Author Topic: Feedback  (Read 26327 times)


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« on: April 17, 2009, 10:36:05 PM »


eBay's explanation of Feedback can be read on the eBay site, here.

Feedback is voluntary. (See this page.) That means neither a buyer nor a seller is obliged to leave feedback for any transaction.

Feedback made by a buyer can be positive, negative or neutral.

Feedback made by a seller can only be positive.

Sellers and the issue of leaving feedback

Because of this inequality, it's possible that your seller does not leave feedback at all. In fact, some sellers now feel that a buyer's feedback is completely irrelevant, since no seller can leave truthful feedback to distinguish a bad buyer from a good buyer.

Should a seller leave feedback for a good buyer who pays immediately and gives positive feedback as soon as the item they've bought arrives? Should is rather an emotive word... and certainly in terms of requirement or onus, no - a seller doesn't have to leave feedback, even if the buyer has been fantastic.

On the other hand, some sellers may choose to leave feedback for their good buyers, perhaps as a business strategy (to make certain the buyer feels happy in every respect, and is more likely to purchase again or to recommend the seller to others), or perhaps because the seller believes a good buyer should be acknowledged.

There are sellers who leave feedback immediately upon receiving payment - this may be automatically generated from their Seller's account - and there are some sellers who leave feedback immediately upon receiving positive feedback themselves - again, this may be automatically generated from settings in their seller's account.

Should a good seller always leave (positive) feedback?

It's entirely up to the seller. If you the buyer notice that the seller hasn't left any feedback for buyers for a long time, I suggest it's probably useless emailing the seller and asking plaintively why he hasn't given you positive feedback for being a wonderful buyer. Perhaps your seller feels hamstrung at not being able to give truthful feedback in the event of encountering a bad buyer who fails to pay, or initiates a chargeback, etc., and will not appreciate being emailed about feedback. (Or perhaps he's not a very good "people person", or enjoyed being able to give retaliatory negatives to buyers in the past, when negative feedback could still be given to buyers. Who knows?)

By the way - don't, please don't, leave positive feedback with a negative comment. All the buyer has to do is appeal to eBay, and your negative comment will be removed. The buyer's lovely green positive feedback rating given by you will remain.

Should a seller who does give feedback do so immediately the buyer pays?

Some eBayers believe that as soon as the buyer has paid, his part in the transaction is complete. He's paid; he should be thanked. A parallel is drawn between being thanked and giving feedback. (I don't think they're the same thing, but let's run with this idea.)

In this view, the seller is perceived as being required to leave feedback immediately. There are some decidedly weird stories which some sellers have told - of being virtually blackmailed by demanding messages from their buyers, along the lines of "If you don't leave me feedback instantly, I will give you negative feedback because your lack of giving me positive feedback makes me feel the transaction hasn't satisfied me." It's almost as though the buyer feels he is purchasing feedback rather than an item.

Let's get this said: there's nothing wrong with sellers leaving feedback first. But there's nothing mandatory about it either. It's entirely up to the individual seller.

Some of the possible drawbacks to a seller leaving feedback first (usually instantly):

  • The buyer paid instantly - but then claims that the item was never received (even though the item was sent by registered mail and there's a record of the buyer's signed acceptance of it) and opens a PayPal dispute.
  • The buyer paid instantly - but two weeks later, the seller finds that the buyer has initiated a chargeback, stating that his eBay and PayPal accounts were hijacked and that the goods were sent to the account hijacker.
  • The buyer paid instantly, and then demanded to know two hours later where his good were. He kept messaging the seller with increasingly hostile messages until his parcel was received at his address in a remote area of Western Australia.
  • The buyer paid instantly on ALL 400 of the items being sold by the seller, and then immediately (2 seconds later) started a PayPal dispute for all of them, clearly intending to affect the seller's ability to trade.
  • The buyer paid instantly, and then - armed with the seller's address and contact information (including phone number) - began harassing and stalking the seller.
  • The buyer paid instantly, but gives the seller a negative without having any real reason.

In all of these situations, the seller certainly can't feel he's been dealing with a good buyer!

This is why quite a few sellers believe that the buyer's part of the transaction is not completed with the act of payment - but that the transaction includes the follow-up period and concludes with the buyer's acknowledgement of the goods having arrived and being as stated - as long as the goods DO arrive (having been despatched in good time) and ARE in the condition as stated.

Should the seller wait until the buyer has acknowledged receipt of the goods before leaving feedback?

It's always up to the seller as to when (and whether) he leaves feedback. It may be perceived as being safer, more cautious, to wait until the transaction is completely concluded. There is no hard-and-fast rule. Each seller will make the decision about feedback based on what works best for him.

It's perhaps true that sellers of less expensive items will be more inclined to leave fast feedback for buyers, as their financial risk is less high than a seller who lists more costly items - particularly items that are targeted by scammers (iPods, phones, other electrical goods, etc.)

Buyers and the issue of feedback

Should the buyer leave feedback first?

The buyer certainly can leave feedback first. There's no etiquette about which is more polite - buyer first or seller first. Some sellers think of the buyer leaving feedback first as an acknowledgement of the goods being received.

One thing is certain, though: buyers really shouldn't leave feedback before receiving the item!

It's also a good idea when buying an item that is electrical or needs to be used to test its condition - to use the item and test it fully before leaving feedback. Buyers are more vulnerable with online purchases in that a buyer can't try on an item of clothing, hold up the jewellery next to their skin, play the CD, test the speaker system, etc., before buying. That's why buyers need to be sure they're not being hasty in leaving positive feedback before they've really assured themselves that what they've bought is as described.

If a buyer intends to leave neutral or negative feedback, should he contact the seller first to see if there's a resolution that will make him happy to leave positive feedback instead?


Yes, unambiguously yes. Increasingly on eBay, there are buyers who seem to think giving negative feedback is a quickfix - or who neg first and ask for redress later. There's a whole array of questions to tick before being able to leave negative feedback - and of those questions asks whether or not the buyer has contacted the seller to try to resolve the problem.

Ticking it without being willing to attempt to resolve the problem, and not having contacted the seller with a polite request to see if there's a solution, means the buyer is knowingly lying.

Communication can iron out problems. If the seller is truly not willing to resolve a genuine problem, and the buyer believes the seller is at fault, and has communicated with the seller without getting any acceptable response, at least the buyer has tried... and his negative feedback then truly reflects the transaction.

Does the buyer have to leave feedback?

No. The buyer is under no obligation to leave feedback. He may choose not to leave feedback rather than leave neutral or negative feedback out of a desire not to exacerbate a bad situation - or because he feels sorry for the seller and would rather not make the seller feel worse by leaving feedback that shows his genuine feelings about the transaction. The buyer may feel feedback is unnecessary. There may be all sorts of reasons why a buyer doesn't leave feedback.

A seller is probably wise not to message the buyer asking for feedback. The buyer may feel harassed - and end up giving negative feedback in response. There are apparently some sellers who send automatically generated "begging" emails to buyers, stating that these emails requesting positive feedback won't stop until the feedback is given. Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of Feedback Demanders!

Ways to Encourage the Giving of Feedback

Buyers really do hold the whip hand when it comes to feedback. They can't be given negative feedback (and sadly this can encourage some truly atrocious buyer behaviour). But if they wish to receive positive feedback, they can do this best by paying quickly, communicating politely and letting the seller know when the goods have arrived. There is really no need to email the seller and ask for feedback.

How can sellers encourage buyers to give feedback?

Some sellers include in their TOS something like this: "Positive feedback is given automatically upon receipt of your positive feedback". Some buyers find that off-putting, since it gives the impression that if the seller deserves less than positive feedback, the buyer still won't be getting positive feedback for having paid quickly and been patient, etc. However, it's straightforward and probably understandable in this feedback climate.

Some sellers simply indicate they want to be informed (either through feedback or a message) when the buyer's goods have arrived before they will leave feedback. Fair enough. It's possible that some buyers will not follow up with feedback per se if they've informed the seller by email that the goods have arrived and are just what they wanted; that's something the seller simply has to accept as a possibility.

Some sellers include little notes with the parcels sent, asking buyers to leave feedback. I would imagine it depends on how these are worded as to whether or not they're effective. Something too wordy or too gushy might have the opposite effect to that intended...

Some sellers talk about warranties being void if the buyer doesn't leave positive feedback. This is a numpty thing to do and completely indefensible; a warranty has nothing to do with feedback.

Some sellers include little extras - a thank you gift for purchasing, a special voucher with a discount for the buyer's next purchase... I'm not sure whether these are effective in terms of garnering positive feedback from buyers, but it certainly couldn't hurt!

In the end, though, the seller can't compel the buyer to give feedback. It is purely voluntary.

Dealing with negative feedback

If a seller has received negative feedback, perhaps it's warranted... and perhaps it's not. If there WAS an error on the part of the seller, the seller might want to ask the buyer to revise the feedback. This usually involves the seller offering to recompense the buyer in some way - sending a free item, issuing a full or partial refund, etc. It's possible too that the buyer left the wrong feedback by mistake, and will agree to a revision of feedback because he knows the negative or neutral was not warranted.

Replying to feedback

eBay also allows both buyers and sellers to reply to feedback given. It's best to be factual - think through what you want to say, and remember that what you say and how you say it will reflect on how others see you. Calm, non-abusive and factual feedback will speak well for you, whereas hotheaded and insulting feedback will show you in a bad light.

Will eBay remove untrue or unfair feedback?

Um, er... almost always not.

You have to be very persistent and have a good case to compel eBay to remove bad feedback that is unfair. Take a look through this page. If you feel you've received feedback that is abusive and untrue, don't hold your breath trying to get it removed... but if you're very determined and the feedback meets those criteria, go for it.

What sort of feedback will be removed?

A request to eBay for feedback removal based on a complaint for the following will result in feedback removal. (Sometimes you need to be persistent, though.) The eBay page is here.
  • Links or scripts
  • References to eBay or PayPal investigations
  • Negative statements within Feedback left for a buyer that conflict with the positive rating
  • Personally identifying information about another member, including real name, address, phone number, or email address
  • Political, religious, or social commentary rather than a genuine comment about the transaction
  • The comment, reply, or followup references a completely separate transaction or unrelated experience
  • Profane, vulgar, obscene, or racist language, or adult material

eBay goes on to say "Inflammatory language, such as fraud, liar, cheater, scam artist, con man, while strongly discouraged, will not be removed unless found to be in violation of one of the above guidelines."

So... if you've been called a nasty cheating scammer, that feedback won't be removed. If you've been called a nasty cheating Muslim terrorist Labor-government-loving ex-con whose email is, it will be.

The link for requesting feedback removal is here.


To sum up - feedback is voluntary. No one has to give it. If you do want to give feedback, go ahead. It's especially important when it comes to sellers, because it helps buyers to realise which sellers are honest and provide a good transaction.

Yes, eBay's feedback policy is inequitable - but that's how it is.

Sellers can issue strikes against non-paying bidders, and ensure that their buyer requirements prevent buyers who have more than a certain number of NPB strikes from bidding. This helps to prevent habitual non-payers from running rampant - to some extent.
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