eBay changes feedback UI for consumers – now has a ‘Show me the Negs!’ feature….

June 16, 2010

On 6/14/10 eBay announced and then rolled out a tweak to feedback that allows users to filter the feedback and see just the positive/negative/neutrals instead of only being able to see the combined feedback as was the norm.   We typically call this the eBay negative feedback filter and it has been a long time coming.  I couldn’t find any discussion about this, but this was raised as a feature by eBay in 2007/2008 if I recall and seller outrage made them rethink and punt on the feature at the time.  It’s always been an option in singapore and some buyers recommend going to the .sg site and loading a sellers feedback there.

In fact there are several online utilities that have been built to give buyers the same functionality such as:

  • Toolhaus – This one has been around forever and has a lot of usage (20k+/m) as it is the top result in google for ‘filter ebay negative’.
  • feedbackselector – Allows you to also search the item text – e.g. show me all the negs for watch sales vs. ‘all’ sales.
  • abef – A better ebay filter – this one is a very popular greasemonkey script.

Here we are in 2010 and eBay slid the feature out yesterday with nary a whimper from sellers.  Let’s look at the feature from both a buyer and seller perspective and I’ll offer a strategy for sellers at the end.

Buyer perspective /use case and a tour

From a buyer’s perspective, I do like the feature as it a) saves me time from looking through page after page of feedback and b) let’s me educate myself on the types of bad experiences I could face and c) see what the seller has to say about it (if anything).

Here’s a tour and a use case wrapped in one.

Let’s say I’m considering buying something from eBay’s new FashionVault flash sale experience – which goes under the seller ID stylepremium.  I look at their feedback and notice three things of concern:

  • They have a 99% positive rate which is promising
  • They are not a top rated seller (which means they are a Above Standard Seller, but not eTRS)
  • There’s a gnarly 4.4 star on shipping and handling (for 12 months, 4.0 for last 30 days – ouch! Wait, doesn’t that violate the seller performance standards of a 4.6 minimum? I digress. )
  • 30 day negatives are 14 and there’s 43 over the course of 6 months so they are accelerating

Before the negative feedback filter functionality, I would have to look  for the 15 negatives in a sea of 800 feedbacks  At 25 / page that would be 32 pages of feedback with an average of a negative every other page.

Now with this change, I can click on the ’43’ in the feedback ratings panel and it automagically shows me just the 43 negatives for the last 6 months for this seller: (click to expand)


A quick scan of this feedback reveals a lot about that 4.4 star:

  • Most comments talk about two weeks shipping time as a problem
  • There is some incidence of the wrong product being shipped.
  • Generally the seller is issuing refunds for people that have a terrible experience.

Now as a buyer I can decide if I am willing to risk great prices in exchange for a possible long wait time, but know that if I get the wrong product, I can probably expect a hassle-free refund.

That’s a lot more information than a 4.4 / 5.0 rating on a star.

Seller perspective

From a seller’s perspective, you need to be aware that there is now a huge spotlight that buyers can shine on your negative feedback.   Even if you are a 99% positive, you need to remember that buyers can and will choose to just look at your negatives. Also as you can see, buyers say some really scary stuff in feedback like fraud, scam, took my money, etc.  So you need to be aware that a) they can say pretty much whatever they want and b) buyers can now see all of that on one filtered page without all those positives to help pull the punches.

eBay Strategy – Be sure to respond to all negative/neutral feedback!

This brings us to a strategy that was a minor thing we generally recommend, but has now gone from a ‘if you have time to think about it’ to a ‘you need to make this a top priority part of your customer service processes’.

Some sellers don’t realise that eBay allows you as a seller to publicly respond – right in the feedback page there – to feedback.  I strongly, STRONGLY, recommend sellers start doing this now that this filtering is in place.  Compare the stylepremium feedback where you only have the negative customer voice to this camera seller’s (ETRS, 99.6%, 4.9, 4.7, 4.8, 4.9) feedback where they have responded to every negative:


You can see that a feedback reply takes a negative like: “Did not include the bag as advertised”  and adds the seller’s comment of: “Please call us and allow us to reconcile…” and more than softens the problem, it makes you wonder why eBay doesn’t make buyers talk to sellers before leaving a negative (but I digress) – in any case it really helps with the perception and when you see it all on a page, you can tell this seller cares as they respond to every (well, all 3) negative.

In conclusion, this feature is going to shine a bright light on all of your negatives – you should take some time and gussy them up so they make it clear to buyers that you care and are going to attend to their problems as quickly as possible.

Customer service week at eBay Strategies (next week)!

This change at eBay and new strategy got me thinking – it’s becoming increasingly important at eBay, Amazon and pretty much everywhere across the internet to have great customer service – why don’t we spend a week or so covering topics really related to that important part of e-commerce.   We spend a LOT of time with retailers and capture a ton of best practices so I thought it would be interesting to have a week where we really drill in on a broad overall topic like customer service.  Next week, we’ll be featuring a post a day about customer service – best practices, NPS, eBay-oriented customer service, Amazon, etc.  Stay tuned and let me know in comments if there are any specific customer service topics you’d like to discuss.