eBay have provided some additional insight into the annoymisation of eBay communications between buyers and sellers today, explaining why many sellers have received bounced emails when communicating with buyers. There are still some enhancements to be implemented and from early next year eBay member to member communications will be further improved.
Currently when an email is returned by the buyer’s email provider sellers have received a standard reply informing them and advising to resend using eBay My Messages. Some sellers may have received this message even if the original email was sent through an eBay contact webform or My Messages and a fix is being rolled out in the next few days to prevent this.
In the past when My Messages were used rather that direct email communications the data to determine when a users email addresses was invalid wasn’t available (any bounced emails would return to the sender, not to eBay). Now that the data is available to eBay they will introduce a process in early 2009 to force members to update their email preferences with a valid email address.
In the future eBay will also capture the reason for bounced emails and include this information in failure notices, which could be as simple as the mailbox being full, or a spam filter rejecting the email.
An additional process will be to mark messages as replied to in eBay My Messages even though an email client may have been used to send the reply. This means by checking My Messages buyers and sellers will easily be able to identify which emails have been responded to and which still need attention.
Currently the old “Yellow Button” has been removed from notifications leaving users with the option of replying from their email client or navigating to eBay My Messages manually to respond to emails. Next year a button will be restored giving the option of a single click for users who prefer to use My Messages to respond to buyer or seller communications.
The case for changing how eBay communications work is simple, in the past when a bidder sends an ASQ tied to a fraudulent listing, eBay revealed the bidder’s email address to the fraudster. Under the new process replies to anonymized emails are routed through eBay and scanned by multiple security layers including fraud and anti virus checks. Email addresses will automatically be stripped out of anonymous communications, even if they are included in the message body. Only once a valid auction bid or buy it now purchase is made are the buyer’s and seller’s real email addresses revealed.
The changes are great news for sellers, using my normal email client (Outlook) to respond to buyer questions has certainly made my life a lot easier. Once eBay begin forcing users to keep their email addresses up to date, communications will not only be safer from fraud but buyers are likely to see messages sooner – most people check their email more regularly than logging into eBay.
If you would like to send and receive eBay messages from an alternative email address to your eBay registered email, you can change your Member-to-Member email address in the Notification Preferences section of My eBay (Communication preferences if you’re using My eBay Beta)