Feedback Loop

19 May, 2003 at 1:37 pm (uncategorized)

Whilst attempting to express bland neutrality about the arrival of a product I had procured via eBay’s Half.com, I received the following warning from eBay’s Feedback Daemon:

Important: You are about to leave a negative or neutral comment about another user in a public forum. Please consider the following before confirming your feedback:

  1. Mail delivery can take up to two weeks; international trades and some shipping options can take longer. Most sellers wait 7-10 days for checks to clear.
  2. Have you called your trading partner? Request contact information.
  3. Try to resolve a transaction dispute by using Square Trade, a free online mediation service.
  4. Negative feedback remarks cannot be retracted. If you must leave a negative comment, please keep your comments factual and avoid personal remarks, for example, “No reply to emails and payment never received.”

Note: It is important that you attempt to resolve any disputes prior to leaving negative feedback. You should only leave negative feedback after you have tried all other methods for successfully completing the transaction.

I’m sorry, but while I can see that some of these warnings might be useful in order to prevent a deluge of invective if someone is dissatisfied with a product and isn’t sufficiently able to control his- or herself, I don’t understand why such red flags should be raised over a “neutral” comment. Do we live in a world where a neutral commercial expererience is damaging? After all, I expect that in a fiscal transation both parties will fulfill their end. One will pony up the dough, and the other will provide a saleable object as described. Care will be taken in handling, and no one will get gypped, stiffed, or shafted. Despite cheery muzak, smiling greeters, and heartfelt pleas to “have a nice day!” upon the close of a mercantile exchange at a supermarket, I consider it to be a neutral experience. It doesn’t have to be a life-changing, transcendant experience.

So why this fierce ejaculation of praise that typically accompanies eBay sales? Because of my simple acts of sending money to the person who I want to send me stuff, I have received the following feedback:

  • FABULOUS BUYER!!!!!
  • Perfect Transaction AAAAA+++++++
  • Thanks for a Smooth and Fast Transaction! A+++ RECOMMENDED TO ALL.
  • true eBay pro all the way-Smooth sale from start to finish! Thanks! A+
  • thanks.

I mean, wow, there must be some truth to those conspiracy theories about cocaine lingering in the fibers of money, because I’ve never seen such exaultation involved in a purchase, and never received such grades, even in the simplest of subjects in kindergarten… like cutting out shapes with safety scissors.

The last comment is much more my speed. Do we really require such juvenile, boistrous accolades? Should we not save our praise for when we do receive something with undue care and quality? Much in the way that a tip no longer acknowledges excellent service, praise is quickly becoming bland and ineffective in a world more desensitized to quality than it is to violence.

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