No, don’t worry – that’s not your eBay account. And I hope yours will never look like this.
But let’s be honest – maintaining 100% positive feedback on eBay is hard, very hard, especially when you start dealing with hundreds and even thousands of transactions per month. We all make mistakes from time to time and on eBay OUR mistakes can cost us a lot – negative feedback and low DSRs which in the end can result in a lost Top Rated Seller status or even a suspended account in the worst case scenario.
So what to do to avoid bad feedback?
First of all – do whatever it takes to minimize the chances of buyers even starting to think about leaving negative or neutral feedback for you. This means:
1) Offer high quality products.
2) Create detailed and accurate product descriptions.
3) If dealing with used goods, always describe the item’s condition as it is. If there are scratches on an item highlight them with a photo, don’t hide them! (This actually increases your credibility in a buyer’s eyes).
4) Offer fast, preferably next day delivery whenever possible.
5) Pack items in suitable packaging materials (Jiffy envelopes, boxes, mail bags) so that you keep the chances of items being damaged during the shipping process to a minimum.
6) Communicate with buyers – answer all e-mails and messages within 24 hours, Monday to Friday.
7) Leave positive feedback once the buyer pays you (Selling Manager Pro does this for you automatically).
8) Always honour your returns policy; go the extra mile if people are a day or two late and still accept returns after 16 days, if your returns policy says, for example, 14 days.
9) Replace damaged, faulty items at no cost to the buyer (it’s your fault at the end of the day, not the buyer’s, so you have no right to ask him to pay even the shipping fees).
10) Whatever disaster strikes at your end, keep your buyer informed! Say you run out of stock and this creates a 3 day delay in order processing. Email buyers and let them know about this problem AND ask what they want to do – wait a few extra days OR receive an instant refund. Never assume that the buyer will be ok with delays in order processing – always, always ask first.
11) Lastly, and most importantly – your customer is always right, even if he’s not! This classic cliché is even truer on eBay than anywhere else as buyers can hurt your business instantly by leaving negative feedback. Don’t let that happen! Even if you feel the buyer is trying it on with you, if you CAN’T do anything about it just apologize for the trouble caused and issue a refund. In the long term, your loss will be minimal but your business will be protected.
If you follow all these guidelines, your chances of getting negative feedback are minimal. But it will still happen of course as it’s a numbers game – the more you sell, the more your chances of getting a dissatisfied customer.
So what to do when you do actually receive negative or neutral feedback?
We have to distinguish two situations:
1) Negative feedback left by mistake (yes, you won’t believe how often this happens – the buyer is totally happy with the purchase but accidently leaves negative or neutral feedback). You can easily spot this as the feedback comment itself will be positive – no signs of any problems with the transaction.
2) Negative feedback left on purpose.
In the first case scenario it’s usually quite easy to get negative feedback removed. What you have to do is simply contact the buyer and explain the situation. Once you get a reply, simply go to the Request Feedback Revision page and follow the instructions. The buyer will receive a message from eBay to accept feedback revision and in most cases will agree (as he or she left it by mistake in the first place).
If the buyer doesn’t reply to your initial message, you can report the feedback via the Report Feedback page, explain the situation in the comments box and let eBay handle the feedback removal process for you.
In the second case, where you obviously see that negative or neutral feedback is left on purpose, again, you contact the buyer first. What you do is politely apologise for any problems caused and ask whether you can do anything to fix the problem. A replacement item or a refund is usually all you need to fix such a problem. If the buyer agrees and you fix the problem, then explain that you’ll kindly ask him to revise the feedback and proceed with the Request Feedback Revision process.
IF the buyer doesn’t reply or you can’t agree on a solution to fix the problem, you still have the option of asking eBay directly to remove the unfair feedback via the Report Feedback option. If it really is unfair feedback, that is. In cases where people are not satisfied with a product’s quality or you delay dispatch by a week eBay won’t help you and won’t remove that feedback, as it’s fair!
eBay will help you and remove feedback in the following cases:
1) The feedback contains inappropriate comments or violates feedback policy. For example, a buyer leaves negative feedback and the message – bad seller, better buy here! And leaves a link to another seller or website. This violates Bay’s feedback policy and will be removed. Profane, vulgar, obscene or racist language or adult material is also prohibited.
2) The buyer provided eBay with the wrong email address at the time of transaction, so you technically couldn’t contact the buyer. This happens quite often, so if you have any suspicions that a buyer’s email address is invalid or not reachable (you can test this by sending a message from any e-mail software and see whether it bounces or their inbox is full).
3) The buyer is suspended by eBay. If this happens within 90 days of the transaction, eBay will automatically remove all negative feedback associated with that buyer. However, after 90 days you have to do it manually. So it’s actually a good idea to go over your negative feedback (it only takes 10 seconds) from time to time to see whether any buyer has been suspended. As there are serial negative feedback leavers on eBay, they get suspended quite often! If you spot this kind of buyer in your past negative feedback list, go to the Feedback Revision Process page and ask eBay to remove that negative feedback.
4) If a buyer leaves negative feedback but hasn’t even paid for the item (the transaction’s status is unpaid), you can easily get feedback removed by following the Report Feedback option.
If all else fails and you can’t get negative feedback removed, the least you can do is leave a feedback comment. If it was a genuine mistake on your part, explain that you offered a full refund but the buyer didn’t respond. Either way, do not leave negative feedback without comments as that means you actually agree with what’s said in the negative feedback.
If you’re dealing with hundreds or thousands of sales per month and get neutral and negative feedback on a regular basis, be careful to choose which feedback to fight for as you only have 5 feedback revision requests for any 1,000 feedback comments you get per year. By this I mean – always prioritize negative feedback and deal with that first – neutral feedback doesn’t affect your account in a direct way, so it’s less important. But in most cases, 5 requests per 1,000 is enough and if you’re going over that limit, chances are you’re not doing a very good on eBay in first place.
If we skip the serial negative feedback leavers and negative feedback left by mistake, in most cases negative feedback can be a great learning experience. Take this opportunity to LEARN and improve your business so that next time it won’t happen again! For example, a customer says in feedback that the item was poorly packaged and loose in the box. You can get angry of course and start arguing, BUT it would be better to look at the problem from the buyer’s perspective and think about ways to improve the way you pack items.
A classic example would be quality issues. If you’re starting to get negative, neutral and even positive feedback with comments about the low quality of the product you sell, chances are you REALLY have problems with the quality of the items you sell, don’t you think?
Arrogant sellers often leave feedback comments saying – Hundreds of other buyers are satisfied! So what? That doesn’t prove anything. Most people are polite and genuine and will leave positive feedback even if they’re not 100% satisfied with the purchase. For example, I have never left negative feedback myself on eBay even though on many occasions it would be only fair.
So, what I’m trying to say is – learn from good and also bad feedback. Learn and improve your business, fix the on-going problems, change suppliers if necessary.
Lastly – from time to time, you’ll get hit hard, real hard! There are idiots out there on eBay who will leave negative feedback which makes no sense, you won’t be able to contact and resolve issues with them and eBay won’t help you either. That’s life. That’s eBay. If you sell on eBay, you have to be prepared for this.
Sleepless nights because of negative feedback received? Try not to take it personally. I know it’s not easy in the beginning, but you should not take it to heart. It’s not the last negative feedback you’ll receive on eBay. There will be more, I can guarantee you that. The good news is that it’ll be gone in 12 months’ time!