eBay Authenticity Guaranteed & Service Metrics Penalty Fees

Liz Morton
Liz Morton


UPDATE 9-13-21: This seller has been told by eBay customer support that they are not able to remove the service metrics cases being counted against him because he accepts returns and that if he had instead set up his listings as "final sale" he would have been protected.

That doesn't make any sense - the return policy is for buyer's remorse returns, but item not as described returns should still be covered for protection per the terms of authentication and eBay's stated additional protections for Top Rated Sellers noted below.

My advice to the seller was to escalate past regular support and focus on the Top Rated Seller Protections - these cases are clearly "false not as described claims" and there is absolutely zero excuse for eBay not to follow their own policies on this one.

eBay's Service Metrics policies have been a very controversial topic with sellers ever since they were introduced back in 2018.  eBay pitched the program as providing "competitive insights to help you identify listings that aren't meeting buyer expectations and manage your business better" but there's a catch - sellers who are rated as "very high" in Item Not As Described cases compared to their peer benchmarks are charge an extra 5% penalty fee on sales.

There are several big problems with this program, one of which is eBay looks at the number of cases opened, regardless of the actual outcome of the case. As soon as the return request is made, it counts against the seller.

Your 'Item not as described' rate is the percentage of your transactions where buyers requested returns for the following reasons:

  • Doesn't work or defective
  • Doesn't match description or photos
  • Wrong item sent
  • Missing parts or pieces
  • Arrived damaged
  • Doesn't seem authentic

Many seller have complained about being charged additional fees for situations that are outside of their control, like buyers filing false not as described claims.

Once you hit "very high", eBay evaluates the status on a rolling basis, so you may be paying those extra fees for 3 months if you are a high volume seller or a whole year if you're a smaller seller, making it very hard to dig out of the hole.

eBay Authenticity Guaranteed Seller Protections

When eBay introduced their Authenticity Guarantee program, it was explicitly marketed as a win win scenario that provides protection for both buyers and sellers.

What is Authenticity Guarantee?

eBay’s Authenticity Guarantee is a service designed to protect sellers and allow buyers to shop with confidence. Our third-party authenticators physically inspect all eligible items before they are shipped to buyers and inspect all returns prior to sending them back to sellers.

One of the biggest protections eBay offers with this program is against Item Not As Described returns. Since eBay and their authentication partner are taking responsibility for verifying the item is consistent with the listing details, once it passes authentication it is de facto "as described" - that's the entire point of the process.

This is what allows eBay to back sellers up on "final sales" - once authentication is successfully completed, the seller is not liable for "not as described" claims.

Increasingly, I'm seeing a lot of troubling reports from sellers having problems with authenticated sales. The most serious report of this I've seen to date is this seller who is being charged the 5% "very high" service metrics fees due to not as described claims on authenticated sales.

Service Metric Scam with Proof
eBay has charged me an extra 5% in seller fees since August first, they claimed it was because of the high item not described rate, I have downloaded the report and proven to them that half those cases should not be counted against me. If they were removed it would not put my May- July rates as “ver…

This seller reached out to me privately with more details. Here's what their service metrics dashboard looks like:

They do a large volume in sales, which is very impressive, but it also means that 5% adds up fast. Of the $30,428.56 in final value fees this seller paid in a quarter, $26,396.15 was due to the "very high" not as described rating.  That is insane!

The issue here is, most of the cases being counted against this seller's service metrics are due to claims of "not as described" that eBay should be covering under the seller protections for authenticity guarantee.

Here's a a short excerpt from their service metrics report:

This shows the cases are correctly being closed as not the seller's fault, per the terms of Authenticity Guarantee. So why is this costing this seller thousands of dollars in extra fees?

We can see in the notes on the report that these cases "won't affect your seller performance". So eBay acknowledges these issues were not the seller's fault and is applying protections to make it so these cases don't count against seller performance, which would knock this seller out of being "Top Rated", but they won't apply the same logic to Service Metrics that conveniently add extra fee revenue to eBay's bottom line.

As a Top Rated Seller, they should be receiving protections on "false item not as described claims" as described under Additional Seller Protections for Top Rated Sellers.

Again, the fact the authenticator verified the items were "consistent with the listing details" de facto makes them "as described", which would mean once they have passed authentication, "item not as described" claims are also de facto false.

Beyond that, the Service Metrics report has notes from eBay that say things like:

"The case was decided in your favor. We determined that the item is as described. We closed the case without any refund to the buyer. This case will not affect your seller performance. Any feedback left for this transaction will be removed."

"We automatically denied the return because it is outside of your return policy and the item successfully passed through our Authenticity Guarantee process. This case will not affect your seller performance. You do not need to do anything else."

"We changed the outcome because the case was opened for the wrong seller or item. This case will not affect your seller performance, and any feedback left for this transaction will be removed."

eBay's own notes on those cases prove conclusively they were "false claims", yet that same report also shows those cases are being included in the rate calculation.

eBay cannot have it both ways here - either the item was "as described" as the authenticator verified and they decided when they closed the case, or it's not, in which case - why did they close the case in the seller's favor?

To add insult to injury, the eBay Authentication Guarantee FAQ for Sellers makes it explicitly clear that Service Metrics will be automatically protected for Item Not Received cases....showing eBay absolutely does have the ability to adjust these metrics, when and if they want to.

If a seller is rated as "very high" for Item Not Received metrics, eBay only adds additional time to their shipping estimates, not additional fees. The fact that eBay can and does protect sellers' Service Metrics in cases where eBay has no financial benefit, but refuses to provide protection in cases where they do stand to gain financially speaks volumes.

There is a very clear conflict of interest here, one that might even be of interest to the FTC.  Aside from possible regulatory concerns, this just shows a huge lack of ethics on eBay's part.

I recently wrote a letter to CEO Jamie Iannone about integrity, transparency and seller trust. Jamie, if your listening, now would be an excellent time to step up and put eBay's money where your mouth is, literally.

First and foremost, this seller must be compensated for the extra fees they should never have been charged.  Beyond that, eBay needs to immediately enact protections to stop this from ever happening again to any seller of authenticated items.

If you can do it for Item Not Received Service Metrics, you can do it for Item Not As Described Service Metrics too - no excuses, period.

I'd love to hear from any other sellers being charged "very high" not as described service metrics penalty fees on authenticated items! Drop a comment 👇 or contact me.

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Liz Morton Twitter Facebook LinkedIn

Liz Morton is a seasoned ecommerce pro with 17 years of online marketplace sales experience, providing commentary, analysis & news about eBay, Etsy, Amazon, Shopify & more at Value Added Resource!