Posted by Johnny Schweigart, eBay Team Assistant Manager at ModernCoinMart .............
“Feedback represents your reputation as an eBay member. It's made up of comments and ratings left by other members you've bought from and sold to.” -eBay
Buying merchandise on the internet can be both beneficial and risky. When buying online you do not get the benefit of walking into a storefront, talking to a person face to face, and walking out with the product in hand, however the benefits of shopping online will often outweigh the risks in most cases. eBay is a good example of this, as they have many auctions that will start as low as 99 cents and can be bid on and won at a fraction of the retail price. The risk here is that you do not know who you are buying from, a regular Joe from down the street or from a reputable store that has been in business for many years. eBay has put several policies and tools in place to help set the buyer at ease and lower the risk of purchasing online, such as eBay Buyer Protection, a Resolution Center, and the topic at hand: eBay Feedback.
When an item is bought or sold on eBay, a rating of Positive, Neutral, or Negative can be left with a brief comment to describe the experience of the transaction. Over time as the the seller amasses sales their feedback score and reputation will grow, either positively or negatively. eBay Feedback can work positively to grow a business or could be detrimental to the seller. It is a powerful tool that must also be carefully examined as feedback can be used unfairly, be misinterpreted, or be used spitefully.
The good thing about eBay feedback is that it lets a customer know the experience of previous buyers. If a seller has a large positive feedback score, then the buyer can assume there is a low risk associated with purchasing from that seller and can feel assured that the transaction will go smoothly. Positive feedback is not created overnight, it takes time and countless transactions to build both your business, reputation, and trustworthiness. For the most part a feedback score is a good way to judge whom you should or should not purchase from.
The bad thing about eBay feedback is how it may be used and interpreted by inexperienced buyers. Often negative feedback is left by people with very low feedback scores themselves. If there is any minor issue that they are not happy with, there is no way to prevent them from leaving negative feedback, no matter how hard the seller may try to communicate and resolve the issue. In most cases any seller would be happy to work with a customer in order to resolve the issue to his/her satisfaction, but it is a two way street that requires cooperation and communication. If the buyer is unwilling to cooperate or will not return communication, the seller will be stuck with the negative feedback, even if an honest mistake may have been made. Secondly, buyers often tend to only read the negatives, therefore a seller may be judged on a few negatives rather than thousands of positives. How both experienced and inexperienced buyers interpret feedback can greatly affect one’s business.
The ugly thing about eBay feedback is how it may be used against a seller vindictively. If a buyer has an issue with one particular order, there is nothing stopping them from leaving multiple negative feedbacks for each and every item in a single transaction. These are most likely people unwilling to reach out and communicate their issue effectively, and choose to take a more rash approach in attempts to damage the sellers reputation. The same issue could be true by the sellers competition, where they purchase multiple items in order to leave negative feedback, in an attempt to hurt the sellers sales. eBay does make it clear that they do not allow or condone this use of the feedback system, but often there is not much that can be done. Negative feedback may also be used as a threat towards the seller, where the the buyer threatens negative feedback if they do not receive expedited shipping, a discount, a free item, etc. Again eBay does not condone this use of feedback but it does happen, causing a useful tool for reviewing a company's reputation and trustworthiness to be turned into a tool for leverage.
In conclusion, eBay feedback is a useful tool in order to gauge who you are buying from or selling to, but must be fully understood as there are many factors that can shape one's overall feedback score. The best thing to do is to use the feedback as a general reference in order to find out who the top, most trustworthy sellers are, then to communicate with them prior to purchase. Always ask your questions before you purchase, read the entire listing terms and policy, and reach out and communicate to the seller before you leave feedback should you have an issue or problem that requires a resolution.
Most sellers would be happy and more than willing to resolve your issue in order to turn a negative situation positive. Buying and Selling is a two way street, an agreement, a contract between two people doing business and involves trust. eBay feedback is a tool to measure this trust, but it can also be used inappropriately, for the wrong reasons and that must be considered. Most sellers will respond to Negative Feedback and those comments should also be considered. Sellers that accept international orders are at particular risk of receiving less than positive feedback due to delivery and customs issues beyond the sellers control.