Don’t try to give buyers your contact details in eBay Messages

By Chris Dawson August 21, 2017 - 11:35 am

We’re hearing an increasing number of eBay sellers getting hit with violations for directing buyers to their contact details in listings. As you should be aware of by now, eBay are going to insist that your contact details are removed from listing templates in the Autumn and also hide your Business Seller Information a couple of clicks from listings.

What appears to be happening at the moment is that eBay are cracking down on signposting your contact information in eBay Messages. We reported this just a few days ago and sellers being suspended for asking buyers to “Resend it to the [email] address in the description of the item”. eBay are translating this to be an abuse of their ‘Offers to buy or sell outside of eBay’ policy.

The text of the email

As a result, your eBay buying and selling privileges have been restricted for 7 days, which also restricts you from sending or receiving messages with eBay members unless you have had a recent eBay transaction with that member. You may also be subject to a range of actions including changes to Seller Standards rating, application of fees, some or all of your listings ended or not being displayed in eBay search results, listing fees not being refunded for non-displayed listings, and restrictions on account features.

Once the 7 days have passed, your account will automatically be reinstated, including full use of messaging and listing search page exposure. However, if you are currently an eTRS member, your status will be downgraded and re-evaluated upon the next monthly review cycle. Please keep in mind that if you don’t follow this policy in future, your account(s) could be suspended, and you may be assessed a fee.

We are only too aware here at Tamebay that at times eBay’s messaging system simply isn’t up to scratch – when selling custom made items for which you need contact information (e.g. to print business cards) or images for personalising items. Sadly we don’t have a solution for you but our best advice is not to attempt to circumvent eBay’s prohibition on including contact information in eBay Messages.

Getting a selling restriction, your listings ended or hidden in search and losing eTRS won’t help the situation and will simply cut your income off.

  • Billy
    3 years ago

    Yes, I am one of the first victim 🙁

    I asked the customer to provide me with an email address so I can send him an invoice ( Only way I know after payment is complete ) and because we did similar violation a few weeks back they suspended the account. Here is the message I received from eBay;

    We’ve reviewed your eBay account and determined that you’re still not following our offers to buy or sell outside of eBay policy. As a result, your account has been suspended. You won’t be able to use eBay in any way. This includes using another existing account or registering a new account.

    Offers to buy or sell off eBay, including providing contact information within a member to member message, aren’t allowed.

    You provided or requested contact information prior to checkout or arranged to take the transaction off eBay.

    Violating Text: I certainly can do this for you but would you kindly provide an email address that I can send the invoice to? Also, a company name for the receipt if possible.

    After several hours of phone call and online chat I have the account reinstated but all my listings were removed means; I lost all my best match advantage and sold quantity plus days of work to check several thousand products quantity while relisting items back from unsold product page 🙁

    Hey, admin if my situation has a news value please share it so other sellers won’t suffer unfairly as I did 🙁

  • John
    3 years ago

    The only reason we ever do this is for buyers who are EU VAT registered so that we can draw them up an invoice where they are not charged VAT. We asked eBay fro advice on how we can do this through eBay and we were told

    “In this situation, buyer will need to contact their local authorities to know how to reclaim the VAT amount which they have paid to you.”

    and also

    “As on eBay, when seller mentions the item price, it is flat for all the buyers and sellers cannot change it for a particular buyer, unless they refund the partial amount after the payment is done from the buyer.”

    When questioned on the latter that it would mean we pay VAT to HMRC and also then refund that same amount to the customer we were given the response

    “I have checked with my Manager and as this is the case, the best thing to do is getting in touch with the tax experts and take advise from them. As we are not the tax experts, we would not be able to provide exact resolution for this and I do not want to share any incorrect information which may impact your financially.”

    How does everyone else deal with EU VAT Registered buyers through eBay other than taking them outside?

    • 3 years ago

      In our case, which is not that often, the EU buyer usually pays for an item at the full whack price inc VAT, then asks for a zero VAT invoice afterwards and provides their VAT details to make that possible.

      Then it’s just a case of checking their details, going into paypal and refunding the overpayment.

  • Becky
    3 years ago

    We’ve had this happen 3 times now, all unfairly as we weren’t trying to complete sales off ebay. One of the suspensions was because we gave them a mobile number to call a courier for a quote before the buyer committed to purchase. We sell furniture and people often want to view items beforehand, ebay should offer an option where you can mark the item has sold yourself.

    • paul
      3 years ago

      I try to buy cars on ebay, Classic cars,
      Old cars are such an individual and complicated purchase i think it is Stupid to buy without chatting on the phone with the seller.
      a 10 min conversation can answer 1000 Questions about the item.
      no-way could i ask all that via written message.
      It’s always good to have a buyer/seller interaction prior to purchase, to build some rapport, trust, etc. To help in the decision and how high to bid on the item.

      many sellers forget to list important facts / features etc that a 10 min chat will easily sort out.

      It’s not all about cheating ebay.

      a 10 min chat can save a 12 hour round trip to view a car / or add £1000 + to how much i wish to bid.
      Contact details should be Compulsory to prevent Fraud !

  • Moiz
    3 years ago

    Another victim here.
    had a warning in May (which we missed – got lost somewhere in our ebay messages – obviously it wouldn’t be put in the ‘priority folder’ because that would be too easy). like a previous poster we had an Italian buyer who needed a vat-less invoice – one of our advisers spelt out our email address.

    then in June, a 7-day ban on all buyer communications was on us. this time a customer asked if he could collect from our shop and pay cash, to which we replied yes. duh

    and now (coincidentally) this week, one of my team replied ‘can you email us’. she needed to create a multiple item invoice with combined shipping and discounts, going overseas. another 7-day ban but this time it’s hit sales also.

    i tried to appeal but it was in vain really.

    with ebay, you’re dealing with robots, not humans, so no point looking for any sympathy/empathy/goodwill – it’s all binary.

    after years selling on ebay I’ve realised we cannot put any weight on ebay as a platform as it can/will fail beneath your feet at anytime. Once you accept this you find peace and realise there’s no point living in fear. Just have to make sure you have backup when your ebay ship sinks…

    for now we’ll hopefully be back up and running after the 7 days, but for how long after that? God only knows. the way things are going i’m not hopeful.

  • Paul
    3 years ago

    I’ll add another flavour to this mess. We have been “limited” because we had our contact details in the email signature of our main email account.
    So the customer is emailing us to ask some technical details, we reply with the details (not a single word about selling outside ebay or anything) and our account is limited because of the details in the signature.

    To add to the insult, the buyer can see the very same details in the listing, under “Buyer information”. Still, ebay support (what a joke !!) believes that it’s normal that ebay can show the details but we are not permitted to show the same details.

    Hello Ebay, anyone at home ??

  • JD
    3 years ago

    The contact details of all EU based eBay Business Sellers are in the public domain.

    There is no reason at all why these contact details cannot be collected by a third party and published against eBay user names.

    I am sure that eBay will eventually make someone angry enough to do just that.

  • BG
    3 years ago

    JD Sounds an excellent idea.
    Are ebay going to force all those sellers whose user name is same as their trading name to change their user names ? It will soon be impossible to sell anything bulky , unique or needs seeing before buying.
    Time is rapidly approaching for the launch of a joint venture by UK sellers to challenge ebay management.

  • Annoyed
    3 years ago

    I sold a chair and had to send my buyer a mobile number in case they got lost on the way and needed to ring me. I was banned from sending it. This is not good business service.

  • Carpartsguy
    3 years ago

    Being a UK seller the biggest issue we have with this change is that we sell used car parts, 50% of our customer base are not English and English is not their first language, we find half of them have trouble reading and understanding the listings and they always call us to confirm any information before purchasing, i can see that this is going to effect our business massively.

    On top of this whoever made this decision at Ebay is an idiot, it is clearly all about the fact they are losing money, but this is due to previous irrational decisions, you only needed to look at the forum on release of the star system to see how many big customers they lost previously, and before that more revamps which lead to the shedding of large amount of customers, this decision is a step backwards, we are going back to the dark ages, they only have themselves and their horrendously stupid boardroom to blame for their current state.

  • 3 years ago

    In my experience, it is usually the buyer wanting to take things off ebay, thinking if they do, they’ll get a better price.

    But I bet they won’t ban a buyer!

  • Sand
    3 years ago

    Very interesting comments here. I was just about to contact 2 of my buyers (I’m only a personal occasional seller, just sold 4 items) to give them the landline number of the person who has the items (furniture) for collection. Wonder if that’ll get through?

    The obvious question is, why hasn’t someone setup a decent rival site yet? What about a UK company for once? BritBay anyone?

  • fred
    3 years ago

    it’s all because of fruad so much identity theft going on and scamming

  • Alan Paterson
    3 years ago

    ebay are having to take this action because so many sellers were trying to complete the sale “off site”. At one point some sellers were even promoting it on here so that ebay did not get their fee.

    It has always been a policy breech and was (and i think still is) called “circumvention of ebay fees” and if too many people do it we would not have a platform to sell on.

    ebay have had to take these measures to protect their business. The sellers trying to circumvent the fees have kinda forced ebays hand on this. Blame them – not ebay.

    • timo
      3 years ago

      Who the heck are you?!
      You’re always on here cheerleading like the most pro-ebay acolyte ever, no matter what the issue or FACTS are.

      You’ve clearly not read, let alone understood, the myriad ways in which this IS often the fault of ebay; the numerous scenarios on these various threads show time and again the sorts of situations where sellers have a clear legitimate need to contact with buyers pre-sale.

      Ebay do in fact get a lot of things right (I can’t begin to imagine the logistics of running such an enormous enterprise), but this is, yet again, an ill-thought through sledgehammer to crack a nut situation.
      Recognise it for what it is & many decent sellers legitimate grievance with it.

    • Alan Paterson
      3 years ago

      @ timo

      I found it funny when you are asking “who the heck are you”? I am using my name. You however are using “timo”. The irony.

      And you timo …….. despite my explanations ……. you do not seem to understand. This had to be done. The circumvention of fees is a bigger problem than some innocent sellers getting restricted. The fact is that most sellers being restricted at the moment ARE guilty of circumventing the fees. This jeopardises the entire platform for ALL sellers. Personally, I do not want these idiots jeopardising MY business. The problem was ripe and was like a cancer eating into the marketplace.

      If you do not understand this well……….I can’t put it any clearer.

      Unfortunately there has been innocent casualties ……… and if they phone Ebay they will have their account “unrestricted” if it is evident that there has been an error.

      Everyone seems to be concentrating on the minority of innocents rather than the majority of culprits for bypassing fees. You are missing the big picture ………. I get the big picture but unfortunately I seem to be one of the few sellers who do that are posting on Tamebay.

      You are right ……. Ebay do get a lot of things right……..and this action is one of them …….. and long, long overdue.

  • BG
    3 years ago

    AP has a fair point but Paul’s comment re buying items like classic cars is very valid. I suspect Ebay will lose far more in sales fees and commissions on sales of classic and ordinary cars, classic car parts, job lots, antiques etc where buyers need to get more info or see the item, than they will gain through trying to stop off site sales.
    Do these new rules apply to non business sellers as I am seeing new listings still containing contact details?
    If I want to sell a joblot of car spares or one of my classic cars how can the buyer now get my address or phone number to arrange to see the item?

  • 3 years ago

    yes its hard enough to make a few pounds on ebay yes they favour the buyer instantly when seller suffers for weeks haveing paypal account on hold for refund money which can easily be transferd if needed .ebay makes 530 million and a lot more buy we make next to nothing
    who can justify paying correct postage then ebay takeing money off that as well punter looses more money . ebay more profits

  • Chris Mcculloch
    3 years ago

    We also have experienced this. It seems eBay is being very strict for sharing contact details (email address, contact number, mailing address).

    At first, we were restricted for 1 week for asking a customer for his contact number to help him regarding the installation of the blind he bought from us.

    The next time, we were suspended for asking for a customer’s address as he was asking for a sample fabric of the blind he wanted to purchase from us. We were reinstated after we contacted support explaining that we only intend to send the sample so that the customer can make the buying decision and also to let him see the colours of the blind fabric so he can select which one to purchase.

    Although we were reinstated, eBay had deleted our listings from their catalog and we were not able to relist them. We intended to relist all our listings so the listing ranking is retained but we could not do that because the listings we had were all deleted and they could not restore them back.

    Now we are stuck with how we can go back up the rankings as our listings were quite old with years of built-up rankings.

  • northumbrian
    3 years ago

    were a little smug about all this
    for the best part of 20 years we have made is difficult as we possibly can for ebay
    buyers to contact
    we dont like
    the nutters and perverts ringing and mailing

    • 3 years ago

      I know where you are coming from!

      Going back years, but our phone number was displayed in the business seller details bit. I didn’t think much of it, until I’d experienced a half an hour phone call from a harmless but hopeless person, who needed to ask 20 questions about the low profit product and then be hand-held through the purchase process (couldn’t remember how to use Paypal!)

      As soon as that call was finished, our phone number was removed from ebay. It doesn’t stop the determined, but at least it gets rid of the really bad ones.

    • Alan Paterson
      3 years ago

      @ northumbrian. I agree. We try to keep all messages through eBay messages. In the past – when we communicated “off site” we have had some most unpleasant buyers on the phone and we were occasionally subjected to feedback extortion and other nasty communications. It’s best to try and keep all communication on eBay messages in case you get a “nutter” – at least that way eBay have a record of the communication and protect you if necessary. I sympathise with those sellers who might have to communicate with a buyer off site because of the particular items they sell.

      However, ebay needed to take action – there were too many sellers circumventing fees.

    • CO
      3 years ago

      when we first started 10+ years back, we used to think offering a telephone number was just part and parcel of doing business, so i had 2 people answering phones as well as messages.
      after one of my support staff left i realised answering phone calls wasn’t adding much value, in fact it was costing me.

      And for ebay messages, Ironically, it was one of our 7-day communications ban (no ebay messages) which made us realise that answering ebay messages is also not all it’s cracked out to be.

      now we prioritise on answering after-sales ebay messages and like others, we make it difficult for people to contact us.

  • Mike
    3 years ago

    Well that might have been the case in the past to “sell and forget” but times are changing and (as eBay reminds us time and time again) Customer Service is essential to ensure a proper buying experience. And then they go and limit the manner in which we can help buyers to make conscious decisions to buy -> pay eBay their fees. Wonder when someone at eBay wakes up in the morning and realizes “Sh*t, that’s the wrong way to go about it. More contact, more sales, more fees.” I absolutely get that there is a bunch of people both sellers and buyers that want to “circumvent fees” but IMHO the more and more restrictions they place on sellers will eventually result in them going off eBay anyhow and either selling on other channels or their own websites.
    I did hear a rumor that it’s OK to exchange details after the purchase was made, could any one confirm that?

    • Northumbrian
      3 years ago

      Bet all those who object to the eBay approach on this
      Would have something to say if their suppliers told their customers
      How to avoid buying from them without their profit added ,
      And they even provided the means for them to do it

  • 3 years ago

    It may be interesting for you all to know that ebay have told us that we’re not allowed our business name within our logo on our listings.. That counts as contact info.. apparently

    • JD
      3 years ago

      Argos could have ‘a bit of trouble’? Thought not.

      Double standards clearly at play here.

  • Paul
    3 years ago

    The ebay managing team should move to North Korea, their approach belong to that place…

  • CO
    3 years ago

    I was just thinking on how much I’m worth to ebay -despite my fees (below) i’m worth nothing.

    Thanks for your business and for choosing eBay. Your eBay invoice for the period from 01 July 2017 through 31 July 2017 is now available to view in any web browser.

    On mobile devices, you’ll see a summary of your invoice.

    Total invoice amount due: £15,089.04

    My Level of Satifisfaction (as a “valued customer”)?

    Because no one from eBay values or cares for my account or my business.

    If my £180,000 of annual business went to zero tomorrow, i don’t think anybody at ebay would know, let alone care.

    Or am I being too emotional?

    • Alan Paterson
      3 years ago

      Yes, you are being too emotional.

  • Pete
    3 years ago

    I have been selling on eBay for nearly 16 years, and it just gets harder and harder to sell at a profit, in fact I am using eBay less and less. My biggest gripe is the returns policy, it ties your money up for weeks, eBay ALWAYS come out on the seller’s side, when I am the eBay customer and pay them! People return items with bits missing etc. And eBay still give a refund!
    I for one would be happy to NEVER use eBay again!

  • Northumbrian
    3 years ago

    This is all about attitude
    We view eBay as a tool
    Like any tool the skill of the user defines the quality of the finished result
    to quote an old saying
    It’s a bad workman who blames his tools
    we know what eBay is ,we know we’re on our own . If eBay fails to work we will either change the blade, or use another tool

    • Alan Paterson
      3 years ago

      Awesome analogy.

  • Pete
    3 years ago

    Just banned today for replying to a customer who wanted combined shipping, plus wanted an additional item not on Ebay but on my website….7 days is going to be hard but means I’m now going to focus on my website.

    My existing listings are active and still in the search so think maybe they have eased up a bit.

    We have never needed a competitor to Ebay as much as we do now….!

    • CO
      3 years ago

      Hang in there Pete.
      It sounds like you’ve had the pre-restriction which might just be on your ebay communications. i.e. no customers will be able to contact you via ebay for 7 days?

      we had that first and it didnt affect sales too badly.
      we slipped up again however and got another 7day restriction but this time it made all our listings invisible from any searches (except google).
      this killed our sales for 7 days, but luckily when we came back online, our sales picked up and we’re doing roughly the same business as we were doing before the restriction.

    • Pete
      3 years ago

      Thanks CO

      My listings were OK for 12 hours but this morning all gone. All that hard work gone!
      I did try listing something new out of interest and it said I was banned for 3 days not 7 which was odd!

      Spent time with them in chat but to no avail. Screw’em. Had enough of them, planing on leaving now. The £4000+ I make them a year obviously not worth it. Even tried to get them to refund me a weeks subscription money out of principle but they wouldn’t budge.

      I have the whole week now so maybe just tie up a dozen Ebay chat operators at once for fun 🙂

      I see countless ads for silly apps like Splock, all that time and money, why someone come up with a good UK/EU Auction site is beyond me. Every person I know has something bad to say about Ebay – maybe it’s just too complicated to get right. Who knows – will plough that money into Facebook / Website ads from now on.

    • pete
      3 years ago

      A quick update… I did an online chat with the Account team, told them I wasn’t happy and would be cancelling my account. Argued that with all my listings removed from the search function I won’t sell a thing for the next 7 days. Got the usual, “we’re sorry to hear that….”, however they did credit me £25 (1 month subscription costs).

  • Paul
    3 years ago

    A secret: the advertised listing (paid to ebay) are NOT affected by the ban, they will still appear on ebay search.

    • Pete
      3 years ago

      Hi Paul, when you say the advertised listing do you mean the promoted listings that you have to pay extra for?

  • Paul
    3 years ago

    Yes the Promote your listings page under the Marketing tools. The ones that you select the listings and then you set a % from the price as promotional cost.

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