Home Truths for eBay Sellers

Everyone loves a whinge. Hell, I’d list it as a hobby in Who’s Who if I was illustrious enough. And it would be just that: a hobby: not business. But, and I’m willing to take the flak here, there is a cohort of eBay sellers who are in the business of complaining and they outclass even the Luddites, Private Fraser and Eeyore. In fact, the comment of one eBay executive back in 2000 has never rung so true: “you could give an eBay seller a fiver and he’d still complain that it was crumpled.”

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eBay is a corporation. It exists to make money. It’s still doing that and it isn’t suicidal: if it makes changes the aim is making more money.

To disgruntled, disaffected eBay sellers everywhere here’s what I say to you:

eBay has never loved you
The community thing was real but eBay has never ever shed a single tear over a seller who left. It can’t. It’s a corporation. If you’re staying out of some sense of misplaced loyalty, switch that chip off now. Stay ‘cos it works, makes you money: don’t base a business decision on an emotional attachment to eBay. Your love will always be unrequited.

Feedback is still just Feedback
eBay changed feedback. It’s gonna stay changed. If you harbour a grudge because you feel buyers have too much power, get over it or get out. It’s a change that isn’t going to be undone. If you think you are being hounded by hordes of malicious buyers who want to make your life a misery using Feedback, you’re wrong. Sellers care much more about Feedback than buyers: it has always been thus. Are there nutters out there? Sure. It’s not a problem restricted to eBay, it’s a problem with humans.

Are you really as good as you reckon?
So you’ve had some negative Feedback: it’s obviously unfair. You’re not getting top billing in Search because of some bad Feedback from some crazy buyers who were simply so stupid that they didn’t give you the 5* DSR you obviously deserve. How can eBay allow it? But, and search your soul a little, are you really as staggeringly brilliant as you believe yourself to be? Might it possibly be, imagine, that the buyers are right? Are you really as good as your best customers deserve you to be?

Big retailers are getting preferential treatment
They do. They get better fees. It’s been like that for a while. It’s crap (and I’m against it) but as a small seller you can be the better seller because you care more, are more nimble and are responsive. Get out there and excel.

Are you just whinging, or changing too?
Complain. It’s fun. But it’s not a business strategy. How else can you make money? There are loads of options: explore them. If you’re a professional eBay seller and don’t have a website, you’re crazy.

It’s your business, stupid.
The strikes, petitions, combative chatboard threads, the complaints, the rants: they don’t work. eBay doesn’t notice them. Stop worrying about eBay’s business and how it’s gone awry and will fail if it doesn’t look after businesses like you. Focus your energies on the business that keeps a roof over your head. I have never met a seller who regretted branching out.

22 thoughts on “Home Truths for eBay Sellers”

  1. are you really as staggeringly brilliant as you believe yourself to be? Might it possibly be, imagine, that the buyers are right? Are you really as good as your best customers deserve you to be?

    I was a little disappointed with my DSRs when they came out – especially the P&P DSR. In truth there was plenty of room to trim postage costs which has been done and my P&P DSR has been moving in the right direction over the course of the last year.

    I am as staggeringly brilliant as I believe myself to be… I was just taking the wee just a little and had to respond to my buyers ratings 🙂

  2. I agree with everything you say. Though on a personal level I find it hard to be quite so philosophical about feedback, because as a low volume seller, it would take so little to see me banned. I am already working on my own website and looking into Amazon. After being made redundant by an employer who considered it too much to pay miniumum wage to loyal UK workers and sent our work to India, I am determined never to be dependant on one source of income again.

    In common with most large organisations eBay commits some terrible PR blunders. Announcing that negatives and neutrals were being taken out of SNP, Richard Ambrose’s callous crack about dolphins in nets, etc, help fan the flames among the discontented. But to put it into perspective I have had to complain twice to E.O.N. this year and the responses were little better than eBay’s automated offering.

  3. Very very good posting. My sentiments too. Just expressed much better.

    Also think the new blog design is also very good.

    I think this is also why I’ll stop commenting mostly on eBay blogs, as you can’t have a debate really about the issues any more. It’s all very yelly and shouty.

  4. Probably the best comments and advice on the trials and tribulations of anyone being in love with eBay.
    Sound sense from someone who knows more than most of us about how the heart of eBay beats (and breaks ours!)
    Thanks Dan

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  7. Are the feedback policies of Ebay destroying its online marketplace? This is a factual question to which there is a factual answer. When people start blovating about attitude instead, you have to question where the misplaced loyalties really lie.

    I dont have a web site, never had a web site I dont sell anywhere online other than Ebay,
    and I bet I sell a dammed sight more ,and for more money than most though,

    I would suggest that any Seller who does not concentrate on ebay as their first option when selling online is delusionary

  9. Great post, Dan, but the reason why I’m no longer selling on eBay is none of the above. I’m so sick of the constant changes to eBay policy, search, categories, allowed postage charges etc, etc …. and resultant editing and revisions of my listings that I’ve decided to put my time and money to better use – my own website.

  10. Thanks for all the comments.

    @ himself alone: no. But when people start blovating essentially anonymously without a link to their site, you have to question what they’re hiding.

    @ Chris (comment #3)

    I take your point and should have been clearer. Whilst Feedback is only fFeedback, it’s actually never been more important and some bad reviews can now affect sales and positions in Search more than ever before.

    I suppose what I wanted to say is something rather more about sellers taking a proportional response: one bad transaction with a buyer is still just that and to some extent inevitable every now and again.

    I’m concerned about sellers I call ‘ostriches’ (rather than dolphins). They’re aggreived by the Feedback changes, they have been adversely affected and they’re angry. It’s obvious to me that actually a great many sellers are really prospering too. The ostriches haven’t taken this fact onboard: ebay doesn’t think they’re the best sellers out there.

    They can rail against it, or work on improving the DSRs. Ostriches need to get their heads out of the sand and start smartening up. It is, perhaps sadly, as simple as that.

  11. What do you know. Someone who can talk about eBay without pitching a fit. These kinds of comments are few and far between these days. It’s nice to see some common sense rational discussion instead of a whine-fest.

    I’ve been saying for a while that eBay is a business, not your BFF. Some sellers seem to want the homey little shop where they can chat and make friends, but online businesses simply don’t work that way. If eBay isn’t giving a seller what he wants, then he should go elsewhere. For me, eBay is still working fine as a venue. Sure, they’ve made some changes I don’t like, but it’s their sandbox and they get to make the rules.

    Personally, I think the whole feedback thing is overblown. Rating buyers is not a good way to encourage business, so I don’t mind not having buyer feedback. As a customer, are you going to shop somewhere where they can tell the whole world that you stink? The buyers who really are scammers aren’t going to care about feedback because they’ll just set up another account. Most other ecommerce sites don’t rate buyers, so this is more in line with customer expectations. I think a lot of the issue is that feedback has always been a certain way and now people have to adjust how they do business. Hey, change happens. Adapt or die 🙂

    I do think eBay is overemphasizing the value of feedback and making it a bigger stick than it needs to be, but like I said, they get to make the rules.

  12. What a Fantastic Post…

    The main responsibility eBay has is to it’s shareholders, & only to make a profit. Not to sellers. No one is forced to use EBay and in many ways it forces us to make better business decisions by adopting its policies from time to time.

  13. Sharon Turner-Fry

    Very well put Dan!

    The numbers at the bottom of Ebay headed paper are COMPANY registration number – not CHARITY registration number.

    Ebay is a business, not a democracy!

  14. Dead wrong, Sharon!
    You missed the fact, that it is all Ebay stockholders own fault that the ebay stocks are hitting bottom more and more, don’t you think?

    BUSINESS doesnt mean: Manchester-capitalism! Introducing as the big humanist (seems you havent experienced Ebay in the old days, then read their remains of human kindness on their homeside), hooking people over years by providing good business conditions, then whipping them when business gets lower, torturing them with a stupid and immature payment system a.s.o. Im far from whining and know at best, everybody is his own luck’s blacksmith but: Ebay is not worth a dime anymore. Their crisis speaks for itself, because tenthousands “disgruntled, disaffected eBay sellers” cant be wrong.
    I hate being right…..

  15. “Their crisis speaks for itself, because tenthousands “disgruntled, disaffected eBay sellers” cant be wrong.”

    Well, alas I think they can be wrong. Maybe not wrong, but I think that eBay is quite happy to lose a significant proportion of the ‘least good’ sellers and replace their sales with enterprise level retailers.

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  17. A great post Dan Wilson.

    “Stop worrying about eBay’s business and how it’s gone awry”.

    Indeed. Blogs such as Tamebay have the same people whinging on about Ebay. These same people have dwindling Ebay traffic and sales, yet they masochistically relist and add new stock.

    I spent 10 years selling on Ebay, traffic and sales dwindled, so I quit 2 months ago and now focus my selling energies elsewhere. No regrets, and I’m looking forward, not backwards.

  18. Sue

    Neither si the author of this article – Its dated 2008

    Where have you been for the past 12 months then?

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