Ebay are to pilot a new feedback system in the UK in late February as part of what they say is a more proactive approach to issues of fraud and safety on the site.
Feedback 2.0 will be tested in six additional markets – Australia, Belgium, France, India, Italy, and Poland – with plans to go global in spring or summer.
Feedback ratings are designed to measure reputation on eBay. Each time a deal is struck, buyer and seller can leave positive, neutral or negative feedback with a comment on the success or otherwise of the transaction. There have, however, been growing concerns that the simplistic system is open to abuse and has ceased to be a credible measure of trust.
Feedback 2.0 adds several new elements to the system, allowing buyers to rate trans-actions based on item description, commun-ication, delivery time, and postage and pack-aging charges. Buyers will also be able to rate sellers on a number of transaction aspects, based on a 1 to 5 scale, with 1 being the lowest and 5 the highest rating. The average of all ratings is then displayed on the seller’s Feedback Profile page.
To give buyers more information when evaluating the reputation of a seller, eBay will now display details of previous transactions beneath each comment on the Feedback Profile page for 90 days. This aims to give buyers an up-to-date view when evaluating comments. Sellers will no longer be able to make their Feedback rating private.
The new system was tested for a short time in selected markets in November to gather data. Over 80 per cent of all buyers completed the detailed seller ratings during this period.
Feedback 2.0 is part of a series of measures proposed by eBay’s Trust & Safety depart-ment. “As eBay has grown, we’ve seen an increase in the bad experiences members face due to two factors: increased fraud across the internet and a very small proportion of sellers who fail to deliver a positive buyer exper-ience,” said Garreth Griffith, head of Trust & Safety in the UK.
EBay have also looked at the issue of counterfeits on the site. Lawsuits have been filed against the online giant by both the New York jewellers Tiffany and luxury goods firm LVMH, owners of Louis Vuitton and Dior, contending that most of the products on the site purporting to carry their top brands are fakes. LVMH argue that eBay have a responsibility to prevent fraud, and yet are aiding and abetting it, first by allowing fakes to be advertised prominently on their site in a bid to attract buyers and, secondly, by knowingly profiting from commissions charged on their sale.
EBay have stated they believe these cases are without merit – they have long styled themselves as a marketplace that provides a platform for sales but takes no part in them – but now say they are putting stricter measures in place to tackle counterfeit listings.
For items that have been reported frequently by Rights Owners, eBay require additional seller verification. They have removed the ability to list these items for only one, two or three days and have put in additional restrictions for people selling these items from overseas.
EBay’s Feedback system has been cause for concern among the antiques trade for some time, with dealers claiming that their own positive feedback has been removed when they left negative feedback following difficulties with transactions.
In the light of the pending lawsuits from Tiffany and LVMH, a leading lawyer at the RICS law conference last week was adamant that it was only a matter of time before eBay were deemed to be auctioneers and would have to accept responsibility for what was sold on their site – a move that would mean vetting sales.
By Roland Arkell