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Tue June 11 2013 18:13:25

How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?

By: Julia Wilkinson

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There's a very interesting and illuminating discussion on the eBay Sellers LinkedIn group about whether or not you as a seller respond to negative feedback. I'd tweak the question slightly, as in this blog's title - "How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?"

That's *if* you respond at all. Some sellers don't. (The seller who started the thread wrote, "I have noticed that many sellers do not respond to a buyers negative feedback. I think a seller's response to negative feedback is important to other sellers when
they are considering offers from potential buyers. What are your thoughts?"

But the vast majority in this discussion agreed they did respond, and that they responded very carefully. My key takeaways after reading the whole thread are:

- It's good to respond to negatives, "and sometimes neutrals too," wrote Janice, one seller. "I do think it is a chance to show other potential buyers that you're trying."

- Keep your tone calm and professional. This is extremely important, even if you're thinking not-so-kindly thoughts about your disgruntled buyer, who you may imagine as a churlish little troll whose main goal in life is to mess with online sellers' reputations.

- If the buyer did not even bother to contact you before leaving a neg, Janice suggests you could say something like, "I wish you had contacted me to resolve your problem." That not only communicates with the buyer if there's a chance to resolve, "but it subtly puts other sellers on notice that this one is a potential problem," she wrote.

- Remember if a disgruntled buyer opens a case with eBay and it is decided in your favor, buyer feedback and related detailed seller ratings will be removed promptly and won’t count towards your seller performance rating. But...this means they have to open a case.

(The latest changes were announced in the last Spring Seller Update). Note that per the seller update, "Feedback and related DSRs will generally not be removed for eBay Buyer Protection cases in which no one is found at fault."

People talked about the importance of offering returns in preventing bad feedback if something goes wrong. I'm wondering if any or many sellers out there offer to pay for return shipping as well as the original shipping, to try to avoid the potentially more expensive damage a neg can do to their selling reputation?

And at what point do you put your foot down if a buyer is being unreasonable? In one seller's case, the seller offered to accept a return and refund for one-way shipping. But the buyer insisted that the hassle of returning i wasn't worth it. The seller held her ground and did not give in to her demand of a full refund without the return of the merchandise.

What happened? You guessed...the buyer left a negative. "And the reason she was able to leave negative was because she ++never opened a case.++" said this seller. "I was told by an ebay CS rep that ebay would have ruled in my favor, had she opened a case. So for future reference, if you know you aren't at fault, it works in your favor if you can get them to open a case."

How have you responded to negatives and/or neutrals? Do you respond at all? What advice would you give to a new seller, or what are your horror stories? Post a comment here!




Comments (32) | Permalink

Readers Comments

How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?   How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Tue Jun 11 23:06:19 2013

In the event of a neg or neutral I jot a few potential responses down on  paper or ''word''. Then I sleep on it.

I may even sit on it for a week or so - there is no hurry. Then when I can consider it calmly,  I try to choose the most factual professional response from my standpoint & go with it.  

How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?   How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ed Gadfly

Wed Jun 12 07:05:49 2013

People responded to Negatives I have given.

Then I give them an even more troublesome reply.

It might not just be the buyer folks are disappointed with, but eBay. So they rain that wrath on you.

Ha ha. Don't worry, I don't shop in the eBay cesspool anymore.

Your stuff most likely would not be found anyway. LOL

How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?   How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Wed Jun 12 08:42:34 2013

Always succinctly and professionally. We keep emotion totally out of it.  We do use the "report buyer" feature with some problematic buyers.

How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?   How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?

by: nothingnew This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Wed Jun 12 09:44:41 2013

Oh! Feedback? That became USELESS ever since ebay made it one sided. Where I sell now there is no HOSTAGE / feedback to Worry about,THANK GOD! Life is so much nicer now without it.

How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?   How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?

by: jsgeare This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Wed Jun 12 09:52:58 2013

''Dear (Customer Name):

We regret that the (name of item) was not satisfactory to you. Please return the item to us and we shall immediately issue a refund upon receipt of same in good order.

We apologize for your disappointment and inconvenience, but are pleased, nonetheless, to issue a refund in fulfillment of the service you expect of us.''

How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?   How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Wed Jun 12 10:06:39 2013

Thankfully ecrater will remove negative feedback if it isn't true. Like when I shipped something, DC showed it arrived in 3 days and 3 weeks later buyer said it had never arrived via negative feedback with NO email to me. Ecrater removed the negative and left my 100% positive intact.

Any email about problems I do respond to and try to be as professional as possible, although some buyers are just looking for a fight. Thankfully, at least to this point, I have been able to maintain 100% positive feedback for my selling career, but we try very hard and sell a product that isn't prone to too much problems.

How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?   How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 12 10:09:06 2013

Not really helpful if YOU no longer choose to shop or sell on ebay to hear your opinions of the FB system here!!!!

I leave factual response FB on any Negs I get--such as--"Buyer never paid but demanded xxx"  or recently I did probably "overstep" a bit on a case where YES the buyer OPENED A CASE--ebay REUFNDED the $$$--and found "In MY favor"--and STILL refused to remove the Neg FB I got!  

So--buyer got to KEEP the item;  got ALL of their $$$ back and STILL got to Neg me!

When I called ebay--before I left anything--I was told TOO BAD SO SAD the whole "New update and seller protection" is a big lie and sellers just have to suck it up and the money did NOT come from MY account--a whopping $19---so I should be GRATEFUL to ebay for treating me so WELL.

Ummmm----

I left something on the order of "BEWARE scammer buyer refused to send pic of damage got money ANd item avoid"  

IT would seem that if ebay decides to do a REFUND of money from THEIR coffers that the seller--who in this case NEVER refused to refund--I AGREED to refund!!!!----well then if they did this then the "Seller Protection" system is TURNED OFF and the buyer is allowed to do whatever damage they choose BECAUSE ebay feels if the sellers PP acct is not directly debited for the sale price the seller DESERVES to be punished!

Soooo----

I have always responded to NEgs this way.  As far as Neut---I had one with a three letter word from a foreign buyer.  We happen to have a good friend who is a native of the same country and conveniently bi-lingual.  The word meant-nothing!  But--there I was---with a Neut!  So I of course contacted ebay and got the response--Well too bad so sad it doesn't MATTER that the word is meaningless and you are not suposed to be able to LEAVE poor FB from out of the country--or so I believe the "policy" is--but even with a translation I got---bubkes!  Which is a foreign word meaning--NOTHING!  I responded with "Another example of a confused foreign buyer and ebays absurd FB system"  and it has been on my account for almost a year now.  

Ebay ALSO got MAD at me because I protested a NEg--and I had in the dim and distant past LEFT a Neg for a seller!  Apparently THAT factors into if the CSR will or will not remove the NEW Neg!  Really!!!!  How exactly does one equate with the other????  

Now I have an item that was sent to me with the size clearly marked on it--and the size is clearly quite wrong--this is a BELT---not a subjective dress or pair of shoes--a straight linear measurement!  And now I have a mega seller who is trying to NOT pay the return shipping---even tho it is clearly THEIR FAULT.   How will this one turn out?   I am pretty sure to NOT leave a Neg but--I can see where some buyers might as my emails seem to be going unread and auto answered.  

The whole FB system is broken and has been for a LONG time--instead of mucking around with the Forums and Cassini---can we just WAIT to see how mucked up THAT is????---they should FIX the whole system from the ground up---say;  back to where it was pre-2008????  

How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?   How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?

by: Shawn This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 12 10:09:27 2013

As a buyer, a seller's negative feedback doesn't especially bother me when I'm making a decision about whether I should buy an item. The huge turnoff is a seller's responding feedback rant in ALL CAPS accusing the buyer of being a scammer. That's about the worst way to handle it.

Calm, factual description or slightly apologetic (''I'm sorry you didn't give me a chance to solve this problem for you'') make sellers look good and show who the real problem was.  

How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?   How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?

by: candy7122 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 12 10:36:45 2013

It is good to open a case if you can...but in regards to a buyer not wanting to return an item (above in original article) ..this does not mean you will for sure win the case.  I had a similar situation happen.  A buyer accused me of selling a used makeup item (of course it was NOT used) and wanted me to pay for return shipping.  I refused as I knew the item was not used and I had already given her free shipping.  After she opened the case Ebay decided to refund her in full without her having to return the item.  Of course, she left me a negative (a very nasty one).  When I talked to Ebay about it, I told them I should have won the case as she was refusing to return the item.  They told me they would have sent her a return label and the case would have eventually been resolved but not in any one's favor.  Ebay is telling us this is a wonderful new tool for sellers but it backfires... Ebay is all about the buyers and all about taking sellers fees and screwing us over whenever they have the chance.  Very disenchanted with Ebay at the moment.

How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?   How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?

by: RAOTFLMAO This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 12 10:55:00 2013

I don't leave feedback, I don't look at feedback, I don't worry about feedback.  I sell maybe about an item a month and don't care enough to bother playing the ebay game. I used to sell literally tons (used tractor parts) on ebay but no more.  Not worth the headache.

How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?   How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?

by: Kameelyon This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 12 10:59:21 2013

I often check out buyers and other sellers looking at negative feedback and the responses.  Most of the responses are very emotional, using caps, getting personal, etc.  These make the responder look guilty, vindictive, and especially unprofessional.  when I receive a negative I feel like doing the same but refrain from doing so by waiting to reply.  Typically after calming down I can still word my response to sound professional as well as deliver any point(s) where the buyer was really at fault or how they are mistaken.  If I am at fault I admit it and have done so, I think it validates my other responses.  Nothing worse than seeing someone with a dozen or so recent neg's with an excuse for every one.  Just my 2 cents.

How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?   How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?

by: Bebe This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 12 11:00:57 2013

My favorite response to a negative feedback was from an unnamed seller a few years ago. His reply was, "SO WHAT."  I laughed so hard when I read that!! On the rare occasion that I get a negative I always respond professionally....but really want to say, SO WHAT!  LOL

How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?   How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?

by: PowerSeller2007 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 12 11:27:43 2013

First, check if the buyer is a deadbeat repeat attacker, if so, FLAG this fact in your reply.  Don't fail.  Also report to ebay they are REPEAT HABITUAL ATTACKER.

I once have an DSR attacker who had for over a year thanked his sellers for sending replacement.  Needless to say, I refused to send him a replacement.  He left all 4 1-star DSR.




How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?   How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?

by: ceramicsbooks This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 12 11:38:56 2013

Several months ago I finally decided that I'd had enough of the broken and one-sided feedback system.
So, I decided to stop leaving feedback. I now don't leave ANY feedback for anyone, not buyers and not sellers.
It was hard at first, especially when I really wanted to leave a fully deserved negative for a particularly rude and obnoxious seller, but even then I did not leave feedback.
This is not about apathy, rather it is my own quiet little revolution. If we ALL stopped using the feedback system completely then it would fail. Simple.
In one easy operation we could destroy the whole stupid broken feedback system and ebay couldn't do anything about it - except maybe fix the system and beg us to return to using it.
As it is at the moment the feedback system seems to serve only one purpose, to oppress and punish sellers. So effectively boycotting the system completely is an entirely rational and non-confrontational way to beat the system (it breaks no rules).
Has it hurt my sales? Not in the least. But it has made me feel much better, I even felt so much better when I did not allow myself to be dragged down into the gutter by leaving negatives - I don't want to be negative. Life is too short.
Viva la revolution!!!!!!!

How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?   How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?

by: gla This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 12 12:22:07 2013

Got one recently.  Buyer said I never responded.  I replied stating that I was never contacted.  Then I blocked the buyer.

I also discontinued leaving FB quite some time ago.  I state that fact in my listings in the ''Seller's payment instructions'' section.

These days I try to check out Bonanza, Webstore and other sites first but the few times I have purchased on ebay I usually don't leave FB.  On the rare occasions I do, I give 5 star ratings.  I won't play their game by leaving less.

How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?   How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?

by: Sunflower This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 12 14:06:38 2013

It is difficult not to respond to negative or neutral feedback. eBay of course insists that  you leave positive feedback and if you must respond to neg or neutrals, they want you to be professional and oh so nice and sickening sweet. Of course they aren't getting the feedback- we are. In thinking about this most recently, I think it is probably best not to respond. Trolls like to get a reaction, and I see no reason to give them what they want. It is frustrating and arguing with these anonymous buyers is just simply not worth it. I have seen countless sellers whom receive huge amounts of negative feedback and they never respond. They continue selling and it doesn't appear to hurt their sales. For me it is difficult to walk away from but I am going to try. When I think about the stores that sell online and receive negative feedback, they don't respond at all. Doesn't appear to matter to them one way or another. For me, I think I need to do this as I find myself too involved (angry and emotional) and that is not a way to run a business. This is just my own opinion for myself.

How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?   How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Wed Jun 12 14:25:42 2013

It depends for me.  When you respond to a negative, it draws even more attention to it when in it on the first page of your FB.  If what they say is calm and not vengeful or simply an untruth.  I may choose to leave it alone all together.  But if it is off the wall, I post something.  Always professional and without emotion.  Buyers can tell a lot about a seller by how they respond to criticism.

How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?   How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?

by: tradernick This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Wed Jun 12 14:53:18 2013

''if a disgruntled buyer opens a case with eBay and it is decided in your favor''  LOL that's funny.  Ebay never decides in my favor...even when the buyer admits to returning the wrong item, even when buyer admits to selling part of the lot, then trying to return the rest, even when the buyer sends me a phone book in a box and tells ebay the item was returned...even in these situations ebay has found in favor of the buyer, despite candid admissions (and even bragging) by crooked buyers in the ebay message system.
When I get a neg I normally make an honest effort to correct the problem so the buyer is happy and hopefully willing to revise their comments.  I do want them to be happy so they return.  That said, it's probably fastest to just block them and move on, since that's what  often happens anyway after I spend time trying to do the right thing and fix the issue.  
95+% of my negs/neutrals over the years have been from ebay newbs.  Ebay should give us more power over who we choose to do business with.  I would prefer to deal only with seasoned buyers, and if I could I'd only sell to those with 100 or higher fb score, and block all users with fb lower than 100.  This would stop almost all of our occasional problems.  Once a NEWBuyer even posted a neg because I didn't post a positive as soon as he paid...said I was required by ebay to do so.     noobs  =/

How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?   How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?

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

Wed Jun 12 15:15:19 2013

OK, I'm going to get a lot of flak over this.

In most cases, I believe the best reponse is Shawn's.

However, the kind of criminal buyers ebafia has created as partially described by tradernick warrant a much different response.

Immediately send them a professional in tone registered letter via Priority Mail telling them you will be suing them within the next 30 days n your local court (small claims/limited actions court) for fraud and defamation.

Report these scammers returning rocks and phione books not to ebafia's algorithms but to the USPS Postal Inspector's Office.

Open returns in front of a postal employee.

If more sellers would stop taking this garbage from all these "basically good people" and start publicizing their response (since ebafia certainly won't), the amount of fraud would diminish and so would unjustified negative feedback.

How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?   How Do You Respond to Negative Feedback?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ed Gadfly

Wed Jun 12 16:13:37 2013

@Comet: LOL, it's that old thing about opinions, and everybody having one. I'd be glad to come back to eBay to check out your store and view your quality products. :-)

Consider the advice I give Comet, it has made my life happier.

@Ming:

Lots of work to deal with eBay and their customers. You do not have to take these tasks on, with the customers from other companies.  A psychic would serve you well.

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