Retaliatory negs with mutual withdrawal not acceptable

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There have been some interesting discussions regarding feedback since eBay started to include neutrals as negatives in their seller non-performance criteria. eBay are still insisting that a neutral is valid and not the same as a negative, whilst in the next sentence insisting that only a positive feedback is indicative of a satisfied customer.

Inevitably many sellers are assessing the order in which they leave feedback and waiting for buyers to leave feedback first. The reason of course is that if they want the buyer to be wary about leaving negative or neutral feedback in the knowledge it’s likely they’ll get one back. At worst some sellers will routinely retaliate to both negative and neutral feedback with a negative. Often in the past this has been followed with a mutual feedback withdrawal request, to erase the negative from the sellers record. Now eBay are warning that this is not an acceptable practice.

Improper use of mutual feedback compounds what’s already a bad problem: A seller ships an item that’s defective, the buyer gets the item and leaves a negative feedback because it’s defective, after trying to communicate with the seller and the seller is unresponsive. When the buyer has left a negative feedback the seller leaves a negative in retaliation (even though they actually shipped a defective product) and then immediately follows with a mutual feedback withdrawal request to try and get the appropriate negative removed. That is actually inappropriate use of the system and we do have abusive mutual feedback withdrawal policies in place. If we see that we will take more serious corrective action than the seller non-performance policy because the feedback system is so important.

eBay Vice-President of Trust and Safety Matt Halprin in AuctionBytes interview

This is a new policy announcement by eBay, currently neither the Feedback Abuse and Removal page nor the Mutual Feedback Withdrawal Information mentions abuse of mutual feedback withdrawal.

Sellers need to be aware that eBay are expecting to see more mutual withdrawals of feedback, in fact they’re insisting upon it for sellers that fall under the seller non-performance criteria. At the same time they should be aware that eBay are monitoring sellers to ensure they’re not abusing the feedback system. Sellers should be resolving issues and not blackmailing buyers into mutual withdrawal by leaving retaliatory negative feedback.

12 Responses

  1. You can only do five MFWs per month, so it’s hard to see how anyone could really be systematically abusing the system in that case.

  2. By that rationale, surely it is as unacceptable for a buyer to leave a neutral or negative when they have already been left a positive?

    Or is feedback abuse just a sellers crime?

    Yet more tinkering from a *cough* venue…

  3. if I give a neg I mean it, and its deserved, I dont and wont withdraw it under any circumstance

  4. I have one MW and thats for a Neutral a buyer left by mistake who was concience striken so I agreed.

    I never intend or Have wanted to do another
    cant see what the fuss is about
    mutual feedback withdrawal is a bad idea and not needed at all IMHO

  5. Hopefully they actually do follow through with some enforcement of this. Its obvious many sellers are only able to maintain their ratings by withholding fb for the threat of retaliating with negs and following through when necessary to extort withdrawals, making a mockery of the whole system. Talk like this would suggest we may well see the “double blind” previously mentioned.

  6. i maintain my rating with good customer service and honesty

    i dont need to manipulate or coerce

  7. >>>>>>A seller ships an item that’s defective, the buyer gets the item and leaves a negative feedback because it’s defective, after trying to communicate with the seller and the seller is unresponsive.

    So why not make it MANDATORY for a buyer to file a SNAD or some other official complaint with eBay before they drop a neg on a seller? Why not give the seller a chance to fix whatever problem you say you have?

    If you leave me a neg, I had a negative experience dealing with you and you should get a neg in return. Even if I’ve already left a positive, I should have the ability to change my initial feedback to a negative, to reflect the new paradigm.

  8. So why not make it MANDATORY for a buyer to file a SNAD or some other official complaint with eBay before they drop a neg on a seller?

    Personally I’d like to see it made mandatory that a buyer/seller were obligated to send an email via “My Messages” prior to leaving a negative or neutral feedback. That would remove a large proportion of “hasty” or “newbie” feedback errors where feedback is used as a form of communication or cry for help and allow the seller/buyer an opportunity to address the situation. It could be followed with an eBay generated automatic email feedback reminder to resubmit (if not already done) a set time in the future.

  9. They (eBay) are never going to make Feedback beneficial for the seller. In their current view, Sellers are held to a different standard than buyers. Of course this is contrary to Pierre’s original motivation for creating Feedback. Pierre seems to be far removed from eBay these days. If I was the founder and Chairman of the Board of eBay I would be raising hell or moving on.

    Sellers, that horse (feedback) left the barn long ago. In eBay’s view (just for the marketplace not their own dealings with sellers), “The Customer is Always Right”.

    I am so glad I no longer sell on eBay

  10. Hey Randy, have you ever heard the time honoured way of treating customers?

    “The Customer is Always Right (even when they’re wrong)” 😉

    In my opinion buyers are the most important commodity that eBay have and I do err slightly towards eBay looking after them more than sellers. If they lose half their buyers the site would be crippled, if they lose half their sellers new ones will take up the slack.

    Having said that the latest developments on seller non-performance don’t seem to have been implemented as smoothly and well thought out as they could have been.

  11. I’ve got to say, the biggest problem with the changes eBay are making is the way they’re communicating them to sellers.

    Firstly, in many cases they’re *not* communicating them to sellers – or at least, not til months after the policy change. As Randy put it, “They only communicate when there is sufficient stink around their decision or action.”

    Secondly, although their changes are allegedly about bringing more buyers to the site, making eBay a better place to trade, and giving buyers more confidence in eBay, which will benefit sellers greatly, this is not what they’re communicating. If you read what Justus, Halprin et al are saying, it’s all “stick” for sellers and no “carrot”. Result? Pissed off sellers, buyers who read these press releases that say “Sellers Are Bad, look, even eBay themselves say so”… and a site that’s not improved by anything they’ve done.

    Bay need to stop saying they need to get better at communicating, and bloody well do it!


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