Sellers have figured out a way to see how eBay's new feedback policy will affect their overall feedback percentage scores, and many are unhappy when they see the new scores. As a seller pointed out in a letter to AuctionBytes, "You can have 0 negatives but still be less than 100% (since neutrals will count against you). There are going to be some very shocked U.S. sellers (and buyers) next week."
eBay rolled out the changes in Australia on Monday, so sellers in other countries can go to eBay Australia and do an Advanced Search by Seller for their ID. Clicking on their feedback number will bring up their scores based on eBay's new methodology.
I compared the scores of one prominent US PowerSeller. His feedback percentage score was 99.3% on eBay.com, and dropped to 98.8% on eBay Australia. That means on May 19th, his feedback score will change to 98.8% on eBay.com when the new Feedback changes take hold in the US.
Under the old method, eBay counted only positive and negative ratings when calculating the positive percentage score. Under the new method, it counts positive, negative and neutral ratings. For example, if you have 95 positive ratings, 5 neutral ratings, and 0 negatives, you would have a 100% positive percentage score under the old system, but only a 95% positive percentage score under the new system.
However, some sellers' percentage scores may actually increase, since the new system only counts feedback going back 12 months. I found one seller whose rating was 99.8% under the old system, and 100% under the new system, since his one negative rating was older than 12 months.
eBay also removed the "Lifetime Summary" line on eBay Australia so it's impossible for buyers to know if a seller received any negative ratings that are older than 1 year.
The line "Lifetime Summary: Positives: 403, Negatives: 1, Positive Feedback: 99.8%" now becomes, "Positive Feedback (last 12 months): 100%."
Sellers on eBay Australia's discussion boards pointed out another reason feedback percentage scores are significant. "eBay Items Eligible for PayPal Buyer Protection" must be from sellers who have at least 98% positive feedback. (See section 13.9 of the PayPal User agreement.) eBay grants buyers $200 in protection for eligible transactions, but boosts it to $2,000 for transactions with certain highly rated sellers ($400 and $3,000, respectively, in Australia).
One user said he believed buyers are in for an unpleasant surprise. After being encouraged to leave neutral and negative ratings for sellers, he said, buyers will suddenly discover that their protection has dramatically reduced from $3,000 to just $400 "as result of their buying from sellers with less than 98% (the same sellers those buyers smashed down to 98% and under, lol)."
"Ebay has arranged for buyers to slit their own throats," he said.