eBay to remove contact information from Business Seller Information

By Chris Dawson July 6, 2017 - 12:05 pm

eBay have announced on sites across the EU that they will be removing business seller contact information from the Business seller information box on the product listing page. However they will continue to display the seller’s VAT number (if available) along with the Terms and conditions for the sale and Returns policy on individual listings.

This change will align the way information is displayed on a desktop with how it is already displayed on mobile views and the eBay app.

In future once the information is removed, the only way that a buyer will be able to find your contact information is by clicking on your user ID at the top of the listing to access the Seller Profile and then clicking on a new a new Business info section.

This new section doesn’t appear to be live yet on eBay UK (at least I’ve not seen it), but you can already see how it will look on eBay France:

Is this unexpected?

eBay announced in their last seller release links policy update that they would bar sellers from including contact information in their listings. Sellers took this to mean that they couldn’t add the details themselves but that they would continue to appear in the Business Seller Information box below their description, eBay’s exact wording in the seller release is below:

“From September 2017 you won’t be able to include contact information, i.e. phone numbers, email addresses or social media profiles, in item descriptions, images, eBay Shops or seller profiles. The new rules won’t apply to the Business seller information section.”
– eBay Spring 2017 Seller Release

Some sellers have already tried to circumvent the new policy adding a note to tell buyers that their contact details are at the foot of the listing (especially sellers of custom made items), not just on eBay itself but also by amending their standard post-sale email templates. If you’re one of these sellers than sadly you’re efforts are in vain due to the new change and repositioning of your contact information to be two clicks away from the listing page.

Sellers of Custom Made items

Generally there’s very little reason for a buyer to need to speak to a seller… at least when everything goes right with a transaction. When things do go wrong normally eBay messages are more than adequate, especially when you remember that you can add an invoice, flyer, business card or sticker with all your items enabling customers to phone or email you direct if there’s a post sales issue after they’ve receive their item. We’ve written about this issue several times since the original announcement.

The hole in eBay’s arsenal is how sellers of custom made items can receive text (including email address, website URLs, phone numbers etc) for printed goods and of course print quality images. eBay are well aware that there is an issue here and we’re waiting for them to suggest a resolution which hopefully will come prior to the September 2017 deadline when professional sellers have to remove contact information from their listings.

The main issue is that obviously you want to leave the contact information in your listings as long as possible until an alternative solution is found but you also don’t want to leave editing thousands of listings in the final days of August.

We’ll update as soon as we hear any news as to how you can continue to sell custom made items on eBay and receive the text and images from customers you need in order to personalise their items.

  • Max
    10 months ago

    That’s the wrong solution to the small problem of out of site transactions.

    At the end of the day buyers want the convenience of eBay ad not having to create an account elsewhere. Most of them do not even understand why it could be cheaper buying direct. So they are not trying to make a deal outside eBay.

    I think this policy is harming sellers and buyers alike. When I buy something I like to know who I am dealing with!

  • Chris Barton
    10 months ago

    How does this comply with the distance selling regulations ✓

  • james
    10 months ago

    “Generally there’s very little reason for a buyer to need to speak to a seller…”
    – bo***cks.
    we sell big ticket items, there’s every reason in the world for a customer to have a question or two before splashing £2k+ online.

    ebay’s dead, move on people. it’s only gonna start to stink soon.

    • northumbrian
      10 months ago

      we find the more expensive the item the more sensible and switched on the buyer is , the less questions we receive,
      its lower value items that attract the chiselers, the skimmers, the fools, idiots, or numbskulls that cant read

  • SAM
    10 months ago

    Can see where the issue is with items that are made up by the sellers, we use someone on eBay to make our flyers up, and they provide the email address etc, they also daft by not doing a better deal direct never understood that.

    eBay traffic is in decline and this is just another sticking plaster to the fact they have never innovated over the years and are now in terminal decline.

  • 10 months ago

    They are going to have a hell of a time with false positives in listing descriptions also. All you would require is to have something on your listing that resembles a contact number but err..isn’t.

    Let’s say an your descriptions also display a serial number / MPN or other identifier which uses a format identical (or at least very close to) to a contact number, then that’s likely to have the listing flagged up by automated processes for one action or another.

  • Legal Eagle
    10 months ago

    Is it even legal?

    8. For the purposes of this Part, something is made available to a consumer only if the consumer can reasonably be expected to know how to access it.

    Traders have to disclose “the geographical address at which the trader is established and, where available, the trader’s telephone number, fax number and email address, to enable the consumer to contact the trader quickly and communicate efficiently; ”

    Does hiding the information still count as making it available – can a buyer be reasonably expected to know how to find it?

    • Rob
      10 months ago

      It is easier to find a sellers address, email and phone number if they are a business on ebay than it is to find ebay’s own contact information. When you click contact us no address is supplied.

  • Joe B
    10 months ago

    What about sellers who sell things like printed return labels? How is the customer supposed to provide their address? eBay will tell them off for putting it in a message.

    The whole thing is way OTT.

  • 10 months ago

    An now listing descriptions are not fully shown on firefox!, only 1st two rows of txt, you have to click another box which says “See full item description” another window then opens to show full description. Seems ok with chrome browser though.

    Why add this as a feature? – more returns then for buyers not reading descriptions.

    On to ebay again to give feedback this pile of poo!

    • james
      10 months ago

      we’ve had this one one office computer today, on firefox, the rest of the office PC’s show descriptions normally.

  • Russell C
    10 months ago

    I am sick and tired of being told by eBay on how to run my own business !!

  • Jenny
    10 months ago

    It’s absolute madness! The only way we can think to get around it is by sending an image to our customer with our contact details on.

    Only problem is, if a buyer reported us for doing this, we’d likely be removed from eBay.

  • Sarah
    10 months ago

    This removal of the item description is total madness – sincerely hope it’s a daft glitch which will be solved soon. Sales have certainly been affected.

  • Mark
    10 months ago

    What a bloody mess. Distance selling states in law that you must clearly display your business name and contact details. They must not be hidden away.
    So someone needs to find out if eBay have re-written the law of the land.
    They always act like they are the Law.

    • james
      10 months ago

      we’re all aware of several serious breaches of law by ebay, has anyone ever seen a policeman take the slightest interest? no, so why not keep pushing til they do?

  • 10 months ago

    Hi- Sorry to change subject – has anyone had this ebay email this morning – re EAN numbers- Can anybody tell me -will “Does Not Apply” box cease as from 10 July

    Some of your
    listings contain
    invalid product
    Over the past 2 years, we’ve expanded our use of product identifiers, and have introduced further checks to make sure that information is valid.
    We’ve noticed that some of your listings don’t include valid product identifier information.
    From 10 July
    You won’t be able to relist these items without including valid product identifiers.

  • 10 months ago

    Not sure but i also had same email this morning too, virtually all my items are cutom so dont have EAN or GTIN

  • Brian
    10 months ago

    Just been onto bad english speaking customer service – yes correct & EAN numbers cant be bulk edited?

  • Ian
    10 months ago

    I presume that the reason ebay do not want to draw attention to a sellers contact details is to stop customers going directly to the seller (which I believe is a great idea) The problem I see in my competitors is they print there website address on the product they are selling, therefore the website URL appears on the product image. Not sure how eBay could stop this, and perhaps its something I should be doing.

    • 10 months ago

      Having text on images is something ebay “banned” ages ago, but failed to follow through on. Their autodetect system was easy to get around and If you reported a seller for doing it, ebay took no action, because they couldn’t be bothered looking at listings manually for repeat offenders.

      So, loads of sellers, like you mention, cover images in website/contact/allsorts.

      Recently, I’ve noticed several of my competitor sellers have changed to plain images. Whether that’s because ebay is taking note as part of their efforts to prevent off-site sales, I don’t know. But, it is worth keeping an eye on your competitors. Rather than copying, maybe try reporting them again. Maybe this time it will work.

  • 10 months ago

    They now state that “…. repositioning of your contact information to be two clicks away from the listing page”.

    But UK Consumer Contract (Distance Selling regs) stipulated they be no more than 1 click away from any individual offer?

    ebay, once again, a law unto itself!?

  • Bryan Gostling
    10 months ago

    I have been selling my unwanted classic car parts on ebay since the start and EANs do not exist for such items. Why they seem to insist on EANs is not comprehensable. After all most buyers would not know the EAN for an item they are looking for. Most people I know search by item Heading and sometimes by item description. Has anyone else noticed that you now get lots of non related items come up in such searches?
    As for not allowing sellers contact details in the listings. What about when you are selling a job lot of something or perhaps a car and the buyer needs to see the items first before deciding to buy?
    Will they get car dealers to change their user IDs where they use their name? eg something like Mercedeschelmsford

    Is there anyone out there who could set up a simple website with auction facility to which we could all move to? Its time we had a UK based website run by UK residents.

    I am sick of their totally inflexible attitude towards sellers, reliance on computer systems to make decisions without adequate notice to and consultation with sellers and their continual changing of the rules plus many more things they have done to upset me in last two years.

    None of the management at Ebay will ever talk to you and if they do their hands are tied, none of the staff can think for themselves and none of the senior management / directors give a damn as all they are interested in is the mega bucks they get paid in bonuses.

  • northumbrian
    10 months ago

    cant see what the uproar is about no one is forced to use ebay , if its critical to display contact details dont use ebay is the answer

  • Jonah
    10 months ago

    Hardly fair Northumbrian on the countless sellers that need to display business seller information- many of whom have built up a business on eBay over the past years.
    Also there is the legal aspect of what eBay are doing with regards to distance seller regulations.
    Mind you your probably correct,,,,, no one is forced to use eBay and the more dafter it gets the more sellers will leave. It’s almost like eBay have some sort of corporate self destruct policy.

    • northumbrian
      10 months ago

      contact info is still available though not as obvious
      plus I would bet dollars to doughnuts ebay are squeaky correct legally,

      near 20 years we have sold on ebay full time ,one thing we have learned is you suck it up , do things how ebay wants, or you dont do it ,no good wasting time and profit fighting them

  • Alan Paterson
    10 months ago

    with respect to eBay…….are they not being forced to do EANs by Google? I believe that Google is making it a necessity to have any sort of ranking. I don’t know much more than that but it is essential for eBay to comply with how Google analyze and rank products and services.

    A lot of people criticizing eBay over this. Calling it “mad” and “stupid” and “makes no sense”. Just because you don’t know or understand the reasons behind the EAN numbers does not make eBay incompetent. They will have a very good reason for implementing these.

    If I remember correctly they were demoted on Google back in 2014 and (one) of the reasons was the lack of EAN and product identifiers. It looks obvious that the search engine needs them.

    eBay don’t do anything without a good reason.

    Also, i can understand ebay wanting to remove seller information. FAR too much off site transactions going on. In fact it was being promoted by some unaware (lets call it that) sellers on threads on Taamebay.

  • Andy
    10 months ago

    Alan Paterson – Ebay apologist extraordinaire and so consistently.

    • Alan Paterson
      10 months ago

      Thank you for the compliment, Andy. I think its important to support the platform we sell on.

      I would be interested what you would do if you were eBay? I regularly have buyers phone us up looking at conducting the transaction off site. They want to pay by card…..

      This will be one of the primary reasons for ebay removing the seller information.

      I am interested Andy……what would you do if you were ebay?

      I think they used to call it “Circumvention of ebay fees”. Maybe they still do but it can cripple the platform. You only need to read the general threads on Tamebay to see that most people resent giving eBay money. What do you think that will achieve long term?

      Only a fool would support this. You are not a fool Andy – I have read some of your other posts and although I seldom agree with you – you always make your point well.

  • Ian A
    10 months ago

    This could have a bigger impact than ebay realise.
    Yes we should all play by the rules but out In the real world a lot of small ebay businesses like mine that sell low volume high value items succeed on eBay because of the occasional direct sale.
    I’ve had other dealers ring me saying ‘how are we supposed to sell now? They’re going to close my account if it happens again.’
    Buyers won’t pay a price that includes all the fees and still makes the seller a fair profit.. so no sale no profit to reinvest in new stock for eBay

    I can see many similar businesses who were paying some ebay fees, stop advertising on the site altogether.

    Or I guess there will be a huge migration to private accounts.

    • Alan Paterson
      10 months ago

      What you are describing Ian is the circumvention of eBay fees. I think you seem to be justifying it too.

      You have said that you only succeed if you do this. Not good.

      Why should I (and other sellers) have to pay eBay fees when other sellers on the platform do not. Please remember a lot of this money is reinvested by eBay in advertising. Why should I have to pay for eBay advertising when you or other sellers do not?

      If sellers are receiving a sales inquiry from the platform – well, that lead has been generated by eBay on their platform. why should sellers not be contributing to that?

      these accounts should be closed if they continuously sell “on the side” and circumvent fees. In answer to your question “how are we supposed to sell now?” – you don’t. If you can’t make a profit while incorporating the fees generated by the platform then it is wise not to sell on the platform – you don’t want to be running at a loss after all.

      One of the reasons eBay will increase fees is for the sellers who ARE paying their fees to subsidize the sellers who don’t pay their fees by taking the transaction off site.

      I would always help and give advice to another seller but i see no reason why i should subsidize it.

    • Ian A
      10 months ago

      I’ve paid over £1500 in fees in the last two months

      I don’t have a problem paying fees on sales and don’t expect anyone to subsidise it

      On luxury items I tend to end up paying over £110 in fees, that’s quite a chunk out the net profit on a Swiss watch, often rolexes only have 10% in them.

      If buyers contact me directly and I make a sale that’s part of doing good business. Most sales do go through eBay but it’s that bonus direct one that helps my business.

      If we’re talking about a level playing field You can’t seriously suggest Argos and etc don’t make direct sales as a result of advertising their items for sale on eBay.

    • Alan Paterson
      10 months ago

      Make your mind up Ian, you are either supporting circumventing ebay fees or you are against it. Make your mind up. When reading your posts I feel that I am watching the tennis.
      Your original post implied that your business model wasnt viable unless you conduct a proportion of transactions off-site. This is exactly what eBay are trying to stop. I personally don’t blame them.
      If they succeed you had better adjust your business model or close before you start haemorrhaging money.

  • 10 months ago

    I think this is going to hurt eBay more than it helps them, we get a lot of phone calls from buyers wanting to check that a part for their car is correct before ordering on eBay.

    We prefer this because it stops them buying an item that won’t fit, car parts are a notorious nightmare to get right unless you have the right catalogues.

    I know we’re a minority, but this is asking the buyers to be experts in car parts and they’re (generally) not, so I don’t think eBay will see a big hike in the fees they collect from us as a result, but as usual we’ll comply and see what happens….

  • Andy
    10 months ago

    Alan, I offer a small round of polite applause to you. I generally titter at most of your posts because they’re generally stroking the Ebay pussycat of pleasure and making it purr.

    Myself, I’m not a large volume business seller. I get by, it pays my rent every month. As a business seller and a private seller and purchaser, Ebay has had a good wodge of cash out of me over the last 15 years. In the last two years the website has had numerous problems. Scam sales in the field I sell in are rife. I’ve reported plenty of people, bought fraudulent items, and nothing seems to change.

    Many people resent giving Ebay money because they give quite a lot. Some of us who have been on this platform for years will remember fees as they were in the old days of cheques and postal orders. They’ll remember the days before all the associated hoopla that goes with selling on Ebay. We are paying more in fees than we were ten years ago and the actual selling mechanism is no better. In many respects, it is worse. I can say I’ve had more cases of devious buyer idiocy in the last two years than I did in the previous 13 on this platform.

    I agree that circumvention of fees is wrong. If you advertise on Ebay, then you are using that service to reach people and so going off-site is not good. However the idea that people go off-site purely for fee reasons is absolute piffle. In the world of musical instruments for instance, I could throw up plenty of people who go off-site because they have been stung in the past by crooked buyers on Ebay. I’ve had a couple myself and lost out. They go off-site because they do not trust Ebay as a selling platform. This is why sites like Reverb are doing well (as witnessed by the recent Ebay US decision to reduce fees on guitars down to Reverb levels).

    However trying to reduce offsite transactions by employing what is in effect a form of censorship for businesses and individuals that is effected by lousy bot software is typical Ebay stupidity. Forget sledgehammers and nuts, this is, with a nod of appreciation to the late Hunter S Thompson, using a million pound s***hammer to crack those same nuts.

    And you know what? Circumvention of fees to me is bad for business but we’re talking about Ebay, the company that owns Stubhub aka a company that makes a lot of money off of ticket scalpers. When it comes to economic morality, it’s not like Ebay operates in a whiter than white way.

  • Andy
    10 months ago

    In the same breath though, Alan, I do like the quality of discussion you invoke though.

    • Alan Paterson
      10 months ago

      Thank you for your kind comments, Andy. I know my posts are often not popular – some would say universally unpopular lol.
      I do try and see I from eBay’s point of view. There is a lot of eBay haters on these threads and sometimes I feel like a voice in the wilderness and I do make an attempt to “balance things out”.
      Genuinely ebay has been good for us and it is responsible for the majority of our online sales.
      How did you know I name my pussycat “Mr. Ebay”. That’s spooky.

  • Mark
    9 months ago

    I have spoken to trading standards and law states a business even before it sells a product must clearly display its Business Name, Address and contact details including tel number or email. So eBay actions of hiding this information away are actually breaking the law.

  • northumbrian
    9 months ago

    So what ! we probably break the law in some way every day ,there are so many rules regulations and conditions,

  • Toby
    9 months ago

    So im getting the impression that ebay are trying to prevent off site sales…. yet what do i see on my ebay screen all the time? Oh yes, links to deals in shops off ebay! Great idea… tell everyone its damaging you, then offer to make it all ok by paying an extra fee.
    Maybe i should get my competitors to advertise on my website for a fee? I could pocket a bit of cash and send alot of my customers else where!
    Business sense at it’s finest!….. or a sense of blind desperation…