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Updates to eBay’s Feedback and seller standards

From May 2012, eBay is introducing new safeguards to help protect sellers against unfair feedback and detailed seller ratings.

These safeguards will include automatic 5-star detailed seller ratings for communication under some circumstances and the removal of buyer Feedback for unpaid items.

With these improvements, we’re aiming to ensure Feedback is an accurate and fair reflection of the service you provide.

About the new seller protections

Automatic 5-star detailed seller ratings (DSR) for Communication

From May 2012, you’ll be automatically awarded a 5-star DSR for seller communication when a transaction meets all of the following criteria:

  • Stated handling time is one working day or same day
  • Postage tracking number is uploaded within one working day after payment has been received
  • The item is paid for using PayPal, which makes the payment date visible to eBay
  • No communication took place between the buyer and seller in the 14 days prior to the transaction and up until the point that Feedback was left. This includes messages within My eBay*. See communication exclusions below.

*eBay will not automatically award 5-star Communication in this situation. However, the buyer may still choose to award 5 stars for Communication.  

Removal of Feedback on unpaid items

When a seller opens an unpaid item dispute, Feedback and detailed seller ratings relating to that case will be blocked or automatically removed.

This applies whether or not you are using Unpaid Item Assistant as long as you are using PayPal and no local pick up is offered.

Find out more about the unpaid item process.

Clarity for international buyers on customs

From 2 May 2012, buyers automatically see a customs notification message in the postage and handling section of the Item page and in eBay Checkout, which clarifies their customs obligations. These messages appear automatically when the buyer is located in a different country to the item.

Sellers no longer need to provide customs information within their listings.

The customs notification message depends on the item price and the customs thresholds in the buyer’s country.

  • If an item price is below the customs threshold, buyers are informed that items may be subject to customs processing depending on the item’s declared value
  • If an item price is above the customs threshold in the US or Canada, buyers from these countries are informed that there may be delays due to import duties and taxes, customs inspection and brokerage fees at the point of delivery
  • Any Feedback from international buyers that specifically references these issues can be removed upon a seller’s request.

Best practices for automatic 5-star DSR for Communication

Follow these best practices to help you qualify for the automatic 5-star DSR for Communication.

  • Provide buyers with all the relevant information they need in your listings. Clearly describe your items, list your item specifics, returns policy, postage information, and payment methods so that buyers don’t need to contact you with questions before making a purchase decision. New business policies make it fast and easy to include this information.
  • Process orders quickly – within 1 business day. Buyers want their items fast. Specify same-day or 1-business day handling time whenever you can, and use more than 1-business day handling time for exceptions and special items only.
  • Upload tracking information on all orders within 1 business day. "Where's my item?" is one of the most common buyer questions. When buyers can track the progress of their shipment, you spend less time answering buyer questions. Make sure to upload tracking information to My eBay for all your items, if possible.
  • Once you upload tracking, your buyers will receive automated emails from eBay with tracking information and status on their orders, and they can access it from My eBay. No need to contact your buyers with tracking and order status; eBay takes care of this for you.

Frequently asked questions

1. How do I choose whether to open an unpaid item dispute or to cancel the transaction?

If you don’t receive payment for an item you’ve sold, you can open a dispute in the Resolution Centre as early as four days or up until 32 days after the listing ended.

You can cancel the transaction in the Resolution Centre when:

  • The item is lost or broken
  • You made a mistake when listing the item
  • There's some other reason you can't complete the sale.

2. Can buyers leave Feedback if payment is made and an unpaid item dispute is closed?

Yes. After payment is made and the unpaid item dispute is closed, buyers will be able to leave Feedback for the seller.


3. What are the requirements for automatic removal of Feedback from buyers with an unpaid item recorded?

eBay will automatically remove all Feedback from buyers with an unpaid item recorded for the related transactions, whether or not you are using Unpaid Item Assistant, as long as the following criteria are met:

  • The listing required an eBay approved safer payment method (PayPal, credit card or Paymate) for the related transaction
  • There was no local pick-up offered in the listing for the item.

If the above criteria are met, eBay will automatically remove all Feedback left by buyers for transactions where there was an unpaid item recorded, and block the buyer from leaving any Feedback after the unpaid item was recorded. All related DSRs will also be removed and will not impact seller performance rating. 


4. What do I need to do to make sure I’m covered by the automatic 5-star DSR for Communication?

Review and follow best practices listed above to help you qualify for automatic 5-star DSR for Communication. 


5. Why is no communication between “buyers and sellers” a criteria for automatic 5-star DSR for Communication?

The purpose of this update is to ensure that you get credit for those situations where the transaction went smoothly and the buyer simply felt no need to contact you. Most often, no communication in these transactions is a sign of great service. The critical information was included in the listing and the buyer didn’t have to follow up to find out where their item was. This is how the majority of transactions happen on eBay and sellers should not receive low Communication DSRs in these situations. This doesn’t mean that communication between a buyer and seller is undesirable. If you do exchange messages for some reason - and the buyer is satisfied with your response - most likely you’ll get 5 stars from the buyer based on their interaction with you.


6. What types of communications will disqualify me from getting an automatic 5 star DSR for Communication?

You will not receive an automatic 5 star DSR for Communication if there is any buyer or seller initiated communication related to the transaction in the eBay messaging system or a request for contact information by the buyer or seller. Operational emails such as invoices and invoice requests even if they contain messages added by the buyer or seller, and Best Offer communications are excluded from consideration and you will still qualify for an automatic 5 star DSR for Communication if there is no other communication between buyer and seller.


7. How will buyers find out about order status and delivery confirmation if I don’t communicate with them?

eBay currently sends automated emails to buyers to keep them up to date on their order status and delivery information. Make sure to upload tracking information to My eBay for all your items so eBay can keep your buyers informed. This frees you up to spend your time on tasks other than sending update emails.


8. What do I need to do to remove Feedback on customs delays and import duties?

eBay automatically add a customs notification message to the Item page for international transactions, under the postage and handling section. You will no longer need to include a customs message in your listing description. Feedback will qualify for removal if the sole source of discontent in the Feedback comment is import duties or customs delays. All related DSRs will also be removed from your seller performance rating.


9. Don't you already protect sellers from Feedback received by buyers with an unpaid item recorded for the related transaction?

This protection is currently available through Unpaid Item Assistant. We’re now extending this protection to all unpaid item transactions, whether or not you are using Unpaid Item Assistant, an eBay approved safer payment method, and did not offer local item pick-up. For the few transactions that do not meet these criteria, sellers can request removal of Feedback. Feedback will be removed if it is clear that the buyer did not have intent to pay.


10. Didn't you always protect sellers from negative Feedback about customs in cross-border transactions?

Yes, but now we’ve extended this protection to include displaying the customs notification message automatically. In the past, the seller had to add the message into the listing description themselves in order to receive the Feedback protection. Now we display the message below automatically for cross-border transactions when buyers are browsing your item, under international shipping details, and will remove Feedback related to customs issues from those buyers. Feedback will qualify for removal (whether negative, positive, or neutral) when the only issue in the comment is customs duties or customs delays. All related DSRs will be removed from your seller performance ratings.


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