Check that Feedback before you click

WHAT INTENDING BUYERS SHOULD DO BEFORE THEY BID

Once you’ve found something you like on Trade Me, it’s tempting to move directly into Buying Mode and bid for that sucker.

Not so fast.

First, check out the seller (look at the box at the bottom of the listing labelled “About the seller”):

  • If the seller has a high number of feedbacks (such as 300 in the example above) and a score of 98-100% positive — and has been a member of Trade Me for several years — then you can stop digging through the feedback. Those results aren’t going to tell you anything more — clearly this particular Trade Me member has been trading responsibly on Trade Me so far. If their behaviour has suddenly changed, you won’t be able to tell that from their past record.
  • On the other hand, if they only have a small number of feedbacks (under fifty, say) or if they have a score below 95%, you owe it to yourself to investigate further. Click on the feedback number (eg 300 in the above example) and you’ll be taken through to the feedback comments.
  • Once there, you can review whether their feedback comes from Buying or Selling by clicking on the tab near the top of the page.

    If all their feedback comes from buying, then you can’t draw any conclusions as to their credibility as a seller. You’ll have to use other criteria to judge whether the item on sale is a risky purchase or not (see TRADE ME SUCCESS SECRETS for a comprehensive list of suggestions on what to look for).

On the other hand, if they have amassed reasonable feedback from selling, take a closer look.

From the feedback pages you’ll be able to see:

  • the buyer rating (yellow smiley = happy camper, blue = disgruntled but not fatally, red = Danger, Will Robinson)
  • the actual comment left by the purchaser, which can (very occasionally) illuminate the feedback
  • the auction number, linked to the actual auction (if you want to drill deeper and see what was purchased)
  • the price paid (only for the first 40 days after the auction closes)

Check the details carefully — not all buyers share the same values. For example, in the screenshot above, a blue neutral feedback is given because the purchaser was unhappy with the courier (but was very happy with the seller).

Once you’ve satisfied yourself that the seller is reputable, then (and only then) should you consider moving into bidding mode — although, as we’ve noted elsewhere, there’s more homework you should do before you place any bid.

FOR HOW LONG CAN YOU POST FEEDBACK?

Trade Me member arthurdent2 investigated the matter and contributed these comments recently on the Trade Me Message Board:

I’ve asked questions on here from time to time about this issue and got two different answers:
1. It is 45 days to the exact closing time of the auction in hours and minutes.
2. It is 45 days until midnight of the day the auction closes.

I contacted Trade Me and they weren’t sure either -they asked me to let them know if I found the answer!

I did a couple of experiments on auctions that I wasn’t going to place feedback on because the buyer had not completed the trade. I clicked the ‘Place Feedback’ button and then, without entering any text in the box, clicked ‘Submit Feedback’. That brought up a message reminding me to enter text but also confirmed that placing feedback was an option at that time.

I went through this process at 4 different times:
1. Several minutes before the 45 days to the minute was up.
2. Several minutes after the exact closing time.
3. Several minutes to midnight on the 45th day.
4. Several minutes after midnight on the 45th day.

Conclusions:
1. The auction disappeared from my SOLD ITEMS PAGE on the 45th day at the exact auction closing time. Feedback could therefore not be placed FROM THIS PAGE after that time.

2. STARTING FROM THE AUCTION PAGE, the Place Feedback button was still visible up until midnight on the 45th day and feedback could be placed. Several minutes after midnight the feedback button was no longer available.

Awesome, thanks arthurdent2!

HOW TO ATTRACT GREAT FEEDBACK (IF YOU’RE A SELLER)

There are no guarantees that buyers will say really good things about you, but here’s how you can at least improve your chances:

  • First and absolutely most important, be squeaky clean in your trading dealings. Describe each item honestly and completely, answer any questions quickly and comprehensively during the auction, send out Payment Instructions quickly at the end of the auction (ideally through an automated service such as Trade Me’s own offering), and then despatch the item promptly.
  • Once you’ve done all that, then ideally, post feedback as soon as you’ve posted the item off to the fortunate buyer. You’ve completed your part of the transaction. Also, it’s another reinforcement to the purchaser that their item is actually on the way [and you do have the opportunity to adjust or delete your feedback if problems arise later].
  • If you’re a high volume seller, on the other hand, you’ll need to streamline the various parts of your operation so probably can’t afford the time to give instant feedback. In that case, schedule time at least once a week for posting feedback on all that week’s auctions; 15 minutes should be enough.
  • Try to be unique and creative when you leave feedback. Yes, you could just create generic feedback statements, such as ‘Great buyer, quick payment, A+++’, but you’ll make a better impact with more customised feedback. You never know when a few thoughtful words will lead to new customers.
  • When preparing your Feedback content, first highlight the buyer characteristics thatwill be most helpful to other traders who might subsequently browse the Feedback pages. Talk about the speed of response from the buyer — how quickly they paid, how well they communicated with you after the sale, whether you would recommend them.
  • Next, thank the buyer for their business. They could have chosen anyone, but they chose your auction.
  • And finally, use the remaining words in your Feedback to mention yourself and your services. Be subtle but a little commercial, eg “Thanks for doing business with MYBRAND, supplier of fine embroidered linen on Trade Me since 2002. Do visit us again if you are looking for [your most popular products].”

If you give good, lengthy, helpful feedback to buyers (before they’ve even received your product), you’ll often be rewarded with a reciprocal good deed — and even if you aren’t, the Feedback formula above is still worth following. You might just be noticed by other potential purchasers.

What about if you’re a buyer? How and when should you leave Feedback?

  • Wait for the safe arrival of your item. If it turns up in good condition and matches the auction description, give positive feedback promptly.
  • If there are problems, try and resolve them with the seller before you resort to posting negative feedback. It’s easy to get into a feedback escalation situation, both buyer and seller posting feedback flames. Try not to go there.

On the other hand, if the seller is a ratbag and simply doesn’t meet his/her obligations, you should seriously consider giving that red-face negative. The Trade Me community is self-policing but relies on all members to do their part.

If, despite all the above, you do receive negative feedback:

  • Learn from it
  • Mend your ways if necessary
  • You do have the right of reply posted directly below the feedback – use it wisely
  • You also have the facility to post feedback on the trader – but try to avoid retaliatory feedback

And of course you can (and should) try to rectify the situation — the trader has the ability to remove the feedback they posted.

Trade Me will not review negative feedback unless:

  • It contains swear words, vulgarities or defamatory statements (but note that Trade Me reserves the right to determine what it considers swear words, vulgarities or defamatory statements)
  • It contains the trader’s contact details, phone number, surname, email address or other means to individually identify the trader
  • The trader placing feedback has been permanently removed from Trade Me for misbehaving
  • The feedback refers to an ongoing investigation by Trade Me, the police, or any other authorised party
  • Trade Me is ordered by a valid court order to remove it.

If you feel that any feedback has breached these terms, you can report it to Trade Me (as long as it’s not more than 30 days old).

And one more thing: you can be held legally responsible for damages to the trader’s reputation under New Zealand law. So keep your feedback factual.

The Feedback system isn’t perfect – but it’s a very useful guide to other members of the Trade Me community and helps keep us honest. Imagine how much better behaved we’d be in real life if we all had to walk around wearing Feedback ratings given to us by our colleagues and customers! ["don't ask that salesperson to serve you, look how many red faces he has!"]

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One thought on “Check that Feedback before you click

  1. Chris

    If you are a bidder in the same town and plan on picking up the goods in person you can afford to take a more charitable view of a seller’s poor feedback.

    For example, several PC/electronics traders in Auckland with 30,000+ trades but 2,000 negative feedbacks are quite safe to buy from if you intend to pick up as you get to examine the goods before parting with your money.

    As a seller, I have removed a leading bidder if their negative feedback consistently relates to failure to pay for the goods.

    Michael, how about a future article discussing sellers who refuse to allow pick-ups? I understandsome women sellers refuse pick-ups, but unless its a commercial trader, I will not buy from a private individual who will not allow a pick up – to me its a trust thing.

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