Search This Blog

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Negative Feedback

Negative feedback is the downside of EBay & it’s going to happen sooner or later. It hurts, it’s unfair and it’s downright dirty.

I’m not talking positive criticism. That’s saying it too soft.

Negative feedback is something I’ve rarely had to deal with, but it does happen. When I first started selling on EBay, negative feedback was circular. If someone left negative feedback for an item they purchased from me, I would automatically leave negative feedback with them. An eye for an eye, right? It’s called wicked revenge.

Actually, that’s not really my philosophy, but negative feedback does leave me a bit bitter.

I have never left negative feedback without someone else “starting it” first, but EBay changed their policy a few years ago. They took power away from the seller. They no longer allow sellers to leave feedback, only buyers are granted that privilege. Why? I’d imagine it’s for the very reason I mentioned above. Maybe EBay corporate didn’t think revenge was a good enough reason to leave negative feedback.

EBay’s recommendation is if you purchase an item you are not satisfied with, contact the seller and try to resolve the problem. If after contacting the seller you are not satisfied with the resolve, then you can leave neutral or negative feedback.

Have I had buyers not happy with their purchases? Sure. Mismatched hems, undiscovered stains, irregular measurements; it’s happened with clothing I’ve sold. So what do I do in this situation?

Most of the time I offer a full refund and normally I don’t make the buyer return the item. Why put them out the cost of additional postage fees if I’m the one who made the mistake? This seldom happens, but when it does I try to be as nice as possible to the customer I’ve inconvenienced.

Now, what about mean people?

I don’t like mean people, especially when they send me a mean email. A mean email from an EBay customer is like getting yelled at by a stranger. I don’t like it.

Last week I received an email from a customer, angry that her item had not yet arrived in the mail.

“I have not received my jeans I purchased from you last week. When did you send them? Send me the tracking number or I’ll leave negative feedback!!!!!” she scolded me.

Ouch! Now my temperature is on the rise.

First of all, a tracking number only comes if the customer pays an additional fee for shipping confirmation, which she did not. And second of all, when shipping 50 to 100 things all over the world, how could I keep track of tracking numbers for every item shipped out? But is this how I resolve the problem, by sending this somewhat rude but justifiable explanation to the customer? No. I learned early on it’s never worth sending a mean email back to an already angry customer.

When I receive a mean/demanding/wicked email from an EBay customer, I take a deep breath and turn on some new age Yanni music.

I look outside my window at this beautiful world I live in and realize everything is alright. Then, I write the customer back.

In this particular case, I wrote:

“Hello friend. Thank you for your patience and communication in this situation. Your jeans were shipped 5 days ago, priority mail, so they should be there any day. Please let me know when they arrive and I hope you enjoy them.”

Now, that wasn’t too difficult was it? I always start my emails with “Hello friend.” It really seems to break the ice when a customer is raging about her $6.99 purchase. And I never leave explanation points!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What’s the point of that? Am I yelling? No, I’m never yelling in an email. It’s just not professional.

Wouldn’t you know it? In two days, I received a pleasant email from this customer, explaining her jeans arrived and were a perfect fit.


Later, I realize she’s left positive feedback.

Out of thousands and thousands of sells, I’ve received 3 negative feedbacks. Yes, three. Because most of the time when a customer is upset, I do everything I can to help ease their burden, to lighten their day and like I say under every posting I list, “I hope to make every EBay experience a great one.”

Cheesy, but it’s my philosophy.


  1. ;( A lady just gave me negative feedback because a pair of USED overalls were faded when she received them. Listed clearly in my auction that the jeans were used, worn and faded. She had a whopping 9 feedback comments, 1 negative for me and a neutral for someone else. thanks for ruining my 100% feedback newbie!!!

    PS-you are truly my inspiration Laura!!!! I think you should do a seminar about postage. I keep underestimating and costing myself money :(

  2. I just received an email from one of my customers saying they love the skirt but there appears to be some white hair on it and now they have to wash it. I'm not sure what they want me to do. I apologized, but also explained that the clothes I sell are pre-owned and washing before wearing is highly recommended. I'll have to see if this will be my first negative feedback. I used to worry about getting negative feedback, now I figure it will happen sooner or later. I'll have to go pick up a Yanni CD! (notice the exclamation point)

  3. Last week someone held payment on paypal saying she had not received the shirt she bought. I looked it up and the auction ended on the 30th, she paid on the 3rd and on the 5th she filed the complaint. What the heck?? The shirt went out on the 3rd or 4th. She said she got an email from ebay saying the item was no longer available or something. She never contacted me. I'm contacting her today to see that she got the shirt.


  4. Oh people stink! I will give you a little tip I know. If you ship thru paypal you can get a tracking number and delivery confirmation for no extra charge. I don't do near as much as you do but maybe this will help.

  5. First I have to tell you I have never been so moved to leave a comment but for this I must step out of the box.... If you could see me now you would know I am standing and applauding you with everything I am! People get angry at situations in their lives and look for someone to take it out on. Typically that creates a whirlwind of more anger and it spreads like a vicious cancer. The way you handled this diffused her anger with love. This is obviously exactly what she needed. If we all approached our daily lives with love in our hearts and in our actions the world would be trasnformed within our lifetime. Thank you for being part of the solution!

  6. My side still hurts from laughter from the point Yanni entered the conversation.

    Glad it all worked out!

  7. I think Yanni would have just put me in a more sour mood, but that's an entirely different point.

    Great job Laura. Thrift store hats off to you. Way to take the higher road. Although, because I know you so very well, I could interpret the sarcasm in your responded e-mail & it was just the jab needed to let her know she was out of line. :)

    I need to learn to not get so mouthy when someone ticks me off. Here's to step one thanks to you. Oh & thank you so very much for the pizza tonight. Delish!

  8. Hi Kelly. I am a buyer with Ebay and I decided to let you know that a buyer's product took almost one month to get to my house. Yes, I was angry, but I would not put it on paper. Found out that she had death in her family and had to leave before shipping my product. Eventually I received my item, and left positive feedback. Negative feedback is like a slap on the face but on paper. It wounds deeply. You cannot take back harsh words when you are angry. Thank you.

  9. Laughing at the "white hair on it, may have to wash" Really? Not washing before wear? Just the idea of not washing before wearing, ewwwww....

    As for my buyer, she's sending her faded overalls back for a full refund including her return shipping. I tried to explain my side of the argument, but she was hostile from her neg feedback to me trying to find a solution. My new years resolution was to seek Peace, in life, in everything so I can't wait to get this all resolved!!

    Keep up the good work Laura and Kelly, this is truly the best blog i've stumbled upon and keeps me motivated to get some junk out of my house and into the ebay world!

  10. I read this a while back and had to return and read as it has now happened to me. I had an email from a buyer that the overalls they received had a broken strap, they were "tricked", and wanted to know what I could do for them. Of course, I respond with an apology, that I pride myself with my 100% feedback (as if to say that I don't trick people), I am willing to work this out to their satisfaction, ask what they would like assuming return of purchase price and postage, and explain that it was an oversight on my part and I did not notice a broken strap. I am laying in bed anxious for a response. I can't sleep and begin playing with my iPhone Ebay app and click on feedback only to find that within minutes of sending me the original email, they also left negative feedback for me stating they were "robbed" prior to allowing me to respond. Well I couldn't take it. I got up and went to the computer so that I could send them a second email stating that I noticed their feedback and was saddened with their haste in not allowing me to make this right for them. I also stated that I looked forward to hearing from them and working this out again to their satisfaction and that I now sadly will have to pride myself with 97.4% positive feedback. I figure kill them with kindness or make them feel really rotten for not thinking this through. It is a newbie too! Now I am writing this :) I hope to get some rest soon.