Earlier this week, eBay made its annual ‘rock the boat’ change announcement. Usually these announcements occur about this time of year and revolve around fee increases. That’s why we sellers have come to somewhat dread the month of January at eBay! But this time around, there was a fairly well balanced fee structure change as I wrote about in eBay Changes Fee Structure and More earlier.
Another component of their changes this year however, does not appear to be going over very well with sellers. It has to do with changes in the Feedback system. Prior to last year, eBay’s feedback system was a simple mutual feedback system where the buyer could leave feedback for the seller and vise versa. Both sides were equal (and limited in scope). Then in 2007, eBay added the Detail Seller Ratings (DSRs) in which buyers could provide more detail about their experience with seller. This gave buyers the ability to rate sellers in a number of areas such as shipping, item representation, and communication.
eBay apparently wishing to continue on that road to ‘improving the buyer experience’ now has removed seller’s ability to leave anything but positive feedback for the buyer:
Sellers will no longer be able to leave negative or neutral Feedback for buyers. This change will occur in May, 2008.The official reason given for this change is as follows:
The current system prevents buyers from leaving honest Feedback as they fear retaliation from the sellers if they leave a negative. This makes it hard for buyers to distinguish between sellers while making bidding or buying decisions. In addition, when buyers receive negative Feedback, they reduce their activity in the marketplace, which in-turn harms all sellers.That’s not the only change to the feedback system but it’s by far the most contentious one. You can read some of the seller reactions at the AuctionBytes Blog. As of the time I am writing this, there are over 500 comments on the Feedback Change post there (and the vast majority of them are not very favorable)!
This decision effectively makes the once equal feedback mechanism on eBay heavily favor the buyer. Among the seller concerns about this is that some buyers will be able to abuse their advantage and sellers will have no recourse. However, I personally feel that using feedback as a recourse is not a very business-like approach to managing customer relations.
The reality is that most online seller portals only allow input from the buyers and don’t allow much input from the sellers. The Amazon Marketplace is a good example of this typical arrangement. Buyers can rate sellers but sellers can only reply to the buyers in follow-up comments. This change at eBay more reflects the real world of eCommerce in general where buyers have the real voice.
However, I do think that eBay may have just as well completely removed the seller’s ability to leave feedback rather than just restricted them to leaving positive feedback. That seems a like a job half done and leaves the sellers with a lopsided option.
You can read the full details of feedback changes at the link below. It appears that eBay has taken a once simple system and turned it into something draconian. What do you think? Did eBay “rock the boat” or are they going to “sink the ship” with these Feedback Changes?
Full Details of the Feedback Changes