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The ever decreasing importance of eBay feedback

By Dan Wilson September 7, 2017 - 1:09 am

It’s still notable that when speaking to eBay sellers, particularly of a particular vintage, that they are very proud of their eBay feedback total and percentage score. It’s not uncommon for sellers to start an email to us, especially if they have recently been sanctioned by eBay, with a sentence like: “I’ve got a feedback score over 4000 and it’s 99.9% positive.”

And let’s not forget that eBay feedback did use to be incredibly important to sellers and eBay. Back in the days before Detailed Seller Ratings (DSRs), and the much loved defect system, those positive negatives and neutrals were the only seller information available to shoppers and also used by eBay to determine seller performance in some cases.

But that’s a long time ago and now you can have, say, 4000 feedback and 99.9% positive and still quite easily be considered Below Standard or even suspended by eBay.

It also seems to us that the amount of feedback that is now left by buyers and sellers is much reduced on how it was even a few years ago. We estimate that feedback is left in less than 50% of transactions. We suspect that feedback levels are higher in the collectable and antique categories though. But for workaday and commodity items it’s probably quite a lot lower than 50%

Over to you. What sort of percentage of feedback do you think you receive? Do you even bother monitoring your feedback on a frequent basis any more?

And what about leaving feedback too as a seller. We suspect that the vast majority of serious sellers have automated this process with a selection of pre-written comments and the feedback is left when an action triggers it such as being paid or receiving feedback yourself.

The simple and pioneering feedback system at eBay is still part of the charm but it really isn’t all that important these days. Why say you?

  • keith
    3 months ago

    It lets you know that a) your buyer has received the item and that b) they are (hopefully) happy with the transaction.

    Feedback could be simplified by ticking two boxes.

  • 3 months ago

    Simplifying the feedback system would be great, 2 or 3 tick boxes with the option of leaving a comment. When I buy I just want to click and not type something unless I feel the need, and I think it’s the same for my customers too. Ebay put too much reliance on users leaving feedback to make decisions on the sellers “Seller Level” and when over 50% of our customers don’t bother it’s really annoying. We add reminders to customers paperwork, send email reminders and still nothing. If ebay insists on using feedback to set a “Sellers Level” for discounts etc then it should force customers to leave feedback or ban then until they have done.

  • 3 months ago

    Not only is feedback a conversion metric for your buyers who dont delve into the metrics that give you “top rated seller”, but whats to say it doesnt form part of the algothimn that drives better search position on your items?

    Now Ebay has pushed forward with EANS and product reviews this is where we tend to spend more of our time.

  • northumbrian
    3 months ago

    just a stick for the buyer to beat you with
    really piddles us off when a sanctimonious self righteous buyer justifies itself on the one or two negative feedback comments ,ignoring the 50.000 or more positives

  • Mark
    3 months ago

    We have a high rate of feedbacks received and we think its down to the fact that we have it set to automatically leave feedback for the buyer AFTER they leave positive feedback. I emphasise after and positive. The practice of leaving a buyer feedback immediately they purchase seems pretty pointless and often quite damaging so we stopped it as really all you can say is they paid. Which seems pretty obvious as thats what buying means. But any positive info is not possible to leave accurately. Leaving it immediately means they get great comments before you realise they are a bad fraudulent or just nasty buyer.

    When the buyer leave positive we automatically give positive back and when neutral or negative is received we can analyse and see if we can help before leaving feedback. As some of our transactions with negative have been left negative both silly and often wrongly or even fraudulently.

    eBay will only remove when the comments are obviously untrue so many buyers know this and leave feedback not even mentioning their issue just a general item rubbish or seller bad etc and eBay then say sorry its their thought we sold a cable in increments of 1 metre of cable and got a negative from a buyer who purchased 1 metre length saying “length no good for anything”

    eBay would not remove as it was his opinion.
    Reply system is pointless as many buyers are only buyers and so you do not see replies when you check the eBay chart unless you wish to scroll right through the whole list they should introduce another section showing replies in the list of positive neutral and negative.
    Also many love leaving negative we had a buyer leave negative wrongly (which we eventually had removed) but the buyer had made 113 purchases and left 56 negative feedbacks. Ebay said the reason for defects and feedback is buyers with a bad experience tend not to return to buy on ebay (rubbish) this buyer proved some are addicted to leaving negative feedback.

    Because of this we actually leave feedback stating the problem issue as well as leaving replies.
    But never before we see what a buyer says.

  • sean
    3 months ago

    Do you think eBay should automatically count every transaction as positive until a buyer changes it with their own feedback? Could this prompt a higher %age of buyers to leave feedback (knowing that it matters)? This system would capture 100% of the sellers transactions, especially those buyers do not leave feedback as they cannot be bothered or don’t want to waste their valued time, especially when the transaction went as expected. This way sellers feedback scores will be higher and would reflect the feedback based on 100% of the transactions they carry out.
    Why would eBay want to count less than 50% of transactions from buyers who are often driving down feedback scores as they only leave feedback as a way of complaint or protest? My current experience is that many sellers have a lower %age score now than they had a few years ago, and it’s rare to see sellers with more that 99.5% but more common to see 98%. I feel that eBay is losing business to amazon as we don’t like buying from sellers with lower scores, as we have less confidence in them (eBay has programmed us to stay away from low scored sellers for years).

  • 3 months ago

    Emmmm. This is very sensitive subject. Without being too cynical, my feedback experience is somewhat mixed. Yes its great to receive positive feedback, but what about those experienced “clever” manipulators?. I have had many buyers using feedback”blackmail” techniques to get a refund or monies off. Ebays feedback system is flawed as buyers are asked about delivery times etc. Even if items are delivered on time, buyers will (if a weekend is involved) tell little “untruths”about there experience. I expect its a power thing! But as normal Ebay will ALWAYS fall on the side of buyers.

  • Dave T
    3 months ago

    To most sellers feedback is important, especially those that are selling one off unique or collectibles….I can imagine it may be less important for mega sellers to an extent (hundreds of items per day etc).

    Personally, I see feedback as a common courtesy…..ie saying thank you.

    I wrap it well, send it quickly, it gets to the other side of the world okay…….and it is a) nice to know it has arrived safely and b) it is nice to know the buyer likes it and it is well received.

    I used to ask buyers to leave feedback, but when you check out the feedback they have left for others…..it is often over a year ago, if it all……..though they are happy to get feedback from sellers naturally.

    Also, feedback also helps me know I will not get a “dodgy” claim from buyers after weeks of them having an item……as we know eBay naturally support the buyer even after they have had it for 3 weeks (tracked delivery).

    Ebay – note that without sellers….you would have no buyers!

    Anyways, I think eBay should instigate automatic feedback for sellers after 4 weeks. ie an item has been marked as sent, no claim has been raised by the buyer, the seller has left feedback for the buyer, ebay should then leave the seller a non-effusive positive feedback “Successful eBay transaction”.

    The buyer could still appeal etc but chances are they are happy or would have raised a claim already.

    This way at least the seller would get credit for a successful transaction instead of getting nothing from an increasing number of buyers.

    But this would mean eBay supporting sellers….so the chances are pretty slim that they will do this and give sellers the credit for a job well done!

  • 3 months ago

    Our feedback to customers is a simple “thank you from us” and it is automated from our web site on update of the order to being sent.

    It was good to get over the 1,000 as I do feel it gives customers some confidence that you have been around a while and give good service, but the next target is 5,000 so a long way to go. So now I am only interested in keeping feedback good as opposed to how high I can get it.

    Our feedback runs at about 40% of sales and we try hard to resolve any issues to keep it positive.

  • Daz
    3 months ago

    Think lucky if we get 20% back in feedback these days. Amazon is even less and we sell a lot more there than eBay. Brits are actually the worst for leaving it funnily enough.
    Most ours come from EU custom.
    Feedback system is corrupt anyway always has been.

  • 3 months ago

    We’re at just over 9000 feedback, 100% positive. Our feedback rate is 60%, but we sell higher value items (A/V gear) from £40 upwards so I guess its different if you sell lower value items?

    I agree with what Dave T says above with regards to the automatic feedback for buyers, great idea!

  • northumbrian
    3 months ago

    ebay feedback is a great tool for upping the page hits on blogs
    lol

  • Eric
    3 months ago

    I administer a site for a charity selling mainly collectables and a bit of antique to railway enthusiasts, lucky to get 50% feedback, often no feedback from the people who buy most items – I suspect they don’t have the time as they are chasing so many listings at any one time

  • 3 months ago

    We find the succinct comments that customers add when leaving feedback much more useful than a meaningless five star scores from DSR.

    We have identified quite a few improvements by carefully monitoring these comments.

  • Mark
    3 months ago

    Whenever I buy something from eBay, I expect the seller to leave feedback for me first. As the buyer, I’ve completed my side of the transaction first, and in my view should therefore receive feedback first. Whether or not I give the seller feedback is not relevant to their feedback of me as the buyer.

    • 3 months ago

      Assuming everything is fine with the purchase, the buyer should leave feedback first, because they are the first to learn that the seller is a good seller.

      Only at this point does the seller learn that the buyer is a good buyer and can leave honest useful feedback to reflect that (ie a comment rather than generic “thanks for buying”)

      To do it the other way around as you prefer, seller first and buyer second (if at all) would be like saying that a cake was tasty before it had been tasted.

  • Betsie
    3 months ago

    As a buyer, I really appreciate getting feedback — and I want to receive it once payment is made, not be told that “We’ll leave feedback for you after you do so for us”; why should it be a quid pro quo?

    As a seller, I always leave feedback as soon as payment is received; it’s a thank-you to our customers. And I love to read buyer’s comments on transactions; it’s helped us to tweak our customer service and alerted us to buyer issues, which we can then do our best to get sorted and make right.

    I like the current system and do not want to tick boxes saying “successful transaction”, nor do I think feedback should automatically be awarded after some set interval of time. Yes, it’s messier, but it’s also REAL — actual opinions of actual human beings.

    Comments from buyers also give me a window into that seller’s way of doing business — and follow-up comments and/or replies from sellers to negative or neutral feedback are even MORE revealing. When the seller is unpleasant or rude or defensive or calls the buyer a liar or a scammer, it’s a major turn-off.

    Most hilarious seller reply I’ve ever run across was in response to a negative feedback from a new buyer. The seller wrote, “I am plagued by idiots! Newbies, please take your business somewhere else!” Hey, at least they said “please”, lol. And send me those newbies anytime; I make it my mission to give new eBayers a fantastic buying experience that will make them love shopping on eBay forevermore!

    • Rob
      3 months ago

      I don’t get why buyers get excited about receiving feedback, you don’t get feedback from a shop when you go in there and purchase something so why get upset if a seller does don’t give you feedback for paying for an item which is what you are meant to do anyway.

      I have it set up to leave feedback once a buyer leaves feedback.

      Occasionally get a best offer from a customer saying they will pay straight away and they have 100% feedback. When you look into their feedback they only ever buy on ebay so will only ever get 100% feedback. The only feedback that matters to me is what feedback they leave others and if it looks more like a traffic light with all the red and green, I can’t put them on the blocked list quick enough. I would rather lose a sale then spend time dealing with buyers who have taken up the hobby of complaining to get money off.

    • Dave
      3 months ago

      Rob, completely agree! Leaving feedback for buyers is like clapping the pilot when they land the plane without crashing in a fireball. Well done, you clicked a button successfully.

      It’s pretty pointless too – as sellers we know nothing about the person who’s just bought the item. Our listings are all instant payments, so the deal is done and our feedback left with generally zero interaction, so how can leaving a buyer feedback help anyone?

      The feedback I leave my buyers is all geared up to advertising my eBay shop name and it left automatically, with a ‘Thanks for buying’ message.

      If someone has been a pain, I guess you could leave positive feedback with some remarks about the transaction if you really wanted to, but its guaranteed to get you a negative back so what’s the point?

      As a buyer however, I want to see feedback left for the seller on their response and delivery times, how good they are at after sales support and something about the item I’m looking to purchase. That’s what’s important, instead of praising someone’s ability to click a button.

  • 3 months ago

    Given that half of buyers don’t bother leaving feedback, perhaps an automatic time based feedback completion system would be a good thing. Once it reaches the deadline for the ebayer to leave feedback, it could autocomplete with an assumed positive (if it was negative or neutral, they’d already have done it) so for every 100 feedback received from buyers, it could be 200 instead.

    Sellers get a truer reflection shown to the buying public of how they’re doing. Ebay gets to look as busy as it actually is.

  • 3 months ago

    We have over 100,000 feedbacks and have sold over 1,000,000 orders on eBay so around the 10% mark!

  • 2 months ago

    Back when there was eBay and nobody else feedback was both novel and essential and today, as a buyer, I still use it to see if a seller is a problem or how they dealt with that and, as a seller, I look – nervously – for it to show that I sell honest items . . .

    . . . but the diminishing importance of feedback has as much to do with how eBay have played about with it as do customers having such busy life’s controlled by their “smartie phones” that they can’t be bothered to say “thanks”. That’s life today unfortunately but I just noticed how eBay yet again are playing with feedback.

    I had a batch of feedback to deal with having bought quite a bit recently and was puzzled as to why eBay “greyed out” choices I could make. Some, not all, of those listings that had been purchased with “Free P&P” forbid me from making any comment on “How quickly did the seller dispatch the item?” and hovering over the question mark this popped up : “Meeting or exceeding our P&P requirements automatically gives the seller a 5-star rating”.

    Umm . . in two of my cases the goods weren’t quickly dispatched, in one case arriving outside of listing estimated delivery date . . yet eBay stopped me from recording this?

    . . . and just exactly what does offering “Free P&P” have to do with delivery means and times? Yet another example of how eBay would like to bend the rules of commerce or science just by sticking a “Free P&P” label on something?

    One day, I’m sure, eBay will rationalise the DSR system and feedback will vanish.

    • 2 months ago

      I’m happy ebay removes the opportunity to answer “how quickly did the seller dispatch the item?” from feedback if it’s a free P&P

      How does the buyer know the answer to that question?

      Though detective work is sometimes possible, mostly they don’t have a clue. They assume if it arrives “late” (ie outside of ebay’s randomly optimistic estimated delivery date) that is because the seller hasn’t posted it on time. Yes folks, that’s the real reason. Sellers are all just sitting around on big pile of unposted parcels, laughing evily.

  • 2 months ago

    The buyer has no idea when the item was despatched other than that the seller may have updated the order to despatched, although the seller could just be cheating the system.

    A late delivery does not mean late despatch and the buyer should only rate the seller on the delivery date.

    I have had a buyer mark an item as later delivery / despatch even though they collected it from the Delivery office due to not being in. Seems it was our fault?

    • 2 months ago

      Indeed some sellers DO mark the goods as despatched almost immediately after purchasing yet if tracking is provided and/or a delivery note is put in with the item often this shows that the only “despatch” on that date was a digital entry in eBay’s cyber world, the goods were still awaiting collection by the courier! Now, call me cynical, but my experience would seem to indicate that most of these cases come from eBay sellers who show a UK address on their listing but, once you get the goods, you damn well know they’ve come from overseas, often the Far East or Eastern Europe!

      Should we blame the seller? Maybe, maybe not. Rather I say place a lot of the responsibility on eBay itself for forcing sellers to comply with unreasonable or unworkable conditions!

      . . . and don’t get me started on the difference between “despatch” and “delivery” . . took part in a heated forum posting here last year about what those words ACTUALLY mean. Many sellers, it seemed, thought them the same! Too much belief in eBay “World of Fantasy” methinks!

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