About buying and selling used books and stuff online. Plus my adventures and random thoughts.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

What Feedback Means to Me

As an online customer and book dealer, feedback influences all my buying and selling.

I recently saw a feedback rating of 50% for a seller listing collectible books for a price much higher than the market rate. Why would anyone gamble on that seller? Not only do customers have a 50-50 chance of losing their money, they also have a high probablity of jaw clenching, tooth grinding frustration. Why, when so many highly rated sellers eagerly await your business?

The seller must be counting on people not paying attention to the feedback rating. And it must work, because he keeps on listing books.

As a book dealer, I am after the people who do pay attention. I want them to check my listings next time they go shopping. I want them to remember the good service, the accurate description, quick delivery, and other things I do to earn my feedback score.

I wish my rating were 100% positive, but even I make mistakes from time to time. I try to do what I can to make amends whenever I disappoint a customer. Besides, there is something "too good to be true" about a 100% positive rating. At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

My hope is that people will pay a tiny bit more to deal with me than my low end competition. A few bulk dealers routinely undercut my prices by pennies. Their positive feedback runs below 95%; mine runs at 98% or better, depending on the time period. They use automated programs to make sure they are always the cheapest; I do everything by hand. They are huge operations, with many employees, multiple locations and thousands of books; my operation is tiny and family run. I can't always stay ahead of their automated price cutting, but my feedback score is objective proof that I beat them on quality and service.

So feedback means success to me. As a customer, the feedback for the seller I buy from tells me how likely I am to be pleased or disappointed. As a dealer, the feedback I get tells me and everyone else how successful I've been in reaching my goal of quality products and the best possible service.


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