Why should we get into a stranger’s car – or buy a stranger’s laser pointer? In 1997, eBay introduced a feature that helped solve the problem: Seller Feedback. Jim Griffith was eBay’s first customer service representative; at the time, he says “no-one had ever seen anything like [it]”. The idea of both parties rating each other after a transaction has now become ubiquitous. You buy something online – you rate the seller, the seller rates you. Or you use a ride-sharing service, like Uber – you rate the driver, the driver rates you. And a few positive reviews set our mind at ease about a stranger. Jim Griffith is not sure eBay would have grown without it. Online matching platforms would still exist, of course – but perhaps they’d be more like hitch-hiking today: a niche pursuit for the unusually adventurous, not a mainstream activity that’s transforming whole sectors of the economy.
Producer: Ben Crighton
Editors: Richard Knight and Richard Vadon
(Image: Hand touching stars, Credit: Cherezoff/Shutterstock)