Buying and selling on eBay is something that millions do each day. Recently, eBay announced a drop in their listing fees and a report suggested that consumers save billions of dollars annually by doing their shopping on the behemoth auction site.
One of the keys to eBay’s enormous success in the online bidding world is the feedback system they created that tracks buyers’ and sellers’ transaction histories, complete with positive, neutral or negative ratings. The result has been that both parties can get a sense of type of business or individual they are dealing with before deciding to bid, or sell. Although this system isn’t perfect, and some users have been irritated over disputes that have led to negative feedback on their profiles, most people who participate in eBay’s auctions accept the feedback system.
But beginning in May of this year, that system is changing. The question is: why?
Christopher Null suggests that eBay wants to do more to protect their buyer community from the fear of reprisals after they leave negative feedback on a merchant. The belief is that if a seller can respond with negative feedback of their own, buyers will be less inclined to leave negative feedback in the first place. Moreover, eBay claims, "when buyers receive negative Feedback, they reduce their activity in the marketplace". It seems hurt feelings leads to fewer purchases.
I have some strong reservations about a feedback system that only works one way. In the past, when reviewing the feedback left by buyers before I have bid on an auction item, I always make sure to check the seller’s response too. This way, I feel I can determine how well a seller handles conflict resolution and it helps me separate a truly bad seller from one who has just had a few bad transactions.
More importantly, what do you think about this change? When you comment, it would be great to know if your opinion is based on being buyer or a seller (or both!) and if you are more or less likely to use eBay once this change takes place.