Archive | May, 2009

How to Remove Negative Feedback on eBay – And Deal With Those You Can’t

19 May

I can’t over emphasize how important minimizing negative feedback is to sales on eBay.  Every additional negative feedback received will cause more and more potential bidders to purchase items from somewhere else.  The most careful buyers on eBay are also usually the ones willing to bid more on an item from a seller with a stellar reputation.  This is part of the reason why sellers with 100% feedback routinely receive much higher prices on the exact same item than sellers with lower feedback percentages.  A smart bidder combs through feedback, uses specialized tools and will only purchase from sellers with the best reputations.  Buying on an auction site is unique, in that it isn’t like purchasing from a reputable store where you know you’ll be taken care of and can return if unsatisfied.  Paying a stranger to provide an item they’ve never seen is always risky.  Your goal is to convince potential bidders that you are a trustworthy seller and will ultimately deliver the item as advertised.  Your seller reputation is one of the only things a potential buyer has to base their decision on whether or not they want to make a purchase.  Bidders aren’t telepathic.  They don’t know that you’re really honest, professional, and fair if it isn’t reflected in your feedback score and comments.

Even the most honest, hardworking sellers receive negative feedback.  Part of what makes a great eBay seller is how they deal with and respond to negatives.  First of all, read eBay’s polices on feedback abuse feedback extortion, feedback manipulation and instances when eBay will remove negative feedback.  It’s almost impossible to get eBay to remove negative feedback unless there’s cursing/racist comments, the buyer states real information like your name or address, the buyer purchased an item and immediately left a negative, or they clearly say that the only reason they’re leaving a negative is because of customs charges.  Nonetheless, it doesn’t hurt to try, but it’s a long shot unless it’s a cut and dry policy violation.  You can report violations to eBay at http://pages.ebay.com/help/sell/report_problem.html. EBay also removes feedback if the buyer did not respond to the unpaid item reminder or it was clear that the buyer had no intention of completing the transaction when they purchased it.

The only other way to get negative feedback removed by eBay is to report another violation the buyer had made.  If the buyer swore in a message or otherwise did something against eBay policy, you can report it using the link above.  If the buyer does get suspended, all of the neutral and negative feedback they left for others will be removed by eBay.

Since it’s incredibly rare for eBay to remove negative feedback, you should start on the next step immediately.  I have a guide on eBay Feedback Revision which details the process of convincing buyers to change their feedback from a negative to a positive comment.  Most buyers are willing to work out a reasonable resolution and revise their feedback if you go about doing it the right way.  Feedback Revision is the best tool available to sellers when it comes to maintaining a great seller reputation.  If you can convince buyers to revise their feedback, it’s almost as though they never left a negative at all.

With enough transactions under your belt, there will be a time when you deal with a buyer who is unwilling to revise their feedback and has not violated any eBay policy.  The best way to deal with these negative feedbacks is to reply to them with a statement about how you tried or succeeded at resolving the buyer’s problem.  To get to the reply to feedback page, go to the Sitemap and on the far right column under “Feedback,” choose “Reply to Feedback Received.”  Many sellers believe replying to a negative feedback calls more attention to it.  If a potential buyer is already searching your feedback for negatives, they’re going to notice the large red minus icon along with the comment whether there is a reply or not.  Use the reply space wisely.  Never respond to the feedback with anything inflammatory about the buyer.  Don’t say, “LIAR! BUYER STOLE ITEM AND MONEY! I HOPE YOU DIE!” or “RUDE BUYER IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE ADDED TO BLOCK LIST!”  It is highly unlikely that anyone that deals with the troublesome buyer in the future will see the reply you left to the buyer’s feedback, so there isn’t much use in trying to warn other sellers.  Venting about the buyer in your reply is counterproductive because it will make you seem like you aren’t particularly friendly and are not interested in taking care of your buyers.  You want to come across as a professional seller who did everything possible to resolve the situation and this is your only opportunity to make this clear to other potential buyers.  Say something like, “Offered Buyer Full Refund. Did Not Hear Back. Plz Contact to Resolve” or “Full Refund Issued.  I Apologize For Lost Item. Plz Contact For Replacement”  You can lie about what you did to resolve the problem, but you run the risk of the buyer following up with a comment calling you out on it.  As the seller, you get one reply to each feedback and the buyer also gets one reply.  If the buyer leaves a negative and immediately adds a follow-up reply, you can add your reply and the buyer will be unable to reply to your comment.  In other words, both the buyer and the seller only get one reply no matter what.  A carefully constructed and thoughtful reply can take some of the sting out of a negative feedback.  Bidders will be more likely to bid on your items if you reply professionally and state how you resolved the buyer’s problem.

Of course, the best way to avoid negative feedback is to proactively deal with buyers’ problems.  Unfortunately, many buyers are unaware that most sellers are willing to work with buyers to resolve differences.  You should consider adding a note in your listing description that tells buyers to contact you with any problems before leaving feedback.  This will help reduce buyers who leave negative feedback without giving the seller a chance to resolve the problem.  Finally, do not leave buyers positive feedback with negative comments.  It’s a violation of eBay policy and can lead to a suspension of your account.

USPS Track & Confirm Search Results Online Update

18 May

You may also be interested in these guides: The Limitations of USPS Delivery Confirmation and How to Use USPS Signature Confirmation Effectively with eBay and Paypal

The United States Postal Service’s online Track & Confirm Search was down most of yesterday, May 17, 2009 for updates.  The service is now back and appears to be better than ever.  The new tracking page includes the class of mail, extra services added, and detailed results of where the package is currently located displayed by default.

USPS Track & Confirm Results

Before today, the track & confirm results looked like this:

Old Track & Confirm Results

When the shipping label is printed online, it appears that the class and extra services are available on the Track & Confirm page even if the package has not yet been scanned.  There is still a delay between when the shipping label is printed and when the Delivery Confirmation number shows up in track & confirm search.  I expect the shipping labels with Delivery Confirmation I printed this morning to be available in search this evening, as it has been in the past.

Tracking with Delivery Confirmation still seems to be hit or miss.  Some of my Delivery Confirmation numbers that are currently in transit have been updated along the way while others still show nothing but the dreaded “Electronic Shipping Info Received.”  To learn more about Delivery Confirmation, read my guide on The Limitations of USPS Delivery Confirmation.  This is a step in the right direction for USPS, but tracking with Delivery Confirmation is still lacking.  It would be beneficial if they could make Delivery Confirmation tracking more consistent or offer an added service that tracks like Express Mail on Priority Mail at a reduced cost.

If you found this guide helpful, check out the site index by clicking here for 75+ more guides including how to get around eBay selling limits, enabling PayPal’s merchant rate to save money on fees, and raising your auction and fixed price visibility in best match search.

My eBay Item Isn’t Showing Up in Search Results – What’s Wrong?

18 May

When a seller submits their listing to eBay it will not necessarily be immediately searchable by keyword.  Many people assume this is because of some issue with eBay’s systems, but it’s actually so eBay can tell the courts they’re proactively removing counterfeit and fraudulent listings.  EBay instituted the search delay around March of 2007, in reaction to a number of lawsuits alleging that eBay is responsible for the illegal activities of its sellers.  The outcome of these lawsuits has been mixed, but eBay is scared of the negative press these lawsuits bring as much as the multi-million dollar verdicts.  Supposedly, the delay between when the listing is submitted and when it shows up in search results is so the listing can be checked by eBay employees to make sure it’s a legitimate listing.  In practice, I have never seen or heard of a listing being denied.  It would be impossible for a human to look at every listing that is submitted to eBay and eBay fired pretty much everyone over the last year, so I wouldn’t be too concerned about your listing getting denied unless you’re selling used needles or Xanax bars.  Usually, items that are delayed become searchable by keyword within about 12 hours, but eBay states it can take up to 24 hours and occasionally it will be even longer.

I Didn’t Agree to This!

Actually, you did. Right before you submit a listing, eBay has a little blurb that reads,

Your listing will be posted on eBay and can be viewed in My eBay. Your listing may not be immediately searchable by keyword or category for several hours, so eBay can’t guarantee exact listing durations. Where your listing appears in search and browse results may be based on certain factors including listing format, title, bidding activity, end time, keywords, price and shipping cost, feedback, and detailed seller ratings. You can read more about where your listings appear in search and browse results in eBay’s Help Pages.

By clicking the List your item button, you agree to pay the fees above, accepting the listing conditions above, and assume full responsibility for the content of the listing and item offered.”

What Can I Do to Avoid This Delay?

The easiest way to avoid search delays is to schedule your listings in advance.  If you are not sure how to do this, see my Guide.  You should schedule your listings at least 12 hours in advance of when you want them to go live and up to 24 hours if your items still aren’t immediately searchable with a 12 hour advance.  To find out if your items are visible to bidders via a keyword search, you can either search for your exact item title or click on one of your auctions and then select “view seller’s other items.”  Your items that are searchable by keyword will be listed and the ones that aren’t yet searchable will not show up. If you just want to take a look at your listing, you can view it immediately after it’s submitted in “My eBay.”

How does eBay Decide Which Listings to Delay?

The keywords you use in your title are the most important factor of whether or not your listing will be delayed.  If you are selling a brand name item and you have the brand listed in the title, eBay will likely delay the listing. One of the only ways eBay can easily identify the item you’re selling is by the item title. That’s why the item title is the go-to when deciding if an item should be delayed.  EBay says they also delay listings based on Detailed Seller Ratings, feedback, and past selling activity.  It’s difficult to determine how much these other factors, if any, affect the search delay. If you’re concerned about losing bidders because your item isn’t visible by keyword search for the first few hours, it’s best to schedule the listing in advance.

What About A Delay Due to “Indexing?”

Prior to March 2007, eBay items were immediately searchable by keyword.  EBay may move backwards from a policy/customer relations/logic standpoint, but they don’t move backwards technologically.  The reason for the search delay is solely to appease the courts when they get sued for trademark infringement.  EBay can tell the court that they imposed a strict approval process for all new listings identified as having a high risk of fraud. 

The search delay is a definite hassle, but scheduling listings in advance is helpful for a variety of other reasons too. If you plan ahead, you can list your items joyously and never experience a keyword search delay.

How Do I Schedule An eBay Listing In Advance?

18 May

Choosing the best time for your auction to end is an important part of receiving the highest price possible for your item.  Unfortunately, it is impossible to tell eBay what time you would like an item to end unless you also start it at that time.  Most eBay sellers prefer to have their items end at night, when statistically the most potential bidders are logged on and actively searching for items to bid on.  If you have a lot of items to list, it is nearly impossible to get them all ready to go in a short amount of time.  Plus, listing items with ending times close to each other makes bidders more likely to bid on a second or third item.  For 10 cents per listing, you can schedule eBay items in advance from the Sell Your Item form.  Third party solutions like Auctiva also allow sellers to schedule items for free.  If you want to save 10 cents, it may be worthwhile to check out Auctiva or another third-party program.

For reasons unknown to me, the “Schedule listing” option is hidden by default.  To access it, scroll down the Sell Your Item form until you come across “Choose how you’d like to sell your item.”  It’s after the item description box.  Click “Add or Remove Options.”

eBay Sell Your Item Form

The following box should pop up:

eBay Schedule Listing

Check the “Schedule start” box.  You may also want to check or uncheck other options here.  The “private listing” option makes it so that the item will not be visible on the feedback page or when someone searches for items a bidder has bid on or purchased in the past.  I don’t recommend this unless you’re selling something embarrassing or an item that the buyer would otherwise not want to be linked to.  Otherwise, it’s best to make the items you’ve sold in the past public.  Buyers tend to be wary and not bid on sellers who use private listings because it begs the question, “What are you trying to hide?”  I don’t recommend “lots” either.  They’re extremely rare on eBay.  If you have multiple items that are the same either list them in a multiple quantity fixed price listing or sell each lot individually.  If you have no intention of donating part of your sales to charity (I don’t judge) you may also want to uncheck that box.  Once you’ve made your choices, click save.

You should now have the option to schedule a listing.

eBay Listing End Time

That’s it. You can schedule an item up to three weeks in advance. Once you’ve checked the box, you shouldn’t have to do it again, as long as you either schedule a listing or submit a listing after completing this tutorial.

How Many Listings Are There on eBay and Other Alternative Auction Sites?

18 May

There are currently more than 27 million active listings on eBay.  That’s about 3 times the number of all the other auction sites combined.  To view a live chart of eBay listings along with other auction sites check out The Power Sellers Unite Chart.  Although the amount of listings on eBay has been increasing throughout 2009, not all of the news is good.  EBay traffic is down 5 percent year over year and page views are down almost 30%.  This means that 3 million less people are visiting eBay monthly and the ones that do are viewing fewer auctions.  In March 2009, Amazon received 54.60 million unique visitors to eBay’s 54.23.  One thing to take into consideration is that Amazon has a formidable online presence of their own which has nothing to do with how many third-party sellers are on their site selling used video games, books, etc. Amazon’s greatest asset is that they are one of the best places to shop online. Amazon’s good name helps bring business to third-party sellers, but traffic numbers don’t necessarily translate to greater sales for third-party sellers. If you’re looking for other venues to sell on, bookmark the Power Sellers Unite chart and pay attention to which platforms are gaining popularity. Ebid, Bonanzle, and eCrater are all viable sites that are increasing in popularity. Buyers, consider checking out these sites as well, as many of eBay’s best sellers have moved exclusively to these alternative venues.