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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 February 2008, 10:49 GMT
Customers 'quit eBay' over new rules
By Maddy Savage
Newsbeat reporter, Radio 1

Screen grab of eBay auction
The site says only a minority of people leave negative feedback

Online auction site eBay has said it plans to overhaul its feedback system and will ban sellers from leaving negative comments about buyers.

From May, you will no longer be able to rate people badly if they don't pay for things.

Sellers say they will miss out on vital feedback and many are threatening to stop using the site, but eBay claims it will actually make people more honest.

So what is the situation at the moment?

If you buy something from the site, you can rate the seller, positive, negative or neutral depending how good it is. If you sell something on the site, you can do the same. So if a buyer doesn't pay up, they get a bad rating, which helps warn others.

What is going to change?

The company's banning negative or neutral feedback about buyers. This means customers will no longer be able to warn each other about problem buyers who never pay.

Why is eBay doing this?

It's because some buyers have been getting threats. Sellers have been complaining about negative comments and saying they'll give buyers bad ratings if they don't get good ones back. However, eBay says all this is encouraging lies. It's also adding a ‘cool down' period for feedback on sellers. You won't be able to post any for three days now. This is designed to get buyers and sellers to communicate better with each other, before they make any complaints.

Why are people angry then?

Critics argue that by taking away a seller's chance to complain about a problem buyer, it will give them few rights if the sale goes wrong. Some customers reckon that by still allowing buyers to leave bad comments about sellers, eBay has skewed the whole process.

How has eBay reacted?

The company says if someone doesn't pay, the seller can still easily contact the company. It will review complaints, and problem buyers could be removed from the site. It says that only a minority of sellers leave negative feedback for buyers anyway.

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