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Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed Nov 9 2016 13:52:51

eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback

By: Ina Steiner
Sponsored Link
As eBay continues to reduce transparency on its marketplace, buyers and sellers are losing a popular tool. Win Bent, founder of Toolhaus.org, sent EcommerceBytes his response to a donor and gave us permission to publish it.

Toolhaus helps evaluate both buyers and sellers by analyzing eBay feedback. In the past, it has had difficulty maintaining the site because of financial considerations (users came to its aid with donations), but Win said the current issue is not about money, but rather, about eBay practices.

"The problem is that eBay doesn't want us (and by that I mean you and me and everyone) to take too close a look at feedback," he wrote.

Please take a moment to read Win's letter, and then tell us what you think about eBay's approach to hiding information buyers and sellers had used to make decisions about transactions with each other. 

Question from a Toolhaus donor (kept anonymous): 

"Its been a long time since this website was an active, useful, tool. The site is down more than it is available. We really miss it. Will it ever be back again?"

Response from Toolhaus founder Win Bent:

You've distilled a few years of problems to a single, insightful question. The sad answer is, I have absolutely no idea if Toolhaus will ever be useful again.

There's the big issue of feedback changes - hiding user IDs, hiding dates of FB, hiding item numbers. These are all things which made eBay's FB system great, the transparency was good for all, good for the buyer and seller, and good for the observers. That's all gone now, and there's no reason to expect eBay to bring it back.

Then there's the "small" issue of eBay blocking Toolhaus. We're an independent site, long ago we turned down the chance to be an Authorized eBay Developer and work within their system. We'd rather do our analysis based on what anyone can see, not just people with access to inside information. But the result was that they could shut us down for any reason, and over the years they've done exactly that in big and small ways. 

A few years back, they started blocking us, but we figured out a good way to avoid the blocks, to keep eBay happy. Currently, their blocks have gotten quite big - big enough to make Toolhaus nearly useless.

It's actually interesting that they did not shut down Toolhaus by other means. I've been told by multiple Power Sellers that eBay Support Staff told them to use our 30-Day Neg Tool to check their status, because Toolhaus was a reliable source of information which eBay themselves would not provide. Even with that, we've been waiting for over ten years for eBay to send us a letter from The Lawyers, a "cease and desist" order with the threat of a lawsuit. We never received such a letter, which tells me that either they had no case, or that they actually approved of the services we provide. But then, they used technology to block us, and that's been as damaging as any lawyer's letter.

I want to be 100% clear about this - the problem is not money, it's not that Toolhaus needs a bigger, better machine. The problem is that eBay doesn't want us (and by that I mean you and me and everyone) to take too close a look at feedback. A bigger machine might get around their blocks, but it would not restore FB's hidden user IDs.

You've been a big supporter of Toolhaus - many dollars over many years. I can't begin to tell you how much that has meant to us. Small donors are helpful, repeat donors are a lifeline, but the sustaining supporters are the ones who send a strong, clear message: Keep Doing What You're Doing. Sadly, I'm not sure we can live up to that message.

-Win Bent, founder of Toolhaus.org

If you use Toolhaus, tell us how it helps you (as a buyer and/or seller) and what you will do with out it, and what you think eBay needs to do and why.



Comments (23) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback   eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback
by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed Nov 9 14:50:16 2016
Used to use it but when Ebay decided that feedback would no longer impact sellers accounts it became irrelivent.

The paranoid are the ones who might be using it now as they completely believe feedback is an omen of future problems with a buyer or seller.
Perminate Link for eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback   eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback
by: 27tcle This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed Nov 9 15:10:36 2016
Cannot resist this one. The worst mistake ebay ever did was get rid of negative feedback to warn people about scamming buyers, and that was made worse hen they made the names anonymous. This alone cut sales by 2/3. People like to know if they are bidding against a human or a shill, or if it's a couple people working togther at gaming the system.
Perminate Link for eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback   eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback
by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed Nov 9 17:45:18 2016
Back in the day, as a seller, I would use feedback as a tool "to see who I was REALLY" dealing with.

Once eBay changed the rules and made it one sided (just so that they could try and once again copy Amazon) transparency went out the window.

eBay then ceased to be an "online trading company" aka a platform, and it became a "managed marketplace".

Managed of course means "the more money you give us, the more dirty tricks we will do for you".

Awhile back - when eBay was courting large retailers and brands - I commented her about finding 1 or 2 (with out TRYING to look for them) whose feedback was hidden and/or had abysmal feedbacks.

What that all proved was, that eBay wasnt interested in the "quality of the sale", just the back end monies the big guys would give them.

With only a %3 growth rate, eBay has ALOT to worry about, and hidding data helps them convince people that "all is well in eBayland" ...... but talk to their sellers - and you'll find out QUICKLY ... the emperor has no clothes!
Perminate Link for eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback   eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback
by: Volvo351 This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed Nov 9 18:20:39 2016
There's an old maxim when it comes to data analysis: Garbage In, Garbage Out. eBay has turned its FB system to garbage.
Perminate Link for eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback   eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback
by: aim04744 This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed Nov 9 21:35:56 2016
Well thank goodness I have moved most of my very small business to Tradesy.  
Perminate Link for eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback   eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback
This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford
       
Thu Nov 10 07:00:11 2016
Don't you love a message from a buyer which states "you didn't leave me positive feedback yet".  Does anyone even look at buyer feedback anymore? It is meaningless. I never even give it anymore unless I'm asked to do so.

Will someone please let me know what the value of giving buyer feedback is as it relates to eBay in the year 2016.
Perminate Link for eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback   eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback
by: gizmo This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu Nov 10 10:16:13 2016
One word sums up ebay. SUCKS
Perminate Link for eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback   eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback
by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu Nov 10 11:43:42 2016
@rexford

Its an exercise in stupidity.
Perminate Link for eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback   eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback
This user has validated their user name. by: Marie
       
Thu Nov 10 11:53:02 2016
Toolhaus use to be a very desirable source of information.  But once we moved past being able to leave negative or neutral FB for buyers, it just didn't have as much importance to me.  Again, I do firmly believe Toolhaus proved a very good service back in the day, but not so much anymore with the changes in FB rules.

Looking up a buyer just didn't always tell you the real story whether on Ebay or Toolhaus.  

I'm with Rexford, looking up a buyer's FB just doesn't tell you much anymore.  However I do still look up the FB LEFT by a buyer.  Now that can still be very informative.  
Perminate Link for eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback   eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback
by: RL15 This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu Nov 10 12:18:26 2016

I just tried Toolhaus, it worked fine.
Perminate Link for eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback   eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback
by: Alma St. Goods This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu Nov 10 18:09:28 2016
VERY simple solution. Would have worked for Watchcount as well.

Phone apps. Turn toolhaus (and watchcount) into android/apple apps.  This would disperse the info request to all around the world making it a LOT harder to block.  
Perminate Link for eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback   eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback
This user has validated their user name. by: Marie
       
Thu Nov 10 18:21:31 2016
You can't disperse information you can't get.  Toolhaus's problem as I understand it from the article above is that Ebay has masked the user names and dates on the FB.  
Perminate Link for eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback   eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback
by: comet This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri Nov 11 01:51:26 2016
I  very  much  liked  using  Toolhaus  when  they had the info FROM  ebay  to  give to US  when  we  went  there.  But--if  they have NO  info   going  into  their site--they can't  very well give anything to US.  

Ebay has  once again  demonstrated  just  how  little  it cares  for the people  who pay  THEIR bills---We;  the sellers.  This has been evident  in  their arrogant  stance  on  feedback;  how sellers  can  be abused and trashed  and still have to smile  and TAKE IT---but  I  am preaching to the choir  here.  

It's  the "I've  got  mine,  up  yours"  attitude  I  find  most infuriating.  
Perminate Link for eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback   eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback
by: Jester This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri Nov 11 04:25:06 2016
What is really sad is that with all the glitches, outages and system and infrastructure problems eBay decides to focus their IT people on hiding info from us. Really? Pick your battles and fix eBay don't spend your time fixing something that ain't broke.
Perminate Link for eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback   eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback
by: epuise This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri Nov 11 10:03:32 2016
Why would Feedback be hidden ? Must be something to hide.
Perminate Link for eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback   eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback
by: a_c_green This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri Nov 11 10:48:00 2016
@Jester:
> What is really sad is that with all the glitches, outages and
> system and infrastructure problems eBay decides to focus
> their IT people on hiding info from us.

Beyond that, eBay also hides their IT people from us. Good luck trying to have a meaningful dialogue, engineer-to-engineer, with someone on their side of the wall who either can comprehend a bug report or needs help fixing same.  
Perminate Link for eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback   eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback
by: flybuy This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri Nov 11 11:10:00 2016
As a buyer I still use Toolhaus.org. I look for patterns in the feedback such as sellers who pack items poorly or claim an item is an original when in fact it is a cheap reproduction.
There is a group on Facebook where sellers post the buyers they block and why.
Recently I wanted to buy a very rare item but passed because the seller had a ton of negative feedback.

I do agree ebay should bring back negative buyer feedback so sellers can block the scam artists.
Perminate Link for eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback   eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback
by: ebay refugee camp This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri Nov 11 11:21:42 2016
ebay wants to remove all the proof that all they care about is buyers and the fees and they will do anything to sellers to keep those fees. The dollar signs dancing in the heads of executives at ebay is the problem, and it will never stop. The board and wall street flash those millions in cash and stock to these prople and in my opinion they would steal from their own family to get it.
Perminate Link for eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback   eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback
by: Toledo Maude This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri Nov 11 12:54:06 2016
For the most part when leaving a buyer feedback, I see it as a goodwill gesture to the buyer.  

As with too many things with eBay, overtime useful tools for selling such as feedback has been so badly re-engineered that feedback today is mostly ignored and useless.  
Perminate Link for eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback   eBay Thwarts Popular Tool by Cloaking Feedback
by: NetSellsIt This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri Nov 11 12:55:04 2016
If the only feedback a ''Buyer'' can receive is ''Positive'', why would any Seller need an analysis tool?  Buyer feedback is irrelevant now.
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