Friday 14 March 2008

I hate feedback

Oops…it’s scary to say that, a big no-no, I know. I feel like crossing some taboo line of sorts. You are supposed to embrace feedback, either positive or not, and learn from it, or that was the original intention.

In online shops, like e-bay and in a milder way, on Etsy, is feedback, more often than not, a weapon in a power struggle between buyer and seller, a public way to air discontent. I understand very well that open feedback is supposed to protect the buyer-to-be and provide information about the other party.

It is always been our motto to treat our customers as we want to be treated when buying, but with the increase in our sales (yay!), we haven’t be able to make everybody happy, and a couple of negative feedbacks have been received.

I have never read about it in other blogs, it is like every other seller lives in perpetual bliss with the customers, and most of them leave sure enough heart warming comments, but the one percent unjust, reality distorting (to use an euphemism), negative feedback, really sucks, and we are unsure how to go about it.

Many sellers I know, only leave feedback after receiving one, in order to reciprocate in kind, but we dislike very much that system. Not only it creates a big backlog in feedback, you can argue that if a buyer has paid in a timely fashion, he/she has done his/her part, and should receive positive feedback. I really dislike the withholding of feedback to have a stick in your hand to but the other over the head (if the other hits you). But not withholding it makes you as seller very vulnerable for unreasonable demands and the misuse of feedback.

All by all, I would plait for the disappearance of feedback. In Ruby Lane is not used, but sellers are warned that their shops will be closed after two reasonable complains, what I think is very fair all around, especially because it implies the involvement of a neutral third party.

Another alternative would be to split the feedback in categories: the customer’s satisfaction with the item itself, the communication with the seller, the shipping time and costs, etc.

I know that Etsy is not going to change its feedback policy to accommodate me, and I know that I am not going to allow somebody to twist my arm in order to avoid negative feedback, but the fact is that we get rather stressed over this question, and we will like to know how others cope with this situation. So, please, friends out there, could you give us some FEEDBACK on this issue??


  1. I agree on the difficulty of feedback. I refuse to play, and as soon as a buyer has paid and communicated properly with me I leave positive feedback. If someone wants to abuse that trust it is their loss not mine. I have remained true to myself and that is what counts.

  2. I so recognize some of your feelings about feedback. I do find it unfair to withold feedback but it does make you more vulnerable. But than again I think that if you have enough positive feedback, buyers are also smart enough to know that there are just some people you cannot please. As a buyer also, i do like the feedback-system but you have to read it with some common-sense (and as a seller, i like it too - since if you give good service, it will show up in your positive feedback also)

  3. Maybe there need to be a kind of conversation-system, that you can only leave negative or neutral feedback after communicating. This for buyer and seller of course.

  4. Hmm.. I feel like I need this "security" as a buyer. But looking back at my experience on Ebay, it didn't stop me to buy from sellers with less than 20% negativ feedbacks. There I've given feedback as seller as soon as I've received the money too. But on Etsy, I'm acting as a business person and artist, not only some old books. I care about my customers. That's why I've chosen to leave them my feedback when they leave me one, since I provide a return policy and I wanna make sure, they are satisfied. But they could be honest to me and themselves and leave me a negative feedback, if they are really unsatisfied with me and our communications couldn't even make it up. It might hurt me, but I won't leave a negative feedback, as long as the process was on track (respectful, reasonable, etc.).
    The whole feedback system is such an emotional thing if you sell your own work. Wish, I could take it easy as Inger does :)

  5. The first few items I sold on Etsy left me a nervous wreck! I was worried about the feedback. I would have to be really, really, really, disappointed to leave a negative, hopefully that will never happen!
    p.s.I love your beautiful blog!

  6. Yes it is a difficult thing. The first hundred sales, I always gave feedback right after the customer paid. Then I had a strange customer giving me negative feedback for something she did not even buy from me! Got it removed, but since that time, I only give feedback when I receive it.

  7. Star, don't worry about one single negative feedback...
    I never check feedbacks when I think to buy something, maybe I'm a strange buyer! :o)
    Anyway, I think it's right (as seller) to wait the customer feedback before to leave mine, but I think feedbacks are a protection for customers as well. Maybe, as sellers, we should declare our shipping terms (refunds and so...) in a better way or offer as default a safer shipping alternatives , but it's also true that many buyers would have a super-fast and secure shipping at a super-low cost...
    So, we have to strike a balance between cost and reliability, the rest is mainly a matter of luck...

  8. I wish I had something helpful to suggest, but I don't. I like your idea of splitting it into categories, but I can see that Etsy probably won't be changing their policies.

    For what it's worth...I find it VERY hard to believe that ANYONE would leave you negative feedback. Your merchandise is outstanding!

  9. I'm the same way as Kreativlink - I used to leave feedback once paid, but then I had a customer leave me a neutral feedback because the item was smaller than she expected it to be. Nevermind that I put the measurements in the description. *rollseyes*

    What bothered me the most was that she didn't bother to message me about it. Even though it was not my error, I'm concerned about customer service so I would have found a way to make it up to her, but I wasn't given the opportunity.

    Now I wait until I receive feedback to make sure that they received their item and that everything is as they expected. I even add a line to the "Your order has shipped" email to let them know that they can still contact me if something isn't quite right with their order. In that same email, I also tell them that once they are satisfied with their order, they can leave me feedback to let me know that everything is okay.

    This approach has worked quite well for me. I like it especially because I have none of those feelings of holding them hostage by their feedback. I also feel that the customer is left with the impression that I am truly concerned with their transaction from start to finish, which I am, and therefore want to make sure they understand that as well.

    Sorry for the novel! Couldn't quite explain all that in a few lines. :)