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eBay Changes Feedback System, Questions Remain

eBay changed its feedback system by adding a new component about delivery performance, but it failed to tell sellers if it will use the information collected to reward or penalize their standings, nor did eBay respond to our inquiries.

A new yes/no question asks buyers to answer the following question when leaving feedback for sellers: “Did your item arrive on or before…” and fills it in with what it calls the “Estimated Delivery Date.” That’s a calculation eBay performs, not sellers, and many have complained that by displaying aggressive dates on listings, eBay over-promises, leading to buyer disappointment.

eBay rolled out the change to feedback before informing sellers – and once it did announce the change, eBay was vague about how it would use the information collected from buyers. “It would be nice to know if this question is being counted against sellers in any way related to the defect policy, or if it is strictly for eBay informational purposes,” a seller commented.

The delay in informing sellers and the lack of clarity are ironic given that eBay also uses Feedback to collect information from buyers on how well sellers communicate.

In its announcement, eBay wrote, “This new question is designed to give eBay additional insight into the on-time item delivery experience – especially on transactions where tracking is limited.”

We have been following the testing of the new feedback question since May, and when it became apparent eBay had rolled out the change, we surveyed readers to find out what they thought.

Survey Says,…
The EcommerceBytes survey opened on Sunday, July 19th, and we closed the survey after eBay posted its announcement board on Thursday, July 23rd.

We asked sellers to rate the new Feedback question on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “Poor” and 5 being “Excellent.” The overall rating gave the new question a 1.4. (80% gave it a Poor, only 1.4% gave it a rating of Excellent.)

We also asked sellers, “Do you think that overall, eBay’s feedback system is effective?” 14% said yes, 86% said no.

Much of the dissatisfaction with eBay feedback comes from sellers’ inability to give buyers a neutral or negative rating. For years now sellers have complained that bad buyers have taken advantage of what they call a “one-sided” system.

We asked sellers, “Have you ever had a transaction in which you felt a BUYER used the threat of negative feedback to make a demand?” 73% answered yes.

See more about the survey results including seller comments in the AuctionBytes Blog. Thank you to the readers who took time to take they survey, and please feel free to share these results with your colleagues by sending them a link to this story.

Comment on the AuctionBytes 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). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.