eBay is developing technology to catch bad buyers

eBay told sellers it was working to protect them from bad buyers, but also played down the scale of the problem. At the recent Seller Verification event this month, eBay senior director of defense Ian Bednowitz said his team is developing technology to help deal with bad buyers on eBay using a “predictive approach.”

eBay will also use third-party vendors to identify buyers who engage in bad purchasing behavior on non-eBay platforms.

Bednowitz describes three types of “bad buyer” behavior:

1) Buyer submits a false SNAD claim (buyer submits a claim that is not as described when in fact it is a remorseful return).

2) Buyer returns used or damaged item.

3) Buyer returns empty box or different item.

He presented a slide that shows these three behaviors and some of the seller protections on eBay.

But eBay needs sellers’ help, Bednowitz said, and urged them to report bad buyers. “We don’t touch the item, so the only way we’ll know if there’s a bad buyer is if you tell us” — or if eBay identifies suspicious behavior when looking at trends and claim data.

In another slide, he provided examples of such behavior: “Excessive eMBG claims or chargebacks, especially for newer buyers or buyers who have evidence to supplement the feedback.”

“When we get a report from you, it helps us prioritize those buyers,” he said.

The slide also describes “Predictive approaches” that eBay is working on (“in development”): “Data science models, linking identity to previously suspended accounts, third-party vendors.”

“This is a very important area of ​​investment for my team and for eBay,” he said. “We’re going to use data science to try to predict when a buyer might be abusive, might be a bad buyer, so we can take action in advance.

“We’re looking to make more connections with other accounts that buyers may have so they can’t come back again if we’ve caught them before; and use third-party providers that have information about their behavior on other platforms.

Bednowitz said that if buyers return a different item or an empty box — which he characterizes as “virtual shoplifting” — then eBay will completely suspend them from the platform.

“We take this seriously and invest in it,” he said. “We need your help to report these buyers.”

But, he said, there is black and white and gray. “If we look at all buyer reports, there is a wide range of buyers that are reported by just one seller. But when we look at how many of those buyers were reported by more than one seller, that drops to less than 10%.

“So there are a lot of buyers who say something is a SNAD, and you may disagree as a seller. They may have opened an item, done something they don’t think is damaged, and you do, but their intent isn’t always to be a bad buyer. But we need your data,” he said – if that 10% is really 20%, then getting those reports from more than one vendor really helps.

You can watch the full seller review video or skip to the Bad Buyers portion of Bednowitz’s presentation at about the 21:14 minute mark in the video below. Readers may also find the return presentation interesting, it starts around minute 16:46.

Ina Steiner

Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is the co-founder and editor of EcommerceBytes and has reported on e-commerce since 1999. She is a widely cited authority on marketplace sales and the author of Turn eBay Data into Dollars (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog is featured in the book Blogging Heroes (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (September 2005 – present) and the Investigative Reporters and Editors (March 2006 – present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to [email protected] See the disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.

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