Hello again everyone. I have prepared yet another article in this on going series in an attempt to allow everyone including Ebay policy makers to see and understand from many points of view why certain things need to be changed at Ebay. Today I will be discussing the affects of such poorly designed elements within the Feedback and DSR systems.  
 
Ive already mentioned more than once in past articles in this series how feedback for buyers is pointless now with the way it exists. To reiterate, it is no longer possible for a buyer to receive a bad word said about them in feedback. Ebay has seemingly structured the feedback this way so as to prevent intimidating attempts of sellers using that in such a way to blackmail the buyer into giving them good feedback or to not respond at all. And while that theory sounds believable, it unfortunately doesn’t hold water anymore simply because the seller has no way of threatening a buyer in this way without the capability to leave anything but a positive, which I’ll talk more about later in this post. So then the real reason, of which I have also already stated in previous articles, why Ebay has placed tape over the seller’s mouths for this is because Ebay doesn’t want to loose its buyers. In addition, it is also my opinion that they want to create a facade that shows how buyers have nothing to fear in coming to Ebay. And they will do whatever they can even at the expense of innocent sellers to accomplish this. Unfortunately, this whole idea leaves the door wide open to create an extremely unfair and less than level playing field between buyers and sellers and actually encourages foul play from some buyers who feel that they now have nothing to fear anymore with the seller’s inability to defend themselves. These are the very reasons that become the most important premise for this article. 
 
Feedback, while a good idea in nature, is based upon opinions that are far too tempting a set of tools to be used to fabricate against what is true. Anyone can say anything they like for any reason they choose having nothing to do with facts relating to the truth. And in order for feedback to be fair for a seller, truth is what we’re all really after here, not opinion or fabrication. Of course none of this would matter and I wouldn’t even be discussing this issue right now if Ebay hadn’t decided in their infamous wisdom to cross connect the feedback system with the ability for a seller to operate his business and make a living. This was a mistake that Ebay made that they will always pay for until a new CEO gets in that understands why this will not work. Amazon didn’t see the need for it, but evidently Ebay does. Perhaps this explains why the night and day difference in stock prices and activity of the two companies. 😉 There are no reasons for a buyer to be concerned with any of this, unless of course they are also a seller in business, because they’ve been cut out of the loop as there are only two options in feedback for a seller. Either you say something nice, or you keep your mouth shut! That’s what Ebay is telling its sellers. Of course this is a big problem and everyone knows it. So in an attempt to cater to the complaints about it, they’ve thrown some treats out there to the sellers like being able to now request a feedback reversal from a buyer. Hardly a tasty treat to those sellers that are being unfairly treated since after all, it is still 100% under the power of the buyer to accept such a request to complete with no consequences at all for choosing not to do so. The only positive nature of this feedback reversal option is for those situations that are truly mistakes, not to aid a seller who’s being treated unfairly by a buyer. For this, Ebay has no solution. And so the unfairness continues.

The way Feedback existed in the past, the opinions, facts, unfair statements or truthful ones that were placed were all there where they belonged in a forum that allowed a buyer or seller to decide for themselves as to what was true. And this system worked perfectly fine without the need to further complicate or manipulate its purpose on Ebay. A buyer could make his or her own decision as to whether what had been said about a seller was true or not and use that to base their decision to do business with that seller. In fact, you could even add the Ebay amended idea of preventing a seller from leaving anything but a positive and yet still retain the system in that way. But Ebay felt the need to further complicate things. The question is why? Well, one reason is because of the new idea to introduce “Detailed Seller ratings” or DSRs by which a buyer rates a seller’s performance in 4 areas with from 1 to 5 stars in each. But then once you have this type of system in place, why would there be a need for feedback at all? Isn’t it true to say that the DSRs in fact show the true nature of the seller’s origin? Generally speaking it would seem that they do even though there are issues with the DSR system as well, which I will get to later.
 
The only purpose for feedback should be to give the buyer’s opinion as to how they felt that the transaction was completed by the seller and to allow a seller to follow up if they so choose to. From there, outsiders can make their own decisions based on that and the other comments that were made in other transactions. End of story! These are opinions, sellers should not be on trial here. But again, Ebay further complicates the issue when they incorporate a consequence for the outcome of such buyer feedback that has a direct affect on a seller’s ability to make a living, understanding that many seller’s on the site rely on the income they make to survive. It doesn’t have to be this way and in fact shouldn’t be this way but the decisions that Ebay make seriously affects people’s lives with this whole feedback situation. But when you factor in the DSR ratings along with feedback, it compounds the problem becoming the very reason why Ebay now has a very serious responsibility to protect it’s sellers from unfair advantages given to certain sellers over others. And this responsibility should be to a task equal to that of the importance of retaining and increasing it’s buyers on the site. But the bottom line is that they are not able or unwilling to do that. It is no excuse to say that any one seller is expendable just because Ebay cannot put a policy in place that treats all sellers equally. If the policy in place doesn’t give every seller the same rights under ALL possible scenarios, then it should have never been enacted to begin with because after all, the sellers are the ones paying Ebay, not the other way around. The sellers are in fact the reason why Ebay exists to begin with. Of course they’ll argue that its the buyers that are most important but then you’ve got the old “what came first” theory, the chicken or the egg? Well, the way I see it, eggs have been around a hell of a lot longer before chickens arrived. Besides, I think it was a fairly intelligent genetics scientist that once said genetic material does not change during an animal’s life. Therefore, the egg must have existed first. 😉
 
Ebay’s feedback system is set up to have a direct impact on a seller’s ability to sell. In conjunction with DSR ratings, the visibility of a seller’s items on the site is compromised if that seller’s DSR ratings drops below 4.3 stars within a 30 day period of time for any one of the 4 categories including “Item Description”; “Communication”; “Shipping Time” or “Shipping/Handling costs.” Unfortunately this numbered rating is set by Ebay based on ALL sellers on the site regardless of a seller’s ability to sell. However, there are no alternative features incorporated into their program that prevent certain types of smaller sellers from being treated unfairly under a host of various situations. Therefore, this system does not treat all sellers equally. And if all sellers are paying the same fees, then this should not be allowed. If Ebay wants to do this, then they should consider a SUB site that charges less fees for a particular class of sellers. I am amazed at how Ebay gets away with treating certain types of sellers that are being discriminated against by this system that they’ve put in place.
 
If for whatever reason, a seller’s sales have dropped during the course of a particular month leaving that seller with very few feedbacks or DSR ratings overall, the result of just one bad feedback or DSR rating can have a seriously unfair negative impact on a seller’s account. If that seller has proven themselves trustworthy for a longer extended period of time prior to the past 30 days, then this must be taken into consideration when that seller’s account is rated. Right now it isn’t. The same is true for when a seller is left with an unjustified feedback comment or DSR rating. Again, it all goes back to what is the truth? Ebay judges sellers on things that do not clearly define this all based on opinion and in doing so can swiftly and blindsidedly penalize a seller unfairly. If Ebay’s position on this is to say that if you increase your sales, all this would be corrected, it would be an incorrect position to take. That is NOT the point!! What is being said with that idea is that it’s OK to unfairly treat its sellers temporarily. Think to yourself for a second how stupid that sounds. But are we surprised by that point of view? Not if its Ebays’. 
 
OK, so now about this inability to leave anything but a positive for a buyer… talking about stupidity. I’ve said it before in previous posts… A buyer’s feedback has NO purpose whatsoever! In fact, I’ll now go further in saying that it has actually created a cheap look for all buyers in feedback. Why on Earth would I even want to look at it? Who cares?! The only purpose that such a one sided forum serves is as I said before to create a facade for newer buyers who don’t know any better and maybe for the buyers themselves who have all these positive comments said about them to stroke their own egos. I guess Ebay feels the need to treat everyone like children. Remember the stars in grammar school where you would get a green star, silver star or gold star in class for doing something good? That is the only means to an end for a buyer’s feedback really so as to build up their comments to get to the next best color star. Oh boy. An Ebay sales tool is all it is. Is there any truth to the end result of such comments for a buyer? Absolutely not! They are completely pointless! 
 
Let’s look at something interesting on the “what if” side of things… What if Ebay were to set up the feedback system so that for any buyer who didn’t leave a comment including checking one of three options for either “No comment”, “Neutral” or “Negative” before the end of 30 days, then the seller would get credited with a positive if there was no opened disputes with the transaction? Think about it for a minute. Buyer’s are called more to the attention of leaving feedback for when something goes wrong as opposed to when things go right. With the multi step procedure now in place of the necessity for a buyer to leave DSRs and a feedback comment, they are increasingly choosing not to participate at all which is costing sellers good feedbacks. It’s just too much trouble as I have been hearing more and more buyers say. All they want to know is that they got their item the way they wanted it and if they did, then they just want to go on with their life. So then why wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that any buyer that did not leave a comment, including passing on the option of leaving an “Undecided” one, is satisfied with the transaction? Just let buyers know that they’ve got 30 days or some similar set time lapse before their option to leave one of three choices expires. I see this idea as a desperately needed bit of help for sellers. 
 
Not the solution in itself but the key to a solution to the feedback issues on Ebay right now is simply to keep it simple. The feedback & DSR systems need a serious overhaul in making the whole thing simple once again like it was. Things are without question only going to get worse if Ebay continues to add more or equally complicated options intertwining them with the ability for a seller to run his or her business on the site. Micro managing the feedback and DSR systems like this to me seems to be common sense stupidity. You don’t see Amazon incorporating this technological nonsense with their feedback system, nor do you see sites dedicated to spreading the word of such horrible policy practices like you do with Ebay. Amazon has a basic 5 star policy in place. One set of stars, with no individual categories all geared to bringing down a seller’s business like Ebay’s system. And the stars can go much lower on Amazon before a seller is in jeopardy of losing their account status, not alone being banned from the site altogether as is possible on Ebay. You genuinely need to be doing something very wrong to deserve such action against you on Amazon, otherwise, you are left alone to run your business. Which is exactly the way it should be. 
 
By the way, I don’t want to hear these sellers that are having a great time on Ebay telling their story as to how sellers having a tough time should stop whining and improve their business practices. The fact is that everyone has different ways of running their business and no two are alike. You’ve got large corporations and small businesses. Teenagers and elderly. Families and one man operations. Not to mention the millions of varying types of product lines that can be sold which all in themselves have their own set of criteria that dictates the way a person’s sales tactics need to be run. And when cross linked to the individual types of sellers that exist, all with their own individual personal situations, well let’s just say that the circumstances are fairly endless as to what dictates how a seller on Ebay is able to run their business. So no one can claim to be an expert for anyone else and no one has the authority or position to judge others based on the way they judge their own success. So knock it off! 
 
Now more on the DSRs… Are they flawed? Dah! Are they fair? Absolutely not. Ebay has chosen a way to yet again allow unfair ratings to affect a seller’s livelihood only this time in such a way that tries to hide the identity of the buyer. I say tries to hide because with all the technological crap that they’ve incorporated into their so highly thought out scheme with DSRs, Ebay have not accomplished this very effectively either. More on that in a minute. There is a more detailed listing of ideas I had for why Ebay has chosen to run DSRs this way in Part FOUR of this series. But to give a smaller example here as mentioned above, if the sales for a particular seller are low for any given month, a single poor DSR rating has the ability to ruin incentive discounts, site visibility for the seller’s items and more. But then it would seem that this is what Ebay wants to do. First of all, they have buyers rate you over issues that the seller has no control over such as shipping time. Then they have buyers rate the seller for shipping & handling costs that will vary for the different types of sellers, products and seller circumstances that exist even though these costs are clearly defined for the buyer to read before committing to a purchase. They tell buyers that a rating of 4 stars in any of the four categories is good, yet penalize a seller for getting one. And they try to hide the identity of a buyer so a seller can’t defend themselves in the event of an unfair act against their account. And all of what Ebay does is based on the automated results of opinions, not was is correct or true. None of the results of such judgments that have so damaging an impact to a seller’s account are ever reviewed in real life. And the only reason why Ebay chooses to continue to hide a buyer’s identity from a seller is because they don’t want to lose them. They’re terrified of the idea! They protect a buyer the same way a mother would protect its new born infant. Of course they’ll have other reasons stating why but in reality since a seller has no retaliatory or defensive capability other than email, why not allow the seller to see who rated them with what? Aside from wanting to dodge all the complaints from sellers, they fear losing buyers more than sellers and are willing to trade off the sellers that won’t comply to their ridiculous policies. But as I said above, they’ve outsmarted themselves again because there is in fact a way that you can see exactly what a specific buyer rated you. All it takes is a little report research. Here’s how to do it… If you go to your “Dashboard” you will see a link to get “See Your Reports” After clicking on that, you’ll next click on “Create Report.” In the options for “Report Type” chose “Item Numbers.” You can then name this report and are prompted to enter in specific item numbers. In order for the report to give you an initial result, you must find no less than 10 buyers that have used the DSR system to rate you. The trick is that you want to find ten items for those buyers who you know gave you 5 stars in all four categories. Each time you click on “Run Report,” you’ll see the result and be able to, by process of elimination, eventually find 10 perfect ratings. Once you’ve done this, make note of those 10 item numbers and the next time you get a feedback from a buyer that you think might be screwing you over, run the report again only this time with the item number of the buyer in question in place of one of the 10 perfect 5 star ratings. Then check out the result. You will clearly see how that person’s DSR affected you, by how much and in which categories. 😉 Of course now that this cat is out of the bag, don’t think that Ebay won’t scramble around trying to make a program correction to disallow the capability of such information. All they’d be doing though is to dig a deeper hole for themselves.
 
The true purpose of DSRs is supposed to allow everyone to see where you stand in line when it comes to the quality of your business. That’s fine and all, but as I said before, keep in mind that not everyone will be able to compete at the same level. So does this give Ebay the right to penalize individuals or treat them differently if they are paying the same fees that others pay? If you are a one man operation and can only ship once a week, why is it fair to place you into a category of a company with a full staff of employees that has the ability to ship every day? If you chose not to use Paypal while another seller does. Why should you be treated any differently for your right to choose? I could set up as many examples like this as you could stand to hear but you get the idea. When a buyer walks through the doors of a seller’s store to buy a product, he is obligated to follow that seller’s guidelines so long as those guidelines follow Ebay policy. When will buyers be made to take some responsibility for the way they act on this site? If the seller said NO PAYPAL, then that’s exactly what he meant! If the seller ships once a week, then that is exactly what the buyer should expect! So long as the seller has clearly defined this information ahead of time in the item description and seller’s policy information, these are not the sources for complaints from a buyer and should not be made reason for unfair treatment towards a seller in DSRs or feedback. And the reason is because once the buyer made the choice to buy that item, then they entered into a binding contract that obligates them to agree to the seller’s terms. I think that it is safe to say that this is more than not, the reasons for many problems with the DSR and feedback issues that exist. If Ebay has a problem with the way this is, then change the damn policy! But don’t give rights to sellers to operate their business with one hand and then penalize them for following Ebay policy with the other. It goes right back to human intervention to solve these types of issues. And Ebay is just not going to do that. And they will definitely not inconvenience a buyer by in some way forcing them to comply to a seller’s guidelines even though their own policy states that the buyer is responsible to do so. Nobody is going to tell me that this is fair to a seller. This is common sense. It has nothing to do with performing to a standard of quality equal to all sellers. It has much more to do with a buyer taking on the responsibility to recognize whether or not the seller they are preparing to do business with meets their expectations. And when all the information is there for them to make this assessment ahead of time, then there should be no problems later on. And if there are, then the buyer has no one to blame but themselves. But Ebay’s choice is to blame the seller for everything that goes wrong when a buyer has a complaint that falls short of a seller’s guidelines. So the unfairness continues. If Ebay would just focus their attention on how to make a seller’s guidelines easier for a buyer to comply to, requiring them to comply before ever entering into the transaction, they would eliminate many seller complaints and abandonment along with buyer complaints that lean back on the irresponsibility of not reading the seller’s terms before making their purchase. 
 
If Ebay feels the need to keep things cross linked and complicated with this system, then they will only be able to satisfy buyers and sellers by dealing with them one on one and case by case. The problem is that they don’t have the man power to do it. Besides, I don’t believe that they want to do it even if they could. So they automate everything (They love automation.) Technology is great, when it works. The problem with technology in this environment though is that you are dealing with people and not products. There is an enormous difference. That’s why there is a need either for human intervention or serious change. Without it, this system will always be flawed and Ebay will always have issues preventing them from gaining true satisfaction from their users. The quicker they realize this, the better off everyone will be. But ultimately, simplicity is the way to go in my opinion. Its the only answer that will satisfy everyone the best until something better comes along that is tried and true and not a form of some kind of lab experiment. Because the way things are and the way they have been for several years now is treating everyone like nothing more than guinea pigs.
 
JUSTICE FOR ALL

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