Monday, April 28, 2008

Leave Feedback Immediately You Get Paid

I left a comment on AuctionInsights blog which had a typical response from someone who has been educated by eBay in the fine art of unsafe buying. I am going to respond here because it ties in with my reading of Lorrie Norrington's keynote address at the ECMTA-PeSA Spring 2008 eCommerce Summit in New Orleans last week.

I have read and re-read Ms Norrington's speech. It is a prime example of using a lot of words to say nothing new. There are examples of Bayspeak, deception by ommission and eBay New Math, for example on the subject of PowerSeller discounts

Well, I’m proud to say that we have Q1 results….all sellers
have improved their DSR scores over the last 10 weeks, and
as expected, 60% of PowerSellers – in fact 63% - did qualify
for at least a 5% discount on both their March and April
invoices. 30% of all PowerSellers, have qualified for the
15% discount
These figure do not connect with the figures stated by the PowerSellers themselves, who stated unequivocally that 40% of the five top sellers will loose PowerSeller status. Additionally they do not jibe with the number of sellers who are reporting they were told they do not qualify on even though their dashboards tell them they do qualify. Are Ms Norrington's figures referring to a percentage of the sellers who will retain PS status after the 'demotion' is implemented?

Ms Norrington's statement
Sellers with strong DSR scores are going to fare very, very
well on eBay. You will get better pricing, better visibility and
an unmatched opportunity to reach customers and turn
inventory to cash.

is a perfect example of Bayspeak, this is what I said, but not what I meant. I have strong DSR scores Ms Norrington, you said I will get better pricing. Of course that is not what you meant, I am not a PowerSeller, therefore no matter how high my levels of customer satisfaction I am unworthy of any consideration as a customer.

I note some phrases from the 'disgruntled noise' creeping into official pronouncements. Our leaders are using the phrase 'our customers', although there is still confusion as to exactly whom the buyers are buying from.
Today, everyone at eBay recognizes that we have to
fight hard each and every day to win your business because
you – along with our buyers – are our customers.
Given the percentage of Gross Sales Value eBay takes from Sellers there may well be grounds for that stance.

However, this quote
buyers were telling us that retaliatory negative feedback was one of the primary reasons why they reduced their shopping on eBay. This was clearly something we had to address … and quickly.
For sellers, we believe, this is much less of an issue,
because your primary concern is, and should be, whether
you are paid for your merchandise.

best illustrates the disconnect between the MBA talking about 'her' buyers and the seasoned and successful retailers she was talking down to.

This was echoed by Ken commenting on the AuctionInsight blog who said
I think the feedback change is a good thing. There are sellers selling useless wholesale lists and they have 100% feedback, isn’t suspicious to anyone?

The only thing a seller should care about is if he gets paid or not.

Ms Norrington you are wrong!

I say to both Ken and Ms Norrington, it is fairly obvious that you are NOT a seller. You both said "The only thing a seller should care about is if he gets paid or not."
and you are both wrong. From a buyer's viewpoint you are completely wrong. From a Seller's viewpoint; don't quit your day job, you are not going to make it.

Yes, it is important to a seller that they get paid. That is, after all, the point of the exercise and not even worth mentioning because "without consideration there is no contract" (if money does not change hands there is no deal).

THE most important thing to a seller is that the expectations of the buyer are met, that the buyer is happy with the deal.

This requires communication so that buyer expectations are knowledgeable and realistic. It requires a businesslike and methodical approach so that orders do not get overlooked, knowledge of packing techniques so the item arrives safely and is shipped rapidly by the method with the most efficient speed to cost ratio.

An unhappy buyer will broadcast his unhappiness far and wide. You Ken, are still broadcasting about your 'useless wholesale list' and how long ago was that? Your expectations were naive and unrealistic and the bad seller you bought from did not tell you commerce doesn't work that way, or you would not have bought.

A happy buyer will come back again and again. They will tell their friends and their satisfaction will grow your business. When I state in my listings "I will leave feedback when you tell me you are happy with your deal" I also state "if you are not happy it's not sold, send it back and I will refund you." All you have to do is email me and say 'it has arrived I love it' and I will give you feedback because it is now a done deal. If you do not like your purchase the deal is not done until I have the item back and you have your refund.

As a buyer would you rather have that kind of guarantee or instant feedback and no recourse?

I do not dispute that retaliatory feedback is a serious problem on eBay. Look at automated feedback programs. There can be no doubt that any program that responds with 'like for like feedback' is both retaliatory and meaningless, in the process devaluing the whole concept of feedback. Who uses these programs? What is the easiest and least disruptive way to put a stop to this practice? Prevent use of the programs.

I will end with a quote from eBay Help pages.
Leaving Feedback is voluntary; however, eBay encourages all members to leave Feedback after each transaction is complete.
Ms Norrington said in the brief question and answer session immediately following her speech
My advice is as soon as your buyers pay you, give them positive feedback.
This would indicate that Ms Norrington does not understand the concept of customer service and buyer satisfaction any better than she understands the point at which the deal is done. Looking at eBay, why am I not surprised?

Ms Norrington finished her speech with a quote
You ain't seen nothing yet
Ain't that the truth? We are still waiting to see something Ms Norrington, but meanwhile we are selling elsewhere.


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Anonymous said...

I for one am terrified at the potential for destruction in the upcoming weeks to the sellers on eBay. It seems obvious to me that the changes made can not make that marketplace/venue better, they can only further the chaos that started some time ago.

Hoping I am wrong about the direction eBay is headed, and have prepared my own "diversification" by opening stores on a select number of the smaller "eBay alternatives." Some of these sites have great people working for them and great "homey" atmosphere, but I have to wonder if their servers and smaller staffs are prepared for the mass exodus of sellers from eBay.

Reading Norrington's lip service to power sellers, particularly when she parrots the verbiage out there on the blogs from "the noise" does not make me feel any more confident that those who are afraid that the changes in place and coming are in any way going to improve business for us. Spin-doctoring and blithe obliviousness to the customers' real needs and concerns seems a very inept way to run a multi-billion-dollar company... but there you have it.

Anonymous said...

Well Henrietta, I hope you're sitting down...

You and I have had many discussions about eBay and their new changes, rules, etc. I think it's safe to say that we disagree on a great many points. However, I do agree with you 100% on this one.

When we first discussed this, I agreed with Ms. Norrington and Ken. Upon further reflection, I see that you are right on the money. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

There is definitely a disparity between Power Sellers and regular sellers. As a Power Seller I can honestly say that the rules are bent in our favor. All the new rules and changes are meant to benefit us, the Power Sellers with high DSR's, and not Joe Average Seller. I have seen this in my experience with eBay this last week. They have done things for me that I know no average seller would receive.

I also agree that no negative feedback for buyers is a BAD thing. Although eBay has changed this outlook slightly (which I shared with you the other day), I see your point when you talk about the bad customer for whom one bends over backwards and later leaves neutral or negative feedback. Not cool! I have also come to realize that for someone like myself, who relies on eBay for their sustenance, the need to play ball is great. However, each day that passes makes me realize that your years of experience with eBay make you an expert in pointing out things that "newbies" like myself do not see. I'll say it again...mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!!

The Harmony Collection said...

Well said!!!!