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Five Tips for Better Feedback

Simple steps to get the positives you deserve


So much of the discussion about feedback focuses on how to avoid negatives that it's easy to forget to think about ways to encourage positives. There are ways, and they are surprisingly effective, so try some of these next time you make a purchase or a sale.

  1. Communicate with your trading partner. A surprising number of eBay traders never actually say anything, whether by email or any other medium of communication, to their trading partners. Communication is not only good for helping to smooth the logistical problems that sometimes arise in an eBay transaction—it also provides an ongoing sense of security to both trading partners that can ultimately lead to positive feedback even when things have gone wrong along the way. After you make a purchase or receive a payment, contact your trading partner to say, "Hi, I've won your auction and already sent my check!" or "Hi, I've just received your check and will ship your item on my way home from work!" You'd be surprised at the difference this can make.

  2. Ask for good feedback. Shockingly simple and shockingly effective, the act of informing your trading partner of your intention to earn good feedback is perhaps the single most important thing that you can do to ultimately guide a transaction toward such feedback. In the contact immediately following a sale, or even in your auction listings if you're a seller, tell trading partners that "I want you to know that I intend to earn your positive feedback in this transaction—so please be sure to let me know if you're unsatisfied in any way!" It really is that simple.

  3. Go out of your way to resolve disputes. Don't just engage in friendly chatter about how you want a transaction to be a good one—make it a good one. At each step of the game, tell your trading partner that "I'm going out of my way to try to make sure you're happy, because that's important to me." Then, do it. Don't be afraid to think in terms of payment plans, partial refunds, splitting the difference, shipping an additional bonus accessory, or anything else that might help to show your trading partner that you really are trying to make the situation work for both of you.

  4. Leave positive feedback whenever you feel that you honestly can. Retaliatory feedback was once one of the largest sources of negative feedback on eBay, and the focus on negative feedback during that period obscured a simple truth: if you feel comfortable and honest leaving a positive about someone who you think has done their best to rise to the occasion—even if you weren't quite on the same page—you may find that they'll do the same favor for you. Such feedback isn't dishonest if you make clear in the text what happened: "Some trouble, but the buyer/seller did their best to come through."

  5. Sell quality goods in an honest way. This final point should be obvious, but judging by the items some sellers post on eBay, it isn't. If you want to receive raves from buyers, send them something worth raving about in a way that will cause them to rave. Good products delivered with good service will always result in good feedback. The same can't be said for low-quality goods, knockoff goods, broken or defective goods, or (of course) stolen goods. This axiom doesn't just apply to sellers, either. Buy from sellers that you believe to be selling top quality items with top quality service. These are the sellers that also leave top-quality feedback. Beware of sellers whose listings are iffy and whose feedback is shaky—they're likely to apply the same ethic when it comes to their buyers, ultimately not bothering to comment at all.

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