Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Tue Mar 5 2013 23:05:12

How Much Is Positive Feedback Worth on eBay and Amazon?

By: Ina Steiner

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Is your pristine reputation on eBay or Amazon worth $12? How about $19? Exactly how much would you be willing to pay to avoid a negative feedback rating from an unhappy eBay or Amazon buyer?

From regularly reading the Amazon discussion boards, it's clear that Amazon has trained sellers to treat customers differently than on eBay. In fact, Amazon sellers are often warning people that things are different on the River and advise newbies to learn the rules before selling there. Unlike on eBay, there are no second chances, they warn.

But a recent thread on the Amazon boards had me wondering, exactly how much is a pristine reputation on Amazon worth in hard dollars? And would that amount differ on eBay?

The title of the thread, "How to report a buyer for feedback extortion," caught my attention, because while the term is common on eBay, feedback extortion is not something you often hear associated with selling on Amazon.

The seller who started the thread said her buyer had complained about a purchase and instead of returning the correct item, had mailed her back a different, inferior product. The seller had refunded the buyer in full, but was refusing to refund the cost of return shipping, which was $12.

Other sellers advised the seller to refund the money - it wasn't worth a negative feedback, and they said they would pay $12 in order to avoid negative feedback on Amazon.

Another seller gave an example of in which she readily refunded her buyer $19 in order to avoid a claim.

What was also interesting about the thread was the appearance of an Amazon moderator who clarified some questions about its policies.

Given the pricing pressure most online sellers face, sellers certainly can't afford to lose $12 or $19 on very many transactions. What do you think?




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This user has validated their user name. by: elpereles
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Tue Mar 5 23:46:11 2013

It is the shadow of the eBay lifestyle.

Some sellers believe refund is the only solution to make buyers happy.  

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by: adam6979 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 6 00:28:45 2013

A wise man once asked - Why do you sell on Ebay/Amazon - to make money or for positive feedback? Of course I responded - to make money. Problem answered.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
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Wed Mar 6 01:33:33 2013

Negative feedback on Amazon clearly is a more serious matter than on eBay …

On eBay, the fact appears to be, if you are a big enough seller, you don't have to accept returns under any circumstances, and “negatives” have no effect; even blatant criminal activity is ignored, indeed, if you are providing sufficient FVFs, eBafia will aid and abet such activity. As has been said by others many times before, with eBafia, you only have to gauge the weight of money involved ...

With Amazon, it appears that all sellers at least know that they have to act professionally—or else! And, one assumes that a seller has to develop a record of apparently deserved negatives before the guillotine actually falls …

Regardless, a guillotined Amazon seller will always be welcome back on eBay …

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

Wed Mar 6 01:54:26 2013

Returning an item different from the one purchased is fraud and misuse of the USPS Mail.

Threaten to file criminal fraud charges against buyers who return items other than those purchased and check with the Post Office to see if this constitutes mail fraud.

Brick and mortar stores don't tolerate this sort of fraud and neither should online marketplaces require 3P sellers to tolerate it.

I seem to recall that ebafia floated rumors a few months ago asking how money sellers would be willing tom pay them to remove negative feedback.

More and more like the Cosa Nostra every day in every way.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Wed Mar 6 07:45:40 2013

Most of our returns are for items in which the buyer clearly did not read the item description.  It is a buyer's responsibility to do so.

Unless we have clearly dropped the ball and made a mistake, or missed a defect, we will NEVER pay for return shipping.  If a buyer can not take the time to read the listing a seller should not be held hostage and expected to pay for the return shipping.  We'll take the negative in this case, and wear it as a badge of honor.

Ebay, particularly, has created this environment of the entitled buyer.

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by: JustDoe This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 6 10:30:53 2013

Buyers on Amazon don't even contact the seller when they have an issue. They just go "postal" on feedback. It's really a hard place to sell your items on.

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by: estateroadshow This user has validated their user name.
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Wed Mar 6 10:40:11 2013

Our policy is to resolve all negative feedbacks even if it costs a bit -- but we report any buyers who do not follow the rules by contacting us first to resolve or who use extortion.  We also block any bidder who leaves bad feedback for invalid reasons.  Since we sell 400 estate lots each week over 500,000 items over the past 10 years -- we have had bidders contact us to pay us to put them back on the ok list.  Not a solution - eBay needs to protect the sellers against bidders who don't understand or who just have a bad day and want to kick someone.

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by: Tiffee Jasso This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 6 10:44:12 2013

When you add up the number of outright scammers, buyers that are unhappy in life, power tripping  @$#%s and deliberate sabotage from rivals, it is a wonder that anyone stays in business with the present feedback system. In my opinion, feedback has become a type of graffiti on a seller's wall.
Think about it, how would the outer walls of a Sears, Macy's or anyone other department store look or fare if their customers could write what they wanted on their walls?  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Wed Mar 6 10:47:01 2013

Estateroadshow makes a very good point----All sellers should report bad buyers so that patterns are established.  You can find this report feature in the resolution center.  You don't have to file a case, you simply report the buyer for bad behavior.  Patterns are then established so that when cases are opened by the buyer those reviewing the cases have access to this information.

Everyone should be utilizing this feature since we can not leave honest feedback.

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by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 6 10:47:12 2013

You get such a low response of feedback on Amazon that you cannot afford even 1 negative or neutral. Like ebay, Amazon considers a neutral is a negative because it is not a positive. ????
Would like to know what percentage of feedback other sellers receive. Our rate is currently around 5% feedback response.  Amazon has in place where you are able to ask for feedback from buyers. I took the time and sent out 97 emails. Response 1 positive and 1 negative for ''bugging'' him. With Amazon system and playing favorites with FBA and HIGH fees, there will only be a very few items I will even attempt to list on Amazon.
 Amazon requires that you take it back when the buyer changes mind.  Ebay is just as guilty.  
Also there is nothing you can do when the buyer sends back a brick in a box. Complain to everyone and all you do is waste more time. The buyer knows nothing can be done. I have started that any returns be mailed to PO box. We open in front of clerk. Hopefully, that will have the buyer at least think before returning a brick.

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by: my2senzworth This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 6 11:09:33 2013

I have been selling on ebay and Amazon for a long time and I tell you there is a big difference in the two.
ebay is becoming more and more like a spoiled brat who wants to make the rules as they go and are only concerned with the least hassle on their part on how much $$$ they can squeeze out of you.
Amazon operates more like the huge customer oriented business they are. You have to realize the differences between them and ebay if you plan to sell there.
Amazon is very strict in their regulation of 3rd party sellers because they know that 3rd party sellers ethics and actions reflect on Amazon's reputation. I have never been kicked off, put on probation or penalized by Amazon whereas with ebay I have been stripped of my power seller and top rated seller status as well as losing my discounts because I refuse to try to ship in 1 day on most of my items. ebay has also put a hold on my funds from Paypal for 21 days or til I prove to them that the item was delivered.
This is all because after selling on ebay since 2002 with 100% ratings I received 4 low DSR's on 'as described' because of a pricing mistake that was too big for me to eat the lossso I cancelled that sales which the buyers agreed to.
I have had complaints against me at Amazon and plenty of returns. Amazon has reviewed the issues fairly in my opinion and sided with me on some and with the customer on some. Amazon has never required or taken it upon themselves to issue a refund of my $$$ without the item being returned first. On regular return requests my policy states that the return shipping is paid by the buyer except in cases where the wrong item is shipped or it is substantially different than described.I ship all my products with free shipping so I can't very well expect to deduct a charge for original shipping on a return.
I don't pay anybody to save my rating because I operate a legitimate and fair minded business which means I work hard to be professional and give excellent quality and service. Amazon's buyers for the most part are much different than ebay's are. Amazon buyers are not looking for a way to get something for nothing like a lot of ebay buyers are. Amazon buyers will generally pay a higher price for the item because they feel they will more likely be satified with their purchase with Amazon in the deal.
Overall, item for item I have had only a fraction of the problems on Amazon that I have had on ebay and Amazon has always looked at my side of the coin too.

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by: LCA This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 6 11:12:18 2013

Considering the fact that the CSRs on eBay constantly tell upset Sellers that feedback is only the Buyers' opinion - they'll rarely remove it, regardless of most issues - I don't value the present feedback system at all.

I've been selling on eBay for 14 years but I will never cave-in to a Buyer's demands regardless if they use a veiled threat of leaving me negative feedback. That's just plain wrong and it always will be.

If I can't survive on the site because I have ethics and respect for others and myself, well.. then it's not a place that I want to sell. Simple as that.

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by: teddychan This user has validated their user name.
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Wed Mar 6 11:40:42 2013

Although my overall experience selling on Amazon was horrific, I will say that they were much more fair and reasonable than eBay about removing undeserved bad feedback. That and the fact that eBay removed the ability for sellers to leave negative/neutral feedback on non-paying bidders makes eBay's feedback policies even more anti-seller.

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by: AgendaSwallowsAll This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 6 11:45:21 2013

@Ming the Merciless

ebay doesn't allow its sellers to proceed in a fashion any brick & mortar store would where an act of extortion and/or the return of a wrong item would be dealt with through due process be it the legal system or USPS fraud investigation.

We had two situations some years back, one where an individual smashed the package their item came in and returned the item, another who returned an item that was not what we'd sold them. Our error was to have advised there could be legal repercussions attached to such activity and for it we lost our account for three plus months while a Power Seller with 100% feedback.

In recent months we received a death threat within an ebay message following yet another ebay message threatening negative feedback. Both were forwarded ebay multiple times, first through the link within ebay messages intended for reporting such and then a number of times through the ''Report a Buyer'' forum once that functionality was set in place.

We still have the negative feedback in spite of two ebay TOS violations, the first of which states any feedback left after the threat of such will be removed, the second of which is grounds for immediate account suspension and an individual who has a track record of extortion attempts per their feedback where 1 in every 8-10 sellers and/or buyers they had dealt with over the years were labeled scam, cheat or thief in feedback.

As an ebay seller your only right is to hand out bars of soap and bend over, Donahoe has many uses for the extortionist mindset.  

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by: lectiodivinabooks This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 6 12:07:44 2013

I sold on GreedBay for about 8 years but I quit because the abitrary Nazi like  crap that came from above, the almost non existent customer service etc. etc.(& lets not start on Greedpal) It just wasn't worth it. I don't even like to buy on Ebay because  I don't want to give Ebay or Paypal any money.
Ebay is a perfect example of everything that is wrong with stock  
driven companies - people just don't count - they are there only for purposes of exploitation.
 
Amazon is still very responsive & helpful to sellers - and except for inadequate shipping allowances, its fair. I have had a 100% positive feedback for years but I work very hard to provide good customer service and give buyers information  
on all aspects of the sale.
I have seen however somewhat of a decline in Amazon's overall attitude in the direction of greed. I was quite upset about what was happening to Amazon warehouse workers in Germany & elsewhere.
I must say, I often see buyers buying books that are higher priced than others offered on the same book & I think it is because of not only the 100% but because of the quality of the feedback comments themselves.  I think too that a neutral counting against ones feedback rating as much as a negative is absurd. A ho hum sales experience is something quite different than a negative one.  

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by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 6 12:08:56 2013

I have never sold on Amazon but when I buy I often get "requests" for Feedback--which I would be HAPPY to give (and I have never had a bad buy on Amazon) if it was only EASIER to do so.  I have followed all the steps and STILL not been able to actually LEAVE FEEDBACK.  

Which seems kinda pointless and a shame for the buyer who I would like to praise.  I have contacted sellers about this and have never gotten a word in return.  I don't know enough about the internals of Amazon to know how the mail etc works so don't know if these messages are even getting to the sellers!  

And I am not sure if it is an Amazon program but sometimes these attempts have led off into other product adverts etc--not what I had in mind.  

I do see that Amazon keeps very detailed track of WHAT I buy and keeps sending me endless emails about buying MORE of it--this is good and bad depending on the item--was it a one time thing?  A repeating need?

Now I DO sell on ebay and have done for 12 years.  I have gotten MANY threats to feed back which I think are completely absurd--like the above posters I suspect that it is ebay making a bunch of whiny babies out of buyers and their failure to READ the listing---but I also think ebay has failed utterly to work out an equitable system that is FAIR to buyers and sellers and to EXPLAIN to buyers WHAT the system does and doesn't DO.

Just last night I wrote a Thank You--very sincere--to a buyer who is a relative newbie to ebay both buying and selling--for a REVISED FEEDBACK.  She left me NEUTRAL FB with a POSITIVE COMMENT which I asked about and she was somewhat confused as there was apparently one easily corrected (not a refund issue!) aspect of the sale that she was not clear on.  Fixed that and filed for a REVISION and she gave it nicely.  But--if she is a SELLER too--and SHE did not understand HOW this works----how can we expect the BUYERS to have the slightest clue??????

AS to if I would pay actual cash money to avoid bad feedback--I would need to consider that on a case by case basis.  I DO highly RESENT the refunding of a buyers money INCLUDING shipping that atkes place BEFORE I even had a chance to SEE the return--I had always had to indicate that I had at least RECIEVED the package and approved the refund---but a few months ago I had a buyer complain and I agreed to take the item back and and the money was REFUNDED before the item was delivered to me!  The buyer was somehow able to trip the refund trigger via the tracking.  Kinda scary as this makes sending bricks even MORE likely.  ANd ebay?  What did THEY think?   Still waiting for an answer on THAT one.  

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by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 6 13:38:12 2013

Positive feedback to me is everything at eBay. My customers are always right; if disappointed for any reason, they know they may return for a full refund--but not their own return shipping. Is really hasn't cost me money at all except in the cases of 2 dishonest buyers. They left me negative feedback despite having the item and a full refund--and my then discovering the items were signed for. This was way back when eBay did not interfere at all. When it comes to good will, I don't nickel and dime people. I want return business. I live in dread of the completely unjust negative feedback.... just hope I can get let it go when it happens.  

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by: BackInBlack This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 6 13:48:27 2013

@Ming @Agenda I'd be inclined to do what Ming said, regardless of eBay's opinion. How can it be that they think their policies supersede state and federal laws? (Yeah, I know- eBay's inflated ego; it was a rhetorical quesiton...) I'm old enough to remember the days before the pendulum swung and stuck on 'Buyer Protection' of being defrauded by sellers and reporting it to eBay 'Safe Harbor' whose only help *was* to give you send you to Postal authorities for fraud forms. The only thing that would prevent *me* from doing it as a seller would be the incredible time, hassle and expense of the 'red tape' to try to recover $12 or $19. It would have to be 'on principle' and to try to protect other sellers from a bad buyer. I'd definitely report the death threat to someone beside eBay. I know this'll give everyone a good laugh, but did you send it to Griff?

Regarding what @Comet said about Amazon--- For many years, I've *always* left seller feedback on Amazon as diligently as I do on eBay (maybe because of its importance on eBay for years before I got on Amazon), but they surely don't make it *easy!* Also, Amazon was, and to some extent still *is* designed in such a way that a buyer gets the impression through its site design, standardized product pages, 'Buy Box' etc. that the purchase is directly from 'Big Company Amazon' rather than individual sellers, which is much more apparent as on eBay.

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

Wed Mar 6 15:38:39 2013

I know a local seller who had an open and shut case against a buyer for deliberate, retaliatory, libelous feedback.

This seller sent the buyer a non ebafia messaging system email demand letter stating their intention to sue in either state or federal court within 30 days if the feedback wasn't immediately removed.

The letter also contained a point by point refutation of the buyer's complaints which proved beyond any doubt whatsoever the buyer was in the wrong.

The buyer got the feedback removed (and left negative feedback in the positive feedback field) and then left a low Communication score. So my seller friend emailed the buyer again with the same warning, and the low score was removed within hours.

To my knowledge, ebafia has taken no action against this seller not should they have. The case was clear cut, the buyer was abusive, and ebafia should have voluntarily removed the feedback without compelling the seller to take further action.

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by: Paul W This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 6 16:38:19 2013

My eBay FB is over 10,000.  I don't care if I ever get another FB rating, + or -.  I do customer FB automatically when the item is paid for.  This has not caused any problems.

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