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How Sellers Feel about eBay Feedback and Why

Feedback survey feedback

Feedback survey feedbackIs the eBay feedback system still relevant? We surveyed readers this month to find out.

Seller feedback is an important consideration when making purchasing decisions on eBay, according to a majority of EcommerceBytes readers (80%) who took a recent survey. Yet only half of respondents (50%) said eBay feedback is still relevant.

That may seem like a paradox until you consider the one-sided nature of the eBay feedback system: eBay buyers are free to rate sellers how they choose, but sellers may only leave positive feedback for buyers. “Feedback is one sided so what is the point. Not a true score for the buyers at all,” one seller wrote.

The survey also exposes an interesting aspect of eBay feedback: many respondents said they welcome feedback from customers even though they may also feel they are susceptible to unjustified feedback from bad buyers. Sellers shared a number of reasons for welcoming feedback: it lets sellers know the buyer received the item; feedback lets other shoppers know they had good experiences with the seller; and it lets sellers know if there are areas in which they need to improve.

A number of sellers even said feedback from buyers provides positive reinforcement. It can provide a “moral boost” or be “quite uplifting,” sellers said.

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“I like receiving feedback from my buyers which often feels good and gives me a guide to how well I am doing in just meeting expectations or above average service,” wrote one seller. “I consider the feedback I receive very important as it is the only way I can know how my customers feel about shopping with me.”

But despite the strong positive feelings many sellers get from reading good feedback about their performance, it’s tempered by the shortcomings of the feedback system. When we asked, “As a seller, do you think your eBay feedback represents your performance accurately?” 57% said yes.

The comments left by sellers provided insight: some respondents noted that they lived in fear that a bad buyer or a competitor could unfairly hurt their reputation. And many felt the feedback system set them up for extortion by bad buyers.

There were plenty of critiques about eBay feedback – such as not being given an opportunity to make things right for the customer before the customer is able to leave a negative. And not being able to get an eBay customer service rep to change clearly incorrect or unjustified ratings.

In addition, some felt buyers weren’t always honest with their feedback for sellers. “Because negative comments left by any buyer for whatever reason can dissuade a future sale,” said one.

Others said that these days, far fewer buyers take the trouble to leave seller feedback at all. “I get maybe one out of 15 buyers that will leave me feedback. I have been selling since 2001, it seems less and less buyers ever leave feedback unless they have a complaint,” said one seller. And that can hurt low-volume sellers because a few negs can be disproportionately harmful, a few said.

“Many of my buyers don’t leave feedback but some will send me an email to my email address to tell me they have received their item and thank me,” wrote another respondent. “It seems as though the emphasis eBay puts on feedback for sellers is outdated. Also the fact that sellers cannot leave buyers negative feedback is crazy – no wonder there are so many sellers who get scammed.”

Some other critiques: buyers leave product reviews instead of seller reviews; buyers rate sellers on things outside their control, such as postal issues; and a few said they felt having to leave buyers feedback was a chore.

Sellers made suggestions on how eBay could improve the feedback system, rather than eliminate it.

“We truly hope eBay retains the feedback system,” one seller wrote. “It is the only reliable performance measure on the site.”

One seller suggested eBay make more room for sellers to respond to buyers’ feedback comments.

The feedback system itself is one thing, but how eBay enforces feedback is another: a whopping 89% of respondents said they don’t think eBay enforces its feedback policy consistently across all types of sellers.

Some said they didn’t know how fairly eBay enforced its policy, but many indicated they believe eBay favors large “mega-sellers,” either by letting them sell despite accruing negative feedback ratings, or by routinely scrubbing their negative ratings.

“Larger sellers have many negatives and are still up and running. Small sellers who reach the max defects get punished,” said one seller.

“I believe very large sellers get neg feedback removed as a matter of course,” wrote another.

“Sellers with the big stores get much different treatment than the small sellers, said another respondent. “They even get “dedicated” customer service reps, so right there, that should tell you something.”

Survey Results
Here are the results of the quantitative questions we asked, followed by a sampling of respondents’ answers when asked what they liked best and what they liked least about eBay feedback as a seller.

Is eBay feedback still relevant?

Yes: 50%
No: 50%

As a buyer, do (you) consider an eBay seller’s feedback before making a purchase?

Yes: 80%
No: 20%

As a seller, do you think your eBay feedback represents your performance accurately?

Yes: 57%
No: 43%

Do you think eBay enforces its feedback policy consistently across all types of sellers?

Yes: 11%
No: 89%

eBay Feedback from the Seller Point of View: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
We asked readers what they liked best and what they liked least about eBay feedback as a seller. The following is a sample of the most representative responses we received:

Since we pride our self with having great customer experience at least other buyers know they can trust us.

I think it gives actual insight into the sellers’ performance. It provides something tangible beyond marketplace “hype” such as badges, promotional status, or other assistance that can be bought by the seller or subsidized by the market place or created through algorithm.

I think having numerous five-star feedback examples with glowing reviews which recognize high quality products and the highest standards of customer service are important to maintaining a solid reputation as a seller on eBay. It would be a big mistake to further limit or eliminate feedback on eBay.

Keeps me focus on my selling performance.

If buyers would leave feedback it would help the sellers rating, but not all do that

Sometimes gives me a needed moral boost to know I have happy satisfied customers

Some of the comments are truly a hoot and quite uplifting.

The ability to thank my customer and praise them publicly; plus I think that giving feedback to the buyer makes it more likely that we’ll then receive feedback from them.

Positive feedback conveys trust and professionalism and is essential for pricy merchandise, electronics, and items subject to high returns.

I like getting confirmation from the buyer that they have received the item and are satisfied with the purchase. I also enjoy reading the positive feedback, for many of mine aren’t just generic messages, many people take the time to leave a personal feedback.

As an established seller, eBay feedback for me is no longer necessary. Feedback is optional and glad it is. Feedback is always appreciated, but a personal thank you message from a buyer means so much more. Neither seller or buyer are under any obligation to leave it and that is fine with me.

Ability to reply to nuts, novices, and non readers.

I work very hard to make every transaction perfect and my feedback reflects that.

That prospective buyers can see that I am a trusted seller on Ebay. With so many Chinese rip-off sellers on the site, I like to differentiate myself from them. It has taken me 14 long, hard years to earn 26,000+ feedback.

The fact that I can at least answer unfair criticism.

I feel it makes my buyers more comfortable.

I enjoy receiving comments about how well the items are packed, or how it’s just so perfect and everything they were hoping for. I like that those types of comments are there, but you may have to dig to see them after they get buried under one-word feedbacks like great, good, yes, and all kinds of craziness.

It’s nice to see customers are happy with your product transactions but I think after a certain number you should just become a verified eBay member where people can be confident buying from you without comments from the peanut gallery from people that don’t really use eBay enough to know what real feedback is

(I like) that I receive excellent feedback. However, one or two malicious buyers could cause problems at any time. A seller in the UK was accused of creating multiple fake accounts and harassing sellers with fake purchases. The same type of tactic could be used to post bad feedback on less expensive items. Finally, with some effort, the feedback system can be used to link buyers and sellers of unique items. (This is a double edged sword.)

I’m happy when I get good, honest feedback and generally my feedback is excellent. I don’t often get bad feedback but when I do it’s usually something that could easily have been put right if I had known about it. This means that they haven’t contacted me even though I believe that they are asked to confirm that they have contacted the seller before leaving neutral or negative feedback. If a buyer lies about this why should anyone believe the feedback comment, yet it’s very difficult and time-consuming to get any feedback removed these days, so I don’t usually bother.

Just to know that the buyer received it and is pleased with their purchase. I really don’t want to be graded on the speed of the Post Office or other shipping companies.

I like to know what the buyer thinks of the product. My return rate is less than 1%.

It promotes the uniqueness of eBay maintaining the people buying from people format.

That in my premium and anchor stores leaving FB for buyers is automated.

I appreciate hearing from my customers. I think we would receive more messages saying “thank you” if they weren’t able to leave feedback. This would result in an obligation to respond.

I sell a lot of glass and if used correctly can let buyers know that I am very careful to pack well so the item is received unharmed.

Feedback give credibility to sellers and helps customers feel more confident in making online purchases. Especially when you get into large dollar amounts.

Before they took away negatives for buyers, it was the perfect checks and balances as buyers and sellers knew they were on a level playing field and if one left an unwarranted negative the other could retaliate.

I love reading my satisfied customers feedback. It makes me smile. But I don’t really check it that often anymore.

(I like) that I can reply to negatives.

Most buyers are honest good people.

My biggest problem is that buyers don’t leave it at all. They don’t appreciate the effort it takes to get a 90 piece set of china bubble wrapped and packed well, so there is no breakage, for shipping. They assume I am a company with several employees when in fact it’s just my elderly self and my elderly husband.

I hate it and stress everyday. It’s the first we look at when logging in.

(I don’t like) that I can’t leave negative feedback for rude nasty buyer who is threatening and refuses to work out the most minor issue. That eBay refuses to remove negative feedback even if you have good reason. Even if you can prove your side.

No need to give customer feedback since you can only give positive feedback. Might as well remove that and have only seller feedback.

I feel sellers should be able to counter negative experiences with a buyer on a buyers page of feedback. The way it used to be.

No good recourse when a buyer leaves a false feedback, unless, of course, you are one of the “special” sellers.

It works well for me. Over the years, I have had a few neutral feedbacks which were actually positive, and even a few negatives as a result of small human errors which could have been easily rectified with an email. It would be nice if, after such small defects are corrected, eBay had a good policy of changing or eliminating the negative feedback without making a big production out of it.

When a transaction is canceled there is no way to leave FB. A seller may have shown great integrity and honesty about a return or a lost item (so sale could not be fulfilled) – NO WAY to leave FB for them. OR for someone whose POOR PACKING resulted in shipping damage and I returned the item.

Buyers shouldn’t be able to leave a negative without contacting you first.

I am too often punished for a problem or delay that was caused by the USPS. Also, in free returns the seller should only have to pay return shipping IF the buyer goes through eBay for the label and only if they use the same shipping choice that they received.

It seems most buyers don’t bother with feedback anymore. So when a low volume seller like myself gets hit with less than positive feedback, it can destroy a sellers reputation.

Unfair buyer feedback. Inability for sellers to respond appropriately

Buyers use it to rate the item they purchased instead of the service we have provided.

That you can tell nothing about buyers from their feedback.

Manipulation from buyers and buyer feedback blackmail

When ebay allows Sellers who use “shilling” to jack up selling prices to post feedback misleading other Buyers.

Buyers aren’t forced to send a message to a seller before leaving negative feedback

Hard to remove unjust negatives

I don’t like that Buyers still feel that they can use feedback as extortion.

I’ve only had one negative and wasn’t deserved from a buyer who was hard to please, so on that point it’s OK. I’m fortunate to have mostly good buyers but dislike not being able to leave negative feedback for a buyer who has caused problems, in order to warn other sellers. It’s not a level playing field and another silly ebay rule.

When we call and reps cannot do anything about feedback on us which is not correct.

When the feedback is truly wrong, eBay provides little help to remove it.

It is held over our heads like blackmail, “you better perform to these standards or we will bury your listings”

When the customer doesn’t leave feedback.

Not being able to know if someone is scammer or has issues in buying these things can hurt seller badly if good sales don’t do feedback

You can’t get disgruntled feedback removed when you can prove you’re in the right.

Our reputations and what other potential buyers read about us is totally in the hands of other buyers. If we don’t give partial refunds – negative. If we don’t give 30 day returns – negative. I sell pre-owned clothing. Do you know how much weight someone can lose or gain in a month? A size maybe two. I’m not going to play and be someone’s free rental service maybe while they go on a vacation.

When a buyer leaves a product review instead of rating the service.

When someone leaves a neutral or neg without ever asking for help

Not able to leave negative feedback for nonpayment.

It tends to be left only by people who are unhappy or confused.

I don’t like that neutral and negatives show up as surprises to the sellers, I feel that eBay should offer sellers the opportunity to review and address any non-positive feedback before being published and part of the sellers’ permanent record. A negative FB is a “customer complaint” and should be treated as such. I also believe feedback as a seller and as a buyer should be in completely different “buckets”

That there is absolutely NO WAY to leave negative or neutral feedback about a buyer no matter how AWFUL the transaction turned out to be. Also, I have an item that was purchased, but never paid for. It was months ago, and STILL shows up on my feedback page asking me to leave positive feedback. Really??? I have deleted it time after time, and next time I go in to leave feedback, there is it once again. Just another glitch in the system.

The fact that dishonest buyers hold it over your neck as a threat.

Difficulty locating where to leave it.

It can be very unfair. I had a buyer leave feedback saying the product was too small and expensive even though she said it was a very good product. The size was mentioned multiple times in the listing and shown in the photos and the price was what she paid (and less than the retail value!). I got ebay to remove it though.

Buyers extort you with it all the time.

It seems as though that for whatever reason some buyers will neglect to leave positive feedback but jump on a negative experience and leave feedback accordingly.

Buyers grumping about price or shipping costs. Both are clearly stated. If you don’t like either one, don’t buy!

(Lack of) support for mistaken feedback.

I haven’t had an issue, but some customers will rate the product negatively, which may not describe the experience with the seller.

When buyers don’t pay the items still remain on the list to be given FB even though you can’t give it. I wish there was a way to leave NPB FB.

The potential for a disgruntled buyer to use feedback as a weapon and for extortion distorts the transaction.

I am not able to screen buyers based on their feedback, since sellers cannot accurately rate experiences with buyers.

The inability to leave truthful feedback for problem buyers

You cannot rebut negative feedback from someone you know is wrong

It’s over weighted to those who actually leave feedback. What about the 90% of transactions that nothing was left? Have to assume those were positive.

We can no longer defend ourselves if false negatives are posted.

One bad feedback cancels out hundreds of good. Customers can leave bad feedback without contacting us first.

My competition passes off junk as refurbished, provide crappy service, and overcharge on shipping and get poor DSRs in response but this has no impact on their competitiveness as eBay doesn’t care about DSRs any more. They operate the profit maximizing solution. That drives people off the marketplace, and drives my prices down as Cassini loves low prices as it has no way of measuring quality.

eBay has allowed it to become corrupted by allowing buyers to post feedback that isn’t true in attempts to win concessions from sellers, etc. Sellers now have little chance of fighting this and future buyers are deceived unfairly, too.

That I don’t get an automatic positive and 5 stars when a buyer decides not to leave any kind of feedback. I mean, all is well or they would have said something!

Erroneous metrics.

I don’t like that eBay will not remove feedback if buyers are complaining about something that has nothing to do with your transaction. I don’t like that buyers are able to leave feedback after an item has been returned with nothing wrong with it, yet they returned it under false pretenses, eBay protects buyers more than sellers and we the sellers suffer the losses.

That they will not remove for the same reasons as Amazon.

Getting blamed for postal rates and late deliveries.

Sellers should be able to leave less than positive buyers less than positive feedback, mainly as warning to other sellers. Bad buyers should NOT be allowed to hide behind 100% positive feedback when they’re definitely not 100% honest with sellers.

It destroys privacy on the site and it potentially exposes individuals with marginal literary skills to ridicule. An honest rating system would be preferable. Expectations should be changed. A 4 or 5 rating should be very good or exceptional. A 3 rating should be acceptable. Ratings of 1 or 2 should be a cause for concern. The idea that 5 stars is needed for every transaction is bad. Buyers cannot leave nuanced ratings. This should be changed.

That they still allow garbage comments from buyers that NEVER CONTACT the seller before leaving the comment.

Obviously that you can’t leave appropriate buyer feedback. Plus the new feedback page is awful.

The star ratings are unfair.

Weird comments like: “this will make a great gift for my mother”. “g”, product reviews, religious messages, and rants.

The glowing feedback verbiage and accompanying low score(s). I cannot draw specifics from it to make improvements. The cost of shipping has nothing to do with performance – we generally can’t control it. If buyers don’t like the cost of shipping, purchase from someone else. Finally, as a seller I can only leave positive feedback – if that’s not control, I don’t know what is.

Bring back FULL feedback both ways and get rid of the stars.

eBay no longer reminds buyers to leave feedback. It is difficult to find feedback on page. It depends upon the buyer’s perception of their item as to how they rate

Can’t leave negative feedback for bad buyers. Been that way for years though. Seems like feedback is setup to dumb it down where “Everybody gets a prize” that’s not how life works. There are jerks and scam artists out there and they need to be called out.

Having to contact eBay about a FB that needs to be altered or removed because of the effect on our metrics.

It doesn’t show how many successful transactions I’ve actually had over the years

Anonymous feedback is worthless

There is no specific date when the feedback was given. This for example would help me to determine the delivery time for international orders. Of course, not everybody leaves FB when they receive the order but some do and this helps to get an idea about the delivery time to various regions of the world because 1st class packages to many countries don’t get the delivery scan.

It only represents approx 30% of your sales history

The inability to get libelous and defamatory statements removed and the inability to get false neutrals removed. There’s nothing neutral about the statement “Everything Perfect” and yet, we have a neutral we’ve been wearing which says exactly that.

Competitors and buyers who don’t read descriptions and have unrealistic expectations can easily destroy a sellers reputation.

It’s one more hoop that I have to accomplish.

The inability for eBay reps to remove feedback that is obviously left for the wrong reason.

Unfair for low volume high dollar sellers.

I dislike that it’s subjective and that eBay allows most feedback to stand, even for things a seller has no control over, such as a buyer who didn’t read a product description and complains about something that was disclosed in the listing.

Not being able to leave appropriate feedback for Buyers that 1) Do Not Pay, 2) Grumble about SHIPPING Problems – that are out of your control – or try to 3) extort to get an item free or cheap.

It’s just a constant worry and a constant stress.

Feedback as a weapon. The use of threatening to leave negative if I don’t accept a return (I am a no returns seller), or give a partial refund for some perceived flaw.

Buyers that mistakenly use it for product review.

Quite simply, it can be bought.

Everything. Always worry about getting feedback in error, revenger, competitor.

Inflexibility and feeling like a hostage to a buyer’s whim.

I have 100% feedback and I live in fear of some inexperienced or unreasonable buyer leaving an undeserved negative that eBay would not remove.

That it can be utterly ruined with lies. With sales so sluggish, at maybe two per month these days, and the low participation rate, a single lie can have devastating consequences. While the removal of negative feedback for buyers solved one problem (retaliation from crooked sellers), it clearly created another just as bad (rendering sellers defenseless against crooked buyers).

It can be left before there is any option to rectify the issue the buyer has

Sellers need more space in the “reply to feedback left portion” to explain situations when you get the nutcase who leaves a negative full of lies and melodrama. Tracking numbers alone eat up a huge portion of response space. Maybe have a space to put in tracking numbers that is separate from the comment section.

The fact that we cannot be honest regarding the experience we have with our customers. We don’t believe in retailitory feedback, nor do we have the need to leave it, but sellers should be able to alert other sellers about the time in which a customer takes to pay, their communication, and how they handle any issues or returns which may result in their transaction.

DSR’s are pretty much worthless. They can be removed.

We’ll have more to report in this week’s Newsflash newsletter – be sure you are subscribed to the Newsflash email newsletter, and check back on EcommerceBytes.com throughout the week. And please leave a comment on the EcommerceBytes Blog.

Ina Steiner on EmailIna Steiner on LinkedinIna Steiner on Twitter
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.

2 thoughts on “How Sellers Feel about eBay Feedback and Why”

  1. If a buyer doesn’t leave feedback within 30 days then ebay should make the assumption that they are ‘happy’ and positive feedback should be automatically left.

  2. I personally think feedback is very important at least from the buyers perspective.

    For instance, an ad came across Facebook for a product I thought interesting and worth buying. I went to Amazon to see what the feedback was on the product. Feedback was horrible and so ended the interest.

    With Amazon feedback so bad it is probably why they are advertising on Facebook now.

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