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.