eBay gambling

Image by niallkennedy via Flickr

Let’s say two people by the exact same book on eBay. It arrives wrapped in bubble wrap but it was too large for their mailboxes and was crammed in there anyway, making a bend on one corner.

Buyer 1 emails the seller and mentions the bend before they leave feedback. They don’t even indicate that they want anything done about this but the seller still turns around and issues a refund, replacement or other offer to make up for it.

Buyer 1 ends up very satisfied with the seller with something for their trouble.

Buyer 2 leaves positive feedback that reads, “Book got bent in shipment.” If this seller gets any volume of feedback, as many PowerSellers and Top Rated sellers do, they will likely never see this message. Even if the seller happens to notice this note amid their hundred of feedback messages, they have very little incentive to do anything about it since the buyer has already left positive feedback. The chances of them seeing it in a timely matter are also pretty slim. If they even notice the comment, it’s likely to be so many weeks from when the buyer originally left it that the situation is long over.

Buyer 2 ends up with absolutely nothing other than the item they originally purchased with the bend that clearly upset them enough that they felt obligated to mention it in the first place.

Obviously, we buyers all want to be Buyer 1, satisfied and having experienced great customer serivce. But, increasingly, eBay buyers take the action of Buyer 2 and then get upset when nothing happens.

Buyers, I understand the feeling. Maybe you’re afraid of conflict or you don’t like to complain or raise a fuss so you feel like leaving a comment in the feedback rating is the passive way of doing it. Maybe you just simply aren’t sure how the feedback system works and thought it was private or something the seller was notified of (it’s neither). But it just doesn’t make any sense. It’s like quietly whispering your complaint into the wind and then stewing privately when no one heard it.

If embarrassment is your main motivator, it’s much less embarrassing to send a private email to the seller that is only between the two of you than to post a public message in the feedback that comes off as passive aggressive. It’s impossible not to read a message like that in feedback and wonder, if they were upset about it, why didn’t they just email the seller? If getting satisfaction is your main motivator, a feedback comment actually decreases your chances.

Now if you have contacted the seller and found them unwilling to work with you or otherwise had an experience that you feel other buyers should be warned of, of course you should mention it in your feedback. The point of feedback is to inform other buyers of your experiences with this seller and you should include the good and bad even after getting a refund or other post-transaction remedy. But leaving a complaint hidden in your feedback when you’ve never told the seller of your issue does nothing other than deprive you of compensation for your issue and I can’t see the logic in that. And getting upset that a seller didn’t act on a message that you hid in their feedback is just silly. Sellers aren’t mind readers!

Speaking as a seller, we want to make your situation right! Instead of hiding a message in our feedback where we may never seen it, save yourself the trouble and just email with any complaints you have so that we can make it right.