There are five key areas that feedback will be changing in the next few months
From February when a customer demonstrates they’re happy with your service by returning to purchase again from you it’ll be reflected in your feedback score. In mid February eBay will start counting repeat feedback from customers (one per customer per week) towards your total feedback score. Later in the year your entire lifetime feedback score will be recalculated which will inevitably increase many sellers feedback by a large amount overnight.
No negatives for buyers
When buyers receive what they regard to be an unfair negative they often reduce their buying activity on eBay or leave the site entirely. Buyers are just as precious about their feedback as sellers and often refrain from leaving poor feedback for fear of retaliatory feedback.
An important point is that leaving a negative or neutral feedback for a buyer makes no difference to their buying ability. Sellers don’t routinely screen buyers for poor feedback on auctions, and it’s impossible on fixed price listings. Losing buyers hurts all sellers more than is gained by leaving negative feedback.
The impact of not being able to leave negative or neutral feedback is lessened by some further steps eBay have taken such as….
Removal of negative and neutral Feedback
If a buyer is suspended or fails to respond to the Unpaid Item Process all negative and neutral feedback they have left will be removed from the site (not just de-scored as currently happens). Sellers should always open unpaid item disputes for buyers who fail to pay for items as this is the surest way of indicating to eBay that there has been a problem. Buyers who fail to pay will be given a strike and repeated strikes will result in suspension and all negative/neutral feedback they have previously left erased. Great news for sellers with neutrals or negatives from buyers already suspended – these will be erased in May or June this year. Following on the Mutual Feedback Withdrawal system will be ended.
Positive Feedback percentage
The feedback percentage will be based on the previous 12 months Feedback instead of lifetime. This is to give buyers a more realistic and recent appreciation of how a seller is performing today, rather than how good they were ten years ago. Total feedback will still be displayed, but old negatives (from more than 12 months ago) will no longer be counted when calculating feedback percentages.
Restrictions on when Feedback can be left
Buyers will no longer be able to leave negative or neutral Feedback for three days following a transaction. Also Feedback can be left for 60 days instead of the current 90 days.
This is great news for sellers who may have been affected by auction wrecking in the past, eBay will have more time to spot suspicious buying patterns, erase transactions and suspend offenders before sellers feedback can be affected.
I can’t help but think eBay are making the right changes here. If buyers buy less, or leave eBay entirely, just for receiving a single negative it can’t be good for anyone, not the buyer, not sellers and not eBay.
Sellers should remember to use the tools provided such as Buyer Requirements to control which buyers can purchase, and the Unpaid Item Dispute process to issue strikes to non-paying bidders. eBay have also in the announcement reinforced the message that feedback extortion will not be tolerated.
In the long term I’d expect feedback to more accurately reflect transactions, and inevitably this will mean a widening in the range of feedback left. Currently most sellers have near 100% feedback records, but in future a few sellers may find their percentage slipping. The good news is that with old feedback discounted from calculations some sellers, who have improved in recent times, will see their feedback percentage rise.