Bad Feedback – Is It the End of Everything?

Happily, no. It happens to every seller sooner or later, as it rains on the just and the unjust alike. It’s important to monitor your feedback to catch these problems quickly. A prompt response will minimize the damage and time will dilute the impact on your store’s rating. Let’s look at some examples of bad feedback and what can be done to counter it.

Claims of damage or condition worse than described.

This book has loose and MISSING pages. Very disappointed.
Your Response: Loose pages included in description, but missing pages obviously unacceptable. We regret the error and have issued a full refund.

Mistakes happen and some customers will use the feedback platform to let you know about it. I don’t know why an unhappy customer doesn’t contact me first and ask to return the item, but perhaps he doesn’t understand that it’s an option – unlikely though that seems. Send an email to the customer explaining that you saw the feedback and apologizing for the problem. A full refund is appropriate in this case but you can offer a partial refund for lesser damage, e.g. some underlining that was overlooked. Use the Response button to post what you’ve done.

The book was in very bad condition
Your Response: Book delivered Feb. 3, almost two months ago. Customer never contacted us about a problem.

Amazon and Ebay have a 30 day return policy, which is a good way to limit the complaint period. No need to contact the customer after this long a period, but a public response is warranted.

Claims that make no sense.

tape was broken– cost me $15 to get fixed
Your Response: This appears to be a case of mistaken identiry. The order was in early December, for a dvd not a tape. The customer has never contacted us but has ordered more dvds.

This was another very late after purchase feedback. It seems probable that the customer was completing feedback for a bunch of orders and got careless or confused.

Customer confusion with the system.

Rating: 1

Comment: a1

This customer gave us a 1 rating (the lowest) but the comment is a1, which surely means the best. Perhaps once a year someone reverses the number rating and pairs a negative number with a glowing comment. Sigh, s/he means well. This doesn’t call for a public response; any prospective customer who cares enough to look at feedback will understand what’s happened.

Keep your public response comments brief, factual, and professional in tone. I sympathized with the seller who scolded his customer for being an unreasonable idiot, but such comments are best made in private. One early encounter with such a customer still rankles a bit, though it’s mostly funny. An order with standard shipping didn’t reach Alaska fast enough for him. In several emails and then in his feedback he ranted about his “knives from China that got there faster”. I really wanted to ask him what he paid in postage for those knives; I’ll bet it was more than $3.99.

Feedback can be removed by the customer. I sometimes write to the customer (particularly in cases like the A1) explaining the impact of a negative rating to a small seller and asking for it to be removed. A response is rare.

Feedback numbers are important as an indicator of a seller’s reliability and quality of customer service. It seems to still be a strong part of the Ebay culture to leave feedback, but with Amazon customers much less so. We receive feedback from about 20% of our Amazon customers, so each one is important in the monthly average. One negative still looks bad in the 30 day count but loses its sting in the annual, and, as your accumulation of good feedback grows, becomes statistically insignificant in the lifetime record.

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