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Wed Jan 2 2008 09:46:46

Does eBay's New DSR Feedback System Work?

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay will soon begin using DSRs to determine how sellers are ranked in search results and will begin using DSRs in its Seller Non Performance policy. AuctionBytes took a look at DSRs (Detailed Seller Ratings) for eBay's highest-feedback sellers to see how well they performed, and is publishing the results in today's Newsflash newsletter. Update: Here's a link to the article, "eBay's Top Sellers Perform Poorly on Feedback 2.0"

What kind of Detailed Seller Ratings have you been getting? Does eBay's new feedback system work? We want to hear from buyers and sellers about their experiences and how satisfied they are with eBay's new DSR feedback system.

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by: Sue @ TameBay

Wed Jan 2 11:45:53 2008

4 stars out of 5 is labelled "reasonable" by eBay when you go to leave stars for S&H, yet sellers with a score of 3.9 are now going to be disadvantaged in search results by eBay UK for under-performance. Just how can "reasonable" be equated with "non-performing"?

Again, when you go to leave feedback, you're met with a GREAT BIG MESSAGE from eBay, letting you know that your DSR scores are anonymous and that your seller will never know what you left them.

It all feels to me like eBay *want* sellers to be marked down on DSRs.

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by: Steve

Wed Jan 2 12:10:58 2008

First off, I haven't fallen for the eBay spin on it’s adoption rate. 78% of people leaving feedback use them, but only 70% of people bother leaving feedback in the first place.
So the specific adoption rate of DSR’s is only 54.6% of all buying transactions. That’s not what I would call a positve result, more of a lethargic result.

The average figures quoted also show that the majority of scores left are straight 5’s. Remember that buyers can only rate whole numbers, and given that the median score left in all categories is over 4.5, would indicate that the majority of people are leaving 5’s rather than 4 or less. Even the bottom 10% of sellers are still rated 4+ !!!

Combining this with the first observation, would indicate that around 1% of all buying transactions result in a DSR score of 4 or less. if 99% of people are leaving straight 5’s, then why not extend the range? The more cynical amongst us will expect eBay to use this data to suggest that all is peachy in eBay-land and buyers are ecstatic with service levels, rather than apathetic about having to click a few extra buttons.

So eBay have admitted that they will be using these ratings to evaluate sellers, and use them to prioritise search results, which means that a small percentage of buyers will be able to influence the selling abilities of the many.

Once again emphasis is placed on ensuring that “buyers have a great experience on eBay”, but what about the sellers’ experience? Does that not count for anything?

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by: Brian

Wed Jan 2 12:36:36 2008

DSR is anonymous ? Not so, every feedback we receive we check our DSR to see if any dropped. If any dropped guess what buyer gets NO feedback. Shipping price versus time? Stupid you get cheaper surface shipping it takes longer. You get what you pay for. How does that become the sellers fault. Same as once item has shipped, seller has no control over the time it takes to deliver. A lot of these sellers are too lazy to go pick up their parcels, then blame the seller.

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by: Sally

Wed Jan 2 13:19:00 2008

The DSR system is a slippery slope.  I questioned Ebay using this system when it was first put in place and I still do.  It is NOT a representation of what a seller may or may not be doing.  

I have some of the lowest shipping on Ebay for what I sell.  Actual shipping plus about 50 cents for materials in most cases.  My sales state that an item that can be moved to First Class shipping within the Media Mail range will be bumped up.  For a $2.13 media price I charge $2.55.  My items are packaged and on the way within 2 days after the sale concludes - this is also true for all things sold at Amazon since that is part of your user agreement.  You agree to ship within 2 business days of purchase for items sold through the Amazon system.  For my customers, the only day I do NOT consider a business day is Sunday.

The RUB is that, even with low shipping charges, items bumped to a better shipping level and 2 day shipping, I can NOT get the DSR for shipping time & shipping charges above 4.8.  BUT!  You read my feedback and fast shipping is commented on for nearly every item.

As a seller - Power Seller or not - you are only as good as your customers satisfaction with the entire system.  Dealing with a buyer that has had negative experiences in the past absolutely influences how they rate you.  They come into the sale expecting you to take advantage of them and are standing at the finish line with their guns loaded LOOKING for problems.  I have been very lucky in this regard but I work darn hard to be SURE I build a relationship with my customer.  That means keeping in contact with them from day one until their item arrives. (I use a ''tickler'' file system for that.) I can do that because my volume allowes me to use that personal touch.  When you are moving 60 items a month instead of 600+, that is something you can factor into each sale.  BUT it is exactly this ability that cripples the larger volume sellers and brings their DSR ratings down!  Volume slows item movement down!  Bottom lines do not allow volume sellers to employ people to make it faster!

I have watched Ebay decline over some time now.  Sales are off over last December and last December was not much to brag about either.  Overall, after Ebay crippled store sales and took store items out of many searches, the number of people leaving Ebay has increased.  If things don't change I will soon follow that trend and shut my store down, lot out my items and call it a day.  That is about 2000 items OUT of the Ebay system when I leave. Not all that many.  But leaving Ebay appears to be a slow, steady increase.  I know that many store owners are like I am.  I refuse to put items at auction simply because 40% sell through is not worth the fees on things like children's books!

What I find the most interesting is that Amazon item counts have increased dramatically!  I am now seeing the sellers I watched at Ebay, at Amazon. And I believe the DSR has contributed to that.  It is not the only factor but it certainly has not made selling easier!  I also believe that Ebay was attempting to copy the Amazon rating system.  The DIFFERENCE is that at Amazon you KNOW who left you the stars you earned because it is tied to their comments!  A problem is pretty hard to correct when you can not get someone to tell you what the problem IS!

I truly feel that Ebay is so out of touch with the sellers that they simply do not get the issues!  But to rank where someone's items are placed in a search based on the DSR system?

Frankly, that's bad business.

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by: Fruity

Wed Jan 2 14:24:24 2008

Ina and megasellers: You know last year Bill Cobb had that summit and he only invited bigtime sellers. From what I remember feedback 2.0 was disclosed and previewed. I would like to know if PESA and also IMA knew about the DSR system back then? Cuz if I am right, I thought PESA supported the DSR. Here, in the back of the bus, us smaller sellers we have been used to ebay telling us part of the story and kinda getting us to believe or buy into something... only to find out that the end of the release, or phase they snuck something in and bam if we knew it then in the beginning we would of raised hell! I just wonder what  those megasellers were told back then. Maybe it was only that there would be star ratings, but not the grade or what the tool would be used for. Anyways, I am telling everyone that the DSR is a human resources tool. It is something widely in use in corporations, they call it performance ratings or ranking systems and HR uses it as a pay per performance AND typical with corporations they also use it to determine who to give the axe to. You look at that really closely and you will see, ebay is using that tool to treat you as their employee. The tool is to tell you what they can't tell you. Because if they did they would be liable for employee wages.

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by: Fruity

Wed Jan 2 14:30:34 2008

Oh and another thing, as with most sustainable products, ebay has invested a certain amount of money in sellers growth. To target sellers and get them to move off the site (which alot of the big sellers will do) is inline with what makes financial sense. All those sellers are VESTED in the world of online selling. that means they will continue to produce. And they will continue to use PAYPAL. What that means is they can snuff you out of ebay and you can hook for ebay for the rest of your online life. It actually gives ebay a higher ROI because by you leaving to go elsewhere you will continue to earn for the man (ebay) and they dont have to have you on their servers. The secondary result would be that sellers who stay will have a higher sell thru rate. That just always happens when there is less congestion. If you want to stick it to ebay, then dont use paypal. Ebays been pimping you for this day. Sorry its happening, but they've been screwing us for a long long time. Love, Fruity

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by: so myself

Wed Jan 2 14:56:58 2008

DSRs are a mess. Disadvantaging and punishing sellers is not supposed to be the work of "just a venue." Let the market place do its job -- good sellers will get repeat sales, bad sellers will be edged out of the market. Ebay has turned into a big "budinski" and sellers are not just walking, they are out there bad-mouthing their former "venue" and driving more nails into ebay's coffin.

There's an extensive thread and petition on the ebay Stores board -- ebay hasn't even the courtesy to respond once. They could care less. Mark my words.... ebay's lack of caring for its sellers will eventually bring down the 400 lb gorilla.

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by: Elena

Wed Jan 2 15:35:32 2008

As a buyer, I never take the time to fill that stupid feedback thing out.  I leave a nice comment, good feedback and then I'm done.  I suppose if I was really pissed about something I would take the time to fill it out but other than I simply don't take the time.

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by: patricia

Wed Jan 2 16:49:52 2008

I think many sellers leave because of ebay's hair-brained, half thoughout out ideas.  Yes, they are desperate for buyers, but they do little to correct the things that have disenchanted buyers more than anything else...fraud and a cluttered site that is glitchy and constantly changing - and NO customer service.  What possible sense can you make of a company that is SO greedy they clutter their site with ads that take buyers AWAY?  Up front money...yes...but they sure don't seem to be in this business for the long run.

I have been selling on ebay for the past 9 years and my feedback is such that I don't have to worry about DSRs (right now - but that could change at the drop of a hat).  If and when it does change, ebay will not look into whatever the problem was, they will just automatically punish me even after 9 years of a spotless feedback record.  Fair?  Nobody said they're fair - they were NEVER fair!  They have always sought automatic solutions to problems so they need not get their hands dirty.  Okay, they're trying to copy Amazon but the only problem I ever had with an Amazon seller had an Amazon rep on the phone with me trying to correct the problem between me and the seller.  Would that ever happen on ebay?  Don't hold your breath!  Ebay is a company for money only...reputation, good business sense, etc. never figured into the mix.  Now, they see sales dropping and buyers going elsewhere and so they have decided to put the crunch on sellers to make buyers believe its safe to come back and shop on ebay. Surely the drop off in buyers can't possibly be ebay's fault!  Its a joke - and we sellers are taking the flack!  Until this company takes part of the blame for the problems - they will continue to sink as surely as the Titanic!

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by: jb

Wed Jan 2 17:11:16 2008

Although my ''DSR's'' in general are not low, the shipping time and shipping cost were getting grayer everytime I got feedback and DSR ratings from an international buyer.

Since I have no control over international shipping costs or shipping time, my only option has been to stop shipping internationally.

I wouldn't ordinarily give much thought to the DSR's, but, once eBay laid down the gauntlet with the announcement that sellers would be advantaged/disadvantaged based on the DSR ratings...I spent an entire weekend removing international shipping from my 500 listings.

Oh...and that line of bull that eBay is feeding these poor buyers that the DSR's are anonamous!  I know who and when my DRS's change.  Those buyers get no feedback from me.

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by: karen

Wed Jan 2 20:54:19 2008

In our business (shipping furnishings) our buyers pay their shipping companies directly...we do not handle those payments in any way, and therefore we don't even have the opportunity to mark up for "handling".  With the smalls that we sell, we always use shipping calculators, and add only a $2.00 handling charge, with the exception of items we ship free.  Nevertheless, we are ranking very poorly for shipping and handling charges.  Just further evidence that sellers are expressing their opinions regarding shipping costs that are in no way related to our performance as sellers.
Lastly, as a buyer, the user can select from a 5 for EXCELLENT, 4 for fine, and 3 for neither good nor bad, and the negatives are reserved for 2s and 1s.  So...a buyer who leaves, say, all 4s, is NOT necessarily a dis-satisfied buyer.  So why is the bar so much higher than buyers are being lead to believe as they interact with the DSR questionnaire?

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by: e-Powersellers

Wed Jan 2 21:58:27 2008

The whole DSR is very troublesome and disconcerting to us and affiliates.  We have heard from buyers who left us a positive that they left low DSR ratings hoping that it will help eBay improve seller performance.  This will certainly not be the case.

We have also been told that people have left us a ''1'' in shipping price as or a ''1'' for shipping time even if we shipped at cost or next day, because they ''Feel the USPS and FedEx charge too much'' or that the ''USPS took to long to deliver, or they don't like the mailman''

It is not being taken seriously, is totally misused and will certainly harm sellers in the long run.

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by: Another Wronged Seller

Wed Jan 2 22:19:28 2008

Ebay is busily cutting its own throat!

A seller with a good DSR rating and aanother with a ''bad'' DSR rating still pays the same amount for putting a listing up. Both sellers are paying for the same service but ebay is deciding to give different lvels of service  for the same price! Discrimination! In almost every other 5 star rating system I have seen, a ''3'' is considered ''average'' or ''good''.

This is just another example of ebay making up its own definitions. Like ''neutral'' now counting as a negative against sellers. My father who is also a seller just received a neutral from a buyer who when emailed said he had no problems with the transaction, everything was great but he had NO IDEA ebay was potentially counting neutrals against sellers. I have had a great many neutrals retracted by buyers who had no clue that ebay was treating them as a negative thing. My only point here is that ebay did a lousy job communicating to buyers the ramifications of leaving different kinds of feedback in the SNP crackdown so I see a whole new round of buyers leaving DSR ratings and thinking that a ''3'' is good or average. This will cost some sellers sales and ebay commissions because of their non existant education of the buyers.

Another example of sellers being judged by a standard that we have little control over.

Only on Ebay!!!

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This user has validated their user name. by: Don Wagner

Wed Jan 2 22:30:22 2008

I appreciate what eBay is trying to do and why they are trying to do it.  There are many sellers out there who should get dinged royally for excessive shipping and handling, and what better way to do it than to take the issue out of the hands of the trust and safety police and put it into the hands of the buyers? Isn't that what we have been clamoring for for years?  Now if only eBay would take input from buyers regarding who is selling FAKE goods.  You complain and eBay says there is nothing they can do because they are not experts.

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by: Tom

Wed Jan 2 22:33:32 2008

I am a powerseller in the music category, specializing in rare out-of-print CDs.  I also have a second eBay selling account, which I use to unload CDs I get that are a bit more scratched up than what I prefer to sell, or the inserts aren't in as great a condition.  I always describe the condition of CDs and inserts carefully and accurately--but I was afraid that a buyer might miss my description of the condition (or forget that I had stated condition) when they get the CD, and end up posting less than positive feedback.  That was the rationale for the second selling account, so that I could protect my solid feedback record on my main selling account from buyers who aren't paying attention or have short memories.  Turns out the second account still has 100% positive fb!

But what I still can't understand is the difference in DSR between the two accounts.  The main account, where I'm a powerseller with 5700+ fb and 99.9% positive, has consistently scored only a 4.6 DSR for shipping charges.  My shipping costs are clearly stated in my item description, are average compared to other sellers in my category, and were NOT raised at all during either of the last two postal rate increases.  I guess, compared to others, I should be happy that my description is 4.9 and the other two categories are 4.8.

But on my secondary selling account, where I charge 15 cents MORE for shipping, my DSR for shipping costs has consistently been 4.7, and the other three categories are 4.9.  I do everything from accuracy in item descriptions to email notifications to shipping method exactly the same between both selling accounts--the only difference is I charge 15 cents more for shipping on the second account.

I just don't understand the disparity!  I have a gut feeling that buyers might actually feel more comfortable, consciously or unconsciously, with leaving lower DSRs to sellers who have higher feedback totals, assuming that maybe it isn't as big a deal to them or that perhaps they're just a big impersonal company--but maybe they feel a bit less likely to come down as hard on what they perceive to be the guy next door selling a few leftover items around the house (I have only 268 fb on my secondary account).  Just a guess, but it's the only theory I have to make sense of the disparity in DSR ratings.

And, like Brian above, I also check my DSR after every feedback (whenever possible), and if a DSR goes down, that buyer does not get feedback from me.

I'm all for eliminating the entire DSR system, even though compared to other sellers I'm not doing too badly . . . .

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by: pzp

Wed Jan 2 22:37:44 2008

Ebay's feedback 2.0 has at least one basic flaw. It makes it very easy and painless for buyers to leave unjustified ''negatives.'' Buyers can complain without the seller ever knowing what the problem was, much less having a chance to rectify it. In addition, I feel that feedback 2.0 makes it way too easy for a buyer to jump on the criticism bandwagon while taking away the seller's opportunity to respond.

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by: James Reid

Wed Jan 2 22:52:01 2008

Not to appear naive, but I would say that the DSR is pretty much a neutral force. Tinkering with search is dangerous. eBay executives have to rationalize it for some time and with some numbers in which they have confidence before they Tinkering with search is like tuning a carburetor-- very easy to make things worse despite worthy intent. How we interpret metrics is very important if we wish to derive information from them that allows us to act more intelligently. DSR itself is neutral due to widespread non-adoption. The sample base is skewed in the direction of the unsatisfied customer. Thus, as sellers, our challenge is to avoid provoking buyers no matter how unreasonable their demands.

eBay management has their own perspective on the metrics, and they are looking at factors that are not relevant for us. Thus their decisions can often appear aberrant. This has to do with frame of reference. It is crucial to recognize what we can and cannot affect, and to act accordingly.

It seems evident from reading these and many other posts that there is no doubt that the sunshine of justice does not penetrate very deeply into eBayian waters. Swimming around down here the main thing is to continue breathing. We need our air to sustain ourselves. Why blow bubbles that pop at the surface, far away from us, and ineffectually yelp things like, "Unfair! Unjust! Inconsiderate! Foolhardy! Idiots!," as they pop, leaving the vast undulating ocean of green, stretching away endlessly in every direction as the tiny droplets, formerly bubbles, rejoin it.

Who said, "To resist is useless?" From my perspective, the writing is on the wall, and it says, "Diversify your venues! Don't put all your eggs in one basket."
What I can't figure out is why it is written in Sanskrit for one thing, but more disturbing is the question, How am I able to understand it?

I've enjoyed our chat. Now I  have to pack a few orders to go out tomorrow. Ciao!


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by: Alice

Wed Jan 2 23:25:55 2008

So far I haven't seen anything positive written about the DSRs, and I'm no exception. The problems have been well-stated already so I won't repeat them. However, I did want to smack Auction Bytes a little bit for buying into the eBay theology on ''woe is us, buyers think we suck.'' The DSR ratings are so obviously SKEWED toward the positive end of the range (4.x and up) that you find yourself in the silly position of saying that the worst sellers got an average rating of ''ONLY'' 4.X compared the the best sellers who were rated 4.X+ ... Geez, I thought you guys were smarter than that.

I'm not a statistician but if you look at the tight range between the ratings of the best and worst, then overall I'd say buyers were pretty happy with the service. I'd like to see someone with more statistical firepower than what's been shown here to comment on the significance of these numbers. I'm no expert, but I'd guess they were pretty low.

Otherwise, I think that the DSR concept may have been a nice idea to placate nervous buyers and make them feel as though they had some power. But the reality is that no one uses it enough for it to be meaningful, and the measures selected are poorly defined and subject to misuse by disgruntled/deadbeat buyers. Also irrelevant, as witnessed by the free shippers getting ''low'' ratings of 4.7. I think this article would have been much powerful if it provided a reality check to support that eBay sellers are, as a group, doing a damn good job in keeping buyers happy. And that dinging sellers with ''only'' 4.3 ratings was completely absurd.

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by: Joe

Wed Jan 2 23:31:59 2008

For relatively low-volume sellers, all it takes is one ignorant, spiteful or illiterate bidder to tank your rating for the foreseeable future.

I run eBay seller accounts in the top 10% and in the bottom 10%...and the service provided to buyers is IDENTICAL from one account to the next.

The ratings are worse than worthless; they are harmful and discouraging. For example, I quit listing after the "shipping time" rating on one account hit 4.3; I ship the day following payment. What could I do?

The only beneficiary is EBay; "shipping time" translates to "PayPal transactions are faster than mailed payment". "Shipping cost" translates to "sellers absorb shipping/handling costs, which are then reflected in winning bid or fixed price so that eBay gets a percentage".

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by: economics101

Wed Jan 2 23:48:30 2008

The DRS system will work for ebay, but not for the reasons sellers are expecting....they need sellers to go away so they can improve their overall profit goals.

Ebay has alot of people like one certain poster above, completely fooled. The true, veiled goal of the ebay DSR system (and July's unannounced neutral/negative feedback fiasco) is actually to weed out more sellers, same as the great store inventory fee hike in summer 2006. In their view, the overall sell-thru metrics for say, ordinary commodity items will improve if less sellers are on ebay, all selling the same things.

Ebay is in a matured state as a business and the excessive supply of items for sale on ebay is far above the potential buyer demand-it stagnated awhile ago for alot of reasons. Ebay faces a business conundrum of weeding out old sellers-yet, of course encouraging in new sellers who are more adaptive to the ebay rules and systems of 2008.

They want a determined amount of sellers/listings to go away, so they will see greater overall sell-thru. It has very little to do with seller performance. They need me or you to go away, regardless of what our DRSs are. I'm sure alot of sellers won't understand this, but its not that complex.

Imagine ebay as a shopping mall that has too many pizza restaurants in it. Business for the mall would be better if they only had 3 decent pizza parlors-than 25 excellent pizza parlors. So the mall has to find some way to get rid of 22 of the pizza sellers-without telling any of them why they REALLY want them to go.

I realize this is a very simplified analogy but I hope it helps explain this baffling and illogical DRS system.

Fee hikes didn't do the trick, so other covert tactics were necessary to get rid of what they feel are simply too many listings on the site-again, your great perfomance as a seller has NOTHING to do with that problem for ebay.

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