Well, the new Detailed Seller Ratings (DSR from here on out) are here. We can pile it on the reasons that we already love to hate the platform that we make money on, or we can
embrace it be wary but not aggressive towards this new system. I mean, I’ve had 2 sales today! So it couldn’t have impacted me negatively… I know, i know. That’s only n=2! But seriously, I think that in the long run, we’ll all feel a little silly about all of this.
Hey, can’t we all be a little optimistic?
That sky didn’t fall after all!
What’s DSR anyways?
eBay’s been touting its new DSR system for seller feedback for a while. Months it seems to me. All in all, eBay explains the system here on their own site. I’m going to give a brief overview of each rating, my issues with the system, and I’ll top it all off with why I think we’ll all be fine (even if the implementation is a little clunky). Here are the 4 categories and my interpretations.
1. How accurate was the item description?
This is an important one. Did you describe the item correctly. Condition, issues, correct pictures (we all know the colors can be misconstrued on different monitors), etc. This is the exact reason I type out the color of an item and give its actual measurements. “Large” can mean a whole host of different things for a shirt depending on the material, the brand (NFL brand large is HUGE), and the year it was made.
99% of the time, this is on the seller. There’s always a fluke or two (like a buyer who thought a 20-year-old Walkman was an up to date one, but hey, it’s still sort of my fault since it didn’t work regardless of it being sealed in its original plastic).
I think the reason this one is getting hit on so heavy by eBay is due to their large amounts of data. I’m going out on a limb, but I’m betting that they can prove a direct correlation between buyers having to talk to a seller about item not as describe and less future purchases from that buyer.
Still, this is the detail that you can control the most. It’s in your court. Be honest, and you’ll be fine overall.
2. How satisfied were you with the seller’s communication?
If you didn’t have to talk with the buyer at all before hand, then you should receive a 5 star rating. I’d say this is true for about 90+% of my sales. Otherwise, you are supposed to talk to the buyer quickly. Doing this lets the buyer know you’re serious and care about them. It’s hard when you’re someone like me, doing eBay on the side though. If this is you, then you probably don’t need to worry about the loss of a discount due to a loss of Top Rated Status.
3. How quickly did the seller ship the item?
This one’s a tough one. eBay does give you an automatic 5 star rating if the tracking information is entered quickly (if you purchase postage through eBay this won’t be an issue) and that it’s scanned at the post office as received within the required time. After that, you really can’t do anything.
eBay does instruct buyers “Don’t hold sellers responsible for delays in mail services, international custom delays, or for the time it takes for your payment to clear. ” I’ve also seen instances where sellers receive dings because of a delay at the post office and eBay says “you could have chosen a different courier service.” Putting this in one of the myriad of eBay FAQs and actually explaining to the buyers the impact of giving low feedback are two completely different things.
I think this falls into the “control what you can” mantra that I’ll keep harping on.
4. How reasonable were the shipping and handling charges?
I’m in the “Free Shipping” camp. First, it adds that little banner on items which theoretically draws more attention. Second, it lets me build the price of shipping into my items price. I generally only ship first class, priority, and media mail, depending on the weight and type of the item. I’ve seen parcel post take a long time, so even though it’s cheaper, it isn’t for me. I’ve also used FedEx about 3 times. If I know it’s a huge/heavy item, then again, I’ll add the shipping cost into my sale price.
If you add free shipping, then eBay automatically gives you 5 stars. Seems like a no brainer to me. Otherwise, just don’t try to hose the buyer on shipping costs.
I do not know how this impacts the Global Shipping Program though since we only have visibility to the US shipping costs for it. Time will tell if the GSP buyers can give feedback on shipping prices when you have no control over most of the cost!
Issues I have with the new DSR system
Buyers sometimes don’t know the best way to contact a seller. Now, if they contact you with the reason being “item not as described” even if that’s the wrong reason, you’ll get a hit to your DSR. We’ve heard rumblings that you can get these defects removed, but I’ve also heard that wait times are up (see below) and that the process is harder to go through.
3 stars = bad. Or does it?
When a buyer says that the seller gave a them 3-star service experience, it should mean that it was average service. The issue is that eBay will now look at 3 star ratings as negative (same as neutral feedback being a negative). This is going to be a gray area for a while.
The thing is though, if you are getting average ratings for a while, should you be in the TRS bracket? I don’t really think so. And remember, I’m not going to be in the TRS bracket due to my DRS being a little too low (2.42% as of now)
Where’d the reports go?
How do you even find your reports? Last week, I was able to view my “dings” for the past 12 months. eBay’s seller dashboard would spit out a clunky .csv spreadsheet that had your item ID (no titles??) and the categories that had issues. At this point, I was going to show everyone this awesome tool which translated the stupid .csv into a site that showed you what item it was.
EDIT: My report is now working. Must have been a weird little glitch!
Since I couldn’t find this information, I decided to call eBay. I had an estimated wait time of 33 minutes due to “unforeseen higher than average call volumes.” No shit!
As of today, I use the same method, and I get a fancy blurb:
Congratulations! As of August 21, 2014, none of your transactions over the most recent evaluation period have defects.
That sounds like great news, right? Well, sure, but the most recent evaluation period isn’t the only thing you’re graded on. eBay looks at the last 12 months. How can I view those? I haven’t found a solution yet.
As I’m on the phone line listening to eBay’s below-average, annoying wait music, I’ve been pondering the lack of DSR information. The only thing I can think of is that I haven’t had 10 DSRs in the new format. The nice voice recording said something about needing 10 DSR feedback before you can get a report, but that isn’t really fair since we’re being held accountable for the last 12 months anyways, regardless of the format of feedback.
Here’s what the eBay representative basically said at first:
Hmm, that’s strange. You should be able to view it. The information is generally compiled on Thursdays, so that may be the cause.
After a brief hold, he then followed up with
You shouldn’t be having this issue, and it might be a potential site bug. We will escalate it, but I recommend you to keep trying to view your report and call back in a day or two if you still can’t find any information.
So since I can’t even look up my report to, as eBay so eloquently put it, “try to improve my performance and learn how to receive Top Rated Status,” I’m going to stop worry about it for now.
At least I’ve notified them, and on top of that, the customer rep was very friendly! I’ve done what was in my control!
Does any of this matter?
Probably not. We’ll all keep selling. We’ll all keep making money. We’ll all keep finding new types of items to sell.
Think about it, if you can’t keep yourself in the top rated area, what do you lose? 20% off of your final value fees? Well, the eBay takes 10%, so really, you’re only saving 2% of your total off of your gross sale. I feel like giving a good, honest description, communicating openly with your buyers, and finishing that off with shipping like you say you’re going to will all end up with you selling more than enough to compensate for a 2% loss.
The types of business who thrive on volume instead of quality of items might have a lot more to worry about this, but then again, they can always sell more. With smaller sellers like me, we’re much more limited.
The hardest part for me throughout this whole situation is that Etsy, Amazon, and Bonanza do not give you anywhere near eBay’s traffic for the types of items I sell. Even if eBay’s traffic has been diminished since the whole Google fiasco, it’s still better than the alternatives.
So for now, I’m going to keep selling on eBay, keep flipping items for profits, and next week, we’ll hopefully put all of this behind us and talk about cool items to look out for when you’re thrifting, garage saling, or flea marketing (those are all real words; I swear)!
Sorry for any ranting above, but I’ve seen the sky fall a bunch of times on eBay whenever they put a new change out there. And I think that in this case, their hearts in the right place but the implementation is a little lacking. Hopefully it’ll be improved in the future!
PLEASE let me know if I’ve misconstrued any of the information that I’ve gotten from eBay about the new DSR. There’s a lot out there, and I’m bound to screw up my interpretation somehow. I’d hate to add to the myth’s that are out there, so if I’m wrong, just add a comment and I’ll update accordingly!
P.S. If the content is a little convoluted, it’s probably because my wife wasn’t able to edit this post. She tends to translate my rambling into coherent words. You guys are stuck with the real thing this week!
Photo Credit: dbgg1979, Carolyn Coles