Avoiding Amazon's
Negative Feedback Mechanism

By Joe Waynick
January 16, 2014

If you’re looking for help avoiding Amazon’s negative feedback mechanism, then you’re in luck because this article is what you’ve been searching for.

We’re going to discuss how you can quickly, and easily prevent negative feedback on Amazon, as well as encourage buyers to leave you positive feedback instead.

Negative feedback and positive feedback is something that all online booksellers must deal with. Unfortunately, most of the negative feedback that you’ll get will be based on the performance of the U.S. Post Office rather than you as a seller.

Customers don’t always notice the difference between the postmark date on the package and the date they receive their book. Consequently, they punish you by using Amazon’s negative feedback mechanism for how long it might take the Postal Service to deliver their order.

However, this inconsistency works both ways. If you look through your feedback, or the feedback of other sellers with very good ratings, you’ll see that a majority of customers leave positive feedback with a reference to how quickly their book arrived rather than their satisfaction with the book itself. So in this respect you’re being graded highly when the post office delivers on time as well.

Despite being rated based on Post Office delivery performance, the postal folks actually do a great job and offer the most cost economical means of package delivery for most booksellers. As long as you carefully pack your books to minimize damage or losses during the delivery process you should be fine.

Don’t React to Bad Behavior

When the Post Office delivers a package late or loses a book, your customer will be inclined to use the negative feedback mechanism to punish you, even though it’s not your fault.

When you logon to your Amazon sellers account and discover a buyer leaving negative feedback because the parcel took a couple of days longer than expected to arrive, I know the temptation is to fire off an eMail telling the individual what an idiot he or she is.

But that’s not the best way to get the customer to see things your way when you’re responding to negative feedback.

For example, a few weeks ago I logged into my Amazon seller account and discovered that a customer had used the negative feedback mechanism to ding me. I don’t remember the exact statement, but it went something like this:

"Don't do business with this seller! They live in the same town as me and even though I paid for priority mail the book took three weeks to arrive."

Needless to say, I was really annoyed. When I looked up the transaction I discovered that they used to the negative feedback mechanism on a Tuesday morning when the customer had only placed the order the previous Thursday evening. I shipped the book well within Amazon guidelines, which was on Saturday morning, so I clearly wasn’t at fault.

Only two business days had passed and the customer was whining. There were some other things this customer claimed that were not only wrong, they were malicious. For example, he didn't live in the same town as me; he lived on an island that was fifty miles away.

He did pay for Priority Mail, but he also provided an invalid address. I tried to contact the buyer, but he didn't respond to my eMail. I spent quite a bit of time trying to find him online to locate a valid street, but there was no such street on Bainbridge Island.

I even spent time at the post office with one of the clerks trying to find the address, but was forced to send the book anyway and hoped that the letter carrier at the Bainbridge Island post office would be familiar with the street.

Don’t Get Rattled

In retrospect, I should have cancelled the order when the customer didn’t respond to my messages. But after spending so much time trying to salvage this transaction, I was really angry when I saw the customer had used Amazon’s negative feedback mechanism to hit my reputation. I wanted to tell him what a jerk he was, but I opted to try a more diplomatic approach and explain the effort I made to get his book to him.

After explaining the situation, he removed the negative feedback within 24 hours. Several days went by and the book was returned to me with a post office stamp that said "No such street." That same day the customer filed an A-Z refund claim. I refunded the book price, but declined to refund the postage because I didn't feel it was my fault that he didn't know where he lived.

Had the customer not previously left and removed the negative feedback, I would have automatically refunded his entire purchase price as well as the postage rather than risk receiving the buyers negative feedback. But I knew this particular buyer couldn’t leave negative feedback after I refunded the order. Customers can only leave feedback once and I felt strongly that I was entitled to recoup my postage costs.

Plan for the Inevitable

The moral of this story is that it doesn't matter how well you conduct your online bookselling business, there is going to come a time when you have to deal with the negative feedback mechanism to protect your Amazon seller rating. Unfortunately, Amazon seller support isn’t very helpful to online booksellers when it comes to malicious and obnoxious behavior on the part of some customers.

Marketplaces won’t assist you with removing negative feedback without getting permission from the buyer; therefore, it’s up to you to make it happen by negotiating with your customer to win the positive feedback game.

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