What Is Auction Site Feedback?
Most online auction sites have a public forum where buyers and sellers can rate each other on how well they have upheld their ends of a transaction. Pierre Omidyar, eBay's founder, generally is credited with creating the first rating system in 1995. He called it Feedback Forum. An evolved form of the system is still in use today.
Soon after feedback systems began appearing on auction sites, however, unscrupulous sellers and buyers figured out ways to manipulate their scores. They created inflated positive ratings for themselves by bidding on and winning their own auctions under different user names. Some of them used their self-generated positive feedback scores to lure buyers into auction fraud schemes. For example, in one auction-related crime, laptop computers were listed for bid and had very attractive Buy It Now prices. Buyers quickly snapped up the “bargain” computers and rushed their payments to the seller. A couple of weeks later, when their computers still had not been delivered, the buyers started making inquiries and discovered that the seller had disappeared, taking their money with him. They had completely believed his posted feedback and had made no other efforts to verify his status.
A decade later, safeguards are in place to help make auction feedback systems more honest and secure. But feedback systems still are not foolproof, and feedback postings should be viewed as just one part of the buyer-seller trust equation. Online auction sites frequently urge potential bidders to do the following:
Read all of the feedback comments posted for a seller — good, bad, or neutral — before placing a bid.
Contact some of the members who have left positive, negative, or neutral feedback. Ask for updates on how they feel about doing business with a particular seller.
E-mail the seller a question or two about the item that interests you. An honest seller likely will give you quick, detailed responses.
Be sure you understand the seller's preferred payment methods, return policy, and shipping policy. Again, send questions to the seller if you need clarification.
Some of the investigative processes may be too time-consuming for small items costing less than $50. Frankly, most buyers just glance at a seller's positive feedback count and feedback percentage. If a negative rating has been posted within the past twelve months, they will often go straight to it and make their bid/don't bid decision based on what the disgruntled buyer reported and what the seller posted in response.
Before bidding on any item listed as “rare,” “vintage,” or “collectible,” research its market value carefully. Scrutinize the seller's auction-site record and contact the seller with questions. A simple search of current and closed auction listings may turn up dozens of similar “rare” items that have drawn little or no bidder interest.
Take the time and effort necessary to protect yourself, particularly when expensive merchandise is involved. Use the steps presented earlier to do a thorough check of the seller's reputation, record, and sales and return policies. Also, know
How Does Feedback Work?
Online auction sites try to simplify the process of leaving feedback for a seller or buyer. Typically, there is a Leave Feedback link somewhere on the page confirming the successful end of an auction.
Sellers often click on their Leave Feedback link as soon as they receive payment from the buyer, and the payment clears at the bank. If the buyer pays with PayPal, his feedback from an inexperienced seller may be posted within a matter of minutes. However, a seller should
A transaction is
Feedback is a seller's only real leverage when problems arise. Never give it up early. Otherwise, you may leave positive feedback for a buyer whose shipment then is lost or broken, and they respond by posting negative feedback for you. Hold your feedback until the buyer receives a shipment, so you can have the opportunity to correct a problem, if one arises, before it escalates into hard feelings.
On eBay, the Feedback Forum's rating system works like this:
Your feedback score is increased by one point each time a positive comment and rating is posted for you by a different individual member.
For each negative comment and rating posted for you by a different individual member, one point is subtracted from your score.
Nothing is added to your feedback total if someone posts a neutral comment and rating after dealing with you.
For example, “si8ai9 (25)” means that the eBay member using the screen name
If a seller has received as few as two negative ratings over the past twelve months, many potential buyers will not bid on his items. Likewise, if a buyer has negative feedback — for not paying, for example — a seller can cancel the buyer's bid and block her from bidding again on his auctions.