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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 1602 - August 17, 2007 - ISSN 1539-5065    1 of 3

eBay Changes Feedback, Cracks Down on Seller Non-Performance

By Ina Steiner
August 17, 2007

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AuctionBytes reported in June that eBay was cracking down on sellers who breached its non-performance policy. On Monday, eBay made the first public announcement to users about the new methodology in enforcing the policy, part of which entails treating neutral feedback ratings as negatives.

eBay Senior Vice President of Auctions Philipp Justus posted on the eBay Announcement on August 13th a message entitled, "Understanding eBay's Seller Non-Performance Policy Enforcement." In it, he explained that eBay has begun enforcing the Seller Non-Performance policy in stricter ways than in the past by considering a seller's buyer dissatisfaction rate:

Sellers who have demonstrated buyer dissatisfaction rates greater than 5 percent within a 90-day window are now subject to temporary 14-day restrictions in the form of selling sanctions or reduced listing volume. Sellers with dissatisfaction rates that are 10 percent or greater are now subject to indefinite restrictions until they improve their buyer dissatisfaction rates to less than 5 percent.

eBay measures a seller's buyer dissatisfaction rate by looking at two metrics: the percentage of negative and neutral feedback they've received and the percentage of Item Not Received complaints filed against them.

In the past, neutral ratings did not affect sellers' reputation in terms of their overall positive rating. Now, eBay is taking into account neutral ratings when deciding whether to restrict sellers' accounts. Sellers believe that neutrals are not equivalent to negative ratings.

Justus says in his board post, "Through our quantitative research as well as many conversations with community members, we have found that neutral feedback is most often an expression of deep buyer dissatisfaction. Therefore, leaving it out of the calculation would mask a significant part of the issue. Ultimately, only positive feedback is an indication of satisfied customers."

Justus also said that while the newly introduced Detailed Seller Ratings are not currently used in buyer dissatisfaction calculations, eBay will use them in the future.

Some sellers believe the crackdown will encourage mutual feedback removal (where buyers and sellers agree to remove a rating), in effect neutering the feedback system.

Others have complained that eBay's math is incorrect in calculating percentages, or that when they fix their ratings, they cannot get reinstated. A reader wrote to AuctionBytes that he thought the policy was good, but "I was just a little shocked to get one on my account. It didn't matter how you sliced it, this account has no open disputes and has never had more than 5% negative and neutral feedback. I have larger accounts with gold powerseller support. I called to talk to my account rep, guess what. My account rep is no longer at ebay and for the last 3 weeks I haven't been able to get a new rep assigned. I was told ebay is restructuring this department."

Justus acknowledged in his board post that eBay needs to do a better job communicating with sellers, helping them understand what to do to avoid problems, or resolve them after they've occurred. He did not elaborate on exactly how eBay plans to do a better job, however.

A recent AuctionBytes survey revealed that sellers are divided on the seller non-performance crackdown: 30 percent of respondents believed the crackdown was the best policy implemented by eBay in the last 2 years, while 9 percent believed it was the worst policy implemented by eBay in the last 2 years (http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abu/y207/m08/abu0196/s02)

eBay claims that the new enforcement impacts the bottom 1 percent of current sellers who cause 35 percent of the negative buying experiences on the site. "The whole marketplace, and especially the 99% of our good sellers, will benefit by cracking down on bad buyer experiences in this way."

What do you think? Leave a comment on the AuctionBytes Blog: http://tinyurl.com/yoxrsq


About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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