I wrote this post a few days ago about a seller who was taking a very long time to ship my item and how I felt bad giving her bad feedback because we had been talking socially. (On a side note, that seller still has not indicated that the item has shipped even though I emailed asking for a status about a week ago so I am getting a little fed up. This was an over $100 purchase, you would think she would give me the courtesy of a reply but, whatever, we will deal with it as it comes.)

But as I have been doing a large volume of buying across several different accounts lately, while I have had the pleasure of doing business with many wonderful sellers, I am surprised at how many poor sellers I am still encountering. I made the comment on Twitter that I wondered if this is why some people are upset about DSRs because they are giving cruddy service and getting lower rankings. Obviously, the issue is much more complex than that but what do you want for 140 characters? (There was also objection to the word cruddy. I suppose I could have said poor but I didn’t think of it at the time. I was really thinking “crappy” but was trying to be nice. You can’t win em all.)

The comment I was trying to make is that, from my own perspective, DSRs made me make a serious effort to kick my game up a notch (not that my game was all that bad to begin with but, you get the idea) and I assumed (perhaps stupidly) that everyone else was doing the same. I figured DSRs were sort of an “adapt or perish” sort of thing and that it would weed out the bad. But finding out that many sellers haven’t made any changes to relation to DSRs and some are giving what I consider worse service than pre-DSR feedback, I felt it warranted a comment.

After all, if these people are the same ones complaining about having low DSRs, then this would clear up the issue for me some. For me, DSRs are annoying but certainly not the world shattering change some sellers have made them out to be and I was musing to myself that maybe those sellers had an idea of “good” service that was far shy of what most people consider good service so that was why their scores were low. It was a half baked thought and a bit of a sweeping generalization but I think there is something there even if it only explains a small part of the problem.

Now, with collectibles, I make every purchase with a grain of salt, as it were, as I expect standards to be much lower than with new items. I also shop with Best Match disabled so I sometimes get sellers with very low DSRs. Frankly, you get the best deals from low DSR people since most buyers stay away partially because of their choice, partially because of eBay (read as Best Match). But when I buy from someone with low DSRs, I know what I am getting into and don’t expect much from them. But I just bought some comic books from a guy with low DSRs who was a collectibles seller and casual seller both and happily gave him all 5s because everything with the transaction was perfect so understand that there is no hard, fast rule here.

When it comes to feedback, unless your service was in some way terrible or you really ticked me off in some way, I always leave great feedback. I haven’t left a negative in years and, even for really really poor service, I don’t go below 3 stars. I almost always leave all 5 stars because I am a seller and I know what its like to try to court feedback so I always err on the side of leaving feedback that is too high rather than the other way around.

That said, you know the old, treat others as you want to be treated? I suppose this whole thing comes from my expecting other sellers to run their business as I run mine which is, I suppose an unreasonable expectation. If I ship same day, is it unreasonable to expect the sellers I buy from to at least ship within a week of purchase? I don’t think so.

Now, again, at Christmas time when I did a ton of shopping on eBay of mostly new items I was more than pleased with the service I got. I consistently got faster and better service from eBay sellers than the big stores to the point where, if something was the same price on eBay and a big store, I still went to eBay because I knew the eBay seller would ship it faster. Just understand that I am a huge fan of shopping on eBay and that, overall, most sellers are still giving fantastic service. My gripe is about a subsection that I seem to have just encountered a lot of these last few weeks.

These are a 3 more things that happened to me in the last 2 weeks of buying on eBay in addition to the woman who still hasn’t mailed my items going on a month later:

  • I emailed a seller, whose listing did not list a handling time, about how long after purchased an item would ship (fixed price item). The item offered Priority Mail and I was curious if I could get it by this weekend. In addition to explaining that I wanted it by this weekend which is was I was curious about handling time, I specifically said “For instance, if I bought this today, would this ship tomorrow or the next day?” It took 2 days before I got a reply (which was annoying enough) and when he replied, the full text of his email back was “No.” So you heard that here folks. His handling time is “no.” Needless to say, I didn’t buy from him.
  • I received a package from a seller of collectible, vintage items. They were shipped in very good time, shipping costs were fair, no complaints there and I gave them all 5 stars. But they taped the items into plastic bags so nothing would fall out and, while I appreciate that, along with the items they also taped into the bag 3 large dead bugs as well as other dirt and bits. I didn’t dock them anything for that on feedback but, um, ew? Is it unreasonable to have expected them to at least use a clean bag?
  • I bought a batch of items from a seller who listed them as being in excellent condition. When they arrived, I discovered that the sides of the items shown in the photos were, in fact, in excellent condition but that the backs of each of the items were in very bad shape. When I emailed her about it, she said she’d intentionally not shown the bad sides in the photos because it would scare buyers off but that, because she didn’t show it at all, she didn’t misrepresent. She also, abrasively, told me that she did not accept returns. When I further pressed that her description listed them as excellent she stated that while she did say that, she also said that she was selling them As Is so that negated the word excellent. Her logic was at once baffling and sort of impressive as an art form all its own. In the end, I found that I could repair several of the items and I paid so little for them that I just rolled my eyes, gave her lesser description star rating and left it at that. (Though if it had been a more expensive order, you better believe I would have fought it). 

These are just three little examples of what has been a frustrating 2 weeks of no handling times or shipping costs listed in descriptions, poorly packaged items, slow shipping etc. On the plus side, the really good sellers mixed in with this lot have looked so very good in comparison that my feedback of them has been positively glowing.

Do I understand that to some extent I am opening myself up to this kind of stuff because of the kind of stuff I buy? Yes, I very much do. Like I said, I try to cut a ton of slack, especially with older items, new or casual sellers, etc. On new items on eBay I have been pretty much 100% good sellers/transactions so it seems limited to some categories. But as a collectibles seller, these people are running the same sort of business as us and if we can make a little bit of effort, why can’t they?

I think it boils down to two things. As an eBay buyer, I’m annoyed that not every seller makes the same amount of effort so it’s Russian roulette when buying some items. Yes, there is only one bullet (bad seller) in the chamber and many more empty holes (good sellers) but even one bad seller shakes your faith in the marketplace just as even one good seller can make you love eBay as a whole. It just makes you take pause before every new transaction when you got burned even slightly on the last one which degrades the marketplace as a whole.

But as an eBay seller, it annoys me, for lack of a better word, that these people, who in some ways are my direct competition as fellow collectibles sellers, are giving poor service because they, by association, give us a bad name, even though we are working hard to do everything right. Sure, to some extent, they lower expectations which makes people appreciate our service even more but there is a certain amount of school-age jealousy of “If we have to play by the rules, why don’t they?” that I cannot help but feel.