I have no reason to give great service on eBay

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Today I received a totally justified negative feedback from a buyer. He stated in the neg that the item I supplied was not fully working with an intermittent fault.

Sadly the buyer never contacted me or he would have received a full refund or a replacement (or possibly both!). I’d have actually preferred that he open an INR dispute for SNAD (Significantly Not As Described) prior to leaving feedback, as than I’d at least have had an opportunity to rectify the situation.

I should point out I’m not that fussed about a neg per se. It’s not the first and it almost certainly won’t be the last that I receive in my eBay selling career. The problem is that it could spell the start of the end of my eBay business. The Seller Non-Performance criteria are an unknown quantity, both the exact criteria and the visibilty of a sellers standing. It may only take a couple more negative or neutral feedbacks combined with a few low scoring DSRs or maybe a buyer dispute opened, and my account could be suspended.

Having already received the neg I can see no reason why I should help an unhappy customer. If it led to a suspension I certainly couldn’t afford to be magnanimous and assist in spite of receiving poor feedback, which is what I have done in the past.

Recent eBay changes such as business seller registration, highlighting the Distance Selling Regulations and Sale of Goods Act and insisting on returns policies haven’t helped this buyer in the slightest. eBay has put me in the position where I have zero incentive to give great service and plenty of reasons to simply not bother.

But of course I did, this evening I telephoned the buyer and it was an interesting conversation. First I simply said I saw he had left negative feedback, sorry about the problem, would you like a replacement or a refund. A pleasantly surprised buyer asked what about the return postage costs and, when I said he wouldn’t have to pay any, there was a stunned silence followed by “What’s the catch?”

Well there really is no catch but he couldn’t believe that I was willing to simply replace the product, that’s why he hadn’t bothered to contact me in the first place. It turns out he’s new to eBay and one of his other purchases, significantly higher value than the one from me, had gone wrong. He explained “I’m really sorry but I’d just about given up on eBay, there was a problem with the last item I bought and you just got the brunt of it.”

My buyer has asked how he can erase the feedback (his suggestion, not mine) but of course he can’t – a great argument for editable feedback or the return of feedback withdrawal. eBay emphasise that many of the recent changes are geared towards offering great customer service and resolution of issues up front so that buyers have no need to even consider a neg or dispute in the first place, also they’re doing what they can to encourage buyers to communicate with sellers at the point of giving potential negative feedback. Unfortunately neither happened in this case.

I have a happy customer and one that will probably go on to trade on eBay in the future. It’s just a shame I caught the tail end of another seller’s poor service and now have a neg on my account for the next year.

The question is what would you do? Once the feedback is left there’s no possible benefit to you so would you ignore the neg and still look after the customer? Although I did in this case, I’m not so sure I would if it was the neg that got me suspended.

57 Responses

  1. Although I did in this case, I’m not so sure I would if it was the neg that got me suspended.

    I am not altogether sure buyers who have suspensions CAN help. Aren’t all listings removed and all sales data goes with it?

  2. I suppose in some cases it could be beneficial. For example, if you had a website and most of the products you sell are closely linked: printers/ink, computers/parts etc. The negging buyer could be impressed by the after service and become a long term customer.

    It also depends on the circumstances of the neg.

    In the end it all comes down to two way communication.

    The pop up for feedback by buyers should have a process where it forces the buyer to talk to the seller in response to clicking neg or neut.

    If the seller replies then the buyer is free to leave whatever feedbback they choose, at least the seller gets a chance to put things right. Buyer & Seller questions & responses could stay on the system.

    If the seller doesn’t reply within a short period then again the buyer can leave feedback.

  3. Under the current eBay system, given there is no mechanism to remove negs or neutrals from buyer, there would seem to be ZERO benefit to working with buyers after they leave such feedback.

    eBay should have enforced a policy that requires contact be made by the buyer to the seller before leaving negs or neutrals. That way, the seller at least has an oppurtunity to address the problem to the buyer’s satisfaction. That doesn’t happen, so buyer’s simply leave negs or neutrals and then expect to have the problem sorted to their satisfaction. It isn’t going to happen. Their lack of communication with the seller has poisoned the transaction and robbed the buyer of any leverage. Game over!

  4. If I am at fault I fix the problem. That’s it. I had a ropable Spanish buyer who said they were leaving a neg over a fundamental error I made in a listing. The incentive was not avoiding a neg (I thought it was a certainty), but correcting an error on my part. I didn’t get negged, and was surprised that the buyer did not do so immediately. My response did placate him, and I eventually got a positive, but I would have made right if a neg was placed at the time of first contact. I refunded return postage as well, as I do not believe that the buyer should be out of pocket one cent for a mistake on the seller’s part (as opposed to “buyer remorse” ).

    “Having already received the neg I can see no reason why I should help an unhappy customer.” – That has always been an underlying theme on Ebay related boards, and I have never gotten it. If I earn a neg, I earn a neg. If the buyer is justified in giving it, I feel a responsibility to making it right for the buyer. I have been lucky – the only neg I ever got was left before payment was ever made (I offered optional insurance on an international transaction, go figure). Contact/communication should not be terminated by the negative feedback, I feel a responsibility to do the right thing if I am at fault. If the seller is at fault the buyer should never be out of pocket, in my opinion – and thus the item should either be replaced, or if returned, in my view, the postage in both directions should be reimbursed.

    Humans make mistakes on Ebay, whether errors in listings, missing faults in goods, or jumping the gun in leaving feedback. In any case I believe in taking responsibility for my own mistakes, and not punishing others for their response to them.

    Just how I see it, Kevin

  5. The problem is that decent sellers such as yourself will put the situation right but the dodgy sellers will do exactly what they have always done which is nothing. The current system will do absolutely nothing to change this other than give the decent seller constant stress and worry over their scoring.

  6. If ever there was a need for a Squaretrade service, its now.

    If I received a neg I would not contact the buyer in case they in turn contacted Ebay intimating that the seller was threatening them, which in turn could presumably lead to a faster suspension.

  7. You have to worry when someone as Pro – eBay as Chris is considering whether he has a future on eBay.

    This morning, apart from the normal worry of a slow sign in (is the suspension message going to pop up) I had 2 sales to Southern Ireland overnight, inc P&P just over £1700 in total, 2 years ago I would have been smiling like a cheshire cat, sadly the 1st thought that popped into my head was “*hit, whats going on” I will be nervous until they are both paid for.

    This is a horrible enviroment to trade in at the moment, I wish the old eBay would reappear.

  8. ebay needs to educate buyers more than sticking a big notice under their snout saying neg the sods

  9. I have an account I stopped selling on a couple of weeks ago, positive feedback for past 30 days is now 18 and will diminish as time progresses. I have a buyer that did not receive item, I refunded them but am aware that he could neg within the next 60 days and therefore destabilise my other account. I thought it would be a straightforward process to close this account down but on the screen it says Ebay can delay the closing down process for up to 180 days.

  10. I’m with Kevin on this one. Whatever eBay may do to make our lives miserable, it isn’t the poor buyers fault. And if he misunderstands what feedback is all about? Well that probably isn’ t his fault either.

    So I would pull all stops out to end up with a happy buyer that will come back and spend more money – and there wouldn’t be a neg in sight next time round.

  11. The old feedback is no longer in the interest of buyers or sellers and should be scrapped in favor of DSR’s.

    Having mutual withdrawal reinstated is not the answer as it will lead to buyers receiving unwanted coercive communications.

  12. This is an unfortunate situation, but it is not the fault of buyers or sellers or even an inherent fault within Ebay itself. It is entirely the fault of the present Ebay management, who are only interested in getting in as much money as possible and spending nothing on customer service.A lot of this wouldn’t happen if Ebay still had a framework for resolving disputes and allowing buyers and sellers to correct mistakes, but this would have cost, so it has been removed. Unlike many, I have had no problems with Ebay and I would like to see them prosper and not fail, but until the present management are got rid of I see no chance of this happening. I just hope that this is read by investors as well as buyers and sellers, they are the only ones Ebay will ever listen to.

  13. common decency and respect is all I ask
    just because I sell on ebay dont mean you can be impolite to me, and forget your manners,

    I think the balance has tipped just a little too far in favour of buyers

  14. I would also take into account that what people say when speaking directly on the phone & what people actually do is very different. In my opinion the storey of the previous “bad experience” may or may not be true & may or may not have any conection to why you got negged.

  15. How is SNP calculated, does it take into account just your selling feedback or is it your total feedback? Could buying lots of things help you out of a hole I mean?

  16. OK, I though I could handle this philosophically, but I am sitting here fuming and with a higher blood pressure than can be good for me. 2 negs from a buyer who took a week to pay, we sent item the next day, upgraded to recorded for free, item was sent the day before the bank holiday and Royal mail did their all to familiar trick of either losing it or being tardy (time will tell), and customer opened a paypal dispute we replied, but over the weekend they raised it to a claim, on the Monday we refunded in full rather than let them wait a possible 30 days for paypal to resolve. We have no money, no goods, and 2 negs… for what?

  17. @16 You can get those removed, buyers and sellers are not allowed to mention paypal investigation’s in feedback, it’s eBay policy so just cut & paste it to your AM.

  18. What is required is a process where buyers that leave negative feedback without contacting the selling through ebay makes the feedback eligible for removal.

    A simple note on the buyer feedback page to point this out would go a long way to stop this.

  19. @15 SNP is a calculation combining non-positive feedback with buyer disputes and DSR scores which combine to give you a BDR (Buyer dis-satisfaction Rate).

    Negs probably weight heaviest with neutrals second. 1s or 2s in your DSRs won’t do you any good, and neither will *open* buyer disputes although I haven’t a clue if they count closed disputes in the equation.

    I’m not sure buying will do you any good – pretty sure it’s just racked off your selling feedback.

    No one really knows the details bar eBay though

  20. This new system is not going to be workable, i have been suspended for SNP after 17000 + transactions, there is a limited time for me to bring back my status but with no new sales there will be precious few new feedbacks so seems unlikly that i will be reinstated.
    It is impossible to please all everybody all of the time particularly when you had third party couriers involved.This system is far too biased to the buyer whilst the seller has no say in the matter.
    They should put more resources into mediation between buyer and seller over any problems which would result in a safer and more positive environment.
    Take into consideration that if there was the same system for all the likes of Argos etc then i am sure they would have been suspended a long time ago. Over time Ebay will find that they will have more and more buyers but less and less sellers as this system is wide open to abuse.

  21. I suspect that the SNP is a combination of following criteria:

    1) Listing volume within a certain period of time

    2) Dispute % within a certain period of time

    3) Value of disputed items (incl. bad feedbacks) relative the listing volume

    If this is true this means that sellers who “mix” high-value items with low value items are not safe if they receive compltains about high value items

  22. @17 That’s interesting, having read the FBpolicy again it does say that. I have tried to ring our AM to discuss, thanks for the tip whirly.
    It also transpires the buyer mistook the date we entered the tracking details into the dispute for the day we posted the items, because it says posted in the transaction details in the the sense of submitted NOT despatched. The items were actually despatched a week previously. Joy unbounded 😥

  23. There needs to be some type of mechanism available to repair damage with either A) and appeals process or B) a one time, lifetime, withdrawal. Kudos to the OP for taking care of the customer. I wish everybody did.

  24. Nope. I wouldn’t do anything at all to help the customer who chose to take their satisfaction in the form of negative feedback instead of allowing their seller to satisfy them. I state right in my TOS that I will bend over backwards to please my customer, and ask buyers to follow ebay policy (and common courtesy) by letting me know if there is any problem with their purchase whatsover. If the buyer decides they’d rather leave a negative, then they do it in lieu of me fixing the problem. I could refund/replace for them, but the damage to my business cannot be undone.

    Ebay should allow users to edit their feedback. It is such a simple solution. If someone regrets or changes their mind about any feedback they have left, they should have the right to change it. This would allow customers like OP’s to fix their mistake. It would also allow anyone who had prematurely left positive feedback, only to discover a problem later, to change the positive as well if they didn’t get satisfaction from their seller. If ebay is all about trying to make it a buyer’s marketplace, I would think this would be the perfect solution. Satisfaction not only immediately after the sale, but a period of time to resolve any issues (say, 90 days). It would probably considerably lessen their buyer claims and would do more to prevent negs left “in the heat of the moment” from becoming a permanent black mark. It would encourage buyer/sellers to work together as there would be motivation on both sides to resolve any problems.

    As it is, the ebay feedback system is a joke. It should be more appropriately named “the buyer complaint record”. There’s no incentive for a buyer to leave feedback at all, unless they want to complain. There’s no incentive for a seller to leave a positive. After all, the seller paying for their item is the only criteria for a “good seller” according to ebay. The feedback system is now just the method for buyers to get whatever they want through feedback extortion. They know a seller depends on the rating, both for avoiding suspension and for how much they pay to sell on ebay. They are in the driver’s seat, and can call all the shots, no matter how crazy their demands. They know and are taking full advantage of it. They are demanding refunds for invented problems with their purchases, and demanding to keep the merchandise as well. The sellers pay ebay, not the buyers. The sellers are paying (through the nose) for the privilege of being abused by both ebay and bad buyers. Why would anyone in their right mind continue to sell on ebay?

    Ebay is no longer the only game in town. Buyers are missing the unique, antique, and hard to find items which are being sold less and less on ebay. They are looiking at the other venues to see where they have gone. The new venues are much cheaper (I pass those savings right to my customers!), they are much friendlier, they are easy to use and navigate, the TOS for buyers and sellers aren’t a thousand pages long, and they actually work hard for your business. Imagine that! The relationship between the venue and the seller is one of mutual success, not an adversarial partnership. The venues and the sellers work together to offer the buyers a wonderful experience and bring them back to the site again and again. The atmosphere on ebay is so oppressive. I now feel liberated, and selling has become fun again. Ebay will not be able to put that horse back in the barn, now that sellers and buyers alike have seen the alternatives. I think we will all find ourselves shopping 2 or 3 favorites in the future and there probably won’t be one giant monopoly on all online auction business anymore. I’m waiting to see which of the new venues emerge as the top sites. It’s an exciting time!

  25. “The question is what would you do?”

    Pretty much the same as you have done, dealt with the problem, even though the neg could not be removed as in the past. I’d also do this:

    -ask the buyer to contact ebay to ask for the comment to be removed ( cant hurt asking! )

    – figure out how to stop it happening again, be it a large note in the package and/or in emails etc..

    – complain to ebay ( again, no harm in trying, even if most AMs are less useful than a chocolate teapot)

    – and finally.. I’d keep my head down, no posting on boards or open forums. You cant risk someone taking offence ( even when none intended) and getting you a 30 day holiday from ebay.

  26. Recieved tonight via email, not through my messages.

    “I see your feedback for this month is only 22 recieved, I am going to bid on one of your baths tonight and not pay, if you dont send the bath to me for nothing I will leave you negative feedback.

    What are you going to do? live or die, you decide.”

    I have just been transported to a SAW movie. 🙁

  27. Phone PCS, and ask for their immediate advice…

    I assume you have no way of knowing who they are? maybe eBay can help with the email address?

    Not holding my breath though…

  28. It was from a hotmail.com account Lynne. I have forwarded the email including headers to my AM and PS, but lets be honest if they want a free bath and they start quoting my feedback then they already know how to work the system.

  29. The pop up for feedback by buyers should have a process where it forces the buyer to talk to the seller in response to clicking neg or neut.

    Force the buyer? Heaven forbid, you might upset their buying negging experience.


    That’s rough mate. If you report it now even without full knowledge of who it is, if it happens it will be easy to put two & two together.

  30. Whirly, it wouldn’t be someone on this forum taking the mickey or making a tasteless joke, would it? There has been a story lately pointing out your plight as a seller of few but higher value items in the current climate, and plenty of talk of the implications of the system here over the last couple of weeks, as well as an extortion article. Surely if they were going to hold you to ransome they would place the bid first….

    I hope it is just a bad joke, and that it doesn’t bring you down.

    Kind Regards, Kevin

  31. My 1st thoughts Kevin, either here or another forum. No bids placed so hopefully it’s as you say…a bad joke.

  32. I’m kinda disappointed that anyone would accuse TameBay’s readers of that on the strength of absolutely no evidence whatsoever.

  33. not funny
    I would guess its another forum
    this is the only forum I post on, and I am fairly out spoken and direct
    and I have had no trouble at all,
    though I am keeping my head down now just in case

  34. It happens Sue as we all know. No offence intended.

    My feedback score just dropped from 696 to 695!?!

    I am not going to look, time for a cuppa.

  35. Not meant as an accusation, Sue.
    I was wishful that it was just a bad prank, and not a serious threat. I apologise for any offence caused. I have a healthy respect for all that is covered and discussed here.

    Kind Regards, Kevin

  36. Couldn’t you report the sellers UPI and have the neg removed? If he doesn’t pay the neg means nothing.

  37. Sadly Yael, the neg might get Whirly suspended – low volume, high value sellers are VERY at risk from one neg losing them a month’s work.

    Now if you sell loads and loads of cheap stuff, you can protect your percentages (a little…)

    Silicone, Whirly, what else can I say… LOADS of silicone… 😀

  38. I must say when I first read what Whirly said my first thought was that either he was joking or someone else was playing a tasteless trick on him. Obviously from subsequent posts Whirly wasn’t joking but I still wonder if someone else has a poor sense of humour?

    My other thought was – if ebay DID make Paypal the only payment option, they would presumably know if a buyer had paid or not, and be able to take appropriate action against those that don’t pay – such as not allowing them to leave any feedback in the first place.

  39. I have sold many products on ebay, and have received many unnecessary negatives, as well as a few that I can accept to be fair. I have no problem in buyers being able to see a record of my negative feedbacks, as I can follow up and explain them. The two things I do have a problem with is why is neutral feedback a bad thing. I think Ebay ought to look the word “neutral” up in a dictionary. Why not just have negative and positive? Also Why are they so keen to suspend people? If some one has 24% feedback and 10 negatives and a buyer wants to still purchase, surely it is the buyers risk? Why is Ebay so protective? Do they honestly think they are the good guys?


  40. Well the buyer has their replacement drive and has left a follow up to the neg that they left reading

    “was amazed by the kindnes of chris.wish i could withdraw feedback.superb ebayer!”

    So he doesn’t agree the neg should stand – mutual feedback withdrawal has gone… how about it eBay? Any chance of a facility where a happy eBay user can carry out their wishes and cancel a neg?

  41. Saint Chris of Mount Road lol

    Gis a Job Chris!
    I can do that that girls job on your shop page ,
    stuffing her face and reading the paper is what I excel at
    lol lol lol

  42. Is that Tuna sandwich, that she is eating, Dolphin freindly :grin:.

    Maybe you could ask support to have a look at the feedback (not that anything would be done)?

  43. I can’t afford to give out jobs, I spent the money looking after my customer 😛

    Jimbo I’m not sure if support would remove the feedback… there’s not (as far as I know) any process to allow for removal. It doesn’t fall under any of the normal removal policy guidelines 🙁

  44. if your existing staff worked ,rather than read the paper and masticated
    you would be richer,

  45. Doesn’t the follow up breach the ‘Personally identifying information’ rule by using your real name?

    No idea if this would be ground to remove the whole thing, or just the follow up though.

  46. Ha – never thought of the personally identifying information 😯

    Seems a bit callous to get the guy a slap when he was decent enough to be so nice though 🙁

  47. Super Max, judging by past similar cases, it would just be the follow-up. It used to be that you could put a follow-up on a neg with your own phone number in it or similar, and both the neg and the follow-up would therefore get removed, but eBay got wise to that trick quite a while back.

  48. Callous maybe – but then it is your business at stake

    I feel for the newbie. But . . .

    newbies feelings v my business

    I am sorry, I have a mortgage and my responsibilities in this household come first

    Suz x

  49. One day amazon will take over, and then where will those ebay losers be hahahahahaahaha, seriously though I read that auctions are dying, most things on ebay are now buy it now. The whole concept of ebay as an auction place is going downhill. People aren’t interested in bidding on things to the same extent, I predict amazon will take over in the next 5 years. Ebay will still be prevalent, but they are kind of doing the AOL thing of being responsible and when I last looked AOL wasn’t quite doing as well as the other leading providers.

  50. @ Phil

    In think it will be Google because surely they will run everything in the end.
    They’ve even started putting Google Checkout logos next to ebay product feeds on Google Shopping/Google Base in anticipation! 🙂

  51. The neg honestly doesn’t bother me that much, what annoys me more is I caught the fall out from a crap seller that didn’t look after their customer.

    However what does concern me is the law of averages:

    Chances are I’ll get a neg/neut every so often – it’s almost impossible for sellers not to.

    Now one neg/neut a quarter doesn’t overly concern me, I can handle them pretty much how I handled this customer – in the last year I’ve had 7neg/neuts.

    You might expect them to occur evenly spaced out about one every two months BUT it doesn’t work like that. The longer I trade on eBay the more likely it is that instead of being nicely spaced out at even intervals sooner or later I’ll have a patch of several hitting me all at once.

    Averages could well hold over a year, but if a disproportionate amount of neg/neuts hit me in one month I could be suspended under SNP even though my annual average remained the same.

    It’s a bit like winning the lottery – if you play it enough times eventually your number will come up (although with the lottery you’ll probably be dead before you’ve played it 14million times 😛 ). With eBay it’s statisically likely that sooner or later I’ll get a bunch of neg/neuts spaced closer together and that’s my biggest worry 😮

  52. very valid point. i have in past been in a simillar situation. i value my customers very much and any problems that have arrisen have been simple mistakes on my part and i always own up to this and put right. being a working mum, I run my business through ebay and i can’t afford to risk this being my only selling place anymore. I have been very happy to take up the ebid £49.99 seller+ offer, if this lack of respect for good hard working, honest sellers who make ebay what it is, continues, i will no longer be an ebay seller. 😈


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