eBay seller strike in the UK news

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The fee and feedback changes announced by eBay have generated discussion around the world. Now the main stream media such as the BBC and the Telegraph are picking up on the story.

Of course the news that eBay UK have lowered fees for almost every type of listing which all sellers will benefit from has almost been glossed over. The headlines are focusing on feedback and the threatened strike by eBay sellers. Radio 5 Live were also covering the story today, but again wanted to highlight sellers who were unhappy not being able to leave negative feedback for buyers.

I’m still at a loss as to why sellers would strike, not listing for a week may cost eBay a little in fees but it’s not going to convince them to back track on the changes. The only people that will be hurt by striking is the sellers themselves who will lose their income for a week (that’s unless they’re busy listing on their other User Ids as is rumoured to have occured on previous “strikes”).

I can fully understand peoples concerns that they may receive negative or neutral feedback from buyers and that in the past the ability to return the favour may have made buyers think twice. That however is exactly the reason for the feedback change. Sellers who gives great services are proud to have exemplary feedback, surely those sellers should be even prouder of an exemplary feedback record where buyers can rate them without feed of a retaliatory neg?

Having great feedback because buyers are scared to make their feelings known is not only worthless, it’s not a true reflection of your service. Having great feedback from buyers who can comment openly, truthfully and without fear of retaliation is going to be much more valuable in attracting future customers.

It’s a shame that the fantastic fee cuts which will benefit all sellers are being overshadowed by the minority concerned about feedback changes. But honestly, apart from oneupmanship and getting the last word in, just what did negging a buyer ever do for anyone? Is it really worth getting so worked up over?

45 Responses

  1. I completely disagree. Feedback is a necessary mechanism of the eBay community. Buyers should be required to show transparency as much as sellers. I only leave negative feedback in the event of non payment. 75% of the time this affects users with 0 feedback. Giving them a negative takes them to -1 which automatically prevents them from bidding on most other auctions as sellers usually have their buyer requirement preferences setup to prevent this.

    More importantly, however, I feel that negative feedback is a necessary tool for buyers/accounts where a fraudulent purchase has been made. We all know that eBay are completely useless in dealing with fraudulent accounts. Giving a user negative feedback in this event immediately warns other sellers and it quickly becomes obvious when an account is being used maliciously.

    I think the fee changes have been used as a veil for what is a very significant change, and one that eBay knew would cause uproar.

    The fact remains is that it has proven extremely unpopular with sellers, and given eBay’s performance in recent years I think they should more concerned with keeping SELLERS happy, not buyers.

  2. Hi James, I’d completely agree with you bar one small point

    “Giving a user negative feedback in this event immediately warns other sellers and it quickly becomes obvious when an account is being used maliciously.”

    Sadly I never check buyers feedback until *after* the transaction, it’s just not possible to check it until they have placed a bid or BIN. If it were then I’d be with you all the way, but seeing as it isn’t it’s not worth losing the majority of buyers who sellers inflict retaliatory feedback on compared to the tiny amount who fit your criteria.

    Also sellers can still issue unpaid item strikes which if a buyer gets a few of are a much surer way of getting them kicked off ebay than a couple of negs (and then any feedback they’ve left for sellers will be removed 😀 )

  3. Chris, what is the deal with Feedback? On Amazon barely 10% of buyers even leave feedback. Most Amazon customers don’t make a decision to buy based on FB.

    It hasn’t hurt the buyer experience on Amazon. I’m a seller advocate but this obsession with FB is senseless to me. FB does not pay your bills.

  4. “What is the deal with Feedback?” You tell me Randy – I’m not the one about to strike, worried it’ll affect my income, or telling the national press I’m upset because eBay won’t let me neg my buyers in the future.

    You’re totally correct – feedback doesn’t pay the bills. Paying buyers do that and the more the merrier and any reason that might stop them carrying on paying the bills is bad for everyone… isn’t it?

  5. James – “they should more concerned with keeping SELLERS happy, not buyers.” are you serious with that comment?

    Of course it is in ebays interest to make the site user friendly for sellers as well as buyers, but putting sellers comfort before the “buyer experience”, is not only shortsighted but akin to putting the cart before the horse.

    Fraud/awkward customers are a problem no matter what business you are in, identity/ID hijacking is more relevant to ebay sellers than many other business, but other business can be on the receiving end of fraud of differing types. For example, if you got given a duff £20 note in a Coffee shop (I used to own one) and did not notice until it was too late, it is very frustrating/annoying and even if you could be SURE that the person did it on purpose, you would look pretty silly putting a big picture of the perpetrator up in the shop window with a big red no entry sign next to their face and some suitably disparaging comment and you would look even sillier if you followed this approach when someone complained about an area of your service! Yet by retaliatory “negs” on ebay this is exactly what you would be doing. This is why ebay have made this change and that is all, it is keep buyers buying and that is Numero Uno Rulio! Personally I think we should invest more time in fine tuning our offering so that the opportunities to receive a neg are diminished, rather than stressing over losing the ability to “neg” a customer!

  6. I appreciate your point regarding not viewing the feedback until after the transaction, but usually when I spot a discrepancy with the purchase, the first place I look is the feedback. In the past it’s been useful in identifying fraudulent buyers or those who may be inclined to mess you about.

    Another concern I have about this is that buyers will be much quicker to leave negative feedback than before. They may even leave it maliciously, safe in the knowledge there is no recourse from the seller. We have all come across buyers that are completely off their rocker. Sometimes the only defence against those types of buyers is retaliatory feedback.

  7. “We have all come across buyers that are completely off their rocker. Sometimes the only defence against those types of buyers is retaliatory feedback.”

    eBay state that sellers are eight times more likely to leave a retaliatory neg than buyer. That actually tends to imply that eight times more sellers are off their rockers than buyers 🙁

    Also just because you have a difficult transaction with a buyer doesn’t mean that I will and vice versa. If you check buyers feedbacks (for buyers that have a neg) they’ll more times than not have sucessful transactions (with positive feedback) both prior to and after they received the neg which tends to suggest that they *are* a good buyer.

    Why risk losing a buyer from eBay just because *one* seller has a difficulty with them? Surely you wouldn’t want to lose a potential sale because I upset a buyer who could be a perfect customer when trading with you? Certainly I don’t want to lose a good buyer because a transaction with another seller didn’t go smoothly.

  8. Chris, I agree with you. If buyers stay because they are no longer worried about getting a neg then the good sellers will benefit.

    I can’t understand why sellers are not more interested in talking about the fee changes.

    In the UK they are for the most part very favorable. On the US site 60% of sellers get a break 40% don’t. Sellers are spending all of their time worried about leaving a Neg for a psycho buyer. Just block the bidder and move on. Sure we will see FB ratings going down to the low 90’s instead of the high 90’s and eBay managment will have to adjust but the good sellers will still have higher FB then the bad sellers.

    And before anybody takes me to task about my view on FB. GlacierBayDVD had a 265,000 FB rating with a total of 500,000 positive FB and we never left NEGs

  9. I think the notion that buyers are not using eBay because they are fearful of receiving negative feedback, or had a bad psycological experience after receiving a negative feedback is misguided.

    My main point here is that sellers should be allowed to leave negative feedback so that ‘rogue’ buyers can be easily identified; whether they be fraudulent, malicious or simply out to p*** people off.

    I fully accept that one sellers experience with a buyer cannot determine another sellers experience with that buyer, but I have seen plenty of feedback profiles where multiple sellers have had bad experiences with buyers because they are just inconsolable.

    It is in other seller’s interests to be able to identify these kind of buyers so they know what to expect; and in the event of a malicious or unfounded comment, have the ability to retaliate.

  10. Remember Richard posting that he thought this would be the end of feedback threads? Oh, how VERY wrong he was 😀

    Me, I’m sticking to my previously stated position that running things for the bad minority is a poor idea, and we should run things for the good majority. The only multiple-negged buyers I’ve ever seen have already been NARU; but on the other hand I have met many, many buyers who have been put off using eBay because they’ve been negged by a bad seller.

  11. Yes, lets not go crazy with “fee cuts”. In N America the Non gallery using core sellers (especially toward lower prices/high sale rate) are getting severely raked over by the increase.

    The feedback is a big deal being made over nothing (ebay caused the severe current problem when they started ‘mutual withdrawal) I’m shocked complaint posts on .com/ca are probably 50-1 feedback complaint instead of fees, when there are a lot facing an increase, some a severe increase.

  12. Wouldn’t hiding feedback until both parties leave it (or time expires) achieve the result in a fairer way?

  13. I am one of those orrible sellers who holds feedback hostage

    i see it as common sense , I dont like being caught with my knickers round my ankles,

    I am cold and calculating apout it if withholding feedback reduces my negative feedback score , I am doing it, I look on it much the same as shipping fast, correct description, or customer service ,reduces my negative feedback score ,

    though if ebay take my ability to leave negatives away. I am more than happy to suck it and see,

  14. though as an experiment on another Id I am leaving feedback on payment, which in effect is much the same as being unable to leave negative

    it make my eyes water a little when zero feedback buyers pay, though so far its been a positive experiance

  15. We sell outside ebay on our own site and on Amazon and on both of those outlets we can’t leave negative feedback for buyers either. I know what you’re thinking – they don’t have a feedback system on their site???? 🙂

    On a serious note though I agree with Sue and Chris (I think if I remember correctly that Chris leaves feedback on dispatch and it doesn’t seem to have done him any harm?) that this will bring more buyers to ebay and more buyers and less dodgy sellers is a good thing.

    If you give very good service you’ve got nothing to worry about. Have you?

  16. (Having great feedback because buyers are scared to make their feelings known is not only worthless, it’s not a true reflection of your service.)

    And ALL buyers having 100% feedback is also worthless.

  17. I hate to say this, but buyers feedback is little more than a marketing exercise to keep them coming back to the site. Unlike sellers feedback you can’t choose your buyers until it’s too late and they’ve already bid.

    I’m guessing the only reason eBay haven’t scrapped buyer feedback entirely is because they like getting their next feedback star just as much as sellers do 😉

  18. Whilst I am of the never-give-a-buyer-a-neg-just-a-strike school, I do think that there is a distinct difference between auctions on eBay (not BIN, just the auction format) and buying on other ecommerce sites.

    Let’s say I buy on Amazon (which is the main contender for Prime-Comparison-for-Feedback-Site). I register, buy my book or whatever, but then I am expected to pay for it before it becomes a firm sale.

    On eBay in the auction format however, I have to keep my fingers crossed that the winning buyer WILL pay me. The purchase is firm before the buyer pays up, which is unlike any other eCommerce site that I have ever visited that is supplying the general public – I accept that BTB sites like Viking may have account facilities available where payment is in arrears, but these are carefully vetted and approved beforehand.

    Although we (by whom I mean Chris and me in particular) may not bother to check our bidders’ history before the end of the auction, a lot of people do and will block any bidder they don’t like the look of. So, playing devil’s advocate here I suppose, after thinking about it in someone elses shoes, I am starting to think the anti-no-neg brigade may have a point…. 😕

    Or have I got it wrong?

  19. What happens in the following instance when negative feedback cannot be left by the seller:

    You publish and item for sale, its sold and you post it. Your add does NOT offer insurance, or specify recorded deliver etc… The package arrives with the buyer but they tell you the item was damaged in the post. OK even though you don;t offer insurance out of goodwill you decide to change the item. The buyer posts it back to you by normal post and you don’t receive it. The seller will not post a replacement until the damaged goods are returned. Now you can be sure the buyer will leave you negative feedback even though you’ve done nothing wrong?????

  20. tricky one…

    but if the item was worth more than a tenner, I would say make sure your buyer sends back by a registered method (you will be refunding them their return postage anyway as it is damaged, won’t you 😀 ) and if it is worth less than a tenner, refund regardless and put it down to PR…

  21. Cheers but the idea of EBAY is to make things untricky and as risk free as possible. It was the post who damaged it so why should my feedback score be affected as a seller. Maybe Ebay should have feedback scores for items bought and items sold?, this way users get a better idea whether your a good buyer or seller?
    Am i allowed to post a major complaint i have about PAYPAL on this blog ???????? It’s a good one 😛

  22. Hi Mark, if they buyer has returned an item to you and it’s lost in the post they should really claim from the Royal Mail just as you could have done should they lost an item you sent out.

    On the seperate feedback scores eBay already have that – pick any item from any seller and click their feedback score. It’ll take you to their feedback as a seller excluding their buying feedback 🙂

    Feel free to email me re the PayPal complaint – chris at tamebay dot com

  23. Chris, that explains my point. They shoudl claim against RM but i still get the neg feedback. Will email you now about Paypal.

  24. Josordoni, I’m not the one who posted the item which got lost. They buyer posted it by normal delivery, what proof do i have it was posted in the first place?

  25. I think that more of an issue is the abilty of a non payer to leave feedback at all.

    I sold an item, collection only. The buyer then said it was too far to come to collect. The location was in the auction.

    I did the UPI and got a snotty email from the buyer. I issued the neg for non payment and duly got one back along with a hammering on my DSR.

    I know it was that buyer because it was the only item that I’d sold on an ID that is little used for selling.

    What had I done wrong?

  26. Hi Mark – sorry I am not being clear here…

    if the item was damaged in the post, I suggest you should probably have claimed from the RM in the first place. Usually the RM want the item and packaging returned to them, so I would wait to hear from the RM before asking the buyer to return the item either to me (if I wanted to inspect it before sending it on to RM myself) or directly to RM via their freepost address.

  27. The fee discounts will be hard to achieve, due to the rating system ebay uses. 5 stars is ranked as excellent and 4 is good, a seller needs 4.6 average to achieve the discounts, this is going to be very hard to achieve purely because buyers may not understand the true cost of sending a large or fragile item for instance… so how will most ebayers try to ramp up there seller ratings??? by including free P&P, but as the fees are taken from the item price and not P&P ebay will be taking a higher fee, so the end customer will lose out in the long term as sellers manage their profits and ebay will benefit as higher prices mean higher fees. The whole exercise is set to increase ebay profits and wont benefit anyone outside of ebay corp in the long term.

    On the issue of neg feedback for sellers, I believe it serves as a reminder to all that your dealing with another person – whom can leave an equal comment to yours, it breeds a feeling of community which is why many prefer to deal on ebay than through a normal website. However people shouldnt be discourage to leave their own thoughts and getting a neg when you’ve had no choice but to leave one is a bitter pill, but ebays stats prove nothing – as a lot of members that get negs and then no longer buy is probably due to the number of fraudulent ebayers that try it on then leave once a few members twig.

  28. …….a very interesting discussion, however its worth noting that this particular stupid move by ebay has now been reported OUTSIDE ebay, such is the level of anger and disbelief at yet another nail in the coffin for ebay. Just view the powerseller message boards to measure the anger, although with experience, ebay will NOT listen and will NOT do anything.
    Feedback is the cornerstone of ebay, why play with it? I am a powerseller, but i sometimes buy too. …and yes, There have been soooooo many times that i have received items that were not up to scratch, and the seller refused to refund, but i could not leave a neg to warn others, as i would get one back. …however as a SELLER that have been loads of times i have wanted to neg someone for not paying etc, but i cant. Personally i think feedback should be scrapped altogether. Like someone above said, amazon dont really bother with it at all, but they seem to regulate more, whereas ebay dont give a monkeys, as long as they get their fees. …….and that brings me nicely along the subject of fees. EBAY HAVE NOT LOWERED THE FEES, THEY HAVE RAISED THEM. and you dont have to have a maths degree to work that one out. They are greedy. They are just a website, why do they need to raise fees? If they didnt waste money on buying rubbish like the site stumbleupon, FOR UMPTEEN MILLION, THEY WOULD NOT HAVE TO RAISE FEES……


  29. I have been on ebay for years and i believe there are 50% cranks on there buying. I am merley fedup of taking negs for royal mail losing parcels. Poeople not insuring there parcels. Paypal not covering my sales as buyers are unconfirmed. I also have 2 websites and i get non of the abuse off the buyers as i do on ebay. everyday i get emails.If i dont do this or dont respond or get it there within next hour i will neg you. ebay stinks and buyers want everything for nothing. They want you to insure and track and decline every insurance and tracking for parcels then have the cheek to ask for tracking. I hate ebay and its ebay customers. Sellers cant even claim postage fees back but get refunded every time then expect you to pay and send again free of charge. This does not happen on websites. More cranks galore welcoming to ebay.

  30. if royal mail had a feedback. it would be -0, if ebay had feedback it would be -300. if paypal had feedback it would be -000000 rip off. the wholelot stinks. welcome to the world of wholesalers and china world. how can uk compete with china. but like having china tesco next to uk tesco.

    most stuff is fake on there. old crap. and stolen. if you sell anything the company take you off anyway. crap paypal crap ebay sucks

  31. I have a suspicion I’m going to regret asking this but couldn’t you just send everything insured & not give your buyers the choice of uninsured delivery?

  32. Hi
    let me make this simple I have 100% feedbak on ebay but feel that ebay are taking my option away by not letting me neg a bad buyer. I spend great efforts in my listing to make sure a buyer understands my listing pointing out they have to pay from confirmed paypal account which they ignore and then proceed to threaten me with a neg if I do not send the item. I have people from other countries purchasing my items when it quite clearly states not for sale outside the uk again threats of negs then I have even had ebayers who no longer want the item and when I issue a non paying bidders they just threaten you with a neg. so why should I not be able to warn honest ebays of this.
    and do not forget bthat all these bad buyers leave me with fees to pay of which I only get a percentage back if I fight for it. its not a matter of retalliation but helping to keep other users informed. and I can tell you some of some bad buyers who even try mailing you outside ebay with threats and on the odd occasion threatening phone calls. what I can promise without any doubt is that my proud 100% feedback score will be full of negs after may from buyers who have been given permission to play god. what more can the seller do, at present you buy an item from me it is shipped the same day and then you demand a refund cos royal mail did not deliver it the next day.
    or they did not like the colour of your packaging.
    I should have the right to reply because ebay do not give you an easy way to sort your problems out.

  33. Some great responses here. Has anyone ever thought lately that if you trawl sellers message boards or groups on ebay, especially the powerseller board (!), there are a LOT of unhappy sellers, myself included. OK. Its obvious that ebay will NOT listen, in fact it stopped listening to sellers a long time ago. So many people are unhappy, why cant everyone sort of get together and do something about it? I would think the damp squib that is the ebay “strike” will probably be a victim of apathy, which is a shame, but they are a multi billion dollar business, i dont think they are going to miss a weeks worth of fees, from a few sellers.

    There is only one way to for me. 1) Stop selling on ebay 2) Get my own website selling stuff or 3) Find a credible alternative to ebay, with plenty of buyers. I would prefer the last one, but i have looked at a few other auction sites and none has the amount of categories that ebay do, and none have the traffic.

    So whats a boy to do?????

    Is there an alternative to ebay, or will there be one, or, do you think anyone would be brave enough to build one????????

    Any ideas?

  34. Here is an alternative from Canada which is spreading globally.
    Now it isn’t a direct replacement and does require some sellers to re-think their business model, but it revolves around trading locally and meeting the buyer/seller as you transact. If you look them in the eye and you don’t trust them – don’t deal with them.
    Oh and the fees are zero. Yes £0 !

  35. Hi, it’s all very well saying, “Just send everything insured”. Has anyone checked out the prices being charged by the Royal Mail these days? Absolutely scandalous, often the postage ends up more than the item being sold. Airsure or International Signed For – are you kidding, who’s going to pay that unless the item is worth a fortune? As for the recent policy changes, let’s not fool ourselves. It’s all about greedy eBay shareholders as usual. Factoring in the epic greed of Paypal (especially on International transactions) and the beyond-belief mess that has been made of our postal services (nothing against the lads on the ground who do the best they can but you can smell the stench of the management from here) and for sellers of certain items it’s pretty much pointless trading on eBay anymore. So much hassle, so little profit. Anyway, I shut my shop and will go elsewhere and anyone else who feels like they are being milked might consider doing likewise. Only through their pockets can you ever attract the attention of eBay. Shame we can’t give them feedback.

  36. Feedback is necessary but eBay seems to safeguard mainly buyers and not sellers. You will find that a good percentage of negative feedbacks given by buyers are from new and with little experience buyers. At one point eBay were supposed to take off anyone with 3 or more negative feedbacks in any one month. This is not happening and some “crooks” (it goes both ways) are good for a while and – suddenly, become really dishonest. If only eBay were taking comments seriously and replying to email fast enough the feedback issues could become a safer matter.

  37. At one point eBay were supposed to take off anyone with 3 or more negative feedbacks in any one month.
    When was that, Max? I’ve been on eBay for more than eight years now, and I’ve never heard of that rule.

  38. Danny – “Hi, it’s all very well saying, “Just send everything insured”. Has anyone checked out the prices being charged by the Royal Mail these days?”

    Yes I have – because everything sold on one of my accounts is sent via the appropriate RM insured service. I pass the costs onto my buyers & have not had a single complaint about my postage rates – I have a 4.8 DSR rating for that category on the account in question.

    Also, In regards to PayPal being a ‘rip-off’, I’ve recently been comparing their merchant rates to other online payment services & can’t say I find them to be particularly expensive in comparison. And as I’m better off under eBays’ new fees, I couldn’t care less whether they were motivated by altruism, keeping shareholders happy, or any other reason.

    Max – I think you may be confusing it with the rule that if someone had a total feedback score of -3 their account is suspended?

  39. The fee reduction that you describe as being brilliant is a complete sham. The fact is that ebay have actually RAISED the cost of selling on ebay by raising the Final Value Fee by 2.25% at the lowest teer for sales upto £14.99

    This has increased the cost to the seller on a sale of £14.99 from a Final Value Fee of £0.79 to a whopping £1.12 and increase of £0.33

    Even if you allow for your excitement of the lower insertion fee, this still represents an overall rise of 2.25% in the cost of selling an item priced at £14.99

    Please explain how this represents a saving.

    On the subject of feedback, I own a shop on ebay and have recently been given a nuetral by a buyer because they did NOT read the advert correctly, at the moment I can leave a neutral or neg to reflect the fact that the buyer is at fault.

  40. You’re discounting your sell through rate. If you sold 100% of your listings first time then yes, but if you take into account that a percentage of your listings will take two, three or more relists before they sell then you’ll make fee savings as per the graph below.

    Also you’ve ignored any back end discounts that may apply.

    As to the feedback why are you so keen to leave a black (or red/grey) mark against your buyers name? Does it really make a difference? It certainly won’t prevent them from buying from future sellers, and if they use BIN sellers don’t even have the chance to cancel bids. (It’s much more effective to make use of the unpaid item process issuing strikes where appropriate. 😉 )

  41. Hi Chris, thing is, when was it ever a worse case scenario to sell all your stock at the first attempt?

    It’s still a price increase no matter how it’s dressed up.

    As for the neg thing, no I do not wish to leave my buyers negs for completing smooth transactions, but why should I, as a seller, be penalised when the mentally challenged buy an item from me, that is clearly described with measurements given in mm, but who still leaves me a neutral with the comment:

    Thought it would be bigger

    Flipping the argument, why should this buyer be allowed to leave potentially detrimental feedback due to a lack of their own ability to read something as simple as a piece of text, then take this information and apply it to a tape measure before buying?

    As for the unpaid item process I make full use of this whenever a buyer does NOT pay.

    Unfortunately ebay’s one sided system allows a buyer to prevent a non payment strike being awarded by simply entering a response which could be as basic as a full stop (.)

    The whole NPB system is flawed in that regard and I also fail to see why I should not leave a non paying bidder a neg after all it’s the least they deserve for preventing a genuine buyer from ordering the same item.

    Ebay need to realise that sellers are their (ebays) customers not those who buy from people who place adverts on what is (if you believe the hype) a venue.

    Through misguided policies such as fee increases and feedback removal sellers will find other venues to sell their wares to the detriment of Ebay’s business.

    I foresee a scenario where Ebay will become synonymous with counterfeit and bootleg items together with junk out the loft sellers.

    I genuinely feel that ebay do not care at all about the “selling” experience on ebay and are ignoring sellers at their peril.

    They are already removing people from message boards who have the temerity to question their arogant attitude.

    Apologies if I have gone slightly off topic and thanks for your response.


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