Often you have to read between the lines to understand what a buyer's or seller's feedback comments really mean. A seller or buyer may have a perfect rating (100%), yet there may be notes of caution or even red flags written into some of the “positive” feedback. Also, a buyer may post negative feedback prematurely when a shipment or a payment is delayed. Later, when the errant shipment or payment suddenly shows up, there is no way to reverse the outburst. The seller or buyer who received the negative feedback may be able to post a response. Or, the buyer and seller may be able to “withdraw” the feedback by mutual agreement. The “withdrawn” feedback will remain visible to others, but a notice will be included that it has been withdrawn by mutual agreement, and it will no longer count in the recipient's feedback scores.
Help-screen discussions of feedback on eBay include the following caution: “Feedback cannot be edited or removed once it has been left. It becomes a permanent part of a member's eBay record and is viewable by the entire eBay community. Members could be held legally responsible for damages to a member's reputation if a court were to find that the remarks constitute libel or defamation.”
If remarks fall within the realm of “feedback abuse” described on the Feedback Abuse, Withdrawal and Removal page, eBay can remove the feedback. A few of the reasons that can trigger that removal include:
A court has ruled that the feedback is “slanderous, libelous, defamatory or otherwise illegal.”
The feedback includes personal identifying information about an eBay member, such as real name and address.
The feedback mentions investigations by eBay, PayPal, or a law enforcement agency.
A bidder whose sole intent was to leave negative feedback left the remarks.
If an eBay member posts more than one negative rating for another member, the multiple reports count as only one negative. The same is true if a member leaves more than one positive rating. A feedback score reflects the
A buyer who works hard at maintaining a good reputation with sellers will often receive exuberant feedback such as: “Paid instantly with PayPal!Very Highly Recommended! A++++++++.” Meanwhile, a conscientious seller always likes to get buyer feedback such as this: “Great communications and shipping! Nice product! Will buy again!” Sometimes, however, something causes a buyer and seller to be at odds with each other, and their disagreement escalates into exchanges of negative feedback.
To avoid such a battle, an unhappy buyer may use positive feedback to express irritation with a seller while cautioning others about dealing with him. For example: “Good merchandise but dirty. Shipping was very slow.” If you read some of the seller's other feedback and see similar comments about tardy shipping or dusty merchandise, you will know what to expect if you bid and win one of his auctions. A seller who is unhappy with a buyer may also post her complaint in an otherwise “positive” feedback message: “Money orders are inconvenient & cost me a fee. But thanks for bidding!” Negative feedback immediately affects a seller's or buyer's ratings and reputation. It also invites retaliatory feedback. It is much harder to retaliate against positive feedback, even when it contains a “negative” message. However, the feedback recipient is usually allowed to respond to comments in positive, negative, or neutral feedback.
The negative feedback posted on a particular seller or buyer may be just the tip of the digital iceberg. Some buyers and sellers walk away from bad experiences and post no feedback at all. They don't want to invite retaliatory feedback from the other party — or from some of his friends.