It is apparent that eBay's change to their Feedback system has had a major impact on both the way buyers and sellers leave feedback, as well as the affect of the DSRs on how a seller is rated. eBay is sending mixed information to buyers and sellers regarding the star system. Buyers are told that a "4" star rating in a category is a good rating, while sellers are given lower than standard treatment if their star ratings (at least on shipping charges) fall below a 4.6. Additionally, beginning in October, 2008 sellers whose 30-day ratings have dropped below a 4.3 in any of the categories will receive additional sanctions and will be suspended from selling if any of the ratings falls below 4.1. For low-volume sellers, it would only take a fraction of well-meant "4" ratings to suspend a seller that the buyers thought were good.
In order to provide guidance on evaluating a transaction with respect to the DSR or star rating, I would like to offer these definitions.
Item as Described
Evaluation of item description should not only include the description of the item itself but also any guarantees, warranties, the shipping method, or any other information that the seller includes in the auction. This would also include consideration for damage in shipping or lost items. When a buyer is unhappy with an item, the auction should be re-read to make sure it is not something that was missed. If the item condition does not meet the description, the buyer should contact the seller and let them know of the situation.
- 5 - Item meets or exceeds description in auction. There is no undisclosed damage to the item when received and item was shipped by the method stated in the auction OR if there was damage or other issue(wrong shipping method, etc.) the seller willingly addresses the issue and resolves it with the buyer.
- 4 - Item may have MINOR cosmetic damage that was not disclosed but generally does meet the description OR seller is somewhat hesitant or accusatory when contacted with an issue but ultimately resolves it with the buyer.
- 3 - Item has more significant damage or issues that was not disclosed in the auction - to a point where the buyer is not happy. Seller is hesitant in responding. Seller ultimately does make good with the buyer, but it requires more effort on the buyer than it should.
- 2- Item has more significant damage or issues that was not disclosed in the auction - to a point where the buyer is not happy. Buyer is forced to file Paypal or eBay claim, but seller ultimately refunds or otherwise makes good on the sale.
- 1 -Item has more significant damage or issues that was not disclosed in the auction - to a point where the item was misrepresented and the buyer is totally unhappy. Seller will not stand behind the item and buyer is forced to file Paypal or eBay claim, through conclusion.
Keep in mind here that sellers do make mistakes - missing damage on an item, item not working when it is received, or simply sending out the wrong item. This in and of itself should not be weighted significantly when determining item description star rating. The real test would be how the seller addresses the issue when it does occur and is the buyer satisfied with the outcome.
Typically, there is not a need for a high degree of communication during a transaction, unless there is a problem. Generally, the only communication that would be needed would be notification that the item is shipped. If item is not shipped immediately, there may also be a need for communication that payment was received. Communication is most important when an item is lost, damaged or otherwise does not meet the description in the auction. Generally, communication should always be made through the ebay system unless directed otherwise. Direct email communication may be automatically routed to a Spam folder where the email may not be read.
- 5 - Seller lets the buyer know when item is shipped. If any issues come up during the transaction, the seller repsonds quickly and helps buyer to resolve them. NOTE: Sellers may let buyers know that item is shipped in a variety of ways - email communcation, feedback, or Paypal notification.
- 4 - Seller may or may not let the buyer know when item is shipped. Seller may be somewhat slow to respond to issues, but does help buyer resolve them after communication is established. NOTE: Buyers should allow 1 business day before considering the seller slow in responding. I would suggest a minimum of a "4" rating for any smooth transaction even if seller does not communicate with the buyer.
- 3 - Seller may or may not let buyer know when item is shipped. Seller is slow to respond to issues, but does help buyer ultimately resolve these.
- 2 - Buyer is forced to use Paypal or eBay claim to initiate any communcation, but after the communication is established, seller works with buyer to address issues.
- 1 - Buyer is forced to use Paypal or eBay claim. Seller is still unresponsive.
Shipping time includes only the time that the seller takes from the time payment is made to when the item is shipped. Shipping time should never include the time it takes for payment to be received (if mailed to seller) or the amount of time it takes for an echeck (through Paypal) or a personal check (if mailed) to clear.
When a lower grate of shipping is selected - parcel post or media mail for example - the transit time (the time it takes for the carrier to get it to the buyers home) is longer than whey using one of the premium shipping methods. These methods are offered to reduce the costs of shipping for the buyer, as well as to comply with eBays maximum shipping allowances. Shipping time should not include transit time by the shipper UNLESS the seller used a lower grade of shipping than stated in the auction without prior accepance by the buyer.
- 5- Seller ships within 3 days; uses method stated in auction.
- 4 - Seller ships within 5 days; uses method stated in auction.
- 3 - Seller ships within 7 days; uses method stated in auction.
- 2 - Seller ships within 10 days OR does not use method stated in auction.
- 1 - Seller ships longer than 10 days.
There may be some listings that give a shipping time that exceeds the 3 day recommendation for a "5" rating. I would suggest that this be taken into account when rating shipping time. If the auctions states that they ship once per week and they ship your item within a week, I would still give he seller a "5" rating for complying with the terms of the auctions that I accepted when I bid.
Additionally, buyer should also take into account issues related to combined shipping. If a buyer purchases multiple items and wants to combine in order to save money, the seller may reduce the shipping method. An example would be multiple items that would normally ship first class that now because of the weight, would need to go either Media or Parcel Post in order to provide the savings. When seller offers combined shipping, buyer should find out the shipping method prior to agreeing to the revised terms.
Shipping and Handling Charges
Before evaluating shipping charges, several issues should be considered - how well was the item packaged, how quickly was it shipped, what was stated in the auction, how does the seller's charges compare with other sellers of similar items. Shipping does not only include postage or carrier charges, but also handling and packaging fees, as well as insurance. Handling charges should be reasonable and commensurate with the service that is performed.
Handling charges will vary depending upon what items are being shipped. Persons selling CDs may charge $0.50-1.00 handing; moderate, non-fragile items may have $3.00-4.00 handling; a set of fine china may have $15.00 in handling; an item that needs to be crated may have a $50.00 or more handling charge. These are just examples. When evaluating handling charges, be sure to consider how much effort went into packing in order for you to get your item safely.
When multiple items are purchased, buyer can and should expect the handling charge to be higher than if just one auction were won. For lower value items such as CDs, the handling charge may seem abnormally high. If the seller has provided a reasonable discount for combined shipping, S/H DSR ratings should be based not on what the total shipment costs, but on what the rating would have been for each single item, as well as the amount of discount provided.
The seller cannot control postage rates. The question here is did the seller charge MORE then the actual cost of postage and packing materials? A lot more? A Little? Was the quality of the packing job commensurate with the amount of handling charged? Does the S/H change also include insurance or a self-guarantee? All of these issues are a factor when evaluating the S/H DSR.
Sellers should not be punished for shipping costs associated with heavy items or international shipments. Postage is high, but that is controlled by the post office. Sellers do not have control over the postage rates, only the shipping method. Sellers cannot control what the shipper charges to ship, only what they add for a packaging/handling charge.
One thing buyers should also keep in mind is that in ALL auctions, the cost of shipping and handling must be included in the auction. Buyers have a choice before bidding whether to accept the stated shipping or not. It is unfair to a seller for a buyer to bid on an auction with stated shipping and then ding the seller's stars because the shipping is high IF the package is packaged well and delivered by the method stated in the auction.
Additionally, there has been some confusion on how to rate this DSR for free shipping and discounted shipping. Free and discounted shipping (s/h charge below actual cost) should always be rated a "5" providing the packaging is adequate. Even with free and discounted shipping, there should be an expectation that the item will be packaged commensurate on the amount of protection the item needs.
- 5 - Shipping charges are reasonable for the packaging and service provided. This includes free shipping and discounted shipping.
- 4 - Shipping charges are somewhat high. Seller complied with the terms of the auctions, item was shipped by the method stated and item was packaged commensurate with the item being shipped.
- 3- Shipping charges are high AND the packaging and service is below what is to be expected. Item was received undamaged but because of packaging, there was a strong potential for the item to be damaged. Item was shipped via a cheaper method than was stated in the auction.
- 2 - Shipping charges are VERY HIGH and the item was poorly packaged or shipped via a cheaper method than was stated in the auction. Item was damaged as a result of poor packaging. In this category, I may also include sellers who contact buyer for extra shipping costs, if buyers agree to it and the packaged was shipped and received as otherwise stated.
- 1 - Seller contacts buyer for extra shipping after the auction and refuses to ship without it.
The bottom line that a buyer should consider is "would I do business with this seller again? If the answer is yes, the the buyer is overall satisfied with the transaction. A well-meant "four" rating or a rating below a "four" could result in the seller being suspended and his products or services no longer available for bid/purchase.
If a seller has not provided 5 Star service in any of these categories, consider contacting the seller and discussing it with them. An error in the listing or shipping method could simply be an oversight by the seller and many sellers will work with the buyers to correct these type of errors.
If you have found this guide useful, please tell me by responding to the question below. This will improve the visibility of the guide for others to see as well. ALSO, please check out my other guide: Can YOU Prevent Being taken by Excessive Shipping? This is good advice for beginner buyers that will help them navigate through the ebay muddy waters.
I welcome any comments regarding this guide or my other guide. You can send comments to cdsgamesnmore1 through the ebay message system.