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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 1785 - May 08, 2008 - ISSN 1539-5065    1 of 4

Hang Tight, More eBay Feedback Changes Coming

By Ina Steiner
May 08, 2008

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Sellers could hardly believe their eyes when they read eBay's January 29 manifesto announcing radical changes to the auction site, especially the news that, beginning in May, sellers would no longer be able to leave buyers negative or neutral feedback. eBay posted an update on Wednesday, giving sellers more details - and dropping another bombshell. eBay will no longer allow Mutual Feedback Withdrawal, a procedure that lets buyers and sellers withdraw their feedback ratings by mutual consent. In addition, sellers will no longer be able to use SquareTrade's online dispute resolution service to aid in feedback removal.

After much consideration, we've made the decision to remove the Mutual Feedback Withdrawal process. The reason is that - under the new rules - it opens sellers up to extortion. As part of this decision, Mutual Agreement from third-party Feedback mediation services, such as SquareTrade, will also no longer be accepted.

Users posting on eBay's Feedback discussion forum questioned why eBay had told users in January that it would "align" the Mutual Feedback Withdrawal process with the new system in the second half of 2008, but instead are doing away with it completely and giving sellers effectively no notice (http://forums.ebay.com/db2/thread.jspa?threadID=2000564102&start=0).

Other members could not agree what eBay meant when it said MFW "opens sellers up to extortion" as a reason for the doing away with the process. Many posters appeared unhappy with the news of the demise of MFWs.

Another user wrote that he would have no reason for addressing a buyer's concern once they had given him a negative rating. He also pointed out that the MFW process helped in cases where buyers made mistakes when leaving feedback. "So now we have no way of removing those negative feedbacks that say "Great seller! Can't wait to buy again!" (people hitting the wrong buttons) or from people who leg a neg before they really understood what was going on."

One change to feedback revealed on Wednesday favors PowerSellers at a time when small sellers are feeling increasingly alienated. eBay wrote, "In January we mentioned that we'd block buyers from leaving negative or neutral Feedback for 3 days for sellers "with a track record." Since January, we've made the decision to increase the wait period to 7 days and define "track record" as active PowerSellers who have been on eBay for at least 12 months."

eBay also announced changes it would make in messaging to buyers, such as reminders that international transactions usually take longer to complete, and stressing the need to communicate with sellers.

eBay said it was introducing a new Buyer Requirement that will allow sellers to block buyers who have been reported by other sellers for eBay buying policy violations; that it was improving the process that sellers use to report buyers for policy violations; and was expanding the scope of the existing Buyer Requirement for unpaid items, so that it supports more comprehensive blocking of buyers who have a history of non-payment.

eBay feedback changes will roll out on May 19 and include additional modifications. eBay will base a user's positive feedback percentage on the past 12 months of activity; it will remove feedback when a buyer fails to respond to the unpaid item process; and it will remove negative and neutral feedback if a member becomes suspended. Weekly repeat feedback going back to 1996 will also count in the feedback percentage.

Feedback changes will roll out on the US site on May 19 (http://www2.ebay.com/aw/core/200805070903402.html), the UK site on May 15 (http://www2.ebay.com/aw/uk/200805071726242.html), and on eBay Australia on May 12 (http://www2.ebay.com/aw/au/200805081010192). The changes will roll out in France, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Poland and Belgium on May 20; in Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Malaysia and the Phillipines on May 21; and in Germany, Austria and Switzerland on May 22.

Comment on the AuctionBytes Blog:

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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