EBay nixes negative feedback option for sellers

Beginning Monday this week, eBay Inc. sellers are no longer able to leave negative or neutral feedback for buyers.

The changes, first announced in January, set off a firestorm of criticism and some boycotts of eBay by angry sellers.

Some sellers are unhappy with the change because they say the feedback system will be unfair to them, will leave them at risk to unscrupulous buyers and denies them the right to free speech.

EBay also raised the fees sellers had to pay on a completed sale from 5.25 per cent to 7.25 per cent of the sale price.

But that change didn’t enrage sellers nearly as much as the change to the feedback policy.

Until now, eBay buyers, as well as sellers, could leave positive, neutral or negative feedback about each other.

When the changes go into effect, however, sellers will only be able to leave positive feedback for buyers.

“The goal is to hold buyers accountable in the marketplace and to hold sellers accountable in the marketplace,” said Brian Burke, eBay’s director of Global Feedback Policy.

The change came as the online auction company noticed an increase in the rate at which sellers left retaliatory negative feedback for buyers over the past four years, Burke said.

What would happen is if a buyer left negative feedback for a seller, that seller would then retaliate by leaving negative feedback about the buyer, he said.

The issue decreased eBay’s bottom line because buyers who received retaliatory negative feedback either stopped buying on eBay or reduced their purchasing activity, Burke said.

EBay said the changes will allow buyers to be more honest when they leave feedback since they will no longer have to worry about retaliatory feedback from a seller.

In addition, eBay said buyers will now bid more and will bid higher because they will have more faith in the feedback system and the sellers.

“The change is designed to benefit both buyers and sellers,” according to an e-Bay statement.

“Improving the feedback system should increase the number of buyers whose expectations are met. This should result in more buying activity, which will in turn benefit sellers.”

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