How to Deal with Negative Feedback

Feedback is the core component of a seller’s reputation on eBay. Buyers use Feedback scores to guide them towards trustworthy sellers. Feedback is also used by eBay to monitor the performance of sellers and reward high performers with programs such as Top Rated Seller. With Feedback being so integral to the eBay experience, it is easy to understand why receiving negative Feedback can feel devastating to a seller, especially the first time. Read on for a step-to-step guide to dealing with negative Feedback as an eBay seller.

1. Act professional

For many sellers, their eBay business is their livelihood. Receiving negative Feedback can feel personal but it is important to maintain composure when dealing with the issue. As much as it is a perfectly reasonable reaction, getting upset or angry at the buyer is not going to help – it may actually make the situation worse. Acting professional can help swing the situation in your favour. Remember that it is possible the buyer accidently left negative Feedback.

Top tips: Remain calm and collected during any communication with the buyer and/or eBay. If you feel that a buyer is trying to provoke a certain reaction, take a step back and don’t respond immediately.

2. Try to resolve the issue

The buyer is always right, as the saying goes. While every seller or business owner knows this not true, most also know that giving customers some leeway is necessary when doing business. Frustrating as maybe, it is not possible to win every battle – sometimes it is best to resolve the situation quickly (even if it means loss of profit) and move on.

Top tips: Depending on the situation, contact the customer and ask how you can help resolve the situation. Often, a refund or partial refund will resolve the problem and the buyer will retract their negative Feedback.

3a. Request Feedback revision

If the transaction issue is solved successfully, it is possible to then ask the buyer to revise their negative Feedback via the Feedback Forum. The request includes the reason for the revision and acts as a friendly prompt to buyers. Requesting a Feedback revision is also the appropriate response if a buyer has left negative Feedback accidently.

Top tips: Only one revision request is allowed per transaction. The buyer is not obligated to agree to the Feedback rating change.

3b. Ask eBay to remove Feedback

If the buyer was uncooperative and/or trying to resolve the situation was inappropriate, there is the option of asking eBay to remove the negative Feedback rating. eBay’s removal guidelines are fairly strict. As a general rule regarding disputes between users, eBay will not remove negative Feedback unless the perpetrator has broken rules concerning Feedback extortion, manipulation and offensive language.

Top tips: In certain situations out of the seller’s control, such as when a buyer leaves negative Feedback without paying for an item, the rating will be removed automatically.

4. Reply to Feedback

In the worst case scenario that you cannot get a negative Feedback rating revised or removed, the most a seller can do is to respond with a Feedback comment. The reply appears underneath the original negative Feedback comment and will help to explain the situation to future buyers. More than one comment can be left to allow for follow-ups if the buyer responds.

Top tips: A negative Feedback rating without a seller response can give the impression that they agree with the comments made by the buyer.

5. Move on

Infuriating as it can be if unresolved, the final step to dealing with negative Feedback is to just move on. It is impossible to please everyone all of the time. Keep positive – most people will only leave negative Feedback if something seriously went wrong with the transaction. Don’t let the bad buyers ruin eBay for all of the other genuine shoppers.

Some sellers prefer to skip directly to this step rather than attempting to resolve the situation with the buyer, an approach which can be successful too. After all, negative Feedback ratings are only shown for 12 months and not every buyer is looking for a perfect track record.

Top tips: Concentrate on avoiding bad Feedback in future rather than dwelling on past experiences. Accurate listings, great communication and packing items appropriately are all key factors to gaining more positive Feedback ratings.

What Not To Do

Sellers should be very careful to not violate eBay’s Feedback Extortion Policy when communicating with buyers concerning negative ratings. It is against the rules for a seller to require a buyer to leave positive Feedback in exchange for giving a partial or full refund for an item. Sellers are however allowed to ask buyers to give positive Feedback or revise previous negative Feedback after resolving a transaction. Feedback extortion is another reason to stay professional and be careful with wording before responding to buyers regarding negative Feedback ratings.

Gemma is our all things eBay expert. Originally from the UK, she now lives in Canada and travels extensively. You can read about her travels at her blog Off Track Travel.