There’s been some interesting commentary on Tamebay over the last week about feedback and ratings for buyers. Sellers can be rated by buyers not only with a positive/negative/neutral comment but also with marks (stars) out of five on detailed seller ratings.
So goes the argument some buyers are better than others, some pay fast, some pay slowly, some are good communicators and others aren’t – eBay only works with both buyers and sellers so why can’t buyers be rated?
Going back just a few years most sellers will remember being able to leave buyers negative and neutral comments as well as positive comments. eBay did away with this quite simply because when a buyer received anything other than a positive feedback their buying activity on the site plummeted (or they just never made another purchase). eBay does need both buyers and sellers, but buyers are the people who are hard to find – sellers are queuing up to compete on eBay.
The Guardian discussed buyer feedback at the time buyer negatives and neutrals were retired, and dear Sue (who was never shy about telling it like it is) was quoted as saying “Who gives a flying fuck if you can neg a buyer? Does Donald Trump/Richard Branson/Jeff Bezos neg buyers? No. Have a think about why that might be“. Upsetting buyers isn’t great business and rating them with low stars would be just as bad as leaving a big red dot on their feedback.
Now we all know that some buyers are just trouble, but the vast majority aren’t. Every time I’ve heard of people sharing their blocked bidder lists I’ve gently smiled and passed on by (especially the time a PowerSeller discovered to their dismay that they were on another PowerSeller’s blocked bidder list :-D). The thing is I’ve had buyers who couldn’t buy from me because they’d “upset” another seller and had received unpaid item strikes or similar. Every time a buyer has approached me and politely asked if I’d allow them to bid they’ve been the perfect customer. Just because you have a bad experience with them doesn’t mean that I will.
Not only that but there are some sellers out there who quite frankly aren’t up to the job. Some sellers always think that they are right and the customer is wrong and it’s this group of sellers which made it imperative for eBay to protect buyers and stop sellers leaving them feedback.
If a buyer is genuinely trouble then buyer blocks should soon root them out – you can easily block buyers who have more than 2 unpaid item strikes in the last 6 months, who have a negative feedback score (nigh on impossible these days unless they’ve sold rather than bought) or who have too many policy breaches. Plus these days eBay themselves weed out prolific low DSR scoring buyers and do on occasion remove their scores from seller feedback.
Overall we need buyers. The UK eBay market is the most highly penetrated in the world (17 million visit eBay at least once a month – that’s about 1 in 3 of the total UK population!). There aren’t that many new buyers out there to attract to eBay so we need to do everything we can to avoid upsetting the ones we have.
Should we be able to rate buyers? Well no! Firstly because we can’t afford to upset them but more importantly because it wouldn’t make the slightest bit of difference anyway. I don’t check buyer feedback before they bid or click the Buy It Now button because I can’t. I don’t know who’s about to buy from me next. If I can’t vet my buyers until they’ve already purchased there’s no point retrospectively checking their feedback to confirm I’ve found an awkward customer when I’ve already discovered they’re awkward – I’ll just deal with them to the best of my ability and move on.