Home eCommerce Blog eBay’s TnS Crackdown: New Policies and How to Avoid Negative Feedback

eBay’s TnS Crackdown: New Policies and How to Avoid Negative Feedback

You may have heard that eBay has recently clamped down on ‘bad sellers’ in an effort to improve buyer experience. What exactly are they doing and how can you protect yourself? We hope this post will shed some light on the matter for you and help you avoid facing penalties.

What Happened

eBay discovered that a small percentage of Sellers (1% to be exact) were creating 35% of the bad buyer experiences on eBay. These experiences were often so bad that the victims were dramatically reducing the amount they purchased from eBay, with some giving up on eBay altogether.

What eBay is doing about it

In an attempt to weed out bad sellers and improve buyer experience, eBay has been reviewing each Seller’s negative and neutral feedback activity and Item Not Received rate to determine the level of buyer dissatisfaction. If a Seller has greater than 5% buyer dissatisfaction within a 90 day period, penalty action is taken.

What? Neutral feedbacks? That’s right: eBay is effectively considering neutral feedback to be negative for the purposes of their cleanup, just one of the bones Sellers have to pick over this new initiative.

The consequences of having greater than 5% dissatisfaction are different for casual Sellers and high volume Sellers. Casual Sellers are banned from selling at all for 14 days, while higher volume Sellers are restricted to 75% of their sales volume (based on historical data). After 30 days, eBay manually review accounts to see whether the dissatisfaction rate has been bought down below 5% and then make a decision as to whether the Seller can return to their usual level of sales.

Note that different action is taken if you have a dissatisfaction rate greater than 10%. In this case, you have a full selling restriction.

See a full explanation on eBay Chatter.

The Problems

As Scott Wingo points out in his eBay Strategies blog, 1% of Sellers is rather misleading in that it sounds like a very small number of Sellers affected. According to his estimate, 1% actually represents around 15,000 sellers when put into concrete figures. And that’s a big number!

There are also a number of other problems:

  • What about non-paying bidders who leave negative feedback in retaliation? This is nothing to do with the Seller.
  • In my experience, some products are more likely to attract negative feedbacks than others. Products with a broader target audience are going to have far more problems than those with a smaller niche audience.
  • Neutrals are now negatives? I can see eBay’s reasoning: most neutrals are given after a not so great eBay experience, but it’s their system after all! If they consider neutrals as negatives, they need to change the feedback system first to just the two options.
  • And probably the biggest problem is - How do you work to improve your business when eBay has just guaranteed that you will lose 25% of your revenue?
  • Plus: We all know some buyers will always cause trouble no matter what you do. How can Sellers get around that?

What You Can Do: Strategies for Avoiding and Removing Negatives and Neutrals

Clearly eBay need to refine their new policy further and yes, some buyers will give you negatives no matter what. However, there are some things you can do to limit potential negatives and also resolve negatives you already have.

  • The majority of eBay negatives are in relation to shipping and communication. Make sure both of these processes are automated as much as possible to ensure buyers don’t end up waiting too long for a response from you or their parcel to arrive. You could also consider making insurance and signature required mandatory if you have consistent problems with shipping. And don’t underestimate the importance of communication. Buyers will practically forgive you for anything if you keep them updated and reply ASAP to their emails.
  • If you haven’t already, put an FAQ section in your auctions and on your About Me page. Thoroughly detail your policies on postage options, packaging, insurance and return policies. Leave no question unanswered so the customer is very clear about what is going to happen.
  • Include a note in your About Me page or at the bottom of your emails giving people your contact phone number if they are have any problems. Indicate your desire to work with them personally to resolve anything. This gives people reassurance and a course of action to try first rather than simply placing a negative.
  • Review any negatives or neutrals and try to look for any patterns. Are there any weaknesses you need to address in your business model?
  • If you do get a negative or neutral, contact the buyer – by phone if possible – and try to get a solution. You can then go through the procedure of a mutual feedback withdrawal.
  • Square Trade is the best way to resolve disputes and get negative feedbacks removed. You will need to pay a fee, but it’s definitely worth it.
  • Give yourself some breathing room and sell on several IDs. Make sure they don’t link to one another. This gives you an alternative if one account is unfortunate enough to be penalized.

I fully expect eBay to attempt to address some of these problems in the near future. I believe that they didn’t foresee the effect this would have on Sellers, nor the response. It should be becoming clear to them just how much business they might lose if they upset too many Sellers, so I remain optimistic for the future.

We’d love to hear your experiences and feedback about this issue – please share your stories using the comment function.

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19 Comments Add your comment
I was going to begin selling on eBay several months ago. But I kept hearing about all manner of problems that sellers were experiencing. After this new 'feedback' policy, I would never sell on eBay. I will look elsewhere or simply just create my own website and promote it in other ways. eBay is killing the Golden Goose with this and other rediculously indiscriminately enforced policies. They are losing a lot of good business, and I for one am glad to see it. They are great at ignoring what sellers have been trying to say and do for fair selling and account practices. They have brought this on themselves. Reply
Ebay limited my account..I was put over the 5% due to Feedback extortion..buyer wanted $ 50 to remove the FB..One ebay Rep recommended paying the $ 50 , another Ebay Rep warned against it..its being investigated by ebay..meantime I jusy lost the Christmas Season Reply
$50.00?! If i ever got an email from a buyer saying something like that i dont know what i would do! This whole Ebay feedback rating system is going to drive honest sellers elsewhere. I know im glad i have a full time website to fall back on an a part time job. I just got the dreaded email saying how im going to be limited to 75% of my monthly volume. Kinda ironic. How is Ebay supposed to get back on track when they are banning and penelizing the very people who make the site flourish? I can see a never ending downward spiral on Ebay until they re-think their feedback screwup policy. Shawn M www.cimotorsports.net Reply
I have been selling on ebay for 5 years. under different Ebay ?IDs. Ebay has different policys for thier powersellers than for everyone else. Look at some of the biggest DVD sellers on ebay, these sellers have HUNDREDS of negities but sense they give ebay thousands of dollars amonth in fees ebay looks the other way1 Ebay has a policy that when you sign up to sell on thier site you litterlly give away all rights and they can do what ever they want to. a perfect example is when sellers are listing WHOLEALE LIST IFORMATION and you violate any of the hundreds of obscure compliation policies you can have your listing remove and be permentlly supended from eby! SO here is the catch Ebay doen't police these listings, they wait for you or me to report them to ebay ad then they take down anyones listings regarless of how minor the violation is like using to many keywords to describe a TV. The point is this ebay doent want to lose the 25,000 dollars a month they make for the listings in this catagory each month so they only remove your listinng when your competor complains i have checked and believe me over 75% of all sellers are violating something on ebay due to all the legal mmbo jumbo they have written bt hundreds of lawyers in which I have not meet anyone who really understands any of it really. This is just the tip of the iceberg when nit comes to how they handle their policys You and I have ifferent rukles than all the corporate sellers now using ebay to blow us all away GOOD LUCK Paul Reply
I agree with your views on many of the points you cover above, however I must point out that in my experience "Square Trade" Is a total SCAM!.. Early in my eBay career I purchased a set of DECT telephones from a Cowboy Outfit on eBay who regularly sell reconditioned items claiming them to be new.. I purchased these items believing them to be brand new and paid a premium price for them in that belief.. Also being somewhat naive as to ebay procedure gave Positive feedback when I received the goods BEFORE opening the box! Within two hours of setting them up they became faulty and refused to work... I contacted the seller and explained the problem also mentioning that he claimed they were new but they were in fact "Graded" Seconds.. He gave me a very complicated reset procedure to carry out which brought them back to life for two days then they locked up again completely this time!.. I returned them by recorded delivery asking for a full refund.. No refund was ever forthcoming.. so the guy now had my Money AND The goods I had paid him for!!.. So in desperation I contacted Scam (Sorry Square) Trade.. who made a charge of around £10.00 to follow up the case... (he paid a monthly subscription to them for membership)... they found in his favour!! No reason given.. no appeal allowed.. So SQUARE TRADE Actually aided and abbetted this guy in stealing my money then had the nerve to charge me £10.00 to do absolutely nothing for me... I still have all the details on record including the sellers full name and address... SQUARE TRADE ARE A SCAM OUTFIT and I can prove it!! BEWARE OF THEM they only support their paying members.. Not genuine purchasers with a genuine case against their members... Avoid them completely! Unless of course you are one of the bad guys on eBay in which case they will protect your interests! John :O( Reply
I wish there were real alternatives to Ebay. I tried selling on several other auction sites with no luck. Lots of people bid on Yahoo, but no one pays. It's like they don't take it seriously. Other sites just don't get the traffic. I am building my own website but ebay is one of the cheapest ways to drive traffic, if you do it right without violating policies. One other note - if you do have several ebay seller ID's and they shut down one of them, if they discover you have others, they will shut those down as well and claim you violated one so you can't have others until you clear up that violation. You would think they would value the money that we all bring in, but they are the "big dog" and do what they want as they want how they want. Reply
in what world do you castrate someone and it is acceptable. it totally leaves us with no protection from 0 feedback buyers that bid on impulse and decide not to pay. it's ridiculous and outrageous. this is a decision of Neolithic incompetence. I have been saying it for years that ebay sways their suport to customers. a bit understandable but ths is ridiculous. the sellers are the backbone of their business. if you let inexperienced buyers run rampant without recourse they will loose most of their business. nice experiment. f with the livelihoods of millions. I have predicted ebays downfall for years. this is the definitive first step. congratulations to the idiot that came up to this one Reply
WORLD WIDE BOYCOTT NEEDED: Just remember EBAY is a total failure without sellers. You can bring the BIG DOG to his knees by boycotting all e-bay transactions. SELLERS NEED TO UNITE! I heard something about a 2-18th boycott by sellers....e-Bay will lose millions of dollars per day! We sellers need to send a STRONG MESSAGE. We need to post to our sites that we will not participate in the E-Bay Feedback system until the system itself becomes fair & equitable. Reply
I am 64 and rely on all my income from eBay. It is my understanding that they can also take away your powerseller status if one of your stupid stars goes below 4.5. This is horrible. My shipping is done flat rate - my cost is $4.60. I charge $6.00 (includes handling - taking to P.O.) I ship via Priority Mail so that I can get delivery confirmation. This is more expensive, but critical. I will not be forced to ship First Class and then never know if someone gets the envelope. My solution is this: Leave positive feedback such as: Great - another lost sale - bad for ebay. My solution is this: LEAVE NO FEEDBACK My solution is this: Leave positive feedback such as: Good transction - NOT!! I agree with everyone. This is the beginning of the end. It has happened because this decision was made by eBay employees to satisfy big stock holders. No one asked my opinion - were you asked anything? Why can't eBay get rid of the trouble sellers by learning to police their web site? One person commits murder, so you put everyone in jail. Hmmmmmm. Sally Reply
i'm new to all of this and was doing some studies on how to get started in a business on ebay, but after seeing this i'm not so sure now.But i don't understand why ebay don't play as the middle person and safeguard the seller and the customer, in otherwords...the customer likes a product of the seller, so the the customer pays ebay for the product until the seller sends the product and if the product is in good order then the customer lets ebay know, then ebay can transfer the money to the seller...shouldnt everyone be happy that way.this way no one gets ripped-off i don't know maybe that was stupid..like i said i'm new... Reply
Ebay, They are a joke. They take record amounts of fees from us, then somewhere down the line we will make a mistake, which is human, for instance I asked ebay to correct a price on one of my listings, they told me all I had to do was go back and cancel my bids,so I tried that it did not work, Now I just got off Dialyis and not thinking straight, thought I would go to one of my other accounts bid it so high no one would buy it,stupid on my part,but no one would correct the problem.I still paid all fees, and got cut off.Now no account No worries, They love the automated system when they think you do something wrong,When they try to reach me I will send them an automated response also. Reply
I have been setting up to sell both from my own site and from eBay, the change relative to the electronics delivery (what's the internet about), the neutral to negative and about stopping your whole income has had me looking else where to list,(other site's other oppurtunities). However, I'm going to approach the Australian ACCC and Dept of fair trading as, in Aust we have rules that govern businesses and their conduct. Lets see if eBay have followed all the rules, we don't care about their rules, they are only relevant under the governing countries business laws, making someone destitute overnight and affecting the employment of others is illegal in Aust. Let's see what happens.:) Reply
I agree guys... this is a joke! Here is a link to a pretty interesting site that gives us some alternatives to ebay. Good luck sellers... we're all going to need it if we stay with ebay. I for one am done. I sold on there since 95 and will never list another item no matter how they respond to this problem. They do too much for the bad people that run this world. Reply
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