Feedback 2.0: I have seen the future and it's full of whinging

By Chris Dawson January 18, 2007 - 9:55 am

Without a doubt picking up on the “Web 2.0” buzzword, this is eBay’s attempt to “update” their feedback system. Buyers will be able to rate sellers on a variety of specific aspects of the transaction, including accuracy of description, shipping time, communication and shipping and handling charges.

This has been suggested by eBay, trialled and surveyed for months now, and it was pretty obvious it was coming. Sellers, it must be said, are almost universally against the proposals. This is a system that will be largely used by buyers with a gripe. Happy buyers will leave a positive and that will be that – only those with a complaint that their first class shipping took three whole days, or that they emailed at 4am and didn’t get an immediate response, are likely to bother with detailed feedback.

Of course, this will be the same for all sellers. Just as now, the average eBay seller has better than 99% positive feedback, detailed feedback will find its average level. Sadly, this is likely to be rather lower than 99%, which might give the impression that eBay sellers have suddenly all got much worse.

At the same time, percentage scores will be calculated over the last two years only, not from the beginning, thus “archiving” old negatives. No doubt this will be a much more popular move!

But really, one has to ask what the point of these changes are. Will they make eBay any more money directly? No. Will they make sellers more money, so making eBay more money indirectly? No. Will they really make buyers feel more secure? I doubt it. Who goes in to an eBay transaction thinking “oh well, if the seller doesn’t ship for a week, I can give them a black mark for it”? This is simply a system that rewards the whingers.

It’s also likely to mean the end of most sellers leaving feedback first. And that is something that buyers will not like one little bit.

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