Hack 7 Improve Your Trustworthiness Quickly


Don't let an apparent lack of experience hurt your success on eBay.

"Bad credit? No credit? No problem!"

?Ernie's Used Cars

A low feedback rating can hurt a buyer or seller nearly as much as a feedback profile with an excessive amount of negative comments. Luckily, there are a few things new users can do to gain trust within the eBay community.

1.8.1 Newbie Buyers

Many sellers, primarily those who have had a bad experience with a non-paying bidder, are understandably apprehensive about bidders with low or zero feedback. So, if you see an auction in which the seller has written a warning about such bidders, drop him a quick note by clicking "Ask seller a question," just to let him know you're serious.

If you're a seller, see [Hack #54] for effective ways of dealing with newbie buyers as well as bidders who don't pay.

1.8.2 Newbie Sellers

It's harder to be a new seller on eBay than a new buyer; a seller with low or zero feedback will have a hard time selling anything. Trust, after all, takes on a bigger role when someone else's money is at stake.

The best thing to do (and, coincidentally, the most fun) is to buy a few things before you start selling. Not only is this an easy way to build up feedback, but it will give you some experience in what it's like to be a buyer, which will ultimately make you a better seller.

Note that eBay will also lift some restrictions when you've beefed up your feedback. For instance, once you reach a feedback rating of 10, you'll be able to use the Buy-It-Now feature in your auctions. For those who can't wait, eBay provides the ID Verify service, described in the next section.

When you finally do start selling, make sure to set your payment terms such that your customers will be able to pay safely. If you accept PayPal, as described in [Hack #29] and [Hack #67], you'll undoubtedly get more bids from buyers who otherwise wouldn't give you the time of day.

1.8.3 ID Verify

If you're a United States resident and have five dollars burning a hole in your pocket, go to Site Map ID Verify to begin eBay's ID Verification. The process, which takes only a few minutes, simply involves entering some information that is cross-checked by eBay and VeriSign.

Ultimately, what you get out of it is a little "ID Verify" checkmark icon next to your user ID on eBay. Not everyone will know what it means, but those who click the icon will see the page shown in Figure 1-4.

Figure 1-4. This reassuring page is shown to anyone who clicks the ID Verify icon next to your user ID

Trust, as much as any sales pitch, is what will earn bids on your auctions. The ID Verify logo is a bidder's assurance that you are who you say you are. Although it's not a substitute for feedback, the ID Verify icon will help new sellers appear more trustworthy to many bidders.

1.8.4 Negative Feedback

New users are more prone to getting negative feedback, typically as a result of inexperience. If you receive negative feedback, make sure to do a little damage control, as described in [Hack #4].

eBay allows you to hide your feedback profile by making it "private," which might appeal to someone who has just received negative feedback. But don't do it; it's a trap! The implication that you have something to hide will be more damaging than any single negative comment.