How to Effectively Use eBay Feedback Revision (Formerly Mutual Feedback Withdrawal) to Get Negatives Removed

5 May

Why Feedback is More Important Than Ever

Feedback is the most important aspect of your seller reputation.  No matter how many feedbacks you receive, it’s important to minimize negatives.  When I was first starting out, I underestimated how much negative feedback would affect my business.  I felt like I could “take the neg” because I was receiving so many positives.  This may be true to a point, but there are many buyers who take a lot of care reading over feedback profiles and won’t bid on an item if there is the slightest hint of a problem.  This is especially true for sellers who offer more expensive items.  At the same time, the majority of bidders take nothing but the feedback percentage into account and some don’t even do that.  There is only one way to appeal to all bidders and that is to do everything you can to keep your feedback percentage as high as possible.  If you know what you’re doing, you can quickly resolve problems and convince buyers to revise their feedback.

Feedback is now even more important than it ever has been because it’s tied to Powerseller discounts as well as where your items will show up in buyer’s searches.  It is imperative to get negative feedback removed because of what it can do to your Detailed Seller Ratings.  Negative feedback is almost always accompanied by a 1 rating in all four Detailed Seller Rating categories.  Let’s say you’ve received 20 feedbacks in the last month, one which was a negative.  Even if you received perfect fives from all of your other buyers that month, the one rating from the negative would bring your average down to 4.8 (19 *5 = 95.  +1 = 96.  Divided by 20 = 4.8).  If a couple of your buyers left a 4, your Detailed Seller Ratings could drop into the 4.5 range or below instantly after a negative is received.

A History of Feedback Withdrawal

EBay’s procedure for feedback removal has changed dramatically over the years.  Beginning in 2004, it was possible for a buyer or a seller to initiate a “Mutual Feedback Withdrawal Request.”  If the other person agreed to the Request, the feedback icon (green plus/clear neutral/red minus) would be removed and the negative would be eliminated from the feedback percentage, but the comment would remain on the feedback page.   Buyers and sellers could send as many of these requests as they wanted.  Many sellers who received negative feedback from buyers would in turn leave negatives for the buyers.  Most buyers came to the understanding that if they left a negative for a seller then they would in turn receive one from the seller.  Sellers left negatives for buyers in order to give them more of an incentive to agree to the Withdrawal Request.  This resulted in buyers having to agree to withdraw the negative they left for the seller, even in those instances when the seller deserved the negative feedback, because the buyer didn’t want the negative on their account either.  Many people thought this was unfair.

Four years later, in January of 2008, eBay announced that beginning in May, sellers would no longer be able to leave neutral or negative feedback for buyers.  As you may be aware, this resulted in no less than an online riot.  To fan the flames, a few days later eBay announced that they were doing away with Mutual Feedback Withdrawal and not replacing it with any other means of removing negatives.  For many sellers this meant that there was no longer any reason to satisfy buyers after they left a negative feedback.  After all, there was no longer any upside to shipping refunds or fixing problems if buyers couldn’t let people know that the seller was reasonable.  EBay also put an end to Squaretrade Feedback Removal, which basically consisted of the seller paying $20 to Squaretrade in order to get the negative removed from their account.  Since that no longer exists there isn’t much of a reason to go into it, but let me just say that it was a bizarre and corrupt system.

What is eBay Feedback Revision?

The end to Mutual Feedback Withdrawal was one of many mistakes eBay made during 2008 that they would later attempt to correct.  Just five months after announcing its demise, eBay announced a new procedure called “eBay Feedback Revision.”  The process is similar to Mutual Feedback Withdrawal.  The seller sends a request through eBay asking the buyer if they want to change their feedback.  Instead of removing the negative feedback icon and leaving the comment visible, buyers can actually change the feedback to a positive and enter a new comment.  Under the feedback it will say, “Feedback was revised on Date-Time.”  The total number of revised feedback the seller has is visible on a seller’s feedback page at the top right.

The downside of the new program is that you are limited in the amount of Feedback Revisions you can send.  Each calendar year, every seller gets to send 5 Feedback Revision Requests.  For every 1,000 feedbacks a seller receives (positive + negative + neutral + positives from buying), they will have the opportunity to send another 5 Feedback Revisions.  In order to maximize effectiveness, sellers must be certain that the buyer is willing to change their feedback before sending the Request, or they will have wasted a Request.  The seller must send the Revision Request within 30 days of receiving the feedback and the buyer only has 10 days to complete it after the seller initiates it.

The Best Ways Sellers Can Convince Buyers to Complete Feedback Revision

First, access the eBay Feedback Revision page

There are a variety of reasons buyers leave negative feedback and the first thing you’ll have to do is identify what the buyer’s problem is and how you can solve it as quickly and cheaply as possible.  You also need to identify the type of buyer you’re dealing with – Male or female?  Age?  How active are they on eBay?  Do they also sell?  Profiling your buyer will help you decide what the best approach will be.  Remember, you are limited to the amount of Feedback Revisions you are allowed to send.  You want to be certain the buyer is willing to accept the Request before you initiate it.  Pleasing a difficult buyer is one of the most unpleasant experiences a seller will have on eBay.  You’ll probably hate yourself, the buyer, and eBay for making you refund $10 of the buyer’s payment for a problem that probably doesn’t exist or isn’t your fault.  As angry as you might be about the negative, don’t let it show in any of your emails.  You want to convince the buyer that you are a reasonable person and genuinely want to work it out.  Also, I don’t recommend replying to the negative feedback on your feedback page until you’re certain the buyer is unwilling to complete the Feedback Revision.  Here are some examples of how to handle the situation.  Keep in mind that every situation is different.

The easiest and most ethical way to go about Feedback Revision is to ask the buyer what they want you to do and do it.  Put the ball in the buyer’s court by asking them what they want to do, rather than making an offer of your own.  This will ensure that the buyer isn’t insulted by your offer and you haven’t offered them more than they would be willing to accept.  If the negative is about the item itself, tell the buyer that you were unaware that they were unhappy with their item and would like to do anything you can to fix their problem.  Ask them what they want you to do to fix the problem in your first message.  I usually say something like, “Hello, I am sorry you were not satisfied with your item.  I had no idea there was a problem with the item when I shipped it to you.  Your satisfaction is important to me and I would like to do whatever I can to resolve this as quickly and amicably as possible.  Please get back to me with what you would like me to do.  Thank you again for your purchase and I look forward to hearing back from you.”  Notice that I don’t mention anything about the Feedback Revision yet.  Even if you were aware that the buyer was not happy with the item, it’s better to plead ignorance and make it clear that you are now willing to work the problem out.  Most buyers are reasonable people and will reply that they want to return the item or they want a partial refund.  If what they want is unreasonable, ask if they would rather return the item for a full refund.  If you are able to come to an agreement then ask if the buyer is willing to complete a Feedback Revision saying that you resolved the situation quickly and amicably.  Most buyers will be relieved that you are willing to comply with their demands and happy to complete the Revision.

If the feedback is for slow shipping or another shipping problem, offer to refund the shipping charge.  If shipping was free, offer a partial refund in the amount that shipping cost.  I usually say something like, “I’m sorry the item took so long to reach you.  I shipped it the day after your payment was received.  I’m not sure why there was a delay during transit.  I contacted USPS and they were unable to tell me what happened.  Would refunding your shipping cost make up for the delay?”  Notice again that I don’t mention the Feedback Revision yet.  You want to make it clear to the buyer that your first priority is making them happy, not getting them to remove their feedback.  Most buyers will jump at the opportunity to get a shipping refund.  When they respond that it would make them happy, reply and ask if they’re willing to change their feedback to reflect that you resolved the issue amicably.  Unfortunately, the way eBay is set up makes it worth almost anything to get negative feedback removed.  A refund of a few dollars now will mean higher prices in the future because more bidders will be interested in buying from you.  Just be sure that you are as pleasant as possible with the buyer.  Even if the problem isn’t necessarily your fault, take full responsibility for fixing it.  I recommend emailing the buyer as soon as possible after receiving the negative.

Sometimes buyers will be less than excited about resolving the issue with you.  If you do not receive a response back to your first message, make sure you send one directly through eBay as well as a reply to the email they used to send payment.  Say something like, “Hello, I didn’t receive a reply back to my first email about the issue with your item.  I would like to resolve the problem as quickly as possible.  Please get back to me at your earliest convenience so we can get this taken care of.”   The great majority of buyers will be willing to work with you to resolve the problem and will be willing to change the feedback to a positive if you make arrangements to do what you both agree is reasonable.  If they still won’t respond, you can get their phone number from eBay here:

Find Contact Information

There are also several less ethical ways to convince a buyer to revise their feedback.  Of course, I don’t condone doing any of them and most I can’t even really explain.  The easiest way to make it more likely that a buyer will complete the Feedback Revision process is to lie to them about your circumstances and provide an excuse for your poor communication or the delay in shipping.  Tell the buyer that your Mother just died or your kids have been home sick with the flu.  Apologize and apologize and refund their shipping charge before they even respond.  This will make almost all buyers willing to complete the Feedback Revision.  It also makes you a terrible person, so just consider that before you start telling people that you got abducted by aliens.

Pleasing buyers is one of the most frustrating aspects of selling on eBay.  No matter what you do, some people will simply never be satisfied.  Feedback Revision provides an opportunity for you to fix problems with buyers and get the feedback they left changed to a positive.  Going about it in the right way will make it more likely that your buyer will be willing to work with you and ultimately agree to revise their feedback.  Take responsibility for fixing the problem and always be pleasant in your emails and you will find that you can resolve most problems and keep your feedback percentage as high as possible.

7 Responses to “How to Effectively Use eBay Feedback Revision (Formerly Mutual Feedback Withdrawal) to Get Negatives Removed”

  1. Millie 25. Aug, 2010 at 8:54 am #

    Under your definition of What Is Feedback Revision you stated “For every 1,000 feedbacks a seller receives (positive + negative + neutral + positives from buying), they will have the opportunity to send another 5 Feedback Revisions.”
    Which is also what the eBay help pages state but are you aware that your alloted requests are based on the 12 consecutive months of the previous year and not what you are selling currently?
    Your bulk requests are given to yu at the beginning of the year January based on what you earned in 2009.
    ONLY if you exceed your year-to-date 12 month total feedbacks left by 1,000 will you receive an immediate extra 5 requests. Your year to date is a sliding daily scale. Pretty tricky :0

  2. Chris 26. Jan, 2011 at 8:38 am #

    I had a situation where a buyer left me negative feedback on a sweatshirt she bought from me. The auction included measurements. She left me negative feedback based on the fact that it didn’t fit her. I requested a feedback revision telling her “I’m sorry it didn’t fit you, but I put the measurements in the auction. Was there anymore I could have done?” She revised the feedback to a neutral and still stated that the item didn’t fit her, but my feedback went back to a 100% and it didn’t cost me any money. I think this was just a rare case where I may have made the buyer feel bad for leaving negative feedback.

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