I made a very silly mistake 

Not one, but two quite notable things happened very recently. I’m not talking about Andy Murray helping Great Britain to win the Davis Cup for the first time in 79 long years, nor am I talking about the phenomenon which was Black Friday and which pulled in 1.1 billion pounds worth of online sales this year.

No, nothing quite so exciting I’m afraid, but still, in my opinion, notable.

This week I experienced fantastic customer service! Yes, you read that correctly and what’s more, it happened on two separate occasions with two separate companies. Both online, both huge conglomerates and both who in the past have not had the best customer service reviews. So, you may be forgiven for being astonished to learn that this amazing helpfulness came from Amazon…and eBay!

In fact, I may almost go as far as to say that my faith has been restored in eBay, following my disastrous encounter with their customer service team a few weeks ago.

First up, Amazon. Now I have to admit that personally I’ve never really had a big issue personally with their CS department and have always received a satisfactory service from them, however this week I needed to return a faulty item and envisaged that due to the fact that as it was a while since purchase and it hadn’t been ordered directly from Amazon themselves but instead an Amazon seller, it would potentially not be a straight-forward exchange scenario.

But I was wrong

My telephone call was answered within 1 minute, the issue discussed and a solution found within 3 minutes and a full refund actioned within 5 minutes. I call that speedy! And I hadn’t even sent the product back yet.

In fact, Amazon weren’t even bothered about seeing the faultiness of the product before refunding – and my guess is that this is because it was a fairly low value item (less than £20) and so it’s far easier for them to simply write it off, keep the customer happy thus ensuring that said customer stays a future customer rather than to quibble over a cheap-ish faulty item.

I was very impressed and came off the telephone an unstressed, happy customer (just like Amazon wanted me to be) and most importantly I hadn’t just wasted an hour of my life trying to resolve a situation. It took less than 10 minutes. That’s what I call good customer service.

10 points to Amazon.

The moral of this story? Well, I often receive emails from people asking me whether they should immediately refund an item that a buyer is declaring as faulty or damaged. And my answer is yes you should. Obviously we smaller sellers find it much harder on our bottom line if we go around refunding customers endlessly, however on some occasions – for example if it’s a very low value item – it’s far simpler to refund without fuss.

You can ask the buyer to email photos of the damage/fault whilst you wait for the item to be returned. This way you can ensure your buyer is kept happy, remove the potential of negative feedback and you are far more likely to get repeat business.

Much as it might hurt you to refund a customer, in the long run it’s the most business savvy thing to do.

Next up, eBay. This was a slightly different situation because as I was checking my listings earlier this week I noticed that my entire eBay shop was completely empty when just a few hours earlier I had 68 products available and clearly listed. Cue a moment or two of pure panic and me frantically thinking about what I could possibly have done that had seemingly wiped out hours of work in just a few seconds.

I refreshed the page. Restarted my Mac. Refreshed again. Logged out of eBay. Logged in again. Logged out. Logged in. Searched for my listings and shop using a different computer. Searched using a different ID. Nope – still nothing. So, the time I had saved when dealing with Amazon was now rapidly being eaten up by an eBay issue!

For the second time in as many months I found myself contemplating speaking with eBay’s customer service team. And I was dreading it – surely a long wait for my call to be answered, an hour on the phone and an unresolved issue was pretty much what I was expecting.

But I was wrong. Again!

My telephone call was answered within 1 minute, security passed, the issue discussed with a very friendly operator and an explanation (and solution) found within 15 minutes. Granted, it was a slightly longer phone call, but the operator did need to look closely into my account to discover what had gone wrong. My issue wasn’t dismissed as a ‘technical glitch’ and the lady I spoke to was very knowledgeable.

I ended the telephone call feeling happy that my issue had been dealt with and I didn’t have to storm around my office for twenty minutes shouting about how terrible eBay’s Customer service is – because on this occasion it wasn’t.

So, 10 points to eBay too!

The moral of this story? Well, apart from the fact that sometimes it’s best not to have pre-conceived ideas about the level of service you might be given, the moral here is actually something that can help you, because let me now tell you the reason why my shop emptied itself of it’s entire contents, why it’s a very simple mistake to make (even for a seller as experienced as me) and how you can avoid it!

Don’t click on the little green graph!

If you’re listing on eBay using Selling Manager Pro, on your ‘Active Listings’ page near the top you might see a bright green graph and beside it ‘Add Item Specifics’ then a number – for example (23 total).

Do not click on this link when you have live listings running when you see just a total number in brackets – particularly if you are using multi-variation listings!

That’s the mistake I made. For some reason unknown even to me, I decided to click on the link even though I didn’t need to (as none of my listings needed extra item specifics added as I had already filled them all in when I originally listed).

But, by clicking through I basically told eBay to revise every single one of my listings, even though I hadn’t made any revisions, and when eBay thinks you are revising a listing it takes your listing and puts it through a ‘re-indexing process’ – this is to check the revisions so that they can then display in the search results correctly.

Now here’s the thing. Re-indexing can take up to 24 hours, so whilst this process took place, and because I’d chosen ALL of my listings, my shop was rendered empty and my listings non-searchable. Yikes! The last thing you want is for your products to be invisible – and especially not all of them at once.

So, if you need to revise a listing or add item specifics, do it for each listing individually from the drop down menu beside your item. It’s very common to need to tweak keywords so of course revisions are an absolute necessity, but bear in mind that if you tweak all your listings at the same time they could disappear for a little impromptu holiday.

It was a pretty stupid mistake to make on my part, but I’m pleased to say that all my listings have now been restored – in fact they were back within 12 hours – and all is well again. As long as I stay away from links I shouldn’t click on.

Zero points to me!