Steve Grossberg, president of the Internet Merchants Association, has been having a rant about DSRS, “the star ratings”. Mr Grossberg’s complaint is that the shipping and handling costs criterion is commonly the lowest score amongst a seller’s DSRs, and that “it is totally unfair for a buyer to rate someone on something known in advance with 100% certainty”. I’ve been thinking about this this week as my own S&H rating fell from the heady heights of 4.9 to the gutter of 4.8. In my devastation, I began looking around for an explanation, and what I came up with was this: it’s precisely because buyers know the P&P/S&H charges in advance that they get lower scores.
I have a friend who does free shipping on all their items: their DSR for shipping cost is 4.8. How could you want better than free? How could free possibly be improved upon? You could look at this as â€œeBay buyers are crazy and even free isn’t good enough for some of themâ€, or you *could* see it as they got free shipping, exactly what they were expecting, no more and no less.
I think that because buyers know the S&H upfront, they never get â€œa nice surpriseâ€ on shipping fees. So it’s going to average out as â€œas expectedâ€ – whereas all the other criteria give the buyer a chance to have a better experience than they’re expecting. That’s why those criteria tend to be higher.
Amongst the rant, however, Mr Grossberg makes an absolutely superb suggestion:
I would rather see ebay replace this DSR with Would you buy from this seller again?
This, frankly, is a stroke of genius. Why bother with all the waffle, because what feedback is supposed to tell you is whether other buyers would recommend the seller. A five point scale (definitely, probably, maybe, probably not, definitely not) would tell you exactly that, without needing to take into account other people’s bizarre expectations about postage charges and dispatch times.
In fact, this one could do what many eBay sellers – some in jest and some not – have suggested: sellers should be able to leave DSRs for buyers too. “Would you deal with this person again?” It would be all the feedback we ever needed.