Why Use it, and Why Do eBay Allow It?
We have seen these questions in numerous eBay guides, and believe we can add some understanding to the matter.
Why Use Private Feedback?
The most obvious reason to change your feedback to private or hidden, is because somebody just gave you embarrassing negative feedback.
This negative feedback may be accurate and justified, in which case we could understand a member wishing it to be concealed. If the feedback was overly harsh, unjustified, or perhaps libellous or defamatory, again we can see some justification for making it private.
Concealment Creates Suspicion
The most obvious conclusion most viewers, and potential trading partners, are going to take when seeing concealed feedback is one of suspicion. Most people will infer that there is at least one severs negative, and possibly a whole host of negatives, and probably decide against risking doing any business with the member.
Once you receive a negative feedback, you are shafted, as you are "damned if you do, and damned if you don't".
What to do About Negative Feedback?
If the feedback is unfair or unjustified, you can ask eBay to remove it, but eBay will only do this under a limited number of circumstances.
Another solution is to ignore it, perhaps after leaving a suitable response. We also believe it is sensible to try to leave an accurate but moderate response. A vehement, accusatory response will probably make a worse impression, as will an ungrammatical mistake riddled one.
We have actually gone further and provided a more detailed report on a separate page of one of our websites for almost every negative we have received (46 out of 6,128 feedbacks and probably 10,000 total transactions.)
One is where the member leaving the feedback is no longer a registered user (NURA), but have now changed this so they will only remove if he was a member for less than 90 days.
Unbelievably, they will not remove negatives which are clearly mistaken or retracted.
For example we have one on our record where the buyer gave two negative feedbacks stating "Sent my payment, wish they'd give me an indication if they even got it", and "No response to emails, can't find out if they received payment.", with follow ups stating "I was totally wrong, I apologize to chard for messing up our transaction". It is quite clear from this that the original negatives were posted by mistake, and that the buyer wishes to retract them, but eBay will not allow this.
Another states "I CAN HOT PAY FOR THIS AS IT WAS NOT IN PAYPAL", it seems quite clear to us that a buyer making an incorrect assumption that we would or should accept PayPal, because of his own carelessness or stupidity should not be entitled to post a negative feedback, and eBay should be intelligent and caring enough to remove it. We also believe that eBay are partly responsible for idiotic negatives like this because they encourage buyers to use PayPal even where the seller does not accept it. Vendors click a box if they wish to accept PayPal, non-selection of this box clearly means they do not accept it. We and many others often state as much in our listings. Finally when the buyer attempts to use PayPal, eBay could warn him that the seller does not accept it.The fact that they fail to do so is because they want to pressure everybody into using it to increase their profits (eBay do own PayPal).
In both these cases, and many others we have noticed against other members, it seems clear to us that eBay could and should remove these incorrect and unfair comments and feedback scores, but shirk the responsibility.
We have already stated that eBay will remove if the poster have become NURA.
It is also possible to negotiate mutual withdrawal, but this is not always practical or desirable.
If you feel the comment is libellous of defamatory, eBay will remove it, but insist you follow their stipulated procedure, which entails getting each request authenticated by a solicitor or equivalent. This will undoubtedly cost both time and money, which is probably why eBay insist upon it, to deter requests. It also place the ball in your court rather than theirs, and provides them with a defence against legal actions against themselves for libel or defamation.
It is our firmly held opinion that eBay fail to employ sufficient qualified staff to vet and process removal requests as an economy measure, and that this represent poor or non-existent customer service on the part of eBay.
We have not yet tested eBay's libellous content removal process, but are intending to do so when we get time. However we are also increasingly inclined towards a view expressed by a fellow dealer (and competitor), that his own reputation amongst his own customers is far more important to him and reliable than the few negatives given by a small number of the unreasonable lunatic fringe.
We guess that the only members who find "Private Feedback" useful are the fraudsters and scammers.
You might think that this would deter most customers, and we would agree, but it is possible that they could simply stop using that particular account for a period of time, and use one of their many alternative ones instead. Meanwhile, if they threaten eBay with defamation proceedings, it is likely that eBay would remove the negatives rather than risk losing in court, or incurring substantial legal fees, then the crook could resume the use of the account.
So Why Allow Private Feedback? - The Real Reason
We believe that the main, and possibly real reason why "Private Feedback" is allowed is to protect eBay from threats of legal action.
If a member gets a negative feedback and complains, he is told that he can take his feedback private. If he chooses not to, eBay have a legal defence against any claim for continued defamation, as the member complaining exercised his option not to remove the offending comment, and his case would fail, or at least be severely hampered.
Think about it, if you were running eBay, wouldn't you try to build some protection into your system to prevent a member suing you for million of pounds or dollars, and costing you many thousands in legal fees, especially when you are hosting millions of auctions daily, with millions of unknown, amateur, unprofessional and unpredictable "members", and for some auctions your total fees received may only be a few pence or cents?
So now you know the real reason.
Nowhere else have we seen this argued, yet believe it is the main reason for the existence of this feature. eBay will of course apply spin so that it appears that it exists for the protection and benefit of their members.
Source, Author & Copyright.
Written by Lawrence Chard of Chard Coins. Any images and text are copyright and remain our intellectual property.
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