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More eBay Changes Take Effect

Controversial new seller standards cover shipping time, return policies and communication.

eBay policy changes announced as part of eBay’s 2012 Spring Seller Update have begun to roll out, and more are on the way.

Starting this month, sellers can receive an automatic 5-star Detailed Seller Rating when they carry out certain guidelines, such as processing orders within one day, and if no communication was needed between buyer and seller. Also, at the end of April, Top-rated Sellers will be able to see which of their listings need to be updated to include a one-day handling time and 14-day or longer return window in order to receive final value fee discounts and boosted exposure. Those incentives kick in June 1.

In May, Top-rated Sellers will want to ensure they process transactions within their stated handling time in order to retain Top-rated status. Additionally, the maximum standard final value fee for auction-style listings will increase in May, from $100 to $250, for sellers who do not have an eBay Store subscription.

One of the more controversial changes that will be implemented in May is the end of three- and seven-day options for return policies, including “Merchandise credit” and “Exchange” options. Sellers may offer 14-, 30- or 60-day return periods, or “No returns accepted.”

Other changes expected to occur in the coming months include free pictures for listings, requirements for picture quality and Best Match ranking guidelines.

eBay recommends sellers begin implementing all its new requirements now.

About the author

Sarah Brown
Sarah Brown is a freelance writer who writes about e-commerce and small businesses. She recently graduated from Chico State with a journalism degree and is also a budding online entrepreneur, having launched two Web businesses and her own line of handmade products. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

  • GARY



    • Lentradirect

      If it’s illegal how are they getting away with these changes in every country?

  • Jimbo


    FACT: The overwhelming majority of eBay buyers have fine intentions.

    FACT: The very small minority who do not can take a small eBay business down very quickly.

    FACT: eBay is attemptimg to institute Amazon’s policies on new merchandise on all items, new or used. This will not work with used, vintage, or collectible goods.

    FACT: There are no guarantees or refunds in the vintage and collectibles markets, whether at a live auction, brick-and-mortar store, or for items purchased online. All sales are FINAL.

    FACT: A buyer has every opportunity to ask questions BEFORE MAKING A PURCHASE to make a fully informed buying decision. Especially if there are no refunds offered for any reason, including buyer’s remorse.

    FACT: Also, if both an eBay buyer and seller read, write, and understand simple English, and post detailed photos, there will be no surprises whatsoever with a transaction.

    FACT: These changes are meant to improve the level of customer service, and strengthen the eBay brand.

    FACT: If used item sellers don’t like the idea of 14-day or longer returns, they must soon forego their 20% Top-Rated Seller fee discount.

    FACT: If a seller loses their fee discount, there is no longer any incentive to bend over backwards for customers. Is this an improvement, or a huge step backwards??

    FACT: eBay thinks they will make more money when sellers fail to live up to these increasingly loftier expectations, and cannot succeed by their rules.

    FACT: They don’t really care whether sellers of used merchandise stay or leave. It’s their way or the highway.

    FACT: Sellers of used merchandise will take the highway. There are many other sites and methods to make money.


    • Jetskier1234

      Perfectly stated and I as a seller of used items will be leaving ebay.

    • maneki neko’s nook

      the difference on buying used items on ebay is that you cannot examine the item yourself, but are dependent on the honesty of the seller.  As a buyer, this protection assures that I have recourse.  As a seller, it is imperative I describe the item’s condition accurately and honestly.  eBay also has a system that allows the seller to block buyers that have frequent negative feedback’s or no buyer history, as they do understand that some buyers are scammers as well..  I sell 50-100 used  items a month and have very few requested returns, or “forced” refunds.   I wish sellers would get a grip on what all other retailer’s have finally figured out,  its the ease of service that makes the difference.  Good service means happy customers  that are more likely to come back.  If I was a new customer  to eBay, bought a “like new” item, that turned out to be dirty or full of scratches, (or was broken on shipment) then had to go through hoops to get my money back or return the item, what do yo think my chances would be of considering eBay again  as a viable shopping place?  EBay needs to encourage the honest sellers and get rid of the ones selling repro’s and scams….if there is a  better way to do this, I would suggest sellers send in their suggestions to eBay, rather than just whine and cry. 

      • Vanindc

        Not necessarily true.  I’ve received negative (in fact, complete drivel that sounds like it is based in some sort of psychosis.)  As a seller on E bay, I’ve always had an immediate refund policy on any sale I’ve made – no questions asked.    Surely, you must have encountered as an E bay seller, buyers who are just malcontents, completely self-absorbed, or just plain narcissistic whack-jobs?  I’ve been selling on E bay since 1999 and I currently have 100 percent positive feedback rating.  why?  because I don’t sell on E bay any more.  Ask yourself the question,  “why would I complain and write up a negative feedback rating for a seller who refunded my purchase price and shipping costs even before they had received the returned item?”  If you can come up with a good answer, then I won’t refute your original point.  Bottom line:  good customer service doesn’t always equal equitable treatment from the customer and on E bay the seller’s hands are tied.

  • Gailkk

    I REALLY do  not know why they want no communication between buyer & seller. First, that’s a big part of good customer service.  We are rated on good customer communications.  Second, we have no control over customers who like to be chatty.  Some contact us just to say they are excited about their purchase or who just want to “talk”.  I deal in vintage & costume jewelry; a lot of my customers are older, shut-ins, or disabled who just seem to like the human contact.  This seems like a very bad policy for a company who wants good customer service.

  • sr

    Is it not time Ebay got rid of its Detailed Seller Ratings I ship within 24 hours of payment, I email the buyer that day to tell them the item is on its way and my postal charges are more than I charge, Yet I still get marked down!!!!
    Because of all there rules and charges Ebay get less than 5% of my business now and that will be less in the future, there other sites out there who offer a better service at a cheaper price.

  • Treasuresonauction

    I agree 100% with the comments below. It is getting harder and harder to do business. I’ll be making the transition over the next few months to 2 of their competitors. 

    • Jvercellino

      Curious to know who you may be going to, because I’m also contemplating the same action.

    • maneki neko’s nook

      Good luck….I’ve tried many of them and my sales are still 100-1 in favor of eBay

  • Seller

    This is all biassed against sellers that supply personalised items, is that deliberate?

  • Mandrews1

    jimbo should be ceo of ebay,
     he or she understands ebay better than ebay understands it themselves,
     I could not disagree with any one of his comments.

  • shockappeal

    We are a small manufacturing company that allows ebay customers to ‘build’ or customize their product. We do not manufacture the product until the order comes in. It is impossible for us to offer a one day handling policy. I cannot believe ebay is ‘forcing’ a one day handling policy (to maintain top rated seller status). It is totally unfair and unrealistic to for ebay to think that all sellers are the same and fulfill orders the same way. We also think that we are offering a more futuristic way of product manufacturing, and ebay is taking a huge step backwards to limit our ‘new’ way of doing things.

    Also, I dont think that forcing sellers to have ‘Tracking Numbers’ for 90% of their sales (in order to keep top rated seller status) is also unfair and unrealistic. I understand that ebay offers free delivery confirmation if you print postage online. However, many people dont realize how much work is involved in weighing each package, figuring out if it is first class or parcel, whether there are any shipping surcharges (rigid, etc.), and forget about international shipments. That is the whole reason that we take it to the post office, so they can make sure the postage is correct. It looks like we will now have to hire another person to figure out and handle all shipping in house.

    Does anyone else feel the same way???

  • Anonymous

    Jimbo, the “big” sellers that drop ship won’t be able to make one day handling, either. Half of items I bought that was drop shipped from a warehouse somewhere, the sellers weren’t aware what’s in stock and what’s not. Half of the time I had to ask for a Cancellation of Transaction for items that weren’t in stock.

    People that are Top Rated and have a store that list in the bullion category will be exempt from the 14 day return policy and still get their 20% as long as they have 1 day turn around. I still haven’t received a clear answer if listing antique coins in the bullion category will be allowed.
    Unfortunately, buyers don’t get e-bay bucks when they buy bullion.

    Now they are pushing small sellers into getting a store to avoid more damage to their wallets.

    I feel like I’ve been suckered, and told a rep that on the phone. The e-bay Seller Outreach Team conned me into getting a store. They conned me with the Top Rated Status with the carrot dangle of 20% off my Final Value Fees, the parameters were set high enough to result in my getting a 1099-K. I’m sure this happened to a lot of people.

  • Melohawk

    eBay, you are cutting your own throat. I’ve already decided that I will never sell anything again on eBay, all I will do is buy – and THAT will be infrequently because you quit your relationship with MyPoints so now, those extra points that helped buy my gasoline just aren’t there anymore.

     I will sell whatever “used” stuff or things I make over on Etsy, where you can leave the listing up a long time and they don’t nickel and dime you to death.

     I  like having communication with the seller.. I like asking questions, especially to clarify shipping as I have only a PO BOX and communication saves a lot of hassle if the seller has a problem with shipping to a PO BOX. I also like the friendly people I get to “talk” to that way. Many times I’ve gotten tips about things I’ve purchased that were just little “extras” that made the transaction that much nicer. What a shame that this will now penalize the seller!

    eBay, you are becoming just like the current regime that is taking over the USA – dictatorial. Either you are a venue where people can give a fair exchange of goods for currency (at a fair PROFIT) or you are a controlling enterprise that just wants power and all the cream off the top of each sale. Which is it going to be?  You’d better decide and you’d better re-vamp or you will be losing not only your seller base but your buyers will drift away also.

  • Anonymous

    We spoke to e-bay yesterday and asked what the cap was for a restocking fee. Seems as though they overlooked this in writing their policies. Of course,that could change. I’ve seen 14 day return policies already with re-stocking fees as high as 50%, with the buyer paying return postage, item unopened and shipped in the original shipping packaging. Just Food For Thought! My partner joked that he could put up 100% restocking fee, and as far as that rep knew, he could.

  • Anonymous

    When did ebay start adding Sponsored Links with your competition at the bottom of our listings? Rubbing salt into already stinging wounds!

  • Christianrn777

    Their rules are so unfair. A seller loses his rating if he can’t ship within the time frame he stated. What is he got sick, what if someone died in the family etc. And, this no refund policy is a joke. I have no refunds or returns as my items are custom made items. It makes no difference if they want their money back, ebay will give it to them. They don’t even follow their own rules. They have a rule that a buyers pays for the return shipping, but if he doesn’t want to, then ebay gives him his money back. I’m so fed up with them it isn’t funny. Custom items are made for that person also, and cannot be then sold to someone else.

  • ebay veteran

    at one time they led the whole on line marketplace, now they copy what they think works best for their brand, and often one size does not fit all as Jimbo puts it. They are not Amazon, and should never be.

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