Friday, March 26, 2010

Supply (Junk) & Demand (Praise)

Anyone out there who has purchased something on eBay has, no doubt, been a part of what I consider a strange custom. Not the buying and selling of useless items. I’m all for that. What I mean is the grade school level need for acceptance and praise that is officially referred to as “feedback”.

Whether buyer or seller, eBay itself reminds you to leave feedback about the other party involved in your transaction. They do so politely at first, with a very conspicuously placed button that appears when you sign in to your account. If you do not leave feedback in a timely manner, you begin getting e-mails reminding you to leave feedback. If it goes long enough, eventually you get condescending e-mails explaining to you the importance of feedback. Apparently, the entire eBay universe relies upon your review of the Charles In Charge collectable crystal tumbler set you just purchased. You, lowly buyer, hold the fate of a multi-million dollar corporation in the palm of your greasy, sunlight deprived hand.

eBay’s insistence upon extracting your opinion by force isn’t even the odd part to me. The company needs input, I get it. The funny thing is the messages you get from the sellers. You’ll get things like Please leave positive feedback, or I hope you will review this purchase favorably, or my personal favorite, If you review this transaction favorably, I will be sure to return the favor.

What they mean here is they will review you, as a buyer, favorably. You want to return the favor, buddy? How about free shipping on that Spider-Man lava lamp instead?

My rating as a good buyer is really of no concern to me. Is someone going to refuse to sell me something because I don’t give five stars across the board to everyone? Fine by me. Good luck finding someone else who wants a 32-ounce Chris Mullin McDonald’s cup celebrating the original Dream Team.

The way I see it, if you gave me the product and I gave you your money, that’s it. As far as buyer ratings go, there should be a checkbox. Did the buyer pay you in full for the product? Yes or no? If a buyer has yes checked every time, he’s a good buyer. What other criteria do you need here? I didn’t like this buyer because I asked him if he would be my best friend and he never responded.

This isn’t a you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours situation. That’s already done when I feel compelled to give you money for crap that you want to get rid of and I want to own. That’s the mutual benefit right there. The rest is like leaning over to your friend during class president elections and saying, “If you vote for me, I’ll vote for you.” How about we just vote for ourselves then? In this case, it’s more like saying, I don’t even want to be class president. I don’t give a damn if you vote for me.

Seeing people beg for approval is just sad. Have some self respect. I think a precedent needs to be set here. In fact, I will start leaving commentary as part of my feedback. If the whole thing went fine and I got what I wanted when I wanted it, you’ll see five stars all the way. However, when you look in the comments section you’ll see: While the item arrived exactly as described, the seller requested that I leave positive feedback and seemed to try and coerce me with subtle threats into doing so. This made me feel uncomfortable and dirty. I went out and purchased a P.O. Box to have the item shipped to, just so the seller would not have my home address. You hear me, stalker? Stay away!

Beware, eBay sellers. Do not attempt to force my hand or you may not like the results.

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