Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
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!




Comments (24) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

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

Wed May 20 23:45:08 2015

We have been telling you all about these penny auctions for years- pennies and single paperclips- good example Ina.
MH

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by: gizmo This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 20 23:59:32 2015

More power to them. Anything to beat down the devil is fine with me. Go for it! Have to get them ratings up somehow. People have been given a venue thats very unfair , it is to be expected. I say good for them. KUDOS

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This user has validated their user name. by: LasVagueness

Thu May 21 00:28:41 2015

Ditto gizmo.

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by: comments This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 21 00:34:30 2015

Some of eBay's worst offenders are doing this same thing and they easily skate past the defect policies. Meanwhile the rest of the hard working sellers are compared to their standards.

This guy quoted here is completely obvious about it. But there are some who are doing it with dollar items. The feedback system is fine.

I am not sure why anyone feels a need to change it. I buy thousands of items on ebay and very rarely leave negative feedback. It isn't because I am scared to. It is because most people selling on ebay right now are good people doing the right things. I buy certified coins and many they always come as described. I do have minor annoyances like tape or sticker residue on the holders that should not be there....But if I just saved $100's of dollars over my local dealer I am happy to spend a minute cleaning the slab. Why leave bad feedback to someone who saved me money though? I much rather take em out to lunch if given the opportunity!

The penny item sellers are pouring junk into the search results making it more difficult to find legitimate items. Best match also favors listings that have sales so the cheap junky listings are always there for me to have to weed though. Very annoying. If you want to fix something then fix that.

The defect policy that causes toxic relations between buyers and sellers in returns has also got to be fixed. Buyers remorse is most common reason for returns I have seen. ''Don't like the color'' Don't like the item'' ......The buyer just thinks they are making a justification to the seller because they think returns are bad. They have no idea the devastating impact they are having. Ebay failed to do anything to explain things to them.

Getting rid of JD was ebay's only hope for survival. Now it is on DW to come in and make things right. If he fails to we will have our favorite marketplace ripped out from under us by sheer stupidity.

Amazon is having massive double digit % gains every quarter. Those are all the people leaving the toxic cesspool that ebay has become!

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by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 21 01:39:49 2015

This goes back to the very EARLIEST days at ebay--when FB and FB ratings actually COUNTED---people would list things like--Ancient Roman Coins for a penny--and they would say right on their listing that this was to BOOST THEIR FB NUMBERS and ratings! There were other items offered I just remember that one.  (I think at one time you could leave FB without even making a purchase--correct me if I am not remembering this right!)

AS far as ebay cleaning up these sellers--who are we kidding here?  Devil Wenig will do NOTHING his Dark Satanic Lord and Master JD does not approve of--and it's not like JD is leaving the henhouse--he will be just down the block at Paypal!  Making life even MORE miserable for ebay and paypal users for years to come.

What Ichan wanted--and got--is thus  spoiled by NOT writing into the contracts that JD was NOT to have a seat at the table. This is nothing more than an elaborate game of Musical Chairs.  

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by: Bethofvt This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 21 07:43:06 2015

Good theory, but it won't help you achieve TRS if you don't ship and show tracking info on at least 90% of your sales, so it isn't like they can sell a lot of these monthly rating. If they sell too many "local pickup" their percentage with uploaded tracking will drop below 90% and they lose TRS.  The very thing legitimate sellers of single coins and stamps have been complaining  about. You either have to pay triple shipping costs so you get tracking, or lose TRS and its 20% discount.

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by: ajeweler This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 21 08:44:13 2015

OP found yet another way to beat their system, about time!, now that Ina has made this public you should see more of this happening, or a new rule for jd's crew we will see. E**Y teaches buyers how to scam sellers with their infamous "money back guarantee" now sellers are getting savvy how to use their system to benefit their "top rated seller status" not that this title means anything any more other than a select few and of course the china sellers who benefit from the US sellers that worked so hard to build their venue I am waiting to see it turn into Alibay soon coming to a computer near you!!

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by: rhawk This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 21 08:55:54 2015

COMMENTS nailed it.

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by: rhawk This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 21 08:58:00 2015

Did I mention that COMMENTS comments are 100% accurate, and the best I have ever seen regarding the current state at ebay?

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

Thu May 21 09:20:55 2015

@Comet:

Yes, early on, any registered ID can leave feedback for any other registered ID.

That's how I got my 1st FB - someone knew me & left a positive.

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by: Runs.With.Scissors This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 21 09:36:14 2015

@Bethofvt:

(''it won't help you achieve TRS if you don't ship and show tracking info on at least 90% of your sales, so it isn't like they can sell a lot of these monthly rating. If they sell too many ''local pickup'' their percentage with uploaded tracking will drop below 90% and they lose TRS.'')

Good point!
             (Note to self):
1.  Ship myself something First Class USPS for $1.93 every day to obtain a tracking number.

2.  Upload that same tracking number to all of the faux penny sales after marking them  ''shipped''.


    ( Just kidding here, but couldn't resist. )

                                                             : )

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Thu May 21 10:04:44 2015

"eBay head of Marketplaces Devin Wenig said recently he'll be taking a look at the eBay feedback system -...."

Marvelous.... The last thing eBay sellers need is yet another revision of the feedback process by an executive who has virtually zero experience as an eBay buyer or seller.

Feedback on eBay has been a mess since the previous CEO destroyed the two way feedback process to make feedback a weapon wielded to destroy sellers reputations and alienate them from the marketplace while allowing abusive buyers to run rampant and take over the process.

Under Donahoes multiple changes, eBay sellers were made to be targets of extortion. Although feedback extortion violates eBay policy, eBay Customer Service Agents were woefully untrained enabling extortion and vengeful acts of competitors to rule the day and decimate seller reputations.

The resulting seller alienation has negatively impacted SKU diversity in the marketplace while at the same time causing eBay sales increases to drop well below the sales increases observed on other platforms. Sadly, management has failed to see how the feedback system failure has negatively impacted the marketplace.

Granted, feedback is just one serious miscalculation behind the failure to grow sales, but is is right up there with eBay's colossal failure of a search engine.

Seller apathy over the latest CEO announcement of a feedback "fix" should come as no surprise given the company's rich history of "fixes" that make things worse for sellers instead of better.


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by: DVDsandMore This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 21 10:09:09 2015

You can't re-use tracking numbers on eBay.  If you or another seller used the tracking number it can't be used for another buyer.  (You can use the same tracking number for multiple items to the same buyer at least.)  

If you sell enough on other sites you can double use those tracking numbers and the scam would work.  

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by: Runs.With.Scissors This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 21 11:00:50 2015

@Ric:
Re- "Feedback on eBay has been a mess since the previous CEO destroyed the two way feedback process to make feedback a weapon wielded to destroy sellers reputations and alienate them from the marketplace while allowing abusive buyers to run rampant and take over the process.

Under Donahoes multiple changes, eBay sellers were made to be targets of extortion. Although feedback extortion violates eBay policy, eBay Customer Service Agents were woefully untrained enabling extortion and vengeful acts of competitors to rule the day and decimate seller reputations.

The resulting seller alienation has negatively impacted SKU diversity in the marketplace while at the same time causing eBay sales increases to drop well below the sales increases observed on other platforms. Sadly, management has failed to see how the feedback system failure has negatively impacted the marketplace.

Granted, feedback is just one serious miscalculation behind the failure to grow sales, but is is right up there with eBay's colossal failure of a search engine."

 Very well said !!!!  Why can't they see the logic in this?

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by: minnie This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 21 11:02:16 2015

I am currently restricted to listing/selling 10 items per month because I am "below standard".

I was advised to sell 99¢ items to boost my FB/DSRs/etc.  Unfortunately, I have nothing to sell for 99¢, so I came up with something for $5.00 with free shipping.

My items are slowly selling, but getting very few views for various reasons.  My status probably won't change for the May review.  It seems hopeless.

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by: gizmo This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 21 11:43:50 2015

Hopeless = selling on deadbay. There is no site anymore , just a handful of legit sellers left. I dont buy there anymore. I will not feed the pigs , they get too fat. All that lard goes to their heads , & now look what you have. A hog feeding frenzy. Now all the execs are boasting how great they are , & how wonderful things are. Even with all their #s down , they still have fat heads & cant see past their smug fat faces.

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

Thu May 21 11:53:09 2015

Is this also the reasoning behind the penny items on Amazon? Is this just a way to get more positive feedback? I've lost track of how many thousands of items I have sold on Amazon over the last 12+ years, but I've only received 295 feedbacks. Yet I see some sellers with so many feedbacks and they either sell the super cheap penny items or they sell things for 4-5 times what the highest price is and they are apparently selling a lot at those high prices because they have oodles of feedback.

Personally I would rather work realistically for my feedback and make some money at the same time. Sure I know that those penny sellers just might be making a whole $2 on their stuff, but I would sure rather make more and ship less since I can make about $10 or more profit on most of my inventory and there is no way penny sellers can do that.

If this is apparently legal on ebay now, all power to the seller that is selling pennies, but when is enough feedback enough to quit the silliness?

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 21 13:15:37 2015

The ENTIRE crux of the issue is simply - under JD's BRILLIANTLY STUPID fixes, the VALUE of feedbacks became WORTHLESS.

Want to know HOW worthless? Try using a POSITIVE feedback in a case opened against you. "But the buyer said GREAT item!", "but the buyer said BEST transaction EVER". Know what happens? eBays THEFT-TASTIC CS agents tell you "what the feedback says doesnt mean anything!"

Really? then what are they there for?

eBay doesnt vet ANYONE, every until there's a complaint. Good sellers get sweeped up with the bad, and "you being a seller for 15+ years, a few thousand positive feedbacks .... mean NOTHING".

Feedbacks have never "really meant anything". All you need to know about them is look at ANY Chinese seller or SELCET "beloveds".

Its a SIMPLE percentage game - hats off to people who understand it and USE THE SYSTEM AGAINST ITSELF to fix the OBVIOUS inequities created by "JD and his brainiacs" (good band name?)

Its not something I need to do or care to do - but I SO enjoy seeing JD & Devin "eat some crow".

Problem is Wenig isnt an ecommerce person EITHER ... hes a ex trail lawyer/merger guy.

**** eBay BOARD **** would you have a PLUMBER do your kids heart surgery or a doctor? YOu wouldnt right? So why do you keeop hiring people to run eBay who KNOW NOTHING ABOUT ecommerce?

SIMPLETONS!

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

Thu May 21 13:58:38 2015

It is illegal to buy and sell fb, and this is exactly what these sellers are doing- they don't even ship the single pennies or single paperclips.
This selling of pos fb is not used to qualify for trs but is used to offset present or future negative fb/ dsr's.
We used to report these over and over and nothing was done.
It cannot be ebay wanting the $$ as there isn't any $$ in these deals for ebay so why do they not remove them when we report them?
MH

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by: gizmo This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 21 15:09:36 2015

The word I hear all day long , at the store , doctor , ect... People talk bad about deadbay. Why? If all the misery was not true , people would not try to boost their rating by any means possible. And , dont trust any blog, especially ebay boards , they may all be on the take selling the info.( what you say) Trust no-one!! No offence intended , I just have limited trust on any online place.


TRS means nothing lately. I mean sales are down on deadbay , badly down. TRs or not , sales are down , lookers are down , views are down. I guess you could say , those free t-shirts I have been printing & giving away , are coming true, & 100% spot on.

Their own admission , they throttle views , ebay IS for sale , & no-one at ebay cares about small sellers. PERIOD !

I will never fully go back. In fact , I am branching out  , just waiting for my 180 day no activity mark hits , & I am shutting down my oldest user , 4 good!

I only use them. I do research , & compare prices. I refuse to feed these pigs. I 100% feel this way.

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