Musings on Changes to Feedback

Recently there have been some pretty major changes to the way in which feedback is left on eBay.  The most significant of these changes are as follows

  • Sellers can no longer leave negative feedback for buyers
  • Once left, feedback cannot be removed
  • The Feedback % only refers to the last 12 months of activitity and not lifetime.

eBay reckons that the changes will have the following effects:

  1. Buyers will be more honest when they leave Feedback since they will not fear retaliatory negative Feedback.
  2. Increased trust in the feedback system.
  3. Greater differentiation between sellers.
  4. Encourage sellers to leave feedback on payment

I think that the changes broadly achieve these aims.  I have always viewed feedback as a bit of a blunt tool, given that in the past all active sellers had a feedback rating of 97% or more. Feedback was high because the fear of negative feedback in return lead to few buyers leaving negative feedback.  In my view onces a buyer has paid, they have done their part of the bargain.

 On the plus side the changes will make sellers work harder to keep a good feedback score, creating greater differentiation between sellers.  On the negative side, in placing all the power in the hands of the buyer, it increases the overhead of selling through eBay.  A small number of negative feedbacks will have an adverse affect on your score, but bending over backwards to please every customer is very time consuming.  I fear that buyers will become very free and easy with their negative feedback, making it difficult even for responsible sellers to keep feedback % high.

The one thing which I really don’t like is that it is now not possible to withdraw feedback.  This leaves no room for sellers to make amends to their service and request that the feedback is removed.  Once negative feedback is left, there is no incentive for any interaction between the buyer and seller.


  1. Steve says:

    A neutral also counts against your total percentage also unlike the past, I had a 100% feedback with a neutral of ‘Speedy Delivery’ from an ebay newbie to have it knocked back to 98.7! and no redress!

    What ever happened to the ‘Community Court’ they were bringing in?

  2. Chris says:

    For the low volume seller or person trying to set up a new business the changes are a major problem. Everything depends on the last 30 days. Anyone who has done customer service for any length of time knows the majority of people are a pleasure to deal with, but there is always that small element who are never satisfied, whether from malice or carelessness. The low volume sellers are too vulnerable to an unjust suspension caused by the latter group. In statistics it is accepted that the larger the sample the more reliable the results will be. Ebay is working on exactly the opposite principle, which is not very professional for such a large organisation. Especially as many of the smaller sellers give higher quality and more personal customer service than the high volume sellers. Yet only high volume sellers are allowed to be in a position to absorb the inevitable variations in how their customers rate them.

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