Last week, eBay announced their yearly changes. I’m only blogging about them now because I’m a loser. Or I’m really busy. You pick.

But let’s take a quick whip through my knee-jerk reaction to some of these changes.

More exposure and protection for sellers
  • Get 25 EXTRA characters in your title to draw more buyers. The right title helps establish your listing relevance to a buyer’s search. Starting in early September, you’ll have 80 characters to add more keywords and buyer-attracting descriptors.
  • New protection for your standards rating. Starting in August, if the buyer doesn’t contact you before opening a Buyer Protection case and you act quickly to resolve it, the case won’t be includedin your count of opened cases.

(I find the man in that photo to be unsettling.)

  • Extra characters? I can get behind that. I’m not in love with having to go back and edit all my old listings but, hey, the more keywords I can squeeze in the better so I’m cool with this.
  • I’m cautiously optimistic about the new protection. I tweeted about an incident a few weeks ago where a buyer opened a case for non-delivery on an item they’d paid for less then 6 hours before (How were they able to do this? My only theory is that it was because the listed had ended enough days before, they just hadn’t paid until just then.) If this new protection helps in really stupid cases like this, I’m all for it. I have two big questions and eBay addresses them thusly:

Since cases won’t affect my seller performance rating when there is no record of prior communication, should I avoid communicating with my buyer in My Messages?

It is important to communicate with your buyer using My Messages. If a case is escalated to eBay Customer Support, it will be reviewed to determine what actions were taken by the buyer and seller to resolve the issue. If the buyer is in good standing and the case meets the requirements of the eBay Buyer Protection policy, the Resolution Center will review additional transaction information to determine if the case is ready for resolution. This may include a review of messages sent between the buyer and seller through My Messages.

What if a buyer contacts me in advance of filing a claim about something completely different? Will eBay read the email from the buyer and see that they didn’t mention the claim?

 eBay will take the content of the message into consideration and won’t count prior communications from the buyer that are unrelated to the claim.

I feel like this is one of those things we’ll just need to see in practice. That said, for all my whining about cases being counted against you, this hasn’t proved to be a huge problem even when there were a few claims counted so I’m not seeing anything to worry about here. Seems like a positive step.

Inspiring buyer confidence
  • Policy update for email address and links in listings to keep buyers on eBay. Buyers should find everything they need to complete a purchase right in the listing—and if necessary, contact a seller right from eBay. Starting October 1, sellers will not be able to submit listings with email addresses or links that don’t help buyers transact safely and efficiently on eBay.
  • Get more sales with a great return policy. When sellers accept returns, consumers expect a reasonable timeframe and a money-back refund option. New guidelines for returns are coming early next year. Give yourself a competitive edge for the holidays—start updating your listings with longer timeframes and cash-back options now.

I like how they tried to hide the nastiest part of this update with a lovely smiling lady. What they don’t tell you is that what she’s slipping into the envelope is a nasty gram.

I don’t have any outside links in my listing other than the occasional YouTube video that show the item in action but I still object to this on principle. There is no amount of spin that can make this anything other than: eBay wants all the money for themselves and doesn’t want you to be able to sell off of their site or cross promote on any way.

Return policy changes

First of all, we offer returns and money back in just about every circumstance. We have a pretty free and easy return policy. But while I’m already doing this, I hate being told what to do and how to run my business by eBay. OK, fine, a small part of me would argue that all those idiots with the terrible return policies needed eBay to step in and do this or they’d keep making the marketplace as a whole look bad but that doesn’t stop this from annoying me.

But let’s look specifically at this:

  • Also beginning early next year, for new listings and items being relisted, the 3- and 7-day options will be retired. You’ll be able to select from 14 days, 30 days, 60 days, or “no returns accepted.”
  • As always, even if you specify “no returns accepted,” buyers may still return these items if they don’t match the item description and the buyer files an eBay Buyer Protection case.

Ugh. Here’s my problems with this: Auctions, timely items and Trading Assistant items.

  • I already tell TA clients that they’ll get their payments within two weeks of the item arriving to the buyer. That was 1 week to give the buyer time to decide to return it within 7 days and 1 week for me to get the financials together. Now the absolute minimum I have to make clients wait for payment is 3 weeks. You may think, what’s one week? But when clients are already upset that they don’t get their payments instantly, making them wait yet another week just makes more headaches for us TAs.
  • As anyone who sells timley items knows, sometimes the sale really can’t wait. This year’s Tickle Me Elmo equivilent is only in demand the weeks before Christmas, not after. The longer the return time period, the more sellers can get screwed when buyers return their items long after the seller would be able to resell it for that same price. Imagine someone who buys something timely, such as the Obama newspapers the day after the election, and then has buyer’s remorse anywhere from 2 weeks to 60 days later? The seller not only have to refund that money and lose out on fees, they literally cannot sell it again for that price. I guess the option is to just select “no returns accepted” on these sort of items. Except that…
  • Apparently, even if you specify no returns accepted, the buyers can return it anyway??? Items don’t match description is so insanely subjective and is one of the easiest things to fake. (The Obama newspaper arrived cut up, the buyer says, scissors in hand) Is eBay going to introduce some kind of air tight new extra measures on no return items? I crack myself up with all the comedy.

Whew, OK. I’m done now. In the end, I’m annoyed but there is nothing here that is too earth shattering. Previously, if a buyer had emailed me 30 days after a sale and wanted a refund, even though my policy said 7 days, of course I would have still done it in most cases. I already didn’t have outside links in my listings. And I already bow to any request for a refund, no matter how flimsy.

But I still don’t like being told to do it.

Anyway, now that you’ve had a week to digest them, how do you feel about these changes?