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eBay neutral feedback?!?
Old 01-02-2006, 09:35 AM   #1
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eBay neutral feedback?!?

Do any of you eBay veterans have a better perspective on feedback? Maybe I'm overreacting, but eBay and some of its sellers seem to think that neutral feedback is worse than shooting their dog.

Over the last few months I've bought two items, bringing my buyer's feedback to a whopping five. I'm not exactly what you'd call "high volume" and I don't think my feedback is going to make or break a seller.

The first neutral was a purchase described as "opened box". I took that to mean that the box's factory seals had been broken. Apparently it also means "small yet vital items and the owner's manual might be missing, but I deal such a huge volume that I won't check these before I sell them". I gave a neutral feedback mentioning the missing items and received back "Check the description, it said (open box), (open box), (open box), read, read."

The second neutral was a small item shipped in a plastic container that can't be damaged (or, for that matter, opened) without resorting to scissors or explosives. The seller put it into a regular paper envelope (not cardboard or Tyvek or even heavy paper) and it arrived at our house in a USPS plastic bag with an apology saying "Sorry, this is all we could find after our machine shredded it". I gave another neutral feedback saying "Envelope torn open in mail but product appears to have arrived OK." eBay wouldn't let me post the neutral until I'd worked through their "tutorial" quiz to prove that I understood the catastrophic trauma that I was about to inflict on a poor innocent hard-working seller. I wasn't going to waste my time e-mailing the seller to complain about the packaging, and I felt that a neutral feedback is appropriate for anyone who can't take the time to package their stuff correctly-- especially when they sell 60 of them a month.

Within two hours I received an eBay e-mail from the seller saying (and I'm copying this verbatim): "you gave me a neutral , for a box. in the middle of silly season, & getting it to you lighting fast ! plastic its wrapped completely in plastic, what the heck is a mtter w/ you. happy new year !"

My neutral was the only one among all the other positive December feedbacks. Maybe I poked a raw nerve? Did I trash his 99.8% positive rating? So I e-mailed back a detailed description of the package and asked him what he expected me to do about the feedback. The answer was "that's the whole thing about it,,,,, theres nothing you can do, just like i cant hand carry it to your door. & theres one other thing , i sent it to you below my cost, as a promotion, so on top of everything else , you got it at a great price ! THINK, next time, maybe it was ,,,, poor wrapping, or maybe it just got kicked around a lot during delivery. is that your fault? i save people thousands of dollars,just as i have saved you money on this item. normally , i have never even said anything to the other neutrals, but this item ,was incased in plastic. thx."

eBay's tutorial aside, I generally have had good experiences. Last week we spent $7000 through eBay for 1760 watts of photovoltaic solar panels. 500 pounds arrived via a shipping firm's forklift to our driveway and the panels were flawlessly packaged on a wooden pallet with tons of cardboard & padding. The seller merited a nice thank-you and actually had less feedback with more negatives than either of the other sellers.

If I had sold those other items in the manner in which I received them then I'd be thanking my lucky ratings stars that the feedback was neutral & not negative. I'd post a public seller feedback acknowledging the mistake and perhaps even apologizing. I also wouldn't go crazy over a neutral feedback if it was such a small percentage of my overall numbers. But then I'm a nuke and I don't have a lot of eBay experience. You experts, am I missing something here?

One more gotcha. eBay recently begged me offered me the chance to become "verified" by linking my checking account to our PayPal account. I did so but when I paid for a $30 purchase the PayPal software sucked it directly out of my checking account without offering me the choice of putting it on a credit card. That eliminated any chargeback protection if there had been a problem with the seller. I'm thinking a linked bank account is a bad idea for this issue all by itself, let alone all the other potential abuses. Anyone know of a reason that I'd want to stay "verified", or at least a way to continue to pay with a credit card instead of an ACH transfer?
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Re: eBay neutral feedback?!?
Old 01-02-2006, 10:42 AM   #2
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Re: eBay neutral feedback?!?

I suggest you check the way your Paypal is set up. We get the choice to use our bank account or credit card, both are linked to our Paypal account. Using CC is better for the protection.
One other part of eBay that sucks is the lack of protection for small purchases - we were ripped off by a seller who did not ship the item but at ~$40 there is no way to get compensation. Leaving negative feedback does not seem to deter this seller who is still there with negatives sprinkled in his feedback - some people just don't read the feedback.
I think your neutrals are justified - you seem to have found some arrogant sellers who are just out to make easy money. There are some great traders on eBay and some @#$%!@#s.
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Re: eBay neutral feedback?!?
Old 01-02-2006, 10:48 AM   #3
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Re: eBay neutral feedback?!?

Nords, Thank you for leaving actual true feedback for those sellers. Sellers freak out if they get bad or neutral feedback but if they deserve it I give it. I've been buying and selling on Ebay for several years now and have received packages as you described and left appropriate feedback, I also received nasty emails, fine but I gave the feedback you deserved. I wish more people would be honest with feedback but they won't for fear of bad feedback in return. I won't leave feedback until my buyer has left it for me indicating that they received the item and are happy, believe it or not there are buyers I've never left feedback for.

As for being verified and then it sucking the money out of your checking account, you can pick to use a credit card, it's a very tiny link at the bottom of the payment page but it's there and allows you to switch funding methods. I had to become verified or they wouldn't let me purchase more than $2000, aggravated the heck out of me but I had to do it, I don't keep more than $25 in that account and never use it to fund a purchase.

Take a few minutes to read the Ebay boards, especially the Paypal and the Seller Central forum, interesting and gives you a sense of the kind of people you are dealing with.

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Re: eBay neutral feedback?!?
Old 01-02-2006, 06:31 PM   #4
 
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Re: eBay neutral feedback?!?

Quote:
I wish more people would be honest with feedback but they won't for fear of bad feedback in return. I won't leave feedback until my buyer has left it for me indicating that they received the item and are happy, believe it or not there are buyers I've never left feedback for.

This to me seems like the problem! - When I am a Seller and have received the buyer's money promptly, I leave immediate postive feedback. The buyer has paid me and his obligation is completed. The seller's job now is to live up to the expectation of the ad, and if everything is above board, the buyer will be happy.

If I am the buyer, I expect the same treatment. However the last year, things have taken a different turn on E-bay. It seems most sellers will not leave positive feedback until the buyer leaves postive feedback. This intimidates buyers to not leave a negative. Because if you leave a negative, you will get one in return. What good is this system? - Everyone gets postive feedback!

I say, if the buyer has trusted the seller enough to pay up front for the merchandise, the least the seller could do, is leave postive feedback up front, instead of waiting for the buyer!

Believe it or not, I have left negative feedback as a buyer, if I don't get postive feedback for my prompt payment. And yes - I always get a negative in return.
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Re: eBay neutral feedback?!?
Old 01-02-2006, 06:59 PM   #5
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Re: eBay neutral feedback?!?

I use to leave glowing feedback once payment was received and I learned my lesson the hard way with several buyers from hell. The whole feedback system is flawed in my opinion and should be done away with.
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Re: eBay neutral feedback?!?
Old 01-03-2006, 08:03 AM   #6
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Re: eBay neutral feedback?!?

I've had the "seller from hell" experience. Bought a $100 item that was obviously time critical given the nature of the item. After literally dozens of follow-up emails to the seller due to non-shipment, missing parts, etc, I finally received what I thought was a fair bargain, given what I had paid (except for the excessive months-long delay and hours and hours spent emailing the seller). I left neutral feedback, stating in a factual manner my experiences with the seller. I should have left a negative, but in Ebay world, that is like a scarlet 'A'. Long story short, the seller filed a "complaint" or something through squaresoft/ebay/paypal dispute resolution system to get me to remove my neutral, because it was tarnishing her seller's reputation. Obviously I informed her to notify of any factual errors I had included in her feedback comment, and I'd happily agree to correct them. She must have been having personal problems, because half of her feedback from the month when I purchased the item was neutral/negative.

I just checked the seller's profile on ebay - she's no longer a registered user (big surprise). Last 10 or so responses before she quit selling were mostly negative/neutral from people who's order she decided to not fulfill. Here's her feedback for entertainment purposes: http://tinyurl.com/86mp6



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Re: eBay neutral feedback?!?
Old 01-03-2006, 10:51 AM   #7
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Re: eBay neutral feedback?!?

I never leave feedback until after the other person does.

Whenever I have a problem with a product, I allow one email to the seller to fix it. If they dont, they get immediate negative feedback.

So far i've only left negative feedback three times and it was well warranted; two of the sellers arent registered sellers anymore, i suppose that means ebay killed them.

No excuse for not properly packing a product to have a 98% chance of surviving shipment. Granted if its well packed and UPS fired a lance through the side of it or used it in a kickball game, its on the shipment company, not the shipper.

You did email the seller before leaving the feedback, yes?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
a plastic container that can't be damaged (or, for that matter, opened) without resorting to scissors or explosives.
My favorite. The "Kevlar bulletproof packaging". For the life of me I cant understand the purpose of this and havent ever heard a decent explanation. Is this cheaper than just putting the thing in a simple box or plastic package that can be easily opened? Is this supposed to deter a 15 year old with a razor knife and considerable shoplifting experience from getting into it?

Aside from the fourteen layers of protection put into the plastic wrap on a cd or dvd, this is one of the great mysteries of life. "Basically we'd like our customers to have to resort to using some very sharp cutting instrument close to their hands and the probably delicate product, and have their first experience with the product to be irritating and unpleasant".
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Re: eBay neutral feedback?!?
Old 01-03-2006, 10:51 AM   #8
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Re: eBay neutral feedback?!?

It is not much better from the seller's perspective. I am by no means a high-volume seller but from time to time I do list things. I am constantly reminded of how difficult it is to deal with the unwashed public. I get random emails with lowball offers for my items. I get questions about shipping to foreign countries when the listing clearly says I will only ship to the US. I get scam attempts from Nigeria. Rarely, I will get negative feedback for stupid reasons, and I have no recourse against them.

- one person said the product wasn't as described (it was) but I promptly refunded 100% of his money. he still left a negative!
- another person won my auction for a digital camera that was still new in the unopened box. apparently he thought I was a store, because when he found out I was an individual he said "there's no way it can be new in the box since you are not a store." WTF? Even though he didn't pay anything, he still left negative feedback.

The latest annoyance...I clearly stated in my auction that I ONLY accept Paypal, even highlighted that fact in bold. So the winning bidder comes along and emails me after the auction ends, saying "I dont have paypal, will send a cashiers check." Ugh.
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Re: eBay neutral feedback?!?
Old 01-03-2006, 10:59 AM   #9
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Re: eBay neutral feedback?!?

Quote:
Originally Posted by soupcxan
The latest annoyance...I clearly stated in my auction that I ONLY accept Paypal, even highlighted that fact in bold. So the winning bidder comes along and emails me after the auction ends, saying "I dont have paypal, will send a cashiers check." Ugh.
I have the inverse problem. After several extremely unpleasant (and unnecessary) problems with paypal I stopped using them. I clearly state in every auction in at least 3 places that its a cash/check auction and paypal is absolutely not a payment option.

98% of the time when the auction closes, the buyer wants to buy with paypal or a credit card. In the rare auctions when they send a personal check, they start hounding me from day one to ship the product before the check clears.

Most bizarre one was the guy who bought an old tivo from me, no hard disks or service options, just the box, power supply and mainboard. Worth about $50. He was from australia and wanted it, would I ship outside the US. I said I would if he'd pay the $65 shipping. Sure enough, he wins by a buck at $61, sends me a personal check for $126.

My bank then tells me it may take up to six weeks for them to clear a personal check from outside the US. The same form shows that some countries take up to a year and they wont accept personal checks at all from certain countries. That was a little eye opening.

So six eight weeks later, it finally clears, and I end up filling out quadriplicate customs forms at the post office to ship the thing out.

Never again.
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Re: eBay neutral feedback?!?
Old 01-03-2006, 11:12 AM   #10
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Re: eBay neutral feedback?!?

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Originally Posted by ()
You did email the seller before leaving the feedback, yes?
Nah, and eBay's feedback "tutorial" whined about that too.

I would swap e-mail before leaving negative feedback (never had to leave negative feedback).

But neutral feedback didn't seem like a big deal, and it still doesn't. What was I going to say-- "Your packaging was flawed. Kindly refund my money ASAP!" Hmmm... maybe neutral feedback is actually a powerful extortion negotiating tool?

Quote:
Originally Posted by soupcxan
The latest annoyance...I clearly stated in my auction that I ONLY accept Paypal, even highlighted that fact in bold. So the winning bidder comes along and emails me after the auction ends, saying "I dont have paypal, will send a cashiers check." Ugh.
You stated the terms of the auction and the buyer violated them. Isn't that grounds for invalidating the auction? Or does eBay charge more money for starting over?
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Re: eBay neutral feedback?!?
Old 01-03-2006, 11:17 AM   #11
 
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Re: eBay neutral feedback?!?

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I never leave feedback until after the other person does.
Are you recommending that everyone does this? If so, it eliminates feedback entirely. So now there is nothing to go on.
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Re: eBay neutral feedback?!?
Old 01-03-2006, 12:05 PM   #12
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Re: eBay neutral feedback?!?

Nords - more trouble than its worth to go back to the well and try again. I probably wouldnt be thrilled about a neutral and definitely not a negative if I hadnt had any feedback from the other person in the transaction and had a chance to make it right. In the case of the guy who sold you "open box", unless he listed missing items you had every expectation of receiving everything that would normally come in the box, minus the "thrill" of breaking the seal yourself, all in unused or nearly unused shape unless otherwise specified. I would have asked for a partial or full refund, then left a negative if the seller didnt "make it right". On the other, I would have suggested the seller do a better packaging job. If they were intractable, i'd have left a neutral that they dont pack sufficiently. But i'd have had a dialog with them first, pointless as it might have been.

C-T - obviously it doesnt have to be black and white, all or nothing, everybody or nobody. I just adopted a policy of waiting to see what the other guy had to say before I committed. Theres something good and bad about just about every deal, depending on your perspective. I'd hate to give someone a positive, then have them give me a negative or neutral over something very minor, and have no recourse.

I think the big problem is that most of us are fairly reasonable people living in a fairly unreasonable world, so it doesnt make sense when people do dumb things.

I've only left negative feedback to people who plainly defrauded me or tried to change auction terms after the auction closed. I tried to "work it out" beforehand. I only left neutral feedback once, to a guy who shipped me several small products, one of which was defective, and he wanted me to ship him to broken one back before he'd replace it. It cost more to ship the broken one back than it cost, and he knew that. If it was his fault that it was broken, i'd have given him negative. That it was just defective and he wouldnt make it right without incurring a cost to me that was unreasonable = neutral with a note about his customer service being below par was satisfactory.

I've got a 100% rating on over 30 transactions over 5 years. So I must be doing something right...
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Re: eBay neutral feedback?!?
Old 01-03-2006, 12:32 PM   #13
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Re: eBay neutral feedback?!?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
You stated the terms of the auction and the buyer violated them.* Isn't that grounds for invalidating the auction?* Or does eBay charge more money for starting over?
Yes, I could technically refuse to sell to him, and relist the item or go to the next highest bidder, but I'd have to file a non paying bidder form with ebay to get my fees refunded, and I'd risk negative feedback from him (even though my actions would be totally justified). And a lot of ebayers are not so good with the communication, so he might end up sending me a money order anyway, which would be a hassle to return. If I relist, I've gotta wait another 7 days. My personal ebay motto is "let's get money today." I hate playing the waiting game and dealing with clearing checks, so the paypal fee is worth it to avoid that hassle. Of course, I've heard enough horror stories about paypal that I ETF any funds out of that account as soon as possible...don't want them to monkey around with my money.

I practice the "mexican standoff" approach to feedback now. I don't leave it until the counterparty has left positive feedback for me. That's the only way to retain some leverage. Obviously, if everyone practiced this, the whole freakin' system would be out of order, but so far it has worked for me.
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Re: eBay neutral feedback?!?
Old 01-03-2006, 03:22 PM   #14
 
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Re: eBay neutral feedback?!?

Quote:
I've got a 100% rating on over 30 transactions over 5 years. So I must be doing something right...
Actually not! - If you are a seller with a 100% rating with a lot of transactions, you will eventually run into a non-paying bidder. If you the seller are 'afraid' to leave a negative feedback, because the deadbeat buyer will leave you a negative. - He 'gets away' free. - And the feedback system does not work!

Any seller with a 100% postive rating with over 100 transactions, is not playing fair with feedback. You leave a negative, you get a negative. If you wait for the other guy to leave feedback and he never does, no feedback at all is left.

BTW - I have a 95.8% feedback with over 100 transactions. - much more realistic in the 'real world'.
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Re: eBay neutral feedback?!?
Old 01-03-2006, 07:11 PM   #15
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Re: eBay neutral feedback?!?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
Do any of you eBay veterans have a better perspective on feedback?* Maybe I'm overreacting, but eBay and some of its sellers seem to think that neutral feedback is worse than shooting their dog.
Heh... reminds me of efficiency ratings in the Army, where rating someone merely "outstanding" (one notch below the top rating of "excellent") was the kiss of death to his career.

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