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Raising the Bar

New regulations change what it means to be a great seller--and powerseller.
August 1, 2008
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/196502

Sellerstandards received an overhaul this year, becoming more stringent and encouraging sellers and PowerSellers to provide the best possible service to their customers.

Two key changes were made for all sellers to discourage bad seller behavior. First, listings exposure in eBay searches is decreased for sellers who have had high buyer dissatisfaction rates and low Detailed Seller Ratings, or DSRs, over the past 30 days. Second, all sellers with a high buyer dissatisfaction rate, who have feedback scores of less than 100, or who list in five categories with higher buyer complaint rates (consumer electronics, computers, cell phones, video games and gift cards) will be required to offer a safer payment option--either PayPal or direct credit card payments to their merchant accounts. Sellers who continue to deliver high buyer dissatisfaction rates in successive months risk permanent suspension from eBay.

Changes have also been made to add greater meaning and impact to the PowerSeller icon.

PowerSeller status is now based on DSRs: A seller must achieve and maintain a minimum score of 4.6 in all four DSR criteria over a 12-month period to become a PowerSeller or remain in the program. The criteria are:

  1. Describing items accurately
  2. Communicating effectively with buyers
  3. Shipping in a timely manner
  4. Charging fair and accurate shipping costs

"These four DSRs are an excellent proxy for buyer satisfaction," says Todd Lutwak, senior director of eBay's seller development team.

A very small percentage of sellers create a high percentage of dissatisfied customers. According to Jim Ambach, vice president of eBay's seller experience team, eBay considers a buyer dissatisfied if:

"If a seller has any of these activities in the past 30 days, these will cumulatively count as dissatisfied customers for that seller," Ambach said in a recent statement.

In the past, PowerSellers have only been required to have a certain level of sales and a 98 percent positive feedback rating. These criteria haven't proven to be strong enough indicators that buyers will consistently have positive experiences when buying from PowerSellers.

"The change benefits sellers because the better the experience they're providing for buyers, the more they'll reap the rewards," says Lutwak. "The bar is set high because it's matched with Power-Sellers who are already providing excellent customer service. So while it's high, it's achievable."