Sunday, September 27, 2009

A comment posted to the Observer on the subject of postal strikes

In response to the Observer piece about the effect the postal strike is having on eBay sellers.

I've been selling online for six years, on a variety of sites, and this is the first week I've ever received two "where's my stuff" messages in the same week. I don't know if this strike is more disruptive than previous ones, or simply less well publicised. Items arriving late can be a worry when they're sold via eBay, because of the impact negative feedback can have on your visibility there, and because the black art with which eBay generate and use DSRs is so lacking in transparency. I also sell things at, and prefer the clarity and transparency of the system there - no DSRs, no complicated four-part star ratings, just a simple pos/neg/neu and a factual comment. Best of all, the feedback can be changed as the situation develops, so an irate customer who's book's held up can go back later and switch a negative to a positive when the situation's resolved. Buying and selling online involves a great deal of trust on both sides, and we all have moments when we think the worst and suspect we've been had. So any system that allows one to rethink, and adjust, that initial reaction seems good to me. Things like postal strikes will always be with us. Or disruption due to weather, acts of God, or acts of man. A seller's reputation should not be open to damage by such vagaries.

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