Friday, May 15, 2009

eBay Ettiquette

For some reason I decided I was going to look at clothes on eBay last weekend. I don't especially need any new clothes, but I felt it wouldn't hurt to put on a few bids well within my "affordable" range. I searched specifically for brands where I already know what size will fit me, but that I can't normally afford to buy new.

On Monday, I won Top#1, a strappy party top which set me back £10 (plus £2 for p&P). I received the standard automated emails from eBay, paid with PayPal, and today, Friday, it dropped through my letterbox, safe and sound in a durable envelope.

So far so good. Except...

On Tuesday night, I won Top#2, which is an asymmetric 'everyday' kind of top and cost me £1.49 (plus £2.16 for p&p including recorded delivery). In addition to the standard automated emails, the seller sent a message to let me know she had posted the item and telling me the Tracking Number. Yesterday, Thursday, the package arrived. I opened the sensible waterproof envelope and pulled out the contents - but instead of cotton in my hands, there was paper. Neatly folded soft grey tissue paper, secured in three places with three tiny little shiny stickers. I actually wondered if maybe it wasn't an eBay purchase but a present! I undid the stickers and unwrapped it to find my new top, carefully pressed and folded and with a faint but pleasant smell.

Obviously I got straight on the computer to give the seller of Top#2 maximum positive feedback and also to send a thank you email.

But now I feel uneasy about feedback for Top#1. I mean, there was nothing wrong with that transaction, I don't have any complaints about it at all, I'd happily shop with them again. But then there's the Detailed Seller Ratings (DSRs).

As well as going 'above and beyond' in terms of presentation, the seller of Top#2 was clearly better than the seller of Top#1 in three of the DSR categories - communication (they told me when they had posted the top), dispatch time (the top arrived less than 48 hours after the auction closed), and postage and packaging charges (charged almost exactly the same, but for a superior signed-for postal service, and nicer packaging).

So, having joyfully given the really-made-one-hell-of-an-effort seller of Top#2 a perfect DSR of 5-5-5-5 on Thursday, can I really, on Friday, give the entirely-acceptable-but-nothing-special seller of Top#1 an identical perfect score?

But if I don't, am I being unfair to the seller of Top#1? According to eBay's Help pages, sellers who subscribe to Shops:
"... will be required to maintain the following minimum 12-month average DSR scores in each of the four areas:

  • For a Featured Shop, maintain a DSR score of 4.4 or above

  • For an Anchor Shop, maintain a DSR score of 4.6 or above

Note: Failure to maintain these requirements will affect your Shops subscription, and you could be downgraded to a lower Shop tier with a different fee structure."

It's not like the seller of Top#1 has "failed" to provide an acceptable standard of service, and they shouldn't get downgraded just because I want to differentiate between 'good' and 'great' service.

Any eBay sellers want to give me their input?


Serena said...

I'm not a seller but I do buy stuff on eBay quite regularly.

I generally give scores of 4 for sellers who give a perfectly good, but not startlingly so, service. This leaves 5s for the really good sellers, who give really good service. Like you, I think they deserve recognition and it downgrades the value of feedback if everyone is given top marks.

I assume that eBay's intention is to give 'Featured Shop' and 'Anchor Shop' premium branding, to highlight sellers who do provide a superior level of service.

BenefitScroungingScum said...

I buy lots of clothes 2nd hand on ebay (it's such an affordable way of buying nice clothes!) and I wouldn't differentiate in the rankings between those two sellers, but would in the comment I leave
Having also sold clothes on ebay, it's gutting when someone rates you below the best because that's all potential buyers look at, and it can adversely affect your feedback/future sales. I don't put any paperwork in with the garment, nor communicate other than to let the buyer know the parcel's been dispatched, unless of course there's a problem.
The ratings (IMHO) are for things like, is the description accurate, was the postage reasonable, is the garment in good condition etc, not for extras such as tissue paper (that's quite common btw) use the comment facility to big up the sellers who do that.
Not sure I've helped! BG

Anonymous said...

as an occasional seller (but not a shop), I also try to communicate well and mail stuff promptly, using 'nice' (but recycled) packaging as much as I can. I think they should get the same scores as they both gave good service, but a personal email saying thanks for the lovely packaging/great service would mean more to me than the extra point. And you put details in the comments under feedback so other buyers know too.

The Goldfish said...

I think, as BendyGirl says, you can demonstrate your appreciation verbally; you can write and thank them and you can give lovely feedback. Knocking off marks for satisfactory but unremarkable service just isn't fair.

I think my view is the conventional one; I'm not a shop, but as a seller I have maintained and average of 5/5 in all the seller scores, only occasionally using tissue paper if I have some around. So I think most people are doing what I do.

As you've pointed out, if everyone scores 4/5 for a perfectly good but not outstanding seller, they'd be in trouble for no good reason.

Mary said...

Is giving 4/5 "knocking off marks" though? It appears that as far as eBay are concerned, it is - for a buyer to define themselves as merely "satisfied" (4) rather than as "very satisfied" (5) is akin to a complaint.

I wonder how many buyers are unwittingly upsetting their sellers because they don't realise it has a bad effect for the seller if they describe themselves as "satisfied".

It's like a school where any kid getting a B is put on Special Report and a C or D gets you suspended... so the teachers give every kid who isn't an active pain in the bum an A in every subject. Lovely, but that that doesn't help anyone figure out who's scraping through and who's top of the class, nor does it help the kids identify what they're doing well and what they need to work on.

Mandy said...

I would give the first seller 5/5

The post office has no obligation other than to transfer items a to b within 3 days first class.

It could well be the post offices fault. (my post office has held onto things because of staff shortages)

You ordered on Monday, possibly posted on Tuesday, received on Friday, safe and sound, as described, (hopefully) job done.

It may even be somebody that had difficulties for whatever reason and therefore could not get to the post office on the day he/she had hoped to.

Personally, I wouldn't downgrade a shop because of this.

Katie said...

I shop on Ebay a lot, but don't sell. I've left negative feedback twice: once when I was sold a counterfeit flash drive; once when my housemate bought a phone charger on my account listed as safety tested and from the UK which had clearly come from China and exploded - actually exploded - while in use. I reported both incidents to Ebay too.

I left neutral once when the guy sent me the wrong item. He replaced it without a fuss but the whole point of the purchase was that I needed to get hold of it fast, so the purchase was pointless as a result.

So I like to think that when I'm leaving positive feedback - ordinary feedback, not DSRs - I'm saying the seller is a decent person who makes good his or her promises.

If nothing goes wrong, I'll tend to leave five stars in DSR but I do use the written feedback box to be effusive about someone amazing. So in your case, I'd likely give equal ratings to both but write nicer stuff in the feedback box for tissue paper seller.

That said, I can be quite harsh with DSRs. Someone once sent me something in tatty packaging that could've fallen apart and I paid a high P&P charge. So although he was an honest seller and nothing went wrong, I gave him a poor DSR, which is fair enough, I think, because I wouldn't use him again.

The problem with Ebay feedback is that it's subjective. I do read feedback but I use it as a guide and don't base all my decisions on it. I try and ensure my own feedback will help future buyers rather than worrying about Ebay's internal ratings system