By Julia Wilkinson
Note: this is part 1 of a 3 part series by guest blogger Julia Wilkinson, author of The eBay Price Guide and eBay Top 100 Simplified Tips & Tricks.
Feedback is the cornerstone of the eBay trust system. Of all activities on the site, it inspires the most visceral and emotional reactions in buyers and sellers alike. I've seen many an eBay discussion board topic with a title like "Can you *believe* she just neg'd me?" The person then goes on to vent about the transaction for paragraphs.
As both a seller and buyer, I am extremely conscious of my feedback, as most eBayers are, and have in many cases bent over backwards to make it positive. I've also used some of the tools available to keep it that way, or to erase a negative, in the most extreme example.
But I do think when it comes to feedback, an ounce of prevention is worth a proverbial pound of cure. And with eBay's feedback system about to change to "Feedback 2.0" (more on that in a bit), I think it becomes all the more important for eBayers to understand how it works and the methods they have at their disposal to potentially solve feedback problems. Below are my suggestions for keeping it positive:
Avoid Buyer Surprises: Warts-and-All Descriptions
This is the most obvious suggestion, no doubt. And yet I think a lot of sellers, even experienced sellers (and yes, I'll admit, even myself), have been guilty of whitewashing our descriptions. Sometimes just a teensy bit.
You may have a great item, but if it has even a small flaw -- it seems minimal to you -- buyers may not be so willing to overlook it.
So look at your items with a critical eye, and, though it may be difficult, be totally open in any problems they have. That does not mean you should downplay the positives…definitely lead with how great the thing is. This pink sweater is a well-known European boutique brand name, made of 100% cotton, for example. And it has no tears, and has only been worn a few times, but it does have some slight pilling. Provide close-up photos of the flaw if possible so buyers can judge for themselves how bad (or not) it is. (The sweater example is one that really happened to me, and I was surprised that the buyer was so disappointed, but I offered her a complete refund, and the feedback for the transaction wound up being fine. I'd rather be out some money than have a long-term stain on my record scaring off other, potentially more lucrative, sales. And I avoid pilling like the plague now).
If you discover the flaw after you list the item, you can revise the description. If it's after it gets a bid, you can add to the description. Or, if you get a question, you can use the answer the member question feature to respond and disclose the flaw so all potential bidders can see the response. Finally, if it's after the auction closes, you can email the bidder and make sure they're aware of it, and you may offer to pay for shipping, or other concessions to make up for it.