eBay sellers have become frustrated with a feature the site has been automatically turning on for their stores.
eBay announced Business Policies nearly two years ago. The feature amounts to a set of custom settings for shipping, return and payment information for sellers to manage easily from one central location. Sellers can create multiple policies, and select the ones they want to apply to particular listings with a few clicks. It's supposed to be a time saver, and make sellers' lives easier, but the roll-out doesn't appear to be quite so simple for a lot of sellers.
Should eBay force the new Business Policies feature on users? Share your thoughts.
Though announced in the spring of 2012, the company said a few months later that its release would be postponed. Finally, on Friday, eBay said that it has begun turning it on automatically for some sellers. Others can opt in. Either way, it will become the only way to define policies for listings for everybody later this year.
Sellers have taken to the eBay community forums to express their frustration. Much of this appears to come from the idea that this makes things harder on sellers offering a lot of different items.
"Yikes, I just looked at it," writes user gopetersen. "It appears to be designed for sellers who sell quantities of similar items and might be a nightmare (don't know yet, but potentially) for those who sell a lot of unique and different items. If I'm understanding correctly, it automatically creates a new policy for each item listed with a slightly different policy and then you have to name and manage the lists. So, sellers who sell a lot of different things, to deal with this, we'll probably have to sit down and work out a group of policies and then assign them to listings as we go. I couldn't tell from the description if you can set up the names and policies first, but I'm hoping this is the case."
D-k_treasures says, "So stupid for the sellers of unique items. Every change creates a new policy - look at the examples. So if you have different shipping changes on each listing, it's a new policy. Unreal. Where do they come up with this BS?"
Piedmont33 says, "Don't ya just love how we aren't able to run our own businesses and eBay feels that they have to do it for us?"
Another member expressed fatigue with the site, suggesting that "for many years," sellers have just stayed because eBay is "the place to sell," adding, "Some day, some of us," will just get "tired of this" and "go elsewhere."
Ina Steiner at EommerceBytes shares a few more negative reactions:
So why the poor reception? As initially described in this February 5th, EcommerceBytes Newsflash article, sellers suddenly encountered a drop down menu containing a great number of policies that had long codes that were incomprehensible. "I have a payment policy, and a shipping policy, and a return policy," wrote one seller at the time. "Now, I get prompts. Having no idea now what this is, I open the drop-down and see about 50 different long-numbered "policies.""
After being opted in, another seller said the feature interferes with the listing flow - those who haven't set up policies have to leave the listing, go into their My eBay, navigate to Business Policies, set up the new policies, and then return to listing. "Did eBay do usability testing before rolling this mess out," they wondered.
Another seller said they set up set up a shipping policy under "my business policies" for local, national and international. "I called ebay earlier this week about a shipping issue and they resolved it by removing all my policies. I cannot find how to set up policies any more. Help please?"
Frustration from sellers is certainly nothing new, though we haven't seen quite the level of complaints in recent memory that we were seeing a few years back, and the company has made numerous changes in the meantime.
Not all of the feedback is negative luckily (a good thing considering this is supposed to make things easier on sellers).
Back in the forums, Girlspicer says, for example, "The one thing I do like is that I do mostly free shipping on the other acct and wanted to see what it was like to charge shipping and lower my sale price on this acct with shorter Buy it Now durations. I've created 3 policies for shipping - and have to say it's easier to just pick one of my policies when listing for the shipping charges than manually change things. At first it was like visiting another planet setting all these things up tho because I am not a computer wiz by any means."
eBay is offering a few tips for using Business Policies, including: consolidating them, understanding how they're being used before deleting them or making changes, and giving each policy a name that makes sense to you.
"Every time you change even one policy detail in a listing, a new business policy is created. To keep things manageable, consolidate your policies into a short list of just a few that make the most sense for your business," it said in Friday's announcement. You can see which listings are using a specific policy on the
'Manage your business policies' page in Selling Manager or Selling Manager Pro...To save time, give each of your policies a name that makes sense to you. You might also rename those created automatically from your existing listings. Add a brief description to make it quick and easy to select the right policy when you’re listing."
eBay offers some additional tips here.
eBay is allowing those who have been opted in to opt out, but as mentioned, this will be forced upon everyone later this year, so any opt out is only temporary. The company does say it's listening to feedback.
The company is also catching flack for siding with a buyer over a seller in a dispute, despite evidence in the seller's favor. The company had sent debt collectors after the seller, but when taken to small claims court, eBay ultimately paid the seller for the item as well as for additional money it had removed from his PayPal account, and court costs. The seller is still seeking compensation for time spent fighting for his case.
Sell on eBay? What are your thoughts about Business Policies? Let us know in the comments.
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