eBay introduce "hub" to report malicious feedback

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eBay UK have coming later this month. From 15th May, sellers will no longer be able to leave buyers negative or neutral feedback. eBay have acknowledged that sellers are concerned that this leaves them vulnerable to “feedback extortion” from buyers, and have put in place a number of measures designed to minimise this problem.

Before feedback is left

  • Buyers trying to leave non-positive feedback will be reminded to contact their seller if there is a problem: I believe this already happens, but there is now a special reminder for cross-border transactions.
  • Buyers will have to wait at least seven days to leave non-positive feedback for PowerSellers who have been registered more than a year.
  • Buyers will not be able to leave feedback more than 60 days after the transaction (reduced from 90 days).
  • An enhanced buyer requirement will allow sellers to block buyers who have been reported for policy breaches and non-payment; this has previously been touted as “2 UID strikes over the last 12 months” plus some kind of bad-behaviour block. This will launch at the end of May: shame they didn’t launch it at the same time as the new feedback policies.

After feedback has been left

  • Feedback percentages will be based on the last 12 months’ figures, so non-positives will not permanently harm a seller’s reputation.
  • Non-positive feedback will be removed if the buyer is permanently suspended from the site, or if the seller opens a UID “and the buyer either doesn’t respond or doesn’t specifically say the seller is at fault”.
  • eBay are launching “a dedicated hub for sellers to report malicious or unfair feedback from buyers” (launch date unspecified).

I don’t think this will do much to pacify those who are worried about feedback abuse from buyers. eBay’s definition of “unfair feedback” is famously not the same as a seller’s: personally I’d say that negging me without emailing me first is “unfair”, but I’m sure that eBay won’t see that as grounds for feedback removal any more than they do now.

We’re going to see a lot more sellers opening up UIDs for buyers who have left non-positive feedback on the off-chance that there will be no response and the feedback will be removed. This is certainly not going to enhance the buyer experience: an unfair unpaid item strike is just as bad as an unfair retaliatory negative now.

eBay’s problem is that they are unable to let go of the idea that buyers and sellers are two sides of a war, and that the company is the only thing that stands between the two sides. Trading on eBay isn’t like that, most of the time; if buyers and sellers can communicate, then most of the time, we can work things out. That’s what eBay should be encouraging.

If they are indeed going to remove the Mutual Feedback Withdrawal process then they really need to institute something in its place, whereby buyers can alter their feedback if a seller has made things right. Otherwise, all this system has done is take the fight between buyers and sellers off the feedback pages and onto the unpaid item console.

What do you think? Does this make you feel safe from feedback extortion? Leave us a comment.

9 Responses

  1. Good post.

    The 7 day cooling off period will help. In my experience most negs come from buyers that have not even bothered to contact me if a problem arises.

    I would urge anyone that feels that they are being blackmailed by a buyer to contact your eBay account manager.

    We have had 2 such instances in the last couple of weeks and eBay have “taken appropriate action” on the buyer.

    No doubt, eBay have made the decision and won’t change it but I think that they will do what they can to protect good sellers. Here’s hoping

  2. Apart from everything else, they have confirmed that Powerseller eligibility is going to be severely restricted due to factoring in neutrals into the feedback percentage calculation.

    By my reckoning a very significant number of powersellers are going to be summarily kicked out of the programme next week. Including many of the biggest sellers on eBay. That will cut them off from Powerseller support and eligibility for discounts. Not a good situation for many, expecially since this wasn’t made sufficiently clear in the original announcement back in February. I for one think this is a severe error of judgement by eBay.

    The inability of buyers to retract negative or neutral feedback after a seller has fixed a problem means that sellers will have little incentive to try to resolve the problem for the buyer. This surely cannot be what eBay intended?

  3. To answer the question at the end: I have never, ever felt at risk from feedback extortion as those who have tried it on in the past have got absolutely nowhere with it. What I DO feel at risk from is the minority who neg first and ignore me when I try to address the concern.

    Prevention is better than cure

    Cooling off period is good, but ebay should be able to see evidence of communication from both sides before neg or neut can be left.

    Whatever ebay implement, some buyers/sellers will manage to manipulate it to their own ends anyway.

  4. I really like your idea that buyers should be able to alter their feedback if a seller has made things right. After all, eBay has allowed unpaid item strikes to be reversed for many years, probably at least in part because it allows them to collect their fees. Why not allow negative feedback to be reversed as well? Great idea!

  5. “Feedback percentages will be based on the last 12 months’ figures, so non-positives will not permanently harm a seller’s reputation. ”

    oh bugger
    sweating our nads off, for nothing to change our 99.9% to 100% for the last 5 years

    😆

  6. Thanks for the comments, everyone 🙂

    Thinking about this some more, it seems to me that the problem is that feedback’s trying to do two different things:

    ~ for buyers, eBay want them to be able to express their opinion. This is feedback as it always has been, a personal view of the transaction.

    ~ for sellers, they are taking that feedback as mathematical gospel, and using it to control who is allowed to sell.

    This doesn’t work, and it can’t be made to work. A buyer is entitled to their opinion, and who are eBay to say “actually, your neg saying ‘I didn’t like the colour’ isn’t valid”?

    If it were me not Brian Burke, we’d drop feedback altogether from the calculations. DSRs have the potential to be more accurate about the areas of the transaction that really matter and possibly less likely to be abused; I think I’d stick with them as a more considered measure of a seller’s reliability.

  7. Like most commited eBay sellers (and we should be, who else would take this punishment and comeback for more!), we will try and roll with the punches and see what happens. Some form of compulsory communication prior to leaving ‘bad’ feedback would be very useful but does not seem forthcoming.
    I agree with Sue, why not ditch feedback entirely and go with the DSRs.
    Whatever happens, it is going to be…Interesting.

  8. There will be a lot of 100% sellers down the pan as of 15th May when all the neutrals left under the OLD rules are put in the calculation under the NEW rules.

    Will the new feedback hub be able to look at these neutrals left under the old rules?

    All neutrals now to be counted represent unfair feedback. And will definitely impact on many hitherto 100% sellers, me included.

    I do not have an issue with those left after the proposed feedback hub is operational.

  9. they are indeed going to remove the Mutual Feedback Withdrawal process.

    Its been announced at least here on EBAY INDIA officially

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