There is much contoversy in ebay land right now over feedback. Ebay has made changes and will continue to make changes, reportedly for the good of the community. As a buyer and seller, I have doubts about the outcome of their changes, but find the whole ordeal a bit baffling. Here are my thoughts on Feedback and the proper etiquette that will keep your record clean.
What to do when a problem happens on a transaction:
First COMMUNICATE! The lack of communication is the thing that is responsible for nearly all negative feedbacks. Either a buyer fails to communicate a problem to a seller, or a seller fails to respond. Both are destined for trouble.
If you are a buyer and make an ebay purchase which results in a problem, contact your seller. Do that by email through ebay, and directly to the seller. Be polite and explain your concerns. An email that reads, "Hi, I received my item, but am not happy with it. I would like to discuss my concerns." will result in a very helpful seller...most of the time. It will certainly draw a better response than, "You lousy blood sucking crook, I am going to trash you so the world knows how evil you are". The latter accomplishes nothing but makes the seller angry and less apt to resolve things.
If the seller does not respond, ask ebay for the sellers contact information. You can do that here: http://search.ebay.com/_W0QQtZvbQQsofindtypeZ9 Just enter their seller ID and the item number and ebay will email the sellers telephone number to you. A quick phone call may seem like an unreasonable thing to do especially after not getting a reply to your email, but it is possible that your seller has been off sick, hospitalized, or having computer problems. Things do actually happen, even though they sound like an excuse. And wouldn't it be better to keep in mind the ultimate goal of resolving the problem, rather than just racing to trash someones reputation?
Sellers: Respond if there is a problem. We are all human and sometimes mistakes happen. Be it that you overlooked a problem, or that the buyer was overcharged by error on shipping costs. Or that you read your listing one way, and the buyer read it another. Sometimes the same words can be interpretted in two different ways. Keep calm and work to resolve the problem. You owe it to yourself to make your customer happy. You have worked hard to build your reputation and no sense loosing it because the buyer is irate. Keep calm and the buyer will likely calm down too and you can resolve things amicably.
Remember, if you work with your trading partner, you can resolve most problems and have the other party walk away with a better feel about you and you about them.
Finally, remember, anything you say CAN BE USED AGAINST YOU IN COURT! Yes, that is right, in court. Ebay's changes may end up forcing feedback disputes into court costing buyers lots of damages. Anything you say in a public forum, you must be able to prove. Proving is not just saying it. You must have incontrovetible proof or you face major problems should your trading partner take the issue to court. Is calling your seller a liar or theif worth the costs of court? Possibly huge damages and punitive losses? Ebay advises everyone to contact your partner before leaving any bad or even neutral feedback as you are liable for the consequences of your words. Most buyers never see that warning or do not take it seriously. It will likely become even more important to heed these words as ebay bans sellers from leaving feedback.
DETAILED SELLER RATINGS / DSR / THOSE PESKY STARS....
Ebay started the DSR feedback about a year ago. The stink had barely settled when low and behold, ebay announced they are now going to use the DSR feedback to penalize sellers and charge them higher fees. They are also using them to manipulate searches when you look for something on ebay.
When you leave feedback, the stars pop up and you are asked to rate your seller for 1. Item as described, 2. communications, 3. shipping time, 4. shipping costs.
THINGS TO KNOW AND REMEMBER WHEN LEAVING STAR DSR FEEDBACK FOR YOUR SELLER.
1. Did you know that if you are very pleased with your seller and mark 4s right across the board, you have now just destroyed your sellers DSR rating and costs them higher fees on ebay? That's right. A 4 is supposed to be the second highest rating, equivelant of a great job. Maybe not outstanding, but great, well beyond just OK. Yet, ebay considers anything less than a 4.8 overall rating to be bad and they charge their sellers more in fees for having the LOW rating of just being a merely great seller.
If a sellers monthly DSR feedback falls below 4.6, it cost them even more money in way of higher fees, and it also can result in their items being hidden in the search. That's right. You search for say a Blenko vase. The results will show you the sellers with the 4.6 or higher ratings first, then the sellers who fall below 4.6 in any one category. You may not find your sellers favorite items nor your best deal because one or two customers left poor feedback even though it was not an issue that would affect you. Likewise, you may not find your best deals because ebay has manipulated the search (their words) to show the highest rated sellers, even though other sellers are merely rated as great rather than flawless. This makes your DSR ratings vital to sellers. If you feel your seller did a good job, consider giving them 5 stars across the board. They work hard and deserve it.
2. When leaving DSR feedback, consider the following:
ITEM AS DESCRIBED: Was the item accurately described? Right size, materials, colors...keeping in mind that all monitors are slightly different in the colors they portray, just like a television. Were there problems the seller did not disclose? If so, consider the following. Could the problem have been overlooked and if so, did the seller make things right with you when told of the issue? Could the problem not have been known? Who has not bought something from their local store, taken it home and found out it did not work? It happens. Is it the stores fault? No typically it is the manufacturers fault and most sellers will correct the problem right away. Does that deserve low DSRs? You have to decide, but put yourself in the sellers position. You listed a good item from a well known manufacturer with a good reputations. It arrived DOA. You immediately sent a replacement. Now you get low DSRs for the item not as described? Doesn't seem fair does it?
COMMUNICATIONS: Did the seller respond timely to your questions? Did you remember to check your ebay messages for their response? Not all sellers are huge companies. That is why you get such great deals on ebay. As ebay moves more toward an all retail based business as they have stated their goals are, prices will become more uniform and you will not get the deals you get today. Ma & Pa sellers have been the backbone of ebay since it was started, but Ma and Pa cannot always be on line to respond intantly.
SHIPPING TIME: Again, please rate your seller on one thing only. Did they ship the item in a manner consistent with what the listing stated? Shipping time has nothing to do with how long it takes for you to get your item. If a seller says they ship within 3 days and you bid and win, or purchase from their store, then expect them to ship within 3 days. If they ship later than that, and offer no acceptible reason, then lower DSRs are perhaps appropriate. If they ship in 2 days and you get it in 5 days, then they actually superceded what they had promised and 5 stars should be more appropriate. If they offer Parcel Post, Priority and Media mail and you choose media mail, expect the item to get to you someday. That is what media mail means. The PO will get it to you someday. It is a low priority for them. The advantage is the savings on shipping costs, but the flip side of the coin is the slower time. This is not your sellers fault. I use a separate account for magazines. My feedback is 4.5 for shipping time. I ship them daily, meaning as soon as I am paid, I ship the same day. So why the low DSRs? Based on buyers replies when asked, because it took 10 days to arrive. ONCE AN ITEM IS SHIPPED, IT IS OUT OF THE SELLERS HANDS. They do not control how fast the PO delivers.
One other thing, did you check your mailbox? I have had buyers leave feedback for slow shipping or even complain that they have not received an item when delivery confirmation shows they received it a week earlier. Did your mailman set it by the garage door or behind a bush when you were not in? Did you get it, but bought so much you cannot remember what you got when? It happens. Just take a slow measured search of your records and if in doubt, contact your seller. Most tracking information is available on the auction page if the item is shipped through Paypal. Just click the auction page, click the "see details" link and there will be the tracking number. Click it and it will take you to the Po so you can see if the item has been delivered or not. Don't blame your seller because you didn't see that little postcard sized note the PO put in your mailbox when you were out, telling you they tried to deliver it and you need to contact them to pick it up or reschedule delivery. Every week we get something back as undeliverable because a buyer missed that note. It is easily lost in the junk mail found in mailboxes every day. Again, Communicate!
SHIPPING COSTS: This seems to be the biggest controversy. Ebay has made it clear that they would like all sellers to offer all items with free shipping. That seems to be their goal as they attempt to weed out sellers who are not selling brand new merchandise. Consider this though. for a seller to give you free shipping, it can only be accomplished by adding the shipping cost to the item. This is an unfair method as some buyers will end up getting a break on shipping costs, while others end up paying extra. Do you want to buy something from a neighboring state and pay the shipping cost based on what it would cost to send the item across country? The same item shipped next door may cost $5.50 shipping, but shipped across country, may cost $14.00. So if the seller takes a calculated risk and includes $9.9 for shipping cost into the price of the item, you just got ripped off $4.40 if you live in a neighboring state while the guy cross country got a great deal. Doesn't seem fair to me as a buyer. I want my costs. So why does ebay push for this. Because they make commissions on the final price of the item. If shipping cost are included in that price, they now make commissions on the shipping cost too. So their policy to protect buyers from high costs have now cost you money as a buyer. Isn't that lovely?
A seller should be rated on shipping cost based on what their costs are compared to the amount they charged you. Remember, sellers do not set the rates for shipping. The PO, UPS, Fedex and other carriers set the price and several factors play into it. How heavy is the item, how large is the item (anything over 12 inches by 12 inches by 12 inches costs extra) and how far you ship. Then, the same larger box is not surcharged nearly as much when shipping nearby as when shipping across country. What other costs are there for a seller? Typically, there is the cost of boxes, bubble wrap, peanuts, padding, tape, tape guns, labor, and labels, including printers and ink. It adds up. Our shipping cost is about $20 per hour for packing and protecting the items we ship. Consider that we pack about 1 item every 10 minutes (average, some items take much longer, like a set of dishes) That amounts to about $3.33 per package over and above the cost of postage. In addition, we haul the items to the PO or Fedex to get them going as quickly as possible. Other sellers are faced with even higher costs, depending on their location and what they are shipping. We do not pass along that costs. Instead, we pass along a bare bones minimum to help offset a small part of our costs and we cover the rest. Sometimes a package cost so much for postage that we cover part of the postage too. Still, our DSR for shipping costs is 4.7, which meas we are great and nearly magnificent, but we get penalized with higher fees from ebay for having such a low rating.
NOW YOU KNOW. Buyers and sellers both face difficult decisions when listing and selling on ebay or buying on ebay. If we all keep in perspective what in involved, it is easy to see that all buyers want is what they bid on and all sellers want is to give it to them for a fair deal so they will come back and buy more.
Yes you will find a few creeps on each side of the fence on ebay. Most sellers and buyers are good decent people and easy to deal with. Ebay seems to want to perpetuate the idea that ebay is dangerous and there are so many crooks. Yes we have heard the nightmare stories and if you have been around long enough, you likely have experienced at least one. I got ripped off $750 on an item. The buyer was booted but was back on ebay the next day with a new ID stealing more from innocent buyers. They got booted at least 5 times over the next month, then I got tired of following it. I never got a penny back. I contacted the police. The local police said it is out of their jurisdiction, contact the police where the guy lives. I called them and they said I would need to file a report with local police and they would send it to them. I filed a complaint with the postmaster general for mail fraud and never got a reply. I filed with the California Attorney Generals Office, but I swear someone from ebay responded because 6 months later I got a form letter saying they would continue to monitor Company X for future complaints and would take action if they develope a pattern. Only problem is, I didn't report company X, I reported company Y. So yes there are creeps and that is why negative feedback exists. Not to punish sellers when the PO breaks an item or looses it. Not to punish them for the PO taking too long, or when the manufacturer sent a dud but the seller stands behind it. It exists for stopping the few real crooks out there. If you trash everyone, suddenly your word means little. Why pay attention to the perpetual whiner, otherwise known as the Jeff Gordon (NASCAR HUMOR) syndrome.
Remember, your comments say more about you than they could ever say about a trading partner. If you say "he is a pervert and likes small animals" as someone did on ebay, it tells more about the person who said it than the person who received it. That person is still paying for damages by the way! No go make ebay fun again!