Understanding eBay’s Top Rated Seller Status and Top Rated Plus Listings

Sellers who have the best customer service are rewarded by eBay through the Top Rated Seller program. Requirements vary between countries and eBay sites but are generally focused on sellers having a minimum number of sales, consistent shipment tracking, low transaction defects and a small number of late shipments.

To become a Top Rated Seller on eBay.com, you must have:

  • Been active for at least 90 days
  • At least 100 or more transactions with a minimum of $1000 in sales (US buyers only) over the last 12 months
  • Uploaded shipment tracking within promised handling time for 90% of transactions during last 3 months
  • Less than 0.30% of Money Back Guarantee and PayPal Purchase Protection cases closed without seller resolution
  • A maximum 0.5% of transactions with one or more transaction-related defects for last 3 months (12 months for sellers with less than 400 transactions)
  • Less than 3% of transactions with late shipping

For more details, check each eBay site’s Top Rated Seller qualification page. Selling performance (daily and over the last evaluation period) can be checked easily via the Seller Dashboard.

Sellers can become Top Rated Sellers in other countries if they meet the criteria for these countries e.g. a UK seller using eBay.com can qualify to be a US Top Rated Seller based on sales to US buyers. They can also become a UK Top Rated Seller on eBay.co.uk and selling to UK buyers.

Benefits of becoming a Top Rated Seller

Aside from the satisfaction of being given a pat on the back by eBay, Top Rated Sellers do get some rewards:

  • Discounts on shipping when using eBay Labels (saves money)
  • Improved ‘Best Match’ search ranking (more visibility)
  • Top Rated Seller status shown on Feedback Profile page (increases buyer trust)

In the last few years there have been some changes with the Top Rated Seller program. Sellers are no longer required to have 98% or more positive feedback and buyers cannot refine searches using “Top Rated Seller” as a criteria. The most drastic change was the removal of Top Rated Seller badges. Until September 2012 sellers with Top Rated status would have a noticeable Top Rated Seller badge on all of their listings. This has now been removed (with the exception of the Motor vehicle category) and effectively replaced with the Top Rated Plus seal for eligible listings.

Top Rated Plus listings

Once a Top Rated Seller, sellers have the option to offer Top Rated Plus listings. These have to provide both:

  1. Fast handling (same day or 1 business day)
  2. Easy returns (30 day or longer money back policy)

These requirements again differ between countries and eBay sites. There are also a few exceptions such as listings in specific categories (Gift Cards, Tickets, Plants and Seedlings, Food etc.)

Advantages of Top Rated Plus listings

Eligible listings show a Top Rated Plus seal and benefit from a 20% discount on Final Value Fees (FVF) on the item. The seal is displayed prominently on listings and search results, inspiring customer confidence. Top Rated Plus listings also receive an increased Best Match search result due to the short handling time and generous return policy.

Helpful tips for Top Rated Sellers

  • The short handling time required for Top Rated Plus listings relates to uploading tracking details for the item(s), not physically shipping the package. So if a buyer purchases an item on Friday, the tracking does not have to be uploaded until Monday and then the item shipped Tuesday.
  • On eBay.com, the time zone is automatically PST. This is important to keep in mind when trying to provide the same day or 1 day handling required for Top Rated Plus listings.
  • Sellers can pick and choose which of their listings to qualify for Top Rated Plus status, so it should be considered whether each item would really benefit from the 20% FVF discount before committing to the short handling time frame and no questions asked return policy.
  • Once sellers have successfully had Top Rated Seller status for 3 months or more, they are eligible for a Grace period of 2 evaluation cycles if their performance level drops below the required standard. This offers sellers a chance to improve their performance ratings and retain Top Rated Seller status.

Is Top Rated Seller status worth it?

The substantial 20% Final Value Fees discount and prominent Top Rated Plus seal are very persuasive reasons for an eBay sellers to want to become a Top Rated Seller. There are however such downsides to the program. Maintaining such a low defect rate required for the Top Rated Seller status is difficult, though not impossible. Offering such fast handling and a flexible return policy may cause some sellers to lose profit, despite the potential increase in visibility and trust gained by Top Rated status.

For some sellers, the stress of attempting to keep the amount of defects so low is not worth the FVF discount or slight search result ranking increase. The fairly generous Grace period does allow some flexibility for sellers to try out the program for a short period (3-6 months) without fear that a bad run of defects will cause them to be pushed out from the program quickly. With not much to lose, the Top Rated Seller program is something for most eBay sellers to aim for.

Gemma is our all things eBay expert. Originally from the UK, she now lives in Canada and travels extensively. You can read about her travels at her blog Off Track Travel.