eBay have confirmed Feedback 2.0 is to go live in the UK, Ireland, Australia, Belgium, France, India, Italy, and Poland. It’s worth noting Bill Cobb in his eCommerce Keynote 2007 speech extolled the benefits to eBay.com sellers, whilst reassuring them it would be introduced, monitored, tweaked and only when running smoothly and any ill effects ironed out introduced on the North American site. Wouldn’t want to upset the 250 pals invited to clap when he prompted them to now, would he?
eBay state that in trials, over 80% of buyers left detailed feedback, and try to allay fears that (as happens on Amazon) only buyers who had problems with a transaction will take the time to click the stars. Well they would, wouldn’t they – it was a trial and something new. We suspect that in practice prolific and happy buyers (like sellers) won’t have the time or inclination to bother, but they’ll certainly make time to punish sellers they’re upset with by ranking them poorly – it’s human nature to complain. Regardless when given a choice to rank out of five most people will give a score of four, very few will give five out of five as the norm.
eBay seem to have listened to sellers who intimated they would automatically leave a negative feedback for buyers that gave them low rankings. Sellers will not be able to see the scores left by individual buyers, just overall rankings in four areas – accuracy of item description, communication, delivery time, and postage and packaging charges. This has pros and cons: sure, it protects buyers from retaliatory feedback which is desirable, but it doesn’t give sellers the ability to add buyers that hammer their feedback score unfairly to their blocked bidders list to prevent them making further purchases.
It’s great that buyers have to select an overall positive, neutral or negative ranking first. At least in the short term, buyers that would normally leave a positive won’t think “I’ve given two threes and two fours so I’ll leave a neutral”, although that might come in the future as they get more used to ranking.
1p e-Book sellers who then go on to sell high value items will be highlighted – feedback from the last ninety days will include the item title and price. This is a great change as it allows buyers to see in an instant if sellers suddenly list higher value or different items to usual. Any visible warnings of unusual behaviour are great as early indicators of possible problems for buyers. Similarly the new tabs showing feedback left as a seller and as a buyer separately are great. The feedback left as a seller will be default, showing up those that buy feedback as that’ll be on another tab!
eBay state that “Detailed Seller Ratings benefit buyers by allowing them to rate sellers on a particular transaction more accurately. They also provide buyers with additional information about a seller prior to making purchasing decisions.” They go on to say that the ratings benefit sellers by giving them the chance to differentiate themselves against their competitors. In reality the four areas buyers have told eBay are most important to them include those that sellers have least control over.
Delivery time in particular depends which day of the week a buyer purchases. Everyone has the buyer asking on a Monday morning where is the item they paid for at 5.30pm on the previous Friday – They’re unlikely to receive the item until the Tuesday but in the buyers eyes they’ve already waited four days and Tuesday will be the fifth. Alternatively the buyer that pays at 11am on Tuesday could quite well receive their goods at 9am on Wednesday with delivery in less than 24 hours. In both cases the service from the seller was identical, but a very different experience from the buyer’s viewpoint.
Communication is another debateable rating – is this ranking based on answers to Ask Seller a Question, or on information such as the end of item email, PayPal paid emails and despatch notifications? How will a seller even know if their buyers are rating them poorly because they send so many emails buyers class it as spam? Even accuracy of item description is subjective – judging many questions sent to sellers buyers pay such scant attention to them they’ll barely remember what they read most of the time 😉
The UK announcement is missing the promise from Cobbs’ Feedback 2.0 announcement that feedback over two years old would be retired “Since it is less relevant than more recent feedback”. The feedback scores would be unaffected but the feedback percentage rating would be based on recent feedback only with old negative (and positive!) comments being archived.
Cobb in his speech went to great pains to emphasise Feedback 2.0 would not be introduced in the US until thoroughly tested and all problems resolved in the test countries: “We will monitor its impact, we’ll make adjustments if we need to, we’ll continue to read it, and then, assuming it goes as well as we plan, we’ll begin to roll out in the US.” He appears to have forgotten by this stage that he opened his speech with a show of inclusiveness welcoming eBayers from around the globe. Cobb leaves the question hanging as to why he needs to assure US sellers that countries such as the UK will be used as guinea pigs, ensuring US sellers feedback won’t be adversely affected if eBay got it wrong! Ah yes, he’s president of eBay North America and doesn’t know what goes on overseas much less care.
Finally eBay are changing the page title from “Member Profile” to “Feedback Profile”. We’ve seen hints that some of the “My World” features from the US are to roll in the UK in the near future. It will be interesting to see if these are introduced at the same time as Feedback 2.0, certainly they’re long overdue.