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?).