Friday, May 3, 2013

eBay feedback and seller reliability

One of the most common questions about buying online is “how do I trust this random guy to actually send me what I bought?”. This is indeed one of the most important things to think of when dealing with online shopping and eBay’s executives are spending huge amounts of resources into making that leap of logic.

The primary mechanism for evoking trust in the buyer community is the feedback system. On eBay, every user, buyer and seller alike, has a score, which is comprised of the number of transactions the person has completed on eBay, and a quality score. The transaction number is simple enough, and the quality score is a percentage between 0 and 100 which indicate on what percent of the transactions did that user receive “positive” feedback. For example, if the user’s score looks like this:

mandmbeads (842  )
99.6% Positive feedback

Then it means the user has completed 842 deals (which combines the items that person bought and sold). The 99.6% score means that 839 of these sales concluded with a positive outcome, as graded by customers. To be more precise, the % score is only calculated for sales during the last year. For example, the seller might have sold only 294 items during the past year, and only ONE of these 294 sales was a negative experience, and so 99.6% of 294 are 293. This system allows the score to be more reflective of the sellers conduct recently, so if a seller was bad and then improved, he would be “forgiven”, and if he was good and then started rounding corners, that would also be reflected.

Another thing that’s important to remember about these scores is that their scope can be misleading. For example, you might see a seller with a 95% score, and think that it was a terrific fellow (because getting 95% on a test means you’re a pretty smart student…right?). In reality, though, scores given by users are quite forgiving in relation to real life. In the eBay scale, a seller with 95% is a HORRIBLE one. I recommend you prefer sellers with at least 99%, and never buying from any seller that has less than 98%. Naturally, consider the deal number too, because a seller with a low number means a guy who is not very experienced, and also means that the % score for it can be a statistical anomaly (because you can’t really evaluate something based on a small sample). I would suggest preferring sellers with at least 100 transactions, and to never buy from someone with less than 50 transactions on his record. On the other hand, sellers with a very LARGE amount of transactions can also be a problem, because these sellers have such a huge volume that they are less likely to care about a dissatisfied customer. For a seller who moves 5000 items a month, even 10 angry customers will barley affect his overall score, so he is more likely to just ignore such a customer.

Want to learn more? Read more articles on my blog, or better yet, attend my public class on eBay buying. Click here to find more details and about the next class dates.

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