EBay is infamous for changing the rules on sellers, and they just did it again. In addition to having good customer satisfaction, a seller must now offer 1-day handling on 90% of items in order to get the Top Rated Seller rating -- and the 20% discount on eBay fees that goes with it. Problem is, as a Sabbath-observing Jew, I can't guarantee that orders will always go out within 24 hours -- which is what "1-day handling" means. So I'll never again see that reward. Read on...
Since 2005, I have had a little store on eBay called The Happy Rooster where I sell, among other things, cruelty-free feathers and wildflower seeds. If you check out my feedback there, you will see that, as of this writing, I've got 100% positive feedback and very good comments from my customers. I also still have my Top Rated Seller status, even though I list my items as "3-day handling." But that is about to change forever -- not because my quality of service will change, heaven forbid, but rather, because I observe the Sabbath.
You see, the Jewish Sabbath starts at 18 minutes before sundown on Friday and, in the wintertime, that is around 4 pm up here in the Northland. There is simply no way I can package and ship a bunch of orders, make a trip into town to ship, then get home in time to have everything set up for the Sabbath. This is why I've always said "3-day handling," to cover items ordered on Thursdays that won't go out until Monday. There are also times when Jewish holy days come back-to-back with the Sabbath, creaitng a 3-day period when I do not do any business, period.
My customers understand this and, as my feedback shows, there have been very few complaints. Frequently, my items do get shipped faster, sometimes even within 1 day at the beginning of the week. But orders that come in late on Thursdays simply cannot go out until Monday. Bye bye Top Rated Seller perks.
EBay's rationale for this is that "Savvy online merchants understand that consumer expectations are evolving, and they are adapting to the world class services needed to compete." (Spring 2012 eBay newsletter). In other words, people are getting extremely impatient and eBay wants us little cottage businesses to compete with Big Box stores that can afford to offer free shipping and have people working 24/7 to fill orders.
But those same Big Box stores do NOT have cruelty-free feathers -- just try and find them in ANY commercial craft department. (For more on what makes a feather cruelty-free, read my essay.) Ditto for personalized and/or made-to-order items -- I'll bet the custom crafts people are having fits over this new policy, too. Customers looking for hard-to-find specialty items are usually willing to wait a bit longer in order to get exactly what they want -- something the eBay executives apparently do not understand or care about.
Frankly, I think that eBay is just looking for new excuses not to give out the incentive bonuses. Why else would they change the rules on sellers like me, who already have 100% customer satisfaction?
One eBay consultant suggested that I have my Thursday-Friday items picked up at the door instead of driving into town. Sure -- if I charge $5.50 for Priority Mail, because the post office will not pick up First Class mail at the door. But who is going to pay that much to ship a $2.00 package of seeds? Nobody. Not to mention that eBay now charges sellers fees on the shipping charges, too, which means I'd have to raise the cost of Priority to $6.00 to cover the 9% that goes to eBay.
So why do I stick with eBay at all, you ask? I've tried other places, but I just don't get the traffic or the sales. And I really do need the money. So, like the proverbial frog in the pot of water, I guess I'll just have to keep adjusting to the heat until eventually I'm cooked...