Topics in this issue:
- eBay 101 – Consumer Contracts Regulations.
- This seller is away!
- Copyright violation.
- Ask Molly – Randomly selected?
Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of The eBay UK Bulletin.
I returned from holiday to some great news: eBay have fixed the glitch concerning sold quantities from multi-variation listings and the sales history is now being shown for each item. No more sleepless nights, what a relief.
In this bulletin Molly’s rant about refunding postage costs and also my views on ‘out of office’ signage – it’s a riot.
[For admin details for this newsletter, please scroll down to the end.]
1. EBAY 101 – Consumer Contracts Regulations
Quite a few e-mails arrive at Molly HQ relating to the subject of liability whilst an item is in transit and who pays if it is stolen (well parcels can’t just get lost can they?).
A great coffee break read is the ‘Consumer Contracts Regulations’, which replaced the ‘Distance Selling Regulations’. It is much the same but I would like to draw your attention to one paragraph about halfway down the page:
Refunding the cost of delivery
The trader has to refund the basic delivery cost of getting the goods to you in the first place, so if you opted for enhanced service, e.g. guaranteed next day, it only has to refund the basic cost.
An example of this occurred this week with a large parcel being returned to HQ ‘uncollected’. The usual story:
“Did you check at your local depot?”
“Yes I did they had nothing for me.”
“Are you sure as sometimes the card is lost?”
“Of course I did, do you think I am an idiot?”
During this time the item was returned. This buyer paid £3 first class postage, the item cost £13. As I offer free postage the £3 was an enhanced service and need not be refunded.
If I refund the cost of the item directly from PayPal then I can retain the £3 but the trade remains valid with eBay and I still have to pay my eBay fees. If I opt to cancel the trade with eBay then they refund the entire amount to the buyer including the £3 first class postage. Remember that eBay do not refund fees on a partial refund.
Something’s not quite right here eBay, please take a look at this.
2. THIS SELLER IS AWAY!
A few days away from eBay has to be a good thing but of course the loss of trade can seriously affect your wealth. A compromise was called for at HQ so the cosmetics shop was closed but three other shops left open with the ‘we are away’ banner in place.
To be fair there were not a huge number of sales – mainly electrical items and a few toys. Even while Molly was relaxing in sunny France e-mails were arriving asking where items were and why there was a delay in dispatch.
The bottom line here is and please eBay take note, the ‘out of office’ banner is just too small. It really needs to be font 28, red capital letters and flashing. A sound track would be handy as well.
“THIS SELLER IS AWAY”
Most buyers were ok and happy to wait, three cancelled their orders and two opened ‘item not received’ cases. Oh how we laughed.
I began to ponder this problem over a croissant or two and the cynic in me decided that eBay don’t really want a large ‘out of office’ banner as it restricts sales. Better for them to pocket their fees and let the seller placate the buyer as most will still proceed and if they leave poor feedback, open dispute cases or leave low star ratings, which means reduced discounts to hand out to sellers in the longer term.
So what to do? Well how about getting the clever eBay software to extend estimated delivery times taking into account the duration of the seller’s break? A return date has to be entered, let’s just add that to the normal delivery estimate and show it on listings.
3. COPYRIGHT VIOLATION
Just wondering if anyone else has had this problem. On two separate occasions, I have received an email from eBay telling me that one of my listings has been removed for a Copyright Violation. These were 2 different items but both were for fully Open Source software, licensed under GPL and, as such, free for anyone to use, copy and distribute in whatever way. The listing quite clearly stated this fact.
So on to Customer Service, who after some investigation, agreed on both occasions that the listings had been removed in error and would be reinstated. So far, so good, you might think. BUT, apparently eBay cannot reinstate the listings themselves (?) – the seller has to relist the item once it appears in the Unsold section of My eBay, which can take up to a couple of hours -so, potentially, lost sales. And, to add insult to injury, in relisting, the seller loses their Sales History for that item!
You would think that, in this day and age, if eBay can remove a listing, they would be able to restore it to its previous state if they admit it was done in error. But, no, it seems that it’s OK for eBay to make a mistake but let the seller put one foot wrong and they are down on us like a ton of bricks.”
I agree and have raised this issue with eBay. Estee Lauder had several of my listings removed in error and after a long row they admitted their mistake and backed down but I still had to rework all those listings.
Any thought? Please let me know at the usual address.
4. ASK MOLLY – RANDOMLY SELECTED?
I have been selling china goods for several years and have been steadily building up my business and now have over 800 items listed.
This time last year I had over 50% less items listed and thought the featured shop was the way forward. I achieved top seller status, PowerSeller status, have 100% feedback, and offer free postage, click and collect, etc.
Now I find that my sales have dropped to an all-time low, only selling 1 or 2 items a day and sometimes not even that. When I look at my items through the Best Match feature I find that they are way down the list and can see no obvious reason for this. When I search for my items in a shop it will show only minimal matches.
With a featured shop I was given dedicated customer support and decided to give them a call. They confirmed that there is nothing wrong with my account and put it down to seasonal influences. However, when I tackled them about Best Match status they could only say that items are ‘randomly selected’.
The representative agreed to flag this up to a higher level but to be honest I am not confident that this will either happen or make the slightest bit of difference. I think this is totally unfair and am now left wondering whether it is worth the bother.
I enjoy my business but am feeling increasingly disheartened about the whole thing. Can you give me any guide and/or hope?”
Best Match is so complicated that I am not sure if anybody actually knows how it works and now with the ‘duplicate’ listings issue it becomes even more mysterious. I sell batches of Lego and give each one a reference number, each is a different selection but are also very similar with only one number change in the title, do these count as duplicate listings and how would I know?
If items were ‘randomly selected’ for best match status it would explain a lot, but I think the agent had the wrong end of the stick there.
Times are very quiet at the moment, I have 997 items in my toy shop and am making around 10 sales per day. Toys come into their own in the run up to Christmas so I am content and of course do holiday a lot. This is perhaps one of the main causes of the slowdown as buyers are away, staying out longer in the evening sun and skint as it mid-month.
When not on holiday I do use this quiet time to prop up listings, revisit prices, add best offer, remove, combine and so on. I am now adding all the bar codes I can as these help searches from the wider internet. I am also adding more inventory in anticipation of better times to come.
Over the years the summer months have always been quiet but, touch wood, things have always got better from mid-September onwards. The secret is to be ready for the rush.
If you have a question about eBay or home working in general, please send it to me at the usual address. I will reply personally to every email I receive and, remember, there are FREE copies of my book available for the best questions, tips or stories.
– END NOTE –
Check out Harriman Intelligence for the latest news from Molly HQ.
On the subject of blocked UK bidders:
I have just read this information on your email about blocked buyers and realised I have never checked this.
The same problem is showing on my account, I also have buyers who have been blocked from buying my items. There are only three but they are in the UK and against each it says it is because they are in countries I don’t post to which is clearly wrong.
I eventually received a reply after getting politely annoyed with eBay telling me there was no such problem.
“Thank you for contacting eBay Customer Service. I understand that you don’t want UK bidders to be blocked from bidding on your listings.
Please do not worry as I am here to explain to you. I have looked into this, let me inform you that early last month we had a known technical issue that’s blocking members even though they’re registered in UK but this was already resolved. Upon checking your account, I can see that the blocked bidders are related to your last month’s transactions. Since this issue is already resolved rest assured that UK bidders will be able to bid/purchase on your listings.”
I hope this info is of assistance to others as well, it would be interesting to know if anyone else is still having a problem or if it really is resolved?”
Hopefully that issue is sorted as we lurch from one glitch to another.
Author of the bestselling title, The eBay Business Handbook, available direct from the publisher Harriman House.
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