EBay Accused of Manipulating Detailed Seller Ratings in Order to Deny Sellers Fee Discounts

28 Apr

In April 2008, eBay began issuing final value fee credits to sellers who met a certain set of qualifications.  These qualifications included minimum Detailed Seller Ratings of 4.6 in all four categories, as well as current Powerseller status.  At the time, most sellers were excited about having the opportunity to save money on fees that otherwise were only increasing.  Unfortunately for most sellers, these savings never became a reality.  First, for nearly two years it was impossible to find out what Detailed Seller Ratings specific buyers were leaving for sellers.  The program was completely “anonymous.”  How are eBay sellers supposed to improve customer satisfaction if they don’t know which buyers are dissatisfied and what the cause of that dissatisfaction is?  EBay has never provided a reasonable answer.

Many sellers believe eBay intentionally manipulates Detailed Seller Ratings in order to deny sellers fee discounts.  Since it is impossible for sellers, or anyone else, to calculate their own Detailed Seller Ratings, they are forced to rely on whatever eBay says their ratings are.  Because the ratings are not public, there is no evidence available for the seller to prove otherwise.  On top of that, eBay announced the very next month that they would be doing away with Mutual Feedback Withdrawal.  Mutual Feedback Withdrawal had been an opportunity for sellers to work problems out with buyers who did not contact them about problems before leaving poor feedback.  Without it, there would no longer be any opportunity, and for many, no motivation, to fix problems and get unnecessary negative feedback removed.  EBay knows that more negative feedback means lower Detailed Seller Ratings. Lower Ratings means eBay would be forced to issue fewer fee discounts.

After two years of constant complaining by many in the eBay community, eBay relented a bit and made it possible to view certain Detailed Selling Rating reports.  With a little trickery, it is now possible to find out exactly what Detailed Seller Ratings specific buyers left.  I would explain how to do this, but soon after it was reported to be possible, eBay added two sentences to their definition of ”Feedback Manipulation”

“Taking any actions, including the use of tools, to determine the Detailed Seller Ratings a buyer left for a specific transaction may also be considered Feedback Manipulation.  DSRs are meant to be anonymous.”

How exactly is checking Detailed Seller Ratings manipulation of feedback?  How does it change the scores in any way?  Why are Detailed Seller Ratings “meant to be anonymous” while positive/negative/neutral feedback ratings have always been clearly visible and attributable to specific buyers?  What exactly does eBay not want you to know?  The answers become clear.  In order for eBay to deny sellers fee discounts, they cannot allow sellers to find out what their actual Detailed Seller Ratings are.  EBay will go as far as to permanently suspend a seller who attempts to find out what Ratings buyers have left.  EBay has a tool that tells them how many Ratings reports a seller creates.  If they go over a certain threshold, an eBay employee looks over the activity and issues a policy violation.  Two policy violations in the last few months and it’s a suspension, possibly forever.

EBay should not have tied Detailed Seller Ratings to their revenue stream.  Once they did, sellers around the world lost any hope of a fair feedback system.  EBay does not want to fix the flaws inherent in the Ratings system because they would lose hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue if they did.  EBay has put themselves in an impossible position where they are forced to deny even the most reasonable requests because of their responsibility to their stock price.  We can all pray that eBay finally discontinues final value fee credits based on Detailed Seller Ratings because only then will they be willing to make the necessary repairs to a system that has been broken for two years too long.

EBay has a new trick up their sleeve.  They are stripping sellers of their Powerseller status by issuing bogus listing violations.  Look for the full story tomorrow.

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