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Rev Up eBay Sales in 2012

Part 1 of an interview with e-commerce maven John Lawson.
John Lawson

John “ColderICE” Lawson is a bona fide e-commerce expert. Now, folks toss around that term pretty freely these days, but Lawson is the real deal, as genuine as they come. Not only has he been operating a successful eBay business since 1999, but he also thrives on Amazon and has his own successful store on the Web.

But Lawson isn’t one to rest on his past successes. He has also devoted himself to learning how to effectively use social media to build a following and create a base of customers who not only value his products, but also his expertise. Today he travels around the county giving seminars and consulting with others about how to make the most of social media to build their businesses.

His presentations are sellouts and, after speaking with him, we understand why. He generously shared with us wisdom and advice sellers of all types can put into place today to get their businesses moving. In this article, the first of a three-part series, we’ll take a look at what Lawson has to say to get eBay sellers re-energized for the new year.

Resolve to get better at what you do

Lawson talked to us about how Internet shopping and shoppers have matured. We all remember the days when just about anything would sell on eBay and auctions could conceivably run wild, surpassing all expectations a seller may have had to begin with. We all also know those days are gone, and they aren’t coming back. Shoppers now are far savvier, and sellers need to step up their games to keep pace.

“The buyer on the Web is looking for selection, so if you can get deeper in some of your new products that would be a way to go”

“I really think when it comes to e-commerce in general, inventory and selection are important,” Lawson says. “The buyer on the Web is looking for selection, so if you can get a little bit deeper in some of your new products that would be a way to go. If you’re doing used products, think about accessories that will go with those used items.”

Now, Lawson’s route to success has been much like many early adopters to the eBay market. He started by selling books. He then moved on to printers, ink cartridges and computers. Now he and his partner have settled on urban clothing and accessories.

“I found a niche walking through a wholesale show,” he recalls. “They had bandanas, and my partner suggested we try to sell bandanas. We were running out of space. Those bandanas started selling well, and we ended up in a niche for urban fashion.”

Take a look at Lawson’s eBay business and you’ll see not only bandanas, but also a huge variety of hats, shoelaces, flags and other accessories.

“I’m getting a little bit of sales in each area,” he says, “and I have more revenue streams.”

Take a good, hard look at your listings

Lawson also recommends sellers be honest with themselves, and take a cold, hard look at their listings.

“Clean up your listings,” he advises. “If you’ve got legacy listings, remove all the negatives. Instead of saying ‘We won’t take returns after 30 days,’ say ‘We accept returns up to 30 days.’ eBay has the Description tab, so describe the product. Use that for only the description. Most of the shipment and payment policy is happening through eBay anyway. We don’t need all that other language from old eBay.”

As an example, Lawson points to eBay’s efforts to give advantages to sellers offering faster shipping.

“eBay offered a discount to sellers who had a one-day shipping and also a return policy, but you had to have that information in the right place to get the discount. eBay is looking at those details and using it, putting the guy who ships in one day ahead of the guy who ships in two days.”

Take a good, hard look at your policies

But that’s not all. “Clean up your pictures, too,” Lawson says. “If you’re still taking pictures on your kitchen table on a linen napkin, 2012 should be the year you learn how to use Photoshop.

“Amazon is training everyone on how to buy on the Internet,” he explains. “The expectation of buyers on the Web is being set by Amazon. The consumer is thinking that when they purchase on the Web they should get fast shipping, easy returns, good descriptions and clear pictures.”“People want to feel comfortable shopping. You can’t hate your customers, yet lots of sellers seem to feel that way”

To that end, Lawson advises that eBay sellers take a hard look at their customer service policies.

“Your differentiation is service,” he says. “The product itself is not going to be unique.” So, what are people looking for?

“Easy returns, shipping deals, pricing deals and warranties,” he continues. “What is it that’s going to make me feel comfortable buying from you as opposed to your competition?”

Lawson spoke to us about how most sellers go right to competing on price, but that’s a mistake, in his opinion. “That’s just a race to the bottom,” he says. Instead, highlight the fact that you’re going to offer the service.

“People want to feel comfortable shopping. You can’t hate your customers, yet lots of sellers seem to feel that way,” Lawson notes. “I changed our policy to 90-day returns, and I’ve seen zero increase in returns, but I’ve increased dramatically in love.”

Lawson went on to explain that the genuinely disappointed customer will return your item within seven days. However, most customers, given 90 days to return an item, will set it aside with no sense of urgency. By the time they remember they’ve had 90 days to return it, they’ve moved on to other issues in their lives, and they never get around to processing your return at all.

Take a good, hard look at yourself

“Every complaint we receive is returned with ‘I’m sorry to hear that,'” he says. “Then (we) do the right thing. I don’t tell people to do anything to please a customer, but I want to do the right thing.”

Lawson admits it’s not always possible to please each customer, but no matter what the issue is, saying “I’m sorry to hear that” is effective. Even if you’re not going to be able to appease the customer, you can still be genuinely sorry he or she is upset and disappointed.

What keeps sellers from doing the “right thing?” “Oftentimes we’re not willing to do that because we’re taking this personally,” Lawson notes. “It’s not personal. They can call me anything they want, but they don’t know me.”

Extending this into the subject of feedback, Lawson offers old and sage advice: “When it comes to feedback do not defend yourself, ever,” he says. “Any response in feedback is not for the unhappy customer, it’s for the next customer. Give up on the disgruntled person, but think of the next 100 people who will see that response.”

Our next article, Rev Up Sales in Your Web Store in 2012, will share Lawson’s thoughts about how e-commerce sellers can ramp up their sales on Amazon and the Web in general. In the meantime, turn to his ColderIce blog for more insights on starting 2012, and your eBay business, with some sizzle.

About the author

Brad & Debra Schepp
Brad and Debra Schepp are the authors of 20 books, including eBay PowerSeller Secrets and The Official Success Guide: Insider Tips and Strategies for Sourcing Products from the World's Largest B2B Marketplace. Their most recent book is How to Find a Job on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Brad is also a literary agent for Waterside Productions. For further information, visit the couple's website, Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

  • Philip Cohen

    “Shoppers now are far savvier, and sellers need to step up their games to keep pace.”

    I accept that there are many “unprofessional” merchants selling on eBay, and they have always been there. But, the problem with eBay now is not that “shoppers are far savvier.” The problem with eBay is that they have Captain Queeg at the tiller.

  • Gil Navarro

    Ebay needs to put up the white flag and create free listings everyday. The # of auctions always boost up with a free listing day. They should make up for free listings, by slightly increasing the final value fees. They need to learn from Amazon.

    • You said a mouthful there Gil, amen…trust me they are at the feet of Amazon learning as much as they can. That could also be why they tried to abandon auction for fixed price. Only to come back at the end of 2011 and run free auctions like it was going out of style?!? Do you feel a “flip-flop” going on there? I sure did…what the heck?!? LOL

      • Jnanasemail

        If listings were free all the time then eBay’s marketplace would be swamped with ridiculous listings for ridiculous prices, because from the seller’s viewpoint… why not? I believe listing fees, and especially the tier system (paying more for a listing starting at a higher price) is done more to keep listings reasonable than to put money into eBay’s pocket. It IS a source of revenue for them, no doubt (I cringe at how much I pay in auction listing fees) however I am quite sure that without having to shell out for listing fees our legitimate listings would be overrun by nonsense listings. There’s more than one reason why free listing accounts are limited to a mere 50 a month. By throwing in periods of “free listing” for a few days (or a few weeks, such as the end of 2011 – whee!) eBay gives us sellers some breaks, without making listing a full-time free-for-all that would eventually back-fire. I have complaints about eBay just like most sellers, but I agree in principle with listing fees. They are a necessary evil to keep eBay running smoothly and keep it 90% full of listings that buyers want to see and perhaps bid on, instead of full of joke listings or unreasonably high starting prices. History shows that just one bad experience is enough to drive some customers away from a store or site FOREVER. Most of eBay’s stricter policies are put in place to keep buyers coming back. Without the high volume of buyers, how much would sellers really make? Especially with the amount of sellers in competition with each other on eBay THESE days? I’ll gladly juggle the enormous amount of rules eBay comes up with to attract and keep buyers, because I know that they are necessary because not all sellers are as serious or practical as most of us are. And because I know there isn’t any other e-commerce platform out there where I can make $2,000 a month selling used items from home. 🙂 It all boils down to being irritating but well worth it, if we’re honest with ourselves.

    • I agree. Free listings, but they don’t need to increase on the back end. They make plenty off each sale, and they would make more from the increased volume of free listings being added.

  • This article offers many insights and suggestions on how to be a better seller and more competitive. it’s true the old ebay days are gone, it’s time to readjust and utilize social network marketing. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Know your niche markket and serve it well. Great post.

  • Hey Phillip, thanks for the comment…

    I agree that eBay has challenges for sure and leadership made some big changes. But eBay leadership has ALWAYS made hugh changes. Maybe some were big fans of Bill Cobb and Meg, I for one was not. But that is just my feeling.

    However, I think eBay’s challenges are so much DEEPER than a single person on the team even if its the CEO. To throw it out there as if that is the sum total of eBay’s big problem is probably NOT as “informed” a comment on the real landscape of ecommerce today.

    While that might be the thought pattern for some of the seller community a deeper analysis would provide one with a much richer understanding of ecommerce and what eBay needs to do to stay near the front of the pack these days.

    On the real side however, if you are on a ship and you dont like the captain…GET OFF at the next stop and catch the next ferry. There are so many options for ecommerce sellers, both small and large, in 2012. The beauty is that today, we are in a world now where we all have lots of options and are no longer tethered to one sales channel.

    • Philip Cohen

      I would agree John, it’s not just the individuals; unfortunately, it’s just about everything that eBay now does that is causing the site to atrophy.

      As I inferred in my unpublished rant, this year is going to be a particularly interesting one for PreyPal when Visa’s finally arrives.

      Some Wall Street analysts think that PreyPal is actually the jewel in eBay’s crown and that PreyPal will bring home the bacon. I disagree. Firstly, PreyPal’s POS plans are simply delusional PR spin. Secondly, I believe that the clunky PreyPal will, after gets up and running, will very quickly atrophy back to only its mandated use on eBay; off-eBay online merchants will drop PreyPal like a hot potato. Thereafter I estimate it’s the nursing home and a long slow death for both of them.

      I’m going enjoy watching the fun …

    • Carolyn

      Dear John,
      I need help.  I’m a disabled grandma on a very limited income.  My eBay sales were few and far between.  I was selling clothes, audiobooks, trinkets that a grandma would have to sell. 
      I have been permanently Restricted from selling on eBay for a year now.  I’ve written to them, I’ve called them, I’ve cried, I’ve begged to no avail.
      Here’s what happened.  My daughter-in-law asked me to sell 3 pairs of her Channel sunglasses and one fake pair ( two pair that she bought on eBay!)  So one of my ads got pulled for selling something that’s not real and claiming it is real.  So I ran an ad for the fake sunglasses as “Designer Inspired Channel” and claimed that they were NOT real.  That was pulled also.  I explained to eBay that I was just being honest with the ad.  I was Restricted for a month.  About 3 months later I ran another ad and said, “Designer Inspired” sunglasses because that’s what all the other ads said.  I got yelled at again.  In the meantime, I had sold a pair of the Channel sunglasses.  Mind you, to my knowledge and my daughter in laws, these were real Channel sunglasses.  The lady I sold them to, from California, was not happy and wrote me accusing me of selling “knockoffs from Canal Street in NY”.  I live in Colorado, have never been to NY and told her so.  She ranted and raved and I told her to return them and I’d refund her money.  To make a long story short she did and I did.  But she had threatened to give me a negative feedback if I didn’t return her money for shipping both ways.  I refused, eBay stepped in and said I didn’t have to and I’d returned the money so all’s well.  Within a couple of hours she slammed me with negative feedback.  I asked eBay to remove it because she’d threatened me and they wouldn’t.  By the next day I was permanently restricted.
      6 months later I get an email from eBay saying I could now sell 15 items or up to $1,000.00.  I was so relieved!!  But I couldn’t list because it kept turning me down saying I was restricted.  The calls were many and reps kept ‘trying to help me’ because I had the email saying I could sell.  Finally I was told, oh it was a mistake, I shouldn’t have received that email!  I kept asking about the 9,000 listings for “Knock-off Sunglasses”, Knock-off Handbags” also words like “Replica”, “Fake”, “Designer Inspired” on eBay’s own search engine.  I was told, well we can’t stop everybody!  So the big stores, big dealers and everybody else still sells them.
      I miss it.  It was a hobby of mine that kept me busy.  I never sold more than a couple hundred dollars in a month when I was lucky.  I’m not somebody that’s a “danger” to their buyers and all the other nasty things they accused me of.
      I can’t find anything else like eBay for me.  Can you help me get back on eBay???
      Thanks so much.

  • John

    Why take advice from someone with so many negs and neutrals and not even a trs? Looks to me like this guy has alot of customer service problems?

    • Mark

      I agree John! This guy has 43 neutrals and 55 negs in the past year, and 99.1% feedback (which is pretty bad by eBay standards). And not only is he NOT a Top Rated Seller, he doesn’t even had Power Seller status.

      The other thing I noticed by looking at his completed auctions, is that his sales seem rather pathetic – looks like only about 1 in 10 items actually sold (I’m being generous, I think it is even less than that), and most of the few items he did sell were for around $5. Sorting by Highest Price first, his top sale out of 4,000+ items listed was $22.95, and only 12 that were higher than $10. Since he had free shipping on many of these sales, what are the profits on each item – maybe 50 cents?

      So I would certainly be wary taking advice from this seller!

      • Hey John and Mark I actually AGREE with you both. So please allow me to respond to you directly.

        Let me first set the foundation and lay out ALL the actual FACTS…I have been a seller on the platform since March 5, 1999. I have exactly 115,508 Feedback received from eBay buyers and have completed over 250,000 transactions to eBay customers. I not only sell on that single ID but we have 3 id’s. I have been on TV commercials, won awards for my business acumen and have spoken to small business owners in 8 countries and dozens of places in the United States. I have over 50,000 twitter followers who follow me for business and have over 600 ecommerce business people that interact daily in The Ecommerce Group. So on a PERSONAL level, that is why I personal feel not just qualified but WELL qualified to speak on this subject matter. I have alot of experience in this field and the battle scars and medals to prove it.

        As for the statistics gleaned by Mark’s stats over the last couple of months on eBay and the business sales on eBay. Like many in ecommerce we are in flux with regards to our 2012 path. I sell on multiple platforms and eBay is now just a fraction of what we do. In the last month I have been deep in redesign and reformatting our approach to eBay now that our business is universally split between eBay, Amazon and our own website. Understand that what you are looking at is 1/3 of my eBay presence and that is 1/3 of my entire ONLINE presence. So it is somewhat narrow view of my OVERALL business footprint in ecommerce.

        During that time our focus has been on ramping down eBay sites to make back end changes. The first of which, you can see from the entire redesign of my store on eBay. That initiative required me to dial back eBay items down dramatically in preparation for a new back end connector and new item templates for all our items. The back end will manage the order fulfillment systems for the eBay channel and merge it will all our other business entities. As such we have removed many items temporarily at this time. We also run 3 eBay ID’s not just this single one and the effort is broad from a logistics standpoint. Although I appreciate your math 🙂 My accountant is on notice that we may have found a replacement…LOL

        I am MORE than happy to debate the merits and/or content of what is outlined as my “advice” on this story. That is totally up for criticism. If you have a point of contention with whether or not taking a clear picture for ads is good advice, I am all in, lets have that discussion. This story is about the advice which I stand by 1000% as ROCK SOLID stuff. I work hard at what I do daily and I am passionate about this topic.

        I give this out NOT for recognition or to be respected as some “guru” NOPE. I give it cause I am passionate about eBay, ecommerce and online marketing. And my hope is that people simply respect me for trying to offer good advice and know that I am speaking from over 10 year of experience and I got the wounds to prove it. I research this industry and blog on it DAILY! And to be 100% honest, my transition from industry seller to industry analyst and international speaker has forced me to dial back our presence and footprint as a merchant. Work life balance is in full effect!

        Having said all of this… This is the only time I will address personal attack on me , my experience or my character for this story. If you don’t “like” me, it is ONLY because you don’t know me. I am genuine and lovable as well as smart. I will quote the most empowering woman on the planet IMHO, Judge Judy saying, “They do not fly me around the world to talk on eCommerce cause I am cute.” I am fully qualified and certified to do what I do. Now if you go on the TV appearances and commercials for American Express??? Maybe its the teddy-bear cute thingy, LOL

        Thank you for your concerns and I hope that my response is satisfactory to the accusations guys.

        Happy Selling,
        John (ColderICE)

        • Mark

          Hi John,

          From what you say you have many other avenues where you sell things – other eBay IDs, as well as other web sites. So you are right, my stats were based on only a small part of your business (the article didn’t make that clear). It still seems like a tough way to make a living though selling $5 items, especially after eBay, PayPal, etc. take their fees! But I guess if you do enough volume, it can work out.

          I didn’t mean to imply that I don’t “like” you (I don’t think I said such a thing), and you are right, I don’t know you! I would probably like you just fine if I we were to meet in person. I agree that 50 or so negatives out of 80,000 feedback shouldn’t be a concern, but eBay seems to consider it so. But that is not YOUR fault, it is EBAY’S FAULT! They need to loosen up on their feedback standards for sellers, or just admit that they are making them so strict so that they don’t have to give us discounts on fees.

          One other thing you might want to double-check: on your LinkedIn page, the first word on your summary there is “formally” – didn’t you mean to say “formerly”?

  • ebay seller

    The biggest problem Ebay sellers have is the buyer protection policy and also the feedback system. The buyer protection policy is shoved into everyones faces on EACH AND EVERY page you go to on Ebay, who promotes and encourages buyers to file a dispute against a seller to prevent a seller from becomming a top rated seller, which Ebay has to give a top rated seller a 20% discount on final value fees. Ebay sellers are bullied by the buyers into giving them what they want even if they refuse to follow the terms of the listings and even if an item is EXACTLY as described in the listings. Ebay is VERY seller unfriendly. Ebay allows and encourages buyers to abuse the good sellers that have sold an item exactly as described in the listings. Also to show you how much Ebay rips off the sellers: Most sellers do not even realize that Pay Pal keeps their fee when you give a refund. Do the sellers know that it will cost you money to give a refund through pay pal no matter what? You will never get your fee back from Pay Pal when you do a refund. Ebay and Pay Pal have all these obscure rules to make them more and more money off the sellers backs. And us good sellers who think we are doing the right thing by giving refunds and offering longer return policies are in fact really getting screwed ! ! This is exactly why Ebay has now launched this much longer return policy campaign. TO MAKE THEM MORE MONEY! Ebay encourages and promotes the buyer protection policy because it also makes them more money by penalizing the sellers with highter fees and NO discount becfause buyer protection cases pervent us great sellers from becomming top rated sellers, which makes Ebay more money. As far as the unfair one sided feedback system: When you try to explain to the buyers that the sellers will be penalized with highter fees, by explaining the unfair feedback system that Ebay has in place now, they send you a warning that they will cancel your listings when you educate their buyers about this fact. It is a fact that Ebay will not allow you to tell the buyers about their own policies. What is with that ? ? I have had numerous buyers write to me and thank me for letting them know something that Ebay keeps hidden from them in order to make more money off the sellers. I have had sellers write to me and thank me for educating the buyers as well. Now all of this had to be removed from ALL of my listings, so, Instead, I just enclose a note in each package I ship. WAY TO GO EBAY! ! Why do you abuse the sellers like this? We are the ones supplying the products for you to make all your money off of. Don’t you know this?

  • pete blease

    I checked out the article and agree with it. do you think ebay are trying too hard to be amazon with no regard to the basics on which ebay was started. I cannot find any other site which allows me to sell worldwide and get such returns.
    Trying to tie sellers down to list using ebay criteria for standard items. it costs me so much time trying to find a criteria, when i am told they have one, only to find they dont. I am reminded every time i relist ,I am not using a non existent listing crteria in their database, does it really matter?
    I think Ebay are trying so hard to be amazon they are taking their eye of the ball at what they are good at “selling USED and new items” in favour of being a department store selling bog standard off the shelf new stuff.
    I agree with the flip flop comment too about sales listing charges , make listing free and see how many items you get listed then….sales would be a lot higher because you dont have the fear of a no sale.
    There is no better platform for selling stuff than ebay ,but ,it is changing into a standard store without the quirky stuff you love to see, the old stuff you still want, the replacements bits you cant find anywhere else.

    pete oldcrock888 from uk.

    • Thanks UK, all the way across the pond. You make a great point, eBay had the niche market of unique items and selling them via auction all locked up. Why change from being the market leader to just one of the markets?!?

      I never understood the move IMHO?!?

      John (ColderICE)

  • floggedbyebay

    ebay seller is 100% right. ebay is obsessed with buyers at the expense of sellers. everything ebay does is in favor of buyers from its IT money and time to the ridiculous policies. Example: I shipped a package to south africa and it got lost. I provided the buyer with a receipt and customs number. Tried to help her and would have found an equitable solution, but ebay told her to file a buyer protection claim against me to “protect her insurance rights.” There weren’t any insurance rights because it was first class international. Does ebay customer service know that? NO. In the end, I could prove I mailed the item. The buyer could only “allege” the item disappeared. ebay customer service decided in the buyer’s favor. I appealed, ebay decided in like 18 hours in the buyer’s favor and never bothered to inform me of the decision until I followed up to find that I lost. When I sent an email requesting IN WRITING rationale and ebay policy on the situation, I was informed I had to call them. When I finally got through to someone who had any ability to discuss it, she informed me the “seller is responsible to make sure the buyer gets the item.” I asked “How can I do that, when the postal services lose the item?” She said, ” I realize this is challenging…” Challenging, it’s impossible. Again, I requested ebay put in writing the reasoning for the decision AND what I could have done differently as a seller so I could develop a store policy to avoid these situations in the future. She told me” I will have that to you maybe today, but tomorrow for sure.” I told her you can have a couple of days to do it. That was November 20th or so. To date, not a response. This is just one example of ebay treating me (a Top Ranked Seller) like a disposable second class citizen. ebay hates sellers. a monopoly run amock. I sell on a couple of other sites. There really are no viable alternatives for my items. I’m stuck taking the beating from the new digital evil empire.

    • Gina

       Hello!  I ran into the same problems as you…with some International shipments.  It seems that a lot of International Buyers are getting very smart.  They know the packages cannot be tracked or known when it is received (through the USPS system)…so they file a claim and get refunded (almost immediately through Ebay)….so it seems,   because it is so “easy”   (Ebay siding with the buyer, even though you might have the receipt of shipment)…it almost becomes like an addiction for some…hmmmmm          “I get refunded my money and get to keep the merchandise”…..FREE STUFF!!!!  I think it is unfair…Ebay should start looking at each individual buyer who might be making a habit out of filing claims.  I mean come on what are the odds of 1 buyer constantly not receiving their goods?????   Ebay has the power to research it…us sellers don’t….Yes we can look at the feedbacks they give other sellers but if they are making habits out of getting free items, they aren’t going to leave a lot of negatives (stay under the radar).  So my advice to anyone shipping Internationally….Require signature upon delivery….send it by Registered Mail (add $11.75 on your shipping rate and state it in your listing)….  I started doing my International Shipments this way and so far so good….yes my International sales have gone down 50% but at least I won’t be refunding money to customers who I know received their goods!

      • Laugh111

        AND then there are DISHONEST sellers! I have purchased over 1000 things from two ebay names and I have been ripped off OVER $2000 since I joined in 2003!  THANK GOD eBay tells the buyer how to protect themselves now!! Back a few years, I LOST all my money to dishonest “sellers”…. who signed up, sold me something and closed their account 30 days later and of course NO parcel ever arrived.  THIS happened more than once. ANOTHER seller who lied about combining shipping fees (was supposed to be $14 total), and charged me $64 for under 8 x .99cent peices of clothing ($7.92 merchandise with $64 shipping!)  I had to pay a $20 fee to fight him, but the process was confusing to me, a newbie at the time, so I paid him. When my parcel came, the postage on it was under $6 for him to ship!! JUST recentlly, I bought 5 auctions from one seller (as I always buy several auctions per seller to combine and save on shipping), and I always pay the same day right after the auction ends. 7.5 weeks later, still NO parcel but every other of 12 parcels arrive within a week of paying from same area. eBay advises me to “protect” myself. In doing so, the seller finally refunded me (I lost a couple dollars as paypal takes a % of it), but at least I got my money back, BUT the SELLER had already RELISTED every SINGLE one of my auctions before he gave me my refund, so HE HAD THE PARCEL, and up to my complaint tried to make me believe It should have arrived and until I fought he refused to refund! HE is the only seller who sent without tracking by the way… NOT my choice!

  • Ebay user ceilingfanpulls

    What Ebay needs to realize is that it is a B2B provider, and to start caring for its customers. The buyers are ours. We (the sellers) are Ebay’s customers.

    The constant changes cost me time…lots of it. If I cannot make a profit, neither will Ebay in the long run.

    The recent attempts to control my relationship with my customers and what I say in my listings are becoming gestapo. If I am not saying the right things I lose business, simple as that.

    They should take a page from you (Auctiva) and try to educate BOTH buyers and sellers about their respective rights/responsibilities in the customer seller relationship.

    Thank you.

    • You are 1000% correct. I do not think eBay has ever address us sellers as “business partners”! We are MORE than customers to eBay, sellers are business partners and they treat us so much less than so.

      John (ColderICE)

      • eBay’s problem is they got a dashboard loving , business school theoretician like Donahoe at the helm.

        They need someone more hands on.

  • Teresa

    Thanks for the article and there are some good points and advise, however I cannot fathom why a seller with so many negatives and neutrals was featured here. There has to plenty of ebay sellers with better feedback and Top Rated Seller status that would be thrilled to be featured. Feedback is SUPER important to buyers. The feedback this seller has would send up huge red flags and be a real deal breaker for me. The Online Seller: please do your homework!

    • Thanks Teresa I appreciate the recognition of the good content. And I have address your concerns on feedback in a response above. When you have 115,000 eBay feedback, you will have equality MORE negs. I dont think 50 or so it all that many when u balace it with 80,000+ positive?!? Do you? Maybe.

      I tell folks, even my MOTHER who gave me birth is not 99% happy with me and came out of her womb LOL. 🙂

      John (ColderICE)

    • floggedbyebay

      Man are you naive about feedback. I had a guy give me neutral feedback today because I wouldn’t mark his international package as a gift in violation of both of our countries’ laws. Feedback is joke because ebay doesn’t police buyers nor do they use any common sense in “Buyer Protection-ist Claims.”
      And yes, I have over 1,000 feedback and ZERO negatives and 3 neutrals. But to get there, I had to refund many times because people don’t read listings and buy it anyway or expect a 30-100 year old vintage item to have come out of a time capsule. The large majority of my customers are awesome and I love them. The other 5% or so make selling on ebay an enormous PITA too many times.

  • I just added this web site to my favorites. I really enjoy reading your posts. Thanks!

  • floggedbyebay

    ebay should be like the football field in a football game. The surface (medium) where the game is played. Unfortunately, they want to be the referee, and we all know how a ref can screw a game up. 🙂

    • Yeah, that is a great analogy…We got blind referees and NO replay allowed LOL 🙂

  • Ebay seller

    I am defending your feedback problem. I am very aware that when you sell alot of item like I do and get alot of feedback, you will always get the buyer who doesn’t understand the feedback system and gives you a neutral for the transaction because they are satisfied and never give a positive unless you do something extra or outstanding. I also have had negatives from people whom I have given refunds for no refund items. Most of these people have not read the listings, and expect to have received something that was not even in the listing. Like a custom made item made just for them, or they didn’t measure right to get the correct size. These peole trash your feedback for no apparent reason other then they had buyers remorse. More then likely, if they had read the listing in the first place, they would not have been unhappy in the second place. AND I would not have received negative feedback in the third place! ! Again, Ebay allows and promotes and encourages this buyer abuse so they can charge us sellers highter fees and penalties.

  • Gerald Soubly

    I agree, EBAY forgot who their customers were. The sellers. The buyers are our customers. The cost of doing business with EBAY is also no longer profitable. In addition, they keep commenting that the seller could pay the freight and get more business, without EBAY contributing any part of it. This is additional cost to the seller and a real slap in the face to us. I have not used EBAY now in several years. Craig’s list has become the method of choice.

  • gene

    why cant canadians use FBA to sell on amazon I have tons of stuff to sell, do I have to go to other sites to sell or am I restricted to Ebay

    • Diamonds411

       Hi Gene,

  • Charlie

    E-Bay does not give a damn about sellers, because they do not have to. There is no real competition, so they can treat sellers like crap, and there is no real recourse. Amazon is a joke in every way to deal with. They are FAR worse than E-Bay. It is easier to reach a God on Mt. Olympus than it is to talk to anyone above entry level at Amazon. E-Bay was once a fair, balanced, and great place to sell. Now, everything is tilted to the buyer without regard to fairness. Both of these companies’ hubris will, I hope, lead to their eventual downfall.

    • floggedbyebay

      AMEN. May the Justice Department go after them just like Microsoft. If ebay doesn’t like you, they kick off the website. If your application or product is really good–they acquire you to stifle competition because there web developers & programmers couldn’t code their way out of a typing class.

  • Charlie

    Not sure how many of you, like me, sell books, but ABEBooks is the best I have ever dealt with. When I call, I am quickly connected to an intelligent, understandable customer service rep. They actually listen, and mediate, if there is a problem. I cannot recommend ABEBooks highly enough. I now sell NO books on E-Bay.

    • Matt Weller11

       I would never sell on ABE books but I do buy there. reason for not selling is the fees are to high and they take returns for any reason for 30 days and seller has to pay return postage. I really do not want to “rent” my books and get them back after they have been read.

  • Like your comments about price-based selling choices being a race to the bottom. In Australia, we have to compete with sellers in China who offer free shipping to Australia and very, very low prices on everything, so price-based buying is a real problem, especially given our local mailing costs. Only way to compete is with fast, reliable service and selling mass-produced, imported products which were originally made in China, then transported to the US, where the larger companies can offer wholesale prices to retailers which are lower than we can get from China, despite our proximity. (The joys of a small local marketplace!)

  • Jimbo

    Well, eBay wants to be another Amazon with their “Buyer Protection”, and if they had it their way, they would have an “A to Z Guarantee” as well.

    The problem is that eBay items that are used or collectible cannot be fully guaranteed in regards to condition and description. Amazon items must match a catalog and photo description where it would be a carbon copy of every other of a particular item offered. The items on eBay (of course, this only applies to used / collectible goods) are different, and sometimes even unique. Also, there are many things that are offered for “parts or repair”, and Amazon does not allow things of this nature to be sold.

    This being said, in the “old days” of eBay (which really wasn’t that long ago), if you listed a used item “AS-IS”, “ALL SALES FINAL” with NO REFUNDS, this was taken as gospel by eBay, and there was no chance a buyer could get a refund if they were not happy. Whatsoever. End of story. Everyone eventually will find out the hard way (like I did), that there is really no such thing as an “ALL SALES FINAL” sale anymore. Really??

    I sold an expensive electronic item what was a piece that could not be tested (it went on an airplane, and I had no way to test it). It was listed as such, and with an “ALL SALES FINAL, NO REFUNDS” policy, and listed as “Used” in the eBay specifics, but as perhaps needing a rebuild or adjustment from a technician in my item description. It actually sold for a good amount of money, and when the buyer received the piece, he said it was “junk”, and wanted a refund.

    I refused to refund his money, stating that the item was not guaranteed to work, and was at least good for parts / repair (as listed). Then came a barrage of threatening e-mails. This guy even wanted to meet in person and “settle this like men”. At this point I had enough, and called eBay’s Power Seller Help Desk. After reviewing all the facts and looking at the messages we sent back and forth (I was firm, yet professional, he was nothing but threatening), I was told by the help desk person (who thankfully wasn’t from India like an Amazon staffer) that I had to refund his money (by this time, an eBay Buyer Protection case was opened).

    I protested, explaining to the eBay representative that I certainly didn’t want to give in to his attempts at intimidation / threats, and that it would illustrate to buyers that all they have to do is send nasty e-mails to get results. The rep said I had to “take one for the team”, because I listed the item in question as “Used” in the eBay specifics instead of “For Parts Or Repair”. I further explained that it was listed as a “ALL SALES FINAL- NO REFUNDS” item, and this should cover my responsibility (remember, this was an untested item, and listed as perhaps in need of repair / rebuilding before placing into service). ADVICE TO SELLERS: IF YOU SELL AN ITEM THAT MAY BE IN NEED OF PARTS OR REPAIR, OR IS LISTED “AS-IS” WITH NO REFUNDS, never LIST IT AS “Used”!!!

    So I had to refund his money, even though I fulfilled all my terms and conditions of the sale. This was a clear case of buyers remorse, but I still lost money because eBay backed the buyer, even after the threats. Now I also have a black mark on my eBay record, since the buyer had to file a claim, and I just didn’t immediateIy refund the buyer his money on this “All Sales Final” item. One more of these, and I may lose my Top-Rated Seller status (and hundreds of dollars yearly). Of course, eBay loses money when sellers succeed, and makes money when they fail, so they really don’t care about the seller, it’s now all about the buyer. The one-way feedback and Buyer Protection (even on “No Returns Accepted” merchandise) is evidence of that.

    They really did my business a huge favor when this happened, because I discovered Amazon three years ago, and make much more money there than I do on eBay. There is also 10,000% less e-mails with silly questions on Amazon, because their buyers are more educated, and the terms are straight-forward. It also takes much, much less time to list items, and I don’t have to write a lengthy description about an item (because it I don’t, buyers will ask questions such as “what is the color of that black purse”). I offer first-class customer service, so I have had no major problems there.

    I can see why eBay strives to be like Amazon, but again, it’s a different marketplace with vastly different (used / collectible) items, and the one business model isn’t compatible with the other. Of course this doesn’t apply to new items. If anything I have to sell is in the Amazon catalog, it is listed on there, and NEVER on eBay.

    • maneki neko’s nook

      I am going to disagree with you on yoru electronic item….used means used but working, not just a pile of junk that can be used for parts….as a buyer I would be ticked off as well…that’s no excuse for his rants and threats, but I would have sided with eBay on that one. 

  • Great article, but I do disagree with letting negative feedbacks go without comment. When I see a seller hasn’t responded to a negative feedback, I believe the fb must be true & accurate. If the buyer was wrong, certainly the seller would have corrected it.

    Example: “Slow ship! Took forever to get my item!!” Response: “Item was delivered within 6 days of payment – I’m sorry if that was too slow.” Without the response, I would figure the poor buyer waited weeks, and I probably would avoid the seller. With the response, I see he/she actually ships quickly, and I definitely would buy. This isn’t an outrageous example – it’s actually quite common. We all know cases like this because not every negative was earned!

    I agree that a response is not for that buyer who left it; Responses are for potential buyers, and can be a great indication of the seller’s service. If a seller responds in a nasty way, I avoid that seller like the plague. So if you have nothing to add that would put you in a good light, then I agree – leave it alone.

    One customer didn’t like a clock he bought, & left a neg without ever contacting me. I’d sold quite a few of these solid wood clocks, and everyone else loved them! He said something to the effect of:”Cheap clock, looks like a 14-year-old boy in Mexico made it.” I’d been in continued communication with the guy up to delivery, so I couldn’t believe he didn’t at least let me know he was disappointed before leaving a nasty fb. I didn’t want to let the fb pass, so I responded: “I’m so very sorry you were unhappy. I wish you had contacted me – I would have sent 100% refund.” In my opinion, an apologetic, appropriate response can take some of the sting out of the negative for browsing shoppers.

    Perception is everything.

  • D Zerilli

    I began selling on E-Bay part time in 2004. At that time sales for a lot of sellers were pretty steady.  I met some other sellers on discussion boards and groups that said that they sell on E-Bay full time and make a pretty good living from it.  However this is no longer the case. Take myself for instance, I am now doing this full time and trying to make a living but it is getting harder and harder not just for me but other sellers too.  The last Sale I had was Wednesday.
    Back in the days I would have at least one sale a day maybe more and I was happy with what I was making money wise. 
    The talk on discussion boards are that sales are slow also for some. I think the reason for this is that E-Bay now caters to the “Big Box Stores” Like Best Buy, Neiman Marcus Last Call etc
    with these items flooding the market how can a smaller seller make any sales.
    Let me give you an example;  Last week I would hear a “chaching” from my IPhone at least twice per day sometimes 3. When this happens and I have weeks like this with barely anything in sales it makes me wonder what is E-Bay doing?  There are rumors of E-Bay have different servers that they alternate putting sellers items on. The rumor has it that there is a slow server that one gets put on where sales are very slow to non existent. Then when sales pick up it seems like people are on a faster server. This looks a lot like search manipulation.  I often wonder.
    A lot of talk is about since the current CEO came on board and made all the changes because he had a “vision” to make things better, like fixing stuff that wasn’t broken.

    Thank you for my vent here I am done and I feel a little better today.

  • Laugh111

    I am currently in the hole almost $500 for my store, ebay listing fees, paypal fees, store fees. WHAT is “NOT” going on these days!? There are very few “viewers” even looking at my collectable style auctions. I wanted to know if it was just me who is not getting hits to auctions or if it was affecting others also, so I started saving numerous assorted auctions to my watchlist to see what things were selling for and when.  Surprisingly,  a HUGE number of the watchlist auctions also had “very few viewers, no sales or only 1 bid”, in which their item sold for their starting price of only .99 cents.  It is terrifying to list anything for less than the cost of the fees anymore because there are no bidders to compete and bring up the price to a respectable “return”, let alone profit!!  As for buying something secondhand to sell and make a profit, hah. You are lucky if you get your money back, especially after fees, and like I started this comment with… I am in the red!  NOW, money aside,  the cost to me in time is just as great.  The extensive form, plus calculating shipping so I don’t end up paying out of pocket due to misjudging (which has happened), plus researching the value of items, taking…loading…cropping and uploading great pictures, PLUS worrying over a description to be competitive is taking a physical/mental tole on me also. I find myself spending more time writing, and then 3 days later, revising auctions to attract attention and still very little results!! This is getting me down and I am constantly either ignoring my family in an attempt to “fix” what would have been perfectly good auctions a few years back, or beating myself up over the failures I am having! I feel like quitting … AGAIN, but I have a house full of items, and have invested far too much money, time and love into this business.  I have listed and relisted about 50 auctions in past six weeks with only 2 sales of items that I originally paid approx $150 for that should have brought in at least $50 and I only brought in $16 from both, and in the end only about $9 goes into my pocket from the two sales. SAD!!! Good thing they weren’t items I purposely bought just to sell because I practically gave them away and in terms of being paid for time, I DID! Since the “BIG-MARTS” of internet sales are acting like dollar stores on ebay now, the magic of online auctions for the truly intrinsic collectables is gone! WHERE to go now? WHO is going to spring up and give us dedicated sellers who love this work, a place to call SUCCESS? Maybe it will be ME! I am tired of giving up part of my small earnings to the place responsible for destroying the potential to make more.  Maybe one sale a week over millions of sellers is enough to keep them going but one sale a week is not enough to get coffee these days! 

  • QuiteHappy

    Want to ‘rev up” your ebay sales? LEAVE! You are sailing on a sinking ship! I left and my sales and profit is up! My fees are WAY down! And my stress level is way down! I am doing the EXACT SAME THING & selling the EXACT SAME THING!  And the last time I had a thieving buyer was when I sold on ebay! I doubt this will be posted. But, what the heck!

    • Bill

      Where do you go, if you don’t mind me asking.

  • Gold Level 5 years Seller

     bona fide e-commerce expert ???? how about this I am a  bona fide 5 year running EX Ebay seller, who is doing great OFF of Ebay and running my own web site…now thats  bona fide …..

  • Pingback: How to Sell MORE on eBay This Year! - ColderICE: Ecommerce Social Business | ColderICE: Ecommerce Social Business()

  • maneki neko’s nook

    Here, here….great article!  I only wish the eBay whiners would really READ it….as both a buyer and a seller on ebay since the 90’s,  I could not agree with the author more.  Satisfy the customer and the customer comes back.  Its the service that makes the difference, not always the item!  

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