Reasonable Shipping on eBay


Thursday, 31 January 2008 at 12:53 pm Pacific USA Time.

One of the changes that eBay just announced is that you won’t be able to be (or stay) a PowerSeller if you have DSRs under 4.5. Many sellers I know who have low DSRs tend to have them for shipping. So let’s take a look at what could be going on here.

  • When people leave DSRs for shipping, they are told that a score of 5 means VERY REASONABLE and 4 is REASONABLE. Both are good! Both imply happy people. So what’s wrong with 4?
  • Reasonable is a subjective word. The same item with the same shipping sold to two different people could get a 5 for very reasonable or a 1.
  • Someone saying that shipping was unreasonable doesn’t mean it was. I know of plenty of sellers who sell rare, fragile, collectible, expensive, and other items. eBay wants the seller to be good, and ship carefully. You even learn in Griff’s Basics of eBay Selling to use brand new packaging and not reuse any packaging. So it’s important to understand that eBay sellers HAVE to pack amazingly. For some, that means double-boxing… extra peanuts… airbags… extra tape… If the item requires that, sellers should use that, and buyers should pay for the materials and time. End of story. That’s REASONABLE. Unreasonable is throwing a fragile item into a padded envelope.
  • I think that in general, I’d leave lots of 4s for good sellers. I’d reserve 5 for a really amazing seller who wows me. But since 4 out of 5 is good, I’d think I were leaving someone a good rating. In essence, I’d be helping someone lose their PowerSeller status, and I’d never know that.

So now great sellers might lose their PS status because their shipping DSR might be 4.3. That’s an 86 out of 100 on a test, and that’s not a bad score. You would pass that class. :) But it means that if these sellers lose their status because of these DSRs and the perception people make up about what’s reasonable and what’s not, then it means that the % of positive feedback comments didn’t mean much. It almost seems easy to have 98% positive feedback with how DSRs are going for many sellers.

I’ve been asking for years for the PowerSeller program to be redefined. I wanted that changed, and I wanted standards raised. In a sense, I still do. But when I see some of my clients about to lose their status, and some of the sellers who were at the eCommerce Forum in danger of losing their PS status, I’m not sure that this change is the right change. I want change. Please bring change! But let’s make sure that this is a change that strengthens good sellers and removes bad sellers. I’m just not convinced, and I’m afraid of who’s going to go extinct because of this.

Maybe if you’re not disadvantaged in search until your DSRs are 4.2, maybe that’s a better threshhold? It’s still an 84 on a test, which is not so bad. But if that’s the line eBay is drawing for Best Match disadvantage, maybe it should be the same line for PowerSeller status, at least on the shipping DSR. I’d still want to see high standards for item as described as that’s darn important!

And this is something I think sellers can help too. If shipping pricing is about expecting shipping to cost or be something, then a seller does have a chance to communicate more about the shipping in the listing. The trade-off is to not get too wordy or grumpy, but you CAN use images of how you pack and some to-the-point bullets about your packing to set up expectations.

PS: My client with feedback of over 30,000, 100% positive, and DSRs that are awesome except for shipping (4.3) suggested a 10-star scale so that eBay can decide, for example, that the threshhold is 8 or 8.5. At least with that, someone like me who doesn’t like to give perfect ratings unless the shipping were AMAZING and exceeded expectations can still give great sellers a 9, which would be GOOD for them. Now, the 4 I might give hurts them.


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Categories: Just An Observation

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One Response to “Reasonable Shipping on eBay”

  1. Thanks Deb…this post is right on the mark.