eBay is a huge company that makes big money by providing a forum for people to buy and sell stuff. In a sense, eBay is a huge garage sale that provides buyers and sellers with the ‘table’. It is a business model that connects buyers with sellers.
Unlike an actual garage sale or a retail reseller, however, where buyers can simply talk to the salesperson or the their neighbour down the street or to their friends, eBay has set up a feedback system that simply does not work.
The Problem with eBay
The problem is essentially this; feedback is voluntary. Some sellers will simply wait to receive positive feedback from buyers before posting any feedback (positive or negative). By posting positive feedback first, these sellers face the danger of receiving negative feedback in return (perhaps for no legitimate reason). Buyers also face the danger of posting positive feedback first and then receiving negative feedback in return (again, possibly for no legitimate reason). What happens is a stand-off.
Sellers want good feedback but are afraid to post anything but positive feedback for fear of negative feedback in return. Buyers also want positive feedback but are also afraid to post anything but positive feedback because they are also afraid of negative feedback in return.
This metaphorical stand-off can last literally forever, with no feedback (or exclusively only ‘fake’ feedback) occurring as the result. This is not good for the buyer, the seller, or for eBay itself. Both honestly good and bad feedback are ultimately withheld.
Obligation of the Buyer
If you bid for and win a an item, pay for it quickly and properly. This alone should merit a Top Rating from any seller.
Obligations of the Seller
Describe your item in detail and be very honest about any defects or problems with your product. Keep your shipping and handling costs reasonable and communicate quickly and honestly with your buyers (or potential buyers). If you make a mistake, as we all do, clearly own up to it and provide a full refund without hesitation.
Feedback should be both quick an honest. Unfortunately, this just does not happen the majority of the time.
The problem is the whole ‘voluntary’ aspect of this, and the fact that both buyers and sellers hold back to hear what the other party says about them.
eBay could simply hold back all feedback and hold payment in escrow until feedback has been received by both parties. They could then post both sets of feedback simultaneously. This would ensure that honest feedback is given by both parties and make the whole feedback system at eBay more legitimate. The existing eBay dispute resolution system could them be put in to place if required after feedback from both parties has been posted.
Your feedback score means a great deal at eBay. It controls, at least to some degree, how much your items sell for and whether or not sellers want to deal with you in the first place. The eBay feedback system must be both truthful and meaningful in order for it to be legitimate. The current feedback system just does not work.
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What do you think? What problems do you see with eBay and how would you fix them?
Author: Jason Milburn Google