I’m an occasional private seller (and buyer) on eBay. Unlike high volume traders, I am not familiar with all the small print of eBay rules and procedures. But it seems that eBay’s approach is increasingly acting as a deterrent to sellers.
I posted a separate thread earlier commenting on the fact that eBay offered little protection against (the minority of …..) unscrupulous buyers who falsely claim Item Not Received (INR), then demand and get a refund – thus ripping off the seller and getting away with both a ‘free’ item and the return of their money, while the seller loses the item and the payment. A browse of the forum revealed that this was an alarmingly widespread problem, and that some sellers had been badly burned.
The obvious precaution a seller can take against INR is of course to use tracking, or “Signed For” delivery even on very low-value items – which makes selling on eBay barely worthwhile.
The same transaction which prompted my earlier post has thrown up another example of how eBay penalises sellers. I had an “INR” – my first one ever. If the buyer was telling the truth, then the item was lost in the post. I guess this happens – but it’s not the seller’s fault (the seller is the victim too….). Anyhow, I made a full refund to the buyer (so he does not lose out). Despite that…. the buyer has posted negative feedback, and eBay lists the transaction as a Defect.
So even if I, as the seller, do the decent thing and pay a refund, I am hammered in four ways: (1) l don’t have the item any more (or don’t get it back); (2) I lose the money paid for it (as it is refunded to the seller); (3) I get negative feedback (thus tarnishing my reputation) and now also (4) apparently I get a Defect (further damaging my eBay track record).
Not exactly a situation which encourages me to sell anything else on eBay. Worse than that, it almost seems to discourage sellers from taking positive steps to resolve problems which do occur (since even if they behave honourably they will evidently still get penalised). I have only had one bad experience (so far). But it is enough to make me think very seriously about walking away.
I wonder if eBay has realised that their operation is only viable if they retain – and have the confidence of – both buyers and sellers. If there are no sellers, the business collapses.