GM + eBay = Crash & Burn

September 2nd, 2009

In August, eBay partnered with General Motors to bring GM cars to eBay Motors.  eBay claims over 1 million visitors and 1.4 million online searches of GM’s inventory.  In fact things appear to be going so well according to a recent article that the eBay / GM deal is being extended at least another 3 weeks.  Unfortunately a quick investigation of yourgmdealer reveals a completely different picture.

Sell Through Rate

Doing a search of GM’s completed listings currently yields over 39000 listings for the past two weeks.  Going over the first five pages of 200 listings each yields no sales.  In fact I’ve watched this seller for a few weeks and have yet to find a single sale after going through approximately 10 – 20 pages.  However, yourgmdealer has received 9 feedbacks (more on that later) so there have been some sales.  Based on eBay’s stated average of a 70% feedback participation rate that would mean yourgmdealer has made roughly 13 sales.  This would yield a 0.03 % sell-through rate.  That’s about 100 times worse than BUY’s sell-through rate.  Be aware this is just an estimation so if any readers have a TeraPeak subscription let us know the real numbers and we’ll add them here.

Feedback

As mentioned earlier yourgmdealer has received 9 feedback comments.  Of those six are positive and three are negative.  Of the six positive comments three are from user 661henryglen all commenting about how easy the process is.  Upon closer inspection we found that two of those three comments were left within 4 minutes of the transaction and the final comment was left within 4 hours of the transaction.  This seems to be a common theme amongst the Diamond Powersellers.

All three negatives were left over a week after their respective transactions.  In each case the buyer complained about “bait & switch” tactics or the dealer changing the price.

Negative feedback ratingUsed “Buy It Now”. Listed @ “wrong” price. Dealer refused to sell. GM no help !!

Negative feedback ratingBAIT AND SWITCH. POST BIN RAISED PRICE BY 950 FOR “TRUE COAT” ALA FARGO.

Negative feedback ratingno car to buy

These comments have left GM’s feedback rating at 57.1% and overall score of +1.

Impact On Sellers?

It has been stated multiple times by eBay’s Griff and blogs that having well established brands like BUY.com, GM, and other Diamond Powersellers actually helps sellers.  This effect is due to the added buyer traffic and trust these sellers supposedly bring to eBay.  This may in fact be true for those sellers that don’t sell the items these Diamonds bring to the site.  However, what is the impact to sellers when a well known brand like GM fails?


Ideeli – The story thus far

August 8th, 2009

Eventhorizon1984 has put together a nice article detailing ideeli‘s feedback up to this point.  My own independent research into the subject has confirmed much of what has been said there.  Check out The eBay ideeli Diamond PowerSeller Feedback Affair for more information.


ideeli – A new diamond?

July 9th, 2009

Today marked the beginning of a two day Daily Deal by eBay seller ideeliideeli is a relative newcomer to eBay having registered May 7th, having received 22 feedbacks (14 5.0 DSRs) so far, but who currently has 647 active listings.  It has been witnessed by many on Auctionbytes and the eBay forums that they just had their first negative feedback removed.  If anyone has a screenshot of that negative feedback please contact us.

ideeli describes itself as “The first invite-only shopping community in the US” and who “offers priviledged access to sought-after products in fashion, home and beauty, as well as luxury lifestyle experiences.”  You can visit their official site at ideeli.com

Is ideeli a new diamond powerseller?  Either way they’ve been added to the list until we hear otherwise.


Update Jul-09-08 22:40PDT

Diamond Haus has obtained proof that ideeli has had negative feedback removed.  This in itself is not proof that there was any wrongdoing or manipulation on eBay’s part as there are many reasons for feedback to be removed.  Once we are able to see the actual negative and who left it we’ll be able to make a determination.


Glitches, oversold inventory, and missing feedback

February 1st, 2009

On December 7th, BUY had one of its photo frames selected for the Daily DealBUY already had four other listings for the same “NEW Philips 7 Inch Metal Digital Picture Frame” running.  Each of the four listings had either 2398 or 2400 quantity available but the daily deal had only 2298.  That listing sold all 2298 of its items.  According to Randy Smythe’s original posting (story has since been removed) eBay had a glitch causing BUY to oversell.  To make matters worse, BUY created another listing the next day consisting of another 2398 at a higher price.

My educated guess is that BUY had around 2400 photo frames in their inventory, created multiple listings with the assumption that only 3 – 4% would sell, got selected for the daily deal, and got caught off guard when they sold all their posted inventory.  Note that 2298 is approximately 4% less than 2398 and this is close to BUY‘s historical sell through rate on eBay.  We’ll probably never know what really happened, but what we do know is that once the negatives started rolling in eBay began removing them.

Some notable feedbacks include:

Seller runs ad when item was not in stock, refuse to sell and tried to fault me

Seller canceled purchase stating that I returned item. I never received it. F-

Wld’nt sell itm aftr Buy it now-then thrtn’d me w/non pymnt-itm is avbl @ more $

Buy.com oversold item, won’t accept my payment, and won’t cancel my transaction.

Seller Never Had Enough Stock To Sell – Raised Price and Sold to Later Buyers

Seller offered item but retracted yet sold item to others after me for more $$$$

Many sellers, including myself, are guilty of having oversold the occasional item.  I will state that when this was the case I never faulted the buyer, reported them as a non-paying bidder, or raised my prices in other listings.  I’ve always made it right with the buyer usually by offering free upgrades or immediately refunding them and giving them another seller to buy from.  I’ve heard of other sellers using BUY‘s tactics but I’d hope that this practice has mostly ended as a result of last year’s changes.

eBay also seems to have overstepped its bounds in removing the following neutral feedbacks that had nothing to do with overselling their product:

Item had dead pixel, BUY offered a refund, but didn’t have a replacement

Paid for expedited shipping but was delayed. They DID credit the shipping so A+

I spoke with the buyer that had the defective photo frame and he had this to say:

I didn’t remove any feedback I left. I see that it is gone, but this was not up to me. I left neutral and meant it. What’s the deal?

Thank you. Buy or buy.com will not be recieving my business in the future. How were you able to notice this? I am very impressed that someone is paying attention and has the ability to do a bit of research.

More Feedback Removed

Since my last update another feedback comment was removed for no apparent reason:

you never gave me my code for B@K on live marketplace. Never returend emails.

The title itself was “Banjo – Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts with BONUS! (includes Download Code for original Banjo-Kazooie)” so this is a legitimate complaint regarding the item.  I was also able to verify that the buyer did pay for the item.

Who Cares?

I contacted eBay’s Griff about six weeks ago regarding this but have received no acknowledgement.  I can only assume even he could not blame these on policy violations as he has done in the past.  TameBay’s Chris Dawson also avoided comment when I pressed the issue with him and how it conflicts with his belief on how eBay should treat its buyers.  Instead I was given an answer to another question basically saying not to worry about the “odd negative” I may receive as a seller.

When I posed this question in the feedback forums on eBay they seemed to overwhelming believe BUY should not have their feedback removed.

Conclusion

As stated in a previous entry if none of this feedback had been removed BUY‘s feedback rating would have remained the same 99.6%.  Instead of helping BUY, eBay has silenced its buyers who did nothing wrong, lost BUY future business, lost buyer confidence, and made eBay a more hostile trading environment.


New Diamond

December 29th, 2008

It appears that we just found a new diamond powerseller.  This is one of the few eBay grown diamonds and they even started selling back in 1999.  Beckertime has been added to the list.

From their store page:

Beckertime is eBay’s largest provider of preowned Rolex watches with a monthly sales volume of over $750,000. Our uncommon quality, great pricing and commitment to service excellence has earned us a DIAMOND Powerseller designation with a 10 year positive feedback ratio of 99.9%

It does seem a little odd that such a company would still be using AOL for their email and their About Me page definitely needs work.

Congratulations


First Irregularities

December 12th, 2008

This site was initially created to give a rational explanation for every feedback that was removed from eBay’s Diamond Powersellers.  The site could then be used as a reference anytime a forum thread or blog post was created making the claim that feedback was being manipulated.  It was expected that almost all comment removals would be the result of buyers becoming suspended or revising their feedback.  Early results showed just that.  However, this past week things have become much less clear.

SHOPLET

At 13:57PST on December 8th eBay user emptycloset1949 left neutral feedback for shoplet stating “Started off with problems, but everything resolved to my satisfaction.”  Sometime between 23:00PST and 23:59PST on December 8th that comment was removed from shoplet’s profile.

The allowable reasons for feedback removal are:

  1. A violation of the Feedback Abuse policy.
  2. A member is unable to form a legally binding contract at the time the item ended or Feedback was left.
  3. A member provided eBay with an email address that is invalid and could not be contacted at the time of the transaction.
  4. A member mistakenly leaves negative or neutral Feedback intended for another member, informs eBay of the error and has already placed the same Feedback for the correct member.
  5. If a member is suspended by eBay, negative & neutral Feedback left by that member is removed.
  6. eBay is provided with a valid court order requesting Feedback Removal.
  7. A buyer fails to respond to the Unpaid Item process.
  8. The communication and comments left by the buyer within the Unpaid Item Dispute Console undermine the integrity of both the Unpaid Item process and the eBay Feedback system.

I will now dispute each of these reasons

  1. (see below)
  2. The transaction was completed as indicated by both the buyer and seller through feedback.
  3. I was successfully able to contact the buyer through eBay within hours of feedback removal and since the seller was able to resolve the issue the buyer must have been able to communicate with seller.
  4. The buyer has not left the same feedback for another member.
  5. The buyer was not suspended at the time we detected the feedback disappeared.  This means the buyer would have been suspended and reinstated all within less than one hour.
  6. There is nothing actionable regarding the comment nor would the courts work that quickly.
  7. The buyer paid as evidenced by the positive feedback they received.
  8. See #7

The Feedback Abuse Policy states that feedback may not contain:

  1. Links or scripts
  2. References to eBay or PayPal investigations
  3. Negative statements left for a buyer that conflict with the positive rating
  4. Personally identifying information about another member, including real name, address, phone number, or email address
  5. Political, religious, or social commentary rather than a genuine comment about the transaction
  6. The comment, reply, or followup references a completely separate transaction or unrelated experience
  7. Profane, vulgar, obscene, or racist language, or adult material

Anyone who is fluent in English can clearly see that the comment does not contain any of these.

BUY

During the same week BUY had one negative and one neutral feedback removed that are also suspicious.  “buy.com and microsoft lied about the cashback. Buy.com has the worst CS” and “Awful customer service, never got my 30% cashback from live.com due to seller.”  Neither of these buyers were suspended nor did they revise their feedback.

Looking at the above comments I can see two possible rule violations but both are a stretch and could only plausibly be used if one was looking for a reason to remove them.

1)  Both comments refer to either buy.com or live.com .  These could be construed as links and may even have been picked up by an automated system.  In fact the eBay rules are clear that users may not post links to websites where items are sold outside of eBay.  eBay considers usernames that look like URLs and even images or watermarks containing URLs to also be links (a rule that shoplet blatantly ignores in its product images).  However 45 other negative and neutral comments on BUY’s profile have something dot com in them making this unlikely.

2)  Both comments refer to Microsoft’s Live cashback program.  After searching BUY’s current feedback I found that no comments reference the cashback program.  This could be construed as “references to a completely separate transaction or unrelated experience”.  This is the only rational explanation that I can give within the guidance of eBay policy even though it a stretch.

Could it also be possible that eBay does the right thing and doesn’t penalize any of its sellers for misunderstandings or glitches caused by the Live search cashback program?  If you’ve received negative or neutral feedback as a result of this program and can clearly demonstrate that we’d like to hear from you.

MANIPULATION?

Is manipulation going on with these feedbacks?  I’ve already shown that the posted policies do not seem to fit with the removal of shoplet’s feedback.  The common thread among these three feedbacks is that they all seem unfair.  All sellers eventually get this feedback.  We all receive the occasional neutral saying things like “OK” or “Good product” and the only real option given to us by eBay is to use up one of our few feedback revision requests.  Otherwise we can face lowered standing, higher fees, and possible suspension.

I spoke to Griff seeking an explanation.  He refused to look at any of my evidence and told me no less than four times:

No member, regardless of size or type, receives special treatment or dispensation when it comes to policies and especially when it comes to feedback.  Anyone who claims otherwise is spreading misinformation.

That’s fine and I’ve heard this before.  But I’ve also heard eBay deny that they even negotiate fees with their diamond powersellers.  However not only does it not make any business sense I have some counterexamples.  Powersellers like myself are given better treatment than sellers who aren’t.  For example powersellers cannot receive negative feedback within seven days of a sale.  Another example is that bronze powersellers are allowed 4 policy violations per 60 days but titanium powersellers are allowed 7 in the same period of time.  There is also the case of shoplet’s item #170282685061 where they clearly violate the listing policy for links within images.  All of shoplet’s listings also have the term “Shoplet.com” twice in the description.  Even after multiple reports these listings are never removed.  Smartbargains recently had no problems listing items while having a communication DSR of 3.8 and a BDR percentage of over 20%.

I contacted the buyer asking what happened and got this response

I do not know why it was removed. I felt I was justified in my feedback and made a point of saying they finally rectified the mess.

I also contacted shoplet to see if they had any input on the situation

Thank you for contacting Shoplet.com. I can’t locate where the order “started off with problems”.
please advise

I’ve also asked for the report they made to eBay for feedback removal but haven’t received a response yet.

The thing we must all remember is that every corporation is made up of individuals.  I have no idea how things are run at eBay but I’ve yet to hear anything good.  But imagine yourself working for a company that just laid off 10% of its workforce in the middle of a global recession.  If one of that company’s most valuable clients asked you to remove something posted unfairly about them, would you?

THE CASE AGAINST MANIPULATION

Despite the evidence presented, there is reason to doubt manipulation is going on.

Shoplet’s feedback was neutral so it did not negatively affect their rating.  The comment itself was positive.  The effect on shoplet’s BDR was negligible and either way leaves them well below eBay’s 5% NPS threshold.  There was no noticeable effect on their DSRs.  The buyer did rate all four categories but the change was less than 1/10th of a point in every category.

BUY’s feedback rating is currently 99.6% .  In order for them to have a 98% or lower feedback rating they would have to receive over 7600 negative feedbacks.  If there are any less than that then there is no benefit to removing feedback.  They currently have just over 1500 negative comments for the year.  That would mean eBay would have to be removing more than 15 negatives per day for them to achieve their current rating.  For the past two weeks we’ve only seen 9 removed which is less than one per day.  Even at this rate that would mean BUY should have a rating of 99.5%.

CONCLUSION

Keep in mind that BUY is the only diamond powerseller with a high feedback score.  So while it is highly unlikely that BUY is having feedback removed this still may not be the case for the others.

While I can’t explain the reason for shoplet’s feedback removal, by itself, this is not conclusive proof that eBay manipulates their feedback.  There is little benefit to anyone involved for this one feedback to have been removed.  However it is very important if this is part of a larger pattern.  We’re watching.


SmartBargains first DSRs

December 5th, 2008

Smart Bargains has finally displayed their DSRs and they aren’t looking good.

Item Description 4.4 10
Communication 4.0 10
Shipping Time 4.6 11
Shipping Charges 4.5 10

One wonders if they received a phone call at 3:00AM saying that they could no longer list due to their sub-par communication DSR.

Assuming that one or both of the buyers who left negative feedback left all 1’s that means Smart Bargains received the following from the remaining users:

Item Description 5.3 8
Communication 4.8 8
Shipping Time 5.4 9
Shipping Charges 5.4 8
Item Description 4.8 9
Communication 4.3 9
Shipping Time 5.0 10
Shipping Charges 4.9 9

We’ll keep you updated.


Update #1:
While writing this post another user left a negative against SmartBargains but they only dinged the communication and item description star.


Update #2:
Doing a little research we found that we first noticed their 4.0 communication DSR at 3:00AM however SmartBargains continued to list as late as 3:20AM. eBay selling standards dictate that no one with any DSR below 4.1 is allowed to list items. So much for the balanced playing field.


SmartBargains First Positive

December 3rd, 2008

Yesterday I sent an email to eBay user jlmackey2 regarding the positive feedback they left SmartBargains.  The following was their response:

No, I’m a regular consumer. I apologize for any inconvenience. I did receive a quick response from them and same day shipping. I haven’t received anything yet, but I will post about the product after I’ve received it. Thanks.

We’ll keep you updated.


Update Dec-12-08 11:39PST

jlmackey2 just sent me this email

I received my product from SmartBargains on Monday, December 7. It was in excellent condition. It looks and work just as they advertised. I am currently using it.
I rate them an A++!!

I assume he meant December 8th.  So it does look like the transaction was positive in the end.  It still doesn’t explain why the feedback was left at payment.


SmartBargains, Not So Fast

December 2nd, 2008

EventHorizon1984 has an interesting entry regarding the first two feedbacks for one of eBay’s newest Diamond powersellers.  As many have noticed their first (and third!) feedback on eBay turned out to be negative.  However, it turns out that SmartBargain’s first positive feedback was left a whole 24 minutes after the item was purchased.  The item was apparently shipped across country via UPS Ground.

Positive feedback rating Very accurate and fast. I would definitely buy from this seller again.

Now we aren’t going to speculate who left this feedback or what their motivations were, but it definitely makes one wonder about the future of this seller.


New Diamond Spotted

December 2nd, 2008

Altrec has been added to the list.

http://blog.auctionbytes.com/cgi-bin/blog/blog.pl?/pl/2008/12/1228145122.html


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