Surprise Effect of DSRs on eBay Buyers
I got very surprised over the last week at a discussion on Triiibes.com. Triiibes is a locked up, invite-only online community mostly of genius marketing heads, headed by Seth Godin. The forum and blog posts are not just about marketing, but many of us approach topics with our marketing hats on.
Last week, a guy posted that he couldn't believe what his eBay seller emailed him. Basically, the eBay seller emailed him that he/she wanted all 5 stars in DSRs because if he/she didn't get them, eBay would raise his/her fees, and he/she would then have to raise his/her shipping fees.
Now, I think we can ALL agree that your shipping price is NOT the place to raise to make up for fees, especially with eBay's new approaches to monitoring and capping shipping prices. And let's be logical. If you're getting lower scores for shipping pricing, RAISING your shipping pricing is not going to help!
But back to the discussion on Triiibes. The original person who posted seemed very bothered at what I'll call emotional blackmail from the seller... like leave me perfect scores, or hurt my business. It was a discussion forum post, and other people started writing in. The main tone of their replies? Give that seller LOWER scores than you were planning so that he/she can learn a lesson about marketing. The people replying thought it was really in bad taste for the seller to have emailed such a note.
- One person even suggested leaving lower ratings to teach this seller a lesson about marketing, and then to email the seller about what he/she could have done better.
- Someone else wrote that what the seller said sounded desperate, which it does because we know it is.
- Someone else suggested trying to retract your bid with that seller, and not buy from him/her at all (not realising that the sale probably already happened).
- Someone said to not buy from this person again because asking for high ratings this way feels like extortion.
- Someone else suggested asking the seller for 50% off to give high ratings, not knowing that's extortion. Oops!
- Someone else suggested writing back to ask what this seller did that was so worthy of 5-star service. Other people wrote in to say the seller should earn it, and not beg for it.
- Someone else called this blackmail, and said other businesses could NOT get away with asking for high ratings or else someone gets fired or prices go up.
Then I wrote in. The problem was that these people in this forum discussion had NO idea what is going on for eBay sellers. I explained DSRs to them, and how if you don't meet certain standards, you can lose discounts, lose favour in search results, and eventually just be suspended. So NOT getting 5 stars is a real concern for people, especially when eBay is not letting buyers know that a rating of 4 is technically BAD. You might leave a 4 thinking that is a great score, but you could be completely murdering your seller's business, which would be odd if you were leaving them a 4 because you LIKED them and were happy!
The tone changed again. The people involved in the discussion were outraged, and wanted eBay's ear. They wanted eBay to know these main things:
- They do NOT want sellers under this kind of pressure. It's not going to bring out the best in people.
- Sellers are paying too much to eBay in fees to have to also go this far to save their own hides. "eBay is not doing good by the very people who make eBay work." Yes, two non-eBay sellers actually said these two statements! :)
- They do not want to be emotionally blackmailed by every seller. They don't want to be begged for the highest ratings "or else."
- They felt that only truly 5-star sellers should get 5 stars, and not because they begged for 5 stars. If people who don't deserve 5 stars are getting it out of buyer guilt over eBay's system, or if sellers are getting lower scores because people are angry at the DSR begging, then you have a system that doesn't work and isn't made up of honest ratings.
- Even if a seller doesn't beg, now that these buyers know what is really going on, they know that leaving anything but a 5 can kill a seller's entire business. They don't want that weight on them. A 4 should be a great mark, and not a death knell. These people now seemed uneasy about eBay buying.
- "Quality cannot survive in a marketplace that concentrates on the lowest possible price. That kills diversity and favors large sellers."
These people were really upset at this, and I was just surprised. I guess I had become desensitised to what life under DSRs is like for an eBay seller. It's just a given. And yeah, you ask for 5 stars because you don't know what else to do. Get enough 4 star ratings, and you are thrown off of eBay. But now ASKING could get you lower ratings and unhappy buyers. What will sellers do?
I hope eBay will rethink their system. I have always been FOR DSRs and for high seller standards, but I have always felt that eBay went too far when they made a 4 a bad score. Reading what international marketing geniuses are saying about this just wakes me up. They wanted this said publicly, so I'm saying it here, and hopefully some of them will comment in the blog.