Topics in this issue:
- eBay news - The path forward
- Readers rant – Inconsistent defect scores
- Returns process – better or worse?
- Ask Molly – How can I set a postage policy?
Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of The eBay UK Bulletin.
It is still fairly quiet at Molly HQ and with spare time to fill the Elves have taken to dressing as ‘Box Trolls’ and running around crashing into things. Thankfully the boxes seem to be holding up well so I can re-use them.
In this weeks stunning bulletin my thoughts on the new eBay company structure and a couple of readers’ letters for your perusal.
[For admin details for this newsletter, please scroll down to the end.]
1. EBAY NEWS – THE PATH FORWARD
You will no doubt have seen in the news or received an e-mail about the changes to the eBay family of companies, with PayPal being split away next year. There is an abundance of speculative debate all over the internet as to what impact this will have on sellers, how eBay will survive without PayPal and generally what the future holds.
I would like to add my own thoughts on the subject and they are: forget all about it, only concern yourself with things that you can affect or that directly impact on you now. There will be changes for sure but we are used to that, some will be good for me and some not so welcome.
For eBay sellers it is Christmas selling season, which should be the focus of attention.
2. READERS RANT – INCONSISTENT DEFECT SCORES
Just thought I would like to share my recent experience with you and your readers, about the eBay defect rates.
As I was getting close to the 2% limit and before losing my discount I decided to have a closer look at the various defects from the past 12 months (a total of 14).
I was concerned that 4 of them were cases opened for items not received, most of them from the run up to Christmas last year. I checked each one I found that every item had in fact been delivered, so I felt a little peeved to have the defects.
I rang eBay and was asked if I would like a ‘defect revision’ and was put through to a new ‘defect revision’ department. The operator went through all of my defects and lo and behold told be that a total of 6 could be removed. Even some which I thought would never be removed! Great I thought [M - sounds too good to be true].
Some four weeks later I checked my dashboard to find that I now have 15 defects. I downloaded the report from the link to see if I had any new defects, only to find that it stated I had only 13 defects, some of which did not tally at all with my dashboard. I again checked my dashboard and on closer examination noticed that on the green line (at the top of the page) it stated I had 15 out of 1222 transactions, but when I counted down the right hand column I had in fact 16 defects.
I realised the download defect report is upgraded every Wednesday but on checking the previous reports that I had printed off. I found them all to be same. The defects on it do not tally with the defects on my dashboard.
I rang eBay again and asked the simple question ‘How many defects do I have?’ Pointing out the three different numbers. I was told that the only numbers that are correct are on the dashboard and that the download report is not accurate. So I asked how could I check my defects if the report that you download which gives you the transaction numbers and therefore allows you to identify those buyers who have left the defects is not correct? The reply was why would you want to do that!
I am now left thinking that the whole defect system is a complete shambles. Perhaps your readers would like to check their tables to see if they are the same. Perhaps more of us should ring up and ask for a ‘Defect Revision’.”
I didn’t realise that eBay have set up a new department to look at defect revision, I wonder if they are getting a few complaints from sellers, surely not. Still eBay will soon be under new management so things are bound to get better…
If you would like to let off steam, please feel free – send messages to me at the usual address.
3. RETURNS PROCESS; BETTER OR WORSE?
I wonder if anyone else had experienced problems with the new eBay returns process?
I’ve had a couple of returns since it started and it seems that the buyer isn’t getting the relevant information / notification within the process to return, and isn’t able to update the process for themselves.
I rarely buy on eBay (I prefer selling and making money!) but recently had a bad experience and needed to return the item. I submitted the return request as instructed, only to discover, having posted the item (tracked of course!), that the system would not allow me to enter the tracking number and submit. I got to the relevant page ok and entered the tracking number within the relevant box, but for some reason this could not be saved, and although my return has now arrived at the other end, the 4 step returns process shows it as not even having been posted, just a return having been initiated, and it won’t allow me to update.
I have been in contact with eBay and reported this and they took the tracking number and told me that they had entered this at their end, and the progress would show within the returns process as the tracking was updated via RM. However, the parcel has now arrived at its destination, no response from the seller, and the parcel isn’t even showing as having been dispatched at my end.
Bearing this in mind, the 2 returns I have ‘accepted’ recently, I have also emailed the buyers to acknowledge the request and instruct them what to do. Interestingly, neither of their returns have shown as having gone past the initial “return requested” stage, even though one of the items I have now actually received back – the ‘return sent’ and ‘return received’ stages remain blank. The return I refunded upon receipt actually states I refunded without a return of the item.
Not a problem if you have purchased from an honest seller (I action a refund as soon as received and email the buyer), but it is a problem if unfortunately your seller is less communicative and ignores the return (as has happened in my one rare buyer experience). So to get my money back it seems I will have to chase via Customer Support and join a queue to speak to someone.
I have only received two returns requests so far so not much to base an opinion on although I was aware that the whole thing was very impersonal and I ended up contacting the buyers to finish off the transaction so to speak.
On the subject of my two returns one of them was for a used shower solenoid coil which I sell for £5.99. I dismantle a lot of showers and sell on the parts, you would be amazed how popular they are. A return request arrived but didn’t give an indication as to why the buyer didn’t want it, I assume that it is faulty although I test them all before dispatch. It turns out that it is just an unwanted item as the buyer’s solenoid was not the fault after all. They return it at a cost to them of £3.90 (recorded 2nd class). I just wonder why you wouldn’t keep it in a cupboard as a spare.
4. ASK MOLLY – HOW CAN I SET A POSTAGE POLICY?
I’m asking you this question as I’m sure it’s of interest to most readers of the bulletin.
I keep getting warnings when I post a new item that I am offering postage discounts in the body of the text and telling me I should be using the postage discounts policy instead.
Problem is, I don’t see how I could sensibly set one out. Some items I sell can go in a small envelope & have little intrinsic value & others may have to go via a carrier because they are heavy & others because of value may have to go RM special delivery or signed for, and that’s before you start getting into international postage.
Do you have any thoughts on this as I’m presuming at some point eBay will start rejecting listings with such text?”
I have taken a look at a couple of listings and you seem to be very fair about postage so I can only see eBay taking action as a general thing rather than anything more drastic.
Using the postage discount policy is not easy for different size and value items, have you thought about offering free postage and building the costs into the item price? A couple of things to think about; firstly do you sell many combined lots, that is to say the same buyer purchases more then one item? The other thing to consider is that all postage costs now incur an eBay fee equivalent to the final value fee so there is not a financial benefit to having a separate postage charge. Also any postage refunds that you do make will still incur this fee so you would be out of pocket refunding money.
You already have an international postage rate policy in place although it is the same for Europe and the rest of the world. Although I no longer sell all items overseas, I do still offer my toys internationally and have a rate for Europe and another for worldwide. It all depends how much you sell outside of the UK as to how much effort you need to put in.
I also offer my customers the option to pay a ‘first class’ premium or to have special delivery, my free postage option is 2nd class standard although I also record any items over £30 at my own expense.
If your business model is fairly straightforward then it might be worth changing your postage options a tad and removing the issue with eBay altogether.
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 –
That’s all for this week. Check out Harriman Intelligence for the latest news from Molly HQ.
It’s time to opt in to the extended Christmas returns policy and the process is dead easy so do it now.
The downside to not opting in is the loss of your 15% FVF discount and as we know from the article above the returns process is shot to bits so you can always argue that you never received the item back anyway.
Author of the bestselling title, The eBay Business Handbook – available direct from the publisher Harriman House.
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