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eBay Makes Controversial Change to Feedback

eBay made a change to one aspect of its feedback system that makes it more difficult for sellers to assess their actual or potential trading partners. UK sellers woke up to the change on Tuesday, with no announcement from eBay about whether it was a test or a permanent change.

eBay removed the “Feedback left for others” tab on a user’s feedback page in the UK – so far the feature remains available on eBay.com.

A UK reader told EcommerceBytes why the feature was important to sellers: “Since eBay restricted sellers to leaving only positive feedback we’ve relied on the feedback buyers have left for sellers to identify potentially problematic transactions. We have even developed a system to read and analyse this feedback.”

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On an eBay discussion board thread, a buyer said the change put eBay on par with other online retail sites. But a seller replied, “not really,” and explained why they believed there was a difference.

One reason the seller cited: “if an online retailer received an empty cardboard box as a return they would not refund the buyer.” The seller said the act of removing the Feedback left for others feature was one more instance of eBay removing tools that helped to lessen buyer fraud.

The buyer’s response highlighted the tensions between buyers and sellers on eBay when he wrote, “I don’t personally like to be regarded with suspicion, so if I were using eBay to buy I think I’d be quite happy to have my feedback to sellers kept private – well, private-ish anyway. Packages go missing, arrive damaged, etc. all the time. It’s a fact of life. If I happen to have a run of bad luck with deliveries I don’t want a bunch of suspicious minds marking me off as a fraudster, thanks. If there’s a problem with a delivery, I expect to find a sympathetic seller who’s willing to help sort things out, and – you know – that’s mostly what I get. Because I avoid eBay.”

He then noted, “On other threads I see sellers complaining there aren’t enough buyers. Hmmm.”

The buyer’s comments may actually be seen as an argument for more transparency on eBay rather than less: since sellers can’t tell if a buyer has a history of bad behavior, they suspect even good buyers in their attempts to protect themselves.

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Ina Steiner

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. Send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.


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