How Important is eBay Feedback?

May 15, 2010

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My wife recently bought an item on eBay.  She has purchased a number of this type of item in the past.  This particular transaction wasn’t particularly noteworthy, aside from the fact that the seller shipped the item in a normal envelope, in contracts to most of the other sellers who had used some sort of padded envelope.

Since she had no real positive or negative feelings about the transactions, she left a “neutral” feedback.  At this point, the seller began a string of multiple emails.  At first the seller tried to strong arm her into changing the feedback to positive or removing in entirely.  When my wife refused, the seller accused her of trying to ruin the seller’s business.  (Remember, this was just a neutral feedback, not a negative).  The seller even mentioned that the two other times a buyer had given her neutral feedback, she had gotten the buyer to retract the feedback.  Yes, she actually took pride in bullying someone into removing honest feedback.

A key point to consider is that the purpose of eBay feedback is to provide accurate information about the seller (or buyer).  The purpose is not to boost the seller’s feedback count to some sky-high number.  The feedback my wife left was accurate and reflected her neutral feeling about the transaction.

The seller was quite rude in her response and it was very clear that she had no desire to improve the experience of future buyers – she simply wanted more positive feedbacks.  In the process of overzealously protecting her feedback score, she has managed to alienate a customer and ensure that my wife never buys another item from her.  The seller wasted significant time actively cutting off a source of future revenue.

Can you imagine this scenario unfolding in the brick-and-mortar world?  Imagine that a food critic eats at a restaurant and rates the establishment as “average.”  Do you think the restaurant owner would use the review to try to improve the experience for future customers or would they instead waste valuable time browbeating the writer in an effort to get the writer to retract the review?  The restaurant that focuses of pleasing the customer is going to be more successful in the long run.  The restaurant who attacks the writer will only ensure that the critic doesn’t give them a second chance.

This seller –and some others on eBay – aren’t seeing the forest for the trees.  If your feedback isn’t what you think it should be, don’t blame the feedback.  Instead, take a look at closer look at how you are doing business.  While you may think that your communication, shipping time, packaging, and fees are exceptional, this might not be the case.  You may be lagging behind your competitors.

In closing, I’d like to point out that I’m not trying to paint all eBay sellers with the same brush.  In general, eBay sellers are great.  I’ve personally bought tons of stuff over eBay and have had very few transactions that weren’t positive experience.  This particular seller is definitely the exception and not the rule.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Evan @ 40Tech
    May 15, 2010 @ 20:31:43

    Sheez, good thing it wasn’t your wife’s first experience on eBay, or she might never have come back.

    This is a good lesson in general for when we get criticism, and how to take it to heart.
    .-= Evan @ 40Tech´s last blog ..Never Buy Expensive HDMI Cables – Buy Lots Of Cheap Ones and Still Come Out Ahead =-.


  2. Bill
    Aug 03, 2010 @ 19:47:23

    I’m with you on most points except for the reason you give for the seller wanting the feedback changed.

    “She simply wanted more positive feedbacks. “

    Most likely that was not the case. I’m a seller with a feedback of over 1000. I couldn’t care less if buyers leave positive feedback for me. With a feedback score over 1000 I’ve established myself as a seller. I don’t really need anymore positive feedback.

    I’ll do everything I can to keep buyers from leaving neutral or negative feedback though. Not because I want them to leave positive feedback, but because negative feedback affects my Powerseller and Top Rated Seller status.

    Powerseller and Top Rated Seller status determines the percent of fees ebay charges me as a seller. Loosing my Power Seller / Top Rated Seller status means ebay charges me higher fees and in turn I am forced to pass that extra cost of doing business onto buyers by charging higher prices for my items.

    Getting buyers to learn that leaving unnecessary neutral and negative feedback only hurts them and the ebay community as a whole will be the day hell freezes over.


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