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Thu July 10 2008 22:11:57

eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay spokesperson Usher Lieberman confirmed that the company would no longer consider neutrals in its Seller Non Performance (SNP) policy, though the timing of this change has not yet been determined. In February, I wrote about eBay's decision last year to use neutrals in addition to negatives and other factors in a formula for measuring a seller's Buyer Dissatisfaction Rate (BDR)

Today, eBay posted on the Announcement Board that it would no longer count neutrals as part of the Feedback Percentage Score, a change taking effect in late August. However, the timing of the change in which neutrals will no longer affect SNP may not coincide with the August Feedback Percentage Score change. Lieberman said eBay has not committed to a timeframe.

In reading sellers' reaction to this afternoon's announcement, it appears that many sellers are happy that eBay is not counting neutrals in the feedback percentage score, a practice they said made neutrals count as negatives. But a minority of sellers said they are unhappy about today's announcement because they wanted to differentiate themselves as higher-quality sellers.

Lieberman said buyers have a number of tools to discern quality sellers, including Detailed Seller Ratings (DSRs). In moving forward, feedback will be more reflective of how buyers feel about sellers as they are more likely to leave a negative if warranted, he said.

"Since we took away a seller's ability to leave a negative or neutral, the number of neutrals that have been left has dropped precipitously, which supports our hypothesis that neutrals were indeed a proxy for negatives."

I asked Lieberman how many PowerSellers would be eligible to receive discounts tied to DSRs now that neutrals were no longer affecting a seller's powerseller status. "There would have been a number of sellers who would have lost PowerSeller status, we have not disclosed how many, but now, no one will lose PowerSeller status because of neutrals," though they may due to other factors such as DSRs, he said.

Why not release the number of powersellers? "It's a metric that has the potential to move up and down and may not be an accurate reflection of the business. And as the number moves, people would infer things that may not be true." That's the rationale for not releasing other metrics as well, Usher said.

I asked Lieberman about the UPI statistic Lorrie Norrington released in her announcement this afternoon in which she said, "since we debuted the new Feedback system in May, we have removed more than 60 percent of the negative/neutral feedback left by buyers in an unpaid item (UPI) process."

Lieberman said, most of the 60 percent are from buyers who did not respond to the UPI report. He said there were a number of factors affecting the 40 percent whose feedback remain, including buyers who paid or who responded to the UPI claim.

The other part of eBay's announcement today was that it would put in place a mechanism to allow buyers to change their feedback. Lieberman said eBay is still defining how the feedback withdrawal process will work, and has set a timeline of late October.




Comments (31) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral   eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral

by: implog

Fri Jul 11 00:03:22 2008

Perhaps Norrington continues to allow dead beat non-paying bidders to leave negative feedback because she herself is/was one.  Check out her now infamous shoe seller ID feedback at toolhaus.org at the link below.

http://toolhaus.org/cgi-bin/negs?User=westie0721

eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral   eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral

by: eBuyer Feedback

Fri Jul 11 01:32:57 2008

At least they are honest that most of the negatives/neutrals being removed were due to the automated system and not due to eBay actually reading the responses.

The rest of the article is actually good news for once.

eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral   eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral

by: Carol

Fri Jul 11 09:02:00 2008

Usher Lieberman:
"Since we took away a seller's ability to leave a negative or neutral, the number of neutrals that have been left has dropped precipitously, which supports our hypothesis that neutrals were indeed a proxy for negatives."

Huh? Which is it? According to Lieberman eBay's neutral=negative is correct yet Norrington states "When we get something wrong, we want to make it right." Whatever, the policy should have never been implemented. As hard as eBay tries, with their neutral=negative and Best Match search, they cannot read a buyer's mind. eBay has shown how disrespectful and arrogant they are for some time now; while I'm happy for sellers you better believe that reverting to the dictionary definition of neutral helps eBay most of all.

'Course we'll never know exactly why because ebay doesn't release the metrics. Lieberman:  "the numbers have the potential to change". Duh! But Norrington released a metric: "...since we debuted the new Feedback system in May, we have removed more than 60 percent of the negative/neutral feedback left by buyers in an unpaid item (UPI) process." So again Lieberman and Norrington appear at cross purposes. OK, to release metrics, not OK to release metrics. Lieberman's "see we were right" attitude re neutrals and Norrington's "see we're going to fix something we were wrong about" attitude.

My head's spinning from all of the ebay doublespeak since the beginning of this year. I've seen the disruption and still waiting for the innovation.  

eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral   eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral

by: Boycott Ebay/Paypal

Fri Jul 11 09:13:05 2008

LOL. That didn't take long. It sounds like Ebay is backpedaling already.

"Not committed to a timeframe" in Ebayspeak means, "We are conning you all again. We are saying neutrals won't matter but that day will never come."

Lies, lies, and more lies.

It's good that Norrington's announcement didn't cause much excitement. It means the sellers are not falling for the BS.

eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral   eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral

by: Misty

Fri Jul 11 09:16:46 2008

Why not release the number of powersellers? ''It's a metric that has the potential to move up and down and may not be an accurate reflection of the business. And as the number moves, people would infer things that may not be true.'' That's the rationale for not releasing other metrics as well, Usher said.


But it is ok for eBay to infer things that may not be true?

eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral   eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral

by: Gail

Fri Jul 11 10:39:41 2008

''It's a metric that has the potential to move up and down and may not be an accurate reflection of the business. And as the number moves, people would infer things that may not be true.''

It sounds like Lieberman is stuck in spin mode.  Too many powersellers were losing their status due to the neutral=negative policy.  If Wall Street analysts got their hands on those numbers. . . . .

eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral   eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral

by: Patricia

Fri Jul 11 11:46:09 2008

I only hope one day wall street gets their hands on the REAL numbers!

eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral   eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral

by: angryjim

Fri Jul 11 12:07:34 2008

What was said:

Why not release the number of powersellers? ''It's a metric that has the potential to move up and down and may not be an accurate reflection of the business.

What it really means:

We can't release those figures because it would show our business is sinking faster than a rock. Then the analysts would finally realise what a mess we have made and both our share price and our jobs would be toast.  Please bear in mind that we have been playing fast and loose with the truth for so long that it has turned us all into pathological liars.  We now are all incapable of conducting ourselves in an honest manner.

eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral   eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral

by: CashBackAtEbay.com

Fri Jul 11 12:16:20 2008

Statistics lie! Besides, eBay will only release metrics that support their "theories." The reason that eBay sees the neutrals going down is because half the population is not permitted to leave a neutral. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to uncover that nugget of truth.

In any event, I'm glad that SELLERS FINALLY MADE SOME NOISE so that eBay had to take action. Thanks to all those who participated in:
1.) AuctionBytes comments, which continues to be a great forum to express our thoughts as sellers!
2.) YouTube videos (making them and commenting about them)
3.) Participating in blogs and forums
4.) Voicing your opinions at the eBay Live 2008 conference.
5.) Not showing up at eBay Live conference.
6.) Writing the Better Business Bureau
7.) Selling your eBay stock
8.) Providing feedback through third party sources
9.) Closing listings (because without sellers there is no eBay!)
10.) Choosing Amazon, eCrater, Etsy, RubyLane and other eBay alternatives

Yeah, a neutral is really a neutral! Phew! Now I'm ready to shop and sell on eBay again!

eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral   eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral

by: Gail

Fri Jul 11 12:58:29 2008

I had just read this too and am glad eBay has changed their policy however, I question eBay's original and current motives.

I suggest all eBay sellers watch who they are selling to closely to protect their reputation and business. The unscrupulous will take advantage. I experienced this heavily when I was still selling on eBay just prior to the last feedback policy change.

I thank eBay every day for forcing me to move forth, make the change and sell only on my own website and stop paying them $1200-$1500 a month. Better buyer/seller experiences, less fraud, less scams, I'm happier and larger profits with less work.

eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral   eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral

by: Paddy

Fri Jul 11 14:09:54 2008

Soooo a neutral is not a negative, what took so long to figure that out?  Maybe the accounting department was too busy cooking the books to cover the sellers fleeing Ebay to tell Trust and Safety that 0 and -1 are not equal.  but I bet they won't tell buyers this, so they are just using it to punish us sellers more.  Great, thanks Ebay, who pays you?
> This means we will be recalculating Feedback percentages retroactively for users worldwide. In the interim, no one will lose their PowerSeller status as a result of neutrals being included in their Feedback percentage.
Sooooooooooooooo , now it will be hard to tell if you are in danger of losing your Powerseller based on Feedback percentage because there will be no way to know if your feedback is a real 98% or a 98% that contains alot of neutrals and really isn't as bad as say....98%   ??!!  Oh yes, thanks for not telling us when the first policy will go into effect (Aug...sometime) or when the reversal takes effect (sometime after, but not before and not too long after the previous change.....)  My god if Ebay were anymore vague they would be running for office.

eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral   eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Fri Jul 11 19:24:15 2008

Wall Street isn't really interested in getting their hands on ebay's real numbers.

To do so would mean they'd have to react negatively to them thereby lowering the value of ebay stock even further. While Wall Street makes money on any stock transaction, at this point they're far more interested in acting like an ebay enabler and cheerleader (like Bear Stearns!) and keeping the stock value as high possible.

The same is true for the business media. Finding and telling the truth isn't in their best interests, either, so the pimping continues on all fronts unabated -- just like Enron to the very end.

eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral   eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral

by: eBay: Fraud Central

Sat Jul 12 00:06:06 2008

While the news about neutrals really being counted as NEUTRAL is good, it's like putting a teeny band-aid on a severed jugular vein.

Too little, too late.

The death throes have already begun and cannot be undone.

I hope your disease isn't contagious, eBay!!

eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral   eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral

by: Cowbell

Sat Jul 12 01:13:16 2008

''Since we took away a seller's ability to leave a negative or neutral, the number of neutrals that have been left has dropped precipitously, which supports our hypothesis that neutrals were indeed a proxy for negatives.''

Huh?

The precipitous drop in the number of neutrals is also an indicator that eBay  removed the ability to leave neutrals from millions of users.

I'll bet there was also a precipitous drop in negs, as well.

eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral   eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral

by: Kathy_The_Green_Fish

Sat Jul 12 10:23:37 2008

Wow,  big freaking deal.  Even my 7 year old knows the difference between neutral and a negative.  It took eBay executives how long to figure out the difference?
Exactly 2 weeks after I filed a formal complaint to the FTC.
I still have a stupid credit on my eBay seller account and requesting it back as a check.  No more selling on eBay.  I am on Plunderhere now.  The stats are on the home page, the owner actually posts answers directly to you.  The boards are friendly.  I am allowed to self promote on the boards and they give me tools and link help to self promote my listings elsewhere.
eBay has made this announcement for changes to be made in August.  We all know eBay makes a grand happy statement as a diversion tactic, like right before it hits users with something awful.  A new fee increase on the horizon?

eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral   eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral

by: Been Neutraled

Sat Jul 12 10:38:02 2008

It is about as effective as sticking a cork in the side of the Titanic

eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral   eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral

by: o.c.d.collectibles

Sat Jul 12 12:18:31 2008

They changed the neutral feedback policy because of the top "5" power sellers on ebay, 4 would have lost their power seller "status" by the neutrals being included in THEIR feedback. And since they have the highest ratings on ebay, they must also bring in the most profit, AND they do NOT want to lose those 4 as sellers.

The power seller status had these sellers placed at the top of the best match, the best discounts in fees, and brought in the "happiest customers" so it was to EBAY's  advantage that they remove the neutrals for THESE sellers.

As far as the little guys are concerned, even if you have near perfect feedback and great DSR's Ebay still has plans for you. If the new Beta version of my-ebay is inflicted on you, they know you will leave on your own without being eliminated.

After all, they don't want the small guys with good reps rising above their "favorite sellers" in best match!

That wouldn't be profitable.

Now, if the small guy decides to list and sell without using MY EBAY,(the old fashioned way) they could stick around and yet another obstacle would end up being sent their direction...again...

eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral   eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral

by: Dave

Sat Jul 12 14:52:52 2008

Just as I was getting ready to call for an ongoing picket of ebay at their San Jose ''compound'' over their feedback policy, they finally realized that neutral is really neutral. What's next?, maybe they'll realize that the 50's cap gun I posted is really only a harmless TOY and not as they charged- a ''Gun and weapons Violation''. Maybe the jerk who tried to extort money from me by claiming his item never arrived (tracking proved him wrong)and leaving neutral feedback when he was ''busted'', or the idiot who left neutral feedback, ''not working'' on an item that was clearly described as ''untested-item sold as-is'' will be removed. Maybe they'll even get real and offer themselves up for ratings-I would love to see THEIR ''Customer Service Rating'' posted on their site with our feedback. I dare them to do this. What started as a brilliant concept of allowing people to ''trade'' globally,person-to-person, has been overmanaged by arrogant and ignorant MBA's to please only their stockholders. This isn't a ''community'' anymore, it's become a Serf/Lord arrangement like Jonestown- and will degrade further to an online Wallmart as they lose their best sellers and what's left of their self-respect. The bright spot in all this is Ina and her great publication for turning lemons into lemonaide- instead of the usual ebay Kool-aid. Let me be the first to say it; the Emperor has no clothes.

eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral   eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Sat Jul 12 17:36:23 2008

@Dave

Ebay doesn't now nor have they ever believed in any free speech that they don't agree with or find inconvenient. Picket? You can expect the police to arrive and move you to an ebay-approved 'free speech' zone somewhere in Oakland.

From the arrival of Meg Whitman, Ebay has NEVER been a "community." It's been a cleverly disguised customer scam in which sellers and customers were shafted so smoothly that few noticed.

The very name Trust and Safety is and has been for years the epitome of Republican corporatist NewSpeak much like Bush's pro air pollution laws called the "Blue Skies Act" and "Clear Skies Initiative."

Two salient examples of how ebay applies their "community" principle to users:

A. Report counterfeit merchandise?

1. "We're only a venue."
2. "We can't take one member's word over another."
3. "We have no way to determine whether the item you've reported is authentic or not."

ALL LIES.

Report illegal shill bidding with slam dunk evidence?

1. "We've throughly investigated your report but our privacy policy prohibits us from disclosing what if any action has been taken against the member you reported. But appropriate action has been taken."
2. "We're sorry, but Swiss law prohibits disclosure of any personal information for this member. But appropriate action has been taken."

MORE LIES. Recent court cases have shot down still more ebay falsehoods with more to come.

99.999% of ebay's "appropriate actions" in response to member complaints translate into NO action whatsoever because ebay certainly doesn't want the law or ethics or anything silly like that to reduce revenues.

Yet ebay foolishly invokes bogus safety concerns for many of their unpopular changes.

Ebay management has little respect for the collective intelligence of its customers, sellers, because the vast majority of sellers have either been in blissful ignorance about how ebay has always operated or willing to pay the syndicate their protection money extracted by billing "errors," double listings of single items, and mysterious relistings of already sold items the latter two of which can run for months before q medium to large size seller detects them.

What we've observed from ebay in the six or seven months is simply the way they've always been, but now they no longer can afford to buy makeup.

Lieberman and Mallabo are decitful and disingenuous. NOTHING they say publicly OR privately should ever be believed without at three other sources of independent confirmation.

If ebay wants to repair even a small amount of the colossal damage they've unnecessarily inflicted because their unparalleled hubris, getting PR people who tell the truth instead of lying and spinning and spinning and lying would be good start.

Showing Lieberman and Mallabo the door would be a good start.

To accomplish that end, of course, would mean that ebay's management would have to surgically remove their Machiavellian b school omniscient attitude and TELL THE TRUTH.

So please -- the "good old days" weren't really much good once you stripped away all of Meg and Bill's fluff and glad handing, and today's ebay is even worse.

The Ugly Face of ebay just keeps on getting uglier.




eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral   eBay Feedback Change: Neutral Means Neutral

by: Patricia

Sat Jul 12 23:23:31 2008

I'm not listing on ebay - once in awhile I put a couple small items up and then get disheartened when they roll off without bids and few views.  I don't list in one of the widget categories - I list in arts and work there relies more on exposure then anything else because few people know what piece of art they want until they see it.  Somehow, that's not happening for me even with 100 percent feedback and all 5.0 DSR's.  Now, if I can't get exposure with that kind of a record it tells me that more than likely the traffic just isn't there.  Ebay has forgotten that all of those sellers they insulted and milked to the point where they plain up and left were also BUYERS.  I can sell my stuff on my website - business is picking up on sites like etsy but on ebay....I can't get the views I need in order to sell.  Its a common complaint in my category and when I go to seller central most sellers there complain of the same thing.  Somehow ebay is covering up a massive loss of listings and seller/buyers.  Most of us pretty much know it but can't prove it.  One day it will have to come out.  They can't hide this forever.  So, basically, I stay away from the place because I can't see feeding them for such shoddy service.  They can go jump thru their own hoops!

www.ACEOart.net

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