eBay Seller Communications

eBay Customer Service Vicious Circle – Seller V’s Buyer

This article stems from a conversation I had with an eBay buyer I had on Saturday and after the call, it struck me… “Could the amount of eBay buyer contact actually be provoked by the sellers need to feel that they are giving ‘zealous’ customer service?”

In next few sections, I cover this realisation and perhaps have unearthed a new DSR that we could see in the forth coming months?

The Call

I had managed to keep away from the PC, iPad and phone for nearly all of Friday, although on Saturday I could not resist a few rounds of gaming. Mid game, I get a call from a buyer who was trying to contact the courier we use, so that she could collect her order for an night out that evening.

She proclaimed that

“I have already wasted 30 minutes trying to ring this damn courier”

eBay Seller CommunicationsAnd went off on a bender on how this courier (I’m not mentioning names as they all have lovers and haters) is crap and its a 30 minute drive to their depot and no-one is answering the phone.

Diplomatic me, suggested that they are probably not available as its a bank holiday and that I only have the same contact details she has from their website.  That I would personally not suggest driving for an hour for an unknown and it might be a better idea that if its urgent for that evening, she would be better off shopping locally and we’d be more than happy to accept her return after the bank holiday when it finally arrives, so that her evening is not spoiled.

That was me being proactive (finding a viable resolution) and reactive (quashing the returns question and adding reassurance) to her needs.

Now This is Where the Penny Dropped

The conversation then digressed into a pivotal statement that complete re-adjusted my line of thought on eBay buyers and they’re incessant demands on sellers.

“I am an eBay seller myself she proclaimed”

And the continued with:

“This really isn’t on, I don’t care if its a bank holiday, I give my  eBay buyers excellent service, it doesn’t matter if its a bank holiday, I still have to work”

I was a little dumb-struck by this and suggested my earlier suggestion of buying locally, as I’d hate for her to ruin a evening out, just for the contents of that order. She agreed and the call ended.

Dumb-Struck… What If…

I had not even considered this, what if the velocity (and verocity) of eBay buyer communications is not caused by the buyers fear of being ripped off?

This is a theory that I concluded a long time ago and ever since seen this in buyer to seller communications on eBay

What if this entire culture is actually being fostered by the sellers? Infact I’m sooo stupid not to have thought of this before. It is this, I did it myself.

To be absolutely clear, I fully understand the requirement of great customer service to a business, but the level of buyer to seller contact created on eBay is lubriciously high when compared to other channels.

If we look beyond the larger selling ID’s on eBay and focus on the macro (say 1-5 people) and micro businesses (1-2 people part time), then what are these business USP’s (Unique Selling Points)?

  1. Price, especially with the micro businesses being under the VAT threshold
  2. Quality of descriptions, images etc..
  3. Customer Service (email and through despatch etc…)

There are others too, but these are the main ones. In a marketplace that fosters the buyer to seller communication so heavily and the mix of buyer fear of being ripped off (caused by bad press sticking and a severe lack of good press, remember the WOM Factor? This also ports outside of eBay feedback too).

But… Fostered by all the micro and macro businesses, zealously trying to give the best customer service it can to compete?


That call really turned my thinking on its head for me. Maybe its not the buyers, its not ‘eBay’ (directly), instead is the inherent fundamentals of a the ‘eBay marketplace’; That buyers will ask questions regardless, but are continuously fostered to do so, by the over zealous sellers that make up the other part marketplace.

Closing Thought…

What if eBay deployed a monitoring system and a new version of the DSR (Detailed Seller Ratings), but for timed responses to eBay Questions?

Well quite like what Amazon have started to show in their seller performance dashboard, but one stage further where the DSR concept is ported to response times and then tied to the eBay TRS (Top Rated Seller) status?

Maybe in the next eBay Seller update eh?

Buyer-Seller Contact Response Time

Buyer-Seller Contact Response Time

8 replies
  1. RealDeal
    RealDeal says:

    The full situation of buyer requirements/needs/demands especially on eBay is totally out of control..i hate to think how many exceptional people who sold on eBay have walked because of so many idiotic buyers..i would love to meet some of my most awkward eBay buyers in real life as i bet they are a right motley crew, before i lower myself to their dumb standard i would walk from eBay its just not worth the stress for small margins but huge fees

  2. Db_uk
    Db_uk says:

    What if the buyer emails and is then called to resolve the issue there and then over the phone.
    This is the highest possible level of customer service. It will show no response at all in the putative DSR.

    • Matthew Ogborne
      Matthew Ogborne says:

      Yes, thats a really good point as we noticed that by not responding to such cases, was increasing the lead time.

      I’m not sure how you deal with such circumstances where a communication has happened externally or the communication from the buyer was a closing ‘thank you’, where a follow up would be pointless.

      There would need to be a mechanism on the timer stop it, such as a ‘resolved outside outside of marketplace XYZ’ and probably a measure for that too on defect rates to stop it be exploited.


      • D Furness
        D Furness says:

        Im sure amazon currently have something like this where you can tick a box or mark a question as ‘response not needed’ but yea for people using programmes outside of the marketplace such as eSellerPro, ideally there would need to be an intergration for this to be easier rather than keep logging in and clicking said button

  3. D Furness
    D Furness says:

    Great post Matt, we had a few interesting calls like that in January as i imagine many others did. When telling customers that their items would be delayed indefinately because of the weather, they continued to argue that ‘it wasnt good enough’ and ‘it wasnt snowing where they were’. Both examples ‘had’ sold on ebay before but did not illicit to the depth or length of this selling experience. Most customers were more than reasonable as they had looked out of a window or caught a glimpse of the news and realised that deliveries were not going to happen.

    But there are always a few who feel they are the exception and that they would do something differently…such is life ey. But i agree, i think a response time DSR would be an interesting one and wouldnt be surprised if it did get implemented soon. I know on Amazon at the minute it is just for “reference only” but i think it is only a matter of time before it becomes part of your ‘order defect rate’ or ‘policy violations’

    What are your thoughts?

    Dave F

    • Matthew Ogborne
      Matthew Ogborne says:

      At the moment the TRS is enough to keep most things in touch. But the inherent lust for measuring anything and everything will take stead and we’ll probably see it from both parties sooner or later.

      Considering the sheer variety that the eBay platform has to contend with for both buyers and sellers, it does a pretty darn good job at it, yes things could be tweaked, but its not as bad as some would lead us to believe and as noted in the article, 50% of this could seller self-inflicted.



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