Over the course of my relatively short reselling career (spanning 5 years on an ad hoc basis for most and really ramping up since September last year) I have had roughly 5 negative feedback from buyers.
All have been my own fault, something that I had missed or overlooked when listing resulted in an unhappy customer and then that dreaded fall from grace of 100% positive feedback.
Sometimes the buyer would contact me after leaving this negative feedback, sometimes not.
In all previous cases I have provided a satisfactory remedy back to the buyer through either partial refunds, full refunds, or full refund plus keep the item. All of these had been on items for less than $50 so I simply learned the required lesson and chalked this up as a cost of doing business (education). After a happy resolution the next step was to send a remove negative feedback link to the buyer through eBay (Called a Feedback revision request) and after they accepted this the negative feedback was gone.
Last month, however, I noticed on my seller hub a negative feedback. My stomach became sick instantly. I had received no contact about this so it took me by surprise. It related to an item that I had sold approximately 2 weeks after the initial sale date that was priced in the hundreds of dollars. The stakes were a lot different compared to the previous occasions.
Needless to say I was annoyed.
The feedback stated that my item was very dirty, overpriced and could that they (the buyer) could have brought the same item in a thrift shop for almost 10 times less than what it sold for.
Ah the irony of that…
Anyway, I had an instinct or gut feeling that this particular buyer did actually in fact want to keep this item but wanted it at a discount, and subsequently chose to use negative feedback as a pathway to achieve this.
This is of course is pure speculation, but here are my background thoughts on this:
- This item was unique (or very limited production) and rare being old vintage, an excellent combination. Other than having a couple of marks on it (which were fully disclosed in the listing both written and with photos) was in great condition. It’s the type of item you might not see advertised for sale again for a long long time.
- Comparable sales of other similar but newer items of same brand, category told me that I was spot on with my initial pricing and to complete this sale I had actually taken an offer of approximately 40% discount to my original asking price due to the marks on it. At the time I did this I was even hesitant in accepting this offer as I likely could have achieved a better price but chose a fast turnover instead.
- I had 30 day returns on this listing, returning was always an option for this buyer.
- The feedback left had 2 separate references to price, being overpriced (funny because they made the offer in the first place) and able to buy in a thrift shop for $X which I knew to be untrue as I had already paid 4x the figure stated in the feedback (and even I thought I had gotten a bargain at that price at that time).
Therefore as above, I concluded that the real motivation for the negative feedback was price paid vs perceived value.
This is the true nature of a sale, that is, value must outweigh the price.
Perhaps my own view of perceived value for this item is skewed or biased as I have been doing this a while now, I considered this argument then discarded it after using a peer test, that is, would another customer having this same item in the same condition generate the same result (a negative feedback)? The answer, I thought, was no. There would be many people that would be super stoked to own this item in its current condition with some minor marks.
Still, was there anything else I could have done to move the value to this customer upwards? Yes, I believe there was, perhaps the packaging could have been improved and was not to their liking (**There was not a lot of physical room to improve it**) or a simple thank you card could have made the difference (**Something a recent continuous improvement iteration has implemented using thank you labels on all new sales**)
So with the above reasoning I chose to do nothing but wait and see if a return or case eventuated. This of course meant having to sit with this feedback blemish on my account for another 2 weeks until after the return window closed whereby I could contact eBay directly for an appeal and request removal of this feedback.
The Appeal Request To Remove Negative Feedback
The following is a summary of the chat transcript with my thoughts in italics. I currently have a feedback score of more than 500 and have been a longtime eBay member (10 years now), this may or may not be a contributing factor to the outcome.
Initial Chat Request: Noticed I have Received A Negative Feedback, Would like it to be removed.
Thoughts: Just a simple to the point request, all the details will be sent through in a while.
eBay Rep: Welcome to eBay Plus Premium Service! This is:
Thoughts: This may or may not have any influence with this appeal but being a member of eBay Plus which costs $49 per year provides actually some great benefits for sellers such as almost instant customer service (you being the customer). Being a member of a Premium Service may just bring you that – Premium Service. This has been mentioned a few times on some of the podcasts I listen to regarding stores based in the US, whereby Anchor Store holders (the highest tier) have a different team of eBay specialists who provide support for these accounts. Perhaps a similar thing applies with eBay Plus?
Me: The request is in reference to item 16XXXXXXXXXXX
Thoughts: You want provide the item number straight away. Make it easy for the consultant to complete their interaction with you. I’m not sure what metrics they work to but I imagine time would be one of them, therefore anything you can do upfront to save the consultant time will be appreciated. I have been thanked every time I have done this. Help them help you.
eBay Rep and Me: Greetings back and forward
Thoughts: I always ask the eBay Rep how they are and on this occasion I added that I had just had several quick sales which I thought was great. This may seem trivial but treating people with respect goes a long way, make anyone you talk to feel like you actually give a shit, because you actually do right – you do want people to have a good day. The reference to the sales was both truth and a extremely subtle reminder that sellers are a big part of the business.
Me: Provided a list of points why I believed the feedback should be removed.
- Firstly I accepted an offer of $X from a list price of $X, a large substantial discount to the original asking price.
- I took great care to ensure this item was clean when listing.
- I was also very clear in my condition details that the item had a couple of marks on it and referenced this fact against the listing photos.
- The buyer chose not contact me.
- The buyer chose not to utilise the 30 day returns which are available.
- And finally the buyer has chosen to make the offer at the price accepted so it cannot be over priced.
- Lastly speculation on buying something at a thrift shop is just that speculation and not based on facts.
Thoughts: Again, I prepared the above before engaging in the chat to save time. This also has the benefit of being able to organise thoughts coherently. I did submit each line on the list as its own entry during the chat. I stuck with facts only and made it clear that the buyer did have remedies available to them but made a choice not to use them.
eBay Rep: The eBay Rep then took a couple of minutes to review the listing and removed feedback with the reason that I had listed the item condition clearly within the item condition section within the listing.
Me: Thank you to the eBay Rep.
And there you have it.
Plan ahead with the item number and your points of argument to save time during the chat.
Deal in facts, your ego is irrelevant. Put your best lawyer brain on to argue for your claim.
Be courteous to the eBay Rep always (no matter the outcome). Remember you are operating within eBay’s system. If you did something stupid or forgot to do something altogether then own it, learn from it and move on.
Review this experience to improve your business. Could you have done anything different to prevent this from occurring in the first place or occurring again in the future?