Selling a Good Reputation on eBay

Here’s someone who is selling positive feedback on eBay:

Hello, for sale is a picture of a tree. This tree is an original and was taken by me. I have gotten nothing but 100% feedback from people from this picture. Great Picture! Once payment is made I will send you picture via email. Once payment is made and I send picture through email 100% feedback will be given to the buyer!!!! Once you pay for the item send me a ebay message with your email and I will email you the picture!

Posted on June 24, 2011 at 1:59 PM35 Comments


B. D. Johnson June 24, 2011 2:20 PM

Trading and selling positive feedback has been going on for a while on eBay. Although such a blatant example will probably be killed fairly quickly, especially if people are reporting it.

scottnottheotherscott June 24, 2011 2:24 PM

It’s curious that internet reputation systems haven’t yet built in good auditing of who has rated whom.

Or am I just behind the internet times, and have they already?

In most non-digital reputation systems I’m aware of, the identity of the referrer matters a great deal, and all feedback is heavily weighted based on their (un)trusted status.

Job references, for example, are generally discredited if they are family members.

This is precisely the problem Google made it’s name solving (for web pages), and a little bit of a meta system on Ebay’s part might put an end to shenanigans like this.

PaulK June 24, 2011 2:48 PM

So, I’m not being paranoid when I look through feedback to judge its ‘smell’. Phew!

aikimark June 24, 2011 3:50 PM

Maybe that is what Anthony Wiener should have done. At $1/pic, he’d have been a very wealthy ex-legislator.

“Hello, for sale is a picture of bulging underwear. This erection picture is an original and was taken by me…”

R Cox June 24, 2011 4:04 PM

I do care about feedback, but only feedback of comparable value. When I see feedback on low value products and then a high value sale, I assume a scam is order.

John David Galt June 24, 2011 4:34 PM

A year or two ago, eBay decided that all negative feedback by a seller about a buyer was “abuse” and removed the capability. Since then, all “reputations” on eBay have been meaningless.

We all could really use a competitor to eBay. Better yet, many competitors.

Dr. T June 24, 2011 4:56 PM

eBay has direct competitors such as iOffer and Bonanza, but traffic at those sites is two orders of magnitude lower than at eBay. Yahoo! Shopping allows small businesses to set up eStores, but, again, traffic is low compared with eBay.

Muffin June 24, 2011 5:00 PM

@John David Galt: the reason for that was that sellers would (explicitely or implicitely) threaten to leave negative feedback for buyers that left non-positive feedback for them… so buyers never gave anything but positive feedback, which made the seller ratings useless.

I think it was a smart move on their part.

Steve June 24, 2011 7:16 PM

This has been going on for years and years….

If you search on eBay for “ebook”, then sort by lowest price first, you’ll find hundreds of ebooks or sale for $0.01 that say things like “I will leave good feedback for you if you leave good feedback for me” and stuff like that. Simple way to boost your feedback.

Any time you are buying anything on eBay, make sure and check the sellers feedback score. If you see a bunch of $0.01 auctions, skip that seller.

JJ June 24, 2011 7:22 PM

“@John David Galt: the reason for that was that sellers would (explicitely or implicitely) threaten to leave negative feedback for buyers that left non-positive feedback for them…”

yup, that is what happened to me a couple of times at ebay. I bought two items that were not as described (one was a fake copy, and the other one was not compatible with a particular HP smartphone like the seller claimed).

Anyway neither person was willing to admit fault or accept a return. When I left negative feedback, they did the same to me. I ended up closing my eBay account as I no longer felt I could rely on the descriptions or on the feedback.

From a customer point of view I prefer the feedback system at Amazon (feedback is only left on the seller) or at (neither side knows what the feedback is unless their side has also left feedback).

Adam B June 24, 2011 11:51 PM

Alternatively, an eBay sell could pay a Chinese jail warden to have inmates to make false eBay purchases of higher value (fake) products and leave positive feedback. Though this may not work if the eBay commission is % of sale?

Brianleb June 25, 2011 10:20 AM


Interesting point, but on the internet I think things are a bit different. You have to expect not to know most of the people on the internet, so it probably isn’t possible to evaluate references like that. However, if you can accumulate an aggregate of references, even if they are from strangers, it starts to be worth a lot more. If 100 (or 300, 500, 1000, etc.) strangers unanimously said you were a trustworthy seller, would you stop to doubt them because you didn’t know them?

Dog June 25, 2011 10:47 AM

@ Brianleb

On the internet, no one knows you’re a dog — or a stranger (or a confederate).

Nick P June 25, 2011 12:12 PM

@ Bruce

I had a nearly identical scheme years ago and warned the feedback system could be manipulated. It usually works out pretty well, though, so it’s a good system. To deal with this problem, I used to tell people to look at the seller’s history to see what they sold and to who. Shouldn’t be 100 of the same item and name…

Verified PayPal accounts are also traded online for about $70 a piece. Facebook accounts are cheaper, currently. Facebook and Gmail accounts used to be useful only for spammers, but they’ve increased in value due to sites that let you log in with a Gmail or Facebook account. And the Share feature.

fendertweed June 26, 2011 7:06 AM

hard to believe some of you/so many couldn’t figure out how to leave neg. FB for a seller w/out recourse against you… you wait til the last day/last hour of the FB period and leave your negative FB then… worked like a charm.

but as noted, feedback on eBay now is worthless, as is their entire system generally, I rarely buy and no longer sell there because now buyers routinely extort from sellers concessions by threatening negative FB knowing the seller has no recourse (i.e., you sell a perfectly good item and the buyer says it’s “not as advertised” and wants 10/20/40% off or you’ll get neg. FB) — F that, as they say.

Dirk Praet June 26, 2011 6:12 PM

The entire eBay feedback system needs an overhaul as massive as Sony’s security. In its current state, it’s a complete fail.

Woo June 27, 2011 4:21 AM

Weird… seems like it’s mostly US that is targeted by scammers. I’ve gone through ~2k transactions since ebay was founded, and had only 4 incidents, none of which was fraud. (1 never reacted to payment mails, 1 destroyed the item and tried to return [I guess he only needed a certain spare part], 1 was unable to read the listing and expected to receive something completely different, 1 left neg feedback even though everything was fine).

My personal opinion is that since ebay forbid neg feedback for sellers, that the feedback counter has become more or less useless. Ok, it still allows to filter out 0-rep customers, but that’s about it.

Adam June 27, 2011 8:45 AM

I don’t get the impression ebay really cares about scams unless they’re really overt. After all, if someone falls for a scam, ebay gets a commission. If enough people fall for a scam, ebay suspends the scammer’s paypal account and pockets any money which is not claimed by scammees. You only have to type wholesale list into ebay to see that one of the most common scams is as healthy as ever.

Duff June 28, 2011 7:17 AM

EBay is just a lousy company that unfortunately appeared at the right time and grew large enough to naturally suppress competition.

I can think of a half dozen well-known, trivial to detect scams on eBay that have been around for a decade with no action on eBay’s part.

At the end of the day, I have greater faith in Craigslist than eBay — and that says alot.

B- Metz July 4, 2011 11:43 PM

Hello Bruce,

 Will you, Email me Please I have a couple of things that need to be addressed 

   and I would be happy to give anything you need 

Thankyou B-Metz

chuck July 15, 2011 3:56 PM

I own 2 brick and mortar stores. We attempted to expand our business to some online boutique items on ebay. One buyer bought a pair of designer jeans from us, claimed they were fakes and charged back the payment though pay pal. We never received the jeans back and the money was stolen, ahem.. ah, charged back as well. We don’t use ebay any more. If people want to steal from us now, they have to drive over and do it in person with some integrity.

Robert Hilton May 19, 2019 12:12 AM

I am so angry that I have these lowlifes bidding on my items, refusing to pay….and then I can’t even leave them negative feedback?!? These people have 100% positive, which tricks sellers into trusting them. This is NOT ok!!! March 9, 2022 8:51 AM

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