Whatever you call it-an online auction house, the world’s largest flea market, or a vast social experiment-no metaphor completely describes the huge trading community that is eBay. Underneath it all, eBay is also a computer program and a complex socio-economic system, requiring experience, finesse, and the right tools to master. eBay Hacks, 2nd Edition has been completely revised and updated to make use of an array of new tools and features, as well as to reflect the changes in the eBay API, eBay’s policies, and general practices of its increasingly sophisticated users. In all, the new edition of eBay Hacks sports 30 brand-new hacks plus dozens of hacks that have been expanded, deepened, or otherwise completely rewritten. eBay Hacks shows you how to become a more efficient buyer and seller with clever tricks and shortcuts that will surprise even the most experienced eBayers. The book’s wide range of topics covers all aspects of using eBay, such as advanced searching techniques, sniping tools, selling strategies, photography tips, and even research techniques for PowerSellers.But eBay Hacks doesn’t just cover the basics; you’ll learn how to write scripts to automate tedious tasks, take better photos, and tap into the eBay API to develop your own custom tools. Unlike no other book, eBay Hacks, 2nd Edition also provides insight into the social aspects of the eBay community, with diplomatic tools to help to get what you want with the least hassle and risk of negative feedback. This bestseller supplies you with the tools you need to master eBay, whether as a buyer or seller, casual surfer or serious collector, novice or seasoned expert. With this guide, you will become a savvy power user who trades smarter and safer, makes more money, enjoys successes, and has fun doing it.
From the Publisher
eBay Hacks, 2nd Edition has been completely revised and updated with 30 brand-new hacks, plus tons of expanded, deepened, or otherwise completely rewritten hacks. Learn clever tricks and shortcuts, such as advanced searching techniques, sniping tools, selling strategies, photography tips, and even research techniques for PowerSellers. This bestseller supplies you with the tools you need to master eBay, whether as a buyer or seller, casual surfer or serious collector, novice or seasoned expert.
About the Author
David A. Karp, the author of the first edition of eBay Hacks, is also the author of eight other O Reilly books, including the Windows Annoyances series, Windows XP in a Nutshell, and Windows XP Pocket Reference. He also served as the editor for PayPal Hacks. He frequently writes for PC Magazine, in which he never forgets to plug his latest O Reilly book.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Hack #6 Withhold Feedback
Know when to hold ’em, and know when to leave em.
The trouble with the global village is all the global village idiots.
The biggest flaw (and in some ways, the biggest strength) of eBays feedback system is the risk of retaliation. You leave negative or neutral feedback for someone, and they willwithout considering the circumstances or whos at faultdo the same for you. That is the fear, and that is the reason why many people simply let problems slide.
But the risk of retaliation also reminds people that they are responsible for their own words; if there were no consequences, people would leave negative feedback with abandon, and wed have even more problems on our hands.
I wont deny that the risks sometimes outweigh the gains. Sometimes a bidder has a seemingly legitimate reason for not paying. Perhaps a seller is inexperienced, and while a particular transaction might not have gone very smoothly, it wasnt due to any malice by the seller. Do these people necessarily deserve blemishes on their records? Perhaps not, but they dont necessarily deserve praise, either. In other words, sometimes the best move is no move at all.
Who Goes First
Often the fear of retaliation can work to your advantage. Say youre a seller, and someone has just purchased an item from you. The bidder pays in full, and you go ahead and reward the bidder with positive feedback. But when the bidder receives the item, hes not happy. Since youve already played your hand, the bidder then feels free to file negative feedback, or simply threatens to do so.
On the other hand, if you withhold feedback, the bidder will be much more likely to pursue a diplomatic solution to any problems that come up. Instead of leaving negative feedback, the bidder might politely request a refund, or, better yet, might even go away and not bother you at all.
For this reason, a wise seller will usually wait until the customer has left positive feedback, or at least wait for confirmation that the item has been received and the buyer is happy.
But what about the buyer? If an otherwise happy bidder leaves positive feedback for the seller, isnt there still risk of negative feedback from the seller? In a word, no. Once a seller has shipped, the seller has everything he or she mightve wanted. Unless the bidder does something grievously wrong, the seller has no reason to leave anything but positive feedback.
If Theres Doubt
Not everybody retaliates. Some people never even leave feedback, negative or otherwise. If youre worried about retaliation, theres a pretty easy way to predict what any given user will do. Just go to the users feedback profile page and click the Left for Others tab to view all feedback written about others by that member.
Here, youll be able to easily tell how diligent someone is about leaving feedback, how prone she is to leaving negative feedback, and how likely she is to retaliate if a complaint is lodged against her. See “Appraise an eBayers Reputation” [Hack #1] for ways to more easily locate individual negative comments on the member profile page.
Just in Case
One of the best ways to lessen the effect of a single negative or neutral comment in your profile is to bury it with more-recent positive comments. And, as luck would have it, theres a way to help determine the order of feedback comments you receive.
Suppose youre anticipating negative feedback from someone; once it arrives, itll stick out like a sore thumb. But it just so happens youve completed one or two other recent transactions, for which youre expecting positive comments.
The key is to withhold feedback for the positive transactions until the threat of the negative comment has passed. If you get a negative comment, go ahead and leave positive feedback for any applicable transactions right away; with any luck, those members will reciprocate and leave positive comments for you soon thereafter. The more-recent comments will appear above the older negative one, effectively burying it.
Naturally, there are no guarantees; this tip works only under the assumption that the other eBay members are withholding their feedback until they get comments from you, as described earlier in this hack. But sometimes, all it takes is a little careful timing to make the best out of a bad situation.