When eBay banned non-positive feedback for buyers, it was inevitable that other companies would spring up to try to fill the gap. Whether they’re trying to pass the word on dodgy buyers, or just give frustrated sellers a place to vent, there are a few of these around. I thought we’d take a look at them.
First up is RepXchange.com. RepXchange is essentially a way to exchange blocked bidder lists: sellers can upload their entire list, or entire problem buyers and details of the transaction one by one. Reports are then pooled, and sellers can download a list of bidders to block based on filters they choose: for example, if you’re an electronics seller, you might choose only to download buyers reported by others in the same niche.
The site is free to use, but operates a system of ‘credits’, so that each member has to give some information in order to benefit from that given by others. More useful activity – specific transaction details and referring new sellers – is rewarded more highly than just uploading your entire blocked bidder list.
Of the sites I’ve looked at over the past few weeks, RepXchange is probably the most useful and certainly the only one I would consider using. But I still have reservations about it. Firstly, information is necessarily limited to sellers who are taking part in their program: even if they grew at an exponential rate, the number of eBay members is so huge that I would stand a needle in haystack’s chance of finding my next problem bidder on their list.
Secondly, even with filtering, just because a buyer causes *me* problems, that’s no guarantee that they’ll cause *you* problems. I know from looking at feedback that my competitors and I often disagree on whether a buyer is a good one or not; indeed, I remember one buyer who negged me two or three times on one ID, but continued buying from me on another ID, and told me how happy she was to be buying from me and not that other shyster she’d had to neg 😉 Sometimes people just don’t hit it off.
My other concern is around the legal issues of sharing this kind of information. RepXchange founder Laurie Borden told me in an email:
Our service simply accepts manual entry of blocked bidder IDs that sellers have collected at their own discretion, which is rightfully the property of the sellers. Although eBay allows sellers to maintain a list of blocked bidders, eBay doesn’t claim to own this data anywhere in the agreements we have reviewed, nor does it state that this information is non-transferable.
eBay have given hints that the sharing of BBLs is somthing they don’t like: Pink James recently posted on the PowerSeller board that “the publication of any BBL or links to BBL will be reported to Liveworld as a violation of board policy as it boils down to ‘naming and shaming’ a member as a bad buyer and as such won’t be tolerated in any way shape or form.” Whether the sin would extend beyond “board policy” is yet to be seen.
RepXchange is currently in public beta.