Neutral feedback to be counted as negative

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A post on the eBay Developers’ Blog reveals some more details about the feedback changes coming in May. As we already knew, percentage calculations will now be on the last 12 months’ activity, not the entire lifetime of an eBay account. The formula used to calculate that percentage will now be “all positive Feedback earned in the past year by all positive, neutral and negative Feedback” (emphasis mine). Currently, neutrals do not count at all in the percentage calculation. If this new calculation brings a seller’s feedback percentage to below 98%, they will lose PowerSeller status, and thus FVF discounts.

Neutral is no longer neutral

This change is going to leave a lot of people questioning what the point of neutral feedback is. eBay have previously said that neutrals allow buyers to leave a non-positive feedback without the damage of a negative. This is obviously not the case any more: a neutral is just as damaging as a negative under the new calculation.

Sadly, I don’t think buyers will see it like that. Many neutrals are left simply because the buyer’s assumptions were incorrect, because something outside the seller’s control (delivery time) wasn’t quite satisfactory, or even because the transaction was ‘just ordinary’. As the leaver of my very first neutral told me, “don’t get your knickers in a knot, it’s only a neutral”. Except now it isn’t.

It’s time to get rid of neutral feedback once and for all; if buyers want to complain, they can leave negative feedback, and they can mark down DSRs. Giving them this ‘negative lite’ score which they believe doesn’t really matter is only encouraging them to damage sellers’ livelihoods without realising what they’re doing.

Limits on when feedback can be left

The Developers’ Blog says “We’ll block buyers from leaving negative or neutral Feedback for 7 days for active PowerSellers who have been on eBay for at least 12 months.” Whatever this actually means, it’s good news.

The feedback changes page says “A time limit should be placed on how quickly negative and neutral Feedback can be left.” I assume therefore the limit is seven days from the date of the sale, rather than – say – buyers indicating they want to leave negative feedback having to wait seven days before that feedback appears on the site.

eBay comment that this should “drive positive feedback”. I don’t think this is true: most genuine negatives are left more than a week after the transaction, when it has become obvious that the seller can’t or won’t make things right. But it will help to stop feedback extortion: quite why that should be limited to long-term PowerSellers, I can’t really see.

Help for sellers

As has been previously announced, there are several tweaks to the system being made which should help sellers limit the problems they have to deal with:

  • sellers can block buyers who have two unpaid item strikes in the last 12 months
  • sellers will be able to block buyers who have been reported for feedback extortion and email threats
  • blocked bidder lists are increasing in capacity from 1000 IDs to 5000.

How will this affect you? Are you – like me – waving goodbye to all your 100% scores? Or do you still believe that feedback doesn’t really matter? Leave us a comment.

40 Responses

  1. Right then ,
    I am off
    to prostrate myself in a public place,
    anyone and everyone that has anything to do with, or buys on ebay ,can come round and interfear with me ,choose any orifice they desire to abuse , they can act out their most perverse & worst fantasy, with no fear or retribution

    cos I am an ebay seller ,thats what I deserve and expect

  2. I really think ebay has got this very wrong

    they should restrict negative feedback to buyers not remove it entirely

    using paypal as the criteria

    for example ,
    if the buyer has not paid. negative feedback should be available to a seller
    if they pay only a neutral feedback should be available to sellers

  3. hmm, I have a feeling that 100%’s are going to be rarer that rocking horse poop after the feedback changes anyway. Simply because buyers WILL be more likely to neg you if they feel protected from a retaliatory neg. Whether you would have done so or not is mostly immaterial, unless you have a very regular and “connected” customer base. Now with the fact that a neut is just a neg with a different name and that buyers often leave a neut thoughtlessly then feedback rating will drop. As I have already had one neut, I will be gutted when my 100% goes, I’m VERY proud of it. ๐Ÿ™ ๐Ÿ˜ฅ ……….

  4. ……. ๐Ÿ˜€ But then the 100% will be gone, and within a day or two I’ll be over it. Providing I continue offering a better customer service than my competitors, the benchmark for who is an excellent seller will shift downwards, and I’ll still look better than the crappy sellers. ๐Ÿ˜€

  5. 100%

    means little to us
    the lack of insight into a buyers behaviour and M,O from feedback
    is the big loss, poor
    feedback confirming your suspicions, and how to deal with them, will now be a thing of the past

  6. You know, I have just about had enough of all these “changes”. Good or bad etc, I dont care anymore. I am just going to keep my head down and sell sell sell.

  7. Is anyone from ebay (who were quoted as saying sellers were their customers last week) going to explain why the netral stays? Yes, ok, we all know the answer to that one but it just isn’t good enough is it.

    They go on about the buyer experience etc. – how about ours as their buyers using ebay services?

  8. “sellers can block buyers who have two unpaid item strikes in the last 12 months ”

    its easy to have a few hundred buying accounts, blocking non payers is a crutch for your paranoia and a delusion,
    I suppose the above answers my comment about lack of negative feedback too
    so its sell sell sell
    like biggles here to

  9. Same here.

    Keep selling, keep listing and let the dust settle…

    We haven’t changed our strategy at all recentely.

    So we have an increase in fees.

    But still cheaper than rent on a high street and more customers.

    So no complaints.

    Its not the system its the stock you have that makes you a success or not IMO.

  10. It’s quite clear what eBay are doing here. Counting neutrals will push many sellers into the below 98% bracket, meaning they will not be Powersellers any more. Less Powersellers means eBay has to spend less money on them. All the recent changes eBay has introduced have only one effect: the big Bay making more money and halving their effort. This is the time for sellers to plan their exit strategy. Quite how they dare to sell this as an improvement to eBay buyers is beyond me.


    I think eBay have overlooked the fact that as feedback becomes more important for seller’s they are more likely to contact buyers when they leave negs or neut’s and this wont improve the buyers experience.

    IMHO It’s time to scrap feedback altogether in favour of the DSR’s which IMHO are an improvement.

    As a buyer I’d much rather just click the stars and not have to bother with a written reason.

  12. I wonder if a neut will count as .667 (not 1.0) for the calc as it does for the SNP calculation ?

    If it does, then the overall % change will not be as drastic, due to the rounding factors for the % calc ( I think) ?

  13. Eddie, no, that’s not how it works. The new calculation takes positive feedback as a percentage of all feedback, so neutrals count exactly the same as negs.

  14. Feedback and Powerseller status aren’t as important to me as buyers putting money in my hand.

    Sales haven’t increased as my feedback went up or since I got PS status.

    The DSRs are of little relevance as I don’t sell enough volume to qualify for discounts.

    I’ll just carry on as normal and if my website picks up as I get it stocked, then I’ll jump ship.

  15. I waved goodbye to my 100% a long time ago and it hurt, oh how it hurt lol

    What worries me is by alienating sellers with the feedback actions etc ebay are probably losing a good percentage of their buyers as well…

    Sellers are buyers too…

    I am an avid buyer on ebay and always have been, probably because it’s open on my pc for around 16 hours a day lol but if I ever leave as a seller then I wouldn’t like to say that I would be back as a buyer…

  16. I wish they would just get on with it get it done quickly

    so we know exactlywhat we are dealing with,
    rather than guessing

  17. @Jo

    I think this is Ebays biggest oversight and something they just cannot seem to understand.

    That casual sellers make good buyers.

    Drive them away and you drive buyers away.

    That is a theory I have held for a long time.

  18. All the talk I heard indicated that eBay wish to move to a sales model like Amazon’s. That would give the buyers similar warm fuzzy feelings about their experiences and safety.

    Buyers on Amazon are “very” inclined to leave less-than-positive feedback, as they have no need to stop and think about the repercussions. I predict seller feedback ratings on eBay will fall dramatically with this change. Go browse Amazon seller ratings and see what I mean. Ratings under 90% are rife.

    Only sellers that bend over backwards (giving free shipping, send 20 auto-responses about item status and hand-deliver the items on the day of purchase) will retain a 100% rating (or even close to that).

    Business sellers: Say goodbye to you Power Seller status if your halo is not on straight!

    Non-business sellers: You have already lost your Power Seller status with the proposed changes!

    In the end eBay wins and everyone else grins (and bears it). That is until a good alternative comes around. I also predict that if eBay become too similar to other online marketplaces they will start to lose market share. This may well be the start of the end for eBay! Oh what glorious irony there would be in that ๐Ÿ˜€

  19. The only tiny ray of positive in this is that: sellers can block buyers who have two unpaid item strikes in the last 12 months. Yes, dodgy buyers can have dozens or hundreds of accounts but if it is possible to block NPBers for 12 months instead of 1 month then either the dodgy NPBers are going to have to work 12 times as hard or there will be a reduction of dodgy NPBs to as little as 1/12th of the current level. The reality will lie somewhere in between. I’m just trying to be positive about this ๐Ÿ˜€

  20. I think first comment on this topic from northumbrian sums it up, you do get the feeling that we are supposed to take every blow, come back for more and say thank you!
    With the demise of sellers giving feedback to buyers, doesn’t the neutral become more valid as it would be a true reflection not a ‘negative in disguise’ for fear of retaliation.
    Like most sellers we are just ploughing on and seeing what happens.
    eBay need to have a buyer education program to let them know the impact of ill considered feedback. or would that just advertise the changes to would be extorters? Or am I being cynical?

  21. Neuts left prior to the May change ARE exactly that, NEUTRAL. Why should these existing ratings be “upgraded” to value of neg? Double standards anyone?

    Fine, neuts left AFTER the May change should be affected (as per policy), but the ones left before is just plain unfair to sellers AND buyers.

  22. @ north, whilst I sympathise with your sentiment about just having to take whatever ebay doles out to us sellers. We all still have a choice, we are self employed and WE are in control of our own “channel” to market. If ebay is profitable for us, then I imagine we will allow ourselves to be rogered mercilessly by eBay to keep connected to the customers that eBay provide.

    not @ north (as I know he has a similar viewpoint) I find myself repeating the following sentiment a lot on the various comments and posts here on tamebay. If you are “change averse” then selling on eBay is always going to cause you headaches and stress and you are probably not going to enjoy internet selling enough to maintain a full time career from it. Even if you are very adaptable to change, the rate at which this marketplace develops and changes (and will continue to do so) can still make you feel giddy. With that in mind, it may be time to consider your options.

    e = Change
    B = More change
    a = Even more change
    y = Customers?

  23. Lots of ebay BUYERS will loose thier 100% over with this.

    Surely this will negate ebay’s policy of sellers not being able to leave negs?

    I thought ebay wanted to keep buyers by helping them to maintain 100% feedback? Logging on after May may bring a shock to some as their fb is less than perfect for something that happened months ago AND may not be thier fault.

    Sound familliar?

  24. @ Jade: I think it’s possible (or indeed, probable) that one can benefit from eBay as a sales channel without having to like or approve of every change they make. Thinking that a particular new policy is a bad idea does not make one “change-averse”.

  25. Biddy, I didn’t wish to infer that ๐Ÿ˜ณ , at the end of the day it’s just my opinion, but I read a posters comment who was pretty obviously hoping that eBay fall flat on their faces with the changes they are making. I for one think and hope that they don’t, so i guess I get a bit defensive. Anybody would think I have a vested interest in ebays continued success! … oh hang on a minute ๐Ÿ˜›

  26. Jade (and everyone else) – if you get to the point where you hope eBay self-destructs, then it was time for you to stop being an eBay seller about six months previously ๐Ÿ˜†

    But I still believe sellers should be able to express dissatisfaction with eBay’s decisions. I’ve been reading numerous people around various boards recently saying things like “put up or shut up” – in other words, if you don’t like [xxx minor policy change] then quit selling on eBay rather than complain about it. I disagree wholeheartedly with that stance.

    I believe in eBay as a venue; I have a vision of how I’d like it to be, and I will fight for it as a valid marketplace. I think the current management *largely* have it right, but there are some times (as with neutrals = negs) when I think they have it downright wrong, and I will not keep my mouth shut in those circumstances.

    Besides which, if we all only mentioned facts rather than opinions, then TameBay would be a horribly boring place. :-p

  27. I worked out that over the past 12 months taking into account neutrals I am on 98.4, currently I am on 99.5, so in theory I should be able to remain a powerseller.
    However when the feedback changes kick in then it is obvious that the number of negs and neutrals will rise, its human nature, therefore I and probably 60%+ of powersellers status is under threat.
    Have Ebay considered the effect of this on their corporate image.
    We have seen recently that their share price is sensitive to number of listings etc , it follows that a reduction in powersellers of this magnitude would have a similar adverse effect on confidence and share price, ie Ebay surely does not want to portray the majority of sellers as substandard, if they do then Ebay itself will be tainted.

  28. if the rewards are high enough
    nothing will stop me being a powerseller

    at the moment my cat could be a powerseller being a powerseller on ebay means little if anything

    ebay are right in their attempt to give it more substance and meaning

  29. Whirly: it’s actually in the original UK feedback changes announcement made in January:

    How will eBay calculate the Positive Feedback percentage?

    The Positive Feedback percentage will be calculated by dividing all positive Feedback earned in the past year by all positive, neutral and negative Feedback.

    So if Custard Support are telling you it’s not happening in the UK, someone has it wrong.

  30. Thanks Sue, I was told in no uncertain terms it was .com only, and only a rumour for UK. I’ll use that link and forward it to him for an answer and let you know what he says.

  31. Jimbo

    Did you really need to use a tool to work out that you need 21 negs/neutrals out of a 1000 to have lower than 98% !

    I agree that 2% negs is not good, I only have 0.6%, however neutrals are a completely different matter.


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