Steps to Decreasing Defect Rates on eBay

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Negative feedback used to be the only thing eBay sellers had to worry about. Then, in 2014, eBay introduced the Defect Rating System. This is a system that punishes sellers for poor performance. eBay wants buyers to be satisfied and return to buy more items. If sellers are not performing up to par, it affects the entire platform. eBay had to create a way to weed out sellers who don't take the eBay customer service philosophy seriously. 

What Exactly are eBay Seller Defects?

  • Transaction Defect Rate: The transaction defect rate is the percentage of your total transactions that had any 1 of 2 defects. Note that these defects often measure how satisfied your buyers were with a transaction. eBay doesn't count more than 1 defect per transaction.
  • Late Shipment Rate: If you ship on time and upload validated tracking or your buyers tell eBay the shipment was on time when they leave feedback, you're all set.
  • Cases Closed Without Seller Resolution: A case closed without seller resolution is any case the seller is unable to resolve with the buyer prior to the buyer asking eBay to step in and help with a request, or escalating a case to PayPal for review, and eBay or PayPal determines the seller is responsible.
  • Tracking Uploaded on Time and Validated: For this requirement, eBay looks at your transactions during the past 3 months. To be a Top Rated Seller, 90% of your transactions must have tracking uploaded within your stated handling time, in addition to receiving a carrier scan.

Too many of these issues and a seller's account falls into Below Standard Status, and restrictions are placed on their account. Restrictions include selling limits, which can be tough to deal with when you depend on eBay for income. In other words, if your selling limits are restricted to 100 items and $5.000, and you normally have 500 items and $25,000 worth of inventory listed, a restriction will severely cripple your business. 

Why is eBay So Strict About Seller Performance?

eBay wants sellers to offer outstanding service so that buyers will return. If buyers don't return, or even worse, spread the word about their awful eBay experience to other people, it not only decreases sales on eBay but gives eBay a bad reputation. When eBay's reputation suffers, individual sellers suffer because buyers won't go to the site and buy things. So it is in every seller's best interest to do everything in their power to follow eBay's guidelines to stay in good standing.

How Sellers Can Avoid Defects

  1. Respond to customer issues and questions quickly. If a customer is ignored or doesn't receive attention promptly, he is more likely to escalate a situation and things can get ugly.
  2. Ship items on time, within your specified handling time. In other words, do what you say you are going to do in the listing.
  3. Organize inventory so that you can find items quickly and items don't run out of stock. When a seller can't ship an item, the customer is disappointed. eBay created this defect to help weed out sellers who are selling on multiple sites and don't manage inventory properly. 
  4. Keep shipping and handling fees reasonable. It is best to use calculated shipping as it is the fairest and charges the customer the exact shipping fee without over or under charging. 
  5. Stand by your return policy. If you have a 30-day return policy on your items, you must honor that. If you get a lot of returns, you may need to analyze the kind of products you are selling or something else with your eBay business model. 
  6. Always give professional, courteous service with attention to detail and a sense of urgency. Treat customers the way you want to be treated.
  7. If a case is opened against you, address it quickly. Many times just asking the customer, "How would you like to resolve this?" will give the customer the power they desire. Furthermore, the customer may ask for far less than you would have suggested. For example, if a buyer receives a clothing item with a small hole, and you ask them how they wish to resolve, they may suggest a small partial refund. A long drawn out case can be avoided, and the customer is happy.

Sellers, take eBay seriously. Have pride and integrity in your business. It will pay off in the end.

Updated on August 4, 2016, by Suzanne A. Wells.