From a seller’s standpoint, the past few weeks might have you referring to ebay as “glitch-bay” or “eBug.”
Buyers probably don’t notice the numerous gremlins affecting eBay – at least, I haven’t seen any complaints from eBay buyers having trouble with the site.
Sellers, however, have been burning up the web with reports of strange happenings.
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Disappearing and Inaccurate View Counts
The most longstanding and widespread of eBay’s recent seller issues has to do with “views.” While some eBay “experts” will tell you to ignore or discount view counts, I don’t agree.
I’ve been selling on eBay for decades – almost since eBay started. Views aren’t the end all, be all of selling, but they are important. If an item has zero views, I might need to adjust something about the listing. It could be price, or it could be the category or keywords in the title.
I might not worry at all about zero views on some items, such as boots and sweaters listed during spring or summer. The rest of the time, I do keep an eye on views, but that’s become a challenge in recent weeks.
Sometimes, when viewing active listings, they might not show views – you’ll see a dash instead. If you refresh your browser (usually by hitting F5 if you’re using a Windows computer), sometimes you’ll see the views pop up. However, I’ve had days when no amount of refreshing would bring up view counts.
When you do see view counts, you never know if they’re accurate. I sold an item recently that supposedly had zero views. I know that’s incorrect for two reasons. For one thing, I know this item had a view count the last time I’d checked. For another thing, a buyer has to view the item before having the option of buying it, so it must have at least one view if someone purchased it.
I also have a few items that show zero views but one watcher. As with purchasing, I don’t see any way that a customer could “watch” an item without first viewing it. In the past, I’ve never had items with watchers and zero views.
Most of my listings are “Buy it Now,” also known as “Fixed Price,” but I do have a few auctions. I have an auction right now with one bid and zero views. Again, you can’t bid on an item without first viewing it, so how do I get a bid with zero views?
On-Time Shipping Mayhem
EBay rates sellers based on a number of factors, and sellers can benefit from these ratings in a variety of ways.
For example, the site tracks whether sellers ship on time. Many sellers – myself included – purchase shipping directly from eBay and print labels at that time. This automatically tells eBay that the item is ready for shipment and provides tracking information.
Imagine my surprise one day last week to discover that my “Top Rated” seller status was in jeopardy because tracking information for my sales was allegedly uploaded less than 1 percent of the time. Huh?
Researching the issue resulted in numerous hits on Google from other sellers with similar problems with eBay losing their tracking information. Some sellers reported having their listings lose “Fast and Free” designations as a result.
EBay seemed to resolve this issue within a day, but not before causing widespread panic among sellers who saw their excellent on-time shipping ratings blown away like dust in the breeze.
I haven’t personally experienced any problems with eBay losing my photos, but I’ve seen numerous posts about vanishing pictures on eBay listings in Facebook groups and online forums frequented by eBay sellers.
Sellers describe listings on which their photos simply disappear and need to be uploaded again. It seems like many of these cases were on “good ’til canceled” or GTC listings, but I’m not sure why that would have anything to do with it. Who knows, though?
So, What’s Going On?
Many sellers have posted in eBay community forums about calling the company regarding the ongoing issues, and the standard answer is that eBay is aware of the problems and working on them.
As a professional computer geek by trade, I understand that software bugs happen. I probably have more patience with them than the average person.
My decades of IT experience have also given me some insight into what happens behind the scenes, under the technology covers. Therefore, I can make an educated guess as to why eBay has been experiencing frequent glitches.
I could be totally wrong, of course, but I think eBay tried to make too many changes too quickly without sufficient resources.
EBay releases quarterly seller updates, and the past couple of seller updates described some major overhauls.
For one thing, the company changed its prices for listings that go over your monthly free allotment. Plus, eBay added a new “Starter” level of eBay Store, one that costs as low as $4.95 per month but offers many of the same perks as more expensive stores. The company also raised the prices on other tiers of stores and added a higher-level store called “Enterprise” for high-volume sellers.
The site added a concept called “Guaranteed Delivery,” which tells buyers exactly when they can expect to receive an item based on the shipping service and a seller’s previous history of on-time shipments.
In addition, eBay changed the criteria for qualifying for the “Top Rated Plus” seal on listings. Now, you not only need to offer one-day or same-day handling plus 30-day returns, but you also need to offer free returns.
Anecdotally, sellers seem to report higher return rates when they offer free returns. I haven’t found that the tiny discount on seller fees for “Top Rated Plus” listings is worth the possibility of a higher return rate and therefore higher costs to me.
These are just a few of the significant changes eBay has implemented during 2018. Any one of these transitions most likely involved lots of programming behind the scenes.
These changes would touch many different parts of the eBay seller experience. That means there’s a good chance of breaking something in the process.
When you implement a whole bunch of technology changes within a short period of time, there’s a big potential for something to go wrong. That’s especially true if you don’t increase the amount of staff available to work on these modifications.
We don’t know for sure whether eBay devoted a sufficient number of employees to work on the massive number of seller changes they planned for 2018. However, the company did announce a fair number of layoffs taking place in 2018.
What’s the Overall Effect?
Frankly, despite the frequent glitches, my eBay sales have never been better. For me, the bugs are annoying, but not devastating. The issues listed above aren’t the only ones I’ve seen this year – just the ones I can think of right now.
Some of eBay’s changes have been great for sellers, particularly the inexpensive Starter store level. The company has often been accused of favoring large sellers and making it more and more difficult for small sellers to compete. The new low-tier store level shows that eBay does indeed realize that small sellers need to feel the love, too.
What Should You Do About a Technical Problem?
If you experience a technical issue on eBay, one thing’s for sure – you’re unlikely to find help in an online forum or Facebook group. All you can do is add to the chorus of “I’m having that problem, too” posts.
As both an eBay seller and techie, I recommend waiting a spell to see if the problem goes away. Google the problem to see if others are having it. If so, chances are pretty good that eBay already knows about it and is working to fix it.
If the problem doesn’t go away within 24 hours, Google the problem again to see if it’s still being reported. If sellers continue reporting the problem, calling eBay will probably result in a very long wait on hold to speak to a human, since they’re likely being bombarded with phone calls about the bug.
I certainly don’t suggest that you ignore any eBay selling glitches that you run across. I’m suggesting that you do some research before posting a question somewhere.
I think eBay could save themselves a lot of grief if they would post or Tweet about technical glitches rather than letting sellers discover problems and wonder what’s going on. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to do that.
After weeks of technical issues, as I prepare to hit Publish on this post, I finally see a brief post on eBay apologizing to sellers for the numerous technical problems experienced recently. The article claims that most of the issues have been resolved. We shall see.
If you’re experiencing a serious problem that’s affecting your sales and you’re in a panic, you might consider calling eBay. However, don’t assume that eBay is to blame if your sales are down. There could be a number of factors involved, and all sellers go through dry spells.
What eBay technical problems have you encountered this year? How have you dealt with them? Have your sales been up or down in the past several months?