Why eBay Totally SUCKS!

We all know eBay. They’ve been around since 1995, and they’re one of the biggest commerce sites on the whole Internet – if not the biggest.

Well, the fact that they’ve been around for so long really shows, as their infrastructure is incredibly dated, janky, and really lackluster in comparison to their competition. Not only that, but because they’re inevitably having to make some changes to try and look like they’re competing, you have new stupid things being introduced that don’t even make sense, adding complication on top of complication!

To start, their listing process is awkward and messy, and doing sales on there can really get you screwed over unless you watch the hell out, and play your cards just right. And while most of the frustration is on the seller’s part, there’s also annoying issues for buyers, as well.

Let’s get into it, shall we?

Product Matching & Reviews

Initially, eBay didn’t have any sort of product review system. Instead, everything was solely based on seller reputation, where buyers & sellers exchange a feedback rating based on their experience with the transaction. Ratings are positive, neutral, and negative.

Over time though, the lack of any kind of product rating system was really beginning to show as a sore spot for eBay, as pretty much any website of an online merchant already had that implemented. Even in 2012, you couldn’t see what others’ opinions on a product were on eBay. So, of course, they had to add that.

However, eBay’s infrastructure was never meant for this to begin with. eBay’s infrastructure has always been on a per-listing basis since their founding. For this, a product matching system was implemented. Users are asked when listing an item to match it against others’ listings, prior to creating the listing. This allows whatever reviews paired to that to show up on that listing.

But it has its own problems! For one, each product match has its own completely-filled-out description attached to it. What happens is that with any item that can have variations will all get the same info applied to them! Not only that, but they put that information all over your listing, whether it’s accurate or not! What kind of ‘matching’ system is that!?

Plus, since everything is user-generated, you can easily wind up with the same or similar item having a zillion different matches, so user reviews are chopped up into little bits and spread all over the place, greatly reducing its practicality and value.

None of this is helpful! It’s just a mess.

There are a few different ways this could be dealt with:

  • Product matches are made into minimal templates managed by eBay admins (kind of like Amazon)
  • Keep it user-generated like it is, but remove the useless pre-filled information
  • Screw the damn product matching as a whole! eBay isn’t Amazon – most users are stupid and don’t care to list things elegantly, so stop pretending like they will. Just make it brain-dead minimalist.

While option 1 sounds nice on paper, it poses extra difficulty for the monkeys at the support desk. Plus, Amazon is known for their own problems and questionable practices, not unlike eBay itself. So, it’s not really a solution.

Option 2 is in that sweet spot where it takes the least effort yet makes the site that much more practical, because you don’t get sellers having to literally work around the platform out of necessity, by saying “eBay’s info is incorrect, this is actually <whatever detail>.” What a ridiculous design!!

Option 3 would be like YouTube bringing back the star ratings. People would love it, but it’s never going to happen. (If anyone even remembers that anymore.)

Sales & Shipment Fees

eBay has the usual fees, but sometimes they throw in a ‘bonus.’ These typically are:

  • Selling fee – or ‘final value fee’ – about 17% of the sale taken from you.
  • Shipping fee – varies wildly!

But sometimes, I’ve also seen:

  • An ‘electronics recycling fee’ – what?
  • An extra fee if you’ve been having a lot of recent returns – really???

As far as I know, a lot of sites usually take a 10% cut from you. Specifically, I know that to be the case with Mercari & Facebook Marketplace. eBay is greedy and likes to take a bit more. But also, their shipping is weird. The price varies a LOT.

Like, a LOT! What the hell would make it go to $142.31 with all package characteristics being the same?? This doesn’t have to do with just UPS, by the way – USPS and FedEx are the same. And why is eBay even telling me the original price? Also, why can I choose flat rate shipping!? Especially considering the shipping cost can fluctuate so much!

Now, look – I get that shipping prices themselves vary. I’ve done well more than enough shipping to know that. But you see, in comparison to their aforementioned competitors – which both offer consistent shipping rates – this is incredibly cumbersome and unnecessary. As far as I am aware, those sites only vary the charge per weight & size, not destination. That’s been my experience, anyway. This is just one reason eBay sorely needs to catch up with their competition. They only don’t because they have so much momentum from being such a big site for almost 30 years.

There’s even a stupid option buried in the messy settings about whether you want to charge the buyer the original price, or the eBay label price. Why can I choose that? And why is the default the original price!?

Know what makes all this even worse? If you choose free shipping, you won’t even have a chance to know what the hell you’re going to be hit with until it’s too late! So if you have a buyer purchase your item in some location where it’s expensive, well it sucks to be you because you’re gonna have to pay a LOT of money in shipping. Unless you cancel the order, which then affects your rating.

Cluttery Interface

Good luck trying to change any settings on eBay. Or even knowing which ones exist, for that matter! There’s SO many options that most people really don’t need. One of the worst – besides trying to change just about any setting, that is – would be the shipping rate calculator.

What in the hell of design is this?? It’s actually pretty hidden at this point, I guess because they know it’s embarrassing. But you’ve got these “Letter,” “Large Letter,” “Package,” “Large Package” options selected, with no explanation about what is what. And then below that, it tells you what you selected, like as if you don’t already see that! Why can I set a handling fee? Is it so I can be compensated for handling eBay’s design??

If they have this whole shipping calculator tool, why can’t they actually show you how much you’re gonna need to pay up before you accept an offer from a buyer based on their location?? You give the seller this tool if they’re willing to jump thru enough link hoops, yet you can’t even show that value at the right point in time that they need it? What is wrong with this website!?

Payment is optional!

Yeah, you read that right. On eBay – for whatever reason – the default option isn’t to require payment in order for an order to be created for your item. Ergo, payment isn’t actually required.

So, unless you remember to check this stupid setting, people can actually place an order for your item without paying, and then since the buyer has up to three days to pay, you’re blocked out on any legitimate buyers for that long!

WHY!? Why isn’t it default to just always require payment?? Do you think I want to sell my item to some idiot who doesn’t pay?? There’s already enough morons trying to get your item for half price when you’re making nothing to begin with! What the hell is the point of that!? What kind of idiots even made this website?? Idiots rich from momentum, that’s what!

In contrast, Mercari – not to mention any other e-commerce site – requires you to complete a full checkout and payment process before an item can be considered yours. Specifically in the case of Mercari, the funds are held until the buyer approves the item, for which they have three days to do so. Should the buyer go quiet, after that timeout, the transaction is completed and the seller collects the payout.

Returns are HELL!

Once, I had someone purchase a laptop motherboard from me. When the buyer received it, I got a return saying “it didn’t work for me.” I know it worked, but I went ahead with it and let them send it back.

That jackass sent me a different item than I expected, a vastly different one at that. Seller protection has me covered, right? Well, think again! I reached out to the monkeys at eBay’s support team, showing them pictures of exactly what happened, and they just told me to go kick rocks! They said they didn’t have any evidence to believe me. What the hell!?

I tried to argue with them for a while, even calling them via phone. They offered me the insult of a measly $10 compensation for their blatant lack of holding up to their own word. I was too mentally flattened at this point to care about fighting with them anymore over this stupid motherboard, so I sucked it up and accepted their pathetic offer, deciding to simply move on.

I’ve luckily never had anyone do me that dirty again, but that guy sucks, and so does eBay for not even caring to ‘protect’ their sellers. They don’t care about sellers, because they say they are always the thieves, and that the buyer is always innocent. Go take your business to Mercari instead, who will actually look at your case. Or literally anywhere else than this cesspool that is eBay. The more I work with them, the more disgusted I am, yet they’re a necessary evil to some degree, because everybody looks there.

Feedback System

As mentioned, eBay has a feedback system where the buyer and seller have the option of leaving each other positive, neutral, or negative feedback. But this is an option, so you get a lot of people who just don’t care to leave anything.

In contrast, Mercari actually requires both the buyer and the seller to exchange a rating of 1-5 stars, before the transaction is deemed finalized, and only then are the funds released. Should the buyer be dissatisfied, they have the option to open a return case with Mercari. At that point, the admin team reviews the case and decides appropriately what should happen.

You know what else Mercari has? Actual helpful support. eBay’s support is an absolute laughing stock of a bad excuse of anything that could possibly be labeled a ‘support’ system. You’re better off supporting yourself with positive affirmations through the hell & high water that eBay puts you thru, than you are trying to work with them!

No Search Wildcards

Many items and part numbers can have a numbering scheme that really necessitate a wildcard system. For instance, HP Pavilion N3000 series laptops; one model is N3210, another N3310, another N3450. There’s no way you can make a search of all of them, other than using a code like (N3210,N3250,N3310,N69420), ad nauseam.

Evidently, this used to be possible, but it was removed! According to that blog post I linked, they removed it due to it causing extra server load. Just kinda sucks though. It’s not like most sites implement this anyway, but at least that would’ve been a great thing for eBay to still have. Especially seeing as eBay’s the biggest e-commerce site, therefore the most likely to see niches of that type.

AI-generated descriptions!?

Here’s the newest feature for me to criticize. As said, users are stupid and cannot be bothered to type up good listings. eBay says, why not just let AI do their homework for them? That can’t possibly be inaccurate, can it? Tell me it’s not a scheme for eBay to hit more sellers with “too many ‘not as described’ returns” fees! Or even if not that, it’s still stupid!

Look at all that! This is just a bunch of fluff padding, there is next to nothing useful here to be seen. This is literally like asking someone to make an Increasingly Verbose meme post out of a damn listing title! If you can’t be bothered to describe what you’re selling by typing just a little bit about it, I don’t even want to waste my bandwidth or time seeing your listing online, let alone do business with you! And there’s no reason anyone else should, either!

Closing

All of that said, it’s very clear that eBay’s only functioning on momentum, and that’s why they can do dumb things and not have to care about it. But we as customers of services can do our part in using the best tool for the job.

Alternatives like Mercari and Facebook Marketplace are becoming bigger and bigger, while eBay is just a perpetuation of old problems mixed in with new frustrations. If you’re going to use eBay, it’s important that you:

  • Avoid choosing free shipping on your listings – accept offers instead
  • Be careful when listing items that the automated algorithms don’t put incorrect information in your listings!
  • Record serial numbers of your items prior to shipping them off, and take good pictures as well.
  • Don’t use AI-generated descriptions – instead, know what you’re selling. Do I even have to say that??
  • List your items on more platforms than just eBay. Don’t keep doing deals with the big giant.

And of course – look before you click! And otherwise, you’ve just gotta remember that taking losses sometimes is a normal part of business. Just, it shouldn’t be because of a crappy platform!