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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Important Changes to Ebay Feedback

Leaving feedback is an integral part of the Ebay shopping experience. Sellers often wait anxiously for the positive sign and dread the negative. Buyers do the same. Sometimes it becomes a strange waiting game, almost like an electronic game of "chicken" to see who blinks first.

Today Ebay has unveiled a new angle on feedback, thus removing the buyer's fear of being "bullied" into giving positive ratings.

In explaining the system of feedback I will have to refer to the previous system of positive, neutral or negative feedback for both buyers and sellers. The sellers can be judged on a number of factors whereas the buyers generally can only be judged on one thing.

Firstly, a seller will be judged on the item itself. This is, of course the reason for the transaction in the first place. This includes:

1) Honesty in describing the item including brand (or lack thereof), colour, material, features
2) Faults in the item (eg. laptop won't hold charge, "q" key missing)

Second, the sellers are judged on their use of postage and packaging, including:

1) Speed of delivery
2) Appropriateness of packaging
3) Price of postage and packaging

Personally, I tend to give sellers full marks if they fulfill most of the expectations listed above. If they have charged an extra dollar or so for postage, I am generous. After all, they often make a loss when selling the item which can even out over the final price. It is also difficult to hold a seller responsible for postal delays, especially if they communicate that they have posted it in good faith. It is more difficult for the sellers to fulfill all expectations. I have experience in being both a buyer and a seller and I much prefer being on the buying side of things.

Buyers on the other hand, are judged on a much smaller criteria.

1. Payment for item and
2. Communication

If you pay quickly, sellers will love you. I try to pay instantly if possible because it tends to surprise a lot of sellers. It is interesting that this will no longer be a factor under the new system of feedback.


Buyers will feel free to express their views without fear of retribution. Bullying by shonky sellers is very real. There are many stories from people who have been held to ransom for the sake of a positive feedback rating. Sometimes the buyer will have to decide between telling the truth about the seller or pandering to the seller's demands to protect their own feedback. A common and unfair seller's revenge is to leave negative feedback for any buyer who rates them as negative. This is unfair because the buyer may have correctly fulfilled their responsibility of paying for the item. To rate a buyer as negative for doing nothing wrong is, well, wrong.


This increased scrutiny could possibly cause people to shy away from attempting to become sellers. A buyer could leave negative feedback simply out of revenge when their unwarranted demands for discounts are refused. A vindictive buyer is just as bad as a vindictive seller. If the seller is honest about the item and it arrives safely, buyers should not be leaving negatives. If buyers are sensible and fair with this system, it may just work to everyone's advantage.

It will be interesting to see how long these particular changes to the feedback rating system will be received by Ebay members. It seems many Ebay buyers and sellers have readily accepted the star rating system, so this may be a further step in narrowing the ratings to keep pressure on sellers to deal in high quality products and practices.

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  1. I've been selling on eBay for over 10 years and each time they made a change to thier feedback rating it was for the better. But this time I'm a bit leary about this change.

    I'm really not worried about not being able to leave negative feedback since I never leave negative feedback. Even if a buyer deserved it. What I did with them was include them to my blocked bidders list.

    What I am worried about are the new buyers. Most of the time new buyers are the ones whom are quick to leave negative feedback without contacting a buyer first. They tend to leave feedback then contact the buyer. Not contact the buyer first then leave negative after contacting the buyer.

    These premature negative feedback can be very crucial to a sellers businees. eBay's system is based upon the sellers feedback. If they have a negative, they inturn lose a higher placement in the search.

    I'm interseted to see how this new feedback system is going affect my eBay sales. I rarely get negative feedback but do not get high ratings for my shipping time and cost.

  2. This is interesting. New buyers sometimes do tend to leave negative before they understand how the system works. If more people would communicate by email (or even by phone!) these problems would be less likely to occur.


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