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eBay Test Hints at Feedback Changes Ahead

eBay confirmed it is running tests of its feedback system after some sellers reported the marketplace was hiding seller feedback on listing pages. eBay spokesperson Karen Crocker Snell confirmed the tests and said the company would use the results to improve the customer experience.

Sellers began noticing missing feedback on May 6th – it initially came in as a report on the Ecommerce EKG board for reporting technical issues. But Snell said it was not a glitch, and provided EcommerceBytes with the following statement on May 8th:

We’re currently conducting some user experience testing for a subset of users with the goal of improving the shopping experience. Among a randomly selected group of buyers, we’re looking to understand whether the visibility of seller feedback information on a seller’s profile and Top Rated Seller Plus icons influence purchasing behavior. We’ll utilize the information gathered from these tests to help improve the customer experiences for both sellers and buyers.

eBay users can find such tests frustrating since eBay doesn’t inform users when it makes changes, and, as is the case with the current feedback tests, the experience becomes inconsistent from user to user. One eBay user explained the frustration in a thread on the eBay boards, saying she thought it was a glitch and found it very annoying and a waste of time. “It would be nice when you “Beta Test” that you’d let people know who are in the test that it’s not something wrong with their computer. I don’t appreciate having to trouble shoot my computer for errors when it’s just eBay messing with programing again,” she wrote.

eBay’s head of community Jeff Terrell said that for some buyers, having to consider whether or not the seller is a good seller or not is a distraction – “the buyer should trust that seller, and if the seller fails to perform, eBay’s Money Back Guarantee is there to take care of the buyer. The buyer can focus on buying the item,” he said.

A user responded, “Good grief, if seeing seller’s FB # and % is distressful and taxing on some buyer’s brains, then maybe online buying isn’t for them.”

Sellers discussing the tests on the EcommerceBytes Blog had mixed reaction – some said they would not be upset if it went away. Others said it was the frequency of changes that was most upsetting. And yet others expressed skepticism that if eBay management set out to improve feedback, they might only make it worse.

Comment on the EcommerceBytes Blog.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
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.