How to Solve eBay Negative Feedback Communication Issues
For most sellers on eBay who operate as even a semi-serious hobby or part time small business, feedback is so important that in most cases it’s worth it for the seller to do almost anything to avoid a negative feedback. Even one or two negative feedbacks can heavily impact future sales, and too many can quite realistically destroy eBay sellers–either scaring off the majority of buyers, or even having the seller’s account suspended.
The disconnect, and the big problem with eBay’s current feedback system, is that sellers want to make their buyers happy. However, through a combination of impatience and a lack of computer/website knowledge, many buyers don’t even give sellers the opportunity to fix problems. For most non-eBay online retailers out there, the customer would just be a little upset and go about their lives without taking any further action. However eBay makes it so easy for customers to leave feedback that they almost always will at the slightest unhappiness.
The crazy part is that there are so many sellers out there who want all of their buyers to be happy, and would bend over backwards to avoid a negative feedback. eBay had a good idea with their Top Rated Seller and ranking of search results–although I’m sure it frustrates many sellers to no end–it really encourages sellers to maintain high feedback ratings.
Unfortunately there are so many cases where not only is it NOT the seller’s fault, it is actually the buyer’s fault that there is an issue. Some examples of this are buyers not reading the description of products, not giving the correct shipping address, or not having a working email address.
The solution to this issue is simple. When a buyer clicks to leave negative feedback, they are taken to a screen that has a short preset message from the seller, and the buyer is required to email a message to the seller, wait for 24 hours, and then forced to read the seller’s response before a negative feedback can be entered.
Simple, right? This encourages more buyer-seller communication in the event of an issue, which is always a good thing! It also doesn’t leave the seller on the hook for the buyer’s impatience or incompetence.
The seller the has 24 hours to reply to the buyer before the buyer is allowed to leave negative feedback. After that time, the buyer can leave negative feedback, but will first be shown the seller’s response. The seller’s response would generally be an offer of a refund, or an explanation of what might have happened (a storm caused shipping delays, or clarification on how to use a product, etc).
This completely fixes the problem of buyers who are simply impatient and do not want to take the 15 seconds to email a seller who would be happy to go out of their way to fix an issue. This makes everyone happy and makes eBay a more positive, effective marketplace (something eBay seems to strive for).
A Side Note
A secondary aspect of this should be that eBay requires buyers to receive some sort of email at their registered email address before they can enter negative feedback (and also periodically). As many as 5% percent of buyers in the past have had email addresses that simply did not work, for example because they switched to a new email address. This means if an issue arises, the buyer might email a seller, but the seller’s reply just goes into limbo and is never read.