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eBay Announces 2012 Spring Seller Update

Wide-ranging changes affect returns, feedback, auctions, listing requirements and more.

eBay’s Spring 2012 Seller Update, announced today, has a little something for everybody, including changes to returns policies and procedures, auctions with the Buy It Now option, feedback, the Top-rated Seller program and more.

Changes to return policies

One of the more significant changes noted in the seller update is the end of the three- and seven-day return policy options.

Starting the first week of May, sellers who accept returns will have to choose between offering 14-, 30- or 60-day windows for returning items. Additionally, sellers will no longer be able to offer “merchandise credit” or exchanges. If sellers accept returns, they’ll need to offer “money back” or “money back or exchange” options, eBay notes.

Returns process streamlined

Along with these changes, eBay also announced a “new way” of returning items. Buyers will be able to log in to My eBay, click the “Return this Item” link next to the appropriate sale, choose the reason for the return and print a shipping label before sending the item back.

“eBay pays for the return shipping upfront and then either charges the buyer’s PayPal account or adds it to your next invoice, depending on who you specified pays for shipping,” eBay’s announcement states.

“When you receive the item, you simply click a button to issue a refund,” the announcement continues. “Your final value fee for that transaction will show as a credit on your next seller invoice and a portion of your PayPal fees will also be refunded.”

This attempt to streamline the return process might be good for news sellers who don’t have a lot of experience dealing with returns, says Rebecca Miller, an eBay seller of more than 12 years and the product manager of, the largest third-party developer of eBay tools. But she’s unsure how it will help more experienced merchants.

“It might just be something they have to get used to if they decide to use it,” she adds.

Changes to auctions with Buy It Now option

Another major change affects sellers who list auction-style. Starting May 28, eBay will consider auction-style listings with the Buy It Now option as fixed price listings. This could prove problematic, as sellers may then find themselves in violation of eBay’s Duplicate Listings Policy, Miller notes. Read “eBay Changes Affect Auctions with Buy It Now” on for more details about this eBay change.

New eBay seller safeguards

One thing that Miller says may make some sellers happy is the new seller safeguards eBay introduced, which affect the way detailed seller ratings and feedback are handled.

According to eBay’s announcement, an automatic five-star rating for Communications will be given when merchants offer one-day handling times, upload tracking information by the end of the next business day, and there is no communication between the buyer and the seller.

eBay adds that feedback left by buyers with at least one unpaid item in the transaction will be removed, and that feedback from international buyers that only mentions complaints about customs delays may also be removed.

Miller isn’t sure if it’s a good thing to reward no communication between buyers and sellers; however, she’s happy to see the addition of potentially removing negative feedback.

“That is a very good thing,” she says.

Changes to the Top-rated Seller program

eBay has also decided to drop the minimum sales requirement for achieving Top-rated Seller status from its current $3,000 a year to $1,000. However, to qualify for this title, merchants must also upload tracking information for at least 90 percent of their transactions with U.S. buyers by May 1.

By June 1, those who want to have the Top-rated Seller emblem must offer a one-day handling time and at least a 14-day return policy with a money back option, eBay adds. Sellers who don’t offer this will still get a boost in Best Match, but they will not receive the Top-rated Seller discount.

Other changes

Listings photos and descriptions were also affected by today’s announcement. That’s because the auction site adds that soon all listings must include at least one photo, and images must be at least 500 pixels on their longest side. eBay adds that while watermarks will continue to be allowed on the site, no other text or borders around the photos will. And sellers won’t be able to use stock photos as the main photo for used items.

Officials added that Best Match, eBay’s default search engine, will also begin taking item specifics and product codes into account when returning search results. Finally, eBay notes that it will also allow sellers 12 free images per listings in all categories.

Read more about eBay’s 2012 Spring Seller Update.

About the author

Olga Munoz
Olga Munoz is editor of In addition to writing news and feature articles about e-commerce, selling trends, online marketing and other topics of interest to online sellers, Olga manages the site's social media efforts. A journalism graduate of Chico State, Olga says her favorite part of being a journalist is learning interesting facts that help put stories into perspective, attending industry events and meeting interesting people "that leave you smiling, even in tough situations." Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

  • Guest

    “eBay adds that while watermarks will continue to be allowed on the site,
    no other text or borders around the photos will. And sellers won’t be
    able to use stock photos as the main photo for used items.”

    Does this mean that we will no longer be able to use Auctiva’s templates with our listings?

  • Guest

    Buyers can automatically return without contacting the seller? What if a delicate item is returned damaged, as has happened to me a few times over the years. Am I supposed to give a full refund and take a loss?

    • Cheri

      We should insist that before they do this these packages should be insured.

  • Kenneth

    OMG I so hope the “nothing but watermarks on images” thing. I am so sick of shopping and there are USA SELLER right across the item I am looking for. I close em out right away, will not buy from them, and trust me, I spend over 2k a month on eBay, ūüôā

  • Ladyjudy419

    Please explain in more detail about will sellers be able to use Auctivas templates

  • Rwings2006

    I believe the minimum requirement for Top-Rated Sellers is being dropped to $1000 per year…. not per month

  • justleveanegitive

    ebay cannot keep it simple its a auction site . not a buy it now site ,and its all in the buyers favor , go ahead and ship your merchandise to a stranger , whom knows they can push a button keep your merchandise and paypal will buyer the money back .so sellers left with nothing . wake up  the sites in buyers favor ,sellers payfees to list , so buyers can complain and get partial refund and threaten negive feedback as seller cant leve negitive ,        sellers  leve ebay

    • Jetskier1234

      eBay has finally pushed us to far this time and we are closing shop and will no longer give them most of our profits and now give customers free merchandise. Done Done Done ! Great job eBay !

  • Vince Nash

    Is the requirement to upload¬†¬†tracking #’s to each sale¬†just a rouse by ebay¬†to put more money in ebays bank account. Adding tracking to shipments is more expensive and ebay now adds the shipping¬†costs to their final value fee¬†on our account and¬†that doubles up because it is also added by Paypal. In the long run the buyers pay it so I’ll keep selling. I guess ebay knows that so they can get away with these issues of piling on charges. I expect one day the governments will step on this.¬†

    • Trouble

      I have an eBay store and wouldn’t consider processing my shipping any other way other then eBay. ¬†First off, it only cost 1.64 including delivery confirmation and tracking for a USPS First Class package, that’s over a dollar in savings that can be passed to the buyer and you don’t have to stand in line! ¬†The tracking is automatically emailed to the buyer & added to their purchase & your sold item. ¬†So simple & easy! ¬†I purchase a lot on eBay and I can’t stand it when a seller does not provide me with tracking. ¬†They have my money, I want my tracking. ¬† After waiting over a week for my item when they stated 1 day handling they don’t respond for several days, unprofessional if ask me. ¬†Saying adding tracking puts money in eBay’s pocket is just total nonsense. ¬†You could process your label at, enter the tracking in and still be in the clear with policies. ¬†How is that putting money in eBay’s pocket? ¬†I was glad when eBay started basing fees including shipping costs. ¬†There are to many sellers out there that are charging¬†exuberant fees, certainly not spending the total amount to ship the item. ¬†The outcome is they are putting the extra in their (the seller) pocket, ¬†they should pay fees on that, eBay’s not stupid, they know what’s going on. ¬† If you READ the spring updates, not providing tracking really only effects “top rated sellers”. ¬†If you qualify for “top rated seller” I would have to assume that you conduct your eBay business professionally with excellent customer service. ¬†If so, then why wouldn’t you want to provide your buyers with tracking? ¬†Sounds to me like someone doesn’t like change. ¬† If you want to complain, complain about eBay’s feedback policies.

      • Mccdealer

        I have to agree with every word you said. I just passed 10,000 feedbacks on eBay selling antiques and collectibles since 1998. Reading most of these comments, it’s obvious these people don’t get it. You can tell simply by reading their comments (nearly illegible and most won’t know what that word means). Simply put, they shouldn’t be selling on eBay, they don’t know what they’re doing and every one that leaves eBay is one less competitor for me. eBay made me a free man.

      • Crystal

        ¬†I agree, eBay’s policy is “Freedom of Speech!” “of course, you must be a buyer to exercise this right”

  • vince Nash

    Thanks for the clear explanations of the new Spring seller updates

  • Gail

    I agree with most of the changes, but I have a problem with the one day handling time to be a Top Rated seller.  I am currently a Top Rated seller, but a relatively small quantity seller.  I sell roughly 100-200 items a month.  Some days I have only one or two sales.  I have a 2-3 day turn around, which my customers are quite pleased with.  Most rave about the quick turn around time.  It is a BIG waste of my time to go to the Post Office every single day if I only have one or two items going out.  Going every 2-3 days works well.  Ebay is based mainly on mom & pop businesses like mine.  Are they forgetting their roots?  Going to the PO every day will really cut down on my time to do business and hence profits for both me and eBay.

    • kat

      I agree! 
      I live 15 mins drive away from a post office and only post twice a week, this has worked well for the last 3 years. Now it won’t be worth me selling on eBay with the new changes.

  • OnEbay

    Tsk, tsk. Ebay forcing sellers to take returns. Who reads the description anyway?
    This was the one reason to inspire someone to read the auction description before
    they purchased. Now with this new silliness added to the way mobile shoppers don’t see the description anyway, it’s going to be a lot of money for the post office. I am so so sick of ebay.
    I wish they would take notes from the mega monster company of our time, not Amazon, APPLE. They DO NOT USE FOCUS GROUPS. What a concept!

    • Vharvey

      This is a joke. Why do you even have a return time frame when the buyer can return the item at any time, for any reason, they see fit, and not even notify the seller. Receive their refund and leave the seller high and dry. When are you going to understand that without the seller you do not have any buyers. Very disgusting.

      • OnEbay

        Yes, if only EBAY the company would offer the service to their customers, THE SELLERS, they demand we give everyone. THEY ARE SO OUT OF LINE.
        I am still waiting for the opportunity to leave them My Feedback! NEGATIVE

  • As a seller on Ebay, I have taken several losses by refunding the buyer for an item that was returned to me damaged.¬† There is actually nothing you can do to receive any compensation for the loss.¬† However, if the item being returned is insured by the buyer that claim receipt¬†should be forwarded to the seller for¬†any loss or damage incurred in shipping. I had to provide photos of the damage to the buyer as evidence to receive the insurance claim receipt. In any case, seller and buyer should have a mutual¬†agreement in order to resolve the matter.¬†

  • pat

    What’s the deal with “no communication”?¬† I like to let the buyer know when I shipped their item, if I do that, then that will be a “bad” thing!!

    • Vharvey

      I have nothing but good remarks about notifing my customers when the item is shipped, and in most cases get an email thanking me for letting them know.

      • Mistydtoo

        My questions on items pile up with thank you’s from buyers that I have written to following shipment of purchased items-some even write about how nice it is and confirm that my attention has put me into their fav sellers

    • Mistydtoo

      I am with you. It takes time but it is good customer service when I send a thank you note, tracking number and estimated delivery date. I also ask to be notified if there is a problem with delivery or item, ask to be saved as a fav seller and to please come back. How can communiction between seller & buyer be bad?

    • Bob

      Well, how about this…I have tried to discuss this with¬† I e-mailed them 16 Mar and got the automated reponse – they’d be back to me within 72 hours.¬† No reply by 28 March, so I e-mailed them again pointing out that it was now 288 hours and I hadn’t heard from them.¬† So I got an antirely inappropriate reply that was a standard reponse.¬† So I e-mailed them again to ask them to answer the question I actually asked – that was on 29 March and here we are on 5 April…nothing.¬† Personally I would score eBay a 1 DSR for communication.

    • Common Sense

      No. You misunderstood completely… but to be fair, the sentence wasn’t worded very well.¬† It should have said something like: “As long as you upload the tracking information within 1 business day, you will automatically receive 5 stars for communication–even if the seller doesn’t send any messages to the buyer.”¬† In other words, the seller isn’t required to communicate (personally) with the buyer in order to earn a 5-star rating, because all of the necessary communication (esp. tracking info) happens automatically now.

  • Dpapple

    Unfortunately, ebay’s mandate to accept returns for top rated seller status will adversely affect sellers of lingerie in that many states prohibit the return of such garments!¬† So in effect, those sellers will never be able to reach top seller status!¬† I call that discrimination!

  • Rainhillrocket

    Once again eBay sides with the seller as with the no negative feedback to buyers.
    This policy leaves it wide open to buyers saying the item is returned getting the refund and keeping it, which has happened  under the present  situation with Paypal.
    They treat sellers like parasites were the parasites in the whole scheme of things is ebay itself.
    Thge loser in this case will be eBay and their revenue will continue to fall as sellers jump ship and look for alternative sites.

  • Bob

    Well here we go again.¬† Another eBay swipe at sellers.¬† I live in Spain and send quite a lot of items across the pond to the USA.¬† The only way I can add tracking information is by paying the Spanish Post office an extra $5 ON TOP of the cost of normal postage.¬† For an item that only costs $2 where is the sense in that?¬† I’m currently a Top Rated Seller with DSRs of 5.0 for communication and dispatch time.¬† Apparently 5.0 will no longer be good enough if I don’t add $5 to the cost of a $2 item.¬† The other irony of course is that normal post takes 4 or 5 days from Spain to the USA.¬† Tracked post can take 10 or even 15 days.¬† The whole thing is ridiculous.

  • Shop Lass

    After reading a lot of the comments I’d like to add another perspective – I can’t be the only casual seller here.

    First, I’m not a retailer. I’m just trying to downsize everything in my home. I’ve been selling since November and have a 100% rating so I could give two flips about eBay’s Top Rated Seller status. One only has to check my feedback to know that I have very satisfied customers and that outweighs any discount I may or may not get from eBay.

    I won’t opt-in to the automatic return policy. I currently require contact before returning any item and I require the item be returned the same way it was sent – with tracking and insurance. I have not had any returns yet, but you can be sure that I will open all returns at the post office where I receive them, in front of our clerk. Any damage or fraud (item not in package) will be documented. I also recommend buyers use a camera when opening a package they suspect may contain damaged items (rattling glass/pottery, etc.).

    As for the tracking requirement – if you use eBay’s or Auctiva’s shipping service the tracking charge is waived. This is because their price is linked directly to the USPS online postage service which provides free tracking. If you take a package to the post office then you will indeed pay for tracking. eBay and Auctiva do not make money on tracking, required or not.

    I’m disappointed with not being able to add text to my photos. I have a lot of jewelry to sell and I take a lot of photos to show gemstones in various lighting – daylight, evening, with and without flash. I add text to the photos to indicate which lighting is used. Without the ability to add that text I’m stuck requiring potential customers to go back and forth between even more text in the description and the photographs further up the page or in a separate tab if they’ve opened the images in Auctiva.

    I am not happy with the new “seller safeguard” regarding no communication. That’s not a safeguard, that’s just dumb. I’ll take my chances since my customers have thus far appreciated that I send a personal email after preparing their package for shipping. Imagine going into a store, paying for your purchase only to have the associate ignore you once they have your money. I wouldn’t have allowed this when I was a retail manager so I’m not going to do it now. Note to eBay – your automatic notifications are not substitutes for good customer service and I wish I could opt-out of all of them.

    Finally, I check bidder and buyer feedback. I like to know who I’m doing business with. After all, isn’t that why it’s there? It can alert me to potential customer service issues. Just because a buyer can only receive a 100% rating doesn’t preclude sellers from leaving less than glowing remarks (I just wish they’d all do so in a factual manner instead of personal attacks).¬†In a store, associates can see when a customer may be difficult. You don’t run them out the door, you adjust your approach. Buyer feedback can help me avoid potential problems.

    I’m all for protecting buyers – I’ve done a lot of buying on eBay. But some of these new changes – particularly the return policy, are seemingly hostile to sellers.¬†

    With all these changes you have to wonder why two VP assigned to seller experience have left eBay recently.  Just what kind of seller experience is eBay trying to provide?

  • Booksvinyl

    I agree with Gail Ebay has forgotten its roots. Thats why people are leaving

  • Wigan_stamps

    It seems like a `them and us` scenario yet again. can have 12 free photos per listing but we on are still only allowed 1 free photo. Where is the so-called `level playing field` that eBay keeps bleating on about ?

  • Tilemfr

    We do a fair amount of business through Ebay… close to six figures anually. We have 100% positive feedback. Most of our items include Free Shipping! Yet we lost our “super-duper good boy” status when we received a couple of¬†low marks on shipping DSRs.¬†One lady lived in CA and was bothered that it took five business days for her order to arrive… BAD SELLER! It doesn’t matter that we shipped the item the following day¬†after receiving the order.

    How about a PayPal chargeback of $695.00 from a customer who (supposedly)¬†did not receive their order? Did we have a signed¬†Proof of Delivery? YES! Did we submit it to PayPal? YES! Did we ever get¬†the charge reversed? NO! You know why?¬† Because the Buyer’s bank reversed the charge, pulling the payment out of the PayPal account. So who was going to lose $695.00 (and the merchandise), PayPal? NO! The bank charged PayPal back… so the Seller (us) were charged back… pretty much without a fight on our behalf… even though we had the Proof of Delivery which should cover us, right?

    Do you think that maybe if we did more sales volume we might matter?

    Maybe there is a conspiracy at Ebay that has been put together by the upper¬†management… Drive Ebay into the ground by forcing all of the Sellers to leave… then buy the company cheaply… Then turn it around and start to run it¬†like the old Ebay.¬†Hmmm….


  • Z

    I started a page to protest the changes being forced on ebay top rated power seller’s. Please lend your support to voice our displeasure. ¬†Thank you. ¬†

  • Anonymous

    Ebay’s new policy changes, as always, leave me gasping with rage at their injustice and absurdity – so now we can only get a 5-star rating for Communication on the DSRs if WE DO NOT COMMUNICATE with buyers???¬†
    There is absolutely no way of making a listing fool-proof in that it should require NO communication – buyers do NOT read all the small-print, and often not even the big print – so despite putting in up to a dozen clear big photos, giving precise measurements of all dimensions, weight, accurate description of condition, shipping costs for every country in the world, etc, I STILL get potential bidders writing in asking questions about all those things, regularly. In addition there are questions that cannot be anticipated – such as buyers asking about combining shipping with another item, asking if I can ship later as they are away for a few days, or to a different address – Am I just not supposed to reply? I’m sure the bidders will love that – a real boost to sales…¬†so I have to get MARKED DOWN because a buyer wants to ask a question!!! I am so MAD I could spit…
    AND we have to visit the Post Office every single day to post parcels?¬†Terrific – and I’m a pensioner with mobility problems – top marks there ebay – I list antiques and collectables of all different shapes and sizes – wrapping takes ages with such delicate items, and if I need to do packing and posting every day, as a one-woman show, when exactly do I get a clear run at listing at all?¬†And the returns policy totally sucks too –¬†

    And ebay is such a megalomaniac mega-giant of an organisation, what good does my little howl of rage do?? Who at ebay gives a flying **** what I think or feel about their ridiculous rules? Who can I go and scream at? 

    Sorry – you got there first, and its really nothing personal – I just want somewhere I can vent my spleen… I could weep, I could honest…

  • lol Tilemfr has hit the nail on the head all policies seem to lead down the road to getting rid of sellers, I was astounded by the bad decisions ebay made 5 years ago, in alienating sellers, now I am astounded that there are any sellers left at all, back then I knew they were just trying to squeeze profit out of a sinking ship but their decisions continue to dig their own grave unbelievable!

    As for paypal chargeback that is disgusting, I have heard some horror stories in the past however unfortunately paypal is just not heavily regulated enough and as they are owned by ebay they line up with the theme that they don’t give a crap about the seller, who is the one who pays the fees and keeps them in business.

    There is amazon payments but I have heard some dodgy stuff about that too which has seriously put me off them as well.

  • Bow Hunter

    Once again… I Say “UP YOURS on your 14 day BS return policy!!!¬†

    I am a Top-Rated Power Seller… with 100% Feedback… I communicate constantly wth buyers… I feel it being dis-respectufl and bad buisness practice to shun a buyer whom has a question!

    Even with the almost NOTHING discount they give me… I pay ebay… 500-1,000 dollars a month in ebay….(and your little sister company –PAYPAL)
    That 500-1,0000 dollars <—- Your taking out OF MY¬† ( The owner of the product… THE SELLER…. YOUR Customer… )……. You're taking that out of MY PROFIT!!

    I'm already sick N tired of You all making more money on my sales than I DO!

    Now… ohhhhhh…… NOW!!!!¬†¬† You're taking away the diddly little discount I get bsaecause :
    I WON"T Offer a 14 day money back option????¬†¬† THIS IS NOTHING MORE THAN A SCR3W JOB on ebays part…..¬† Totally unreasonable….

    Wanna example??
    John doe buys a 1,000.00 compound bow from me… I paid 800.00 for it…
    I shoulda have made a 200.00 profit <—-

    NOPE:  1000.00 minus $80.00(ebay selling fee)
    PLUS another $30.00 in paypal fees…
    PLUS paying for the insurance on the shipping (myself)..average of about 13.00
    1,000 dollar sale( 800 invested.. should be 200 profit TO ME)
    You all make 110.00 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (not counting the frickin orginal LISTING FEES)
    I cover me and my buyers on insureance.. (they cover shipping)

    I make…. —————————— 77.00 ———————- BS!!!!!!!??????????!!!!!!!
    YOU ALL are the reason why we ( the sllers… ya know the only reason FEE-BAY works)???
    You're all the reason sellers CANNOT.. increase their SALES…. by offering discounted prices anymore….. CAUSE YOU ALL ARE GREEDY!!!¬† And in order not to take a loss on OUR MONEY….. we have to sale high!!!¬† Again…. BS!!!!!

    I SALE ARCHERY….. The Nature of the product is of this…. (back to my original starting line)
    JOHN DOE… (the only one FEE-BAY cares about NOT getting Scr3ed)!!!¬† Buys a 1,000 Mathews or Hoyt Bow…..

    It leaves my house packaged securely… well wrapped… Like new condition… Worth every penny!!!!

    I have made a 100% accurate description (AS I ALWAYS DO)….. They get exactley what they pay for….I get scr3ed by Fee-Bay on my profit and they make more than ME!!!
    But on to the next……………..!!

    2 weeks later I get the bow back and think wtf is this??? 
    the bow…. has been DRY FIRED……. ( which if you genius's didnt know) COMPLETELY VOIDS THE WARRANTY ON THE BOW…..

    The cams are now twisted… the limbs are split/cracked…. the riser has hairline cracks or worse internally…. the string gaurd has been shattered…?

    IS BSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    It is JUNK….. the companies will not warranty it… therefore I EAT THE 800.00???

    ALL BECAUSE YOU ALL want the buyers to be able to return anything… like the sellers were a wal-mart return center????????????
    AND NOW: I am gonna lose my top rated status because I AM NOT!!! gonna give no option of return on compound bows???

    Tired of the scams…. FEE-BAY??? You're just like the goverment…… To the goverment…. all the people are TO YOU what the sellers are…..


    I AM DONE….There is other places to sell my archery merchandise online and make FULL share profit!!!¬†


    "Ebay is criminal…. in every way they are extortionist……Far as I am concened…. if the goverment thinks they wanna scr3w us out of even more money wanting to tax us now?????????¬†

    They can pi$$ up a rope too and talk to you all….. Cause in a way…
    SELLERS buy from EBAY…. we pay plenty in fees to call em TAXES!¬†

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