Marketplaces Are Horrible, So Why Do We Sell On Them?

Every day marketplace sellers deal with returns abuse, unfair metrics, rude buyers and declining sales. Why do they put up with it?

Have a question for us? Send it to questions@webretailer.com. Readers’ Questions are in partnership with Emanaged and Online Seller Consulting.

Question

We have been selling smartphones, tablets and accessories on our website, eBay and Amazon for almost 3 years now. Our sales were very good last year but now they have almost halved. We are also opening our first outlet store in about a week’s time.

Let’s begin with eBay, where some buyers abuse loopholes in the money back guarantee to return damaged items which were delivered in full working order.

Now we come to Amazon which is an even bigger problem. We have four main issues:

  1. Other sellers on our listings keep changing the product details, meaning that the listing no longer matches our product. We only find out when buyers complain.
  2. Buyers are allowed to open A-Z claims up to 90 days after purchasing an item, but can also do it after 6 months and get a full refund!
  3. Amazon penalizes small sellers for a few invalid returns, negative feedback and A-Z claims when there are hundreds of other orders without any problem.
  4. Unlike eBay, buyers do not bother to leave feedback. The only time they will leave feedback is when they are angry.

What can we do to tackle the issues mentioned above and increase our sales on eBay and Amazon?

– Salma G., Surrey

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Answer

Hi Salma,

I sense a simmering hatred for marketplaces. Hopefully you don’t manage customer service.

Jokes aside, I don’t blame you. Sometimes you get the bear (your strong sales last year) and sometimes the bear gets you (the dip this year).

Let’s remember that marketplaces focus on the buyer. They are following analytics to best serve the buyer, because the buyer is how they make a living. Buyers who feel protected on a channel, and can find what they are looking for easily at a good price, are going to stick around. Wouldn’t you?

So… this disdain for marketplaces isn’t really aimed at the marketplace. Buyers are increasingly being spoilt by how marketplaces are fine-tuning to their needs, causing game-changing ripples to businesses. The marketplace is a window into desired buyer behavior. You don’t hate the marketplaces, you hate all us buyer-humans with high expectations.

I’ll reply briefly to your points, which, let’s face it, are more of a big vent in nature. In fact, it must have been mildly cathartic to write it! But first let’s take a step back and ask why we bother to sell on marketplaces at all, if they are so bad…

Let’s talk big picture

Clearly, you’re frustrated, although that might be a polite manner of phrasing it. Before you march on Seattle with a flaming torch chanting “death to the listing dictator”, let me ask – why are you bothering to sell on marketplaces in the first place? Why are any of us?

Marketplaces also don’t seem to be shrinking… they are springing up all over the place.

For all the hatred of Amazon’s cumbersome support, with nonsensical, inefficient, loop-to-loop procedural chaos, Amazon connects you to hundreds of millions of buyers. eBay does too. What sort of marketing spend would you need on a website to get anywhere close? What sort of banner and billboard advertisement would you need to have that many eyes on your product each day?

More product searches start on Amazon than Google. Its official, the human race now goes to marketplaces to digitally window shop.

It’s projected by 2020 that marketplaces will account for over 40% of all online retail. That’s a huge amount of traffic when you factor in growing middle classes globally, population growth and the proliferation of new marketplaces.

Marketplaces also don’t seem to be shrinking. Far from it, they are springing up all over the place. Three big marketplaces are presently in production in the EU, one being Toys R Us, who, having fallen out of favor with Amazon years back, have realized the importance of the marketplace business model in attracting buyers.

Wholesalers and distributors know they can’t escape the inevitable changes. Given that marketplaces create a landscape of catalogued items with competitive pricing and service levels, suppliers are starting to realize their role in the ecommerce industry is shrinking. They can’t resell to hundreds of online sellers successfully, if all those sellers are then competing with each other over pennies. This year, lots of suppliers have approached our agency about selling directly online under new legal entities. Some might say this is naughty or immoral to cut out their retailers, but it’s smart for their long term survival.

Manufacturers and large brands are also seeing changes. Their older distribution networks are now competing with their direct online retail activities on marketplaces, creating internal departmental turf wars over old and new thinking. Brands are slowly cutting away their distributor networks because selling direct to consumers across multiple regions and demographics has never been easier, or more lucrative. The reason for this? Marketplaces.

Marketplaces are changing ecommerce. There is no doubt.

Even the nature of a “big brand” is shifting. Buyers are still following big brands, but the days of truly huge brands dominating markets is dwindling in numerous industries, because marketplaces are allowing smaller brands to tap into a massive buyer pool. As long as they offer a good product for a good price, they stand every chance of being successful. Rather than big brands taking over more and more territory, marketplaces have offered a platform where small brands can compete for market share without the big marketing budgets they traditionally might have otherwise needed.

Marketplaces are changing ecommerce. There is no doubt. From a buyer mindset and expectation level, to the nature of distributor and supplier networks, the world is shifting on the back of marketplace growth.

I guess my point is, you can’t fight this anymore than you can stop the tide. It will continue to change, mature and adapt over the next decade, but you cannot avoid selling online without a marketplace strategy.

That means that you need to adapt and leverage marketplaces with new strategies, or you’ll miss the wave. Clearly your present procedures, team bandwidth, systems and catalogue are all contributing to frustrating outcomes on your marketplace channels. But you can’t change how marketplaces are going to continue to adapt to the buyer’s needs. You can’t fight the direction of the industry. You need to leverage what you can from it, which might mean a very different strategy online compared to the one you use in your physical store or on your website.

You’re going to need to accept marketplaces, and how they work.

What can you do? Focus on what you control. If you are wasting too much time managing these aspects, you likely lack good systems, efficient procedures and focused insights. This needs to be as efficient, with as low an overhead as possible. If you are getting frustrated with policies, rules and buyer actions, you need to calibrate your plans, policies and expectations I’m afraid.

Electronics are tough online. They are tough in general, given their fragility, complexity and the occasional inability of buyers to distinguish a hardware fault from a software fault. I am sympathetic to your frustrations, but I also feel you’re looking for solutions in the wrong places and focusing on the things you cannot control.

You’re going to need to accept marketplaces, and how they work. Maybe that’s not selling your core physical catalogue on them at all? Maybe it’s slowly getting your own branded goods set up? Maybe it’s having a different catalogue and strategy on marketplaces altogether? Maybe it’s lowering your expectations in some areas, while thinking of new categories or niche products in other areas?

What you can do

Now we’ve looked at the big picture, let’s briefly consider each of the specific points you’ve raised in your question.

eBay

Yup, buyers do abuse the money back guarantee at times. Just like any apple tree has some bad apples, eBay buyers have been proven to complain more. What should you do? Use tracked couriers and make sure your refund policy is clear on what is, and isn’t, allowed to be refunded. eBay will mediate when you and a buyer are in disagreement, so simply make sure if, and when, that happens, your position can be strongly argued: “I gave the buyer the exact information on my policies page”.

Amazon: listing changes

If you resell other brands’ products, you’re going to have a bad time. Having your own branded goods dispels pretty much all the issues you flag here. Amazon is focusing on the buyer, and the buyer wants good product information. If Amazon didn’t police and lock its catalog, it would be like the Wild West on listings. You’re fighting other sellers actions more than Amazon’s. But, I do agree that the cumbersome case-per-ASIN details change procedure is impossibly stupid. Our agency burns hundreds of hours a year on this topic.

Amazon: A-Z claims

The new laws do allow for refunds up to six months. I had to spend a bit of time re-reading this to verify, but the act does not limit buyers to 30 days. Amazon is more stringent than eBay here and you can get dealt with unfairly sometimes. However, if these are so prevalent, perhaps the item is poor quality or not worth selling on Amazon? We have some electronics sellers and although this issue does exist, it’s not a big enough percentage of sales to warrant taking any action, other than eye-rolling. If the buyer breaks the item, however, you shouldn’t be out of pocket.

Amazon: metrics

This is simply how marketplaces work. Being focused on buyers, they need to make sure they keep coming back. A lot of the time, buyers attribute a poor experience to the marketplace, not the individual seller, so therefore the marketplace has to keep tabs on sellers. Marketplaces force a seller to adopt strict policies and procedures to ensure as few mistakes happen as possible. It’s a necessity of their business model.

I sympathize that there are times where the metrics are unfairly balanced due to circumstances you don’t control. If the postal service goes on strike in France, you should not be suspended on Amazon.fr for late deliveries (this happened to sellers last year). But there isn’t really a way that a marketplace can grow and operate without forcing you, the seller, to keep the buyer experience high.

Amazon: feedback

How often do you leave feedback when things go according to plan? You’re vocal now that sales are down from last year, but were you being vocal last year when sales were good? I don’t say much when things are going well, but I’m the first to write a long ranty complaint when something goes wrong. I’m just far too busy to write a one sentence positive review when things go right.

This is human nature, and the same happens on websites, forums and a great many other areas of life. We only really want to share, or be heard, when we feel an injustice. I think you’re annoyed at human behavior more than Amazon, who are considering themselves impartial to the product’s success.

Infrastructure

Admittedly, if you want to manage and grow on marketplaces, I would favor better tools which allow you to manage data better and draw more in-depth insights. As long as you are heavily optimizing your listings for each channel, and stock is synchronized, exactly which tools you use matter little.

Tools increase speed and efficiency however, so if you are logging lots of hours on tasks which more upmarket tools can do automatically, be sure to attribute a value to your time. That time might be best used elsewhere in the company.

Sales are down

The age-old question. Sales are down, you’ve tried everything, what should you do… sadly I have no idea. When sales go down, it can be one thing or a million little things added together – I wrote about this in a previous post. You have to either research and find the issues, or try out new ideas to see if you can amend the situation.

Sadly, you won’t be competitive everywhere on every item. You can’t force an equation to fit a desired outcome. Rather than force your strategy on marketplaces, use marketplaces to leverage new strategies specific to them.

Wrapping up

When faced with a strategy that isn’t working due to external factors you don’t control, all I can suggest is you don’t focus on said external factors. You instead focus on the strategy.

Marketplaces afford you with opportunities. Be flexible to them. You want to make money and lead a better life. Follow the opportunities without any strings attached. The most successful marketplace sellers do this and nothing else.

Have a question for us? Send it to questions@webretailer.com.

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10 comments on “Marketplaces Are Horrible, So Why Do We Sell On Them?

  1. Sorry but reading that, and with all due respect, with regard to eBay that’s a ridiculous response

    You stated: Use tracked couriers and make sure your refund policy is clear on what is, and isn’t, allowed to be refunded. eBay will mediate when you and a buyer are in disagreement, so simply make sure if, and when, that happens, your position can be strongly argued: “I gave the buyer the exact information on my policies page”.

    That’s total garbage, and I’ll tell you why (and sorry if I’m not exactly being subtle here but this really angers me). The reality is no matter what the situation is, ebay absolutely do not give a toss about ANYTHING except not upsetting the buyer. They will not give a damn what your terms and conditions are in the event of a dispute, they will find in favour of the buyer.

    For example, my terms are that if a new item is returned used we will refund up to 50% of it’s value depending on it’s condition. That’s fair – by law we don’t have to accept it at all. But ebay don’t care about that. In a few cases they allow you to choose what to refund, but if the buyer appeals they will find in the buyer’s favour. Every time. That’s only if it’s a voluntary return because the buyer doesn’t want it. But most buyers claim the item is faulty, or not as described, mostly to get free return postage costs but it’s the knock on effect that’s the problem.

    It was mentioned that Amazon will refund the customer who claims an item is not as described even if you have hundreds of sales from buyer who are perfectly happy with the item. Well guess what. Ebay do EXACTLY the same thing. A buyer simply needs to file a claim choosing the reason as “Item not as described and that’s it. He doesn’t need to quantify the claim, describe the problem, reply to requests for more details or photos or anything. You are FORCED to accept the return request, FORCED to pay the return postage and FORCED to refund him in full, INCLUDING his outgoing postage costs even if he has opted for an expensive next-day service, which you are not legally required to refund.

    It does not matter if the item comes back with nothing wrong with it, thus indicating the buyer lied, or if it comes back completely wrecked. If you refuse to refund the buyer escalates the claim and eBay find in favour of the buyer EVERY SINGLE TIME. In fact they do so instantly and automatically, and to reverse it you have to appeal. If you do appeal they use the same excuse every time: “We have no proof of the condition of the item to begin with so we have to take the buyer’s word.”

    Even worse, you get a defect for “cases closed without seller resolution and you only need 0.5% to put you below standard. For me this means three cases, within a 3 month period. It happened to me 2 years ago when two buyers both escalated cases on “seller assessment day”, which took me 0.01% over the limit. My account was then classified as Below Standard and my sales were decimated for months. In fact it took me over 18 months to get back to the same level, even though all three defects were removed on appeal. So basically what that means is it’s better to allow yourself to be ripped off than try to appeal and get some help, because the truth is you won’t get any.

    I also sell phones, and have just had an item returned where the buyer clearly lied, first saying it wouldn’t work then changing the supposed things wrong with it along the way. The item was new and boxed with accessories. Nothing else was returned and the item came back smashed. None of this matters to ebay, despite the fact that he has been on ebay for 2 weeks and has 9 feedback, against my five-figure 100% feedback. Ebay rejected my appeal on the basis I had no proof of the condition of the (brand new and boxed) item to begin with), this DESPITE the fact that he had never mentioned that the item was damaged in any of his messages.

    In another case I had a buyer overseas who said the item was damaged. Now it’s a criminal offence to ask a buyer to ship a damaged item containing a lithium battery so I asked for more details of the damage to establish whether it was safe to send back or not. Several times. He ignored me time and time again, not a single word from him. He then escalated the claim and ebay told me to send a shipping label within 5 days or they would find in his favour. I argued time and time again over those five days that I could not ask him to return it unless I knew what the damage was, as I would be committing an offence and asked ebay if they would contact him for the required information.

    Same result, they completely ignored the facts and refunded him without him having to return the item, or in fact even having to respond at all. I did get payment off him in the end by finding an aggressive debt collection agency to pursue him and threaten him with legal action, but that’s not the point. Ebay put me in a position of either having to potentially break the law, and potentially put a flight at risk carrying a damaged item containing a lithium battery, or to simply write it off and refund him all because he would not reply. All he had to do to achieve this is open a claim and type two words: “Item damaged”.

    The thing is, these are not one-offs’ this sort of thing happens regularly. EBay’s Managed Returns portal and the fact that ebay actually encourage returns by asking the buyer if they have a problem has increased returns four-fold. No business owner in their right mind encourages returns, but for ebay it’s a no brainer because it keeps buyers happy and costs them nothing – it’s all done at the seller’s expense. Over 90% of items returned as faulty are in fact not faulty at all, buyers are simply choosing the option because they get free return postage, but less than 20% come back in a condition that allows them to be resold as new.

    Like many ebay sellers we’re only a small family business and returns alone is now costing us thousands of pounds more each year. That’s bad enough, but the lack of support and eBay’s “The buyer is ALWAYS right” stance is disgraceful. Note I said buyer – eBay actually forgot who it’s customers were a long time ago, probably because they never actually sold an item.

    As for Amazon I gave up on them years ago. I’m not well off but I don’t need the money that badly and would drop eBay in a heartbeat if I could. We all understand the value of a platform that reaches millions of buyers and just like a shop will always have shoplifters, we realise we can’t stop every scam. But we’re all in it to MAKE money, not be ripped off at every turn and all we ask for is some genuine support, not for eBay to help us to get scammed every five minutes.

    Incidentally I thought Toys R Us had filed for bankruptcy everywhere? Or am I missing something?

    1. It’s bad and getting worse, and much of it is due to “international” buyers. They mask themselves in the US through a US buyer, and commit fraud consistently without repercussions. It’s especially bad with electronics, iPhones,… eBay is effectively a scummy swap meet which I now avoid at all costs.

      1. Electronic’s is affected by this, agreed. I saw first hand a colleague sell his secondhand iPhone, have it returned, only to find a knock off case in the box!

        Thankfully, after 2 months of hassle, he got the funds pack through PayPal.

    2. The overall picture is what you’re failing to catch here. Manufacturers / suppliers are undercutting retailers. That is already in play and will continue to be the wave. So you’d best be asking yourself if you can even stay selling. Does a site like “webretailer.com’ by its very nature want to advertise or much less address this aspect of the problem — no, so I give them mad props for that.

      Sellers did a mass exodus from eBay many years ago – I know, because I was one of them. I’d been with eBay from the beginning. Did it hurt eBay? To a degree, but they’re obviously still thriving. Did I simply switch marketplaces? No, because as this article has pointed out so well – it wouldn’t make a difference where I am. I changed what I sell, to something that I make myself. I dabble in eBay now.

      My best tips: communicate with your buyer more than ever before. Short notes, adhered with removable tape to the item itself, explaining that you are a small seller who caters to its buyers and strives to ensure happiness, requests that if there are ANY issues whatsoever the buyer “message you through eBay’s system or call you at such-and-such first”. That if they do anything other than that, your hands are tied. From there, as you get contact, you determine if its worth it to you to make an issue of something or simply please your customer. 99% of the time I’m nice as can be and simply get them to agree to get me the return within seven days (screw what’s in writing, you’re dealing with them practically in person now). Most of the time, with that oneness on them and if they know there’s really nothing wrong with it especially, I never get a return — nor do I get bad feedback. That 1% of the time if the buyer is a complete jerk right out of the gate and hit me on a worst possible day, I will try to get them to state in writing exactly what is wrong with the item. If there’s bs involved, such as ‘my son ordered this on my account (and miraculously paid?), or they indicate something that shows they did not bother to read a description or look at a picture or title … I’m possibly in the driver’s seat. Okay, I don’t want to jinx myself, but this has thus far always worked. I then, as sweet as syrup, reply that ‘gee, I really wish I could help you — however per the terms you agreed to when signing up to buy on eBay, yada yada yada (explain how they’ve violated terms). eBay has changed their procedures a bit ago to be certain the seller has further protections on things just like this, or we’d not be able to stay in business … however, perhaps you’ll have luck if you contact them?” They know then that I have it all in writing, that I’m not accepting a return, and if they want something further done they’re going to have to make an ass of themselves to eBay.

      What I’m saying is, face facts as harsh as they are. They’re not changing and you’re only giving yourself an ulcer. Change your own buying practices and buy outside of the marketplaces when you can – goes against what we do, but if I can find that same vendor in their own website even after finding them on a marketplace, that’s how I’ll buy. I share your — let’s face it, it’s hatred — for being ‘owned’ by them. Think outside the box and find ways to play outside of their own rules. Get creative. Or hire an experienced consultant to review your systems to see if they can come up with flaws or creative solutions for you.

    3. Hi Mark,

      No worries on being subtle. I like honesty. Allow me to reply in the kind.

      Firstly, are you making money on eBay / Marketplaces? I assume so, or why bother. If yes, we’re still debating buyer actions and systems we cannot control or change. I’m a firm believer in the common biblical motto of accepting what you cannot control, working on what you can, and learning the difference between them (paraphrased). I’m not religious, but its good wisdom to live by. If you’re not making money, maybe you should drop the topic and move on to something else?

      Secondly, the eBay refunds… well. Those are rapid fire snap shot ideas that we advise most of our clients. Sure, they don’t fix all the problems. They just help minimize and control them. It takes time and far more data to find root causes. If you were a client of ours, we’d likely want to:

      – Get exact YTD numbers. You’re throwing terms like “regularly” around. What does that mean? Once a week? A day? I am not suggesting to post them here publicly for the world to read eating Cheetos, but past experience tells me this tone has too much emotion and not enough raw facts. I suggest you spend time making accurate long term tallies on all this.

      – Analyse your data. Are you tracking ever single refund/return in detail? Are you creating a spreadsheet to track all these events with details? If you’re not, you’re guessing in all honest. Scientifically, its proven we’re all emotional beings who logically explain our actions after we do them. Logic isn’t in control of us all, emotions are. Its very easy to let them carry us away with the winds. If you log all this data in more detail, tracking reasons, events, types, profiles, buyers, etc, the data will start to show patterns. Maybe they prove your ideas. Often however, they highlight things you missed by administering this day by day, case by case. Those highlights can be meaningful. We had a seller start to do this, and soon realize all their defected product were from a single PO, which they later claimed back with the supplier. Thats easy to miss if you’re not tracking the data over a longer stretch of time. Heck, maybe your competitor is doing this to you with new eBay accounts all the time so his listings rank higher. You just dont know until you start following the data.

      – EMOTION. Cap’s in typing suggest a shouting tone. Don’t get me wrong, you have reason to be frustrated. But do prize fighters get taught to use emotion? No, they are taught the opposite. We’re not thinking straight when we’re channeling the dark side. Avoid letting this get to you emotionally. Its clouding your judgement, not helping and likely going to put you in an early grave. We’re all dust specs on a blue spec, circling a tiny light in the sky, among a sea of specs, in an ocean of other galaxy size specs so vast in numbers, there are more of them than grains of sand on every beach. Sorry, don’t mean to preach. Try to get the emotion out of all this. It will help see the wood from the trees more.

      Lastly, Chris sort of beat me to this below but just to reiterate, you cannot change these platforms. Sure, always believing the buyer over the seller is morally wrong. Sure, buyers will abuse it. Sure, its unfair at times. But your choices are binary – put up with it and try to make it work better, or move on.

      Its hard to meaningfully offer help like this. Contact me directly and happy to set up a call and see if I/we can help.

      I do sincerely wish you luck in all this.

  2. Hi Matthew,

    It’s good of you to reply. Just to explain, my biggest gripe with some of the advice I read – and I am generalising here, I’m not pointing at WebRetailer who are better than most, otherwise I would not be here – is that if offers “solutions” or advice on the basic everyday problems which in most cases the seller posting should be aware of, otherwise they are not sufficiently astute enough to be in business.

    I also get the old favourite, “if you don’t like it then don’t sell on ebay”, i.e. if you can’t take the heat get out of the kitchen. But many people, myself included, have made a career out of selling online and it’s no easier to pack up and walk away any more than it would be to throw in your job if you were not happy at work. We all have bills to pay, a living to earn and it’s often tough so in the majority of cases it would be near impossible to just walk away, yet that’s the advice we’re generally given. And that annoys me. If somebody were in debt and depressed and struggling to cope with their job, would you expect the doctor to advise them to give up their job?

    On refunds, your advice is spot on but my point is that if sellers doesn’t know when it’s fair to refund, i.e. when a buyer has a genuine complaint and the item is missing or faulty, then that’s what I meant at the top – the seller should not be in business. My complaint is about ebay procedure. Buyers should not be allowed to open a case, do nothing, then get refunded because the seller is FORCED to accept what the buyer says. I have one open at the moment, the buyer has opened a return case stating that the item is fake (even more absurd as it’s actually an unbranded item and is sold as such) and I’m FORCED to accept that because ebay do not give me the option to contest it. That’s not right. The buyer is in fact committing two criminal offences – libel and defamation of character – and in a court of law he would be expected to prove his case, so why is that not so on ebay? It’s a very serious accusation and ebay should be telling the buyer that he must (at the very least) explain his position, NOT force the buyer to accept the return because the buyer says it is fake. That is just wrong, and that’s my point about ebay, the one sided stance they have that is heavily biased in support of the buyer and the lack of support.

    Quick example, is it fair to be forced to accept a return because the buyer claims the item is damaged, without as an absolute minimum, asking the buyer to upload a photo? Is it really too much to ask? Again, in a court of law he would have to prove his case, on ebay the seller is automatically proven guilty.

    What I believe we should be doing, and that “advice” websites should be doing , is in cases where the system is abused sellers should be advised to report each and every single case. Sellers don’t because they know ebay don’t really do anything. How bad is it? Well I’ve seen buyers leave over 20 negative and no positive feedbacks inside 6 weeks, each and every one claiming he did not receive the item ordered. I found him after he claimed the item we sold him wasn’t delivered. These were all low value items that it’s too expensive to send tracked (they always are, so advising the seller to use a tracked service is pointless). I contacted every single seller and asked them all to report the buyer to ebay. Over half responded and said that they would. I checked back a few weeks later and the number of negs left had gone up to over 40, so the buyer/scammer was obviously still buying and still claiming and ebay clearly did nothing.

    I do not accept we should shut up and accept it, I believe we should all be making more of an effort to do something about it and I would like to see a more pro-active attitude, otherwise nothing will ever change. In fact it’s because of these policies and our automatic acceptance of them that the problem has got so bad. In a High Street store a shoplifter would be arrested; (do you call them that in the US? People who pocket an item from the shelves and leave without paying); online we’re supposed to just accept it and that’s wrong.

    Numbers? Doesn’t matter because it will be different for everybody. For example, mobile phones are particularly volatile. I can’t imagine somebody selling bedsheets having the same problems. By regularly I mean all the time, constantly, and I don’t need a spreadsheet or calculator to know it’s getting worse, as others have said. Since Ebay started Managed Returns, the number of returns has gone up x4 (and is 95% higher than on the website). It’s not that buyers are particularly unhappy, it’s ebay, in their pursuit of making sure buyers are happy no matter what, that are encouraging returns.

    I noticed recently that if you now open Help and Contact you now get a new Help-Bot AI pop-up which says “Didn’t get your item or need to return it? Our new AI powered assistant is here to help”. Now the buyer might have opened the Help page for a completely different reason but he is now reminded he can return an item if he wants to. There’s only going to be one result: MORE returns. You’re not encouraging people to spend more because at that point they have already bought the item. I predicted right at the very start that Managed Returns would do nothing to help sales but would significantly increase returns, and that’s exactly how it has turned out. None of this is helping anybody and it’s no surprise to me that eBay’s income is down this year. I would dearly love to know how much of that is due to the much higher number of FVF fees they have had to cancel. It’s lunacy.

    As for my data, for a start ebay is ridiculously time consuming and most small business owners work extremely long hours. There just isn’t time to analyse everything. But no, I’m not guessing. I am simply talking about the large number of people who are deliberately claiming that items are faulty or not as described for one reason and one reason alone – it forces the seller to pay return postage. None of this happened prior to ebay starting this Managed Returns bollox. The only numbers that matter is that over 90% of items claimed faulty are not faulty at all. This is simply buyers abusing the system and with respect, I don’t need a spreadsheet to work it out. If you took away the buyer’s right to return postage fees until after the item had been returned and checked the number of returns would drop substantially. People don’t want to pay return postage, it’s that simple. That’s the reason for the “fake” claim above. I’ve politely asked him why he thinks it’s fake. He won’t reply, they never do. This is what we’re up against.

    Emotion? I can assure you I’m completely calm and rational. Typing sentences in caps suggest emotion, typing a few words here and there is merely done to emphasise the point. I deal with customers extremely well, there’s no way that on ebay I would have 100% feedback in what is generally considered to be the most difficult sector, particularly when it comes to dealing with customers. I’ve been in business for over 30 years, I know the script.

    I also have a small but successful business – my sales are actually up 80% on last year although a lot of that is because I have had two opportunities to add new funding this year. But my advice to the original poster is change your stock regularly. Ten years ago you could list something and it might sell well for months. Nowadays you can have something that sells well for a couple of weeks then dies, even if there is nobody selling cheaper. Drop the price, even sell it off at cost and get something new in. Keep changing and adding to your stock and it gives people reason to come back to the ebay shop, even if they can’t find something they like the first time. Basically, if something is not selling get rid of it and use the funds to get something in that will. I don’t advise joining in the race to the bottom, you’re on a road to nowhere.

    I don’t have e a problem with selling on ebay. I get it. But as for lying down and rolling over when it comes to fighting those who are trying to buck the system and rip me off? Never. I report every single one and will continue to do so, because if everybody ignores it then it will just get worse and worse and become a free for all and the best sellers will cut and run. We’ve been near that point once with buyers AND sellers, but eBay’s answer to getting rid of bad sellers is simply to side with the buyer every time, and everybody suffers as a result.

    Believe me, if I got enough from my website to sustain me I would drop ebay, amazon and the rest in a heartbeat. It may never happen, but I’m working on it.

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