Are eBay Buyers 10x More Demanding Than Amazon Buyers?

eBay Buyers More Demanding

This post was originally published on LinkedIn as Why Are eBay Buyers 10x More Demanding Than Amazon Buyers?

A lot of businesses sell on both eBay and Amazon.

Many of them – from part-time traders up to multi-million dollar companies – have told me that eBay sales take a lot more of their time and energy than Amazon sales.

I’ve heard enough sellers say the same thing to be convinced that there’s some truth in it. But what I had never seen, until recently, were any hard numbers backing it up.

But then Web Retailer member Bigian13 posted some statistics in our forum, from his sales in January this year. His numbers don’t just back it up, they put a shocking perspective on it.

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Bigian13 made around 6,300 sales across both eBay and Amazon this January. A little over half of those were through Amazon FBA. All the rest – eBay sales and merchant-fulfilled Amazon sales – were dispatched by the same people, with the same processing time, and the same shipping methods, from the same warehouse.

So eBay buyers and Amazon buyers should be having exactly the same experience, right?

Let’s take a look at the numbers.

From Bigian13’s 1,511 eBay orders, he received 732 messages, 124 “item not received” claims, 47 “not as described” claims, and 24 returns.

From his 1,375 self-fulfilled Amazon orders, he received 64 messages, one “item not received” claim, zero “not as described” claims, and one return.

Factoring in the slightly different order volumes, eBay buyers sent ten times more messages than Amazon buyers. Not only that, they made a total of 171 claims, compared to practically nothing on Amazon.

This is not a small difference. It’s huge.

Why are eBay buyers so much more demanding?

Why do so many claim their orders were not received, or not what they’re supposed to be?

The bigger horror is not the higher volume of messages from eBay buyers – it’s the deluge of claims.

eBay and Amazon are long-time rivals and the two marketplaces are often compared. But they operate on very different philosophies. eBay started out as a person-to-person auction market, with a bargaining mentality and a flea-market atmosphere.

Amazon started out as a book retailer, then continuously expanded its product categories. The third-party Amazon marketplace widens their range, encourages competition, and pushes down prices. Buying on Amazon has always been a quick and clinical business-to-consumer affair.

But that was then. Today, both eBay and Amazon are dominated by businesses selling products (not unique items) at a fixed price and with a high standard of service. Yet eBay is still a “chatty” marketplace, where buyers and sellers are encouraged to interact. Whereas on Amazon, if buyers and sellers need to communicate then something must have gone wrong.

So maybe the high volume of messages on eBay is just a glitch left over from its history? A hangover from buyers who learned how to behave when it really was like an online flea market?

Maybe so, but the bigger horror within this is not the much higher volume of messages from eBay buyers – it’s the deluge of claims.

How can you explain 171 claims of “not received” or “not as described” made by eBay buyers – compared to just one made by an Amazon buyer – on practically the same volume of orders?

I can’t think of an explanation, other than outright dishonesty.

Bigian13 investigated further. It turned out that 57% (418) of the messages from eBay buyers were to say that their item had not been received – before the buyer made an “official” claim. 68% of those were “persuaded, politely, to stop trying to rip us off”. The rest went on to pursue their claim through eBay or PayPal.

Where does this leave us?

A flea-market mentality and a chatty marketplace I can understand. eBay’s history, at 20 years, is about as long as it gets in ecommerce. A lot of habits get established in that time.

In a flea-market environment a few underhand practices can be expected, and even forgiven – if it’s against a background of generally honest buyers.

But ten times more messages than Amazon? Hundreds of buyers making false claims? Two-thirds of them dropping their claims when challenged?

To accept that is to tolerate dishonesty and theft. And that we must never do.

Read the original forum thread The Differences In Selling Platforms.

22 comments on “Are eBay Buyers 10x More Demanding Than Amazon Buyers?

  1. It just shows ebay total disreguard, for sellers, ebay has NEVER had cared about fraudulent claims as they still get there 12% to 15% commissions, on fraudulent claims, all ebay would have to is introduce a not receive claim button, in messages and then send a message to anyone who claims that more then 5% of item are being lost, that there account is being monitored, then close the account if this continues, which is way above actual postal loses as shown by one Amazon claim on 1375 sales. Why is Ebay not prepared to protect the sellers who fund there business, ecause it would cost them, thats why, why do they never comment or take action such as easy steps outlined above???

  2. ebay ebay ebay, you are slowly but surely killing your own business. Be it through the yearly changes you consistently force on your sellers, or be it through the constant shifting of priorities. Buyers, sellers, top merchants, small merchants.

    You are trying to please everyone and just upsetting everyone, except for the dishonest, who now flock to your site like flies around a fresh pile of horse shit.

    You have in effect become the number one place to digitally shop lift from. As stated in the comment above, you do nothing to check how many claims a buyer has made, what do you care you have made your money screw the seller.

    You try to intimate amazon, in terms of design and UI but leave out all of the good things that make amazon a great marketplace.

    Think ebay fulfillment, think why haven’t you bothered to get a shipping deal with one of the large UK couriers, therefore ensuring better service prices for your sellers and also earning off the back of every parcel. You could as part of the deal offer signed for deliveries, collect boxes.

    Shit you could even get the vans branded as ebay van therefore increasing your own brand presence. I see you have slowly started to sell ebay branded packaging, jesus how long did that take and how many managers CEO missed that?

    Why is feedback not forced by the buyers ? next time they sign in they have to leave feedback back. Oh No we don’t want to scare off the buyers.

    Wrong buyers are on your marketplace for price, sellers will find a way to serve this, the fact is it has never been in your interest to get sellers more feedback’s, as feedback’s offers discounts on sellers fees. ( these discounts have decreased almost year on year.

    My personal favourite is the algorithm that has been deployed to target top sellers who have duplicate parts listings ( because by your own senior managers admissions part search does not work) but the algo fails to target smaller sellers duplicate listings.

    When these duplicate listings are reported manually, no action is ever taken of course not because ebay would rather the sale goes to a small seller with less fees discount.

    Ebay your turning your marketplace in the place where aladdin lived, full of thieves and vagabonds, continue down this path for much longer, think tumble weeds and myspace.

  3. I think you would need a better breakdown of the data before drawing hard conclusions. While I find eBay customers a bit more needy in terms of questions, when looking at “lost” items versus Amazon, it all comes down to out of country shipping. My percentage of out of country shipping is much higher on eBay than on Amazon. My percentage of lost items on these orders is much higher. Amazon, by contrast, is mostly domestic and have very few lost orders. No doubt there are thieves on both platforms.

  4. I disagree about needing a better breakdown to come to those conclusions. But ask ANY seller on which platform they get the most claims and I can virtually guarantee that the results will say ‘Ebay’* almost every time. The only thing that would change are the actual percentages.

    * Sorry but I was brought up to understand that the capital letter came at the beginning of the word.

  5. I would say that’s a pretty accurate assessment of the way things are. for the record, I’ve done a brief, very unscientific check of the past month (June) and came back with this:

    Sales Ebay, (Amazon in brackets): 231 (192)
    Messages: 796 (2)
    Returns: 36 (2)

    No that isn’t a typo, THIRTY-SIX returns from 231 sales in June. That’s higher than average and I do operate in the notoriously difficult mobile phone sector, but I sell only new stock and take great care in describing the stock accurately.

    Missing items claims are a lot rarer now because quite simply I gave up selling low value items like batteries and phone cases for the most part, partly because there are a huge number of sellers selling fake batteries and claiming them as genuine on ebay, so it’s near impossible to shift actual genuine items which cost 3-4 times as much to buy in as dodgy sellers are selling their fakes for. Those include one seller with almost quarter of a million feedback, which proves how much ebay give a damn.

    Why do I mention this? Because that’s the core of the problem. Ebay let too much of this sort of thing go, which then leaves the dodgy sellers and scammers to carry on doing what they are doing. The public don’t help as it should be obvious if a battery costs £1.99 with free postage it ain’t real, but they sell, and they sell in their thousands.

    I have always maintained that there is a quick and simple answer to kill off missing items claims completely, and that is to insist that the buyer, not the seller, must have tracking ID before he can place a claim. Therefore if the seller offers the option of trackable delivery and the buyer turns it down then that puts the onus on the buyer.

    The wipes out the scammers in one hit. Sure, you will still have the Not As Described and Different Item Received brigade, but the core of the problem will have been wiped out. Scammy sellers would then become the main focus, but basically if the buyer is offered the chance of tracked delivery and doesn’t take it then they forfeit their right to claim. The carriers work that way (to a point), so why not Ebay?

    I think Ebay is a long way from dying, with millions of customers in dozens of countries worldwide, but the number of decent sellers has definitely declined in the last decade because a lot of us have had enough.

    Getting back to the number of claims, this is purely a product of EBay’s Managed Returns process.This effectively encourages customers to return their items. This has led to a huge increase in the number of returns and you might think it’s a poor policy but in fact it’s extremely clever on eBay’s part. It gives the buyer the impression that they care, that it is safe to buy and so they’re likely to come back when things do go wrong, while it’s the seller, not ebay, who foot the bill and lose another few minutes of their day.

    My main complaint with it – apart from the fact that it’s ludicrous to actually encourage a buyer to return items, it’s exactly the opposite of what any business actually wants to happen – is the fake excuses buyers make for returning the item so that they don’t have to pay return postage, and the poor condition the item and, almost always, the item’s box comes back in.

    There is no way to win a claim if you object. One buyer sent a phone back soaking wet, packaging and everything. It was returned in a sealed plastic bag so it definitely happened in the buyer’s hands, no doubt they dropped it in the sink or worse, so a brand new £80 phone came back ruined. Ebay asked for photos then still found in favour of the buyer. I argued the toss for three weeks but to no avail.

    You then also have the indignity of the inevitable neg feedback and the mark of your record of having a “Cases closed without seller resolution” strike against you, and it’s very easy to drop out of favour with only a small allowance that doesn’t favour those selling smaller numbers of more expensive items.

    I don’t think ebay have ever understood their platform from the seller’s point of view. For me though, ebay will continue to lose their better sellers until these issues are addressed, and it’s not going to be anytime soon if their past record is anything to go by. I wouldn’t mind if we were ‘cleaning up’ but it’s tough these days and ridiculously time consuming. I have only recently got back on Amazon but will be building on that and my website. In the end there will only be one loser and that will be Ebay.

    1. eBay lost their better sellers 10 years ago. Those sellers went to their websites and contributed to sell directly. Others started to make major contribution with an intact in commerce in those years, a website that did not gauge their profits- Amazon. People would shop Amazon for it was not EBay. Anyone who was feed up with eBay would buy from anyone other than eBay, so Amazon had it easy since it was not eBay. Other websites did grow and can credit eBay for handing them customers without referral bonuses. Yet Amazon was the big benefactor.

  6. If you are getting that many claims and messages you are doing something very, VERY wrong! Please post a link to that store so we can go and see what the problem might be. Those numbers are unacceptable, and if this store doesn’t make major changes, and fast, they are in real danger of being suspended. What is their feedback rate? What type of items are they selling?

    Whenever these statistics are happening it is always for the following reasons:
    1. No real tracking numbers being posted to Site
    2. No prompt and comprehensive communications from seller on an hourly basis
    3. Big hassles to return items for buyers, seller not accepting responsibility for their mistakes
    4. Ads are terribly written, not clear what is being sold, misleading Condition, wrong Item Specifics, missing parts or accessories
    5. Confusing pictures showing items not actually included, lazy titles, sparse descriptions.
    6. Condition of goods the buyer receives vs. what was advertised
    7, Sloppy and inadequate packaging methods not providing enough protection for shipping
    8. Overall lack of professionalism from start to finish
    9. Selling in High Fraud categories like Cell Phones

    In the last 90 days we had 3,775 Ebay orders and 2,558 Amazon orders. We sell a wide range of products and we ship 20% of our ebay orders internationally.

    We have received 108 Amazon Messages (many buyer repeats) around 1% overall returns and 1 claim.

    On ebay the messages are at least 5x higher, because we offer choice packs for some items. Most questions are about Shipping. We had 27 Return Requests, most were resolved with a simple message. Disputes are about half that number (usually international delays). Only 2 Escalated Claims. We message the buyer and they drop off after 60 days. Maybe 12-15 refunds out of 3775 orders. We had a big problem with fraudulent Paypal payments for awhile (reversals).

    We have seen almost every nightmare scenario that you will read about. 98% of the time a buyer contacts us we see where we missed it and take care of the buyer. 2% of our total claims feel like they are committing fraud. Which means we’ve only had a couple people in 90 days try to rip us off.

    If you are having more than 1% issue rate, that’s on YOU, not the buyer. Here’s a concept – STRIVE FOR PERFECTION! Then you will have a pretty good experience as an online seller, make money, and keep your buyers mostly happy 🙂

    1. You sound like an eBay shill, and without context, your data is worthless. Is your product high-value? What price range do you sell within? Can you substantiate your claims in any way that is reliable?

      I’ve sold on both platforms nearly since inception of each, and I find the story details and others posting as to the differences of eBay vs Amazon buyers to be credible based on more than a decade of my own experience.

      Your examples simply sound like a story.

      1. The story seldom changes when ECHOKE is mentioned.All we once upon a time sellers found that Ebay/Paypal did not make changes the past 10 years to benefit the seller.To participate and think you were going to save or make more money is a false statement.From 7 day returns to 30 day returns is one example of the hoops you had to jump through to get discounts.How many of us buy an item,new or used via mail,open it and take up to 30 days to decide if it is ok ? I sold brand name pocket knives for 12 years and had 3 returns,buyers remorse for 2 and one knife return because it was TOO CLEAN? All we sellers have horror stories but the one story that is an absolute truth for all is..Ebay could not be any more anti seller friendly if they tried at this point and time.

  7. After 20 years with Ebay and 8 with Amazon, my opinion is:

    Amazon has infinitely higher Traffic, producing many more Buyers, Sales, & Profits!
    Amazon never throttles your traffic, hides your ads, or limits your selling ability
    Amazon buyers LOVE to buy & return things just for the fun of it, returns usually perfect
    Amazon buyers are 10x more mature & professional at all times
    Amazon Prime buyers ABUSE the returns process (lie) 50+% of the time in order to get a free return
    Amazon very rarely changes their platform or the policies except to make it better. Amazon very rarely sides with the Seller.
    Amazon is a MUCH more restrictive & difficult site from a Policy and Competitor perspective. (Easy to violate policy and get suspended. Brands and other Competitors will fight you, can be hard to find your own niche.)
    No good Tools to create Amazon products from scratch in the catalog (so we are building one)
    Amazons Standards for sellers are so high that most Ebay sellers won’t have a clue and will not make it. Product & Packaging Quality must be showroom quality to list as New. You must be Authorized reseller and have detailed Invoice for that. Retail arbitrage and Liquidated goods are pretty much disallowed. Policies are difficult to comprehend and 100% comply with. You must be a real business with tax ID and legal entity docs. Seller support is contradictive and clueless. Just pray you never have to deal with Seller Performance, but you must notify them in advance of some actions you will take.
    Amazon is a “Suspend first” ask questions later marketplace. You don’t just start listing and figure it out as you go. You must spend a full week reading all Policies & Help before you begin doing anything. READ THOSE SELLER FORUMS WEEKLY!!!
    Amazon is not for Beginners or the faint of heart. You must be much more knowledgeable, professional, and prepared to succeed. Amazon has individual sellers doing $5 Million or more per month.

    Ebay is somewhat bizarre and much more difficult site to gain traction with. They continually hide your Listings from Search, throttle your traffic, limit your account, coddle the Buyer, and constantly change everything so you can never figure it out
    Ebay buyers rarely do return anything unless there was some issue or they mis-ordered. Usually they just open Cases and stop communicating
    Ebay buyers are prone to throw fits and curse, leave neg fb, open cases, and ruin your day. It feels like the average IQ of ebay buyers is the lowest of any marketplace.
    Ebay has a much MUCH higher rate of fraud & abuse and usually won’t get correct products back from this crowd
    Ebay price points are much lower, Ebay buyers are price sensitive, and profits are thinner. It is more difficult to get a product to go Viral on ebay.
    Ebay is the best place for Beginners because NO ONE READS ANYTHING so you can break all their rules and get warned vs. Suspended.
    Ebay has some 3rd party tools to build your product database. The best one we’ve used to date is WonderLister, but there are others. The reason we stick with Wonder Lister is because we can manage all our Amazon Products in one place and then export everything for Amazon in a mouse click or two.

    While it has become MUCH more difficult to earn a full time living selling online, I’m still going to do it for awhile. Online selling today just isn’t the “anyone can do this” opportunity it used to be. Unfortunately it now takes real capital, education, preparation, and infrastructure. Markets are completely saturated. Buyers have dwindled yet they are more spoiled and selfish than ever. Sites have really tightened the screws. Shipping rates have doubled over the last 14 years.

    What I see happening is thousands of Online Sellers eventually coming together and forming a Cooperative of their own to deal with all these challenges. There are Unions or Associations for just about everything, there needs to be something for US!

    1. RE: Saturated markets and spoiled consumers

      Agree with you on this one. The influx of more people into online selling causes saturation and undercutting. While this is good for consumers price-wise, ultimately it’s not good for everyone, including buyer. The abundance of selection and bottom prices changes their behaviour. You could tell that today’s commerce is coupon-driven and there are buyers who feel entitled to free products.

      I think I am seeing what I call “supply exceeds demand” where margins get split more as supply grows turning pieces of a commerce pie into breadcrumbs. I saw this happening with Google SEO, as there is now more information than you can handle and website visits get lesser as more websites popup in search sharing same visits. It started happening with YouTube as well. Just look how many experts surfaced in recent years offering “how to” information and also look how similar titles are, not to mention click-bait intended titles.

      The next is eCommerce. I think saying not to put all your eggs in one basket was never closer to the truth than it is today where there are almost no barriers to entry for anyone. Everyone can sell online and if you are not creating multiple income streams, you won’t last.

  8. Sold on eBay since 1999, sold on Amazon for 6 years. Both are different and both have their advantages. Nearly never had customer disatisfactions on both platforms and those that did are mostly buyers making unwise decisions. If your not aware of why the vast differences there is with these two platforms them you have not taken the time to fully analyze why those problems escalate. Sellers should invest their time in making their listing impossible for customers having issues of disatisfaction and embracing shipments as Amazon does. Amazon’s role is that the delivery is the sole most important feature in post purchase aspects far outweighing the merchandise. Such is the examples of how Japanese far exceed the hospitality and intro of clients with respect and consideration of their meet. With eBay the shipping is a get their if it can and worry later finger crossing hope all is well.

  9. LOL. If ebay did have “shills” I can promise you they are not Americans and could never write like that. I’m also pretty sure no shill would write unkind words about ebay. You clearly didn’t read my post. At all. Of course I can substantiate everything I posted. I wouldn’t be a member of WebRetailer and take time to write my experiences if I didn’t actually have them.

    We have sold in virtually every category from $2.99 – $2000. I even sold my Toyota 4×4 on Ebay. Overall we had a good experience. It has gone significantly downhill in the last few years. All these events significantly impacted our sales and ebay traffic. We never fully recovered from each of these:

    – Giant fee increases started the downturn in ’05
    – Meg Whitman’s ridiculous changes affected us in ’08
    – Donahoe was the worst CEO ever, DSR crushed us
    – Cassini put a further downturn in our sales
    – Ebay gets rid of Blackthorne, our only way to list items efficiently
    – 180 day PayPal returns, Ebay favoring buyers, means we now list far less items and no expensive items.
    – We used to continually GROW because of Ebay, now we just idle along. It doesn’t matter how much we list, Ebay limits our sales to below $18k per month with $1.3 Million in goods listed.

  10. After selling on both platforms, I have to admit ebay treats sellers better in one regard over amazon. For an item not received complaint, all ebay requires is a tracking # showing as delivered. When I have buyers open a case to complain that they never received an item but the tracking shows as delivered, one call to ebay and the case is closed in my favor. So long scammers. Amazon doesn’t care it the tracking shows as delivered. With amazon, if someone tries to pull the same stunt the only thing that will protect you is a signature confirmation. Last time I checked, that was another $3 per package with the postal service. Unless you are selling items that are above a hundred bucks, no seller is going to spend the money on every shipment for signature confirmation. Not to mention the grips that buyers will have because they have to be home to get their package.

  11. not much of you know, but with my listings, i put buyer requirements for all my listings. of all my sales to date (maybe 300 in total) i only got 2 requests to cancel the purchase.

    i think the majority of people who list will sell to anyone. you can block the trouble makers

    1. True about blocking buyers but it is after the fact and how much did that cost you? Ebay rules the sellers and favors the buyers good and bad.

  12. I started back in the late 90s selling on both platforms and back them I would sell more on ebay then Amazon. Now a days is the other way around but have more problems with ebay buyers. I think the reason that ebay buyers are more demanding is because when Donuts hoe, I mean Donahoe ran the company he spoiled them.

  13. Same story here, but without so extreme discrepancies. I sell on both marketplaces and Amazon is simply much better in terms of seller protection and smoothness of sales. eBay is simply, like you described it, a flea market. However, since eBay is still making me great profits I am not going to abandon it because of more demanding customers.

  14. Amazon buyers do ask tons of questions — but they are often asked or pre-emptively answered on the listing either in the questions section or reviews section. Also Amazon offers far less brand visibility for its sellers, so Amazon CS may be getting a good share of inquiries that, on eBay, are instead routed to the seller directly.

    Missing item claims have an easy solution, at least domestically — ship with tracking & insured. Problem solved.

    Fraudulent returns are a cost of business whether you are selling online or brick & mortar — avoid high risk niches, adjust your return policies, have a system (video, photo documentation) for proving fraud on high value items, have plans for liquidation of returned merchandise.

    eBay must support its sellers but must also be heavily buyer-centric (as all eCommerce must be) due to the incredible options that internet & mobile buyers have. As sellers we pay eBay fees, after all, first and foremost to bring us visibility and traffic. The infrastructure and perks to sellers are all secondary to that. This cost would exist off of eBay as well, they just replace some of the need to spend on advertising.

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