How-To Reverse Negative eBay Feedback

by Tyler Guyson on January 17, 2012 · 8 comments

remove negative feedback ebay

Don't be blindsided by negative feedback (Photo: _Max-B)

I’ve been selling on eBay since 2006.   I started selling my own belonging after picking up a book about eBay selling.  Although I loved watching people bid on my stuff, I hated the packaging and shipping part of it.  Later on I began drop shipping by finding some great companies though as well as Worldwide Brands.   The one thing you give up when you use a drop shipper is control over problems like lost packages and late shipments that occasionally occur.  Sometimes the problem is not with the product but with what is promised and communicated through the online listing.  Most eBay buyers understand if you are honest with them and provide reasonable refunds and returns when requested.  However, a short time ago, I received my first negative eBay feedback without any warning or chance to make it right.

eBay doesn’t send you an email when you receive a neutral or negative feedback, although I wish they would.  It is up to you to log-in regularly and monitor your feedback to ensure everything looks good.  When I found out that 1 unsatisfied customer dropped my feedback from 100% to 97% by casting his single vote, it made me very upset.  Turns out that the customer thought he was receiving a boxed game not a digital products that was mentioned 4 times in the listing.  Rather than blow up and send him a nasty email, I composed myself and took the following steps to reverse this negative feedback.

Contact The Buyer

I send an email to the buyer thanking him for providing his feedback and then asking him what I could have done better.  The message when like this:


Hi Anthony (real name not used),
Thank you for confirming that the game files make it to you safely!  I hope you enjoy the game this holiday season.
I would also like to thank you for providing your feedback.  Whether positive, neutral or negative – it helps me as a seller to understand how eBay buyers like/dislike my products as well as interpret my listing.
This is my 5th year selling on eBay and during this time, our recent transaction was my first negative feedback.  As a student of continuous improvement, I wanted to see if I could understand why you left the comment:

Negative feedback rating I received the game via e-mail in pdf format instead of a boxed game as promised
Perhaps the wording of my listing was misinterpreted or misleading.    I try very hard in my listing to make it clear that this game is sent digitally via email, rather a boxed game by stating in the listing:

Please Read: We’re happy to make this murder mystery game digital, to reduce shipping emissions, the need for plastic cases/CDs, as well as to save you money (since shipping charges can be up to 50% of the cost of the game!!).  All files are sent to your email inbox in .pdf format – which is compatible with all computers.  In order to play, you’ll need to have a printer to print the .pdf files. Thank you.
I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on this matter since, as a eBay seller, I am constantly being judged upon feedback numbers.  Perhaps if you could kindly review the listing again  with a fresh perspective and give me your thoughts on what I could do differently, that would be greatly appreciated.

Looking forward to your reply.


Wait for a Reply

This can be a very difficult step as you want immediately put a band-aid over the situation.  Be patient.  Go for a walk and relax as the ball is in the buyers court.

Digest the Reply

Anthony got back to me a day later and wrote:


Dear Gavin,

After reading your email, I went back and checked you eBay site again to recheck to see if I’d had made a mistake. I did not.  to quote from your ad: “A BRAND – NEW UNUSED, UNOPENED, UNDAMAGED ITEM” This to me refers to a boxed game.

So you see why I believe you duped me into buying something I did not receive.  If you send me a boxed version of this game, (like I should have received in the first place) I will re-evaluate and re-adjust your feedback.




Anthony made some good points although my listing mentioned 4 times that the game was digital.  Rather than getting defensive I stayed open-minded and put myself in the shoes of the buyer.  I read and re-read his message several times until it was clear what I had to do.

Stay Positive and Persistent

Buyers hopefully will give in if you show that you are good intentioned and are unrelenting in making things right.  I responded to the last message with this:


Hi Anthony,

Thank you for feedback and pinpointing the problem.

My intention was not to dupe or mislead.   When you create an eBay listing, eBay makes you select the condition: either New or Used.    When you select ‘new’ eBay then adds the description:   A brand-new, unused, unopened, undamaged item (including handmade items). See the seller’s listing for full details.

Regardless of how eBay means for people to interpret ‘new’, my main concern that you did not get what you were shopping for.  I would like to make things right for you.  Please let me know what I can do.   I would be happy to cancel our transaction and refund you in full so that you can purchase the boxed game that you were looking for.

My goals are to get you want you want, and if you’re willing, to change my negative feedback to at least a neutral so that I can continue selling on eBay.

Let me know what you think and I hope we can work something out that’s mutually beneficial.


The same day Anthony got back to me and I either convinced him that I was a good person or he was tired of wasting his time over a $15 murder mystery game.  You’ll notice that I didn’t ask for a Positive rating – that would be greedy.  A request for a Neutral rating is just what you want to do and many buyers will reward you with a Positive rating because they realize that you’re not a greedy little pig.    Anthony replied to me with this gem:


Hi Gavin,

Thank you for making things clear to me. I now realize what and how things got screwed up. I appreciate you sincere concern for my happiness and satisfaction. I will not ask for a refund because we are already committed to the game. I will however change your feedback rating to positive since I now realize the steps you took (and the steps you were about to take) to satisfy my displeasure. I’ve dealt with some scam artists before and I apologize for treating you like you were one of them. I am now completely satisfied with your replies and explanations. I now see you are an upstanding person.  If I ever need another game of the same sort, I will definitely shop with you again.  My apologies and thanks.  Best regards, Anthony

ps please ask for a feedback revision on ebay so I can change the status from negative to positive.

Requesting Feedback Revisions

The next day I sent him the application to change the feedback and by the end of the week my feedback was back to 100%.
Although the process was long, tough and uncomfortable, having a 100% feedback rating guarantees you sales from countless eBay buyers who only deal with those who have a perfect rating.   Reversing a negative feedback is like starting a new business – it requires listening to your customer, making sacrifices and being patient.  These traits are difficult for many to master but for those that do, the journey will reward you handsomely.

Additional Ways to Protect Your Business

Keeping your product and service quality high is essential to maintaining a good eBay rating.  Maintaining a good eBay rating is essential to protecting your business from losing sales if potential buyers decide to buy from someone with a higher feedback rating.  There are many ways beyond your product and customer service that should be considered to lessen you business risk.  Each business is unique and your specific situation should be discussed with a lawyer or professional.   If your business has substantial sales, it may be wise to incorporate to protect your personal assets should you find yourself in litigation.  However, your business may be better suited to forgo the incorporation and purchase liability insurance from one of the many specialist insurance brokers. For more information on this Lloyd’s of London is a great place to visit.  As stated above, these decision should not be made lightly and should be discussed with the right professionals.

By understanding and mitigating your business risks while ensuring that you provide excellent value to your eBay buyers, you will be on the path to selling success.


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Shalyn January 18, 2012 at 3:44 am

It’s a clear case of misunderstanding… I mean it can happen with any business, and to deal with such situation you need to be calm and willing to resolve the issue.

Ricardus January 19, 2012 at 8:35 pm

As mentioned in the article, you gotta be patient in digesting the matters.

Liz January 18, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Brilliant post, you dealt with this situation a lot more patiently than many other people would (especially considering that you were clear about the game being digital from the start). That’s something I learnt when I used to work in the hospitality industry – if you screw up (well, in your case you didn’t screw up, but “the customer is always right”) and are willing to show that you genuinely want to fix things and go the extra mile, you will be rewarded. I once got an extra large tip even though I had completely messed up some people’s lunch, just because I honestly admitted my mistake and went the extra length to make it up for them.

Eric January 19, 2012 at 7:37 am

Really useful tips! I have a small experience with ebay and I can recommend seller to be polite and turn off your aggression :)

Jen January 22, 2012 at 10:54 am

I used to sell on eBay but when they changed the feedback process I quit. I wasn’t using a drop shipping service so was shipping all the products I sold on my own. It was too time consuming to have one bad transaction take all the profit I had made. eBay is a buyers’ paradise but for sellers you really need to be organized and on top of everything. For me it was more than one person had time for. Great article, tho, glad you are having success. Reaching out the customer is a great but some will go straight to Paypal and jack up the whole process. Probably one bad apple but they leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Dominic February 22, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Very interesting article, thank you. Just wanted to add my opinion.

My girlfriend sells on ebay and has today received her first negative feedback. She was selling certain broken items as “spares and repairs” which would have been use to people in her trade. This was clearly listed and her very professional photos showed the damage to the items. The purchaser is not happy that they are damaged, has not communicated with her and jumped straight in to leaving negative feedback. This has upset her as she always offers a full refund and ebay will increase her fees if she loses her top rated status (something they have tried to do 3 times recently). The point of this is that it is unlikely that the purchaser (based in China) will respond positively to the politely drafted message I sent on her behalf from her account. If this is the case there seems to be no other way of removing the feedback despite it being entirely unfounded and unjust. Just one example of how biased and ridiculous ebay is for anyone wanting to run their business through them. I fail to understand how a business model that punishes the people paying your fees succeeds but clearly it does!

I read somewhere that a letter from a solicitor setting out the reasons why the feedback is unjust may work. I knew there was a reason I spent all that time at law school….

Gavin Simone February 22, 2012 at 10:48 pm

Dominic, if your friend wasn’t able to work things out with the buyer, then they can try contacting eBay for help. Instructions are found here Might be a long shot but it could work. Other than that, the best tactic is prevention – setting your criteria for a buyer (location, # of transaction, etc) can save you a lot of headache.

Kay March 4, 2012 at 7:44 pm

I would agree with Gavin in saying it best to turn on buyer requirements and block certain countries or bad history individuals from bidding on your auctions. Whilst I have nothing against honest buyers from other countries, there are too many scammers out there and it simply not worth the risk of losing your DSR and 100% feedback.

Bravo Gavin for dealing with your buyer with so much patience and professionalism. I for one would not have been as calm but keeping level headed certainly pays off!

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