On May 18, 2010, I got the following item of feedback (and blogged about it here):

This is one of those eye-rolling seller moments that happens to many sellers frequently (see the comments of the other post for more examples/war stories). But let’s take a look at what happened after I saw that feedback.

I got the feedback above and immediately emailed the buyer. I gave her a polite but standard “I wish you would have told me there was an issue before leaving bad feedback… you may not realize but bad feedback hurts a seller… blah blah blah.” You all know the sort of email I mean, I’m sure you’ve written a few yourself. ­čśë

Now, I want to add I totally forgot that eBay added feedback revision when I emailed her. I really wasn’t thinking about getting the feedback revised, really just to educate her for future sales with me and other sellers. I usually either head bad feedback off before it happens or the buyer who left the feedback is a lost cause so I’ve actually never used either the retraction or revision feedback process and, frankly, often forget they exist.

So I didn’t hear anything, which isn’t uncommon but this was also an international sale so the buyer was on a different time zone. The next morning, I have an email from the buyer:

I certainly did not leave any neutral feedback it was positive, I do not have any issues whatsoever with my purchase in fact my Dad was over the moon with it even though he had to pay an extra tax to collect it. When I left feedback yesterday it was definitely positive just look at my message it was all positive not neutral

What strikes you about this email is that she is convinced she left a positive message. This wasn’t some passive aggressive feedback thing like some buyers do where they leave a positive message but low stars because they hope to avoid conflict. She legitimately thought she left positive feedback.

Since the buyer sent this while I was asleep, she had a few hours to rethink this and at some point must have looked at her feedback because, dated a short while later, I had a second email from her:

How do we go about rectifying neutral feedback as I have obviously pressed wrong button, there is no way on this planet I would have gave you a neutral feedback, as I have said earlier my Dad was over the moon with his purchase.

Long story short (too late, I know! ;-)), we start the revision process (after I figure out what it is and that it exists) and the buyer is a total sweetheart and apologetic the whole time and I’m like, seriously, it’s OK, you made an honest mistake, etc etc. And when all is said and done, the process went smoothly and now we have this:

So if the original was a Feedback FAIL, is this a Feedback WIN?

Well, I don’t feel entirely like I won for two reasons:

  • The revision process didn’t let the buyer specify why she revised the feedback so it looks like she and I had an issue which I resolved. In other words, it looks like I did something wrong and then later made the buyer happy after she left bad feedback when in reality she loved me from the start and just clicked the wrong button. Not in love with how this looks but, let’s be honest, it’ll be pushed off the first page of feedback in a few days and then no one will care so it isn’t a huge deal. But it still annoys me on principle.
  • How can a buyer accidentally leave bad feedback? Well, take a look at this article from TameBay about how eBay wants buyers to leave more negatives so they removed the warnings before leaving a bad feedback rating. As this example shows, this doesn’t improve trading on the marketplace, it just leaves the door open for more honest mistakes.

So, sellers and buyers alike, what do we take away from this? Having never used the feedback revision process before, I liked having an “undo” button even if it makes my feedback look like I was in the wrong when I wasn’t. But taking away the warnings when you are leaving a bad rating? That is just going to cause more misunderstandings like this and more work for both parties as they have to undo things.

Anyway, what do you think?