What is unfair feedback? New communication policy?

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Since feedback is both subjective (meaning your feeling about an item) and objective (having a way to measure such parts of feedback as shipping), it is important to determine exactly what you are responsible for evaluating and to make sure you are evaluating a seller's performance and not counting issues that are outside the seller's control against him/her.  Unfair feedback affects both the buyer and the seller in several ways.  Buyers check a seller's feedback to see if he is reliable, packs carefully and ships quickly.  If feedback is based on an unfair evaluation, other buyers care not getting a clear picture of what type of seller that person really is. 
   An example of unfair feedback would be where a buyer says "the item was not a large as I thought it would be" and the measurements are clearly identified in the item description, or "the item is not as red as I thought it would be."  Red as I thought it would be is a subjective evaluation.  How can the seller know just how red is the red a buyer wants.  Any questions about an item should be asked before the buyer bids or buys.  That way most misunderstandings can be handled up front.  That way the buyer is not disappointed in what he/she receives.  Another example of an unfair feedback would be the buyer stating an item is "overpriced."  Anyone looking at that remark later wonders why the buyer purchased the item if they felt it was "overpriced."  Many times this is simply an example of "buyer's remorse" and is not a valid reason to give a seller a neutral or negative.  It is ALWAYS unfair to issue feedback before contacting the seller about the problem and giving them a chance to make things right.  An example of this would be where the buyer gives a negative without contacting the seller to say they are one item short in a lot they purchased.  When in actually the seller caught the mistake and sent the missing item the next day.  If the buyer had contacted the seller they would have known the missing item was on the way and it was an honest mistake.  Should seller's be penalized for an honest mistake?  Most people would say, "No." 
   Sellers also check feedback before making decisions on such things as a "make offer" from a buyer.  If a seller notices a history where a buyer is issuing a large volume of negative and neutral feedback it is likely the seller will not accept the offer from the buyer.  It's the same as if a buyer sees a seller with an 83% positive feedback rating and the buyer does not buy from that seller, it is the same with a seller  after checking a buyer's "feedback left for others."   If they show a tendency to leave 80% or more feedback as neutral or negative, the seller may make a decision to decline to sell to that buyer.
   We've all heard that for every reaction there is an equal and opposite reaction.  This is also true in feedback.  Feedback was established by eBay to provide a safe and honest buying and selling experience for both buyer and seller.  When the playing field is equal, the feedback system works and everyone benefits.  When evaluations are unfair, the playing field is distorted.  Another area where feedback is often unfair is in the shipping evaluations.  If a seller says he will ship in 1 business day, then the buyer should evaluate how long he took to ship the item, not how long it took for it to arrive.  By the same token, if a seller says he ships in 3 to 5 days, the buyer still must evaluate if the item was shipped in the 3 to 5 day window, not how long it  took the carrier to get the item to the buyer.  One example of this would be if a seller said they ship in 1 business day and the item was coming Parcel post which takes 4 to 10 business days.  If a buyer rates the seller as a slow shipper because they didn't receive the item until the 10th business day, and it was shipped out by the seller within the 1 business day just like his listing stated, then that is an unfair evaluation.  The shipper met the criteria; ship within 1 business day and the carrier got the item to the buyer on the 10th day.  Yes, the shipping was slow, but was it the seller's fault?  Again, "No."
   What about "item is not as described?"  Many seller's put the statement in their return policy that they will refund if the item is significantly different than described.  If this is the only way a seller will refund for an item, then a buyer has little choice other than to state the item is not as described.  A better way to evaluate this area is to ask yourself the question, "Is the item what I expected it to be and is it what was described in the listing?"  This seller believes a return policy works better for the buyer if it is "money back if not satisfied."  That way a buyer is not forced into a corner by having to state an item is not as described when they actually simply want a refund.  If the item matches the description, then the feedback should be evaluated by that criteria.  It may not be what the buyer expected or wanted after he received it, but if it matched the description, then the feedback should show that.  Again, this is a situation where the buyer needs to contact the seller for help in resolving the situation before leaving feedback.
   Finally, beginning in June, 2012, the seller will automatically receive a "5" in the DSR rating if there is no communication between the buyer and the seller after the purchase.  This is a direct result of survey's where eBay has received information that buyer's feel they receive too many emails after a purchase.  Our past practice (as sellers) was to send a personal message to thank the buyer for the purchase and update them on our shipping practices and expected date of delivery followed by a second message with the tracking number.  In June, if I send these messages, the rating will be up to the buyer.  If they think the communication was not detailed enough or not as often or for any other reason they think it is less than a "5", then they can leave the lower rating.  Most sellers who have been sending personal communication will rely entirely on the eBay message system after June 1st, in order to receive the "5" on the rating system.  After June 1st, if you find you are no longer receiving personal communication from your sellers, this is the reason.  By the same token if you (the buyer) send a simple message that says, "Thank you," that will count as a communication and the seller will not receive the automatic "5."  It may take a little while for all of us to get used to this change but we will.  Change is part of life and change we must if we are to survive.
   In summary, feedback rule #1, rule #2 and rule #3,  "contact the seller," before leaving feedback.  Also remember that when unfair feedback or undeserved low DSR scores are left for sellers it affects the prices everyone pays for goods on eBay.  If a seller looses his/her top rated status they also loose any discounts they have earned by giving above average service and the price of their merchandise is adjusted accordingly.  Most people think a 4 is a really good score because it is explained as above average when in reality any score below a 5 is penalized through the eBay DSR system.  Any easy way to know how to evaluate your trading experience is to ask yourself, "Did I get my item when they said I would," and "Is the item what I expected."  If the item is received on time, it is what you expected and your are satisfied with the transaction then every DSR score on that transaction should be a 5.  If for some reason you feel a need to use a lower score, please contact the seller and give them a chance to resolve the issue for you before leaving feedback.  It is never fair to leave negative feedback, neutral feedback or low DSR scores without contacting the seller.  Please put yourself in their shoes and imagine their surprise when they thought everything went as expected and find the low feedback score without having had a chance to do something to help you with it.
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