It's time to scrap neutral feedback

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Are you looking for the eBay buyer who was sued for leaving neutral feedback?

When does a buyer give neutral feedback? Well often it’s because they’re hoping they won’t get a negative in return. At other times it’s simply a new eBayer that doesn’t realise how important a positive feedback is. It’s easy to think that the transaction was reasonable, but that they’ll save a positive for something truly outstanding.

There’s also the transaction where something went wrong, maybe the wrong size, the item was damaged or lost in transit, so the buyer was refunded. It’s perfectly natural for a buyer to think that the sale wasn’t good, it wasn’t bad, it was just neutral!

A month ago Sue posted that eBay are classing neutral feedback as a negative when measuring a seller against the Seller Non Performance policy. Now eBay have officially announced that this is the case.

So for the future is there any reason for eBay to keep the option of neutral feedback? They’re no longer willing to accept that some transactions could be ranked by a buyer as neutral, they’re either positive or negative (or neutral but counted as negative!).

Justus is wrong here, sometimes it’s an indication of dissatisfaction, but sometimes it’s not. Unlike positive and negative feedback, it’s ambiguous, if it’s to be considered as a negative then they they should MAKE it a negative.

eBay state that their goal is not to drive sellers off the site, but to assist them with suggestions “such as settling any open buyer dispute issues, refunding buyers when appropriate, asking for mutual feedback withdrawal when disputes have been resolved, etc.”

Justus says the goal is to help sellers “understand what to do to avoid problems, or resolve them after they’ve occurred”. In reality it’s too late for many sellers. If they’ve already fallen into the bottom 1% of sellers many of the transactions concerned are up to three months in the past. It also sounds like an open field for buyers to demand refunds in exchange for feedback withdrawal. This is tantamount to feedback extortion.

Once selling restrictions are in place it’s too late for sellers to improve details on auction listings, put faster shipping procedures in place or to increase customer communications. Those are the best practices that eBay highlight to increase buyer satisfaction. If you’re one of the sellers who’s account has been restricted you can’t trade your way out of trouble because you can no longer sell in volume. The only option left open to you is the feedback withdrawal route.

One thing is certain in the future there will be a lot more withdrawn feedback as sellers fight to make sure their overall percentage doesn’t drop. One neutral feedback today could be one too many in three months time!

It’s unclear how it will be implemented but detailed seller ratings will also be taken into account in the future. This will be even harder for sellers to manage. There is no visibility which buyer left the ranking and which products are producing better or worse ratings. It’s impossible to tell if one particular product line is causing major issues which need addressing.

The fact remains eBay now consider neutral feedback as a grey negative indicating an unhappy customer. It’s time to scrap neutral feedback in favour of a simple positive/negative choice.

16 Responses

  1. A further worrying point is that the new policy states too many Item Not Received complaints could also trigger account limitations. With the current Royal Mail strikes delaying mail and the apparent top-of-the-pile sorting, delayed post could trigger an unexpected run of Item Not Received complaints. It’s not unheard of for an entire mail sack to be lost by Royal Mail and again that could impact a seller who otherwise has received few or no complaints.

  2. Chris, I agree with you. Buyers would be forced to choose a positive or a negative and many who chose neutral before would simply not leave feedback any longer.

  3. Philipp Justus Senior Vice President, Auctions is an idiot and needs to learn that the sellers are just as important as the buyers. During the past year eBay has done everything to make it harder to sell and places all of the burden of proof on the seller. I’m a Power Seller and I’m always having to deal with buyers that are trying to scam the sellers, but nothing ever happens to them!!!!!! I bet you will start seeing buyers asking for a payback once they receive the items or they will threaten a negative response. A buyer with a large number of negatives doesn’t hurt them, but it kills a buyer!!!!!!! If this continues we will need to look for another auction website or develop one that treats the sellers better!!!!!!

  4. I agree

    and would add
    yet another and conclusive reason not to leave feedback first if your a seller

  5. I agree with Chris that is,

    and I agree with ebays stance concerning buyers.,
    buyers are critical ,not just important
    there is only seller that is important to me and thats me

  6. I don’t change my stance on feedback. In fact, this makes leaving feedback for buyers first even more of a USP than ever before.

  7. Something else also occurs to be, yet another reason for scrapping neutral feedback:

    If I see a seller with lots of withdrawn feedback I can’t see whether it was originally positive/neutral/negative.

    Not too many people withdraw positive feedbacks so the temptation is to assume it was negative (even if it may have been neutral!). That being the case if eBay are going to encourage withdrawals of neutrals they’ll look as if they were negatives so why not MAKE them negatives in the first place?

  8. Behind you 100% on this Chris – I’ve never understood the need for neutral ratings, and since the intro of DSR’s, neutrals are even more redundant due to the “hidden negatives” that can be left on the stars.

    …… still working on the new websites that will be our route out of eBay’s clutches ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. Someone just suggested in one of Randy’s comments that if neutrals count as negs, then transactions where no feedback’s left should be counted as pozzies. Sounds like a great idea to me ๐Ÿ˜€

  10. Reading through the new updated Seller Non-Performance page, in the examples section, it says –

    If a seller has refused to complete a sale, and payment has not been sent ….. report the seller.
    – so this means, if a buyer refuses to pay but demands the goods be sent anyway, and the seller refuses to send them, then the buyer can report the seller for non-performance and the seller could face selling restrictions imposed on them by eBay?

    If a buyer has paid for an item and has not received it, nor a refund, or believes the item was significantly misrepresented, they should refer to the eBay Item Not Received process.
    – Hang on a mo !!!!! The buyer has NOT received the item yet, but is being encouraged to report it as “significantly misrepresented” …… How can they report that if they’ve not yet seen the item?

    eBay seem more and more determined to rid the site of sellers – ANY AND ALL sellers.

  11. eBay seem more and more determined to rid the site of sellers – ANY AND ALL sellers

    Even when we’re at our most hacked off with eBay, Gaz, I think it pays to use a little bit of logic ๐Ÿ™

  12. Try reading it like this:

    If a buyer has paid for an item and has not received it, nor a refund they should refer to the eBay Item Not Received process.

    If a buyer believes the item was significantly misrepresented, they should refer to the eBay Item Not Received process.

    It’s what “or” means

  13. I think eBay’s feedback system really sucks anyway. It breaks the law and eBay just come back with “it does state in our terms and conditions that we are allowed to break the law”, by allowing publishing of libelious comments. Also once feedback is left it can’t be altered which is a really bad point. I got one feedback where the seller accussed me of false advertising, even though the item was exactly as described, it was just that he’d overbid for the item, it was a washing machine, described as used with a leaking seal, the person bid up to ร‚ยฃ80 for the machine, then came round the house shouted abusive comments to my mum, left me negative feedback and a e-mail threatening to come round and beat me up for trying to sell him it, I sold it to the previous bidder for the lowest bid she had put in before he got involved, as I thought it was only fair as had he not got involved the bidding wouldn’t have gone so high. She came round and was over the moon about it. I tried to proceed with a libel case against the person but was advised by solicitors to take it up with eBay as I had no contact details for this person, only his e-mail address and eBay name, eBay were not willing to divulge his details unless I got a court order (yeah right, like that’s going to happen!). Then recently I posted someone a sandwich on eBay from the World Scout Jamboree, I’d left him positive feedback as he’d been a fast payer, then I was quite shocked and disappointed when I saw that he’d left me negative just because Royal Mail had managed to squash it in the postal service, he didn’t even bother to contact me to see if something could be sorted out, and then further more when I contacted him regarding the problem he accussed me of blackmail and threatened to leave abusive follow up if his demands weren’t met and also said that he would have mutually agreed to remove the feedback had I not placed a follow up message about him leaving negative feedback without bothering to contact me to sort things out. I had 5 sandwiches left, so I’ve sent him all 5 this time in a box totally sealed up, with Fragile all over the box and keep upright, handle with care, all over it. Let’s hope Royal Mail don’t manage to mash that up.


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