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When I talk about feedback to new eBay sellers, I usually compare it to having one note posted on the door of a brick-and-mortar business for every transaction. At almost any business--no matter how bad the service--you would have a lot of positive transactions; and thus a lot of positive notes. As a potential shopper, you probably wouldn't bother to read all of these positive notes. Instead, you'd look to see if there were any negatives.
If you were planning to eat at a restaurant and you found a bunch of notes in big, red marker that said the food was moldy; the waiter dumped hot coffee on me on purpose; and the manager chased me out of the store with a gun, you probably wouldn't go there--or at least you'd think twice about it.
And likewise, if you wanted to buy an engagement ring, but you found a number of notes on the local jeweler's door that said I bought an engagement ring. The diamonds were fake. And the owner refused to give me a refund, you would drive out of town to another jeweler.
Feedback is a powerful tool that will ensure either your success or failure selling on eBay. This is why it is so important to use feedback carefully. You should do everything possible to see that each of the following happens: 1) every buyer gives you feedback; 2) all of that feedback is positive; and 3) every dispute or misunderstanding is resolved, resulting in: a) positive feedback, b) mutually-withdrawn feedback, or c) neutral feedback.
A lot of eBay sellers have a written feedback policy that requires the buyer to post feedback if they want feedback from the seller. This allows the seller to factor in the buyer's feedback when leaving feedback. It also forces people who wouldn't otherwise give feedback to do so.
I personally do not use this system. When I receive payment, I leave feedback immediately. My feedback is always positive and descriptive. If I have something bad to say, I try to work it out with the buyer first, rather than posting negative feedback.
In the example I used above, giving negative feedback to a buyer would be the equivalent of a store owner driving out to the buyer's house and posting a big, nasty letter on the person's door for everyone in the neighborhood to see.
Leaving negative feedback like this is not only is a bad reflection on my business, but it can also prompt retaliatory negative feedback from the buyer.
Afterall, if someone left that nasty note on your door for all of your neighbors to see, wouldn't you at least exercise your right to leave a response on the door of that someone's business?
. . .again, this is why it is so important to avoid these exchanges altogether.
In general, it is pretty easy to avoid negative feedback as an eBay seller. If you create a clear store policy and adhere to it, give refunds when they are warranted, and communicate with your customers whenever there is a problem, you shouldn't ever have to worry about negative feedback.
http://www.workathomerightnow.net/eBay.html - Written by Isaiah Hull, author of "How to Profit on eBay In Seven Days Without Spending A Single Penny." For a limited time only you can get a pre-publication copy of his book for ONE-FOURTH the post-publication price!