EBay to turn on feedback system changes

By , IDG News Service |  Business

EBay will roll
out
a host of changes to its feedback mechanism this month globally, including
the controversial elimination of sellers' ability to leave negative feedback
for buyers.

EBay announced the feedback changes along with modifications to other areas
like its fee structure in January, prompting many sellers to complain and even
organize a strike.

However, eBay has stuck to its guns and proceeded to implement the changes,
seeking opinions from buyers and sellers while refining and modifying some details.

For eBay, the overarching goal for the changes is to improve the buying experience
within the marketplace and lead sellers to improve in areas like shipping, fulfillment
and communication.

One key area eBay identified as in need of improvement was its feedback process,
intended to let buyers and sellers rate their interactions with each other.

With this review system in place, users could rate and find out the quality
of buyers and sellers, propping up those who played by the rules and warning
against inept or malicious participants.

Unfortunately, according to eBay, the feedback system in recent years became
an increasingly common retaliatory tool used mostly by sellers to punish and
intimidate buyers.

This in turn yielded artificially inflated positive ratings for many sellers,
while discouraging buyers from leaving candid and honest feedback and from making
future purchases, according to eBay.

To remedy this, sellers now will only be able to leave a positive rating for
buyers. Meanwhile buyers will retain their ability to rate sellers both in general
-- positive, neutral or negative -- and in more detailed ways. In addition,
eBay is doing away with its "mutual feedback withdrawal" option, which
allowed a buyer and a seller to agree to simultaneously remove the ratings they
had given each other.

To counterbalance the sellers' loss of power, eBay is instituting several measures,
such as removing negative and neutral ratings left by buyers who don't respond
to complaints that they didn't pay for their items. Moreover, eBay will from
now on -- and retroactively -- remove negative and neutral ratings on sellers
from buyers who are suspended from the marketplace.

EBay is also giving sellers new options to proactively block certain buyers
from doing business with them, such as those who have a certain number of unpaid-item
and policy-violation claims. In addition, eBay is launching a new reporting
hub that sellers can use to inform eBay about problematic buyers.

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