A question about Ebay etiquette

I met some people at MODM recently who told me they had never – EVER!! – bought anything via Ebay. WTF? Who are you people? Even Nicole, who is currently cutting my hair, has bought something from Ebay (although she said it wasn’t very successful – it wasn’t what she thought it would be like… she assures me it wasn’t a sex toy. It was a dress.).

Anyway… a couple of weeks ago I bought a remote control for my old XBOX from someone in Hong Kong. It turned up okay but doesn’t work very well. I mean, it works if I’m no further away than a meter or two from the box – but if I’m lying in bed (the old XBOX is the bedroom media center) it’s a pain in the ass.

So I gave the seller a neutral review on Ebay – not negative, because she shipped it quickly and it was as described… it just doesn’t work very well. The next day, I got an email from the seller saying she was very sorry that I wasn’t happy with the item and asking me if I would reconsider my review if she gave me a $5 refund. I asked the folks on Twitter what I should do, and the unanimous response was that I should leave my review as it is and that the seller was trying to buy a positive review.

So I ignored the first email. Then, yesterday, I got a message from Paypal saying I had received a full refund on the product from the seller! Now I’m feeling torn. On one hand, the product isn’t very well made – but that isn’t the seller’s fault. She has been very responsive to my review and has, of her own volition, given me a full refund and not even asked for the product back. To be fair, I didn’t complain about the quality of the product when I received it and, if I had, she might have been willing to give me the refund and under those circumstances I probably WOULD have given her a positive review. When we buy something off of Ebay (or anywhere else for that matter), isn’t that all we ask for? Good service? Obviously we hope the product will always be first class but, when it isn’t, we just want good service?

So I’m torn. I don’t want to have my review “bought” but, on the other hand, i want to be fair to a seller who is trying hard to do the right thing. Or is she?

13 thoughts on “A question about Ebay etiquette

  1. Yes, my website is working. LOL.

    Anyway, since she refunded you the whole amount of the item you won WITHOUT you asking her to do so .. IMO she deserves full credit and a positive rating now. She is only selling the item, not making it herself. If she has advertised that she MADE the item herself, then judge the item and customer service she provided. I would give her positive feedback as now the whole deal has cost you $0 ! You’ve come out on top: you have the item you paid for (and can keep it as she hasn’t asked for it back) and it hasn’t cost you a cent now.

  2. I’ve never bought anything on Ebay.
    Why? I just don’t shop much

    Plus it’s too much commitment. You’ve gotta buy it, pay for it, receive it, and then decide you like it (or not…). Too topsy turvy for me

  3. I had an experience in which an item took 8 weeks for delivery after I had paid for express postage. Although it was coming from Hong Kong, the listing informed it should only take 5-7 days.

    Naturally I left negative feedback, so the seller in return left negative feedback for me, even though I had paid instantly as it was a ‘Buy It Now’.

    I complained to eBay saying it was unfair for myself to be penalised. The seller told me they would remove my bad feedback if I agreed to ‘mutually withdraw’.

    With no help from eBay I decided to ‘mutually withdraw’. So unfortunately the seller leaves with a near perfect feedback score, which is not a true representation of their service.

    With that being said, in Cameron’s scenario I would be inclined to leave positive feedback and state in the comment what occured.

  4. I was originally against changing the review for a $5 rebate. That DID sound like selling your opinion to the highest (only?) bidder and there begins the slippery slope down to hell. Are you happy with the service you have been rendered? Keep that question in your mind when you write the review.

    If it were me, I’d be pretty happy. You weren’t happy with the product you recieved and she has acknowledged that fact and actually DONE something about it. What do you think the XBOX teams response would have been if you said the remote you bought at K-Mart sucked?

  5. I also want to state that I have extensive experience with eBay as both a seller and a buyer. I’ve bought a lot of items from eBay.. the most expensive being a laptop. None of them were faulty. I’ve only had good experiences.

    I only ever wander ‘off shore’ (outside Australia) for items if my flatmate is purchasing via me (thus he takes the loss not me). Otherwise my rule of thumb that has never proved me wrong is to stick “within Australia” as place of where seller is located.

  6. The feedback is about the experience. Ultimately the experience was good, so why not leave good feedback?

    I agree with Adam that the feedback system in general sucks. I think that it would be better if a) you had a limited time in which to leave it (makes the 8 week delivery thing a tad hard) and b) the two parties couldn’t see each others feedback until both had left it, thus avoiding tit-for-tat comments, and hopefully leading to a more honest and realistic rating system.

  7. Personally I don’t think the eBay feedback system is a good reflection of what actually happens 100% of the time. Sometimes people will get a cruddy deal and still leave the seller a positive feedback because they fear the reprisal of getting negative feedback for negative feedback. The eBay system is mostly Karma for Karma… if you sell me a crappy item, I’m going to give you crappy feedback. If you give me negative feedback in reprisal I will add a full detailed explanation as to why I gave my negative feedback. In a lot of cases, the sellers use the threat of negative feedback in order to force the buyer to keep their mouths shut. I wouldn’t withdraw my neutral feedback, but I might add the comment that the seller refunded your money because you were unsatisfied. This still gives the seller good karma without sacrificing your initial comments.

    I’ve bought and sold on eBay and I have a 100% positive feedback rating. If someone has a problem with anything I sell I deal with the problem or refund their money. No problems so far.

  8. my prediction: you will now receive negative feedback for not paying, or for keeping the product. Have you checked for product reviews on the remote? I recall a few people having issues – it could be poor production values for the product in general, not just the one you happened to get.

  9. Thanks for the feedback folks. I submitted a comment on the feedback yesterday (apparently you can’t actually *change* your previous comment) and advised that she gave me an unsolicited refund.

    Adam, when the product turned up it was obvious that it was a Chinese dodgy after market thing. No name brand. You’re probably right, they are probably all dodgy.

    However, when I originally left the feedback, my rationale was that if she is selling dodgy product, people should know. I would want to know if I was a future customer. I never criticized her as a vendor, just the quality of the merch.

  10. I reckon she was feeling guilty about flogging you a remote that she knew was dodgy, and remorsefully refunded to salve her conscience (and improve her score).

    I’ve had >10 $100+ transactions with HongKong based ebayers, and they’ve always been quick, and easy to communicate with. They often have HSBC accounts in Australia, which makes the money trail pretty transparent.

    As for being unfairly scored after giving negative feedback as a buyer, it’s true that ebay favours the seller in this respect, but they must do so, especially if they want nervous newcomers to participate. Who would send their stuff away unless they knew that the payment was guaranteed? The buyer takes the risk – it’s just the nature of the thing.

    @Herne: I think that the buyer has no reason to fear negative feedback if they are operating a throw away ebay ID. After all, you don’t need to have a good reputation to buy, as you are taking the risk in sending the money. If the seller scores you badly, just open another username! In other words, have a seller account with a 100% feedback score (and rising), and a buyer account (also 100% until someone gives you a negative, whereupon you get a new ID).

  11. The Ebay feedback system is a reflection on the trader, and doesn’t really take into consideration the product. The biggest problem with the system overall is that ebay counts neutral feedback as negative feedback.

    Ebay will ban – without right of reply or reproach – sellers who receive a certain percentage of negative OR neutral feedback. This is why this seller was so desperate to get the rating changed.

    In light of this, my suggestion would be that you give poor feedback on the product but deliver it with a positive comment. After all, this trader attempted to resolve your issue satisfactorily.

  12. @Squorkle: I don’t operate with a “throw away” ID, I operate as myself. If people can’t trust a person then the whole eBay system fails. I’d be more apt to trust a seller that has over 1,000 transactions with a 90% rating than a seller that has a 100% rating with 20 transactions. I also read the negative and neutral comments on a seller before I decide if I’m going to give them a thumbs up or thumbs down. Half the time the people who give a negative or neutral feedback don’t even have a clue as to what they’re doing. I’m constantly reading comments like “Costed too much”–Well you bid on it! Or “Took too long to ship from US to Australia”–Well maybe you should’ve looked at where it was shipping from before you bought it?

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