Delivery time measure and defect rate - manage buyer expectations

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Well where do I start?

There are a few problems here!
1)   Ebay's over-optimistic interpretation of Royal Mail delivery times.
2)  Ebay rating sellers on something that is out of their control.
3)  Relying on buyers to remember the day the item arrived when leaving feedback.
4)  The way the delivery metric is calculated is very much against the seller.
5)  Ebay assumes a late delivery means I dispatched late - which is both stupid and insulting.
I will elaborate on each of these below.

1) Ebay's over-optimistic interpretation of Royal Mail delivery times.

The problem here is two-fold.
Royal Mail themselves are rather optimistic about their delivery times in the first place. For a long time I have sent out dispatch confirmations with a summary of the delivery times I ACTUALLY expect based on my experience - these are often longer.
On top of this, Ebay have picked the most optimistic times quoted by Royal Mail and set these in stone as what a buyer can expect.
However there are any number of reasons that mail can and frequently does take longer. The seller has NO CONTROL over this and should not be penalised for doing their bit properly - dispatching quickly.

WHAT SHOULD BE DONE
The only way to rate the seller properly would be to assume the dispatch date is correct, and mark on that. If the buyer complains the item hasn't arrived, the seller could upload proof of posting and then be in the clear.  (Though if the item doesn't arrive within a reasonable time a seller should still try to fix the problem of course).
Expected delivery time should be managed by sellers, not by Ebay. If shipping from a more remote area the seller will know all about typical delivery times and problems for themselves, and Ebay will not.

2) Ebay rating sellers on something that is out of their control.

How can rating a seller on the performance of a delivery company be fair to buyers or sellers ???
Personally, I do not live in an area where I have a choice of delivery company or economical tracked shipping. I do not have a business account with a postal service, and I won't even have access to the new Royal Mail tracking that is being hyped.
I am stuck with untracked shipping and I think Ebay's new system for "measuring" delivery time for untracked items makes no sense.

The estimated delivery date for an order does not seem to be available from Selling Manager Pro (or presumably Selling Manager).
You can find Ebay's "estimated delivery date" for an order from :

3) Relying on buyers to remember the day the item arrived when leaving feedback.

Many people do not use the item they receive straight away. When it arrives that's great, but feedback may be done much later when the item has been used.
By then the buyer will most likely have no memory of exactly which day the item arrived.
The only choice they are given about marking dispatch time is for example
"Did the item arrive on or before Wednesday, 21 October 2015? Estimated Delivery Date: 21 October" Yes or No
Well what do you put if you don't remember and don't care?
Nine times out of ten when buying, I order an item well in advance of needing it, so as long as it arrives, I simply don't care how long it took (and I know better than to mark a seller down for something that is out of their control anyway).
All I care about is that I have the item and it works. And ideally that the seller marks the item as dispatched within 1 working day or 2 at the outside. And lastly, that the seller will accept a return or partial refund if the item is not as described.
So although I am usually perfectly happy with the transaction, I may choose to omit to select Yes or No. Unfortunately then, Ebay does not assume the buyer is happy. No, Ebay then takes your transaction out of the equation altogether. Only Yes and No answers are used to calculate a seller's delivery performance.
In other words, only those items that arrive by Ebay's ridiculously optimistic estimated date AND where the buyer selects Yes, get marked in your favour.
If the buyer is not sure of delivery date, does not care about delivery date, rebels against being asked the question, or assumes that leaving a blank will be ok, this actually works to the detriment of the seller under the new delivery metric.
Selecting No is but another nail in the coffin for the seller.

4) The way the delivery metric is calculated is very much against the seller for untracked items.

Number of No's divided by number of Yes's. Forget the blanks.
Blanks do not help you.
Buyers won't remember delivery date when they leave feedback later.
If you hedge your bets and say 2nd Class when you send 1st Class, Ebay will still get an unrealistic view of how long 2nd Class takes, prolonging the whole problem of estimated delivery dates.

5) Ebay assumes a late delivery means I dispatched late - which is both stupid and insulting.

The text on the new seller performance preview states :
"Late delivery rate
If you post on time and upload a validated tracking number, or your buyers tell us their items were posted on time when they leave Feedback, you're all set.
Otherwise, if the tracking details or your buyers indicate that more than 9.00% of your transactions were dispatched late, we may follow up with you about the handling time you offer in your listings.
When there's no tracking information available and no response from the buyer, the transaction won't be counted."
On the report it quite clearly states that a sale that I both sent on time, and marked as sent on time, was "Transactions that weren't posted on time: 1"
I received the order in the evening and posted the next day. Feedback was left 6 days later and the buyer answered NO to "Did the item arrive on or before ...  Estimated Delivery Date ... "

So ... Ebay says that if the delivery arrived late it is my fault because I didn't post on time. Even though I marked it as dispatched on the correct and first possible day !!!!

The report preview for deliveries that weren't on time in UK / Ireland mentions only this one transaction that is marked as late because the buyer selected No.
Ebay have made up a percentage from this,  1 marked late "Based on 20 transactions from 12 Sep, 2015 to 31 Oct, 2015". There is no indication which transactions the other 19 are.
Selecting globally I have 2 marked late of 39 transactions. Both buyers left positive and friendly feedback. The latter 8 days after posting to Spain.
On Friday evening 6th Nov this same item states delivery between 12-16 Nov to Spain, as I can't post until Monday this means the item must take between 3-7 days to get there. I know for a fact this is over-optimistic as in my experience items to Spain take between a few days up to 2 weeks which I will quote to anyone who asks.
Based on the fact that I have received 87 feedbacks from all countries during this period,  I could assume that 37 global buyers said Yes, and that 48 global buyers left feedback but did not complete the delivery time question.
Similarly of 81 transactions to UK and Ireland during this period, I could assume that 19 UK/Ireland buyers stated Yes. The remainder did not leave feedback or if they did, they did not complete the delivery time question.
I believe that "transactions" means dates the buyers purchased or paid for items, not the date they left feedback, because the number of transactions counted is still increasing each day for a fixed date range.
I will continue to monitor this report.

What Ebay Should Do

When Ebay realises that lots of sellers are going down because of their delivery metric, they may finally realise that their estimated delivery dates are just WRONG.
If Ebay must ask about delivery they should do this promptly and on a separate occasion from asking for feedback.
DON'T suggest that late delivery means late dispatch.
Ebay could simply ask if the buyer is happy with delivery time - as many buyers are more down to earth than Ebay. Then the percentages would actually mean something.
Better, they should mark on dispatch date which is within a seller's control.

What Sellers Can Do

- select a slower postage method but send using a faster one, I have seen this a lot recently
- select a longer dispatch time (but not too long, buyers aren't that understanding!) Buyers want that dispatch confirmation so they can relax, knowing the item is in the hands of the postal service now, and no longer in the seller's control. (Note the irony here)
- amend dispatch emails (if you can) and listings to show expected delivery time ACCORDING TO THE SELLER. This can only be done in the listing description and buyers don't always read down, or read dispatch emails. But if it is in the description at least you can refer buyers to this when they have a query.
- Then ask your buyers to select Yes when leaving feedback (Unless you know it arrived later than estimated - then a non-answer would be the best option!)
This is a tough one. I hate to say "please ask your buyer to leave a Yes" because with Ebay's wording they can't say "I am happy with delivery time", they can only agree it arrived by the hugely over-optimistic estimated delivery date. And of course often it doesn't so they may leave you a No instead. Too many No's and your Top-Rated Seller status is gone.
- Keep certificates of posting or other proof of posting for untracked packets and other items of any value. Check the date is stamped clearly. That way if you get a query you can double-check postage date and confirm to the buyer. It won't get you far with Ebay in a dispute unfortunately. But it could enable you to make a claim with the Post Office if the item is lost or damaged in transit.

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