Feedback: some more thoughts

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On the internet, reputation is everything. Buyers want to know that merchants are trustworthy, and merchants want to demonstrate their trustworthiness. If someone’s had bad service, it’s easy for them to disseminate their bad opinion to anyone who cares to Google it. So it’s not surprising that online retailers who’ve begun their career on eBay often ask how they can port their reputation between venues: most frequently, they want to show their eBay feedback on their website.

A while back, we covered a widget that did just that: Auctionfb’s eBay feedback display shows your total and your percentage, and displays it’s daily ‘last checked’ date. Great idea, don’t you think? Not quite. While visiting another auction site recently, I spotted a seller using just this widget, so I clicked it. eBay say he’s NARU. But the widget gives no indication of that: just the total, 100%, and today’s date. Is this intentional, or a glitch? I asked Auctionfb for comment, but they haven’t come back to me. I just hope no one’s relying on this tool as a real indicator of seller reliability.

The user agreement currently says:

you agree that you shall not market or export your eBay feedback rating in any venue other than an eBay website. We do not allow you to import feedback from other websites to eBay because such feedback does not reflect your reputation within the eBay community.

which would make me question the legality of Auctionfb’s widget anyway.

But this “feedback is only for eBay” attitude also makes me think eBay are missing a big trick. “Feedback” is, after all, practically synonymous with “eBay”. It would be easy for them to become the de facto supplier of reputation across the entire internet: all they would need to do would be to allow sellers to allow their buyers to leave feedback for non-eBay transactions. It’d be a pretty easy job to add “leave me feedback on eBay” to my websites – and I’d do it like a shot. Leaving it on eBay, after all, assures other buyers that I’m not just deleting any bad comments: it preserves the integrity of the system. And really, with their current emphasis on social networks and Web 2.0 and off-site eBaying, you’d have thought this was something they’d have already done.

In fact, there’s a hint that they’re thinking about it, not for eBay, but for PayPal. Scot Wingo notes that Meg hinted at a reputation system for PayPal, and he’s right that this would be a great move for them, to tie merchants to the PayPal system more strongly.

I’m not convinced that PayPal’s quite the right place for this. It is, after all, a *payment* system, and I think that most buyers would view that as the end of the transaction; they want to know about reputation at the beginning. Tying that in with eBay itself would only help to make the eBay brand more prevalent across the net, and of course would give sellers an incentive to stick with them, if only for the sake of their reputation.

What do you think? Is this something you’d like to see eBay do? Or would you prefer to keep all your trading venues seperate?

One Response

  1. Thanks for addressing these possibilities. I am deeply disappointed with the new feedback changes. I have 7 years on eBay, 100% positive feedback, currently at 1683. My numbers are not the highest, my years are not the longest, still, it is what I would consider to be my visible goodwill. I worked hard to build my score, I am proud of it and I believe buyers respond well to it. That said, the new feedback changes will surely have an effect on my score. Numbers will only show a 12 month history, putting me in the same boat as a new seller. I understand the percentages will still be historical but it’s still not the same. With negative feedback only coming from the buyers now, it is destine to be abused. I disagree with the idea that Auctionfb’s reference would not be reliable. It sounds to me like the example you mentioned came from someone like me, who has 100% positive feedback. They left eBay and now this reference you saw was a snapshot of who they were while they were there. It’s still very valuable even though they are no longer a regisered user. They’ve moved on and good for them! Many more, I believe will be moving on. I am considering it myself, more seriously now than ever.
    I hope Google is watching. Their growing checkout system now offers fraud protection but no feedback or testimonials. I believe it is crucial for small business people, like myself, who are currently, or are planning to sell goods on their own web sites to have some sort of balance like feedback. If eBay implemented a separate feedback or testimonial system that could be subscribed to, I think it is the hugest missing link to selling on the web outside of the umbrella of a big site like eBay or Amazon. Great idea for a start up business! If eBay or Google doesn’t do it, someone else will. I just hope they do it soon! I’d be thrilled to be one of the first to subscribe to it for my new site, and, I’d be much more likely to browse and purchase from an individual site who had it.

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