I have to say, as I buyer, I did not fully understand how the system affected sellers, nor that discounts were given.
I, too, can see how the discount can seem arbitrarily unfair. This is especially true when you consider some sellers may move thousands of items, monthly, but have one unsatisfied customer.
Usually, the only time I give someone low scores is in the communication department. As, most items I buy are gifts for the kids, it is important for me to know when to expect said items, because if a box shows up, the kids want to see what is inside. My postal carrier does not ring the bell when putting an item on the step, so I could wait a week to a month, sitting at the window, wondering where something is.
If the seller sends me a message saying "Your item is shipping on..." or "I have had delays, I cannot ship until three weeks from now...." I give them 5 stars. But even if I get the item three days later, if there was no email (unless the auction notes specifically say all items shipped at 'X' time frame), I give 0 stars for communication. I just need to know what and when to expect something, so I am not just sitting here, when a boy comes in with a box yelling, "Hey, what's in here????"
I won't even downgrade someone's score for time of shipping, even if it takes them two months, as long as they keep sending me updates (I will wait one week to email them, if I have not heard from them after the auction end, and as long as they reply, still give them full stars).
The other categories always get 5 stars, because I go all the way to page 53, if necessary, to find the best deal (and make sure I can see everything that is supposed to be included, if the item is loose), and rarely ever buy from someone using stock photos.
I may be the exception, but hopefully the info I have provided helps.
Like I said before, my heart goes out to you on this matter, as I was unaware everything that the Star system did to punish you. I don't think I will change my habit, though, because the simple email to let me know when to expect it (unless specifically noted in the comments of the auction), is one of the most important things the seller can do for me (as I try my hardest to handle everything else before the purchase).
_________________You don't have to be a Prime...
...to trash Decepticreep slime!