Jonathan Hill

A Soapbox for Uninformed Opinions


Re-evaluating the Seller Protection Policy on Ebay

I work for a business that, like many others, has an Ebay shop and recently there have been 2 cases which have been unfairly ruled in the buyer’s favour when Ebay has intervened. It has become apparent that certain aspects of the Seller Protection policy need to be re-evaluated to ensure that the policy lives up to its name.

What Happened?

In the first instance a buyer opened a case in the resolution centre on Saturday 09/04/16 to claim that they had not yet received their order. On Monday 09/05/16, when we opened for business again, we replied immediately to inform the buyer that their order would arrive in 3-5 working days because they did not opt for the first class option at the point of purchase.

Many Ebay sellers will be familiar with this sort of impatient query, which is sometimes escalated to the resolution centre without reading the delivery/dispatch information or trying to open a dialogue through the messaging system to clarify the situation. While the buyer should read the listing information properly, Ebay do not help the situation by including their own mandatory estimates which almost always fail to accurately reflect the shipping options.

The buyer did not reply to our message for an entire 4 weeks to the day until Sunday 07/05/16 when they simply said “still haven’t received my item.” The buyer immediately escalated this with Ebay, who issued the buyer a full refund within 30 minutes while failing to acknowledge that the buyer did not engage us in a dialogue to resolve the alleged problem, which is the entire point of the resolution centre.

When a staff member phone up to enquire about this, they were only told that they should have sent another message. This failed to address the issue at hand as well as the blatant flaw in their system because apparently it is up to the seller to constantly send messages to the buyer and check every case among the thousands of orders and emails received each month. This defeats the entire point of the system and while we were told that this would be looked into, we have not seen or heard of any action been taken to rectify the problem.

This clearly demonstrates a major flaw in Ebay’s seller protection policy because it allows dishonest buyers to easily take advantage of the resolution centre without having to participate in it, despite them initiating the case, which ultimately lets them receive goods without having to pay for them.

What Can Be Done?

Both the buyer and seller should be given a maximum of 3 working days to respond to the last message sent and all cases should be resolved in no more than 14 days instead of the unreasonably long 45-day limit. If a buyer is capable of opening a case then they are also capable of engaging the seller in the dialogue that they initiated to resolve the problem within a reasonable amount of time.

Ebay needs to list accurate delivery estimates as per the couriers own quote or list nothing at all. This will reduce the number of queries and cases that appear after 2 days of an order being dispatched because it currently gives many buyers the impression that they can get a first class service without paying for it.

The Shortcomings of Ebay’s Return Procedure

The second case relates to Ebay’s returns procedure, which allows buyers to safely return an order to the buyer while giving both parties access to the same tracking information.

This system works for full refunds but falls apart when only a partial refund needs to be issued. In our case the buyer ordered x2 pairs of the same part and returned both of them because they ordered the wrong size. Only one pair was returned in good condition so a partial refund was issued directly through Paypal because the returns system only lets you refund a whole order; you cannot do partial refunds in it.

We submitted photographic evidence of the damaged pair and asked Ebay to intervene and look at said evidence so that they could close the case without us having to issue the buyer a full refund. We are not responsible for what any buyer does with a part once they unpackaged it, nor are we responsible for how they package it when returning it to us. For this reason alone a seller should not be penalised for something that is entirely out of their control.

There is no quality control variable in the current system. This means that a buyer could potentially return hundreds of pounds’ worth of stock that they have damaged (but was sent and delivered in good condition) and then the buyer can reclaim all of their money which leaves the seller out of pocket for something that is entirely out of their control.

Ebay responded to our case within 30 minutes and issued the buyer a full refund without contacting us to give a reason for this decision in spite of the evidence provided.

The purpose of the resolution centre is for the buyer and seller to discuss the problem and work towards a reasonable conclusion and understanding of the problem. In both instances written about here, Ebay has not adhered to their own seller protection policy all while ignoring the evidence presented. They have supported the buyer’s lack of engagement which only proves that under the current system there is no real seller protection.

A New and Balanced System

Ebay needs to implement a new system that will allow the seller to upload photographic evidence of any damage, wrong parts or wrong quantities returned by the buyer as standard. Any conversations conducted through the Ebay messaging system or emails should also be available as evidence that Ebay will take the time to investigate. This will create a more balanced system which will allow for returns to be dealt with in a more effective and fair manner when a customer does not follow the rules that are set out for both parties.

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