2014 Spring Seller Update
Sellers who provide the great service that creates better shopping experiences and repeat sales stand to benefit from updates to seller performance standards coming with the August 20 seller evaluation. eBay will be implementing a new way to measure seller performance aimed at delivering more satisfied buyers and driving more sales your way. By focusing on the things that matter most to buyers, you can ensure they are shopping with confidence and receiving a great experience. Stronger built-in protections have also been designed to increase the stability of your well-deserved status. Top Rated Seller and Top Rated Plus requirements will also be updated to keep pace with evolving consumer expectations.
Watch our seller standards video for a quick overview and read program details below.
In general, the lower your defect rate, the better your position in Best Match search results
Extended holiday returns required for Top Rated Plus discount and seal
The new defect rate has many built-in safeguards to give all sellers who consistently provide great service more leeway and stability for their well-earned status and rewards:
Keeping other important safeguards for your reputation
These important seller protections you have today will continue to apply:
In your new seller dashboard, you'll get the insights you need to track your performance. Starting the week of April 16, you'll be able to see at a glance your projected performance status under the new standards and how you're doing toward each of the service area criteria. From your seller dashboard, you will also be able to run a report, updated weekly, showing your transactions with defects to help you pinpoint any problem areas. Starting late April, the report will also include which transactions received low detailed seller ratings for item description and shipping time.
Follow these best practices to maintain a low defect rate.
Sell great items and create great listings
Ship promptly and upload valid tracking
Provide excellent customer service
Stock up on inventory
Stay on top of your seller performance
1. What should I do if my buyer opens an eBay Money Back Guarantee case?
If a buyer opens an eBay Money Back Guarantee or PayPal Purchase Protection case, respond to him or her through the Resolution Center. In most cases, you can resolve the issue to your buyer's satisfaction without escalating the case to eBay or PayPal. In the event that either the buyer or seller escalates a case, eBay or PayPal will review the case. If eBay or PayPal resolves the case in favor of the seller, the case will not count as an opened case toward your defect rate or toward your 0.3% maximum of cases closed without your resolution.
2. What should I do if a buyer wants to cancel a transaction?
Always use the eBay cancellation process and choose the correct reason for the cancellation. If the buyer contacts you to request a cancellation/refund, choose 'buyer requested' as the reason for the cancellation. eBay may monitor cancellations to make sure any 'buyer requested' cancellations were in fact requested by the buyer.
3. Will I lose my Top Rated Seller status if I don't offer extended holiday returns on all my listings?
No, offering returns, including extended holiday returns, is optional for eBay Top Rated Sellers. Note however that to earn the Top Rated Plus seal and 20% final value fee discount for a specific listing, that listing must offer the extended holiday return policy for sales in November and December and a minimum 14-day return policy the rest of the year. If you choose not to offer these return policies on a specific listing you can still keep your Top Rated Seller status and the Best Match advantage that comes with your low defect rate.
4. How can I make sure my tracking will be validated on eBay?
To make sure your tracking can be validated with a carrier scan, make sure you ship with an eBay supported carrier and upload tracking within your stated handling time. Tracking can be validated with a scan at any point in the delivery process. You can monitor your valid tracking percentage in your seller dashboard.
eBay supported carriers in US: DHL, UPS, USPS, FedeX
5. What if I have more than one defect associated with a transaction?
A transaction can only count once toward your defect rate, even if multiple defects are associated. For example, even if a buyer leaves you a 2-star rating and opens an eBay Money Back Guarantee case for 'item not as described', the transaction still counts only once toward your defect rate.
eBay supported carriers in US: DHL, UPS, USPS, FedeX
What changes are coming to eBay seller standards?
Starting with the August 20 seller evaluation, the following changes will be made to eBay standards:
How is the new defect rate calculated?
The defect rate is the percentage of your transactions with US buyers with one or more of the following defects, top predictors of buyers leaving eBay or buying less:
Note that detailed seller ratings for shipping cost and communication will not be counted toward your defect rate.
Over what period of time is my defect rate calculated?
As is the case today, sellers with 400 or more transactions over the past 3 months will be evaluated based on the past 3 months' transactions. The August 20 evaluation will be based on transactions from May 1 through July 31, 2014.
For sellers with fewer than 400 transactions over the past 3 months, the defect rate will be calculated based on transactions over the past 12 months. The August 20 evaluation will be based on transactions from August 1, 2013 through July 31, 2014.
Why is eBay making these updates to seller performance standards?
Consumer expectations and conditions in the marketplace continue to evolve and eBay does ongoing research into the factors that most influence buyer activity. As a result, we continue to evolve standards.
The new defect rate will enable eBay to drive more sales for sellers providing the great service responsible for buyer loyalty and purchases—and at the same time, minimize the experiences that drive buyers away. As a seller, you'll have more insight into the impact of your service on buyer activity to help you spot opportunities for improvement and more sales.
The updates to eBay's Top Rated Seller status and Top Rated Plus benefits ensure the level of top-notch service buyers now expect.
What are the changes to the minimum performance standards for all eBay sellers?
Starting with the August 20, 2014 seller evaluation, to meet eBay's minimum performance standards for all sellers:
Will buyers see my defect rate?
No, buyers will not see your defect rate. Buyers will continue to see what they see today. But if you maintain a low defect rate, eBay will reward you with an enhanced position in Best Match search results, so your track record for great service can pay off in more visibility and potential sales.
Will I get a boost in Best Match search results if I maintain a low defect rate?
If you maintain a low defect rate, eBay will reward you with an enhanced position in Best Match search results, so your track record for great service can pay off in more visibility and potential sales. In general, the lower your defect rate, the better your listings will do in Best Match search results. Note that many factors besides the seller's defect rate go into determining the Best Match sort order for search results including, for example, the relevance of your listing to the buyer's search and the price of your item.
What will be the impact of these changes on sellers?
These changes represent higher overall standards of service on eBay and some sellers will see a change in their status. Sellers who consistently provide great service stand to see a number of important benefits from the new defect rate as the means of measuring seller performance:
Most sellers whose service needs improvement will now have more insight into their changing status before they experience selling limits or restrictions. For sellers who are committed to improvement, eBay will provide coaching and support.
How will I know how I am doing toward the new standards?
Starting the week of April 16, in your new seller dashboard, you'll be able to see a preview of how you're trending toward the new standards. Areas needing attention based on your transaction history will be flagged. Plus, you'll have a quicker, clearer read on where you stand with more insight into how your business is performing and top areas of opportunity. On August 20, the dashboard will be fully updated with the new standards.
Get a quick snapshot of how you're trending toward the new performance standards in your new seller dashboard.
Do all sellers have access to the new dashboard?
All sellers with at least one sale have access to the new dashboard. Sellers will be able to see their transaction defect rate in the dashboard when they have 5 or more detailed seller ratings.
Will I be notified if I'm not meeting eBay's minimum standards?
Your seller dashboard will provide a daily update on your standing and you'll see a clear warning if you are at risk of either losing Top Rated Seller status or not meeting the minimum standards. Visit your dashboard regularly so you have enough time if you need to take corrective action. eBay will also notify you by email if your seller standing has changed.
What happens if I'm not meeting eBay's minimum performance standards when the new standards go into effect?
eBay regularly offers coaching and training to sellers in order to help them be more successful. Sellers who fall below standard can expect to receive clear notification of next steps and actions. Consequences of falling below the minimum performance standards can include lowered search standing, limits to further selling, and in some cases a permanent loss of selling privileges.
Will the defect rate also be used to calculate my global performance rating?
Yes, the new defect rate will also be used to calculate your global performance rating (your rating for sales outside the US, UK, or Germany) and will replace the current individual detailed seller requirements. For global sales, sellers will also need to maintain a defect rate of 5% or lower to meet minimum global seller performance standards and a defect rate of 2% or lower to meet global Top Rated Seller standards. These changes will also go into effect with the August 20 evaluation. If you sell to buyers outside the US, UK, or Germany, you can get more information about your global performance on the Seller Dashboard under the global icon.
I sell through the Global Shipping Program. Do my international transactions count toward my defect rate or my qualifications to be a Top Rated Seller?
Only your transactions with US buyers count toward your seller performance rating on eBay.com. International transactions with defects will count towards your global performance rating.
Do my transactions through the Global Shipping Program count toward my global performance rating?
Yes, transactions that are managed through the Global Shipping Program will be included within your global performance rating. As a seller, you are always accountable for the quality of the item delivered to the buyer, including how well it meets buyer expectations based on the information provided in your listing. Packaging the product well, and shipping your item on time is also important. However, if there are any issues or delays caused once the item leaves the US shipping center, you will be not be held responsible. See additional information on protections for sales through the Global Shipping Program.
How will the new standards apply to vehicle sellers in eBay Motors?
For vehicle transactions, the following defects will apply:
In general, the lower your defect rate the better your position in Best Match search results.
Are the PowerSeller requirements changing?
No, the current PowerSeller requirements are not changing. The current requirement to have an above standard rating remains and will be measured by the new maximum 2% defect rate. Note, PowerSellers will still be required to have a 4.60% average rating across all four detailed seller ratings.
Are the requirements for the Vehicles Top Rated Seller program changing?
No, the requirements for the Vehicles Top Rated Seller program are not changing.
Do eBay Vehicle Purchase Protection cases count toward my defect rate?
Vehicle Purchase Protection cases do not count toward your defect rate. But they are counted in evaluating your eligibility to be a Top Rated Seller in the vehicles categories.
What are the changes to the current standards for eBay Top Rated Sellers?
Starting with the August 20, 2014 evaluation cycle, to achieve and keep Top Rated Seller status:
What are the changes to the current requirements for Top Rated Plus listings?
To qualify for the Top Rated Plus seal and 20% final value fee discount between November 1 and December 31, your listings must include the new extended holiday return option, with returns accepted through January 31. Bullion, Gift Cards, Tickets, and all Business & Industrial categories will be exempted from this requirement.
Are there any exceptions to the extended holiday return requirement for Top Rated Plus benefits?
The following categories are excluded from offering extended holiday returns to qualify for Top Rated Plus discounts:
Note you still receive Top Rated Plus discounts for listings in these categories if they meet the other requirements, but the Top Rated Plus seal will not appear.
Are there any other changes to the requirements for getting the Top Rated Plus benefits?
The other current requirements for Top Rated Plus benefits are the same as today:
As a Top Rated Seller, will I have better placement for my listings in Best Match search results as a result of these updates?
Best Match will take the defect rate into account. In general, the lower your defect rate, the better your position in Best Match search results. With the confidence-inspiring extended holiday return policy, your position and sales can be further enhanced. Remember that many factors go into determining the Best Match sort order for search results including the relevance of your listing to the buyer's search and the price of your item.
How will eBay validate tracking numbers?
When you upload a tracking number to My eBay, eBay will automatically check for carrier scan information indicating that the item is either on its way or delivered. Today, only tracking numbers from USPS, UPS, FedEx and DHL Global Express will be validated with scan information.
In what situation will eBay be unable to validate tracking?
eBay will be unable to validate tracking information and the uploaded number will not count toward the 90% tracking requirement for Top Rated Sellers if you used a carrier other than USPS, UPS, FedEx and DHL Global Express or the tracking number doesn't match the carrier selected or cannot be validated through scan information.
How will I know if my tracking on a transaction was invalid?
Starting the week of April 16, you'll be able to see the percentage of your transactions that did not meet the valid tracking requirement in your seller dashboard preview. Then, starting the week of August 20, you'll be able to see the percentage and you'll also be able to create a report to see which transactions did not meet the requirement.
What if the carrier doesn't scan my package?
If your carrier doesn't scan your package at any point, then the transaction will not meet the tracking requirement. Note that any scan indicating that the item is in transit or delivered is sufficient to validate the tracking. It doesn't have to be a scan at the point of drop-off or pick-up. It can be any scan within the delivery process, including the final delivery scan as long as it is within your evaluation period.
What happens in situations where the buyer orders multiple items from me and I ship everything in one package to save my customer on shipping costs. How can I get credit for tracking on all those items?
When you combine shipping, upload tracking to each transaction—simply upload the same tracking number for each item in a multi-item order. Just be sure to complete your upload within your stated handling time.
Are there any exceptions to the Top Rated Seller requirement that valid tracking be uploaded within the stated handling times on 90% of transactions?
We are keeping the current exception to the tracking requirement when the buyer has selected Freight or local pick-up. If you upload a Freight tracking number and we don't receive carrier scans on that number, it will not be counted against you.
Are the Top Rated Plus benefits changing?
The Top Rated Plus benefits are not changing. Top Rated Plus listings still get a prominent Top Rated Plus badge plus a 20% discount on final value fees.
Are there benefits to being a Top Rated Seller if I don't offer Top Rated Plus services?
Yes, Top Rated Sellers qualify for USPS Commercial Plus pricing and an improved position in Best Match search results. Also, during the 2013 holiday selling season, eBay Top Rated Sellers enjoyed significantly higher rate of sales than sellers who were not Top Rated.
As a Top Rated Seller, will I still have a grace period if I fall below the sales volume and tracking requirements?
Yes, qualified Top Rated Sellers will continue to enjoy the same grace period as today if they temporarily fall below the required volume or tracking upload requirements. During the Top Rated Seller grace period you retain your Top Rated Seller status and benefits. You have two evaluation cycles to get your transaction count, sales amount, or tracking requirements back to minimum program requirements.
You're eligible for the grace period if you fall below Top Rated Seller standards due to any of the following:
You're only eligible for the Top Rated Seller grace period when:
If you don't meet sales and tracking requirements and performance standards after the grace period ends, you lose your Top Rated Seller status and benefits.
When will I need to update my listings with the new extended holiday return policy to get Top Rated Plus benefits?
The extended holiday return policy applies to sales from November 1 through December 31. To enjoy uninterrupted discounts for that entire period, you'll need to have your listings updated with the extended holiday return policy by November 1. If you add the extended holiday return policy later, for example on November 15, your listings from November 1 until November 15 will not qualify.
Are all Top Rated Sellers required to offer extended holiday returns?
No, extended holiday returns are only required for listings to earn the Top Rated Plus seal and discounts. Just as it is today, Top Rated Sellers can choose whether or not to add these services to any or all of their listings.
How does the extended holiday return option work?
When you add the extended holiday return option, on November 1 your return policy for that listing will automatically be extended to January 31 for all sales from November 1 through December 31.
Will I be able to offer the extended holiday option if I use eBay hassle-free returns?
Yes, the extended holiday return option will be supported by eBay hassle-free returns.
When can I start adding the extended holiday return policy to my listings?
You can add the extended holiday policy to your listings as soon as it's available in September. The return date of January 31 will automatically be shown to buyers starting November 1. You can apply it easily when you list and add it easily to existing listings of your choice.
Can I choose to apply the extended holiday return policy to just some of my listings?
Yes, you can choose whether or not to offer the extended holiday returns and for which listings you want to offer it. However, from November 1 through December 31, only sales that include the extended holiday return option will qualify for the Top Rated Plus seal and discounts.
Will my listings qualify for Top Rated Plus benefits if I only offer extended holiday returns?
Yes, you can offer just the extended holiday return policy to listings starting November 1 and have those listings qualify as Top Rated Plus from November 1 through December 31, as long as they meet all the other Top Rated Plus requirements. After December 31 only those listings with a 14-day or longer money-back return policy will qualify.
What happens if I offer a 14-day or longer money-back return policy during the period of November 1 through December 31 but not the extended holiday return policy? Will I lose my discount?
If you offer a 14-day or longer money-back return policy during November 1 through December 31, 2014 and do not offer the extended holiday return policy, your listing will not be eligible for Top Rated Plus benefits during those months. However, with a 14-day (or longer) policy you will regain eligibility for the Top Rated Plus benefits starting January 1, 2015 and will remain eligible until the 2015 holiday return period begins.
Will a buyer be able to open an eBay Money Back Guarantee case after the January 31 cut-off for holiday returns?
For the vast majority of transactions, buyers will not be able to open an eBay Money Back Guarantee case after the January 31 cut off for holiday returns. In general, buyers have 30 days after the actual or latest estimated delivery date to open a case. Opening a case would be allowed after January 31 for situations where the item was ordered at the end of December and delivered in early January.
When does the new transaction defect rate take effect?
eBay will start using the new transaction defect rate ("defect rate") with the August 20, 2014 seller evaluation.
As is the case today, sellers with 400 or more transactions over the past 3 months will be evaluated based on the past 3 month's transactions. The August 20 evaluation will be based on transactions from May 1 through July 30, 2014.
For sellers with fewer than 400 transactions over the past 3 months, the defect rate will be calculated based on transactions over the past 12 months. The August 20 evaluation will be based on transactions from August 1, 2013 through July 31, 2014.
What is considered a transaction?
A transaction is a purchase from a listing. If a buyer purchases two or more identical items from the same multi-quantity listing, or purchases the same items in different variations such as color or size from the same multi-variation listing, that is considered one transaction. If a buyer purchases items from four different listings from the same seller and combines them into one order, that would be counted as four transactions. Note that the defect rate will not affect your performance rating until you have a transaction with a defect from 8 different buyers (5 different buyers to affect your Top Rated Seller status).
How will I know when I've had transactions with defects from 8 (or 5) buyers?
You'll be able to see this in your seller dashboard.
Are unpaid items and cancelled transactions counted in calculating the defect rate?
Transactions with unpaid items are included as part of your total transactions in calculating the defect rate. Cancelled transactions only count when there is a defect associated with the transaction.
What if I have more than one defect associated with a transaction?
A transaction can only count once toward your defect rate, even if multiple defects are associated. For example, even if a buyer leaves you a 2-star rating and opens an eBay Money Back Guarantee case for item not as described, the transaction still counts only once toward your defect rate.
In calculating the defect rate, are all these defects weighted the same?
Yes, in calculating the defect rate, the defects are all weighted the same and each transaction is counted only once toward your defect rate.
How did eBay decide on what to count toward the defect rate?
The chosen defects are the factors that our research shows are most strongly correlated with buyers leaving eBay or reducing their purchases. These factors were combined into a single defect rate to make it easier for you to evaluate your own performance.
Why is eBay counting neutral feedback?
eBay data shows that buyers who leave neutral feedback, just like buyers who leave negative feedback, are less likely to purchase again.
What if I ask my buyer to revise negative or neutral feedback and the buyer agrees, will that transaction still count toward my defect rate?
If your buyer revises the feedback, the revised feedback will not be shown to other buyers but the transaction will count toward your defect rate. eBay research shows that even when agreeing to revise negative or neutral feedback, the mere act of having left the feedback is still a key predictor of reduced spending.
What if eBay removes feedback that I received from a buyer, will that still count towards my defect rate?
Any feedback removed by eBay will not count towards your defect rate.
Why is eBay counting opened cases, returns, and detailed seller ratings of 3 for item as described?
The data shows that receiving an item that is not what the buyer expected based on the seller's listing is the single greatest cause of a buyer deciding not to purchase again or purchase more often on eBay.
What is considered an opened case?
An opened case is a case filed for an item not received or not as described through the eBay Money Back Guarantee or through PayPal Purchase Protection that passes checks for eligibility or fraud.
Aren't all buyer contacts through the resolution center or eBay's member-to-member communication system counted as opened cases?
No, opened cases are only counted when the buyer chooses:
Neither of the "item not received" options can be chosen until one business day after the estimated delivery date.
Why will eBay count opened buyer protection cases as a defect?
When buyers don't get the item they expected, or it doesn't arrive when they expected it, they get anxious and feel like they need to follow up. That's enough to make a difference in the way they think about eBay. Our data and research on buying behavior indicates that contacting eBay for an item not received or getting an item different that the seller's description, regardless of outcome, is one of the top predictors of buyers leaving eBay or reduced purchasing. In order to keep buyers on eBay and drive more sales for sellers who provide great service, eBay must take opened cases into account as a strong signal of buyer dissatisfaction. At the same time, to help protect sellers, we:
What if a case or return is referred to eBay for resolution and found in my favor or found no fault of the buyer or seller?
Any case or return that is referred to eBay or PayPal for review and is found in your favor—or found to be no fault of the buyer or seller—won't count against your performance rating. It won't be counted as a defect and it won't count toward your percentage of cases closed without you resolving them.
What cases count toward the maximum 0.3% of cases that are closed without being resolved by the seller?
Cases are counted toward the maximum 0.3% unresolved cases when the buyer opened an eBay Money Back Guarantee or PayPal Purchase Protection case, you weren't able to resolve it, the buyer contacted eBay or PayPal to review it, and eBay or PayPal found you responsible. These cases are considered to be closed cases without seller resolution.
What if the buyer opens an eBay Money Back Guarantee case for item not received and then the item arrives?
If you shipped within your stated handling time, uploaded tracking to eBay, and the buyer opens a case for item not received, you can escalate the case to eBay customer support. If the tracking shows the item was delivered to the buyer's address, the case will be found in your favor and not counted as an opened case toward your defect rate or toward your 0.3% maximum of cases closed without your resolving them. Note for transactions of $750 or more, signature confirmation is also required to win the case.
What counts as a return initiated because the item was not as described?
These reasons for returns are counted as item not as described:
These reasons are not counted as item not as described:
How does eBay identify the reason for a return?
Currently, the reason is captured when a buyer initiates a return through the eBay hassle-free return process. In the future, updates will also be made to the post-transaction communications process that will allow eBay to see when any return is initiated because the item was not as described.
If I choose not to issue a return and the buyer escalates to eBay, will that count toward my 0.3% maximum cases closed without my resolving them?
If you use hassle-free returns, and you dispute the return by reporting the issue, and the buyer then escalates to eBay, that escalation will not count toward your count of unresolved cases, regardless of the outcome.
If you do not use hassle-free returns, if you refuse a return and the buyer opens an eBay Money Back Guarantee case, it will be handled like any other case. If you are not able to resolve it within 3 business days it's escalated to eBay and it will count as an unresolved case if eBay finds it's your responsibility.
Why is eBay counting seller-cancelled transactions?
Sellers are always expected to deliver any item they sell. Having the seller cancel a transaction is another key predictor of buyers leaving eBay or buying less.
What is counted as a seller-cancelled transaction?
Any transaction cancelled through eBay or refunded through PayPal because the seller no longer has the item (such as out of stock) or chooses not to ship the item after it was sold is counted as seller-cancelled.
Does the transaction count as a defect if the buyer asked me to cancel it?
No, a cancelled transaction does not count as a defect if we can see the seller cancelled at the buyer's request. If the buyer asks you to cancel the transaction, make sure you do so through the eBay cancel transaction process and select the correct reason for the cancellation.
Why are low ratings for shipping cost or communication not included in the defect rate?
Over time, issues with shipping cost and communication response time have become less significant and less predictive of whether buyers will return. This is mainly due to increased seller efficiency and seller commitment to shipping promptly and offering free shipping. Also, buyers clearly see the total cost, including shipping, up front in the listing. Leaving these factors out of the calculation gives eBay and you a clearer signal of how you're doing on the factors that have the greatest impact—those mainly related to the buyer's experience once they've purchased an item.
If ratings for communications and shipping cost don't count, why keep them?
These ratings are still visible to buyers to help build confidence. They also provide you an important signal when you have a specific problem in these areas of your business that could be costing you sales or repeat buyers.
Is free shipping still important to buyers?
Shipping cost and communication are both very important to buyers, although they are no longer top predictors of buyers leaving eBay—mainly due to your overall commitment to great service and the widespread adoption of Fast 'N Free shipping. And one-day or same day handling and free shipping are still powerfully competitive services and among the most effective tools you can use to attract buyers to your listings. Getting the Fast 'N Free logo to appear for a buyer has been shown to increase sales as much as 11%*. And prompt shipping with valid tracking is still your most important protection in the event that a buyer files a case for item not received.
What additional seller protections are being added with this update?
Will these changes have any impact on the various protections for sellers like feedback removal or automatic awarding of 5-star DSRs?
The same seller protections you have today will continue to apply:
If I qualify for automatic 5-star rating for shipping time, does that also protect me from eBay Money Back Guarantee cases for item not received?
If you qualify for an automatic 5-star rating for shipping time and the buyer opens a case for item not received, you can escalate the case to eBay customer support. If the tracking shows the item was delivered to the buyer's address, the case will be found in your favor and not counted as an opened case toward your defect rate or toward your 0.3% maximum of cases closed without your resolving them.
*Percentage calculated is based on sales of listings that converted to Fast 'N Free. Individual seller results may vary. Percentage increase in sales depends on, among other things, item price, inventory, shipping cost, shipping speed offered and historical performance of seller. Calculation assumes that sellers don't increase the item price while making these changes.