eBay Bucks Makes Loyalty Program Changes, Annoys Loyal Customers

eBay Bucks is a rewards and loyalty program meant to keep buyers shopping on eBay and using PayPal to pay for their purchases. Seems like a nice idea: lots of stores have loyalty programs. Shoppers and sellers alike are angry at eBay, though, after learning about some big changes to the program that begin in the first quarter of 2014.

Program members earn 2% in “bucks” on each purchase. In an email to program members, eBay announced that customers will now forfeit their rewards balance for the quarter if they don’t earn more than $5. That means that in order to earn any rewards at all, customers have to spend more than $250 on eBay.

Ah, but not all eBay spending. Certain categories aren’t part of the program, and the company cut a few more as part of these changes. eBay has gradually removed big-ticket categories from the program. First they eliminated bullion, then business and industrial purchases. Now auto parts and accessories are no longer part of the program.

“I mostly sell in auto parts and people say that with the eBay bucks they feel like they are getting a really good deal,” one anonymous seller told eCommerceBytes. “I mostly buy in the same category. So there goes my little fun money.”

Why is eBay making these changes? So they don’t have to cut benefits, apparently. “In order to continue offering meaningful benefits,” they told customers in their announcement of the program changes, “we regularly look at the program’s performance to learn where changes are necessary.”

The word “greedy” came up a lot on user forums. “[I’m not] really sure what the meaningful benefit is of having my money forfeited versus is not being forfeited now,” program member Maurice wrote to Consumerist. “How is that a meaningful benefit? Are they playing their own customers as fools?”

Maybe what they mean is that letting rewards members with smaller balances keep their Bucks would mean cutting back the rewards rate for everyone. It sure doesn’t feel very rewarding when you’re losing your balance because you only spent $249.70 on eBay that quarter, though.

eBay Significantly Scales Back Loyalty Program [eCommerceBytes]