Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
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by Ina Steiner, Editor of
Wed May 20 2015 20:10:39

Does This eBay Feedback Strategy Makes Cents?

By: Ina Steiner

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Why would anyone sell a penny on eBay for a penny? A reader sent us a link to a seller who lists pennies on eBay in order to boost their feedback. "This seller has continued to buy/swap/conspire to get positive feedback accumulating their 100% to over 1000 total with 10% (or more) of their "feedback" fake from feedback swapping."

The seller in question boosted their feedback as a result of the penny listings and shows as a "Top Rated Seller with highest buyer ratings." In the descriptions, they write in part: "All buyers will receive a 5 Star Positive Ratings because you are so awesome even if you pick up your penny or not. Please leave positive feedback for me if you are happy with your purchase."

Top Rated Sellers can qualify for a 20% discount on final value fees and USPS Commercial Plus pricing - and the seller's other (non-penny) listings display a TRS Plus badge.

According to the reader, "It's impossible to report item or user via report channel and choices, and the offshore eBay reps don't see what the problem is, or can't act on it, or don't understand."

Some sellers have said eBay's own TSAMs have recommended to sellers they add a cheap, easy-to-sell item to their product line to smooth out any less-than-perfect feedback they might receive - where do you draw the line?

Here's how the penny-listing feedback strategy works, according to the reader:
- They don't ship (local pick up only), which,

- No one picks up;

- They don't collect money, but mark it as paid;

- They "give" and "receive" feedback for the cost of fees on the sale, for less than a penny or so each one;

- Quid pro quo swapping with others.

eBay head of Marketplaces Devin Wenig said recently he'll be taking a look at the eBay feedback system - is this an area that needs to be examined? eBay has a feedback manipulation policy in place - is it a matter of improving the policy or enforcing it?

Is there anything comparable on other online marketplaces where sellers try to game the system? Let us know what you think!

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Readers Comments

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This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Thu May 21 15:23:56 2015

"Is this also the reasoning behind the penny items on Amazon?"

I suspect that's more a way around being shut off at Christmas time.  At about $1.50 per phony transaction, it's a wash vs buying a month of Amazon Pro.  If you're close to 25 sales, it might be worth doing just to get over that hump.  But, honestly, Amazon taking 25% of every $20 sale makes it difficult for me to get there on my own and isn't something that I feel like paying even more for.

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by: Kat64 This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 21 18:45:44 2015

Thanks to the grossly unfair and punitive defect policy, many sellers are looking to creative alternatives for ways to get their accounts back in good standing.

Currently, I am a TRS, but I know that I can lose that within 24 hours...given the way the system is set up now.
I have a defect from the 12 month lookback (how unfair is THAT!) that was a result of a buyer claiming INR.  The shipping company had the right address but my name instead of the buyers'.
They picked up their package and closed the case within 2 hours and left positive feedback.
But nooooo!  Can't get it removed.  It's still there a year and 2 months later!
Getting out of a ''below standard standard'' rating is fighting a losing battle.
Kudos to those who think outside the box and find a way to survive.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Shop and Ship

Fri May 22 13:55:49 2015

@Comments "The defect policy that causes toxic relations between buyers and sellers in returns has also got to be fixed." Yes, and take a step back for a broader look to see that the eBay platform itself has become a toxic cesspool for all Members - when they're Buying or Selling - thanks to eBay interjecting itself into every sales contract. If my Buyer is OK with USPS tracking and delivery confirmation then why should eBay be handing out defects for missing theoretical delivery windows?? If I find something that my recent Buyer would like as a gift and ship it for free then why should eBay award me with another defect for the 2nd tracking number as "late shipping?" I'm specifically referring to an Owner's Manual that I mailed to my Buyer about 3 weeks after the Item was delivered but was not part of the original listing. Sheesh! Perhaps I should mail the eBay admin a copy of "How to Control Selfishness Through Mercy"??

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by: Volvo351 This user has validated their user name.

Sat May 23 08:04:45 2015

Gee, "offshore reps" simply "don't understand what the problem is!"  How can that be, when eBay hires only the highest caliber of Asian CHEAP LABOR.  I say "caliber" in reference to: "ready to be FIRED!"

Yes, what this seller is doing is sleazy, but when fleaBay stacks the deck against all sellers with DSR's and "defects" this may simply be a strategy born out of frustration. But, I'd venture that all his "buyers" are shills.

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