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eBay’s New Feedback Policy

Written by Nickel - 28 Comments

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eBay sellers, listen up… Starting in May, eBay is changing their feedback policy such that sellers will no longer be able to leave negative feedback. The logic here is that they don’t want buyers to withhold negative feedback against a bad seller for fear of retaliation, even if their complaint is legitimate. According to eBay, sellers are 8x more likely to leave retaliatory feedback than are buyers.

While I can understand their reasoning, this change creates an uneven playing field, where sellers with excellent reputations can be held hostage by buyers with unreasonable expectations. Let’s say that something gets lost or delayed in the mail. In the past, the buyer was more likely to follow up with the seller and try to work things out, as they didn’t want to jump straight to negative feedback and receive the same thing in return. But now buyers are free to fly off the handle without trying to get things resolved.

On the upside, negative feedback will only figure into your percentage for 12 months, and you can get negatives from non-paying bidders removed. Just file a non-paying bidder report and, if they don’t respond within 21 days, the negative goes away. Likewise, if the buyer gets suspended, the negative goes away.

Published on February 8th, 2008 - 28 Comments
Filed under: Online

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

Comments (scroll down to add your own):

  1. This one change is enough to make me move off Ebay altogether.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 8th 2008 @ 9:40 am
  2. as a buyer i think its about time it changed. I’m fed up with being held a feedback hostage. when I pay immediatly, I should get positive feedback..

    I think these changes are a start, but i dont think it gets us completly there yet (witness all the moaning from the sellers who can no longer hold buyers as feedback hostages).

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 8th 2008 @ 9:57 am
  3. That’s good. I was going to give a seller bad feedback, but then he threatened me with bad feedback so I gave in, thus totally undermining ebay’s rating system!

    So if you ever buy a cheap painting from an ebay seller who ships really late (it takes a month), ships you the wrong thing, and then asks you to pay for return shipping. I’m sorry for not warning you.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 8th 2008 @ 10:47 am
  4. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had a horrible seller and was “forced” to leave positive feedback in order to recieve positive feedback.

    Though I think they should have it so that the feedback shows up once both parties submit one. Either party can’t see the other’s feedback until they submit theirs. That would make it fair.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 8th 2008 @ 10:51 am
  5. I too have been held hostage by sellers. I always pay quickly. As a buyer, I completed my transaction and would like positive feedback. However, over half of the time, I am sent a message that the seller will leave positive feedback as soon as she receives the same. Hostage is the correct term here. Ebay wants everybody to think the feedback system works, but it clearly does not. True satisfaction rates would be much lower if the hostage system was changed.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 8th 2008 @ 11:21 am
  6. I got on eBay early as both a buyer and seller (1998) and the community was so much better then. I always left feedback immediately and before the buyer left me feedback. Then around 2004 the tide turned for me. As a seller I kept getting burned by dishonest people. They’d say they never received an item or they’d leave negative feedback – since I’d already left positive I could retaliate. EBay isn’t friendly to their sellers and I’ve pretty much given up on them. I’ll sell when I want to get rid of something, but I’m very careful and usually have to charge the buyers higher fees for insurance, delivery conf. and such because of the few dishonet buyers out there. It’s a shame everyone suffers because of a few bad buyers.

    A big part of the problem is that eBay went from being folks like me – collectors and people just trying to sell things they no longer wanted – to be people who sell stuff for a living. I don’t know how many times potential buyers try to “strike a deal” with me or try to get lower fees saying I should “work that into my profit margin”. I’m thinking “Dude, I’m in a spare bedroom over my garage, what profit margins are you referring to?” Anyway, thanks for the rant.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 8th 2008 @ 11:22 am
  7. Funny that this is happeneing now. After 10 years of ebaying I left my first neutral feedback yesterday on an item that was shipped postage due. I informed the seller an he told me to take it up with the post office. Now I also sell and it should be understood that if you screw up the shipping, you eat the cost. I would have settled for an apology but seller told me to basically go away. After much indecision I left neutral feedback. The item was good, the error was not intentional but the service stunk…then, for the first time ever in almost 500 ratings I received something other than positive in reply. He left a neutral feedback simply stating “not my fault”.

    I sell on ebay. As soon as payment is received and if it is within the correct time frame, buyer gets positive feedback. A couple of transactions had problems with shipping etc and b/c of my prompt actions, I still recieved positive feedback.

    At first I was not in favor of this policy but this week showed me why it was needed (or at least the old policy needed modification).

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 8th 2008 @ 11:53 am
  8. yea, like most everyone else commenting – I too gave in to a seller who took 2 months after many phones calls, etc… to deliver the product and even after all that it wasn’t the same product… I think this new policy will ultimately show which sellers are good and which ones are bad. The truth will come out VERY quickly for the bad ones…

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 8th 2008 @ 1:09 pm
  9. If the hassle of selling something on eBay becomes not worth the money consider freecycling low value items to someone in your town. No money exchanges hands, but then it also does not end up in a landfill.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 8th 2008 @ 5:05 pm
  10. It’s been quite some time since I’ve sold something on Ebay, and I rarely by anything, but I’m sure I agree with disallowing negative feedback from sellers. There are certainly times when it’s deserved.

    Like was mentioned earlier though, making it such that the feedback wouldn’t be visible until both parties involved had submitted their rating seems to be a nice alternative.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 9th 2008 @ 12:55 pm
  11. I am mostly a buyer on eBay and never really had trouble with a seller until recently. Not only did she leave me bad feedback in response to my negative comment, she tried to warn other people away from me! This move would protect buyers like me who are honest and try to communicate with the seller rather than retaliating because the sellers did not like my comment.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 9th 2008 @ 2:39 pm
  12. I think this is a good policy. I have bought and sold (mostly bought). Usually when I bid, I’m very excited to get the item and pay the same day I win the auction. There is no reason for the seller not to leave + feedback, but they don’t unless and until I leave the same, makes the system totally worthless.

    I started to actually _NOT_ bid on items from high volume sellers with 100% positive feedback, because I knew there was no way that was a real stat.

    On the contrary, there is this one seller with like 98.something positive and I love buying from them because they leave +quickly and don’t hold you hostage. I one time had an issue with an item and they took care of it in a fast and fair manner, I, of course, left them positive feedback, even if the item first shipped was not 100% perfect.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 9th 2008 @ 4:13 pm
  13. I, too, would like to see feedback held until both post. As a buyer, I’ve been fortunate that in the last four years or so, all my transactions have gone smoothly. I usually purchase pieces of china and hand-spun hand-dyed yarns, so deal with either families clearing out Grandma’s dishes, or small knitting operators and sheep farmers who sell small amounts of goods.

    One thing I’ve found that helps is that I usually email a seller I haven’t dealt with before with some small question about their product, then see how helpful they are with their response before I go ahead and bid or buy. Most answer within a few hours, and some I’ve had wonderful correspondence and a lot of repeat business with. A couple of color artists have even done custom yarn orders and put them up as “buy it now” purchases in their ebay stores for me. So far, I’ve been totally satisfied, but also lucky, I know.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 10th 2008 @ 4:28 pm
  14. Isn’t there an old Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times?” It will be interesting for sellers, for sure.

    Appreciate the link nickel!

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 11th 2008 @ 3:27 am
  15. I also buy and sell on eBay. I agree with Ben’s suggestion of withholding both until both have submitted feedback, but overall, I think this is a good move. My only negative feedback on eBay comes from vicious sellers who have done things like sell me something without a part and then ignore my follow-up e-mails, say a DVD is original, send a copy and refuse to replace it or refund money, or say something shipped and refuse to answer e-mails when I say I didn’t receive it — instead they slap on negative feedback and lies in response to a neutral or negative feedback. So now I don’t buy those types of things, and I don’t leave negative feedback — which undermines the entire feedback system. It’s very deceptive, and so is eBay’s system of “arbitration.”

    Of course, I’ve also had fabulous experiences on eBay, so the main lesson, as always, is “buyer beware.”

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 11th 2008 @ 2:40 pm
  16. i’ve fallen victim to the retalitory feedback (I gave neutral for super late shipping) and it sucks. I had a 100% rating ruined because a seller sent me something a month late.

    Sure, this doesn’t solve the bigger problem, but it does promote a better seller system which eBay needs.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 13th 2008 @ 1:51 am
  17. I agree with this new policy too. I’ve done equal amounts of buying and selling, usually audio equipment. Despite pleas to to pack carefully, fully half the vintage audio I tried to buy last year arrived poorly packed and damaged. But even though I deserved a positive for my “buying” (quick payment, good communication, etc), I can’t warn other’s with negative feedback unless I want the same. I understand some sellers will feel slighted by this, but they’re the ones making money off the deals.. as businessfolk, they should be prepared to handle customer service without the retaliatory negative feedback weapon.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 14th 2008 @ 1:33 am

    However, there is a work around this one too. Do not leave any kind of feedback to any buyers unless they leave you positive feedback. (can we leave neautral? that too could be a weapon)

    Buyers should not be allowed to leave negative feedback. It hurts business. Instead, contact the seller, I’m not satisfied, could you fix that please? If seller does not want to fix that, then leaving a negative feedback is legitimate..

    We have to make do with what we receive. From now on, and I suggest you guys start it now, describe your items clearly, offer a lot of pictures, ship the same day, communicate with your buyers, use stealth shipping so they can’t see how much you paid to ship it. Pack well, and offer something for free.. Even with these measures I think it is safe to assume you will be getting one negative for every 50 items you sell.

    Once again, this is a crappy policy.. Once more, another work around that came to my mind. Start creating new user names where you have 100% feedback.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 14th 2008 @ 11:38 am
  19. Unless they have changed this with the new policy, I believe a seller can make their own comments on any feedback that is received. It lists the seller remarks directly underneath the comment left.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 15th 2008 @ 5:48 am
  20. Well a couple of things. I’ve bought and sold on ebay and I don’t consider a transaction to be complete until the buyer has the item and payment has been made. There are many variables between payment and delivery.

    I also see a lot of people complaining they’ve been the victim of feedback blackmail, fortunately I haven’t but I see enough complaints to realise the issue is real.

    However, can anyone explain to me how a change that makes feedback blackmail a one way street is any better. Buyers are saying they’ve given into feedback blackmail because of the fear of retaliation, now sellers won’t be able to retaliate, which means buyers can engage in feedback blackmail without worry. This just makes a bad situation worse.

    Ebay should consider alternatives, making feedback hidden until both parties are ready to post or after a set amount of days after the transaction, the feedback could also be anonymous, or instead of comments a simple 1-5 rating system.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 21st 2008 @ 7:23 pm
  21. This is excellent. I am competing with many buyers trying to get things cheap. Now, I can put excessively high bid to rip them off. If those buyers want to buy them, go for it. Ha Ha. I am free of negative feedback even I don’t pay. Good deal, eBay! Bring it on. There are several sellers I want to screw. Ahhh, eBay, I love you. Your website is such a buyer friendly. Awesome!

    Comment by Anonymous — May 19th 2008 @ 11:02 pm
  22. My business with eBay is over. They continually change things making it extremely difficult for honest sellers to make their way. They’ve lost me….but who cares… with millions of buyers and sellers.. it won’t matter if I go….

    Comment by Anonymous — May 20th 2008 @ 5:23 pm

    I have bought items on Ebay where a seller has pulled the bait and switch scam. I gave them negative feedback knowing full well I would receive the same. Any experienced seller should take each negative for what it is.

    Ebay is catering to the buyers, and not caring for their sellers. They are biting the hands that feed them. So long ebay! I’ll look to Craigslist and others for a market to what I have to sell.

    Comment by Anonymous — May 21st 2008 @ 11:24 am
  24. yeah, my score when down 3 points two days ago because of 2 neutrals I received TEN months ago. I am now at a 95% as opposed to the 98.7% I was at the day before. Neutral is neither positive or negative. Now they treat them as negatives. They might as well take neutral out of the equation altogether. Craigslist here I come with alot of business.

    Comment by Anonymous — May 23rd 2008 @ 5:39 pm
  25. Im a seller off and on for many years and I couldnt believe my eyes at some of the posts here. While I’m sure some sellers do “hold you hostage”, the seller is the one paying to be there. The buyer stolls in for free, shops for free, buys for free and then just has to pay for what they bought. The Seller is the one who has to invest all the time and money in making the listing, paying eBay to be there and then has to take the risk that the buyer isnt a scammer.

    Yes, the way sellers usually didnt give FB until it was recieved was a bit over the top but if you are not a longer term seller, you probably don’t understand that th ereason for that was self protection. Most of you sound like great buyers but over the last couple years especially, that’s just not the case like it used to be. Buyers many times buy, recieve the product, then email you claiming it didnt get there or holding you up for a refund because they changed their mind or some other silly reason. So to protect themselves from scammers, many sellers used the only tool they could, leaving FB after the person did.

    Again, if you only buy stuff, it will be hard for you to understand the investment of time, effort and money you put into it and the royal pain that even one scammer / bidder can create.

    Ive stopped listing entirely now because with no way to protect from the dishonest folks now, it just makes no business sence at all to expose myself to that kind of risk.


    Comment by Anonymous — May 27th 2008 @ 2:54 am
  26. I have been a seller on ebay for a very long time. I dislike this policy. Ebay knows that many sellers are completely dependent on ebay to run their business and would not be able to leave. They proudly exploit this fact and play dictator with pleasure. Some buyers are clueless and do not realize how negative feedback can damage your business. Brain-dead buyers already had too much ease in burning a seller via feedback, this just gives them more. My solution is to leave a positive feedback but keep the comment portion honest. If they tried to scam me I will include that along with their positive feedback, if they paid weeks later, I will include that as well. Shame on you ebay.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jun 4th 2008 @ 2:46 pm
  27. E-Bay’s sellers are not like Amazonss. Once you buy on Amazon, it’s instant, you are assured of payment. On E-Bay, it takes anywhere from 2-7 days to receive payment. Sometimes, I have to send several reminder e-mails for payment and sit with inventory.

    This is a community, not a retail store. Sellers make money, buyers get good deals. It works both ways. Buyers cannot waltz in and expect a retail store environment. BOTH a buyer and seller need to be held responsible with feedback.

    We average 2/10 transactions as time consuming and ridiculous even if everything as listed and received. Even though we’re not high volume, E-Bay becomes a full-time responsibility.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jun 17th 2008 @ 2:11 am
  28. I think the new star rating system is ridiculous. As a seller, I have had comments from people in the past about p & p charges. What some buyers do not think about when they think they have been ripped off is that it is not JUST the cost of the postage you have to take into consideration. Last week, I spent £5.00 on the box in which to ship some dresses into, and paid £6.50 for the postage. I charged the buyer £9.00 and she then emailed me to complain and marked me down on the postage costs on this star system. I feel that ebay are looking after the buyers far too much and listening to them without considering the sellers – who – after all – there would be no ebay without. I wish a viable alternative to ebay would come along – because this is just a cherry on the top of many things that bother me (their new extornationate rates for one!!!)

    Comment by Anonymous — Nov 24th 2008 @ 3:30 pm

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