eBay UK: “we want buyers to leave more negs”

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oops keyWe’ve been hearing two, apparently related, things from eBay sellers for a week or two now – one, a sudden increase in negative and neutral feedback overall, and two, an increase in negative and neutral feedbacks with positive comments. More than one seller has mentioned seeing a negative comment in a string of positives all saying the same thing, with no indication why one should be red.

eBay don’t publish any figures on rates of feedback, so it’s difficult to figure out what’s going on. Then a couple of people reported that the screen that says “are you sure? please contact your seller before leaving non-positive feedback” had disappeared from the feedback flow.

There’s been no announcement of any change, so you’d think this was just another glitch in eBay’s glitchy site, and that it’d be back shortly, and in the meantime, sellers would just have to spend their time explaining to buyers that it’d be really rather nice of you to revise your feedback, if you wouldn’t mind, thankyouverymuch, if you could just not destroy my business with your random clicking… But if you thought that, you’d be wrong.

It’s not a bug. It’s deliberate.

The eBay UK Community Manager has now confirmed on a PowerSeller Board thread (you’ll need a PS sign in to read the thread, though the number of removed posts makes it close to incomprehensible) that:

The removal of the page presented to buyers attempting to leave negative or neutral Feedback is not a bug. The Feedback team have found is that this message was not effective and discouraged buyers from leaving Feedback. In fact, the majority of the buyers who encountered this page abandoned the Feedback process altogether. This page was removed from all eBay’s global sites during the month of March. By removing this page, we aim to encourage use of the Feedback system and enhance our ability to differentiate and promote sellers who consistently deliver the best experiences on eBay.

It doesn’t seem to have occurred to the Feedback team that discouraging people from leaving non-positive feedback was exactly what this page was designed to do. Buyers who neg are unhappy buyers and won’t come back. Buyers who contact their seller and get their problem sorted possibly *will* come back. That’s what we want, isn’t it?

eBay have trained buyers for years that “negative feedback protects them”. It doesn’t. It might protect the next guy – the one who’d’ve bought and not got their thing if they hadn’t been publicly warned off. But the buyer leaving the neg – it hasn’t helped them.

You’d think eBay would figure this. Whatever we think of some of the detail of the new buyer protection policies, the fact that the company themselves are putting cash on the line to refund some buyers – that speaks to me of them taking a new responsibility to make all transactions have a happy ending. But this – this “go ahead and neg, we’re not going to stop you” – this does nothing to help anyone. It leaves buyers out in the wilderness, thinking they’ve done all they can to make their complaint known. And that’s a huge disservice.

eBay: you already acknowledge that hasty negs are bad, right? That’s why buyers have to wait a week to neg PSs. Please, put this page back. You can make it more helpful if you like. “It looks like you’re about to leave non-positive feedback. If there’s a problem, here are some other things you should try first: contact your seller; contact eBay; contact PayPal. Here is an outline of your legal rights under the Distance Selling Regulations and Sale of Goods Act. And if you clicked the wrong button, please just stop.” How can that do anything other than help to create happy buyers?

48 Responses

  1. Surely, the process should be contact seller > eBay/Paypal dispute (if the issue still not resolved) > Leave Neg.

    Its madness for eBay to allow the Negs before even the Buyer has contacted the seller.

    The same goes for Bad DSR’s

  2. With most eBay sellers performing over 95% positive, suspect eBay Corporate wonders where are all the seller NEGs.

    It is ironic that the Channel Advisor ad sitting next to this article reads, “Sell More On Amazon.”

    Perhaps John Donahoe should consider that most buyers on eBay leave feedback. Most buyers on Amazon don’t, and this doesn’t bother Amazon all that much.


    “Amazon was unchanged at 86, while eBay made a modest 1% gain to 79, but the latter has not managed to increase its customer satisfaction over the years. The current score for eBay is lower than it has been in any other year except 2008. The aggregate of all other online retailers improved 1% to match the industry average of 83”
    The American Customer Satisfaction Index

  3. Indicative of some of the thinking alive and well among Ebay management today. Here’s a tidbit on buyers opening disputes in a recent interview on Channel Advisor with Dinesh Lathi…and the one and only comment on the article:

    “A: We’ve looked at data on open claims. (after 7 day waiting period). The mere act of a buyer opening a claim is an indication of very low customer satisfaction scores. That’s data we think is important to collect and get to sellers and make as part of our programs. The question is how are we protecting sellers? We have to protect the integrity of the system by monitoring buyers from frivolous claims and we will do that.”

    Plain out and out baloney and erroneous thinking. Put this type of thinking into our justice system and whoever brings suit against another will automatically ALWAYS be right! What an outrageous mess that would be. ….and what a mess its going to be for sellers come this September! …as far as monitoring frivolous cases opened by buyers….utter nonsense. There is not ONE Ebay user who believes THAT will happen. We’re all patiently waiting for Ebay to get some management with good, logical business sense – flush out the BAINS before its too late! I say this in all sincerity – back in January 2008 John Donahoe stated to sellers: “we have your back” was that for stabbing purposes?”

    So….you expect them to make logical sound business determinations in other areas of buyer/seller relations? LOL It really IS laughable!

  4. eBay must have thought all this through and concluded that these measures are necessary for forward growth.

    If we, in our niche wisdoms, think that they are wrong then eBay just might get a whole lot more difficult.

    Perhaps big corporates expect to be as good at eBay as ‘small’ eBay focused sellers.

    They are wrong, wrong, wrong.

    eBay has to decide just who this site is for.

  5. I can confirm that the number of negatives with positive statements has increased. At least this is the case for the diamonds. Some get revised but most just vanish. I already suspected it had to do with this page’s removal as I read about it on Auctionbytes some time ago.

    eBay needs to realize that it is VERY EASY to leave negatives by accident. In the past I’ve submitted webforms where one of the radio buttons or drop downs was not what I had selected. The problem is that I use the arrow keys to scroll and if you accidentally leave it in focus when you try to scroll you change the value.

  6. Your headline says it all: eBay really does want buyers to leave more negs. It is that simple. eBay executives, in various articles through the years, have consistently said they do not believe the high rate of buyer satisfaction that Seller Feedback percentages would seem to to indicate.

    Clearly, because they operate a terrible customer service system, they believe that others do too and so think the feedback process is flawed.

    It is typical eBay anti-seller thinking. When sellers get good feedback, instead of saying “What great sellers we have”, eBay says “We have a problem with the feedback system”. The entire thinking process in San Jose is anti-seller and this is the kind of nonsense that comes from one-way thinking.

    And, of course, who benefits when buyers leave negative feedback? eBay does. Negative feedback and the bad DSRs that surely go with each neg, lead to seller demotion. And *that* leads to fewer discounts and higher fees.

    eBay *wants* buyers to leave negative feedback.

  7. Re Negative/Neutral Feedback.

    My best selling item is a Blood Pressure Monitor. This means that I have a lot of customers who are hypertensive, have been advised to monitor their blood pressure and are, by definition often very uptight and lacking in patience. I bust a gut to give five-star service but am hampered by a lot of my lovely customers who have a very short fuse whenit comes to doing ‘their stars’.
    ( a new buyer told me that it is fun doing the feedback because he likes Pub Quizes??????)
    Consequently my DSR’s have suffered after eBays latest twiddling of knobs – but hey!- guess what has occurred – I have increased my sales but lost my Best Seller grade so my discount from final seller fees has dropped from 25% to 5% -MAYBE THAT’S WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Keep it up regardless!

  8. ” But the buyer leaving the neg – it hasn’t helped them. ”
    oh how true that statement is

    if a buyer leaves us negative thats it all bets are off, we do not have any further dealing witrh them other than via ebay or paypal official channels

  9. From my observations (IMHO) eBay are:
    – masters of the superficial
    – experts in jumping to conclusions
    – unparalleled in the knee-jerk
    – the consumate liar
    – supremely arrogant
    – the authority on amoral behaviour
    – fundamentally ignorant of their own policies
    – devoid of ethics
    – incomparably selfish
    – unimaginably greedy
    – on the path to doom.

    Either that or they really ARE trying to do a good job, but haven’t got a clue … but they are still on that path to doom.

    Pity really. EBay was a good idea. It’s growth proved this but now those things that made it a good idea have been compromised beyond belief.

    I am amazed at the blind greed that has taken eBay down the road I see it travelling. Surely it is a fool’s folly to shed the mantle of success in pursuit of greener pastures – especially when those pastures are already being well serviced.

    Yet we continue to see incremental changes of excremental nature that are sending the successful eBay model down the sewer in the dangerous game of redefining an organisation’s core business. This exercise is an immense risk – and one that has numerous prominent and fatal examples.

    To abandon something in which you are a leader to enter another market as little more than a fat minnow is about as sensible as Harley Davidson deciding it’s going to wind down the manufacture of motorbikes as it transitions it’s facilities to manufacture cars in competition with Mercedes Benz.

    What would be the chance of that succeeding? More importantly – could you imagine the reaction from Harley owners and clubs?

    Yet we see this very process in full swing at eBay.

    Is it through design or incompetence?

    I don’t think it really matters. Unless someone in charge wakes up – it is doomed either way.

    It is so very sad to see the most enthusiastic activity on eBay these days is the development and implementation of exit plans.

    I am working with a Powerseller friend who is doing just that – and the only role for eBay in their future is as an advertising channel. Profitability will be a bonus, but eBay costs are already slated as an advertising expense – and one that can be easily relocated.

    I am looking forward to them not freaking out at eBay policy changes and horror stories, fretting about Paypal fraud, panicking about feedback and DSRs – plus the increase in their customer base that will occur from those (who have already contacted them) that want to buy their products but refuse to use eBay.

    These are BUYERS with this concern and the attitude is widespread. Have a read of this post on an Aussie forum… https://www.ozroundtable.com/index.php?topic=2330.0 – Oh dear!

    EBay was a great launching pad for many sellers – and they are going to do well if they make the jump clear, before eBay crumbles beneath them.

  10. The issue that eBay are struggling with is the massive gap between buyers approval rating of around 80% and average feedback around 98%. I’ve heard this described as a “trust gap”, and they believe that it shows an inaccuracy in the feedback left.

    Apart from the obvious question (why do you think it’s feedback that’s in accurate, not the NPS poll?), one clear difference is that it’s not just the buyer’s perception of the seller that is incorporated in the NPS; it’s the whole caboodle: All of the eBay site experience (search, checkout) as well as the delivery netowrk (Royal Mail strikes) and overall negative PR equity (Daily Wail: eBay scammer headline) which affect buyer NPS.

    The introduction of DSRs was an attempt to more finely slice this 2% gap between 98% (failing) and 100%. The noise is just too big in there, hence the introduction of the cases opened measure as well.

    We have noticed a recent increase of buyers with 10 feedback or fewer leaving negs and neutrals for us. Many of them are removed as they have been left by mistake or we resolve the issue with them (first contact is often the neg). These buyers are added to our BBL — this is not the behaviour that we want to see from buyers in our marketplace.

    I spend around 3-4hrs a week speaking with or email my AM to resolve these sorts of issues. I can’t help thinking it would make more sense for both of our time if buyers were required to go through communication and then resolution prior to leaving feedback (and only then if the resolution wasn’t agreed).

    If eBay wants to fix its NPS with buyers, it needs to look wider than just the sellers, and consider that some of the buyers surveyed for NPS are also annoyed sellers.

  11. Sue, thanks for highlighting my post on the PS board. For me it also demonstrates the increasing difficulty with eBay sales compared with other marketplaces.


  12. On one hand EBAY are trying to save sellers time by creating the Unpaid Item Assistant and the Inteligent FAQ’s and at the same time they remove a really useful check against buyers leaving adverse feedback.

    Its farcical.

    So it means sellers who get inappropriate feedback now have to spend time emailing the buyer or telephoning customer support to try and get removed.

    We have all had feedback left in error… the ‘have you contacted the seller prompt’ simply provided the buyer with an option of trying to sort out the problems without opening disputes.

    Last week one of my buyers left a neutral with the comment ‘did not receive the item’

    How does it help the buyer, the seller or EBAY itself for that sort of comment to be left. The buyer hadnt bothered to tell us the order did not arrive. Royal Mail are not perfect and we are not capable of contacting every buyer to check items are received…. so surely a prompt would have encouraged the buyer to talk to us…

    Sometimes I wonder what the silly ideas department at EBAY will come up with next!

  13. The same problem occurs in Germany and one of my readers figured out that there might be a problem if buyers leave feedback via IPhone.
    Normally the feedback order is: first positiv, second neutral, third negative.
    If the buyer uses the IPhone APP the order is different: First negative,second neutral, third positive.
    One of his buyers made this mistake:
    He left a very postiv comment and chooses the first option ( not recognizing that the Feedback order via IPhone is different)- so he left negative feedback, although his intention was to give positive.

  14. I would love to see a situation where if a buyer is refunded for whatever reason feedback cannot be left.

    When a buyer raises a problem there seems to be a bit of a stand off between buyers and sellers with buyers having the power over feedback and sellers reluctant to refund because of this.

    So make the situation where if the buyer gets refunded they cant leave feedback. Simple.

  15. A great way for this “feedback team” to increase the number of negs would be to revert to position as in the early days of EBay when feedback was not transaction related, and any member could leave feedback for any other.

  16. I just received a neg from a buyer who didnt check out or pay and wrote ???
    That all that was put surely this is wrong in every sense?

    I switched over to let ebay deal with my unpaid seller fees so really the only dealing this buyer has had has been with ebay and not me.
    The buyer was German and i doubled the time before seller fees kick in to 8 days + the time ebay allow after that.
    I only accept paypal from outside the uk and i am so sick of this i am very aproackable and would help if some one cantacted me.
    Though as most unpayers are outside the UK i chose to go with ebay because i assumed ebay would write in the buyers luangage? (excuse spelling etc i am just so cross right now)
    Can i get this changed?
    Ty xx

  17. I have never been a lover of the ebay – actually i cant stand it if im honest.

    But feed back is treated completely arse about face on ebay. It does not allow constructive comments and a proper break down of the aspects of your buying experience. Having one short line to write about it is complete crap.

    I dont believe buyers with 100% scores, everyone makes mistakes or gets it wrong somewere along the line, but ebay cant handle this with large volume sellers.

    and WTF does “great ebayer” mean? how is this a useful comment to anyone.

    Its time ebay completely changed the system IMHO

    An example

    i made a bid on an item, i did not win it someone else did. Next thing i notice it was relisted within 4 hours with a buy now and a make me an offer button

    so i made an offer and the item was relisted again about 8 hours after i made an offer

    so i got my mate to make an offer and if he won i would pay him, guess what the item was relisted. This seller has a 100% rating. Sorry this seller is a pile of shit and if they did not like your offer then they simply relisted the item.

    Tell me were their 100% reputation shows this?

    the system can be fudged to make bad sellers look good

  18. actually in #14 scenario (which i remember very well)

    feedback was not taken very seriously

    perhaps that is where the flaw lies?

  19. We’ve received 10 Neutrals this month so far compared to 8 total for Jan, Feb, March and April.

    Something is definately wrong or has changed recently.

  20. Got my first neutral the other day.
    The comment made absolutely no sense at all.
    Contacted the buyer and asked if anything was wrong. “No, it’s all great thanks”…so why the neutral?
    … “didn’t know I had, it was all a bit confusing”.
    That comment confirms something is badly wrong now.

    He willingly changed it, but we shouldn’t need to pester buyers after a purchase.
    The buying experience is soured by this. Imagine what a customer thinks about getting a call or emails from a seller who has no choice but to do so to put the record straight.
    It would put me off from buying there again and certainly from leaving any feedback at all.

  21. All the ebay “security” steps are pushing buyers to leave negatives for good sellers.

    We’re getting a higher number of fraud buyers and threats.

    Is this flawed system a result of incompetent staff at ebay?

  22. I am in the US and have a 100% feedback rating on Ebay. This week I received my first negative comment along with a positive feedback rating. The comment was something like “you get what you pay for” which I took to have a negative slant.

  23. as long as its even handed we dont care
    a few negs and neutrals wil be the norm
    we are tired of being paranoid slaves to the whims of ebay

  24. I wonder if eBay stockholders have the same enthusiasm that eBay staff do for their feedback system?

    At the end of the day this is the bottom line for eBay staff as I would guess a lot of their bonus arrangements are linked to stock price performance.

    Could the feedback hoops be choking both sales and stock price performance?

    Amazon have simple or no feedback arrangements and no hoops and their stock is rising.

    This suggests that feedback is not as important for todays online shopper as eBay seem to perceive.

    It would be interesting to get the views of the massive outlet retailers on eBay’s feedback system.

  25. Feedback focuses on the negative.

    eBay needs to find a way of focusing on the positive.

  26. My understanding is that a consumer has to contact a bank about a problem, before contacting the ombudsman. Perhaps it is the same in other industries.

  27. Our feedback has actually got better recently, so I’m not sure the ‘big seller gets knocked more’ hypothesis really holds up.

  28. Of course they want Buyers to leave more Negs and Neutrals, that way they remove more PS and TRS and gain more in fees.

    Obvious really.

  29. Here is another good one
    This is an answer off a Pink about low stars for charging £1.49 for P+P when actual postal cost was £1.28…WITHOUT packing materials

    “If they are telling you (and I don’t know if this is a one off or a regular thing) that £1.49 is expensive postage for a £1.49 item then you should take the feedback.

    As a buyer – paying the same price on shipping as for the item is not great value. I’m sure there are sellers selling similar items who are TRS. How do they do it?”


    I bet this thread will get kicked off the boards

  30. I’m sure those of you who have been on eBay for at least 3 years know that eBay is on a downward spiral. They have no use for the occasional seller. They only want big volume fixed price sellers and all their current changes are designed to rid the site of the ordinary seller in favor of big sellers. Never mind their products are cheap counterfeits as long as they are willing to jump through hoops. The CEO of eBay, John Donahoe, has made it clear from the beginning (2008) that he will do away with auctions and he referred to sellers as noise when they complained about his asinine plans.

    I was surprised a few weeks ago when I had to leave negative feedback for a seller that the “are you sure” page didn’t show up. EBay has not done it yet but they plan to send an email to each winner to remind them to leave feedback. This is to further encourage negative feedback which will cause a seller’s items to not be easily searchable when using the dumb Worst Match search option.

    Additionally, eBay will soon punish sellers for any disputes filed against them even those that are ruled in seller’s favor. This is to further rid the site of the low volume seller.

    If you haven’t done so already, take a look at what’s being said on auctionbytes.com about eBay.

  31. I have been listing on Ebay for more than a decade as well, and today’s Ebay is better than it was in 1998-2002 but the best period in Ebay was probably 2004-2007 when there was the right balance of Buyer/Seller protection and ease of use.

    Today’s Ebay is more interested in telling people how they should be running their business and what standards they should be producing all the while the service sellers gets is worse and worse.

    I have a INR claim going on at the moment, the Buyer closed it when he got the item. I still don’t have the money back off Ebay for it, and it is £140! Paypal tell me to call Ebay, Ebay call centre somewhere remote can’t make heads or tails of my user ID much less the claim and so I am stuck going through a route that will eventually work but is outside the norm!

    What chance do sellers have.

    My personal opinion is there needs to be a massive overhaul of management in Ebay UK. Terry the Pink, a man with no sales experience at all, lecturing people in selling standards is something of an insult to those of us with real experience.


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