellers deal with it in their own ways and make it part of the cost of doing business, one way or the other. It’s a painful truth about the Paypal system.

The small ebay seller may never get bitten by this. A seller moving 5 items per day doesn’t encounter the things a seller moving 300 items per day….

The curious thing about eBay is after the dim bulbs at the top nearly wrecked the site while micro-managing it (against their own intentions) into becoming a clearance market, it is still surviving surprisingly well as an antiques site. Do a search for “Chinese Vase” completed items, highest price first. I think you may be surprised at what still transacts over eBay.

don’t think ebay has improved much since this was posted!


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