Why do some eBay members have private feedback?

Have you ever looked at an eBay members feedback profile and noticed they had a private profile? I bet you have, and I bet you also wondered just why that member has chosen to make their profile private. I asked myself the same question every time I saw an eBay member with a private feedback profile, so I did some research and here are my findings.

According to eBay, private feedback is designed for reputable buyers and sellers that have received an unfair or defamatory feedback comment. The trader can then choose to make the feedback private whilst eBay decides if they should remove the feedback comment or not. Whilst the feedback is private you cant see any of the feedback comments left for the eBay member, you can however view how many positives, neutrals and negatives the member has received.

The above reason for making feedback private seems reasonable enough, however how do you know the eBay member isn’t making their feedback private for more sinister reasons?

The answer – You Don’t!

A lot of members with private feedback may be trying to hide more than the odd bad comment, they may be hiding hundreds or maybe even thousands! These comments could be warning you about eBay scams or a very bad ebayer, without being able to see the feedback comments the only thing you have to go on are the feedback scores for the member.

No matter how good the feedback scores look, if an eBay member has private feedback then it should instantly ring an alarm bell in your head. I wouldn’t recommend buying anything from an eBay member with a private feedback profile. If you are desperate for the item that the member is selling my advice would be to contact the seller before you purchase the item. Ask the seller why they have chosen to make their feedback profile private, you could even ask them to make the feedback public so you can view the comments and once you have seen the comments they can make them private again.

After all of my research I still cant find any good reasons as to why a member would choose to keep their feedback profile private. As soon as I see a member with a private feedback profile I always get the impression that they have something to hide.

In closing I would strongly recommend that you Don’t buy anything from an eBay member wih a private score, you are likely to get stung by an eBay scam! Do yourself a favour and buy the item you are looking for from a more reputable eBay seller. Remember the old saying – “If it sounds too good to be true, then it usually is!”

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14 Responses to “Why do some eBay members have private feedback?”
  1. boggle says:

    I totally agree i personally would never buy from people who keep their feedback private.
    eBay say they want to stop scammers well they could start by stopping the private feedback system.

    • sally wallis says:

      I was under the impression that anyone with private feedback couldn’t sell items on ebay. This comes from ebay help pages:
      “If you make your Feedback profile private, you won’t be able to sell items on eBay. Your Feedback comments will be hidden, but members will still be able to see the number of positive, neutral and negative Feedback ratings you’ve received.”

  2. J says:

    I put my feedback private for no sinister reason & I still remain 100%,
    you can still still work out the sellers reputation by the items they have bought or sold n working it out from the viewable perecentage rate…
    …Thus, explaining my private status, I

  3. J says:

    …Thus, explaining my private status, I just don’t want other eBay members viewing stuff I have bought or them seeing my bidding patterns…
    …absolutely nothing sinister to hide, with close to 400 feedbacks and not one Neg :P…
    … wicked, catch ya later, J

  4. K says:

    Another good reason is to hide your sales to good ole Uncle Sam, I know of some people who hide it merely so that their sales are not shown on a public basis. Sure, I suppose they could request the info if needed, but for those that are selling from home might just want to keep their sales information private so that no one can see their records of how much they sell or what they sell.

    I have another friend who keeps them secret because she has an ex who spies on her. This way she stays out of the ex’s view by having her records remain private. So there are ways and reasons, just many have their “own” particular reasons. Private listings aren’t meaning less than 100% feedback always. Just ask the sellers if you have questions!

  5. Sarah says:

    I prefer not to buy from sellers who have private feedback. Maybe if they have 100% positive’s and the item is something I can’t get elsewhere I might purchase but it is only as a last resort. I would be very dubious even if they are 100% but have some neutrals. Sometimes the comment left with a neutral can also give a good idea of the seller’s customer service.

    Before purchasing I usually check the feedback and sometimes will purchase if the seller has some negatives but they are from more than 6 months ago. One seller I traded with recently had a few negatives but after reading the comments and replies they were from the seller not posting items promptly. The seller was actually in hospital after a car accident. These are things that are unavoidable.

  6. Dan (el_passo) says:

    You all make some very good points.

    I never thought about the “Uncle Sam” reasoning, but now you mention it I think it is a very valid point. Although im sure eBay would supply the information if requested, it may be sensible to keep the details out of the public domain.

  7. Kim says:

    There will always be good and bad reasons why someone would
    have it be to private. But I sell on eBay and I am not someone who
    feels the need to hid anything. Still there are good reasons, I agree
    that hiding what you are doing from a ex is a great reason! Uncle Sam
    well its a valid point but not something I would personally do.
    This is a question that makes you think, when you go to buy something.
    Feedback is only one way to make sure you will not be taken when
    you are buying something off eBay. If it wasn’t there at all , what would
    we do then to make sure we are dealing with honest sellers and buyers?

  8. Rolf says:

    I did buy from someone once who had a private feedback record. I won’t do that again! If someone is hiding what others are saying, whether it be good or bad, there is usually something not quite right. If you want to keep a few things private I can understand. If you are collecting high ticket items you don’t want to set yourself up as a target for some unscrupulous scoundrel, and after I have bought coins and the like I seem to get a lot of phishing emails. However, if you want to use feedback to build an atmosphere of openness and trust with a potential customer, then I feel it is very important to preserve the transparency of feedback that is not private. Of course if you don’t care about what your customers think and feel, go ahead and shoot your sales in the foot and use a private view. It doesn’t matter to me any more because I just won’t deal with a seller like this.

  9. Peter Analyst says:

    Know it’s been quite a while no one has posted here, but anyway. My question: Does the seller can see private feedback?
    I heard recently that sellers cannot have private FB only buyers. Some sellers although not too many, I have seen do not accept bids from buyers with private FB. So I figure the seller just like us buyers, can’t see those with private FB. eBay should take a closer look at this private FB thing.

  10. Robert says:

    An ebay member with private feedback profile is a BIG red flag weather he is a seller or buyer.
    Even if you see someone who has a 100% score with private feedback, there is something else to keep in mind: Feedback that person *has left for others* is NOT included in that score and is totally obscured when feedback is made private by that user…..even if he has apparently 100% good feedback, you have no way of knowing what his track record is for what he leaves for others he has dealt with. I have see at least a few times where sellers/buyers have left good feedback on apparently perfectly sound transactions and the person in question responds with negative comments, sometimes downright insulting, abusive and slanderous. That is another reason why someone might make their own feedback private.
    If someone bids on an item I am selling and has their feedback private, I will either immediately cancel the bid or will politely ask them if they might open the feedback for me to view. If I get no favourable response, I cancel the bid. A good policy to follow!

  11. cccooperagency says:

    I just had my first experience with a private profiler and it did have to do with hiding their questionable practices and more. This was a European who bid and won several of my auctions and then went on to tell me how to ship these items to avoid paying customs and falsify documents! There was no way I wanted any part of that. When told that I would be happy to ship the items separately so that no duty was imposed OR combine items with shipping discount and the customs duty is his responsibility, he about went ballistic.
    Not only did he want the combined shipping discount but also to avoid customs duty and he did not even want them shipped with tracking! He wanted them simply in an envelope and I suspect the buyer would have later claimed “no receipt” so he could do a chargeback on Paypal. All of these listings won were for unique non activated geocoins and I strongly suspect he had plans to sell them and make a tidy little profit (no cost involved!) When citing the Ebay, Paypal and USPS requirements he got nasty and told me to go ahead and call in the FBI. I did a cancel transaction on all 3 but sadly, you can’t file negative feedback on these disreputable buyers nowadays.

  12. sally wallis says:

    I bought a “sterling silver” stamped bracelet from an ebay member with really good feedback, and after wearing it for 4 months noticed it was, as I thought, tarnished. Cleaning it up I could see that the silver was wearing off revealing base metal underneath. As the purchase was longer than 45 days ebay wouldn’t help, dispite it being obvious that she was misselling cheap plated jewellery as sterling silver, and attempts to sort it out with the seller failed. I reported her to Trading Standards, and although it is unlikely that I will get my money back (£23) I hope she is stopped. A little bit of research on my part showed that she was buying up cheap lots of plated jewellery, stampeed as 925 silver (although sold with the description of plated) and selling as sterling silver. I have now found that her feedback has suddenly been made private, and she has no items for sale. I am wondering if ebay is finally investigating her. I also wonder how many other people got stung by the same seller.

  13. sally wallis says:

    I think that you should be able to amend feedback after the 45 day limit in certain circumstances, such as when an obvious misselling or false description has occurred, I also think that there should be some way for ebay members to post negative feedback like you used to be able to do.