I buy a lot more than I sell on Ebay, mostly because I find selling anything on the site more hassle than it’s worth most of the time. The problem isn’t with using the site, which is a breeze. The problem is dealing with other Ebay users and their often irrational demands. This is compounded by the fact that sellers can no longer leave negative feedback for buyers, which has encourage a lot more buyer to leave unreasonable neutral and negative feedback.
Now, some people would argue that the buyer’s only job is to pay for an item and as soon as they do that, the seller should instantly leave positive feedback. This is what I too thought when I first started using Ebay back in 1997. However, this leaves the seller no leverage or recourse with the buyer making unreasonable demands or blaming the seller for things that are out of his control.
For example, I recently sold some video games on Ebay. The buyer left me neutral feedback (not much different than a negative in my opinion) because he claims his local post office made him pay a couple more dollars postage for his item because they told him it didn’t qualify for media mail. First, I have no way of verifying if this is true. Second, video games DO qualify for media mail (which is the method you’re supposed to use to ship video games on Ebay’s sister site, Half.com). His post office was incorrect if they claimed otherwise. He also claimed in his feedback that I offered him no other choice than media mail. Again, this is untrue. All of the invoices I send out have multiple shipping options. This user went with the $3 shipping for a box of video games over the $7 priority price. I use the Ebay shipping calculator and charge exact shipping. Actually, I charge less than exact shipping, as I pay the delivery confirmation out of my own pocket.
So now I have this neutral feedback on my account that I can’t comment on in any way. I also can only leave the buyer postitive feedback in return.
This is just one example. Buyers will leave neutral or negative feedback when the post office is slow (even though I ship within one (!) business day of receiving payment), when they don’t read a description carefully and receive an item they don’t want (without first bothering to try to return the item for a refund), because they don’t know how to leave feedback (I’ve seen users leave negative feedback but positive comments for others plenty of times, meaning they somehow chose negative by accident), and many other reasons. The simple fact is that there should be a way to appeal feedback to have it removed, especially if it’s obvious that it isn’t true. For example, if a user claims you overcharged them for shipping and you charged them less than what it cost to print out the shipping label from Paypal, then they shouldn’t be able to leave you negative feedback for that reason.
Another recent example, a user left me neutral feedback because it took 5 days for an item to arrive to him after he paid, even though we live in the same city. I shipped within 24 hours, like I always do. This was in December a few weeks before Christmas. The post office can be a little slow this time of year. Still, I don’t know how I, as the seller, can be blamed for that. I did my part and shipped the item, packaged carefully, the morning after I received payment. When I pointed this out to the buyer and asked him to check the postmark (proving I mailed it out right after he paid), I never got a response. You see, you can request that a user edit their neutral or negative feedback they leave you, but what motivation does an unreasonable buyer have to do this?
My feedback rating on Ebay is still actually 100% at this point with 710 transactions. I have no negatives, several neutrals, and the rest are positive. Maybe 25% of those over the years were from selling items while 75% are from buying items. I don’t know that it will remain 100% if I do much more selling on Ebay, however. It seems that every day users get more liberal with the neutral/negative feedback button. You should always work with a seller before leaving negative feedback. I have left a lot of negative feedback over the years, but 100% of it has been on auctions where the seller has stolen my money or ripped me off in some other way, and it’s always after I’ve given them the chance to make it right first. A few of these dishonest sellers even left me negative feedback in return (when it was still possible to do so), but you know what? That feedback was quickly turned to neutral when their accounts were deactivated. Truly dishonest sellers on Ebay don’t tend to last long. Their accounts or deactivated after enough people complain. Are abusive buyers ever purged from the site in the same way?
Sorry for the rant. Don’t even get me started on the Ebay seller fees that seem to increase every year, or the fact that they double charge you by also taking a nice chunk of each transaction via Paypal. The real problem with Ebay is that they’re a monopoly with no real competition. Until we see another major auction website, Ebay will never have a reason to lower fees or improve customer service.