Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
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by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Tue Sept 5 2017 13:19:54

eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay sellers no longer have the ability to leave feedback to report problems with buyers - they're restricted to leaving only positive feedback, while buyers can leave positive, negative, or neutral feedback for sellers. Many believe that leaves sellers vulnerable to dishonest trading partners.

So it was with some surprise we read eBay's post on its corporate blog on Labor Day yesterday where it reminded users of its founder's original vision regarding feedback. In a post titled "A Note from eBay's Founder," eBay published the letter Pierre Omidyar wrote to the eBay community 6 months after he launched the site announcing the feedback system.

"Now, we have an open forum. Use it," Omidyar wrote in February 1996. "Make your complaints in the open. Better yet, give your praise in the open. Let everyone know what a joy it was to deal with someone." Omidayar was clear about operating a level playing field where users could report problems, whether the other user was a buyer or a seller.

eBay has changed a lot since those early days. Is feedback still as important as it once was? If you could, what changes would you make to the current feedback system? And what message would you convey to Pierre Omidyar if you were sitting next to him on a 60-minute bus ride?




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Perminate Link for eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback   eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback

by: buffalochick This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 5 13:34:41 2017

I would ask him WHY he thought it was a good idea to leave HONEST feedback and then ask why it was scrapped?  Feedback should mean what it says, from both sides.  Or scrap it altogether, since feedback does NOT specify only positive.

Perminate Link for eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback   eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback

by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 5 13:40:58 2017

Ebay feedback is a joke. Why even bother leaving it when.....

1. All buyers have 100%, even the liars, deadbeats, scammers, losers and just the plain PITA's

2. Sellers are at the mercy of those buyers who think that they are owed something, want a refund for remorse, or who just think its funny to harass the seller into a refund.

3. Feedback for the sellers is a wide open forum for blackmail which Fleecebay condones and allows without a second thought.

4. Feedback is thrown into the sellers face when the buyer has been blocked. They want to know how come as I HAVE 100% FEEDBACk which is supposed to mean I DO NO WRONG. Well honey so does every other tom, dick, and jane who only uses that account to buy with. Throw it in our face and you will be blocked. End of discussion.

5. If fleecebay really cared about the sellers (doubtful) they would come up with a way for it to be fair. Maybe instead of feedback they could just show the amount of transactions the buyer or seller has done. Feedback is so wrong in so many ways from blackmail to a buyer with a feather in their ---- (not hat).

6. If feedback doesn't count against a seller THEN WHY HAVE IT

We haven't left feedback in over a year and don't ever plan on starting. If a buyer wants feedback and writes us we tell them we don't do it and if they are unhappy so be it.

Perminate Link for eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback   eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback

by: leathermermaid8 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 5 14:09:53 2017

The honest feedback was part of what made eBay what it was.  Fun, even.
I used to enjoy some of the nutty comments people left.  Not speaking of the abusive, profanity laced diatribes there though.  .Some of the "Me" pages and item descriptions were hilarious as well.  But Amazon doesn't do this, so it had to go.

Now, in a never ending effort to reinvent itself, we have anonymized bidders and one sided feedback.  One sided feedback because the truth hurts and we must be protected from it at all costs.   Afterall, AMAZON does it, so it must work for everybody.

If you are a seller, you are forced to read between the lines in feedback left by other sellers, as well as the feedback left for others.  Of course by then it may be too late and you're stuck with someone who should be blocked.

I would like to ask Pierre if he approves of the current eBay or not.  What changes if any he'd like to see.   Was his it his vision to be a knock off or an original....
On the other hand, he's no longer involved so it wouldn't matter what he thinks.

In time, I think most of the used and collectable items will be spun off or eliminated entirely.  There ARE other venues here and there but without the brand recognition.   There are buyers for these things but not enough to interest current management.  That's obvious.  

Perminate Link for eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback   eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback

This user has validated their user name. by: eXtinctBay

Tue Sep 5 14:26:37 2017

In the early days, before feedback had to be transaction-related, you could leave it for anyone. If you had a buddy or buddies who was on eBay, positive feedbacks would be traded to falsely inflate one's score.

Heck, you could even leave a negative for a competitor for no reason! This happened to me a couple of times. And there were folks that could guarantee hundreds of feedbacks in your account virtually overnight (for a fee, of course).

Then, around the year 2000, you had to be involved with a transaction to leave a comment. This program worked fine, until buyers complained that they were afraid to leave a negative feedback because of fear of retaliation.

The Donahoe ''reign of terror'' regime removed the right of a seller to leave negative or neutral feedback to a problem buyer. This, along with other anti-seller policies (remember the order defect program, in which a seller was penalized for EVERY RETURN??), has tilted the scale totally to favor buyers, and allow fraud to run rampant.

And allow those who do not read the item description to leave unfair negs / neutrals on a sellers account, when the seller made every effort to include all details of an item.

So I would tell Mr. Omidyar that his intentions when he invented the feedback system have not been followed for years. BOTH parties cannot leave an honest assessment of the transaction, so the program is basically a failure.

In my opinion, a negative or neutral feedback should only be left (on a sellers account) in four cases: (1) Seller did not ship the merchandise, or mailed it late. This does not include a package that was lost in the mail. (2) Seller refuses to refund according to the terms of sale. (3) There was a gross mistake in the item description, and an important detail or details was missed. (4) The item was poorly packaged, and arrived damaged.

How many ways should a buyer be punished via ''bad'' feedback?? Let me count the ways. (1) Non-payment after winning an auction. (2) Filing a false SNAD claim. (3) ''Rocks in a box'', or other fraudulent return activity. (4) Not reading and understanding a sellers item description. (5) Claiming non-receipt when a package has been delivered. And there are more.

So, if the question is that feedback is as important as it once was, well, no. Most eBay buyers (and nearly all on Amazon) do not bother to take the time to leave it. But negs / neutrals on a sellers account still carry at least a bit of weight.

I do check feedback that a prospective buyer leaves for others, when they ask to reduce the price on one of my items, even though I note in my item description that I do not accept offers. Most every time, these buyers do not hesitate to leave bad feedback to a seller, and this gives me the opportunity to place them onto my block list.

Perminate Link for eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback   eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 5 15:14:14 2017

To just add to what others have said:

eBay back in 2007/2008 decided that revenue generation (NOT stock price) was job 1.

Moving boxes (ala Amazon) was job 2.

The brain trusts in charge decided that since they couldnt charge buyers more money - monthly buying club fee, and they coudlnt let buyers pay for shipping (to compete with Amazon) - SELLERS needed to carry all the freight (costs of eBays board making MILLIONS).

Well, how best to do that?

eBay also let it be known that WAR was comming - by a certain individuals comments that "sellers are unreliable sources of income). In some cases it was true - after TV shows like American Pickers ... there werent as many "grannies attic sellers" as there used to be.

So the war against sellers started - and the motto was "shut up and take one for the team - or you are free to leave" knowing quite well that alot of sellers didnt have very many options - they werent a good fit for Amazon etc.

So "free shipping" was born, Pay for play at the VERO dept was established, the blatant copying (inspired by) of items started, and the attitude that its ALWAYS the sellers fault for everything became law of the land.

As to NOT scare away precious buyers (since they are ALWAYS right), and compete with Amazon - eBay removed the ability to say ANYTHING negative about the snowflake buyers.

Today, most buyers (at least in my case) use it to threaten and coerese. "Remember, I can STILL leave you negative feedback".......

2 Way feedback is the best way - but eBay isnt fair to sellers and since that wont ever change (60 day returns etc) - theres no reason to think that 2 way feedback will ever come back.........

Perminate Link for eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback   eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback

by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 5 15:35:13 2017

What would I ask him......Why won't you just PLEASE PLEASE crawl back into your hole and fade away. You like the others have taken your millions and left. NOTHING you have to say anymore is relevant to anyone but yourself.

Perminate Link for eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback   eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback

This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Tue Sep 5 16:07:04 2017

Pierre Omidyar is the rightful Leader of Ebay.
Originally created for the People.
Stolen away from us by "The Corporation".
He was ousted, against his will.
He must be placed at the top once again.

Perminate Link for eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback   eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Tue Sep 5 16:33:30 2017

Times have changed and changed a lot since Ebay was conceived.  To grow and survive in the marketplace Ebay has had to change / evolve.  While I personally take issue with some of the changes over the years, there are still things that have been good and have grown the site.  To allow the site to stay just as it was from 1995 to 1997 would have caused the site to have just been a memory and nothing more.  Too many things have changed.  Certainly there were some very good things back in the beginning, but in today's world many of them would not work.

Leaving negative or neutral FB for a customer has no place on the internet IMHO.  It is BAD for business and I'm running a little business.  

Omidyar is still the Chairman and has plenty of say in how Ebay is ran, how much upper management is paid, etc.  Because we don't hear much directly from him anymore doesn't mean he isn't involved.

My viewpoint on FB for buyers is just to do away with it.  It doesn't mean anything to sellers.  Some buyers like it and kind of consider it a badge of honor so to speak, but they don't realize it really can't be anything else under the current rules of Ebay.  

Many other sites have done away with FB left for buyers and I think it is time that Ebay did the same.  As for seller FB, that is a tough one.  When it is opinion driven as is most FB systems, problems and unfair FB will happen.  The move Ebay made to no longer count negative and neutral FB in the evaluation of a seller's selling status was a good one.  But that really doesn't go far enough, it helps, but more needs to be done.

I'm not sure what the answer is to the Seller FB system.  Maybe just a straight Star rating system without a comment by the buyer.  It is certainly a complex issue.

Perminate Link for eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback   eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 5 18:11:26 2017

Marie - I love you 'n all - but I cant agree THIS time :)

If eBay itself was the seller - then Id agree with your view. After all - it would be like Amazon - and when you sell on Amazon - all you do is fulfillment - you DONT "sell" anything.

eBay keeps telling anyone who will listen that they are "just a venue" - or even the new hidden mantra of "managed marketplace". In either case they still trumpet that buyers are "YOUR customers" and that they are just the middle man.

If thats so then sellers should have that ability - ESPECIALLY when eBay rules against sellers in disputes %99 of the time - to get the truth out there.

If feedback isnt a measure of a sellers reputation - then get rid of it altogether. If it IS - then sellers need to have SOME control over their destiny and their future. You CERTAINLY cant leave your business and your future in the hands of the nut jobs at eBay (who break the law 24/7) or maniacal buyers.

It looks like we will have to agree to disagree on this one.

Perminate Link for eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback   eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Tue Sep 5 18:15:25 2017

@pace

Amazon isn't the only site that has Seller FB only.  Etsy is a bit more similar to Ebay and it too has Seller only FB.  There may be other sites out there, but these are the ones I'm most familiar with.

Perminate Link for eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback   eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback

by: Michael in BC This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 5 18:22:45 2017

I'm with those who feel that FB should be scrapped entirely. It's a pointless waste of sellers' time, the way it's structured currently.

As to a chat with Pierre........ those of us who sell OOAK and other vintage items need an 'eBay Classic' separate from an 'eBay Standard'.  eBay Standard can handle all the foreign import material and multi-quanitity ''must have a UPC'' items.  eBay Classic should cover only antique/collectable items, and this separation would bring scores of thousands of sellers who have moved elsewhere .... back to the site, ... with a corresponding increase in eBay's bottom line.  

Perminate Link for eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback   eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback

by: RL15 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 5 18:57:47 2017

Pierre is as relevant as Grifter.....

Neither one will help a seller, don't care about sellers.

Only difference between the 2 is that Pierre has a lot of money.

Perminate Link for eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback   eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback

by: Bidderboy This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 5 20:39:56 2017

I would tell Pierre that I was drawn to ebay because of his original mission statement. When he said that "people are basically good" it spoke to me and I related to that. I would try to explain to him the arc of my 15 year tenure on the site and the way my once thriving business has been battered and broken by micromanagement. I came here to be an entrepreneur and was successful, beyond my wildest dreams. I'm still here and hanging in, turning a profit but it is no longer fun in any way, shape or form. I would tell him that I used to sing ebay's praises and recommend it to anyone and everyone but that I haven't been able to do that for many years now. Finally, I would ask him to do all he could to return to the original spirit and intent of ebay while having the company adapt to current marketplace standards.  

Perminate Link for eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback   eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Tue Sep 5 20:47:37 2017

I think the whole feedback system needs to be changed.

How about rating the transaction on a scale of 1 to 10

Both buyer and seller get to rate the transaction

No Positive , Negative or Neutral

It's time for the donuts to be retired. . .

Perminate Link for eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback   eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Tue Sep 5 20:54:25 2017

@pace

"You CERTAINLY cant leave your business and your future in the hands of the nut jobs at eBay (who break the law 24/7)"

What California Penal Code has eBay broken?

What law do YOU think they have broken?

Perminate Link for eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback   eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback

by: longtimepowerseller This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 5 21:04:10 2017

I set feedback to automatic years ago: Once you pay, you get an automatic feedback thanking you for your purchase. I rarely look at my feedback score, it is all meaningless at this point. The few negs or neutrals I get are not worth the aggravation of dealing with. If a customer has a big enough problem they can file a claim or contact me directly and I will address it.
Wasting time on a broken one sided system does not pay your bills.

Perminate Link for eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback   eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 5 21:43:23 2017

Tool

You may know about old rusty tools and pot, but little about commercial law, US trade laws and how they effect sellers

I'm not here to educate you on the FirstbSale Doctrine, Lanham and another 1/2 dozen other laws.

Start with those 2, then look into filing false DMCA claims (Vero pay for play), then look into "expectation".

There are plenty more issues - all mostly hidden by the illegal use of the TOS aka a shrink wrap license.

I didn't know the law, Because I was high"

Perminate Link for eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback   eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback

by: smallstuff This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 5 21:44:14 2017

When the feedback system was started, you could leave feedback on anyone, not just the seller and high bidder.  I remember one auction where the seller received negative feedback from someone who was not even bidding.  I won that auction.  It was the wild wild west.  

Perminate Link for eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback   eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback

by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 6 00:15:54 2017

Feedback ranks high as one of the most hypocritical and yet ironically comical elements characterizing eBay.  

It helps to remember that eBay and it's 'unique' feedback schema came to be prior to what comprises 'social media' now.    Also, sending cash to a far away stranger on a promise was truly a leap of faith, though trade via mail order was common enough.  But with that was a presumption of  a 'business basis' that coupled with legal remedy enabled enough trust.  

But once 'anybody' could 'look businesslike' by simply creating a username and password, there needed to be some other market driven, as well as 'social-ized' means to display what measure of trust might be expected during a trade.  

And while it was left AS a 'market driven' metric, feedback began to serve in ts purpose, once it was limited to transactions.  Sure it was subjective, occasionally no more than retaliatory, but are not all subjective opinions so?  And are not people left to their own to assess judgement accordingly, as to applicability regarding potential trust?  A virtual marketplace mimicking real life.  How innovative.

It was personal.  Diverse.  Catering to individual taste and desire and need.  A community.  A COLORFUL community.  And a profitable one too.  That's what they decided to throw away.

And to answer the hew and cry when they commenced operation Bain Bay?  What was eBay's 'feedback' in reply?  They called us noise.

Meanwhile, they rendered the feedback tool impotent for its original purpose, and turned it into an objective metric to use for monitizing alleged seller 'capabilities'.  No due process, unrestricted libel, and way too much energy expended trying to address undeserved impact, and unsupported accusation.  It became open season for freely attacking and thus AFFECTING reputation.  And profitability.  

eBay's 'feedback'?  ''It's just an opinion....Incidentally, if it's not positive, it's negative....and Extortion is in the mind of the beholder, and we don't be holdin' it.''  Tragic comedy.

And instead of providing USEFUL tools that actually still COULD reflect capability, trustworthiness, etc., such as transaction count, non payments, non deliveries, etc., (e.g., excellent suggestions already noted in prior post), they then added a whole NEW subjective objective metric - the DSR.  Get a bigger hammer.  Bet they really yelp now.

Verilly, eBay was all about feedback.  They even enabled their pages with 'tell us what you think' enticements.  Buttons to register 'reports'.  Sort of direct access to an...international customer service 'team'.  Who rarely gave each OTHER feedback, much less returned a promised call or eMail.

Effectively, they were all data black holes.  Never responded to.  Never acknowledged.  Never acted upon.  Try to find a way to contact an EMPOWERED person so to make suggestion, register grievance, find resolution.  No feedback option for that one.  Wouldn't dare.  

So why do all this?  Why turn a useful tool into a hypocritical and ineptly applied weapon of mass disruption?  Yes, it's not as 'badly judged' now, but that damage has been done.  And who knows how it might still be applied respecting listing 'visibility' in search?  No 'feedback' forthcoming on that.  So why?

Because...an impersonal, sterile, identically presented, identity disguised, and wholly controlled offering already rendered uber-trustworthy by the shakels of unconditional guarantee that results in a sale doesn't warrant a NEED for 'feedback'.  All the stars and ribbons and bangles can then go too.  More room for ads, and storing hidden listings for release as eBay 'inventory control' sees fit.

Know what the interesting thing is about feedback?  Sure, get rid of it, and that eliminates the 'noise'.  But paying ATTENTION to it might just lead one to a connection that NEEDS a correction, so the band CAN play on - in concert.



Perminate Link for eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback   eBay Raises Controversial Topic of Feedback

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Wed Sep 6 01:33:18 2017

@pacce306

So you have a lot of blah blah blah but no actual law eBay has broken.

If eBay had broken any laws either the California state attorney or the US attorney general would've filed charges.

NO CHARGES HAVE BEEN FILED. . .

Case Closed!

Ebay wins YOU lose!

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