How to Handle Negative and Neutral Feedback from eBay Buyers

17 October 2007

With eBay's new enforcement of it's Seller Non-Performance Policy, negative and neutral feedback are a big deal. Being content with a feedback rating of 98% plus is a thing of the past. Now that eBay has started factoring neutral feedback into it's non-performance algorithm, you have to address every negative and neutral feedback you get.

If you are a high volume seller, you are going to get negatives and neutrals. It doesn't matter how good your products are and how fast you ship. You can't please everyone even if you sent them $100 bills for $5 each. Here are the steps I take to avoid eBay's seller non-performance policy.

Know Where You Stand

The first thing you need to do is find out how your feedback looks for the last 90 days. There is a free tool at Toolhaus that will examine your feedback for the last 90 days and report where you stand. If your negative and neutral feedback is less than 3%, you are probably doing a good job and don't need to worry. If it is more than 5%, chances are you have already been targeted by the new policy or will be soon.

Dealing with Neutrals and Negatives

Most weeks I ship over 1,000 packages. Mistakes happen. I understand there are times that I deserve a negative or a neutral feedback. I have no problem with this. When this happens, I always write to these buyers and offer an apology and correct any problems that resulted in the bad feedback. Once I am sure the situation has been resolved, I'll send them a request to withdrawl the negative or neutral feedback. In most cases, this is successful.

There is another aspect of negative and neutral feedback that is not deserved. When I examined the negative and neutral feedback left on my largest account for the last 90 days, I found 75% of it was left by buyers with a rating of 5 or less. Nearly 25% of it was left by buyers with a rating of 1 or less. In my experience, these buyers never write or call about a problem. They are quick to leave feedback for problems that are usually of their own creation. When I examined the account of one buyer that recently left me a negative, I found they had left neutrals and negatives for 6 out of 10 purchases they had made from 10 unique sellers.

I don't waste a lot of time playing nice with these buyers. In my opinion, they are a problem that eBay should address. At the very least, they should not have any weight in the seller non-performance policy that eBay has started enforcing.

When I determine that a buyer left me negative or neutral feedback and it was undeserved, I always respond with a negative. I usually put something like, "Buyer left bad feedback with no contact about a problem" or something similar. I immediately send a request to withdrawl the negative or neutral feedback. In more than 50% of the cases, I never hear a word and the buyer withdrawls the feedback.

In those cases where a buyer chooses not to communicate and doesn't withdraw feedback within 7 days, I file a Square Trade case. Square Trade is a mediation company that has the ability to withdraw feedback left on eBay provided both parties agree or one party never responds to the Square Trade emails. In my experience, more than 75% of these dead beat buyers do not respond.

If a buyer doesn't respond within 14 days, you can pay ST a fee of $30 to review the dispute and contact eBay to remove the comment left for you. I don't always pay the fee. I am pretty selective about the feedback I pay to withdraw. I'll usually pay to remove a negative provided there is only one negative per user. In most cases, I never pay to remove a neutral. The only circumstance would be if my 90 day percentage was creeping above 3%. In that case, I might consider it.

I started implementing these techniques over the last 4 months. When I started, my 90 day feedback rating was 1.5% negative and 2% neutral. Currently, I have my rating down to less than 2% negative and neutral feedback for the last 90 days.

Good Luck and Happy eBaying.....

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