ebay feedback sucks: new system has even more flaws....

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the following is an analysis about the new feedback system and shows that it is as flowed as the old one. the only real difference is that it isn't anymore the sellers who profit from it but ebay itself as it implicitly keeps ebayers buying and selling as their fb percentage will go down if they take a break from ebaying.

about 1 1/2 years ago i wrote a review titled 'how valuable is feedback' - the answer in one word would have been 'hardly'. in those days feedback (fb) always favoured the seller and a lot of sellers used it as a disciplinary measure along the lines of 'if you leave neg. fb for me, i will do the same to you and ban you from my auctions. considering that sellers usually had more transactions behind them, neg fb for them was not very relevant - for a buyer who only occasionally bought on ebay, it was disastrous. eventually ebay caught on and overhauled the system entirely: feedback now is not the result of everything you did since you started ebaying, it only reflects the last 12 months. sellers are not allowed to leave neg fb at all for buyers (but still can start a dispute), neg. and neutral fb is treated equally and you could leave as much fb for the same ebayer as you liked as long as the transactions had not taken place in the same week.

it all began with a good idea, the star rating: it meant that a buyer could rate a seller on 4 criteria: accuracy of item described, communication, speed of dispatch and fairness of postage fees. had they left it at that and banned retaliatory fb (might be a bit difficult to police but is by no means impossible), all would have been well. however, ebay had changed hands and the new owners main aim was 'competitiveness'. what we have now is yet another farce: unless you never even had a neutral fb (and that can happen by mistake, simply through clicking the wrong category -i've certainly done it once without meaning to) you're screwed 'cause UNLESS YOU KEEP SELLING AND BUYING CONSTANTLY, THE NUMBER OF TRANSACTION ON WHICH YOUR FB IS BASED ON GOES DOWN AND WITH THAT, YOUR FB GOES DOWN. so, for example, when ebay changed its policy, my fb went down from 99.7 to 99.1 although my one neg fb didn't count anymore as it was outside the 12 months limit but my one neutral did count and, as the number of transaction was lower, all of the sudden i was 0.6 % worse off - but that happened to most and if that's the rule, you have to live with it. however, and now things get really unfair - a month later, my fb had gone down to 99% - not because i had received neg/neutral fb, simply because i had neither bought nor sold an item thus the overall number of transaction was lower and the mathematic formula (send ebay an email about the new fb system, and all they do is send you their formula in return) behind it meant that i had gone down another 0.1%. to me, this has all the hallmarks of a scam. ebayers are not employed by ebay and a period of no transaction shouldn't have a negative impact. it means, in order to maintain or improve your rating, you have to keep on buying or/and selling....nice for ebay. fair? definitely not.

and lets's also take a closer look at the seller dashboard as the 'star-rating' is called. as i said, good idea. in practice, it's ludicrous. if you give someone 4 out of 5 stars, you rightfully think that you've rated that person fairly and positively. NOT SO 'cause ebay considers everything below 4.5 (so if you have 10 ratings and 4 gave you 5 stars but 6 gave you 4 stars),  as not reaching the minimum required standard and ebay penalizes you by giving you less exposure for your listings (and let's not forget that you paid for the listings and ebay charges more with every year that goes by). again, good idea but in ebay's desire for more and more profit (and using penalizing sellers as a means to achieve it), again, lousy execution of a decent idea (more transparency).

personally, i believe that this is a case for the Office of Fair Trading and i intend to take it up with them. to substitute a flawed system with another system that hasn't been thought through, is simply ignorance - or worse. it seems also ridiculous that negative fb and neutral fb are treated identical - the meaning is entirely different. ebay started doing the right thing with the star rating (i find ott postage appalling and i believe it has stopped a lot of the 'item costs 99p, postage is £29' nonsense) but of course they had to act like a power-mad tyrant; all they really had to do is giving a trend indicator for the last 12 months (arrow up or down for example) and make it compulsory for sellers to leave fb immediately after payment had been received. it would have stopped retaliatory fb immediately. the 99 or 100%  positive feedback some sellers achieved over many years, should have remained exaclty what it was: an indicator of past performance. in any case, only the transactions of the last year were displayed closer, so there was already enough information about recent changes, ebayers aren't stupid and can work out for themselves that a seller whose overall rating might have been 98% but who didn't have any negs. in the last year, was improving - there was no need to take everything that many achieved over years away from them. the more i think about it, the more it seems to me that ebay's main concern is an increased (even if enforced) number of transaction, not more fairness or transparency. anyone who thinks the same, feel free to contact me - maybe we can do something that helps ebayers, not ebay.

ah, by the way, did you find that ebay questions the authenticity of many items? well, one could be mistaken in thinking that they have the best interest of ebayers at heart but considering that they didn't give a toss till they got a huge fine recently, this one stinks, too. (for more info about fakes, read 'advice for newbies'.

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