eBay Feedback Destroys Businesses

When Kiel Sturm, an online stone retailer, sold a piece of smoky quartz over eBay for $2.33, it turned out to be a business destroying transaction. “F MINUS MINUS MINUS MINUS! WOULD NOT DO BUSINESS AGAIN!” was the gyst of the feedback left.

Sturm disputed the feedback, but it was already too late. A profitable eBay stone selling business, previously so juicy because most stones are undervalued, went down in flames. An emerald appraised at thousands of dollars ended up selling for 8 bucks.

eBay stone buyers, apparently, are extremely afraid of counterfeits. That one mark against his reputation destroyed his business. Worse yet, Sturm has been powerless to get eBay to remove the apparently baseless accusation, even after a year of legal wrangling.

You can’t get urine out of the electron swimming pool, even if it’s spraying out of every pore and orifice of one of your disgruntled customers.

EBay lawsuit reveals foibles of site feedback [Mercury News] (Thanks, Nick!)

Comments

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  1. RumorsDaily says:

    In general they shouldn’t remove the one negative comment. The fact that one negative comment can injure an ebay seller generally a good thing. It forces them to provide a high level of service in an industry potentially wraught with fraud.

    In this case, the party who left the comment asked for it be revoked, but only after legal proceedings and a settlement agreement had been reached. That means that, most likely, the seller had paid off the buyer to ask that the comment be removed. I can understand why ebay wouldn’t want to encourage this sort of thing. We’re better off knowing that a seller provides poor service than allowing the seller to buy off the one buyer and continue provide poor service until the next ‘mark’ is wise enough to complain.

  2. AndyAndy719 says:

    Actually, what pisses me off about the stupid ebay system of comments is that they don’t force comments, or have a better system.

    I’ve bought enough off ebay, and every time, the seller refuses to give me feedback on my immediate payment until I leave feedback on their item. They seem to hold hostage your good feedback – I’m afraid if I say “this lady took for freaking ever to contact me back”, she’ll give me bad feedback.

    They need to require the seller to leave a comment first. Then it’d be easier to tell the truth about some of these people.

    I had one lady yell at me because I did a buy-it-now on sunday, and she didnt get back to me until saturday. “I do all my ebaying on Saturdays.” Uhhh. Next time, put that in your stupid description.

  3. meandertail says:

    I was going to say pretty much the same thing. Now, I’ve never used eBay myself, but my husband is a bit of an addict so I hear about this feedback crap all the time. We just bought a diaper bag from someone on eBay with a high feedback rating (I think it was 100%) but when we recieved it, it was similar to, but not the same bag that was advertised in the auction. He emailed the woman he bought it from to dispute this, but we haven’t heard back yet. I figured that the logical thing to do was to reference this in the feeback he leaves for her, but apparently I’m too naive. He’s reluctant to do so because he thinks there’s a good chance that she’ll leave him bad feedback in return, even though he paid immediately and didn’t do anything wrong as a buyer, and this will cause problems for his feedback rating or whatever. What the hell is the point of the whole feedback thing if this is how it goes?

  4. RumorsDaily says:

    Does it really matter if you have bad feedback as a buyer? Sellers don’t really have any option except to sell to you unless your feedback is below zero, right?

  5. AndyAndy719 says:

    If I was just a buyer, it wouldnt matter. But I buy and sell. Granted, I’m not selling full time, but I got 100% good feedback, and I really want to keep it that way.

  6. ValkRaider says:

    An emerald appraised at thousands of dollars ended up selling for 8 bucks.

    And? It is not eBay’s fault the guy was a dumbass and didn’t set a reserve. Of course the buyer is going to pay as little as possible. And if noone else sees the value in the item (I.E. thinks it is fraudulent or counterfit) then a buyer will get a killer deal. If the seller does not set a reserve they are saying they don’t mind if they sell it for a dollar.

    And bad feedback happens. Most people, upon seeing the bad feedback, will read what the feedback was and make a decision accordingly. I am not scared of by a few bad feedbacks. Shit happens. It is how it is resolved that is important.

    Unless the feedback says “Came to my house and killed my dog and burned my books” then I am usually not too worried as long as the good seriously outweigh the bad…

  7. Mauvaise says:

    @AndyGoodwin: A lot of people who sell as well as buy on Ebay have two
    accounts just for this reason. They will sell with one account and buy
    with the other (some even go so far as to have a third account to post
    in the forums with) so they don’t have to worry about dishonest sellers
    leaving negative retaliatory feedback in case they need to leave a neg.
    themselves.

  8. ArtlessDodger says:

    @Ingen Angiven “In general they shouldn’t remove the one negative comment. The fact that one negative comment can injure an ebay seller generally a good thing. It forces them to provide a high level of service in an industry potentially wraught with fraud.”

    I believe that the original point is that the comment was not made in good faith, and was made by the buyer to specifically damage the seller’s reputation (or some other baseless “problem”). Having a system in which extremely negative comments can destroy one’s reputation is inherently flawed. This, coupled with ebay’s lack of response after requests by the seller and the courts seems unjustified.

  9. Papercutninja says:

    Unfortunately eBay all of eBay is a buyers market. In general, goods are sold for a cheaper price than buyers would normally be able to obtain them for. If you’re losing money selling on eBay, then don’t sell there anymore.

  10. GenXCub says:

    Ebay is biased towards buyers and I do feel for the complainant here. I have a 900 rating, mostly for selling, and I follow strict rules.

    To Ingen who said “Does it really matter if you have bad feedback as a buyer? Sellers don’t really have any option except to sell to you unless your feedback is below zero, right”

    I can cancel anyone’s bid/purchase at my leisure. Especially if I list in my description who I will or will not accept bids from. I do not accept bids outside the U.S., I do not accept bids from new accounts unless they email me first, I do not accept bids from anyone with less than a 10 rating who has any negative feedback.

    Feedback is all we have for our defense. I will NOT leave any feedback (positive or negative) until the buyer does first. I am willing to go without a feedback point for that because of eBay’s horrible policy on it.