Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Reader Mail about eBay's Feedback Changes

Here's a sampling of mail I've received (names edited out) about eBay's new feedback policies.  The majority are against the new policy of sellers no longer being able to leave negative or neutrals. I did receive one letter in support of the change. To wit:

  " New feedback rules - hmmmm.  Well, I have been saying for months that eBay is concerned only with name-brand sellers and buyers.  They have just proved it.  If some idiot of a buyer (and they are legion) messes with me, I can't do anything about it.  No negative feedback can I leave for the poor little snot.  How can buyers warn each other about poor customers?   In a word - we can't.  I am disheartened but not surprised.  eBay's latest shot at independent sellers will certainly speed up my search for an alternative auction site.

"I was also thinking (I think a lot, to my detriment, I add) that few
companies in this country seem to be 'in it' for the long run.  Open a
business, make a lot of noise, make as much money as you can then sell it off
when you have almost killed it.  Perhaps I am just cynical."


"Hi Julia - sorry this is a little long.

was just about to jump back on the eBay selling wagon in a very small
way after stopping late last year to concentrate on something
else. Then come the announcements about not being able to leave
negative feedback for buyers and the fee changes. The fee changes may
be better for me or not but I'm not even going to look into it because
the other news is far more important.

are now left at the mercy of eBay effectively trying to police the
buyers but anyone who's experienced their past wall-of-silence approach
to customers isn't going to be too happy about that. The Unpaid Item
Process worked fine for me in the past and I don't see that any of
their increased 'protection' measures for sellers will actually do
anything to protect sellers. And who exactly are these sellers that
have been asking for these measures for a long time? I particularly
love this "For sellers with an established track record, we'll prevent
negative and neutral feedback within 3 days of listing end to promote
communication." What? How exactly is that going to help? Maybe I'm
missing some point here but some items won't even have arrived, some
won't even have been sent and I've had email and phone discussions
weeks or more after a sale. I feel I like maybe I've really
misunderstood the point of that one or I can't help feeling they were
trying to pad out the information.

think that once more they're hurting the small sellers who used to make
up their 'core' business that Meg was fond of getting back too,

... I'm sure you're an eBay affiliate too and they've just increased
those commissions. It reminds me of the early days of mobile phones
here in the UK when all the networks were giving tons away for free in
a numbers race. This seems like some warped (or reverse) version of
that. It's like people (buyers and sellers) are leaving in droves and
so they're trying to tempt the buyers back (at the expense of a lot of
small sellers) and drum up new business. I wonder if they'll advertise
that you can't leave neg feedback to a buyer to any new sellers? I
think not!

never wanted to add my name to the 'eBay is doomed' list but who
knows. I hope I'm wrong but I can only see myself spending the ten quid
they've given me to entice me back and then using eBay in a very
sporadic way. Pity cos I did enjoy selling on eBay, wonder what the
eBid experience is like?"


Here is the letter in support of eBay's new policy:

"Dear Julia,

"I read your announcement about eBay's feedback change with interest. I have been hoping for a change ever since I have was introduced to eBay and its feedback a few years ago. I grew up in Amazonland, and in Naderland, too, so the concept of sellers giving feedback to buyers was strange to me. What is a buyer's obligation anyway? To pay! It seems bizarre that people should get high fives and hurrahs for this simple act of commerce.

"More importantly it has been my experience that sellers feedbacking buyers had made eBay a place where people are afraid to say what they think. I know I am. My experiences with giving negative feedback were these: after trying to contact a seller to no avail, I gave them negative feedback. I was barred from bidding on this seller's auctions. I had spent hundreds of dollars there. What was this but feedback manipulation?

"Another did not respond to my concerns, so I gave her negative feedback. She had sent a book wrapped in grocery bag paper and the book was damaged. I asked for a partial refund. She gave me not just a negative, but a negative with vitriol. My perfect feedback record was ruined. For what? For making a customer service complaint to a non-responsive seller! Isn't that the purpose of feedback in the first place?

"Now, I never give negative feedback. Who knows what's going to happen with the (potential) lunatic on the other end of the sale? When sellers whose practices fall short ask me for positive feedback, I tell them I won't give them any feedback and tell them why. It falls on deaf ears mostly, but a few have thanked me.

"I am both a buyer and a seller, like you. This change may not be perfect but it was bound to come. eBay is too wild and wooly, and it had to be tamed. I am old school in certain ways, I like the "customer is always right," approach in many ways. Unfortunately, on eBay the customer has been too often wrong. Just look at some of the feedback comments, sellers calling customers "stupid, fools, idiots."

"It had to stop, and a large slice (though probably a minority) of sellers brought this on the rest."

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