Thursday, July 9, 2009

How Do You Rate?

When I started as an Internet seller one of my biggest fears was to receive a negative rating from a buyer. Seriously, I would stay up nights fretting over the possibility that a dissatisfied customer would leave me bad feedback and if they did, how it would affect my small business. It made me physically sick sometimes - waiting.

Why did I worry so? My first experience was with an alchemy request on the Etsy site. The gentleman prospect was looking for someone to design and create a leather duffel bag. I was thrilled and sent him an email with pictures of some of the leather bags I made. He reply. "Sorry but you have no feedback for me to compare your work." Feedback has its place for prospective online buyers. They do look at it. No feedback, no purchases. That very gentleman returned to my shop several months later and asked if I would design a journal for him so that he could have it reproduced elsewhere. I respectfully declined.

My husband and I have enjoyed our Internet business now for just over 13 months. With 463 sales under our belts, so to speak, we have received only one neutral feedback from a customer. The woman purchased a pair of my Spatz and didn't like the way the spots looked.They weren't exactly the same on both Spatz. But instead of contacting me and trying to rectify the problem, she left a neutral rating. I understand her feedback could have been worse and am relieved it wasn't. I could have made another pair of Spatz for her and replaced them for the ones she had. It was my suggestion that she return them, which she finally did after about 40 days. It also appeared that they had been worn.
Sometimes we all have to make exceptions. I was devastated over that ordeal, as I still can be when feedback doesn't read as I anticipated it should. In the end, I remained civil and returned positive feedback on her site.
As a buyer and a seller, I always take a few things into consideration before leaving a rating.

1) Did I receive the item that I purchased? If yes - a positive rating.
2) Did it arrive in a timely manner? Most mail delivery arrives between 5 to 7 business days after being posted. One must also consider the location from which the item is coming and if there are holidays surrounding it that may affect the shipping date. If yes - a positive rating.
3) Did it arrive in the condition as described in the listing. (worn, antiqued, faded, new, etc). If yes - a positive rating.

I have personally never left anyone a negative rating but if it were warranted I would try and resolve the issue first and only as a last resort, not comment.
Although there are other factors, which I consider important, they do not weigh in my feedback.
Packaging -if it is neat and secure, that is all that is required. Added gift wrapping and notes are very nice but not necessary for ranking. (I do both and include a business card as well - its my personal touch in this impersonal world). Some shops charge the same shipping cost for additional items. If that is an issue with you, contact the seller first to arrange alternative shipping fees. If they do not concede don't buy the item. Remember, it is always - Buyer beware!

Customer Service - If the product arrived damaged or not at all, good business practises might dictate that the seller replace the item or refund the money. I have replaced items that did not show up for a long period of time. Although I have no control over the postal service, I did feel obliged to replace the item. (I have acquired repeat customers for doing this on a few occasions.) And in some cases, I have replaced an item that the customer had a change of heart about, even though it was a custom order and I was under no obligation to replace it. I want people happy and to return. Unfortunately you cannot please all the people, all the time.
I do not believe the old adage that the customer is always right, because they are not. This statement may not lay well with some people, but how much abuse must a person endure to get a sale or good rating. I have been around long enough now to recognized a potentially difficult customer and have, in a diplomatic way, declined to work with them. It doesn't happen often but when it does they are flagged.
So for both buyer and seller alike, when you are faced with task of leaving feedback - be kind and think of the person on the receiving end. If a bad rating can be avoided, do try and rectify the problem. It will make life easier for all involved.
As I close this posting I received a purchase transaction from a repeat buyer that states, "Hi, I told you I'd be back! LOL!" Thanks Latiffia :D

Anne ^i^


  1. Thanks for this post! It is very educational and a topic I think a lot of sellers worry about also.

    I have not received a negative, but I have left a few in my short history. Every time, it was someone who purchased something but never paid. After weeks of sending emails, I'd eventually cancel the sale and leave negatives. I hate doing it but all I ask is for some communication. I had one instance where a gal emailed back and wanted to cancel. That I can deal with no problemo. I probably take it too personal when I don't get an email back. haha.

  2. You know Michelle I too have had people purchase and not pay or advise either way. So yes, I do agree with you very much. I think it's rude not to get back. Thx for your comment!

    Anne ^i^

  3. This is a great post and very helpful for me as I fret over my feedback too. I received a neutral feedback recently without being contacted beforehand. The reason was the earrings were not her color. This threw me for a loop since I have 5 pictures showing the earrings in each listing. I realized there isn't much I can do in some cases so might as well not worry about it. I'm still worrying but working on that!

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  5. Great post...positive feedback is something we all cherish. I have never understood why someone would leave negative or neutral feedback without first contacting the seller for a better resolution.

  6. I want to start online selling, too. Thanks for sharing this to us. :)

  7. Thanks for you input!! Best of luck Grace with your online selling. Be sure to drop by and leave your site URL with us.

    Anne ^i^

  8. Thanks so much for joining in our party! Can't wait to come back on the big day and see what inspires you most!♥

  9. Thank you, that was a very nice write up. I have only gotten a neutral feedback, and that's because she didn't read the details of the item she bought. I tried to talk to her, but there was no use. You can't make everyone happy I guess :)
    Thanks again!

  10. This is so interesting. As just an etsy "purchaser," it's not something I'd ever thought about. Glad to have some insight into the mind of the seller!