As reported yesterday, many members of the eBay community believe eBay is intentionally lowering Detailed Seller Ratings in order to deny sellers fee credits that could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Just last month, after two years of increasing speculation and accusations, eBay attempted to placate sellers by allowing them to create various ratings reports based on things like item categories and buyer location. These reports all lack one key characteristic. It is still impossible to verify whether or not the numbers eBay is reporting are accurate. Indeed, eBay has every motive to inaccurately report Detailed Seller Ratings. After all, their stock price is dependent on increasing marketplace revenue, not crediting it back to sellers. Fearing that crafty sellers would figure out a way to use the new reports to pinpoint what ratings buyers actually left, eBay made up two new policy violations aimed at suspending anyone who tried to prove once and for all that they had been manipulating ratings all along. It is also now a policy violation to ask any buyer what ratings they left. Why? EBay is doing everything in their power to deny sellers the evidence they would need to file a class-action lawsuit against the company.
Recently, eBay has devised newer, more efficient ways of denying sellers fee credits. If you remember from my last article, there are two qualifications that have to be met to earn final value fee credits. The first is minimum Detailed Seller Ratings. The second is current Powerseller status. The Powerseller qualification denies most casual sellers from ever receiving a fee credit because it is necessary to have sustained sales of $1,000 a month for 3 months as well as a minimum feedback score of 100. Powerseller accounts are also username specific, so if a seller uses more than one username in order to sell a variety of products, they will have to meet these minimums on every account they expect to qualify for a fee credit; no matter what their overall sales or feedback might be. The key to being a Powerseller though, is complying with eBay’s listing and marketplace policies that number in the hundreds.
EBay can issue policy violations to anyone they want, whenever they want. No evidence or explanation is necessary and rarely is one offered. Two “serious” violations and a seller will likely have all of their accounts suspended and their Powerseller status revoked. By revoking Powerseller status, eBay no longer has to be concerned with a seller’s Detailed Seller Ratings. They no longer matter. Diane, a Powerseller for more than two years writes:
“Until last month I had never received a policy violation in my three years selling children’s toys on eBay. I received my first policy violation on March 2 2009 for “intent to disrupt a listing.” Three days later and before I even received a response back about what the first violation was about I received another violation for “unauthorized item” on an Elmo playset. Exactly one minute after I received that email I received another email that said my account was suspended…It took me 11 days of emailing and calling to get my account reinstated and when it finally was I realized I was no longer a Powerseller… Before I was reinstated I had to pay over $900 in eBay fees and I was told I would not receive any of the 30% credit I was due. So much for 99.9% positive feedback, 4.9 DSRs, and thousands of dollars lost on shipping buyers items for free…”
Nicole, another long time eBay Powerseller reports:
“Two years selling on Ebay and they took away my powerseller status because Ebay says that I sell unauthorized items. I told them that I get all of my items from reputable stores and I know how to tell if something is real but they didn’t care. They even tell you they have no idea if what you’re selling is authorized or not but if anyone on Ebay says it isnt then that’s enough…Now I can’t get any fee discounts even if I offer to ship free…”
There are potentially thousands of stories just like these. By issuing policy violations to revoke Powerseller status, eBay can more efficiently limit sellers’ ability to qualify for fee credits for the entire duration of the promotion. By the time sellers are able to qualify for Powerseller status again, the promotion will have already expired. Plus, eBay can deny sellers the fee credits they have already earned by forcing them to pay their fees before eBay even allows them to list another item. Many of the complaints are from sellers who also offer free shipping and qualify for double fee credits. These sellers can earn a total of as much as 40% off final value fees. Why decrease fee credits from 40% to 30% by artificially lowering Detailed Seller Ratings when it’s so easy to make it 0% with no hope of ever receiving another credit?
There are no coincidences when it comes to eBay and money. This promotion was well planned and executed from the start. Until eBay removes Detailed Seller Ratings and Powerseller status from its revenue stream, neither are safe.