Big Changes at eBay

This Wired article has the details about the changes at eBay – and beyond the changes in fee structure, which seem to be both good and bad depending on how you look at it, the biggest change is that sellers will no longer be able to leave negative or neutral feedback for buyers. This is great news, because vengeful sellers are the bane of eBay because they know even if the buyer leaves negative feedback, the seller will usually have enough volume to bury the negative feedback in a matter of days or weeks. Buyers, on the other hand, tend not to be as high-volume, so negative feedback sticks around in a much more obvious way.

I’ve been on eBay for nine years next month, and in my 281 buying and selling transactions, I’ve had six negative feedback points. Three of those were from sellers whom I had a fairly negative transaction with (like Majeeda Haaq), and when I left neutral feedback to express my dissatisfaction they left negative. The other two negative feedback points were from an eBay seller in New York who bought some software off me and left negative feedback as a way of ensuring I’d give him a refund – which I would have done anyway. I’ve only had one genuine negative feedback point from a buyer, who happened to be in Italy and was angry he had to pay duty/customs import fees – and all because he insisted I put the full retail value of the item on the shipment when I suggested putting a lower value.

So, as a seller on eBay I’m not too happy to hear about the higher fees, but as a buyer, I’m thrilled to hear that unethical sellers won’t be able to leave punitive feedback for buyers. I’m a bit surprised they’re stopping neutral feedback as well, although as someone pointed out to me last year, if a buyer pays within a reasonable time frame, that’s pretty much the end of the buyer’s responsibility.

Oh yeah, and their CEO Meg Whitman is getting the boot, largely because of eBay’s disastrous purchase of Skype (who the hell was advising her that sellers and buyers actually wanted to talk to each other?).

  • I wonder why eBay doesn’t just disallow buyers to leave feedback until the seller has left some for the buyer. The seller always gets paid first, and should be able to rate the buyers right away. It would still have the effect of stopping retaliatory feedback by sellers, which I agree is a big problem, but it would let sellers leave negative feedback for non-paying buyers.

    I’m always shocked at how few sellers leave feedback first. I always do, but am clearly in a minority that gets smaller all the time.

  • Ellen,
    Good idea! It will be interesting to see how eBay’s proposed solution plays out.

  • chrisgohlke

    With so many people taking paypal, which is controlled by ebay, as a buyer, you should get default positive feedback unless the seller posts something else within a certain number of days. Really, I’d like to see two feedback scores, one as a seller and one as a buyer.

  • Chris,
    Very true. I also think that it’s unfair to sellers that eBay takes a fee and PayPal takes a fee – there should be one fee for using both.

  • pete01

    Ebay feedback… I have 3 ebay accounts with about 6,000 feedbacks running at 99.9, 99.8 and 99.9 % …. 6,000 feedbacks represents about 8-10,000 sales…. now if a shop or resturante sold 8,000 items to the public there is bound to be the odd one or 2 that will never be happy no matter what you do…. for example a buyer receives an item they are not happy with … fine a full refund is given (I dont want bad feedback on my account) so item was apair of shoes and as described with photo.. in great condition…. they just did not fit the buyer…. they had simply bought the wrong sized shoes…. yet I received a neg feedback ! and there is nothing I can do about it…. now if it were a high street shop and not an auction … and the unhappy buyer stood out side my shop shouting about what a bad seller I was I would not be happy … and I would want to warn other sellers that this guy is impossible to please. I dont think a sale is complete untill the seller knows the buyer has received the goods and is happy…. I totally disagree with retaliation feedback … but I also disagree that a new inexperienced user can cause considerable damage to someone who is trying their best to keep the customers happy…. a wheel fell off a used set of rollerblades after 2 weeks of use…. buyer leaves a negitave without even contacting us ….. only after the neg feedback was received did they admit that they had been jumping off walls !…. but the neg still stands. I have several other examples.
    In my opinion … if both buyer and seller leave feedback that is hidden from all for 30 days then a more hounest system would exist. I buyer should know when the seller has marked the item dispatched and a seller should know when the item has been received. parties must leave feedback in order to receive feedback. …. more feedback would be left and hounesty would prevail. I also waht to block bidders that have left more than 5 negs in the last month or more than 10% in the last year …. I do not want to sell to him for fear of getting an unreasonable neg feedback. Ebay and Paypal fees are becoming crazy. Sellers pay the fees yet the bias of the feedback system has swung very heavily to the buyer…. more crazy… If I issue a nonpaying bidder strike … ie the buyer has not paid for the item … he can retaliate with a neg feedback ! … it happens ! ….. I dont like my item … refund me or I will leave a neg feedback is often implied … this is now open season scammer.
    hope this helps your understanding as to why sellers are unhappy right now.
    Pete