eBay Reminds Sellers USPS First Class Parcels is Not an Expedited Service

Today, eBay reminded its sellers that beginning the first of May it will reclassify USPS First Class Mail delivery as a standard service in all listings that state that First Class mail is the delivery method. eBay first announced this move in February and described the change as a way to set “the right buyer expectation regarding USPS First-Class service.” The timing eBay’s move corresponds with the Postal Service’s expected implementation of new slower service standards for First Class Parcels.

Why eBay Says it’s Making the Change

Ebay identified two reasons for making this change

1) In general, buyers do not perceive USPS First-Class as an expedited service. Packages don’t reach buyers consistently within 3 days since delivery time varies based on distance and season. Based on eBay’s historical tracking information, the majority arrive within 2-5 days, which is more consistent with our classification for Standard shipping.

2) This change will make delivery estimates more accurate and help protect your DSR [Detailed Seller Rating] for ship time.

eBay currently defines an expedited service as having an estimated delivery time of 2 to 3 business days and standard shipping service as having an estimated delivery time of 2 to 5 business days. eBay’s historical tracking information indicates that items shipped using First Class Parcels take from 2 to 5 days to be delivered so they often take longer than eBay buyers expect from an expedited service.

Detailed Seller Ratings (DSRs) are important for sellers as low DSRs can raise a seller’s fees and make listing less prominent in buyer searches. To the extent that the purchases shipped using First Class Parcels arrived in 4 to 5 days when customers expected speedier service, eBay sellers selling lightweight items may have found their DSRs lower than they needed to be because customers expected more than what the Postal Service could deliver.

What eBay Did Not Tell its Sellers

In its announcements, eBay made no mention of the Postal Service’s plans to lengthen First Class Service standards for many origin destination pairs in May. eBay knows that its sellers of low-value, lightweight items need the low-cost delivery option that First Class Parcels now offers. As all other shipping options would make selling on eBay non-remunerative, these sellers have no real option other than First Class parcels even after the Postal Service increases First Class service standards.

eBay also knows that slower delivery service from the Postal Service poses a risk to sellers that sell low-value lightweight items as the slower service would increase the risk of low DSR’s unless the buyer’s perception of delivery time is changed. Therefore the changes that eBay is making are all designed to lower the perceived quality of delivery service available from the Postal Service’s First Class mail among buyers.

The Importance of eBay’s Timing of First Class Mail’s classification

eBay is making the change in First Class mail’s classification at least two weeks before the Postal Service is expected to change its service standards. This gives buyers very little time to get used to the idea that delivery via First Class parcels is slower than they might have expected before the slower service commitments go into effect. By making the change so close to the Postal Service’s change in service commitments, eBay indicates that its concerns have less to do with historical delivery times and their impact on DSR’s but with delivery times following the change in service standards and the real risk that more customers will find that delivery time was unacceptable.

What eBay Sellers Need to Do

eBay sellers need to make sure that all of their items that are delivered using First Class parcels do not describe the delivery service as an “expedited service” in the item description. In addition, all references to “First Class mail” need to be removed and replaced with “First Class Parcels” as eBay is doing.

Customers that ship using First Class mail, in addition to Priority Mail, UPS or FedEx ground services, need to track their DSR’s on items shipped USPS First Class parcels. If DSR’s begin to slip on these items they need to raise this issue with eBay to prevent being penalized for poor DSR’s as they may be seeing something that is common among all sellers that ship using USPS First Class parcels. They may even want to consider limiting their sale of low-value lightweight items if their shipping DSR’s on these items start slipping until buyer perceptions of First Class parcel service starts reflecting the service that the Postal Service actually provides.

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4 Responses to “eBay Reminds Sellers USPS First Class Parcels is Not an Expedited Service”

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  1. Ken says:

    I just had a seller use this service to mail a package to me only half way across the country. It has now been 9 days and I still have not received it. According to tracking, it has been in a sorting facility in Washington state (US. P.O on Federal way) since the 17th and the information has not been updated since and it’s now the 21st) Seller should have used Priority Flat rate! His DSR is going to get a major negative hit from me!

    • J W says:

      Hey hillbilly, did you pay for priority? Probably not. But good thing Ebay is finally starting to crack down on scum like you, who leave low dsr’s too often. If you see he shipped out right away, his job is done. But I guess your job of being a sausage smoker isn’t.

      • James says:

        As a hillbilly, I am offended by your language sir. Even I, drunk on XXX moonshine and reconin’ with my fingers and toes, know that it is totally and completely not the eBay sellers fault that the damn courier service lost the package.

        I had a previous experience where a weekly paycheck was lost for three and a half weeks, that should have only spent a night in transit. Needless to say the check was long since cancelled and replaced, and I had given up on it ever being delivered, but it just randomly appeared one day. The USPS delivers both impressive service and impressive failures.

  2. Amber says:

    Wow Ken. If I knew your ebay ID I would ban you from bidding on my items EVER! It is absolutely unfair to penalize a seller by leaving bad feedback for trustingly putting it in the hands of USPS and assuming they would deliver in the timeframe advertised. Alot of sellers are leaving EBAY and selling locally on craigslist because of buyers who raise their selling fees by leaving negative feedback before using their brains to figure out whos fault it was. Also if you didnt pay for expedited shipping dont expect it.

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