eBay, in a sense, created feedback. It was the first shopping platform that asked its users to leave comments about their transactions.
Did you know that, in the very beginning, eBay feedback was not even transaction-based? You could leave anyone feedback, at any time, for any reason. Back then, you could ask for—and even pay for—feedback.
For an interesting read about the beginnings of eBay, check out a book called The Perfect Store: Inside eBay, by Adam Cohen.
The evolution of eBay feedback
Many remember the days of the eBay Café when folks would post their favorite pictures and, if you liked them, the correct way to show appreciation was to leave the person a positive feedback. And for the very newest eBay sellers, you may not even remember the days when feedback was a two-way street. If your buyers didn’t pay, or even made you angry, you could leave them a negative, just like buyers can leave negatives for sellers today.
Feedback, as you can see, has been evolving throughout the 17-year history of eBay. Based on hints we’ve been hearing on eBay Radio, I predict further changes this year!
On eBay, it is very rare for a good seller to be much below 97-percent positive feedback rating. In fact, even 97 percent is considered borderline. You must maintain a 98-percent score just to qualify for the PowerSeller designation on eBay.
Maintaining a good feedback rating should be a priority for all eBay sellers, but it can’t be your main priority or a place to spend too much time. To show how obsessive some eBayers can be about feedback, there is actually a tool where you can put in a user ID and turn up only their negative and neutral feedback. Check out Toolhaus for that.
As I said in my last article, Avoiding Negative Feedback on Amazon, the best way to deal with negative feedback is to avoid it, so let’s talk about some best practices for eBay sellers that will directly tie into lowering that percentage of negative ratings and comments.Exceeding expectations is what it is all about. Ratings, after all, are subjective. They are meant to reflect buyers’ perceptions of their transactions
Start with your inventory
Interestingly enough, my first suggestion is to sell higher-end, more expensive items. It’s the truth. Virtually every seller I talk to affirms this. The lower-end, cheaper items seem to draw the, shall we say, “picky” buyers more than the other end of the spectrum.
The next place to focus is in your grading of inventory. On eBay, you are now allowed up to 12 pictures for each listing without any extra cost. Use them. If the item is new with tags, show the tags.
If it is new without tags, make sure you show all the details that prove its condition. Especially with any pre-owned items, you really must show every detail. If there is a hanging thread, or an area of wear, use one of your photos to show that. The idea with both grading and your inventory pictures is about exceeding your customers’ expectations.
When they get that package, make sure they can honestly say, “Wow, this is better than I expected!” If you can evoke that reaction in your customers, you have nothing to worry about with eBay feedback.
Why do I recommend this? Because exceeding expectations is what it is all about. Ratings, after all, are subjective. They are meant to reflect buyers’ perceptions of their transactions. You have only to discuss a feedback comment you feel was unfair with an eBay staffer. He or she will eventually get around to telling you that feedback is neither fair nor unfair; it is simply the buyer’s perception.
Dealing with a negative
But even if you follow all my recommendations above, if you sell for longer than a few months on eBay, you will, at some point, receive a negative feedback.
Now what? Is all hope of maintaining your perfect rating gone? No! You can’t remove a customer’s feedback, but eBay or the customer can.
The first place to go with a negative feedback on eBay is to contact the customer. I highly recommend that all these “conversation” emails be carried out through the eBay messaging system. If the conversation gets heated on the buyer’s side (you should never be anything but pleasant and positive in your responses) then you will have the record where eBay can access it.
If comments are made about being willing to change or remove the feedback in exchange for “consideration,” that can be construed to be feedback extortion, and you’ll need that proof where eBay can easily see it, also.
How to approach the customer? Just like I recommended in my earlier article about feedback on Amazon, I say, grovel! Apologize for the situation.
Even if you don’t think you did anything wrong, you can still apologize for their disappointment. Then ask what your buyer would like you to do to correct the situation. It is sometimes effective to offer a couple of options, such as: return for a 100-percent refund, or please keep the item and accept a 10-percent discount coupon on future purchases, or even keep the item and I am refunding your money also.
In my transactions, if I am at fault in any way, I refund even before I send the email.If the customer has become abusive in any way, I cut off communication and go through eBay
Only after the customer is satisfied can you approach him or her and ask for feedback removal. Again, just as I recommended before, make it easy for them. Include a link and instructions in the email as well as your thank you for their consideration. Here is a link to the eBay page for this.
When to go to eBay
I don’t recommend contacting the customer under certain circumstances. For example, if the customer has become abusive in any way, I cut off communication and go through eBay. While the rules are very narrow, there are some instances where eBay will remove feedback. With the newest revisions to the eBay feedback rules, some will be automatically removed and some blocked.
If you file an unpaid item dispute (UPI) then the ability of the buyer to leave feedback is blocked. And if you sell an item cross border and the feedback mentions customs fees in any way, that feedback should be automatically removed. Sellers have enthusiastically welcomed these newest Seller Protection Rules.
The other rules from eBay about removing feedback are found on the eBay site and include such things as using a name or phone number, using inappropriate language and member suspension.
‘Don’t take it personally’
In summary, let me remind you of what I said at the beginning: Maintaining a good feedback record should be a priority for your business, but not the top priority. Always focus on the tasks closest to the money first and don’t obsess over your feedback.
Here is a great quote from longtime eBay seller Danni Ackerman of The Danni App:
“Negs and neutrals are a part of doing business. If you are selling, you are bound to get one. The biggest thing I learned was: Don’t take it personally! Don’t let it suck all the good energy from you and steal your motivation. Reply in a professional manner for other potential buyers to see and forget about it!”