Half.com, a subsidiary of eBay, offers its users an alternative to the auction process. It features enticingly low prices on new and used media items. Even rare and out of print books can be found for a reasonable fee. For someone like me who wants a faster transaction, half.com is the way to go. Unfortunately, a buyer’s reputation can be at risk due to half.com’s unfair feedback policies.
Here are the basics: If you have an eBay account, you already have a half.com account. Any feedback received from a half.com transaction is averaged into your rating on eBay. In addition, half.com buyers can expect to receive their products sooner, as half.com accepts credit cards only. A transaction is only initiated when someone selects and purchases an item.
This should mean that a buyer automatically gets positive feedback, right? Wrong.
Unlike on eBay, a buyer cannot flake on a payment. eBay buyers who skip out on paying or pay late consume a lot of a seller’s time, whereas on half.com it’s the seller who waits on the buyer. Like eBay, though, the buyer must trust that the seller has appropriately labeled the condition of the item for sale and will send it in the appropriate time frame.
In my most recent transaction, I left negative feedback for my seller who failed to send me the out of print book I ordered. I followed all of half.com’s policies in the appropriate order: contacted the seller, filed a claim after 48 hours of no response, and finally left negative feedback to warn other potential buyers. I finally received a refund from half.com after several weeks.
After another week or two, I saw that I had an email from my seller requesting that we mutually withdraw our feedback. The seller, who had immediately received my payment, had left me negative feedback, stating that it was an “unpleasant experience”. Curious, I looked at other transactions in which the seller had been involved, to discover that similar feedbacks had been left for other buyers, and always after the buyer had left him feedback first.
Here are a few simple ways to protect your online reputation when buying on eBay or similar sites:
Pay careful attention to the seller’s rating. Be sure to read the feedback the seller leaves for his or her buyers. Look for key words phrases from the buyers including “no communication”, “late arrival”, “never sent”. A good seller will always respond to queries, send an item on time, and never fail to send an item.
Don’t always buy from the seller with the highest feedback rating. It might seem like the safest way to go, but you should also take into account the number of sales in which the seller has been involved. Even sellers with an overwhelming number of negative feedback can still have a high feedback rating due to the number of sales made. It is safer to buy from a seller who has sold fewer items, but has more positive feedback from sellers.
Try working it out with the seller first. When you don’t receive your product on time, you may be tempted to immediately post negative feedback for your seller. I recommend contacting the seller, filing a claim 48 hours later if the seller hasn’t responded, and then proceeding to leave negative feedback. Half.com only allows a buyer to file 3 claims, and then will only consider each complaint on a case by case basis.
Contact Customer Service. Half.com, eBay, and similar sites need to be aware of sellers who are bullying buyers. Remember that you are helping other buyers make wise choices when you leave the appropriate feedback and stand by it. Do not mutually withdraw your feedback; let Customer Service handle the seller.