Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Thu May 15 2014 13:11:24

It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently

By: Ina Steiner

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Online payments service Square came out with another revolutionary service that helps online sellers in a way PayPal has never thought about, called Square Feedback. At first glance, it may not seem like a big deal - but it has the potential to ward off poor feedback and/or reviews for merchants, and it reflects a different way of looking at the relationship between buyers and sellers.

After a buyer pays for an item using Square, they have the option of receiving a digital receipt via email. For merchants who participate in Square Feedback, that receipt will contain a section that asks shoppers, "How was your experience?" along with a happy face and frowny face. Customers who click the frowny face have an opportunity to communicate directly with the merchant and tell them why they aren't satisfied. (Buyers have the option of making their message anonymous.)

The feedback message isn't posted online - the idea is to give the merchant an opportunity to turn an unhappy customer into a satisfied buyer. "Resolve issues privately to save your relationship and protect your online reputation," Square Feedback explains. If a seller can resolve the issue, it means that buyer may leave a very different Yelp review than if the seller never knew about the problem.

That philosophy couldn't be more different than eBay's, whose system seems instead like a "gotcha!" waiting to happen. While eBay managers always used to say they believed people were basically good, certainly these days it seems everything they do signals the company doesn't trust its sellers. eBay sellers cannot leave neutral or negative feedback for buyers. But buyers, meanwhile, are allowed to leave anonymous ratings (though some of this anonymity is finally being lifted). Generally it can feel like eBay is using any reason to "punish" a seller based on what they hear from buyers.

It's easy to argue that most eBay sellers want to make customers happy. Often they don't know when there is a problem (certainly not without a case being opened - and that results in a "defect" against the seller!). That's the same thinking behind Square Feedback and why it is setting out to help both parties, making it easy for the buyer and painless for the merchant.

eBay is the only marketplace that seems to foster tension between buyer and seller - understandable in the old days when it was difficult for eBay to differentiate between bad sellers and good sellers, but not in today's world. It's time for eBay to look at feedback as an opportunity, as Square is doing.

There is one reason why "Square Feedback" might not work on eBay, and that's because the company seems unable to differentiate between bad buyers and good buyers (or chooses to be fairly forgiving of bad buyer behavior). eBay buyers could be tempted to use such a system to try and extort sellers, though that behavior is already taking place.

What do you think? Would you appreciate a system that gave buyers a chance to let you know of any problems before they left public feedback? Or, as things now stand, would that be asking for trouble?




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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently   It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently

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

Thu May 15 14:33:24 2014

I believe that online reviews have about run their course.

Ebay abuses feedback and the star nonsense to improve their profitability by creating a virtual no win game for sellers in order to remove discounts.

It's always been an illegal bait and switch scam in slow motion.

Competitors can put a seller out of business.

Ebay's growing group of self centered, spoiled, entitled princesses and scammers can easily ruin a seller's business.

USPS, UPS, and Fed-X can ruin a seller's business through THEIR errors rather than seller error.

Ebay's own intentional glitches can and do create out of stock situations that can ruin a seller's business through their frequent double listings of single items and mysterious relisting of already sold items, and frequent problems with the item counters in listings none of which they've ever fixed though some of these problems have existed since at least 2004.

If the ebay feedback system were actually designed to facilitate and improve transactions and customer satisfaction, this Square feedback system is something ebay could have but has steadfastly refused to do.

They refuse because it would be easier for good sellers to keep their discounts.

They refuse because they profit from criminal buyers.

They refuse because ebay literally profits from encouraging buyers to file cases and returning items.

The entire feedback and Buyer Protection pieces are one giant Mafia scheme to steal as much money as possible from sellers and encouraging dishonest buyers to keep buying on ebay and returning items to feed the Greed Machine.

No one at ebay has the mindset of a Square type system.

I suspect, however, that 11 Main does.

There are no honest people working at ebay. None.

The ebay management team consists of arrogant sociopaths and upwardly yes people looking to pad/enhance/lie on their resumes for the next job.

Shafting sellers makes ebay money, and that's all ebay is about or has ever been about. It's just more obvious now since The Ho is in such a precarious position.

A fair, equitable, and transparent feedback system? Encouraging positive resolution of transaction problems where both sides can win?

Not in the ebay game plan, and it never will be while John Donahoe is CEO.

This sorry excuse for a human being has done nothing but create hatred, animosity, distrust and dishonesty between ebay and its customers (sellers) and between sellers and our buyers.

He must be the most divisive CEO in the annals of American business, and that's the nicest thing I can think to say about him.

If any Icahn people still around, The Ho doesn't give a damn about ebay except as his own personal stock share dispensing ATM machine.

He, Wenig, Marks, and Burke belong in federal prison.

Griff, Moore, and Matsuura belong in the unemployment line just as so many persecuted and prosecuted ex ebay sellers are.

These people can't even run an honest shareholders meeting. We shouldn't expect honesty integrity in any feedback system they have.

Perminate Link for It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently   It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently

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

Thu May 15 14:34:44 2014

Online reviews are much too easy to fake and abuse, and people are catching on.

This is why I think online reviews have seen their day or will have when the lawsuits grow which they will.

Perminate Link for It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently   It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently

This user has validated their user name. by: Puck

Thu May 15 14:53:42 2014

''The tricky part about feedback is getting people to take the time to share those thoughts with the seller''

Just what we needed.
Another way for some SOB to ''share'' his thoughts.

Perminate Link for It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently   It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently

This user has validated their user name. by: Al G

Thu May 15 18:24:04 2014

Hey Ming - I thing "Chainsaw Al" might edge out The Ho in overtime.

He single-handedly gutted Sunbeam, Scott Paper and a few other enterprises.

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by: Mr. Me This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 15 21:12:45 2014

Feedback = Opinions.
Opinions are like catbxes, lots of people have them and they all stink!

Perminate Link for It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently   It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently

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

Thu May 15 22:39:27 2014

Would that The Ho have the same fate as Al Dunlap.

I would downsize ebay only to the extent of dispatching Ho's sociopaths to their spend more time with theirs or someone else's family and the extraneous departments they run.

If ebay can't operate in  a fair and legal manner then kill the corporation.

What we need across the board is a return to late 19th century corporate regulations in which public corporations couldn't own other companies and every year had to prove to regulators that they operated in the public interest.

Aside from lovely lush house plants here, does anyone think ebay operates in the public interest?

The entire ebay management team earns negative feedback and 1 star ratings only because the star system has no negative numbers.

Keep calling the FTC and filing complaints about feedback, the ex post factor defect system, and the promotion of e-theft through policy.

If this were the 16th century, The Ho would be stoned to death in the San Jose town square as a witch.

Perminate Link for It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently   It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently

by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.

Fri May 16 00:40:49 2014

I would like EVERYBODY to find out more about Ms. Elizabeth Axelrod, who is the VP of I believe ebay international HR (not sure, knew last night but have forgotten).
If you look at her INSIDE TRANSACTIONS you will see that she is at the top of ebay stock options and salebacks- she must get a HELL of a lot of free shares as she cashes in MANY, MANY MILLIONS in stock every quarter- she has consistently cashed in the most, or nearly the most of any ebay executive- it LOOKS like MORE than even Donahoe.
Keep youe EYES on this ebay executive as she has flown under our radar for YEARS.
Ms. Elizabeth Axelrod- look at any ebay stock summary page- go to insider transactions and see what you all think.
Many millions every quarter- MANY- for about 5 years- consistently.
MH

Perminate Link for It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently   It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Fri May 16 01:30:27 2014

This isn't so different that what Ebay SAID they were going to do back in 2012 I think it was.  Of course it never happened as we all know.  

In the fall update for that year, they announced that they were going to require buyers to contact sellers before being able to file a claim.  And sellers would have up to 72 hrs to respond.  After than if the buyer wanted to open a claim they could.  But without notice [oh surprise] they changed it and instead thought it was a better idea to have buyers open up claims when they were just trying to communicate with us.  Thus the current system we have was born.

The system by design is to create friction and conflict between buyers and sellers.  And the Fall updates of this year make this problem even worse.

It defies logic as to why all those highly educated people do not see that if the system were better designed to foster good / healthy relationships, Ebay would grow stronger and stronger.  Conflict doesn't build trust.  Without trust Ebay will eventually stall.  

Perminate Link for It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently   It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently

This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Fri May 16 04:04:10 2014

Ms. Elizabeth Axelrod is the Ho's pseudonym. lol

Perminate Link for It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently   It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Fri May 16 06:12:24 2014

Marie makes some good points. One should not live in fear of their customers and this is exactly what eBay have created.

Feedback is always skewed no matter what site you visit because it is the unhappy, disgruntled, entitled or unrealistic customer who is more likely to leave feedback.

Perminate Link for It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently   It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently

This user has validated their user name. by: Al G

Fri May 16 07:20:27 2014

Fear of customers - I hear you.

Nice to see an e-mail from eBay that a case has been opened!

A customer just wanted to know whether the shipping address I used was the correct one, since the USPS mis-routed the package & tracked it as "out for delivery" in a city over 100 miles away. Naturally the address was correct & most likely the USPS made a mistake in the routing, but now I have an unopened case (but I replied within the 5 days given) & the ball is in the buyer's court & will probably die there when the shipment gets delivered in a day or two. There is movement in the right direction of the destination - I like tracking in this case.

The best way I felt to address the issue would be to just have been contacted directly, but eBay almost forces you to open up a case. All that does is increases my stress level for no reason.

I realise that the package could have gotten lost but that is a 1 in 10,000 chance. Most of the questions is about delivery times usually from mis-routing or waiting for Media Mail to be delivered. So to open up a case for relatively trivial matters is a waste of time on both of our parts.

Bad sellers will rise up all by themselves & don't need the cattle pen & chute technique eBay is perfecting for all sellers to direct you into the "holding pen" of potential miscreantism.

Perminate Link for It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently   It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently

by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Fri May 16 08:45:17 2014

eBay's various rules have almost killed my business on eBay. They have not hurt my oldest relationships online, because I've been there since 1996; but they have made the eBay selling ''venue'' a hostile risk-filled one where sellers bear ALL the risk. Meanwhile, eBay does nothing to protect sellers except talk about protecting sellers. A seller maintaining 100% positive feedback OVER YEARS of weekly selling, must be doing something right. Why have so many good sellers like this been knocked down in the past 2 years? How much interference with my customer relations can I neutralize? eBay was such a great experience--even when I was ripped off by scammers, at least I could WARN the community even when eBay-the-venue would do nothing. Worst of all, though, eBay has made selling riskier and costlier. Every week, I pray no one decides to give me one star. They will leave glowing feedback, but 1 star. Who does this benefit? Not me, not my loyal customers, not the ''venue''. I never cared about stars; I never asked for any feedback; but now? I have cases opened against me if an item isn't delivered in 3 days. and they count!! Sorry--I need to get a margarita.

Perminate Link for It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently   It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Fri May 16 11:45:04 2014

@RCL

With the INR claims, once you can prove delivery, they can be closed and the defect removed.  But the same is not true for SNAD claims.  The only way to get a defect removed is for the claim to be ruled in the sellers favor or at no fault. So do you best not to let a buyer just close a claim because they mistakenly made the claim.  Make sure it gets closed No FAult.

Perminate Link for It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently   It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently

This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie
Web Site

Fri May 16 12:32:42 2014

@Al G...

Here's something interesting to help (maybe?) avoid having customers accidentally/mistakenly/unnecessarily open cases for piddly stuff.

Go to the url below, or click the hyperlink below my username above:

http://bit.ly/QQElJC

Perminate Link for It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently   It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Fri May 16 12:44:11 2014

@Annie

With respect, the sticker is incorrectly worded.  The mere fact that a buyer sends or wants to send a message to a seller does NOT auto open a claim.  

There are only 2 of the 9 subject boxes a member has to choose from when doing an email that will result in them being able to open a claim during the email process.  

1. I haven’t received my item yet
2. Item I received is not as described
3. Request to change and order
4. Combined shipping
5. Payment and checkout
6. Returns
7. Shipping
8. Details about item
9. Other

Claims do not auto open either.  The buyer has to agree to it.  However the screens have been redesigned recently and it is easy to open a claim when that was never the buyer's intention.  It's a tricky screen by design.

Perminate Link for It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently   It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently

This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Fri May 16 13:04:38 2014

Hi Marie! Actually, I've never used this sticker myself, but I'll email this merchant and reference the info in your post.

I have little doubt that you are absolutely correct (as usual) but even if the specifics aren't razor-precise, I think the overall idea of the short message is to encourage buyers communicate directly and to bypass the problematic (and intentionally tricky) Ebay forms.

It seemed like a good concept anyway. :-)

Perminate Link for It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently   It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently

This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Fri May 16 13:07:18 2014

Ahh... got it! I just re-read it. I see what you mean. I didn't see it before. I think the author chose brevity over precision.

Perminate Link for It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently   It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently

by: rstpete This user has validated their user name.

Fri May 16 13:14:05 2014

The feedback system is only a reflection of the whole of eBay and its attitude toward sellers.  You must change that before feedback will ever be seen as a real tool for sellers to improve WHEN NEEDED.  Until then it will remain a tool to beat down, demoralize, drive off and financially ruin honest merchants.  

Perminate Link for It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently   It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Fri May 16 13:16:45 2014

@ Annie

It's misleading.  I personally don't think it is in our best interest as sellers to lower our standards to meet Ebay's. Meaning, they mislead us so it's OK to mislead the buyers.

There are 7 ways / subjects a buyer can choose when trying to send an email to sellers and they won't encounter any Ebay interference.  

I'm not trying to pick on you at all.  I'm just saying I don't like the sticker.  Just my opinion of it.  If the author meant brevity, there is no way for the buyers to know that.  It doesn't say it is a dramatization.  It doesn't appear to be written as a joke.  It to me appears to me misleading information.

Perminate Link for It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently   It's Time to Look at eBay Feedback Differently

by: gutspiller This user has validated their user name.

Fri May 16 13:17:42 2014

@RCL

Seems we're in the same boat. I used to be a 100% feedback seller. Never ever dropped below 99,99%.

Out of the blue I started receiving neutral feedbacks combined with low DSR's. Mostly from 0-feedbackers or unexperienced buyers with very low feedback. Not a single one contact me.

As a result I've lost my toprated seller status and normally the 20th I'll be a below standard seller. Below standard for a just above 1% low DSR for object description.

I've been fighting Ebay for 2 years and this time it really overtook me. I've closed my Ebayshop to never go back again.

I good tip I can give for feedback. If you have your own website add a guestbook to your website. Everytime I send out an order the customer gets a message to confirm shipment. Within this message I explicitely ask to post a message in our guestbook after receiving the order.

Just as on Ebay only a small % of people will actually do it. But in the meantime I've gathered +100 feedbacks like this. Some clearly the kind of feedbacks people leave you on Ebay. But also some feedbacks from people that were absolutely thrilled about there item/service they received.

The best advertising your website can get.

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