eBay is developing technology to catch bad buyers

eBay told sellers it was working to protect them from bad buyers, though it also played down the scale of the problem. At the latest Seller Check-in event this month, eBay senior director of defense Ian Bednovitz said his team is developing technology to help crack down on bad eBay buyers with a “predictive approach.”

eBay will also use third-party vendors to identify buyers who purchase incorrectly on platforms outside of eBay.

Bednowitz described three types of “bad buyer” behavior:

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

2) The buyer returns used or damaged goods.

3) The buyer returns an empty box or other product.

He presented a slide that showed these three patterns of behavior and some of the protections eBay sellers have.

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

On another slide, he cited examples of such behavior: “Excessive eMBG claims or chargebacks, especially for new buyers or buyers who have evidence of supplementing their reviews.”

“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 Data 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, be a bad buyer, so we can take action in advance.

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

Bednowitz said that if buyers return a different item or an empty box, which he called “virtual theft,” eBay will suspend them from the platform entirely.

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

But, he said, there is black and white, and there is gray. “If we look at all buyer reports, there is a wide range of buyers that only one seller is reporting. But when we look at how many of these buyers are reported by multiple sellers, it drops to less than 10%.

“So there are a lot of buyers who say something was SNAD, and you can disagree as a seller. They may have opened the item, done something they thought wasn’t damaged, and you are, but their intention isn’t always to be a bad buyer. But we need your data,” he said. “If that 10% is really 20%, then getting reports from multiple vendors really helps.

You can watch the full Seller Check-in video or skip to the Bad Buyers portion of Bednowitz’s presentation at about 21:14 in the video below. Readers may also be interested in the return presentation, which begins at approximately 4:46 p.m.

Inna Steiner

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

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