I had been holding off on posting this due simply to the hopes that there was possibly a chance that I would regain my selling privileges on eBay after all the low feedback scores had fallen off. Now before you go thinking that I am just another bad seller, and that eBay is protecting the little guy from thieves, let me explain what happened.
I originally was laid off from my FT job back in June of 2012, which had a major effect on our financial situation. For years I have sold off various items, clothing, home goods, etc on eBay in an effort to make a little extra cash, and rid our home of items we no longer needed. Prior to losing my job, I had been selling on eBay, Etsy, and Tophatter.
During the fall of 2012, I came across a brand new Direct Sales company called Jewelry Candles. I had found out about them from another person selling them on one of my most used websites, so I ordered a few to see what they were all about. The company was relatively new, and it was such a unique product, I thought it would be a great opportunity to get in early with a company like this, so I signed up as a rep. I started selling the product on a few websites, which brought in a few sales here and there, but no where near enough money to help cover our bills. I had fallen in love with the product, thinking it was a great idea, and had hopes that I was in early enough with a company that was destined for great success.
So, in hopes of getting the most traffic, and of course most sales for this product, I decided to start listing them on eBay early on in 2013. I was a seasoned seller, having been on eBay for about 10 years, since 2003, and had a 100% positive feedback score, with tons of happy customers. I had started selling the candles on eBay prior to the holiday shopping season and things were going great. Customers were receiving their orders on time, and were extremely happy with the results, and love the surprise of what kind of jewelry they would get out of their candle. My following quickly grew, and I soon became one of the top sellers for the company.
It was when the 2013 holiday season started that things started to change. Prior to the holidays I always received automated USPS tracking emails when my customers orders shipped, making it easy for me to keep everyone updated on their order status, and orders always shipped relatively quickly, especially with this being a made to order product.
It wasn’t till around November of 2013, things started to go a bit south. All of a sudden I was getting emails from customers about tracking #s that never updated, items missing from orders, and even broken candles. The only contact info I had for the company at the time was an email address, so I soon found myself sending emails multiple times a day requesting status of outstanding issues to ensure all my customers were taken care of. Yes I was fully aware that I was just one of many reps selling for the company, so I tried to be patient and give them time to reply. Since the holiday rush hadn’t hit just yet, they were relatively prompt with taking care of any issues I had, allowing me to keep my customers happy.
Then out of nowhere I stopped receiving email notifications with tracking #s for my customers orders. This started occurring right around Thanksgiving/Black Friday. Keep in mind during this time, I still had a lot of orders coming in, and now found myself with no information to provide to my customers regarding their order status. I started to freak out, and have many sleepless nights because of the stress. I have always be a very customer service oriented, and I always reply to any communications from my customers as soon as I get them, and when I found myself in a position with customers asking questions and I had no information to give them, it freaked me out.
I began sending the company constant emails looking for tracking #s, and was told that the process of printing labels had changed and they would have to look into the system to pull the #s and send them over to me. While it took a little longer than I would have liked to get the info, especially since I already had a few unhappy customers at this point, they did provide me with the required information which kept most of my customers happy.
It wasn’t until the Christmas shopping season of 2013 that things really went south. The company had issued a cutoff date of Dec 10th for all customers to have their orders in by for guaranteed delivery by Christmas. Since this was the first real holiday season that I was selling for the company, I make sure to note this on all my listings so all customers placing orders knew that they needed to have an order in by that date if they wished to have the item in time for gift giving.
While I was still receiving tracking #s early on in December, the closer we got to the order cutoff date, the less communication I received from the company. Sure I still received invoices for every order, which I paid promptly, but it was finding out the status of a customers order that was next to impossible. I started sending emails on a regular basis with a list of customer names, requesting tracking #s for their orders. Soon the cutoff date for orders came and went and communication from the company ceased to exist.
Of course during this time I still had customers emailing me for status, and I did my best to advise them on what was going on, based on the little bit of information I had from the company. While many people were understanding, and only cared that they got their orders by Christmas, as had been promised, others were not as forgiving, and took their frustrations out on me in the form of negative feedback, but this was not the worst of it.
The closer we got to Christmas, the more concerned my customers became, especially those who had placed their order by the cutoff date. I was getting sporadic tracking # updates at this time, yet no replies to my emails for status, so all I could do was guesstimate as to where they company was in terms of order processing. At one point I was told that they had received a much larger holiday order load than they had expected and were working non-stop on processing, leaving no time to reply to emails.
I understood the stress of an order load, but what bothered me was the lack of communication, especially when I had a lot of customers contacting me on an almost daily basis wanting to know when they would get their order and I had nothing to tell them. And yet this was still not the worst of it. Based on the little information I had gotten from the company, it seemed like orders that had been placed by the cutoff date would arrive by Christmas, but apparently my assumptions had been wrong.
It wasn’t until the day before Christmas Eve that I found out the truth. They were still behind on processing orders and all order that had originally been placed by THEIR issued cutoff date would not be delivered till after Christmas!!!! Yep, that was the nail in the coffin for me. As soon as I found this out, I quickly tried to do damage control and contacted every buyer that had placed an order on that date that I had yet to receive a tracking # for and let them know what was going on. Some people were understanding, others not so much, accusing me of the delay when processing was outside of my control, and my seller rating took the hit for it.
After the holidays came and went, I woke up one morning to a not so nice notification from eBay. All of listings had been pulled due to poor seller performance, and I had been restricted from selling on eBay. I was in tears!!! I called eBay support to plead my case, to see if there was any chance of the restriction being lifted. I had been given an outright NO, and there was no way to change their mind since decisions are made for the good of the buyer community. What bothered me was that this FINAL decision was based not on my 10+ years of ratings as a seller, but instead on a 2, maybe 3 month run of bad feedback that resulted from a situation that was outside of my control. I contacted the Jewelry Candles company about this and while they were a bit sympathetic, they did absolutely nothing for me except for an “I’m sorry to hear that”.
It was at that point that I stopped selling the product all together, and haven’t really missed it. What bothered me the most was the lost of a selling platform for the many items we have in our home that we no longer need. I have tons of gently used clothing that no longer fit after a fair amount of weight loss, DVDS, and other household goods, with no outlet to list them on.
After moving past my anger and frustration, and while I still continued to receive emails from eBay about selling, ie how to fix your ratings etc, I figured there may still be hope in getting my privileges restored after all the bad feedback had fallen off, which would be about a year from the initial restriction.
So, a few days ago, I decided to try and email eBay to plead my case yet again to see if there was any chance of restoring my selling ability. Since my restriction, we have had many credit cards go into collections due to our inability to pay the minimum, and within the past few months we incurred a large vet bill as one of our kitties got sick and required surgery for a urinary blockage. I was told I would receive a reply in a few days after they investigated the request, so I waited for a reply.
Well, this is the response I got from eBay on Jan 13th:
“Thank you for contacting us in regards to the Below Standard selling restriction on your eBay account.
After an in-depth investigation into your account, we found that the Below Standard status was caused by a high defect rate. In using this information, along with your email, we can confirm that the restriction was placed correctly and will not be overturned.
Please know we took immense care with this review as we understand the impact it has to you, both personally and professionally.
We understand this is not the outcome you were hoping for, but it was made with the entire eBay Community in mind. Furthermore, any additional communication regarding this restriction will not result in the reinstatement of your selling privileges. ”
Yep, that pretty much seals the coffin and is proof that you are fine to sell on eBay just as long as you stay in their good graces. If your stats slip even for a very short amount of time, they will pass judgement on you without even looking into your entire history which is OBVIOUSLY what happened with me. My low ratings occurred in a 2 -3 month time frame, which is a very small percentage of an account that has been active for over 10 years!!! They couldn’t be bothered to look back and see that I had a 100% positive feedback score prior to selling the Jewelry Candles product, and that the issues that occurred were due to issues that were outside my control. I just didn’t matter. eBay passed judgement and that is that! There is no changing their mind regardless of what you say! Once you are seen as a bad seller in their eyes, you will always be one, no ifs, ands or buts about it.
So what is the moral of my story, well it is two sided. First I would have to say if you choose to sell on eBay, make sure you are very vigilant about what you sell, do not EVER signup to sell items that are dropshipped, which in reality is what the Jewelry Candles products were. Whenever the processing and shipping times of a product are taken out of your hands and put in the hands of others, you put your own seller ratings at risk. eBay can be a great place to sell, provided you stay on their good side.
The second thing would be to avoid ever becoming a rep for the product Jewelry Candles! Keep in mind, I am not referring to other companies out there like Jewelry IN Candles, Diamond Candles, Hidden Treasure Candles, etc, as they all follow the similar premise, but are DIFFERENT companies. I have seen comments from other reps that stated this past holiday season was just as bad as the one that I experienced. One would hope that you learn from your mistakes and improve, but even though more than a year has gone by nothing seems to have changed, which is sad since they truly do offer a great product, its just the business management that sucks.
Anyways, I know this was a lengthy post, I just hope that it helps others out their make an informed decision when it comes to either eBay or Jewelry Candles. Sure there will be those who have a different opinion than me and that is completely fine, we are all entitled to our opinions, and I hope that in reading this post I have helped prevent at least one person from going down the same path that I have.