eBay’s feedback system is one of the central pillars of eBay’s business model. Because eBay connects buyers and sellers who have never met before and who may live on opposite ends of the earth, it’s vital for each party in the transaction to be able to evaluate the trustworthiness of their trading partner.
The feedback system is relatively clear in theory. This breakdown explains how it works in practice, including what feedback numbers are good and which ones are bad and what else to look for when evaluating the feedback of a potential trading partner.
Evaluating Feedback Percentage
The feedback percentage, which is calculated as the total percentage of transactions for the member that were rated positively, is a good indicator of an eBay member’s trustworthiness, the likelihood that they are honest traders that intend to hold up their end of the bargain and that are capable of doing so. Here is a rough guide for evaluating feedback percentages.
- 100 percent Feedback Percentage: Perfect. This buyer/seller has no negative ratings thus far; no-one they have dealt with has been dissatisfied.
- 99.8 percent to 99.9 percent Feedback Percentage: Excellent. Only 1-2 of every 1,000 trading partners have been dissatisfied when dealing with this person.
- 99.4 percent to 99.7 percent Feedback Percentage: Very good. Only 3-6 of every 1,000 trading partners have been dissatisfied when dealing with this person.
- 99.0 percent to 99.3 percent Feedback Percentage: Good. As many as 1 in every 100 trading partners have been dissatisfied when dealing with this person.
- 98.0 percent to 98.9 percent Feedback Percentage: Fair. As many as 1 in every 50 trading partners have been dissatisfied when dealing with this person.
- 95.0 percent to 97.0 percent Feedback Percentage: Somewhat poor. As many as 1 in every 20 trading partners have been dissatisfied when dealing with this person.
- 90.0 percent to 96.0 percent Feedback Percentage: Poor. As many as 1 in every 10 trading partners have been dissatisfied when dealing with this person.
- Below 90.0 percent Feedback Percentage: Beware! More than 1 in every 10 trading partners has been dissatisfied when dealing with this person—and your chances of being dissatisfied when trading with them are pretty good as well.
In practice, it rarely pays to try to buy from sellers with a feedback percentages below 99.0 percent, and you should do your utmost to find sellers with feedback percentages that are higher than this. By the same token, it rarely pays to keep bids from buyers with feedback percentages below 90.0 percent, and you should do your utmost to watch your auctions and cancel such bids.
Evaluating Feedback Score
Feedback scores are calculated as the total of positive ratings from unique trading partners minus the total of negative ratings from unique trading partners. Feedback scores are, therefore, the primary indicator of an eBay member’s level of experience as an online trader. Higher numbers mean more experience.
Experience is important for several reasons. It means that the member in question will be more adept at solving problems as they arise. Experienced sellers are also more likely to be prompt in shipping and to pack items carefully, to deliver items that match their descriptions closely, and to be available for questions or communication.
Experienced buyers, on the other hand, are more likely to pay quickly and to provide clear shipping details and a correct address. They are also less likely to cancel bids. Here is a rough guide for evaluating feedback scores.
- 1000+ Feedback Score - Veteran trader: This eBay member has bought and/or sold a very large quantity of goods on eBay. They know what they are doing and likely know how to handle any problems that come up. They have also followed to rules over the long term—at least long enough to have built up a score this high.
- 500-999 Feedback Score - Very Experienced: This eBay member has bought and/or sold a very large quantity of goods on eBay and is likely to be able to follow through on all counts.
- 100-499 Feedback Score - Experienced: This eBay member has been trading long enough to have encountered most of the types of complications that arise when trading online, and are experienced enough to help inexperienced buyers/sellers along.
- 50-99 Feedback Score - Somewhat Experienced. This eBay member is hitting their stride on eBay. They may not have traded as much as some, but they aren’t clueless either. In most circumstances, they will be on top of things, though complex issues may still present delays.
- 10-49 Feedback Score - Somewhat Inexperienced: This eBay member isn’t brand new, but they may not have had to face many of the common issues with shipping, payment, and communication that can arise in online trading. Best paired with an experienced trading partner.
- 0-9 Feedback Score - Inexperienced and/or New to eBay: This eBay member may be well-intentioned, but they will need help at every step of the transaction. They are unlikely to be fast in paying (if a buyer) and/or shipping (if a seller), and they are likely to make mistakes. They have also not traded long enough to demonstrate a commitment to their trading partners under all conditions. Trade with patience and caution.
In practice, only experienced traders should enter into transactions with anyone having a feedback score less than 10, and anyone with a feedback score less than 50 should give pause to anyone who isn’t at least somewhat experienced. There are several other feedback factors to pay attention to when viewing buyer or seller feedback profiles. These aren’t expressed as numbers in the same clear fashion, but they can be very indicative of the type of experience you’ll have nonetheless.
- eBay Join Date: Near the top of every feedback profile, just below the eBay member ID, you’ll see the phrase “Member since,” followed by a date. This is the date on which the member in question first joined eBay. Give preference to traders who have been eBay members for a very long time. It indicates that they follow the rules and keep their trading partners happy over time, and are committed to maintaining their eBay membership in good standing.
- Individual Transaction Comments: Every feedback rating, whether positive, negative, or neutral, is accompanied by a comment. Most positive comments are fairly uninformative, but negative comments can tell you a lot about the types of problems you’re likely to encounter with this trader. For example, repeated “Did not pay after winning!” negatives indicate that a buyer may be hesitant to pay for auctions that he or she has won, while repeated “Took four weeks for item to arrive!” negatives indicate that you may have a long wait ahead of you if you buy an item from a given seller.
- Responses to Negatives: If the member has received negative feedback ratings, check the negative comments to see if the member in question has responded to them. Often this response can tell you a lot. A seller who responds with “I’m sorry you were dissatisfied—please contact me!” is likely to be much easier to work with than a seller who responds negatively to the derogatory feedback.