EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 1319 - July 10, 2006     4 of 5

Online Booksellers React to Feedback Changes

Email This Story to a Friend announced it will make changes to the "Leave Feedback" page, which buyers use to leave feedback for sellers. The changes include the addition of three optional questions buyers can answer about the transaction, questions that Amazon says will help readers understand why the buyers left the feedback they did, and "will provide visual cues which we hope will make the star rating system more clear to buyers." The changes will be rolled out over the next few weeks.

Steve Weber, a bookseller who writes the blog "Steve Weber's Selling Books," wrote about the issue on Friday. He writes, "Many Amazon Pro-Merchants are irritated that the new feedback form seems to further encourage buyers to: one, blame sellers for tardy deliveries by the Postal Service, and two, submit negative feedback before contacting their seller" (

By Sunday, Weber's blog post had six comments on the post from sellers voicing their own opinions on the policy. Criticism of the new feedback changes center around shipping and communication issues. Sellers say the way Amazon's questions are worded, sellers are likely to get the blame for postal delivery problems.

Sellers are also concerned that buyers may use the feedback system as a replacement for communicating their concerns to sellers. Many believe buyers should communicate with sellers before leaving feedback so sellers have an opportunity to make things right for buyers.

Weber said most buyers don't understand the purpose of Amazon's feedback mechanism and don't understand the consequences of their venting that can damage sellers' reputation and ability to earn money. "It's very different from eBay, of course, where everyone understands that sellers need to get the benefit of the doubt. On Amazon, by contrast, lots of Marketplace buyers never even understand that they're buying from a third party. So they're much more careless with feedback because they don't think they're damaging an individual's reputation - they usually think they're criticizing a faceless corporation, Amazon," he said.

Weber also said Amazon's Marketplace team rarely consults with sellers when they make design changes.

"It always baffles me that Amazon doesn't use its sellers as a sounding board before making design changes like this," Weber said. "Nobody understands Amazon's business better than we do."

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to

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