Very often I receive emails from people who have had their eBay account lowered to “below standard” for various different reasons, most often due to a too high defect rate.
And I’ve always said that the only way out of such situations is to go out and buy and sell loads of cheap items via auctions with free shipping, to get lots of new, defect-free transactions that allow you to improve your account status by the time the next evaluation occurs.
This is not always a simple task as in general, when your account goes below standard, eBay punishes your listings by giving them lower search positions which makes it even harder to get back on track.
So it’s always best to start taking action on this WHEN you see in your dashboard that your account status will go to Below Standard on the next evaluation. Not after but BEFORE it happens.
Because that way you can use that time to your favour and get the maximum amount of sales possible before your account status gets lowered.
And today I want to share with you an incredible story of how one of my customers, Rupert, turned a below Standard account into a top rated seller account in less than 3 weeks’ time. This is truly an inspirational story to all people facing the same problem and it’s proof that anything is possible as long as you truly want it and work hard towards it!
Without further ado – let’s hear the story in full detail.
How I went from Below Standard to TRS status in just a few weeks’ time.
I have had an eBay account since 2001 and upgraded this to a business account in 2014. My initial business was selling antiques and vintage items, of which most of my inventory came from antique auctions around the country. I already had a couple of physical retail outlets in the form of rented space in antique centres, both within an hour’s drive from my house.
By the very nature of ‘used’ items, the return rate or potential for cases being opened was fairly high. And I soon learned that the probability of being scammed also increased.
Quite often a watch would be purchased by an overseas buyer and kept for a few weeks before the buyer then returned the item suggesting the watch didn’t go with a wedding outfit or some other reason that was clearly not my fault as a seller. I essentially felt that I was being treated like a Next catalogue.
I have 100% feedback and in order to keep it that way I would always be at the mercy of my buyers, not matter what their complaint. I have many examples of buyers asking for an enormous partial refund, anywhere from £400 to over £1,000 in most cases. These were for high priced items like vintage Rolex, Breitling watches and the like. I would always bend over knowing that not to do so would result in a negative feedback. I’m of the opinion that some buyers knew this. I listed very honestly and marked any defect clearly!
The last watch I sold (and the main offending item in this article) was an antique solid gold ladies fob watch. The listing clearly stated that it did NOT function and was being sold purely on its gold weight value. The lady in Russia kept this watch for almost 1 month before opening a case and demanding a full refund on account of the watch not functioning! Having got tired of selfish and unreasonable demands I decided for the first time in my years as a seller to ignore the buyer and let eBay deal with her.
Little did I know this would be hugely detrimental to my eBay selling status…
My eBay account was listed in the Dashboard as being ‘Above Standard’. However over the previous 12 months of my evaluation period I had received 4 defects. All 4 defects were due to me listing items as ‘Out of Stock’. Two of the items were items that sold on eBay but were also being sold at my physical outlets.
Unfortunately both items had already sold at these outlets and I had not checked my stock for almost a week!
The buyers were both very understanding and fortunately did not leave any negative feedback. The other 2 defects were cases where the buyer changed their minds and I cancelled the transactions by checking the ‘Out of Stock’ option. All 4 items resulted in a defect against me.
Now I had never taken any notice of my dashboard until Andrew pointed it out and I had no idea of how this affected me.
When the lady in Russia opened the case against me regarding the gold fob watch I foolishly allowed eBay to resolve the problem which resulted (as always) in the buyer being fully refunded. Prior to this defect, Andrew had asked me to check my Seller dashboard and try and sell a certain amount of items in order to get my account into TRS status. However this defect tipped me over the edge and resulted in a predicted evaluation for the 20th September as being ‘Below Standard’ with a defect rate of 6.02%!!
In order to qualify for TRS I would need to be under 0.5%. In fact, just to get back to ‘Above Standard’ I would now need to get my transaction defect rate below 2%.
The date at this point was the 13th September. In order to get my account back into ‘above standard’ or even ‘TRS’ level for next month’s evaluation period I needed to make sufficient sales by the end of September 30th.
Currently I had 83 transactions over the last 12 month period. 5 defects divided by 83 transactions over the previous 12 months gave me a 6.02% defect rate. So by my calculations I needed over 250 transactions by September 30th to bring my defect rate to under 2% (5 / 250 x 100 = 2%). However I would still have 5 defects to my name and any slight error could result in me going below standard again. This would not be good for the nerves when trying to start a new business with Andrew’s help on the 60 DBP course.
So… I read that if I can achieve 400 sales over a 3 month period I would be evaluated as a ‘high volume seller’ and as such only evaluated over a 3 month period. For the next evaluation period on the 20th October (which works 1 month in arrears) this 3 month evaluation period would run from 1st July to the 30th September 2016.
Four of my defects were prior to these dates and the Gold Fob watch which resulted in eBay making the final decision was during July. If I hit over 400 sales by the end of September my defect rate would only be based on 1 defect, with a calculation as follows: 1/400 x 100 = 0.25%
If I could achieve this I would be evaluated at TRS level by 20th October 2016!!
So I got to work!
I had 8 days (from 13th September to 20th September) before my account fell below standard and my listings all fell further back in best match results. And I had just 18 days to make my 3 month sales quota of 400 transactions (by the 30th Sept).
For July I had 13 transactions and just 6 for August. I needed 381 for September!
Everything I could sell I sold! I purchased DIY items like cable clips, cable ties, telephone wire connectors (the sort used by BT or Sky engineers) and I purchased these in bulk.
For example a tub of 500 telephone wire connectors would cost in excess of £60 but most people would only require a handful of pieces for a DIY project (10pcs or 20pcs). So I sold these in small batches and undercut every single supplier on eBay. In fact after postage and eBay/PayPal fees I took a loss on each sale.
I also bought cable ties in batches of 500 and sold them in groups of 50-100pcs. All items I sold went for cost price and were shipped with 1st class post and my cut-off time was literally 10 mins before the post office closed for last collections at 5:15pm (at my local post office). I even added extra items to the orders so as to keep buyers extra happy as I knew one more case would finish my eBay account permanently!
I had 3 incidents where buyers reported an item as not received. When this happened I immediately went over to Amazon, ordered from another supplier and paid extra for next day express delivery directly to my customer’s address (again at extra cost to me, resulting in a loss of course).
Sales of these cheap items were going very well and I was well on target. That was until the 20th September when my account now officially declared me as ‘below standard’, as I knew would happen. The result was a dramatic drop in sales from a minimum of 20 sales per day (sometimes as much as 40!) to just 1 sale! All my items were 4 pages back on eBay’s best match results!!
I was mortified! So close but now it seemed impossible…
What I did was change my listing format to 3 day auctions, ensuring that every day my items would be coming to an end due to auction time running out and thus my listings would appear for a brief moment at the top of the page right at the end of the auction.
All listings were started at 0.99p with no reserve and free 1st Class postage. My current stock was all listed in this way for the remaining time before the end of the month. Also pretty much anything I looked at in my house that I felt was something I no longer required was photographed on my iPhone and immediately listed on the spot, again using my iPhone and using the 3 day auction listing format. All were scheduled for 9pm end times to ensure the best possible audience for my auction closing times.
The result was truly miraculous! By the end of September I had made 431 sales!! And this was from only half the month! Add that to the previous 2 months of 6 & 13 transactions for August & July, this gave me a total 3 month sales figure of 450 sales.
My next transaction evaluation period would only take into account these 3 months therefore my only defect in that period was 1 item. 1 defect/450 transactions x 100 = 0.22% defect rate. I had achieved TRS level from Below Standard (with a whopping 6.02% defect rate) in less than 3 weeks!
I should add that I made an overall loss for this whole period, however it was a small price to pay. I think with an account in “below standard’ status I would have no business whatsoever resulting in a complete loss of my livelihood. On top of that, eBay is very hard on substandard sellers and I could have been permanently banned/restricted from selling on eBay if this continued. A frightening prospect from someone who relies heavily on this platform to make a living!
I received a call from an eBay rep based in Ireland who was so impressed that I had tuned my account around in such a short time, going from 6 sales in August to 431 sales in September, that she wanted to congratulate me and share my story with her colleagues! Boy was I chuffed. 2 different eBay reps had both said they had never seen such a turnaround!
I have learnt to never neglect my dashboard again. I hadn’t realised the implications of ignoring this. Also I now know that I must NEVER list an item as ‘out of stock’ or allow eBay to resolve a case that I can resolve myself. Both of these will result in defects and are considered by eBay as being the biggest issues that will disappoint a buyer – eBay is all about the ‘Buyer Experience”.
I’m not certain they have given much importance to their sellers yet as we have to bend down to the most unscrupulous of buyer and even kiss the backside of buyers that we would otherwise not give the time of day to in the street.
I was scammed twice I believe during this period, one which told me she was not in receipt of her items (she purchased 2 BT modems from me in 2 separate auctions). She told me a week later they had not arrived and was very rude as well. I had proof of postage but all she wanted was her money back. I refunded her immediately yet 2 weeks later both my items were for sale on her eBay account!
Many thanks goes to Rupert for sharing this story with us! It really shows what you can achieve with some hard work!