The eBay feedback system is one of the cornerstones of the eBay community. The feedback rating associated with each user ID conveys the user's reputation. Higher feedback ratings translate into a better reputation. For every transaction on eBay, the buyer and seller can leave feedback about how well they perceived the transaction was conducted. A seller with a long history of positive feedback earns the trust of the eBay community. This trust gives buyers confidence to bid and to bid higher.

Feedback Basics

Whenever you buy or sell an item on eBay, you can leave feedback for your trading partner. There are three different feedback ratings that you can leave:

Rating Effect On Feedback
Positive Add one to feedback score
Neutral No effect on feedback score
Negative Subtract one from feedback score

If you are a seller, you can only leave positive feedback for the buyer. To start a postive experience with the buyer, feedback should be left when payment has been received from the buyer.

As a buyer, you can leave the seller one of the three feedback ratings. Positive feedback should be left if you are satisfied with the transaction. Leave a neutral if there was a minor problem, but the item received was acceptable. A negative should be given if there was serious problem with the item (or not received at all) and the seller was unable to remedy the situation.

You can also leave a short comment with your feedback where you can provide more details about the transaction. The feedback and the comment that you leave become a permanent part of your trading partner's feedback record. You have up to 60 days from the end of the auction to leave feedback.

As you earn feedback points, eBay will award you feedback stars that appear alongside of your feedback score:

Star Meaning
10 - 49 points
50 - 99 points
100 - 499 points
500 - 999 points
1000 - 4,999 points
5,000 - 9,999 points
10,000 - 24,999 points
25,000 - 49,999 points
50,000 - 99,999 points
100,000 or more points

The overall feedback score can tell you how experienced a buyer or seller is on eBay. A large feedback score indicates more experience, while a small score indicates an inexperienced user. New users who joined less than 30 days ago have a New User Icon displayed next to their user ID.

Feedback Percentage

The positive feedback percentage is computed by the formula:

total positive

total positive + total negative

received over the last 12 months. Neutral feedback does not affect the feedback percentage. Feedback older than 12 months still count in the total feedback score, but it is not used in the feedback percentage calculation. By using only the most recent feedback, buyers get a more accurate idea on how reliable the seller is. In the past when all feedback received was used in the feedback percentage calculation, some sellers with very large feedback scores were able to steal money from buyers for an extended period of time before the accumulation of negative feedback began to affect the feedback percentage. Unfortunately, if you are a low volume seller, a single negative feedback can ruin your feedback percentage for the entire year.


Multiple feedback from the same buyer will count in the feedback percentage. However, auctions must end on a different week to count. Multiple feedback received in the same week from the same buyer will still count as a single feedback rating.

Building Up Your Feedback

While having good feedback as a buyer is nice, it is absolutely critical to have excellent feedback as an eBay seller. Before you can be an effective eBay seller, you will need to have a feedback rating that buyers will trust. You need a minimum feedback score of 50 with a 100% positive rating before buyers will begin to trust you for moderately expensive items. 50 is also the feedback level needed to qualify for PayPal's $2,000 buyer protection program.

Getting to a score of 50 starting from scratch is going to take some work. The first thing you should do is buy a few things on eBay to get your feedback started. You should buy things from different sellers that have a feedback score of at least 100 and 99% positive. Unfortunately, not all sellers will leave feedback. If a seller has not left you feedback within a few days after you have received your item, you should email the seller asking them to leave you feedback in return for your positive feedback. Since the seller can only leave the buyer positive feedback, they have a strong incentive to leave feedback for you.

After you have reached a feedback score of 10 (and your yellow star), you should begin listing things to sell. Start with inexpensive items. Buyers aren't as worried about losing $20 as they are $200. Stick with selling inexpensive things until your feedback score hits 50. Focus on building your feedback as a seller while supplementing your feedback score with purchases.

Before eBay separated feedback as a buyer and seller, it was difficult to determine how a user's feedback was received. It was fairly easy to pad a feedback score by buying inexpensive items. This artificial boosting of feedback was a common technique used by eBay scam artists. Even with the change to view feedback as a seller and as a buyer, you have to click on the feedback number to get a breakdown. The total feedback score is still shown on the auction page. I wonder if most eBay buyers understand the feedback number being displayed in auctions. Probably not and scammers are still padding their feedback scores. This loophole can be easily closed by using only the feedback score and percentage as a seller on the auction page. While the loophole exists, you might as well use it to pad your feedback score with purchases.

Avoiding Negative Feedback

Until you have a feedback score of at least 100, you can't afford to receive a single negative feedback. Having 1 negative with a score of 50 will give you a 98% positive, which will tarnish your reputation as a seller on eBay. To be an effective eBay seller, you need to maintain at least a 99% positive rating at all times.

The easiest way to avoid receiving negative feedback is to have honest and accurate listings. By properly setting the buyer's expectation, you can assure yourself a smooth transaction. Always respond quickly when a buyer contacts you with a question or a problem. Quick communications lets the buyer know that you aren't some scam artist trying to run away with the buyer's money.

If a buyer is giving you grief about an item you sold, you should try everything you can to make them happy. Saying you are sorry, even when it is not your fault, can go a long way to defusing the situation. If you are having trouble reaching a solution, try offering a discount to the buyer. Giving a 10% discount is better than than being hit with a charge back when the buyer calls their credit card company to reverse the charges. As a last resort, accept the return of the item and wash your hands of the whole mess. You can always resell the item again. Getting a negative feedback and tarnishing your eBay reputation is not worth a fight over a few dollars.

Removing Negative Feedback

Seller Reporting Hub

There is nothing worse than receiving a negative feedback that you didn't deserve. Fortunately, not all is lost. Under certain conditions, eBay will remove negative feedback:

  • Unpaid item - buyers that don't pay shouldn't be able to leave negative feedback
  • Feedback Extortion - threatens to leave negative feedback unless you give them something
  • Feedback abuse - buying for the sole purpose of leaving negative feedback
  • Unwelcome and malicious buying - buyers not meeting your terms of service
  • Customs fraud - buyers requesting falsification of customs documents

You can any of these problems using the seller reporting hub help page.

Revising Buyer Feedback

Sometimes buyers hastely leaves negative feedback without first contacting the seller. Often the problems can be ironed out to everyone's satisfaction. The buyer can then revise the initial feedback they left and change the negative feedback to a positive..

Feedback Abuse and Automatic Removal

Under certain conditions, eBay will automatically remove negative feedback from your account. The case in which you will most likely encounter this is when a new eBay user purchases an item but never pays for it. When you hit them with a non-paying bidder alert, the buyer may retaliate with a negative feedback. Usually such buyers will have their account suspended when they have too many unpaid item strikes in a short period of time (the exact number of unpaid item strikes to be suspended is not explicitly defined by eBay). EBay will then automatically remove the offending negative feedback from your account. See the Feedback Abuse, Withdrawal and Removal for more details.

Square Trade

For a monthly fee, you can sign up for square trade. This will give you the privilege of displaying a square trade seal on the bottom of your eBay listings. You also gain access to Square Trade's Online Dispute Resolution Service (ODR). If your trading partner did not respond to your mutual feedback removal request, Square Trade may be able to remove the negative feedback on your behalf. Unfortunately, this service is not free. It cost at least $20 for each negative feedback removed. However, preserving your reputation my be worth the cost. See www.squaretrade.com for more details.

Is Square Trade worth it? That is a question that is often asked by eBay users. If you are a new eBay seller trying to build up your reputation, I think it is worthwhile to have the Square Trade seal displayed on your listings as it will give your auctions more credibility. If you are selling high-end products, having the seal will help give buyers more confidence in your products and bid higher. Once you have become an established eBay seller, the need to have the Square Trade seal on your listing diminishes and you can sell your products just as well without it.

Feedback Scams

Unscrupulous sellers try to artificially inflate their feedback in order to gain the trust of the eBay community. Once the feedback is over several hundred or even several thousand, the scammer will begin to sell-high end products at prices too good to be true. Of course it is too good to be true and once the scammer has your money, they will disappear, and you will never receive your item.

One method scammers use to boost their feedback is to create hundreds of additional eBay accounts. They will then use these fake accounts to buy hundreds of non-existing products from the scammer's seller account. Fortunately, this scam is fairly easy to spot if you inspect the seller's feedback. You will notice nearly all the feedback will come from accounts created at roughly the same time and with similar feedback scores. You may also notice an unusual number of new user New User Icon accounts in the feedback.

A more sinister method of feedback fraud involves the use of one cent ebooks like the one above. The scammers typically set up a dutch auction listing a large quantity of ebooks selling for one cent with digital delivery. The subject of the ebook could be anything, but somewhere in the listing will be language about leaving positive feedback. Sometimes photos of scantily clad women will be included in the listing for no apparent reason.

A scammer's feedback can increase amazing fast using these techniques. In less than a week, the scammer's feedback can go up by several hundred. It can be tough to spot the scam by examining the seller's feedback. There are so many eBay users willing to trade feedback that sometimes you can't see the pattern of fraud in the seller's feedback.

Detecting Feedback Padding

There are telltale signs in the seller's feedback that can indicate the feedback is being padded. They include:

  • Accounts less than three months old that have feedback scores over 100 should be examined carefully. Most scammers need to build up their feedback quickly. Scammer accounts don't last long before eBay terminates them for fraud.
  • The majority of items sold are inexpensive items. Thieves don't like to pay eBay fees when they are padding their feedback. Low priced items have the least amount of fees. Be wary if you see any one cent ebooks being sold.
  • Compare dates of when the feedback was left versus when the item was sold. Hasty scammers will leave feedback as quickly as possible. For legitimate sales, buyers leave feedback several days after the auction ends as it take time for the item to ship to them.
  • The feedback scores of people leaving feedback should be highly varied. You should find several with scores fewer than10 as well as several with scores over 1000. If the majority of the feedback scores leaving feedback is less than 100, then it is likely the feedback is being padded.
  • The age of accounts leaving feedback should be varied. If the majority of accounts are less than three months old, then it is likely the feedback is being padded.
  • See if feedback is being left for others. If not, the account is most likely being padded.

If you notice one or more of these indicators in the seller's feedback, find another seller. Don't take a chance on being scammed.