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Tue Aug 16 2011 20:39:00

What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?

By: Ina Steiner

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If you sell regularly on eBay, chances are you've encountered what's known as a "bad buyer." This is someone who leaves negative feedback for most of the sellers with whom they transact, or who tries to blackmail sellers into giving them a discount, perk, or free items (feedback abuse, feedback manipulation, feedback extortion). It may be a competitor, and sometimes bad buyers subsequently sell the very items with which they had expressed dissatisfaction.

Sellers are in the best position to identify bad buyers, but since eBay removed sellers' ability to leave negative feedback for buyers, eBay lost the ability to capture those red flags, and sellers end up feeling helpless against bad buyers.

In May 2010, CEO John Donahoe said eBay needed to do more about the perception of abusive buyers on eBay, and last September, I reported on what eBay's Todd Lutwak had to say about a new reporting system eBay was set to launch:

"Sellers Can Report Bad Buyers
Beginning in late October, sellers will be able to "share with eBay their full experience with a buyer" without making those reports visible to buyers. Lutwak said eBay would use that information the same way it uses reports on sellers. "We will look into the cases, we will look for corroborating evidence and things that other sellers have said and reported about those buyers. And if we find out that the buyers are not playing fairly, then we will take action against those buyers."

He said eBay has hired a team of people to look into those buyer cases, and to see if a buyer is giving too high of a negative or neutral rate, or have too high of an unpaid item rate, and to see if a buyer opens claims at a rate that eBay finds concerning."

I've been hearing unconfirmed reports that eBay has been testing a new algorithm to try to automatically detect bad buyers, but that it may be catching some decent buyers in the net.

Which leads me to wonder, how does eBay make a bad-buyer detection system scalable? What factors should go into such a system? Factors that come to mind might include:

- Number or ratio of negative feedback left for sellers;

- A history of using the phrase "revise feedback" in buyer-initiated communication with sellers;

- Reports and complaints from sellers;

- A review of the buyers' other accounts.

But considering the category and context of the purchase would be important - some buyers are extreme bargain hunters who look for used goods - in some cases for resale - and may rack up more bad experiences with sellers than someone buying new designer clothing, for example.

What do you think could help rid eBay of "bad buyers," has eBay improved in this area, and do you report bad buyers?




Comments (50) | Permalink

Readers Comments

What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?   What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?

by: anyone out there

Tue Aug 16 20:57:08 2011

If Fleecebay is trying to have people with a real heartbeat monitor it, hopefully they are based in the US and not some foreign country where they can hardly speak English much less understand it.

Best way to do it is let sellers leave true feedback.

What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?   What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?

by: Tom

Tue Aug 16 21:02:48 2011

No way to catch the bad buyers since they can create 100 different IDs. Things may change if eBay has a real competitor. Hope TaoBao (who beat eBay China to death) will come to USA soon!!!

What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?   What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?

by: pete

Tue Aug 16 21:04:35 2011

Buyer fraud on eBay is totally out of control & sadly the venue does not care or there would not be so easy to open Claims etc
Over 1 year on Amazon with 10 times+ sales than on eBay and not 1 claim for anything…….says everything to me

eBay is just a stress machine for people who do not know how to calculate profit and loss from a sale (or do not care?)
every single eBay/Paypal item not received claim should require a formal declaration of non delivery from the post office by the buyer, not just some fraudster saying it never arrived then when you prove delivery saying oh sorry I got the items mixed up and still wont close the claim????
eBay/Paypal should be investigated under RICO as they facilitate crime and money laundering
I’ll stick with stress free Amazon thanks

What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?   What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?

by: buck efay

Tue Aug 16 22:25:09 2011

Have had 2 claims opened on Amazon, 2 on Ebay. Heres how things went
Amazon claims:
1 for damaged CD that I bought new on Amazon sealed, played only once, buyer says it's destroyed has scratches all over it. Opens A-Z, leaves Neg. Amazon investigates, sees he has other feedback that he sent back destroyed CDs to other sellers, I win with no further action, neg he left goes poof. Neg I left buyer stays. This was within my first 50 sales on Amazon.
2 Buyer buys $100 near mint LP, tells me it is in bad condition sends back trashed copy. I refuse to refund, he opens A-Z alleging non receipt of item. I provide all documentation to AMZN, NO online tracking info just insurance#, tell them to review the 15 emails he sent before & after LP return. I prevail, keep his LP & my money.
Both claims did not affect my 3 A-X strikes but they counted against buyer's accts.
Ebay claims as silver powerseller 20K + fb 4.9 dsr:
1 buyer buys pinup calendar, returns destroyed copy uninsured Ebay refunds buyer keeps fees & I'm out shipping, item & fees & nergative FB left me
2 buyer buys toy, claims part missing, offer to send another one, offer to replace part. Buyer demands pos feedback repeatedly, opensd claims, returns 2 separate purchases, I am forced to refund both, eat fees & shipping & get a negative.
Is it any wonder I now have over 5000 items on Amazon, and only 50 a month on Ebay?
Ebay Bad Buyer detection SHOULD look like Amazons, where ACTUAL human beings ACTUALLY In the USA that could understand ENGLISH as a first language reviewed claims, and answered every email sent. Since they want to follow AMZN, they should realize criminals exist in both sides of a transaction & need to judge as in civil court to the preponderance of evidence. Reinstate the 3 strikes rule, as Paypal had BEFORE Ebay took over. And BRING BACK SELLERS ABILITY TO LEAVE NEGATIVE FEEDBACK! We are the best defense & in the trenches daily. Until they finally implement bad buyer management, I won't risk more than 50 a month. And I used to sell single items for up to 10K on Ebay, now I won't sell items valued over $100.

What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?   What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?

by: kevin

Tue Aug 16 22:42:27 2011

Ebay can't figure out what a bad seller is

What makes anyone think they could identify a bad buyer?

Our experience was similar to Buck's and Pete's above.  Amazon is pretty much stress fee (and they answer the phone when you call!)  Ebay is nothing but stress.  I don't know why anyone sells on ebay.  Made the full switch from ebay to amazon 6 months ago.  Sales are up, stress is down.  

Now I can just laugh at every ebay misstep

What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?   What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?

by: buck efay

Tue Aug 16 23:06:48 2011

When I decided to switch to Amazon, I asked a couple questions in advance. Not only did I get a return call that day & a very funny conversation about leaving a polluted bay & swimming in a wide river, after I told them check my ebay store, I was given 2 numbers to direct extensions to Amazon employees if I had any problems adjusting, or any concerns of any kind! Have never had to use them holding them as aces in the hole;)Just got my biweekly deposit today & my monthly selling fees are WAY lower than I ever paid the bay.

What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?   What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?

by: buck efay

Tue Aug 16 23:13:15 2011

PS Tom is right, Ebay HAS the ability to IP block/ban/vet buyers but THEY DON'T CARE. They will IP ban you if you complain too much about getting ripped off on their boards, but can't bother to VERIFY any info about buyers. A phone number 1234567890 should NEVER be accepted as valid, but I have seen it twice. A zip code that DOES NOT MATCH the town should NOT be accepted, but it is. I would have no problem selling more on ebay if every buyer was verified with a CREDIT CARD, as on Amazon, and every buyer had correct info AS ON AMAZON!

What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?   What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?

by: Rich

Wed Aug 17 00:30:33 2011

Buyers should a scoreboard to either replace their feedback or to be added to their feedback.  The scorecard should track the % of negs and neutrals the buyer leave and the % of scores under 5 and the % of 1's and 2's.  Sellers should be allowed to block buyers based on whatever % the seller wants to deal with.  The bad buyers would find themselves blocked by many or most sellers and the bad buyers would leave

What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?   What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?

by: TATYANA OLYPHANT

Wed Aug 17 01:09:42 2011

Nahh, not going to happen anytime soon. (TRS; eBay Member since 1998, while I still make decent $$)

What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?   What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?

by: Phil DeBasquet This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 17 01:21:18 2011

If Todd Lutwak is involved, it is a sham. He and that other creep, Griff kept saying after the nblatest changes, tell us your problems, we will help you. griff sent me a no help, all BS email.
Lutwak told me on Facebook he would help me . He has NEVER responded. i have sent him numerous messages, no answers. This will be yet another lump of coal for ebay sellers.

What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?   What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?

by: Red Ink Diary This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 17 01:45:28 2011

What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?

1. Interesting, as in the old Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times"
2. It will look as if it has been designed by a committee because SURPRISE! it was.
3. It may bear a passing resemblance to Amazon's A - Z although I wouldn't bet on that because on eBay buyers can do no wrong.
4. It doesn't matter what it looks like, how it is supposed to work or how it really works because buyers are not verified.

What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?   What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?

by: nadine

Wed Aug 17 03:09:50 2011

@Red Ink Diary, eBay's bad buyer detection will look superficially just like Amazon's. Except it won't work, because this is just another sop thrown to the hated seller-customer when the complaints get too loud.

@buck efay: Amazon sellers have never been able to leave feedback on buyers, so that is not the necessary component. eBay's problem is they they stopped the sellers from policing the buyers but refused to do it themselves, having decided that "the buyer can do no wrong" was more cost-effective. This new policy change suggests that they have learned to rethink that decision. Will they make the right decision this time, that they must police buyers as well as sellers? Probably not.

What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?   What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Wed Aug 17 03:13:21 2011

IMO some things that they should consider is buyers leaving postive FB, yet hitting a seller's DSRs to the point they damage their account [1's & 2's].  This is a HUGE problem for sellers, I mean massive.  While sellers are not allowed to leave negative comments on positive FB, neither should buyers be able to give 1's or 2's w/ positive FB.

Counting ALL unpaid items.  Not one strike per seller in a 30 day period or in a 7 day period, whichever it is now.  We really don't know what the rules are now since the policy is now written vaguely and full of the word "may'.  So it isn't a straight forward policy in the least.  

When a buyer leaves FB on a seller for multiple purchases, while only one of the FB counts in the sellers overall FB count, ALL of the DSRs count.  So if they buy 20 items and ding your DSRs, all 20 dings count on the dashboard.

Why Ebay thinks this is a fair rule is beyond me to understand, but it is what they do to sellers.  BUT with a buyer, if a seller files UIDs for 20 items and if that seller closes all of them for none payment, it only counts ONCE against the buyer.  They receive ONLY one strike.

Ebay is more than capable to fix this problem, they just don't.  It needs to be far more equal and the rules should not be so darn vague or subjective.  Until Ebay remembers that the sellers are their customers and treat us like their customers, things will not improve.  If Ebay would treat sellers as they expect sellers to threat their buyers, things would get better fast.  But for whatever reason Ebay has, they are held to different standards than they expect from their customers [sellers].  

.

What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?   What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?

by: DuhBadBuyerTryBadSystem

Wed Aug 17 03:52:02 2011

The feedback system is the problem. It's simple enough to fix and they know it but they refuse.

Anytime you have people involved in an activity whether it be a handful or millions 2-5% will try to game the system, take advantage any way they can or abuse it. There is no way to identify those individuals and any effort to do so is an effort in futility. You can easily solve the problem with a properly designed feedback system.

Regardless of what you are told fact is bad feedback and tarnished reputations are profitable for ebay because you try to list more and sell more to offset the damage.

You can try and drag out the situation as long as possible hoping your users will be stupid enough to tolerate it because they think you are working hard to fix it but unless the system itself is fixed the problem will persist.

What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?   What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?

by: John

Wed Aug 17 05:16:03 2011

They could have created a different type of resolution center for feedback and shipping problems a long time ago, and still allowed mutual feedback. Instead of taking the easy way out. Their easy way is coming back and biting them in the butt now.

They would have to allow only 2 id's per person. One buyers , and one sellers id. This would have reduced the members count drastically. A reduced member count would not coincide with the eBay/pp number crunching they have been doing to blindside the share holders into thinking everything is running smoothly.

The rules of the center should have been suspension for a period of time and expulsion for that id if a pattern of practice/abuse continued. Using the buying and selling habits as a guide. I believe this would have brought every id down to a more honest level of trading including eBay and pp

What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?   What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?

by: cloud

Wed Aug 17 06:28:35 2011

I've actually used the report a buyer system with good results. The buyer immediately dropped their repeated attempts to extract a discount and apologized. The buyer had no idea that I had reported them (unless eBay said something) and this happened within a few hours of me reporting them. I can only assume that the 360 degree turn around was the result of the report.

That said the best way to get rid of these buyer problems would be to give buyers back the right to leave negative feedback and give a true assessment of their experience with a buyer. I've run into too many attempts at seller extortion since the loss of negative feedback and its time consuming to report each and every one.

What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?   What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?

by: ahumin

Wed Aug 17 07:27:39 2011

I agree with buck efay.  They have absolutely no interest in mediating with feedback because the customer is always right.  I have contacted them in many instances and they say the customer has the negative opinion and there's nothing they can do.  One time a customer wrote "damn" in her negative comment about a designer silk scarf that had a stain on it that was listed in the ad and left negative feedback and Ebay wouldn't remove that.  Other times people left negative feedback after I left a full refund because they were unhappy, etc.  It's not just fraudulent buyers who try to rip off sellers who need to be monitored, it's these kinds of instances where Ebay refuses to help sellers.  All they have to do is remove that feedback if they can see the seller did everything possible to make the customer happy.  It's useless to call them because they never can do anything about it.

What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?   What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?

by: Jane

Wed Aug 17 08:21:12 2011

1. make EVERYONE who wants to buy register with a credit card and a checking account. - dont' want to give 'em? GET OUT!

2. Once registered, required (with software blocks not just faint words on electrons) updated info every year.  If it drives a buyer away? Oh Well they weren't a serious buyer any way.

3. install a "hotline" that sellers can use when threatened by an abusive buyer and use suspensions and restrictions on buyers who abuse the system the same as they do on sellers.. (yeah that'll happen)

What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?   What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?

by: Pat

Wed Aug 17 09:13:04 2011

Ebay caring about bad buyers is a joke.  My last sale on ebay had a buyer leaving positive feedback and a #1 on one of the "stars".  That was the end for me.

What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?   What Would Bad-Buyer Detection Look Like on eBay?

by: 130580

Wed Aug 17 09:25:53 2011

It will never be fair because eBay profits from someone losing their top rated status.

Amazon isn't set up this way. Amazon is set up to help their sellers, ebay is set up to undermine them.

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