Feedback changes coming soon

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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.

45 Responses

  1. “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˜‰

  2. 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™‚

  3. 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.

  4. 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 …….

  5. 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.

  6. “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™‚

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. I imagine we’ll all get really excited/worked up/annoyed/elated (delete as appropriate) about any changes to feedback, but 2 months later we will hardly be able to remember what the fuss was about. Ebay is dynamic, thats one of the reasons that we are all able to make s a successful living from it. If it was static, it would be dead by now and we may all be in hideous office job’s working for “the Man” πŸ™„ , so we have all got to get used to changes that ebay make and embrace them, they WILL keep coming after all.

  11. Jade, that’s so true. One of the more amusing things about last year’s eBay Live was that they had *just* introduced the DSRs onto .com. All the American sellers were going crazy about them… and all the UK sellers were going “honestly, give it a couple of months and everyone will have average scores, and none of you will care” πŸ˜†

  12. the only problem is if the feedback changes are extremely weighted in the buyers favour fraud etc could become a real issue and sellers could get really ripped off

  13. JR – it depends on the market you are selling to , but for the majority of sellers, nothing that might change in any respect to feedback will affect their sales one teeny weeny jot.

  14. I don’t think feedback ever put anyone off a fraudulent plan: if people are going to commit fraud, they’ll do it. And keep opening new IDs so that feedback never affects them.

  15. All ebay transactions need 2 parties, a buyer and a seller. For one to be able to leave feedback and the other not is not really on.
    As Sue said, Amazon feeback system is only for buyers, however there is a facillity to leave a comment, although after whatever comments (be them true or untrue) are left what the seller has to say is academic as he who shouts first has the audience attention.

    I think they may remove the comments part of feedback and just leave the DSR stars to tell the story.

  16. Those of use who have always left fb first selling won’t be affected negatively by anything they do. If competitors who do the feedback hostage thing are affected and end up with a more realistic rating it will likely be good for the present fb first sellers. Lets hope they really fix fb to allow buyer to leave what they really want to without retaliation

  17. Firstly why would a seller leave feedback straight away just because the buyer has paid quickly? In my sales field on ebay this is only the beginning of the transaction as i have to do a LOT of customer service and customer support.

    Anyway isnt it about time ebay sorted the feedback situation with non paying bidders? Why should they be entitled to leave feedback? Sellers shouldnt be afraid to leave feedback for NPB afraid that they will get negatives in return. I would dearly love to neg every single customer that doesnt pay up as its so frusrating paying sometimes £13 to list an item. At the minute 20% of my customers are NPB.

    We can hope but i doubt we will see changes as revolutionary as that.

    There was talk at last years conference of sellers leaving feedback for a transaction first before a buyer leaves feedback

  18. “Firstly why would a seller leave feedback straight away” Why wouldn’t a seller leave feedback straight away? Surely a buyer paying is a sign of good faith that they’re trusting you to deliver what they paid for, and feedback from the seller could be seen as a sign of good faith that you think the buyer is trustworthy too?

    I know there are arguements for and against whether the buyer or seller should leave feedback first, but from personal experience leaving feedback first has only bitten me a couple of times out of thousands of transactions. Why punish thousands of great buyers by withholding feedback for the sake of a couple of exceptions?

    Sue puts this point so much more elegantly than I do πŸ˜‰

  19. here we go
    crying out loud what is it with buyers and feedback,
    they pay for an item they receive the item,
    then they become obsessed with feedback

    buyers can say as they wish about the transaction with impunity regardless

    a negative feedback affects only their ego not their livelyhood


    and suffering delusion

  20. Well I have always left feedback first.

    It has never hurt me, in fact it is yet another positive factor in my reputation.

    and I know Chris and I are neither amateurs nor delusionary….

    It’s down to each seller to decide their own business model and work their daily practices to suit. One skin doesn’t fit everyone.

  21. exactly

    “ItÒ€ℒs down to each seller to decide their own business model and work their daily practices to suit. One skin doesnÒ€ℒt fit everyone.”

    So why the sanctimonious witch hunt to those of us that choose to leave feedback after the transaction is concluded not when it has just begun!
    I recently received a neagative for non delivery!

    the buyer had moved home and provided their old address
    so the item is now stolen or lost,
    they paid but did they deserve a Positive, or more to the point did I deserve the negative

  22. I’ve always left feedback as soon as an item is paid for and not had any major problems so far. But I will say that at least 25% of feedback received does not relate to my performance as a seller but to other things like the speed of delivery and in many cases the buyer’s personal music taste – eg “I love this band” or even a negative when they brought a CD and didn’t like the songs!
    I’m all for a system similar to Amazon where sellers are rated by what they sell, but can see it causing problems when sellers begin selling and does take away a huge part of the ebay community feeling that exists and makes ebay unique.

  23. Going back to Patty’s points about feedback and NPBs:

    You do know that NPBs who don’t respond to the unpaid item dispute have their comments “descored”? i.e. the comment stands but it doesn’t have the green/grey/red blob beside it, and doesn’t affect the sellers fb score.

    I think this is as far as eBay really can go with this. There are legitimate reasons why a buyer might refuse to pay: for example, if the seller changes terms or P&P after the purchase. Many sellers file UIDs against buyers who file PP chargebacks for non-receipt. Those buyers *should* be able to leave appropriate feedback.

    I hesitate to say this in public, but if your NPB rate is 20%, you really need to worry about more than just feedback. What on earth is causing so many buyers not to pay you?

  24. It just occurs to me: Richard can’t possibly mean “the end of threads about feedback”. He couldn’t think that that would ever happen. I suspect he means “the end of threads about who should leave feedback first”.

    My money FWIW is on blind feedback.

  25. Wonder if they’ll bring in feedback retirement at the same time? Bill Cobb has talked about this on eBay Radio as a real (near future) possibilty.

    It’ll get rid of those old negs, and for many sellers will restore their 100% record.

    Of course at the same time it’ll destroy the 100% record for other sellers…. if you’ve got say 2500 feedback with a single neg in the last month and gain 500 feedbacks a year currently you’re on 100%. If they retire feedback that’s a year old you’ll be down to 99.8% for the whole of the next year!

    Shocking thought for some of those that wanted to see their old negs retired…. for others retiring feedback will actually LOWER your feedback score 😯

  26. i think next week will be very interesting. i feel eBay will adopt the style of amazon when it comes to feedback. as a buyer and seller, i have many an opinion on this.

    But i personally feel, that if a buyer pays for an item, then in theory thats there side of the transaction completed, so why should they not receive a postive straight away, what else do they need to fulfill!!!!!

    Finally, with FB changes on the way, good sellers with prosperous, while not so good sellers will suffer!!!!

    Roll on next week so πŸ™‚

  27. what is so special about a buyer paying, is it not what they are legally contracted to do, and something they actually need to do,

    as a seller I dont think I have done anything out of the ordinary or special ,when I send an item ,its something I am obliged and duty bound to do

  28. To an extent you are right North, but there is always an element of personal choice as to whether the buyer actually DOES buy from you in the first place. In real life, a buyer can walk around, see how you are treating your customers, get a feel of how nicely you keep your shop, and other such impressions that go to make up a decision on whether to buy there or not.

    On eBay of course, once price has been decided upon, feedback, and speed of response to questions asked, is about the only way to decide if that seller is someone you would choose to do business with or not.

    So I see feedback as an indicator for NEW business, rather than as any reward for FINISHED business.

  29. totally agree feedback is the life blood of any seller
    thats why I protect mine in way I can,
    that includes holding it hostage, I would even cut its ear off and send it to the buyer for the ransom, if I could

  30. I dont see how leaving feedback on payment builds trust or encourages a buyer to buy,
    if they receive feedback on payment they have already decided to buy and to pay, and trust you,
    so it is really the seller that is trusting the buyer

  31. yep thats why we are powersellers on multiple accounts and have more feedback than we can shake a stick at

  32. In our eyes, feedback is an indication that the transaction has completed satisfactorily.

    So looking at the views above, there are two different positions.

    One is that feedback is left because you are happy you have been paid.

    The other is that feedback is left because the transaction has concluded fully.

    So two mindsets and two opinions about Feedback.

    Now the interesting question is how do Ebay view feedback?

    Do they take the first view or the second (or possibly another view)?

    We will know soon probably πŸ™‚


    Time for some adapting soon I suspect.

  33. Hi Mark, it will certainly be interesting to see just what position eBay decide to take. πŸ˜•

    I do appreciate both points of view, both are perfectly acceptable, and anyway, everyone has their own way of working.

    However, I can only speak here based upon our own experience, in that we have so very few problems with our buyers (in single figures over 10s of thousands of sales) that there is very little risk for us, and that from a procedural point of view it is much easier to leave feedback the way that we do.

    Horses for courses, isn’t it?

  34. Hey Mark, you’ve just summed up the entire feedback debate in your opening few words “In our eyes……”

    That’s the root of every debate that’s ever occured regarding feedback, there are no rules, no guidance, no set ettiquette so everyone has a different unique view and of course everyone else is wrong πŸ˜›

  35. We will of course all just have to adapt either way to Ebays way πŸ™‚

    Remembering of course that they are still the best venue for a start up business on the internet. I think that is easy to forget sometimes.

    It is going to be interesting days ahead…


  36. 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.

  37. 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™‚

  38. 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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