eBay: Ultimate Guide to Seller Levels and Performance Standards


eBay has millions of users that are buying and selling on the platform. However, there is a stark contrast between sellers and buyers on eBay, especially with the information that concerns both parties.

As an eBay seller, you are obviously aware of how vital performance rating is to sales success. Performance rating affects how much you sell, how fast your items sell, and even whether or not your listings are shown. 

Sellers on eBay must familiarize themselves with the platform’s performance requirements because eBay imposes selling restrictions on sellers who fall short of the minimum performance standards.

If you’d like to learn, this blog post is for you. It offers a comprehensive guide to eBay’s seller levels and performance standards. We will also tell you how to achieve or maintain your current seller level, so you can make sure you’re doing everything possible to maintain a high rating. Let’s get started!

What are eBay’s Seller Performance Levels?

The seller performance level is eBay’s way of measuring the quality of a seller. This allows buyers to shop confidently as they can ascertain what seller provides the quality they need. 

So far, eBay offers three seller performance levels. These include: top rated, above standard, and below standard.

A top rated ebay seller is a seller who consistently provides exceptional customer service consistently while also tallying the minimum sales requirements. Being ranked as a top-rated seller delineates that you are eligible for the top rated plus listing benefits, provided you meet the listing qualifications.

An Above standard level seller is one with “okay” customer service and tallying the minimum sales requirements.

A Below standard level seller with one or more requirements shy of tallying the minimum customer service quality.

You can check your current seller performance level and your projected seller level by simply navigating to your seller dashboard on eBay.

Top rated sellers can also find which of their listings are eligible for top rated plus benefits. Likewise, eBay provides information about how to improve performance levels for sellers whose levels are below standard. 

eBay Minimum Performance Standards

eBay dictates the level a seller falls under based on two primary factors: the number of recent transactions linked with the seller and the quality of their customer service. 

Determining the seller performance level is a monthly process carried out by eBay on the 20th of every month. All accounts are not evaluated using the same period/length of time when eBay does its performance assessment.

Sellers that have more recent transactions linked to them will get assessed on a shorter time scale and sellers with less will be assessed on a longer one. This definitely makes sense and allows some fairness in the performance standards evaluation. More specifically:

  • If you are an ebay seller with at least 400 transactions in the past three months then you’ll get your evaluation based on the sales and performances amassed during those three months.
  • If you are an ebay seller with less than 400 transactions in the past three months then you’ll get your evaluation based on the sales and performances amassed over the previous twelve months.

As mentioned before, this system promotes fairness in the rankings. It is also transparent since all users can view their seller dashboard. This transparency in the current and projected seller levels allows ebay sellers to take a proactive approach to improve their rank and boost their performance by doing several things including:

  • Resolving complaints
  • Providing faster fulfillment of orders

Each positive change made by a seller can be seen and motivates the seller to do more. This approach “gamifies” the ebay seller experience in order to improve the buyer experience. Happy buyers = More sales!

How Are eBay’s Seller Performance Levels Calculated?

eBay’s seller performance level is calculated based on 4 criteria: transaction defect rate, late shipments, cases closed without seller resolution and tracking validation.

Transaction Defect Rate

One key metric that determines your seller performance level assignment is transaction rate. According to eBay, the transaction defect rate is the percentage of your total eBay transactions having 2 out of 3 kinds of defects.

These defects include:

  1. The seller canceling a transaction. A perfect example is when the listed item is out of stock.
  2. Buyer issues claims under the “item not as described” or “item not received” option, which eBay’s Money Back Guarantee favours the buyer.
  3. Paypal Purchase Protection closes without seller resolution (with Paypal’s decision in favour of the buyer)

eBay calculates transaction defect rates (percentage) by dividing the number of defects recorded by the total transactions. For instance, if you sold 100 items and had 4 defects recorded, your transaction defect rate would be 4%.

Your transaction defect rate must be below 0.5% to rank as an eBay top seller. For standard sellers, their transaction defect rate must be below 2%. That means sellers must closely monitor all transactions, doing all they can to ensure that their listings tally with what is in their inventory. This should include enabling the out-of-stock feature to hide sold-out listings, managing buyer expectations, providing quality items, resolving transaction issues, providing quality customer services, etc.

In any case, eBay does provide new sellers with a certain flexibility, as transaction defects have no impact on their performance level until defect records stem from at least 5 separate buyers. Conversely,

Late Shipment Rates

One thing that can greatly affect your performance status is failing to promptly send out items paid for. Shipping out items paid for in time is a sign of professionalism, which is something all buyers seek in any dealings. 

eBay determines late shipment rates in two ways. The first is calculating the percentage of transactions sent after the handling time stated in the seller’s listing. The second is calculating the percentage of transactions that were not delivered within the stipulated delivery period. 

Overall, sellers’ late shipments must not exceed 3%. As such, eBay will consider a shipment late if:

  1. Tracking shows that the delivery was done outside the estimated delivery date. Regardless, while delivery can take place outside the stipulated delivery period, if the buyer is content with the delivery and offers an acceptance scan, late shipment will not be added to the seller’s metric.
  2. The buyer confirms that the delivery was done outside the estimated delivery date. However, an acceptance scan by the buyer may nullify the late shipment addition.

Cases Closed Without Seller Resolution

This refers to cases filed by buyers when the seller does not accept returns or issue refunds. These cases will typically prompt eBay to step in and offer a resolution.

eBay delineates that cases closed without seller resolution must be at most 0.3% for all sellers. On that note, eBay will add these cases to your defect rate if:

  1. eBay Money Back Guarantee cases are closed without seller resolution.
  2. PayPal Purchase Protection cases are closed without seller resolution.

The minimum requirement for sellers is to be at most 0.3% over their last evaluation period. Fortunately, there are several tips sellers can employ to keep their defect rate from skyrocketing out of the minimum requirement. These tips include:

  1. Promptly respond to customer complaints, mainly when it involves refunds and returns, to prevent eBay from having to step in to resolve them. 
  2. Describing items on their listing in detail (including defects and features). eBay encourages sellers to use pictures and add specifics to the listing so that buyers have a clear idea of what they are about to purchase.
  3. Describing their shop policies as often as possible. This lets your potential buyers know what to expect with regard to how long a shipment will take, what type of refunds are supported and more.
  4. Follow eBay’s best practices.

Tracking Uploaded on Time and Validated

This refers to when eBay sellers upload tracking details in conjunction with their stated handling time. It should be noted that this only applies to eBay’s top rated sellers. The uploaded tracking details must contain the shipping label and details as confirmation that the items were shipped on schedule. 

How to Become a Top-Rated Seller

Becoming a top rated seller on eBay is a testament to your professionalism and dedication to providing the best items as well as exceptional customer service. It also comes with benefits, notably the eligibility to receive the prestigious Top Rated Plus seal on any qualifying listing.

To become eligible as an eBay top rated seller, you must conform to the following requirements.

  1. You must have an eBay account that has been active for a minimum of 90 days.
  2. You must have a minimum of 100 transactions and $1,000 in sales with US buyers over the last twelve months.
  3. You must comply with all of eBay’s selling practices policy.
  4. You must conform to the minimum requirements for transaction defect rates, late shipment rates, and cases closed without seller resolution. These requirements include:
  • Transaction defect rate must be less than 0.5%
  • Late shipments must be less than 3%
  • Cases closed without seller resolution must not exceed 0.3%

Conforming to all requirements would have your top rated level updated with the next seller evaluation exercise. 

Advantages of Becoming a Top-Rated Seller

As with anything, being at the top of the food chain comes with certain perks, albeit it does come with some terms and conditions to keep things reasonable and fair. 

As an eBay top rated seller, offering buyers same-day or one-business-day handling time, as well as 30 days or more extended free return, grants you access to the following benefits. 

  1. Your top-rated seal is displayed in the description of eligible listings and on search results.
  2. You are entitled to a 10% discount on your standard final value fee. eBay bases this calculation on the sales total, including tax and shipping fees. 

Nonetheless, the 10% discount is inapplicable to:

  1. The $0.30 per order part of the final value fee.
  2. Added final value fees slapped to sales in categories where the seller is rated “very high” on service metrics under “item not as described” returns.
  3. Top rated sellers who do not reside in the US.

eBay Seller Level Below Standard

While most eBay sellers try to reach the top rated seller level, they may sometimes fail to meet the minimum performance standard. This leads to eBay slapping below standard sellers with several penalties for not meeting performance requirements. 

Overall, sellers who are below standard must improve their level and performance standard, as spending more time below standard can result in increased final value fees and other sanctions.

The Cons of Being Below Standard on eBay

You now know that above-standard and top-seller status is more than just a vanity metric due to the benefits they provide. Let’s consider the cons/disadvantages you have to deal with if you are below standard on ebay. The good news is that eBay does not reveal below-standard sellers to buyers. The bad news is that ebay does slap below standard seller accounts with several sanctions and restrictions.

According to eBay, sellers who fail to meet the minimum performance standards with each monthly evaluation may have limits and restrictions placed on their accounts. These include: 

  1. Your listings will have lower reach/visibility in search. This is a big deal considering how much competition there is on ebay.
  2. Your funds on ebay could be witheld!
  3. You pay more fees (yikes). Below standard sellers have a high standard final value fee by as much as 5 to 6%
  4. Being blocked from utilizing promotional listing tools, including the inability to create or edit new campaigns
  5. Restriction from using the partial refund tool
  6. Selling restrictions on defaulting accounts, as well as the inability to create new accounts
  7. Downgraded eBay store to the basic level, having been below standard for 60 or more days

These sanctions are inherently harsh, as eBay’s goal is to make sure the buyer experience is as smooth and pleasant as possible. More good news is that the restrictions vary depending on your monthly evaluation but can, unfortunately, become permanent if you do not rectify the issue within two months. You should avoid being below standard two months in a row!


eBay is undoubtedly one of the largest online marketplaces in existence. As such, the need to uphold standards and protect the interest of their users is extremely vital to their success. On that note, it would be beneficial for sellers to understand the policies and guidelines the platform offers. 

While learning and understanding these policies might be a bit challenging, especially for new sellers, the guidelines ultimately serve to protect everyone. eBay also offers insight on how to grow as a part of their community. Nobody is left behind!