eBay's user feedback system is one of the site's most important components. Without the conscientious comments recorded by both buyers and sellers, there would be no way for anyone to build up a trustworthy reputation in the nearly anonymous realm of cyberspace. And without a good measure of trust among users, eBay would be a difficult, if not impossible, environment in which to safely conduct business.
By learning how eBay's feedback system works you can use it to your advantage. Understanding the numbers and feedback comments will go a long way toward making the online trading venue a safer place for you and your pocketbook.
1. How Feedback Works
The eBay feedback system operates in a straightforward manner. Every time you complete a transaction as either a buyer or a seller, you leave feedback for the other party. This feedback is made up of a score of +1, 0, or -1, as well as a one-line comment that sums up how smoothly -- or how poorly --- the process was completed.
A +1 means that you were happy with the way the transaction ended. A 0 score is neutral, meaning you weren't particularly pleased with the efforts of the other person, but you didn't feel taken, either. A -1 indicates that you were unhappy with the transaction as a whole. In addition to the numbered score, you can submit a short comment that explains the reason for your score.
As you browse the scores and comments on eBay, you'll see the vast majority of member scores are positive, and most have form-letter comments that indicate an effortless transaction. Neutral scores are relatively rare. Negative comments are more common than neutral ones.
eBay users often don't realize the importance of the feedback system in terms of establishing a good reputation. Not only do users benefit from garnering a lopsided positive-feedback-to-negative-feedback ratio, but they reap rewards by advancing upward through the various star symbols used to designate successful users.
2. You are a Star
The star symbols displayed next to a username show, at a glance, how many transactions the user has completed with positive feedback. With fewer than 10 feedbacks, users remain starless. With 10 to 49 positive scores, users will receive a yellow star.
There are many other star symbols, but as an example, after an eBay user snags anywhere from 500 to 999 positive scores, will get a purple star. Once a user moves into the stratosphere of eBay, she'll receive a shooting star that indicates she's gathered more than 10,000 positive scores. eBay sellers who reach this level of activity indicate that when they achieve a new star status, their number of sales increases, often dramatically, especially when it's paired with an excellent feedback rating.
3. Feedback is Forever
One of the reasons feedback is so important, and so potent, is that once you've left a comment, you can't go back and edit it later. That means your comments, both positive and negative, say online for all eyes to see, for as long as that member is active on eBay.
eBay does reserve the right to remove inappropriate comments, such as those that use racist or overtly sexual wording, or those that include hyperlinks. however, eBay does not typically delete most other comments, even those that seem unfair or unjust.
When both the buyer and seller agree to retract feedback, there is a procedure called Mutual Feedback Withdrawal, but this option's effect is limited. If two parties initially had a disagreement about a transaction, but they'd like to change the score they left for the other person, they can do this feature. This removes the score from both parties' feedback rating, however, it does not delete the comments that were left, which often makes this option less effective, especially when those comments were damaging to a reputation. You can start a Mutual Feedback Withdrawal request within 30 days of either party leaving feedback or within 90 days after the transaction, whichever is later. To start the process, enter the item number into the online Mutual Feedback Withdrawal form in the Feedback Forum.
4. The Negative Curse
Negative feedback, or "negs" in eBay-speak, is something to avoid because negs are a virtual curse for buyers and sellers. Serious eBay users evade bad feedback as best they can, and those who depend on eBay for a substantial portion of their livelihood will stop at almost nothing to keep these marks from marring their online reputation.
One of the primary reasons for preventing negative feedback, of course, is that a buyer who's browsing for a product is likely to skip a seller who has more than a couple of recent negative comments.
When you leave feedback for an eBay user, he has the option of responding in kind, os his comments land on your profile. If you leave a nasty remark accusing a seller of extremely slow shipping, you'll likely see an indignant comment denying any wrongdoing in your own profile, even if your claim was true.
This kind of retaliatory feedback is the reason most users think twice before leaving negative comments, even if that comment is true. One user posts a negative comment for another party, and as an act of revenge, the slighted party leaves a neg for the first user - in many cases, the retaliatory feedback has no grounds in truth and is intended only to punish on member for leaving a read mark on another user's profile.
Retaliatory feedback is a problem because negative feedback of any kind carries real weight. Not every buyer or seller takes the time to investigate negative feedback, preferring instead to find another user who doesn't have recent angry comments directed at him.
On the other hand, the good news is that one or two negative comments aren't the kiss of death. The more positive feedback comments you have, the more unlikely it is that a negative score or two will cause you problems. Remember this as you deal with other users on the site, but also remember the feedback system doesn't work unless you're honest about transactions.
5. Final Feedback
eBay's feedback system has its share of flaws, but for building trust and creating a safer buying and selling environment, it's indispensable. however, to make the system work best, you'll have to learn to read comments appropriately to get a better idea of how to discern trustworthy users from online swindlers.
Do your research on the items you want to buy and check the feedback of buyers and sellers before you commit to dealing with them. The effort will help you avoid financially draining scams, give you peace of mind, and make eBay a much more productive place for you to do business.
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