Thursday, April 26, 2007

E-Bay's New Feedback

Okay so I have sold and bought a bunch of things on e-bay over the years. Two Canadians buyers screwed my 100% rating, but if I had made everyone happy I was probably giving all of my stuff away. E-Bay is a fun place to buy and sell stuff and I have been a member since 1998.

I have been burnt once since E-Bay purchased paypal and I found out that if you ship after someone pays with paypal and you don't pay for tracking then they can get a full refund (never mind it was shipped to Canada). Also my account was hacked twice and people listed expensive stuff under my ID and I had to get that straightened out. Now both times you can never actually talk to someone. Paypal is all via e-mail and e-bay is via an IM type system, where they call you to verify you are who you say you are, then you communicate via the written word. It is all very frustrating when you cannot always express yourself with the proper tone. Still E-Bay was great (but time intensive) and paypal sucked, but I still use both of them.

Now E-Bay is adding a detailed rating system to give you four stars on mailing time, shipping charges, item description and something else that I forget (communication?). This will absolutely blow chunks. When I was selling a lot of stuff on E-Bay I could charge next to nothing for shipping and handling and get complaints. I would charge exact postage and $1 for handling and people would complain (as if mailing envelopes and packing material grows on trees). As for item description - I post pictures now of whatever I'm selling and try to avoid saying too much about it. Look at it and I rather not describe it. That let's get to mailing time. I almost always mailed the next postal day after payment was received (worse case two days after), but I mailed a lot of stuff via media rate mail (which almost all sellers of comic books do) and media rate is not fast. The further apart you are from the buyer the more you understand that media rate is the bottom of the barrel in delivery time. Now the same people who would bitch about postage also seemed to always cry about how long it took to show up. People want to pay a good price for something, but not pay the freight charges to get it there fast. It should be amusing to see how hard some people are hit by this new rating system. As I don't sell as much anymore it will be interesting to see how it hurts or helps me. You have to have 10 full rating before that information will show, so at least one bastard buyer can't waste your rating away.

Still after doing this stuff for almost nine years now my 99.6% rating could look like crap if two people don't think I shipped fast enough or said a book was in good shape and there definition of good is like new condition. The old rating system was better, yes, no or neutral. People are more hesitant to be negative if they are happy with the product and price.

I think in the future I will sell items with zero postal costs and just up the price of the item to cover the shipping. Of course the media rate mail will still not satisfy the person. Plus let's say I advertise it will take 10 days to get there and you pay me on day 1, I mail it on day 2 and it gets there on day12, but you still think it took too long and rate me poorly for mailing time. Now I have to complain to e-bay and provide documentation of what happened. When you have to IM e-bay you sometimes have to wait 30 minutes to get a rep and then are online for 15-20 minutes resolving it. This new system will have more people then ever on line with them. Maybe there is an opt out of the new feedback system I failed to note, if there is I will take it.

I know E-Bay is trying to give people more information about stuff to help them make a decision, but if you are like me and don't sell that often anymore having limited feedback (unless it is all positive) will hurt a lot of sellers. People will be more willing to give you 2 stars here and 4 stars there as opposed to just saying good or bad job. If this causes less people to sell on e-bay, then e-bay could be shooting themselves in the foot.

Maybe their business plan is for more large scale and "professional" sellers to be out there, but if that happens e-bay loses it's initial charm and may be susceptible to a new competitor.

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