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The Ebay Feedback System


Japes
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So as not to hijack another thread...

I've wanted to leave negative feedback on several occasions and told the other parties I intended to. On all occasions the other individuals quite plainly told me that if I left them negative feedback, they'd leave me negative feedback. On a couple of those occasions I informed Ebay of this threat and made clear this flaw in their feedback system. Their response was basically, there's nothing we can do.

I once had a seller refuse to sell to me after the auction end. It was a Francois Barzoni. In their listing, they indicated they would only ship within the US (silly in itself), which was fine. I was able to make arrangements to comply with that stipulation. My parents have a place in Florida and I'd intended to have it sent to them. When the seller discovered I was living in Australia, they used it as an opportunity to pull out. The result was relatively low and they would have been unhappy with it. They politely informed me that they'd decided to keep the violin. I told them that was unacceptable and I expected the transaction be carried through. They then started making all sorts of excuses about dealing with an Australian. We had many exchanges and Ebay was privy to those. After Ebay's advice that they follow through with the transaction, they still refused. I announced my intention to leave negative feedback and they announced their intention of doing the same. Needless to say, I didn't leave negative feedback.

The feedback system is seriously flawed. How can it be imrpoved?

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I have no problem with a seller only willing to ship within the US only. Shipping abroad is involves more paper work, more diligent packing, more shipping charges and more insurance charges. The seller is responsible for the item until it reaches your door. Just try to resolve a damaged item claim thru the US and Australian Post Offices' insurance policies, for me it's been a year and I'm still waiting.

My advice to you is that if the seller lists an item stating US only, it's not silly in itself. Do not bid.

There are some countries that US Post Office will not issue insurance

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There are certain countries between which the postal system is seamless. Australia and the US are a pair - Canada between these two is another. Most countries in the western world have a solid infrastructure for dealing with mail between themselves. The paperwork involved is negligible. It takes one minute longer to fill out the paperwork for an overseas bound parcel. Insurance has its purpose. Provided that the buyer understands that claims are their responsibility and that anything out of your hands is beyond your control, where's the issue? Your packing should be the same regardless of the destination. Bob the postal worker who likes to throw things around could be working at your local sorting station. Anyhow - if a seller states they'll ship within the US only and I'm able to comply with that stipulation, I still fully expect the transaction to proceed as normal. For a buyer to refuse to deal with people from other countries, despite the fact they have US postal addresses, would be discrimination.

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No, it shouldn't be disregarded. One should never bid on an auction with an expectation of anything beyond the seller's predetermined and stated stipulations. I never suggested I expected the seller to post to me here. But if I can provide a US postal address, then I absolutely expect to be dealt with as any other bidder.

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Japes,

There is fraud abound, and lots of old people on ebay selling their old things. They don't want foreign payments from one person with a foreign address and then shippuing to another person with another address. Put yourself in their place just for a second. It's their old violin, all they hear about are scams all day. They are preyed upon by all kinds of scammers, from roofers to telemarketeers. They are old and scared. If you politely ask prior to the sale if they will do this thing for you, they will think about it and probably will. But if you start demanding this and that and your absolute expectations, the door will close right in your face as it did in this case.

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This is the beauty of Ebay. From a seller's perspective, there's little to worry about. An item is never posted until payment has been received. Once you've got the cash in your hand, what's the concern? The potential of scam has passed and all is good.

These sellers don't say, 'we won't deal with foreign bidders', they say they'll only post to US addresses. I've never been rude with anyone. I've never made unreasonable demands. In the case of the seller above, they used my being in Australia as an out. They weren't happy with the auction result. I've had several violins shipped to family members in North America. It's never been an issue.

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Yes, there are certainly ways to protect oneself. In this particular case, they requested in their listing to be paid by money order, which I would have organised through Western Union and informed them of that. They'd be receiving American funds, just as if they were selling to an American.

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I agree that the feedback system is flawed.

There is one seller that I just recently saw that returns an abusive negative for every nuetral! Needless to say I wouldn't buy something from him on a bet, but there are plenty of people who do.

In my one case of negative, I bought an older sewing machine from a guy with a huge positive feedback record and 1 negative. He listed it as in "exellent condition" and the pictures looked fine. When the thing arrived a stench wafted out of the box. Apparently it had sat in a flooded basement for who knows how long. It was badly corroded, the enamel was coming off in chunks, the feet were rotted off and it just stank of mold.

After he got abusive in email and doing the ebay arbitration dance he still refused to take it back. I took lots of pictures of the damages, went through eBay Fraud claims and was refunded for the cost of the item.

When I posted in his feedback that he had a judgement of fraud, he got eBay to remove my feedback and in turn gave me a neg where he said I bounced checks (which was funny since I paid with a money order). Of course eBay refused to remove his negative even when I sent them a copy of the money order reciept.

Needless to say, it makes you very leary of leaving any negatives, and in my opinion that fact makes the fraud problem all that much harder to control.

I would still leave a negative, but would try to do it when the other party already left feedback. The thing is, that most bad actors know how the system works and generally won't give you any feedback until you do first. I still might take the hit if I run up against another guy like the moldy sewing machine man, but you can only do that so often before YOU start looking like the problem.

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The only solution to the Feedback problem is for the Seller to have to leave feedback upon recieving payment.

I have no idea how it would be enforced other than on Paypal payments.

I do not give a Seller any feedback unless they have given me feedback before shipping the item.

It's Feedback extortion for a seller to wait until a purchaser leaves feedback.

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That's an interesting solution, but it's not without flaws itself. I rarely leave feedback (as a seller) until I've received feedback, unless I've dealt with the individual before. One reason I wait is definitely to discourage negative feedback. I've never actually had a problem with a winning bidder, but it's bound to come. Not everyone can be happy, but this will have nothing to do with me and I don't want to bear the brunt of their frustration. By default, I do not offer refunds. Of course, if someone can prove that I've misrepresented my offerings, I'll gladly accept responsibility, but this will never happen.

In the case of non-paying buyers, I think the solution is simple. I've had a couple, but wasn't able to leave negative feedback due to the threat of retaliation. In these cases, I think the winning bidder should be locked out of feedback for that listing until they've paid, leaving the seller free to leave appropriate feedback and to warn others. I also think that non-paying buyers should be visibly branded as such for a given period of time or until they've resolved the issue with the seller.

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This week, a seller refused to let me have an item for which I was the high bidder. It was a no-reserve auction, but she decided my bid was much too low and told me I would have to make a much higher offer if I wanted to buy the item. I refused to do so. I lodged a complaint with eBay but, as the refusal to sell took place in a phone conversation, they say they don't have enough prove to take action against her. Today, I logged in to find that she has left negative feedback for me: "Buyer declined to inspect item after telephone conversation". Now, whenever I want to purchase an item, sellers will think I backed out of this purchase when the truth is that I simply refused to be extorted.

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Japes, You make some good points and suggestions. I am going to send your suggestions along with a link to this and other similar threads to Bill Cobb-the main eBayer.

I try to leave feedback as soon as I am paid. I don't always succeed, as I tend to do a few at a time. I think it leaves a positive impression and will encourage decent buyers to be cooperative if there are some issues that need to be resolved. I also give a money back guarantee, because I don't need hassles and I really think it is a nice way to deal. It pays off, I think in higher prices.

Jesse

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I've never actually had anyone request a refund before and I hope it stays that way. I think my photographs tell the tale pretty accurately. As far as tone is concerned, I think I have a pretty good ear, but everyone knows that tone is very subjective. If a day comes where someone is disappointed in the tone of the violin, I'd like to hope they'll be willing to take responsibility. This is a venue where trials are rarely possible, so it's certainly a gamble that needs to be acknowledged by the bidders. For the gambles that don't pay off, I don't want to be held responsible. Most people are pretty level-headed, but I can imagine there'd be individuals who'd equate their disappointment with a poor transaction.

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Sellers have been begging ebay, for a very long time, to stop non-payers leaving feedback. Ebay have no interest whatsoever in doing so. I don't see why a system cannot be put in place where ebay will investigate the neg on payment of a fee, and remove it totally (without a note to say it has been removed) if it is found to be unjustified.

Liz

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" I try to leave feedback as soon as I am paid. I don't always succeed, as I tend to do a few at a time. I think it leaves a positive impression and will encourage decent buyers to be cooperative if there are some issues that need to be resolved "

As should all sellers. It is the Buyers responsibility to pay Quickly. If they uphold that responsibility then the seller should Leave feedaback for it.

NOT wait until they get a positive in case they need to retaliate.

This is why there are sellers on Ebay that are ripping people off on a daily basis and have minimal or No Negatives.

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I think I explained quite clearly why I don't leave feedback straight away, and my reasons are entirely valid. I don't withhold feedback so that I might leave a retaliatory negative if necessary. I withhold it in hopes that a disgruntled high bidder will give their situation some additional thought before leaving me a negative. I'll bend over backwards for the high bidder of one of my auctions, just short of providing a refund, if ever that situation should present. An unwarranted negative feedback constitutes poor transaction behaviour on the buyers part if the seller has fulfilled their role in a positive manner.

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As I said. The buyers responsibility is to pay quickly. That is the only thing a buyer is responsible to do in an Ebay auction. The rest is on the seller.(produce the merchandise on time as desrcribed) If you are holding back Feedback after the buyer pays then you are holding it back for a reason.

If the buyer is leaving a negative than he is doing it for a reason reguardless of how petty you feel his reasons are. He was not satisfied if he left a neg.

However you want to word it. Feedback extortion or

"I withhold it in hopes that a disgruntled high bidder will give their situation some additional thought before leaving me a negative"

If you are a customer supportive seller than it shouldn't even be a concern of yours. Communication and honesty will alleviate most negative feedback.

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You asked how, so I'll share how I do it. This may not be the best way, but it seems to work for me.

I sell and buy lots of things on ebay and have a 100% with over 400 transactions. If I buy something,I pay ,recieve, and am happy with what was sent, a pos feedback is left. If I sell, I send a personal message to the buyer thanking them for there purchase, and tell them that when they recieve the package, and everything is OK to please leave feedback, and that way I'll know everything arrived safely, and will return the feedback. I also tell my customer that if there is a problem with what is sent, to contact me and I'll make it right, up to a full refund, minus the shipping, after they send it back to me. That has never yet happened to me .

I have several documents on "Word" and just change the name of the buyer to fit the transaction. If the buyer uses paypal, and most now do, all you have to do is cut, paste, and personalize the message and attach it to the paypal "recieved payment message". I try to respect the instant payment by shipping the next day after payment is recieved. People realy like fast shipping. Tell the buyer that you shipped the package "today" on another message.

The bottem line is to stay in contact with the buyer.

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That's not exactly true. Feedback is about a person's performance as a member of a two party transaction. The feedback process is part of that transaction in the realm of Ebay. For me and the way I deal in it, Ebay is a virtual auction venue. There exists the possibility to receive feedback from a disgruntled bidder who may choose to look at it as a retail venue. The expectations of a retail customer and an auction customer should be different.

Using your theory, under what circumstances might a seller leave a buyer anything but positive feedback? Do you think a seller should leave negative feedback immediately after they've been paid if they weren't content with the way the buyer went about their payment? By your theory, regardless of the way a buyer conducts themselves, provided that they've made their payment, they're no longer bound to conduct themselves in a reasonable manner and thus, their behaviour becomes irrelevant in the overall transaction.

I don't think that's quite what they had in mind when developing the feedback system.

I've had a few pain in the ass buyers who probably should have received a negative from me. They were all happy with their fiddles, but the ways in which they conducted themselves left much to be desired. Looking at their feedback records, it becomes apparent that they were experienced similarly by others they'd dealt with. My point being, some people are simply problematic. Some people are trigger happy with their negative feedback. I'm not going to jeopordise my perfect rating for some ignorant grouch who wakes up on the wrong side of the bed most mornings.

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