Feedback changes coming soon

By Chris Dawson June 16, 2007 - 2:46 am

Feedback used to be the one unchangeable aspect of eBay. Everybody hates it, everybody loves it, but no one wants it to change. Today Pierre Omidyar himself revealed that he never foresaw just how central to the eBay phenomenon feedback would become. Since he first introduced feedback until recent years only two major changes have occurred. First the ability to leave feedback for people you hadn’t transacted with was removed, and then after some minor tweaks such as introduction of feedback percentages eBay finally introduced measured steps to remove feedback in certain circumstances.

Removal of feedback that didn’t infringe feedback policies was introduced when it was determined an eBayer wasn’t participating in the transaction or community. If a buyer didn’t respond to an unpaid item process the feedback rating was cancelled, or if a buyer was suspended permanently within 90 days of registering on eBay it was decided they never had the right to participate in the community and all feedback they left was wiped.

Now both Meg Whitman, CEO of eBay and Brian Burke, the eBay Director under whose remit global feedback falls, have both stated within hours of each other that more changes are being considered, with the most serious proposal being double blind feedback which currently runs on Mercado Libre, an eBay owned site.

Double Blind Feedback

Double blind feedback is where both buyer and seller leave feedback but it doesn’t show until both are submitted. This wipes out retaliatory feedback which is a big issue although whilst there are obvious advantages studies are underway to determine what the downsides may be. One worry is that people may simply stop leaving feedback to prevent feedback being left for them (currently 83% of transactions have feedback left by one trading partner and in 70% of transactions both the buyer and the seller both leave feedback).

There are solutions to many of the issues, such as after a set period if one trading partner hasn’t left feedback they lose the right to but the feedback left for them is revealed on their feedback profile. It’s harder to find solutions for automated feedback, for instance Selling Manager Pro would no longer be able to leave feedback on receipt of feedback from the buyer. That’s a time saver for sellers but I’m not sure it’s a real concern for eBay, as retaliatory feedback is what they want to stop. Although uppermost in their minds is retaliatory negatives there’s no reason not to include retaliatory positive feedback as not particularly reflective of the transaction.

Repeat Feedback

The second bombshell released is that eBay are actively looking at repeat feedback to count towards your feedback score. Currently a trading partner can only affect your score by one (+ or -) regardless of how many times you transact with them. This would mean all transactions with that person would be counted, and would in some cases change feedback scores by tens of thousands, especially for sellers in categories where multiple sales and repeat sales are the norm.

This change would be applied retroactively – with some 4 million comments left daily and 6.1 billion feedbacks already left just the processing time to recalculate feedback scores is enormous. Look out for the number of shooting stars on eBay to multiply overnight if this change happens!

Feedback Disputes

The final change being considered is the community to adjudicate in feedback disputes. This would be a move to end feedback where for instance the buyer left a negative without even attempting to pay, or a seller left a negative after changing the terms after the sale. It’s simply not possible for eBay to decide who is telling the truth when a buyer and seller disagree, in fact in many cases they are both telling the truth but from a different perspective. In the case of negative feedback disputes it’s possible community members will be assigned to listen to both the buyer and the seller and decide which feedback is justified and which isn’t. The adjudicators would be assigned disputes at random to ensure that they’re impartial to both the buyer and the seller in any given case.

So that’s the future of feedback, what of recent changes such as the introduction of Detailed Seller Ratings (DSRs)? The message from buyers is that they like them, and the hard facts from eBay are so far good sellers are getting more bids and higher selling prices whereas not so good sellers are losing bids and getting lower selling prices since DSRs were introduced. This is exactly the desired effect but eBay emphasised that you shouldn’t expect perfect fives in DSRs, Don’t compare yourself against 5/5, compare yourself with other sellers in your category. So far DSRs have not impacted the percentage of feedback left – 80% is still the norm in the UK, Australia and Ireland where DSRs were first introduced. Currently it appears that DSRs for the Item Description and Shipping/Handling time give the biggest disparity in conversion rates. Although it’s early days for DSRs these appear to be two that buyers look at most closely.

Finally a heads up for all sellers! There may be a change to PowerSeller requirements in the future where feedback DSRs are taken into account. More importantly eBay are looking to improve the finding experience for buyers: Don’t be surprised if at some point in the future you find sellers with high DSRs scores appear in search ahead of those with lower scores. If a seller is seen to be giving a better buyer experience eBay will want buyers to choose their product in preference to those who are rated less highly.

  • Uncle Sam
    14 years ago

    “The final change being considered is the community to adjudicate in feedback disputes.”

    *has visions of the Q & A anti-PowerSeller crowd using it as a weapon*

    “DonÒ€ℒt be surprised if at some point in the future you find sellers with high DSRs scores appear in search ahead of those with lower scores.”

    Sounds great on paper but I wonder if this will give an advantage to pro high-volume sellers, effectively slanting the ‘level playing-field’? After all, just one ‘undeserved’ neg (and some negs are genuinely undeserved) will have a bigger impact on the % of a casual, low-volume seller. if it results in less exposure, they are likely to feel doubly hard-done by & could even be discouraged from increasing their eBay output in future.

    As a buyer, I’m still wondering where the cut-off is. Do I buy from sellers with 4.3 stars but not 4.2 stars πŸ˜‰

  • 14 years ago

    Q&A won’t be able to use it as a weapon as there will be confidentiality as to which community members are mediating a particular case and they’ll be assigned at random πŸ™‚

    Also both Brian Burke and Bill Cobb went to great lenghts to demonstrate that good sellers were getting good DSR ratings (in the four plus stars) and it was only sellers with feedback percentages dropping to the 98 odd percent that DSRs were really differentiating between. Sellers with 99.7 – 100% are in general getting DSR ratings in the 4.5 and upwards range πŸ™‚

    Basically DSR’s are showing a new buyer that whilst 98% might sound pretty good (after all if you got that in GCSE exams you’d be a top student!) that actually the seller may be falling short in certain areas. That may or may not matter to you, eg if a seller only ships once a week so the “Dispatch time” DSR may be low, if the item isn’t urgent a 3.5 might be perfectly acceptable.

    The other point they went to great lengths to stress is that you shouldn’t expect 5/5 DSR ratings! After all if you’re choosing a hotel for a business trip a 3* hotel might be perfectly acceptable whereas for your honeymoon you might want a 5* hotel. DSR ratings should be viewed in the same manner πŸ™‚

  • 14 years ago

    re placement changes

    1 how can this be implemented across 3 different types of seller all paying the same fees.

    hobby seller, people selling off old crap and business sellers. only 1 of those groups have to follow dsr’s so yes customer service is paramount, BUT hooby and old crap sellers paying the same fees who dont have the time to post out daily etc etc so suffer on where there items will be placed … yet still pay the same fees ……

    in fact everyone is paying the same fees for a service from ebay ….. why the hell should your feedback score count to how your items are seen ……

    this in my eyes along side blind feedback is a nail in the ebay coffin.

  • 14 years ago

    re blind feedback …… it will kill it off.

    retalitiry feedback as a serious problem? my god … there are much more important issues that ebay should be addressing.

    after all, all they are a little red marks with comments …… its not like someones gone round and stabbed you through the heart with a dagger …..

    Ebay really should focus on giving something back to the sellers, instead of taring us all witht he same brush and changing the feedback system every couple of months constantly moving the goal posts.

    more buyers would come if scammers are stopped… the feedback system is not the way to stop them … and scammers are what put buyers off …….

  • Uncle Sam
    14 years ago

    But if one of the ‘anti-PS crowd’ do apply to adjudicate in such proceedings, it is possible they could be assigned to a dispute involving a PS & that they automatically go with their preconceptions. This is why the UK legal system has 12 people on a jury, not 1.

    The issue boils down to whether you feel you can trust a complete stranger to offer an impartial assessment. For many people, the answer will be ‘yes’ but for me it’s ‘no way!’ Not when I’m being sent junk-mail from a religious group in India because of a buyer making innaccurate assumptions about my ethnicity & religion from my user ID.

    I’d much rather eBay shrug it’s shoulders & give us the ‘merely a venue’ line or better still, remind us that ‘it’s only feedback’. People are always going to moan about FB, whatever eBay do.

    As for retaliatory negs, letting potential buyers look at what both parties have said about each other & make up their own minds has always worked for me.

  • 14 years ago

    “letting potential buyers look at what both parties have said about each other & make up their own minds has always worked for me”

    Ain’t that the truth πŸ™‚

  • panheadpete
    14 years ago

    could not agree more about there being 2 sides to every argument and both sides needing to be heard before judgement being passed- by many, not by one.

  • Sian
    14 years ago

    I feel the accusation of Q&A anti PS brigade is a bit strong. Most just don’t like BAD sellers, they’re ranking is irrelevant. I do have other concerns about the community adjudicating, and think it’s a lousy idea:|

    The thought of double blind feedback leaves me cold – it would make it a scammers paradise, but if a way could be found to highlight repeat buyers, I think that’s a positive move for some of the good sellers.

  • Richard
    14 years ago

    Nobody ever brings up the buyers who consider 4 stars as great and 5 as only if the item were hand-delivered by currier before I send payment and usually give out 3s. There are quite a few of those and if you run into a few you could very quickly end up in the bottom 10% as one 3 counters nine 5s when 4.8 is the goal.

    As for blind feedback I could hardly think of a larger disaster… As a seller I have a good 12-15% of deals end up not paid for. I do not leave negatives now because I would get retaliated — BUT those buyers who didnt pay arent leaving negs either… *IF* feedback were blind, it would be in each non-paying buyers interest to leave the negative as they have nothing to lose — and again with the seller you would to protect yourself.

    Plus it would cause all sorts of trouble with knowing just who to leave feedback for — lets say you send 200 items per week. It is not always easy to backtrack everything — especially after the fact assuming you arent leaving feedback immediately upon payment. Most high volume sellers leave feedback upon recieving feedback from the buyer. This would make that not be an option.

    Plus there is the multiple item feedback issue… Lets say you have someone buy 20 items from you and fail to pay for any of them. Now to see the feedback you would have to leave feedbacks for every single item rather than one per person… And theoretically the deadbeat buyer could leave you positives on each item until your negative shows up then retaliate on a different item…

    Unless they restrict it to one feedback per order as opposed to one feedback per item, then any order of 2 or more things can still be affected by retaliatory feedback anyway.

  • stephenstringer
    14 years ago

    A good example of how this will not work is mine I had 100% feedback until an idoit chose not to read my listing which quoted no payments from unconfirmed paypal account and not for sale to anyone outside the uk.
    yes you got it the buyer was unconfirmed and from france I refunded the unconfirmed paypal payment and asked for another payment method instead he just neg’d me so of course to warn others I left him a neg he was a new member and already had 5 negs out of 7 all because he had done the same I complained to paypal and they did nothing. a lot of newbies pay from unconfirmed accounts and ebay do not supply the seller with a magic button to cancel the sale. so I know that in the future I will be getting lots of negs and no way of appealing. what a con the buyer gives nothing to ebay and all I seem to do is pay them all the time where is the sellers support.

  • 14 years ago

    Stephen, I’m sorry to say that for every seller on eBay, these kind of negs will happen. But it surely has to be better to educate those buyers and keep them buying, than to neg them, turn them off eBay altogether and lose their patronage.

    But the good news for you is that PayPal are extending seller protection, so you should be covered for French buyers in future πŸ™‚

  • 14 years ago

    Thinks about making a comment about pesky French buyers….

    Thinks better of it πŸ˜›

  • 14 years ago

    At least it wasn’t about pesky French resident bead sellers… 😈

  • 14 years ago

    😯 😯 Chriiiiiiiiiiiiiss!! They’re being mean to me!

  • 14 years ago

    Being as every single French customer I have ever dealt with has been pleasant, easy to trade with, polite and undemanding I can only assume anyone else is dealing with a different France to me

    (Mind you I only have two customers in France, one’s a bead seller and the other bought cables for some satellite fingy or other! πŸ˜› )

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