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Ebay's Feedback System Is Broken

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Almost everyone is familiar with eBay, the online auction/retail site where consumers can go to bid on or purchase almost anything, ranging from paperclips and toast that looks like Elvis to houses and cars. Ebay offers a place to sell collectables, odds and ends, and various one of a kind products that are nigh impossible to come by elsewhere. A key feature of eBay is its close integration with PayPal, which offers buyers an added level of protection against fraud.

Despite all the good, eBay has some glaring flaws that should be thoughtfully considered if you intend to sell on their site. The largest of these is their seller rating system, which gives users of eBay a large amount of control in the livelihood of entities choosing to sell on eBay. Ideally, the rating system is meant to help users locate trustworthy companies who ship products fast, and are great at problem resolution. Unfortunately, the system is largely abused, and does not measure how “good” a company is, but rather how well they conform to eBay standards.

The abuse comes in when a buyer purchases something from a seller on eBay, and is thereby able to rank the transaction with that seller. Anything but the best rating ultimately hurts the seller, and unscrupulous buyers will threaten sellers with leaving negative feedback if they aren't catered to. As the seller's rank drops, other competing companies are given better spots in search results, and therefore end up getting more business. An organized group of trolls could significantly harm the revenue of a small business that relies on sites like eBay and Amazon for their livelihood.

Unfortunately, seller's have little recourse for actions such as these. They can report a buyer who may have infringed upon eBay's policies, which will alert eBay to track them for a period of time, but likely may not have any results, especially if the buyer is clever enough to make dummy accounts. Sellers can also submit counter-feedback, but are limited to just a handful of character spaces to do this with. This is only beneficial to the seller if prospective buyers take the time to read the seller's defense. More often than not, buyers do not take this time to dig through piles of reviews on a seller. They would rather just select the one with the higher rating.

While it is understandable that a company like eBay would want to protect the buyers on their site, as they are a large part of what drives sales, and therefore eBay's revenue, eBay should be conscious of the fact that no one can buy anything if you have no sellers. Policies that overwhelmingly favor the buyer are unattractive to sellers, and may cause sellers to cease using eBay. Food for thought

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Last modified on Thursday, 18 October 2012 19:47

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