The headquarters of eBay in San Jose, Californ...

The headquarters of eBay in San Jose, California. Photographed on August 5, 2006 by user Coolcaesar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When eBay announced the newest round of seller changes, I wasn’t worried. I’ve already talked about why I’m not sweating the longer return policy window which was the thing that made people freak out the most. I already have 1 day handling on all my items and I always ship within 24 hours (most times less) so that part didn’t worry me either. I don’t mind redoing my listings either, I’ve been meaning to do that since they added more title characters.

Uploading a tracking number within 24 hours? Well, I use eBay shipping and that just goes part and parcel with that 1 day handling time, doesn’t it?  As long as I’m shipping 90% of my items within 24 hours, I should be fine, right?

But the bastards have gotten me anyway. There’s a new “preview” feature in My eBay that lets you see if you’ll be compliant with these new policies when they go live. I was floored when I saw that I was more than safe in every category except the “uploading tracking info within 24 hours” bit. How can that be? I’m positively insane about getting stuff out within 24 hours! Most of my stuff ships same day!

Remember when I told you about how I have one item that I sell for very little profit just to keep my feedback stars high? It’s also bait to get buyers into my store for that one deal so they’ll buy something else while they’re there and it works like a charm.

This item sells well. It ships fast. It ships free. How’s this for irony: That item is single handedly going to keep me from reaching TRS under the new system.

See, part of the reason I’m able to offer free shipping on that item is that I ship it First Class letter class. Which, of course, isn’t eligible for delivery confirmation. So, every time I sell this item once these new changes go live, it hurts me because I have no tracking info to upload within 24 hours regardless of when I actually ship it. Whenever this item accounts for 10% or more of my sales for the last three month, I will lose Top Rated Seller status regardless of how satisfied my buyers are.

There are only three items in my entire store that ship without tracking of some kind. It just so happens that one of them is my best selling item.

I always ship this particular item same day so it didn’t occur to me that not having a tracking number to prove that I’m shipping it in 24 hours would be such a problem. You’d think buyers saying, “Wow! It arrived next day!” would account for something but without the proof it seems eBay would rather I didn’t sell it at all.

Here are my options:

  • Stop selling the item (the obvious one)
  • Keep selling it as is and not care about Top Rated Seller status
  • Raise the price of the item three times what it is now to cover the cost of First Class package with delivery confirmation so that I can offer tracking
  • Watch sales of the item vigilantly and take the listing down whenever it seems like I’m selling too many and only relist it again when I’m safely out of the 10% zone (hilariously ridiculous)

I’m using my item as an example but, really, any seller shipping something letter class or without tracking is going to run into this same issue. A single item without tracking, if it sells well, can completely mess you up. If your whole business is based around items like this? You’re in trouble.

I am on board with what eBay is trying to do on paper. They want sellers who claim that they are shipping within 24 hours to prove it by uploading tracking within that time frame. As a buyer, I appreciate that they are trying to get sellers to ship faster. But this has the weird side effect of forcing me to pull an item that ships fast (what they want) and that ships free (what they really want) or I’ll lose my TRS designation. You know, the designation that says I ship fast and free. In other words, their policy backfires big time.

Congrats eBay, you… win?