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£50k per week seller shut down over eBay messages

By Chris Dawson September 16, 2017 - 8:08 pm

Once again we’re writing to warn eBay sellers not to send contact details in eBay messages, in fact be extremely cautious in any content that could be interpreted by a robot into construing an off-site deal.

I received a phone call today on behalf of a retailer who was frantic because their £50k per week turnover eBay account had been suspended. That’s pretty much their entire business shut down on a Saturday.

The back story is that a buyer contacted the seller wanting a cable for their TV. The seller, genuinely a good helpful retailer, said “Send me a photo of the back of your TV and I’ll tell you if it will fit”. The buyer responded “I can’t send the image through eBay messages as it’s too big, can you give me your email address?”. When the seller said “No, I can’t send you my email address” their entire account was shut down by eBay.

Thankfully when I gave the advice to telephone eBay, rather than relying on online support, they managed to convince seller support to have their account reinstated, but for a few hours their business was shut down. They’re now doubtless in the throes of relisting items rather than enjoying a peaceful Saturday evening.

What’s going on?

To put it bluntly, eBay seem to be on a bit of an account suspension rampage and they’ve turned the filters up to the max. Just about anything that could be construed as an attempt to communicate off eBay will get you a suspension or a ban.

I don’t personally think a £50k per week eBay account is any more or less important than an account doing £500 per month – if this is your livelihood and if you have workers or dependents reliant on you making money then they’re equally crucial. However it’s worth noting that if eBay are willing to shut down the account of a £50k per week seller then they’ll have no compunction in closing an account that’s only doing £5k or £10k a month. Don’t let it be you.

Triggers that could get you an eBay seven day suspension or permanent account closure

If you mention any of the following in an email you’re highly likely to get suspended

  • Telephone number

    Anything that looks like a telephone number even if it isn’t

  • Email address

    Don’t include an email address or the word ’email’. This is particularly important as we know eBay messages aren’t up to scratch for sending high resolution images so don’t be tempted to chance it.

  • Physical address

    Don’t include any place names or post codes. Even if you’re giving an general location for a potential collection in person this could lose you your account

  • Invoice

    If you offer to provide something as innocent as a ‘VAT Invoice’ or ‘Commercial Invoice’ for an eBay sale this could be construed as an attempt to sell off eBay

  • Free

    Don’t offer to add any freebies in to sweeten a deal, eBay will construe this as fee avoidance

  • Replying to a buyer’s message

    Bizarrely we’ve heard of a couple of instances where sellers refused a buyer request to complete a deal off eBay and their account was still restricted. Don’t ever reply to any such requests but report them to eBay to cover your back.

There are likely many other ways to get your account closed or suspended, so if in doubt our best advice is either to ignore the email or contact eBay and ask for their advice as to the best way of wording your response.

What to do if you are suspended or your account is closed

Don’t delay, get straight on the phone to eBay. Don’t mess about with messages but speak to a human being and appeal your case. Explain that you had no intention of taking a deal off eBay, justify why you sent the message (or point out that your message refused an off site deal) and demand to be reinstated straight away in the strongest (but polite and professional) terms possible.

Finally, and this won’t help you in the slightest, email Tamebay or drop a note in comments below. We can’t help you get your account back but we are monitoring the situation and have written about it numerous times in the past few weeks.

  • Zina
    1 month ago

    Well that’s just completely a ton of crap! I sell personalised items including invitations, so a buyer can email their party details such as address, email address and phone number for an rsvp……where does that leave me? eBay really need to sort themselves out instead of playing god. They will loose trust from sellers and soon eBay will learn the hard way once they realise the sellers are moving elsewhere because of their ridiculous rules. This doesn’t give me any hope for my business with eBay any more.

    • Josh C
      1 month ago

      You can send details if the customer has made a purchase/transaction. 🙂

  • Naem
    1 month ago

    Buyer contacted us in regards to faulty item puchased 5 months ago. We simply asked for his email address to send a prepaid label. Account was suspended. It was later re instated but i have been onto ebay many times asking how do we deal with warranty issues after 90 days when sales are deleted from ebay, answer was we dont know but do not attempt to ask for any details or try to give any i.e..returns address. Basically they want us to ignore the buyer after 90 days. Not good for good sellers and buyers. Really frustrating.

    • banned_from_the Boards
      1 month ago

      Hi Naem.

      Your physical address, your email address and your email address should be in your business Contact information, which is found on each of your listings.

      Don’t “loose” any sleep over it.

  • banned_from_the Boards
    1 month ago

    An eBay Business Seller is legally required to have their Business Contact information available to buyers and POTENTIAL BUYERS.

    The regulations define being “available” as follows: –
    “something is made available to a consumer only if the consumer can reasonably be expected to know how to access it.”

    Currently this is on every listing and fully complies with this part of the regulations.

    • Naem
      1 month ago

      Hi. Yes true my details are in seller info. But ebay support categorically stated thay if i state “please check my contact details in listing”, i will be suspended immediatly. In case of warranty issues after 90 days of sale, words “contact me” or “contact you” are enough to have you suspended. Iike i explained i have been onto ebay and there is no way i can discuss a return. You will be surprised to know that i have been told by ebay support to give the returns address, account will be suspended but then i have to call ebay to have the account re instated. I still have that live chat saved. I have no words to express my frustration .

  • HP
    1 month ago

    Just imagine if you had a staff member that wanted to leave and he asked some one to send in a email asking your contact details. Wow now we have a real situation on our hands.

    Just a situation that can happen if your a large company on Ebay.

  • john
    1 month ago

    At this rate you’ll have sellers screwing over ebay and the buyers for the sake of it because thhey got screwed over for no reason

  • 1 month ago

    I wanted to report a buyer for asking for my postcode so they could drop in to view an item. I did not reply to it and decided to report the buyer. After spending 30 mins trying to work out how to do it l gave up. It is easy to report a buyer if they have purchased an item but not so if they message you, unless l missed something. This is not helping sellers protect themselves. DT

    • Northumbrian
      1 month ago

      We’re just going to switch off questions
      Though we realise that’s not an option in some categories

  • john
    1 month ago

    this is an utter joke – so if someone sends you a message asking for your email and you message back saying no ebay does not allow an email to be sent through messages you could get banned for including the word email?
    Or if someone says ok what is your correct postcode to collect from because my sat nav is saying that’s incorrect and you confirm the postcdode you could get banned for including your postcode?

  • Omer
    1 month ago

    This is really dangerous and scary.
    Some comments above mentioned employees who want to take revenge at their employer and may abuse.
    I can also think of competitors contacting and asking for contact details and bang – you’re out of business for a few hours or more.
    Damage done.

  • Nicholas
    1 month ago

    eBay has become a complete joke, no wonder Amazon is running circles around them, how is one suppose to overlook there customer service team and run a million pound business at the same time on eBay?

    Seems like we need to start putting cameras in the customer service department just incase we get a customer asking for buyers address.

    Or it could be easier to kill all listings and move on to Amazon… eBay sellers have been unhappy with eBay for a while now and eBay is doing nothing about it. There needs to be eBay Boycott!!!

    • Barbs
      4 weeks ago

      Funny you should mention Amazon as I’m an Amazon seller and looking to move onto eBay as Amazon also have the most ridiculous rules and suspend and remove selling priveledges in a heartbeat.
      It’s crazy how many people can be skrewed over by competitors on Amazon (and eBay I’ve now been made aware).

      But Amazon is no safer than eBay. If you had to post out an item 12 hours later than they expect you to, you can lose your entire account.
      If you don’t reply to a customer message within 24 hours (even if it’s in a foreign language or an obvious spam message) you can lose your account.
      And that’s just the stupid stuff. Try having a competitor say you’re selling their product. Even if you’re both buying from the same wholesaler and you can prove it! Nope, you are banned from selling anything further ever. Just simply because someone else said so!
      So yeah, it would appear that neither platform is great anymore. This is why I’m looking into my own store with something like Shopify. There must be a way. So that’s my next step then.

  • Omer
    1 month ago

    Still quite hard for me to understand.
    Business seller details are provided.
    Here’s an example:
    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Genuine-JBL-Harman-T290-In-Ear-Headphones-/112368147565?var=&hash=item1a29a9dc6d:m:mZhKIPtZLj8p9BomcN33l9g

    It’s out there, it’s mandatory by ebay for business sellers, so how come they susspend someone with a 50k per week when it’s obviously a business account and these details supposed to show up in the listing anyhow?

    • Whirly
      1 month ago

      Omer, in the description it states the best way to contact is by email (offsite). I’d update.

  • Jonah
    1 month ago

    I’m surprised that people are surprised….. after all it is ebay, the platform of crazy dictates and even more bonkers customer “service”. I wonder if Rob Hattrell is still doing his rounds visiting sellers? He may have to replan his schedule- after all he isn’t allowed to ask for the sellers premises postcode. What a farce.

  • Stan Ruffell
    1 month ago

    My email address is in my business information which is then showed at the bottom of each listing page, I can’t do anything about that, I do have some listings where it uses the word e-mail in the description and I have tried to bulk edit them to remove it (just in case) but I have found that the ‘find and replace’ in the bulk edit listing tool does not work, if I make the change and then click save the listing still shows the unwanted text – has anyone tried it? I have a lot of listings so to do each one by hand would take a long time, I don’t see any way to bulk remove text from multiple listings if this tool does not work?

    • Whirly
      1 month ago

      Stan, I can’t get bulk find/replace to work either. Waiting on a reply from Concierge. I’ll let you know if I get it resolved..

  • Mike
    1 month ago

    I wonder how long before someone takes them to court over this.

    • Uncledave
      4 weeks ago

      Not long. There are some quite interesting human rights issues being raised here. Although eBay is not covered by the Human Rights Act 1998 as such a number of court actions have established that the principles of the Act can be used in civil actions against private companies like eBay. Both Article 6 (Right to a fair trial) and Article 8, which covers private correspondence, could come into play here.

      It may also be that eBay are breaking the terms of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 by imposing an an unfair contract on members.

      Another can of worms is the decision to start imposing ‘fines’ on members who appear to have broken the rules. There’s the well-tested argument (recently used in disputes over wheel clamping charges) about whether the charges are ‘commensurate with the losses sustained’ by eBay. If they decided to fine (and strictly legally it’s not a ‘fine’) you £50 when the listing was only worth £20 they’d clearly be pushing things. They’re also taking your money without going through any due process, which in a number European countries is illegal.

      This is all a big mistake by eBay, it’s going to cost them a heck of lot more than it might save.

  • Brian
    1 month ago

    Can anyone help – customer who wants to return an item but hasnt got a printer so is cant go through ebay returns process , Hes asking for my adress – then he can go to post office – but i cant give the adress out . What can i do ? Thanks

    • Nikki
      1 month ago

      Send the customer a call tag via UPS or FedEx. to their home address. UPS will arrange a pick up and pick up the package with the call tag generated to UPS. Or if that is not an option, mail the call tag. This will just take longer to get the item back to you. I would suggest they go to a public library or a Staples/Kinkos. They can print emails out there.

    • james
      1 month ago

      send him your address, he’s a valid customer, so you can send him all the contact details you like post-sale.

      absolutely effing ridiculous the way ebay have paralyzed sellers with fear.

  • Iggs
    1 month ago

    Assuming it’s a change of mind return and the customer is paying for it, they don’t need to print anything out, i.e. they don’t have to use eBays label. They simply open the case to confirm the return address and then send it back to you by whatever method they choose?

    And as far as I was aware you can still give out your address to people you have already transacted with, that not the case?

  • 1 month ago

    Our restriction was removed after few phone calls spending over an hour on the phone.

    So here is what happened, We had a customer who ordered from eBay 1st 6 months ago and a month later they decided to order another item through our website directly.

    For some reason, the customer decided to contact us about the order they placed on our website through eBay Messages ! We asked customer questions about the order and then boom! Account restricted, we lost over £10k revenue over the Saturday.

    But that’s eBay! ….

    • Nick
      1 month ago

      Were all your listings removed or was it a new listing restriction?

  • Kyle
    1 month ago

    There is something more going on here than people are letting on. Almost every day we’ve had customers send us addresses and phone numbers, we’ve sent them VAT invoices and return labels, and we’ve even linked them to our site a couple times for various reasons. According to these Tamebay posts we should have been suspended multiple times but nothing has happened.

    I think either it’s restricted to a few categories or the sellers and buyers involved were already on the naughty list for something else.

    • Alan Paterson
      1 month ago

      I agree with Kyle, something else is going on here. I have sent my address through ebay multiple times over the past few weeks. I have exchanged number and I have dealt with invoices. I rather think that the folk having problems with this were already being watched. I was assured by the concierge team that restrictions/suspensions are not happening unless there is evidence of breaches in the past.

    • 1 month ago

      We are always having to double check addresses with customer and such like on completed deals. I’m sure this is relating to items not yet purchased isn’t it?

      We had one months back where someone was like ‘I’m interested in buying 10 can you ring me about it’ we went back and said, messages only please but before we could reply we got a warning which was bizarre. We never heard from the customer after that. But post-purchase we’ve been fine.

    • Paul
      1 month ago

      I too have a similar experience. I had a serious run-in with eBay last year including direct telephone calls accusing me of dealing off-site.

      It was only when I showed them all of the Paypal transactions (due to a cock-up, I had to invoice the buyer separately via Paypal) that eBay backed down and could see that everthing was conducted above board. Since then I haven’t had any problems. It is as if they had flagged me up as ‘clean’ and not to be bothered with this again.

      Obviously I don’t risk it and never respond to dodgy messages. Sadly I had to tell one important customer to take a walk after he tried multiple times through messages to contact me (sending me his email addy, phone number, and even website address!).

  • Iggs
    1 month ago

    Yeah, same here, which was why I asssumed that if the question was related to a done deal there’s no issue. Every day, “I need to return this, what’s your return address?”. I always reply with the relevant details, why make a genuine buyer open a returns case after all, and never had any problems… so far 🙂

  • 1 month ago

    We’re considering turning off ebay messaging to avoid this issue and protect ourselves, however if a customer gives an email address or phone number etc during an ebay case / managed return case would a ban still apply? Are they being monitored too? Or are ebay not worried because that’s post-sale?

    If anyone has any ideas it would be appreciated

    • james
      1 month ago

      post-sale is fine, a case doubly so.
      ebay have been stripping email address out of messages for years now, you can still include them in an open case, the same exclusions dont seem to apply.

    • paul ali
      4 weeks ago

      Can you turn off Ebay messages ?

    • Nick M
      4 weeks ago

      You seem only to be able to turn off pre-sales questions for desktop users of eBay.

      (My eBay > Summary > Account > Manage Communications with Buyers).

      They can still submit questions before buying if on a mobile or using the app.

      See my post below for full details. Thanks.

  • 1 month ago

    Question for the Tamebay team – have you tried approaching Rob Hattrell to raise this concern on our behalf? Given his willingness to engage with sellers I’d love to know what he says about all this.
    We’ve had no official communication or clarification from eBay about this confusing situation. I’d like to see Tamebay taking them to task on our behalf.

  • 1 month ago

    We have this problem as we sell personalised printed items and the images sent through ebay messages are too small / low quality. Our contact details are in the business contact info in the listing., however we are finding more and more transactions are from mobile apps and it would appear (based on customer comments) that finding the business contact info is providing more difficult. We have lost business because the customer said we were being awkward !

    • zena
      1 month ago

      Nick, I have the same problem. I too sell personalised items and trying to get the text/photo’s from the customer is becoming impossible. We cant use the images sent through messages and the customers get angry saying we are making it difficult and then want to cancel the order. We’ve lost many sales due to this.
      The irony is that there is an increase of drop shippers on ebay selling our personalised designs images for invites etc, using our descriptions from our Amazon account which contain our email address in the listing. Dispite me calling ebay to complain so the listings can be removed and report the sellers *(all from Isreal) – absolutely nothing has happened and the listings are still live. This goes against the policy of contact details in the description. The rules are not consitent and it’s driving me crazy.

  • 1 month ago

    Um . . just take a look at the list of “Triggers that could get you an eBay seven day suspension or permanent account closure” above? How many of these are actually the Seller being professional, responsible and caring? Almost all!

    Unbelievably eBay seem to want to compel Sellers to use their site with one hand tied behind their backs! If they actually believe that penalising a Seller with a proven track record of up to £50,000.00 sales per week makes sense for them . . . well, you calculate the “lost revenue” they could suffer in lost fees.

    Not impossible that their business could be seriously damaged by this soon . . . and that’s THEIR business and not their customers who will move on to elsewhere instead! Crazy!!!

  • 1 month ago

    It’s clear that ebay want to remove any seller-personalisation or identification on the site so they can make people think they are buying from ebay. Like people think they’re buying from Amazon (which obviously they can physically do).

    It certainly seems to be an identity problem for ebay

  • 1 month ago

    i have asked ebay about post 90-day returns and how we’d find out info about them or send them a return address etc. This is their reply:

    “The best way for you to be able to ask the buyer their address or provide the return address to them is by sending them emails directly on their registered email address. You can get their email address directly on the payment confirmation you’ve received on the time they made a payment on the item.”
    ~Leo 11:14 AM

  • 1 month ago

    I have contacted ebay about this and they have said
    “It is because currently, members are permitted to exchange contact information only post-transaction, after items have been purchased through the normal checkout flow. Hence, if the item is not yet purchased, both of you with the buyer aren’t allowed to share any contact details.”
    I asked about those using apps etc that can’t see business info and this was the feeback:
    “Since the contact details is available on the business seller information of the listing, advised the buyer to use a computer or a classic site in order for them to get your contact details.”

  • Alan Paterson
    1 month ago

    I have just had a lengthy conversation with an ebay specialist in concierge. Bottom line…..one the buyer has clicked the “buy it now” button (ebay can now apply their fees) you can exchange any information you like.

    • 1 month ago

      I’ll give you an exception to that rule Alan

      I had a buyer send a message about “listing A” enquiring about the price, whether I could do a lower price if they bought several, and how soon I could ship as they were desperate for it.

      I suggested “listing B” which was a bulk/pack quantity of a similar item, that worked out at a lower price per unit, and with same day dispatch via 24hr courier.

      So they bought “listing B”, paid through paypal. Then paypal decided to do one of their reviews! Payment on hold, possibly for 72 hours. Brilliant.

      So, naturally, I go back onto the message thread (which as you’ll know are always about an item and started off with a different item in this case) and let them know there is a problem. We conclude that paypal is unlikely to complete this review soon enough and the best thing to do is cancel the paypal payment and for them to do a banking transfer.

      We do this and everything appears OK. I’ve been paid directly and can ship the goods. Then I get a warning notice from ebay about offsite transactions. Just a warning reminder, no restrictions thankfully.

      After a long discussion on live chat, ebay CS revealed that, because the message was about “listing A” and there was no record of a sale to the buyer for “listing A” (just for “listing B” but they never checked that) the bots assume that all the trigger words about a direct payment must have been about taking it offsite.

      I eventually got them to admit they were wrong, but it took a while.

      So, even when a buyer has paid for goods, you still need to be careful. Don’t assume you can chat willy-nilly, because if ebay doesn’t realise it’s to do with the sold item, sellers could find themselves in a spot of bother.

    • Kyle
      1 month ago

      We’ve actually linked buyers to our site pre-sales and not gotten any warnings.

      We get a lot of messages about combined postage so we give the standard response of “go to ebay.co.uk, add to your basket, etc”. However some people claim it still doesn’t work or the language barrier causes problems. Instead of continuing to go back and forth we just tell them to come to our site instead.

      We’ve also had people enquire if product X is the right thing for use Y and we often reply to those by linking to our site because our site is better laid out than Ebay so it’s easier to see all the options side-by-side. No warnings for doing that either.

  • 1 month ago

    Yes I had the same conversation – it’s about committing to buy.
    It would mean turning off the automatic payment option and indicating in the description that questions can be answered after committing to buy and if the buyer decides to cancel afterwards then this is straightforward (although Concierge advised documenting any cancellation through eBay messages)

  • BFT
    1 month ago

    Just received a heavy duty email from eBay, claiming and warning that some of my listings on eBay.com and eBay.au contain telephone numbers and contact details.
    I’ve checked them all and there are no contact details at all. Nothing.
    Am I going to get banned because their software is written in eBay Towers’ department of bloody stupid ideas and doesn’t work properly (what a surprise).
    I can’t get a resolution from Customer Services (I use the term loosely) so i have covered my backside by ending all those listings. This will probably soon be followed by ending all my UK and international listings – it’s all just too much hassle.

    • Alan Paterson
      1 month ago

      @BFT – I received the exact same email from ebay AU. Although it implies contact details – it wasn’t. In my case I had a link that took the buyer “off site”. We scratched our head for hours looking for contact details on our listings and there was nothing. Check you have no links that take buyer off site – we had an innocent link – ebay think it shouldnt be on our listings and this is what triggered the warning email. It only seemed to trigger on our Australia listings.

      All this is ebay trying to keep the transactions on site. There were too many sellers bypassing ebay and taking the transaction off site. This is ebay biting back and trying to ensure this doesn’t happen. It was a BIG problem.

  • 1 month ago

    The post code thing is a bit worrying. I sell large pre owned items that need to be sent via pallet. The cost of sending varies depending on the location. Very often people will message me with their address for a price. The option of putting in a flat rate is there but it would make it more expensive for the majority of customer.s

    • Alan Paterson
      1 month ago

      I think sellers need to adapt their businesses accordingly to accommodate this new rule.

  • 1 month ago

    I’m currently backing up all our companies listings as a preventative measure (there’s a fair number of listings!) In the event something untowards happens to them all via a sudden ban.

    I know I wouldn’t fancy the idea of having to manually input each one again for upload. That sorta stuff takes months and is evidently reliant now on no-one making a simple error in ebay messages.

    Has anyone else taken measures to safeguard their listings in such an event? Or am I going a bit overly paranoid here?

    • Alan Paterson
      1 month ago

      Its a good idea Ryan – we are doing the same (always have) because I am Mr Paranoid. We have been backing up our listings since 2007 just in case. From my experience, it pays to be paranoid sometimes. We use http://www.biggerbids.com to back up all our listings and pics (costs about $8 per month).

  • 1 month ago

    Phew, glad I’m not the only one Alan 🙂 Glad to hear there are providers who offer that as part of their service.

    It seems like a good idea considering ebays recent changes in policy!

  • Alan Paterson
    1 month ago

    Yes, but there will still be a bit of work to do. Biggerbids only save the listing description and images – which is the majority of the listing – but you would still need to re-do the item specifics on ebay if you ever lost your ebay listings for whatever reason.

    Also worth noting is that Biggerbids themselves haven’t quite caught up with new ebay rules. Their listing template is marginally wider than what is required for a mobile device and they also embed a link to their services into the HTML which needs to be removed manually as ebay no longer allow external links that take the buyer off site.

    Thats my only “gripes” with the Biggerbids service. Other than that they are great and peace of mind that all your stuff is backed up – and for such a small fee per month.

    We took it out the service back in 2007 in the event of an Extinction Level Event (like a meteor strike, earthquake, global meltdown or Amazon taking over ebay). Thankfully we have never needed to use it but it gives me a sense of security that all our descriptions and images etc are backed up.

    • 1 month ago

      If you find a developer who can wrestle with the ebay API you should be able to get a hold of the item specifics I’d hope.

      They are exposed within the GetSingleItem call for reference 🙂

      I’m just performing a simple “grab and store” of our listing details through it, parsing out the images for additional downloading. I might put up a how-to video somewhere if I get time to on youtube.

  • Alan Paterson
    1 month ago

    Yes, I would be interested in that. Sounds more “complete” compared to what I am doing.

  • Dave T
    1 month ago

    Re off Site dealing…….

    I have just sold 2 items, buyer paid, I have wrapped them ready to ship tomorrow.

    The buyer has just emailed asking if I have any more?

    I do, but having just had an ebay “police” warning for answering a similar question last week……..in which I said “yes, I could list them on ebay”…….I cant reply to this message for fear of being suspended

    I running scared ebay that will suspend my account for trying to do the right thing and replying to the message.

    Ebay have to realise their “robots” are not working……and penalising sellers who get legitimate questions from buyers.

    • Alan Paterson
      1 month ago

      @ Dave T Can you not simply list more on Ebay and direct the buyer to the listing?

    • Toby
      1 month ago

      Email them directly with the email address on the paypal payment. No need for ebay to be involved then.

  • Jacob
    1 month ago

    What are eBay playing at?…
    Their shambles of a marketplaces is going to become like a ghost town…why are there no humans behind this massacre

    • Alan Paterson
      1 month ago

      Hi jacob, they are trying to prevent the circumvention of Ebay fees. Before the purchase takes place (buy it now button pressed) there is a very very high risk that the buyer and seller will do the transaction off site – hence Ebay do not get their fees.

      This has been a problem for years and it has been getting worse. This is Ebay biting back. They are ensuring that they (rightfully) get their fees for the transaction. It is quite a “heavy handed” approach because of the severity of the problem. Eventually they had to bite back. They are only trying to protect their business model and interests. Sellers who persistently and consistently allowed the transaction to go “off site” are the folk to blame for this.

    • sam
      1 month ago

      Alan,
      I think you may be misunderstanding peoples frustration.
      I am Not sure that peoples frustration is the idea that eBay are protecting their revenue.
      I don’t believe there is anyone who can’t understand the principle behind what they are doing, and who probably wouldn’t do the same thing to protect their own businesses revenue.
      The frustration comes from the sadly all too typical “Ebay Approach” to the problem which includes little to no consultation with sellers, little clarification, and over reliance on bots to police the issue with little intelligible human supervision.

      Would it have taken much for eBay to send out a site wide message to explain that they are going to crack down on this issue and the consequences if you ignored it? Clarification on what we can and can’t say to customers? And the assurance that if a bot did find something it didn’t like, that it would be reviewed by a human with the appropriate level of training and understanding before such severe action was taken that it puts peoples jobs and livelihoods at risk?

      Would it be too much to ask, for the last and final warning to be a firm but informative phone call from someone at eBay to say, look, I’m not sure your understanding our policy here, ask me any questions you have because we will suspend your account if you continue to breach this policy.

      I don’t think thats too much to ask.

      We are actively having to ignore customers e-mails where they ask for technical product details that for example would include a number that looks like a phone number. We are ignoring them, because we don’t have clarity from eBay that we would be OK to answer this question, and because we don’t want to get suspended by accident.

      A sensible and well executed policing of this policy would have seen sellers and buyers clearly educated, solutions for sellers to communicate with buyers effectively, and staff well trained in what is and is not acceptable.

      A big issue for me, is why, when they are trying to crack down on this, does eBay STILL not have a facility for us to bundle up a few listings, and combine them for a customer in a “Bulk Listing Offer” This is why a lot of buyers want to deal outside eBay, to get discounts on bulk purchases. Give sellers a way to help them and get this business on eBay without them even considering going outside eBay.

      Instead we have to awkwardly converse with customers who are tying to buy these items, fearful of saying anything wrong.

    • Alan Paterson
      1 month ago

      @ Sam, there were many many sellers on this topic that were not understanding. Read some of the posts above. nobody is mentioning WHY eBay is doing this and the usual mud slinging at eBay ensues.

      If you read some of the “conclusions” on this thread – and other threads concerning the same topic – there are many many sellers who are ignorant as to WHY ebay is taking this action.

      For example, if you read Pauls post on this thread his conclusion is:

      Paul Quote: ” It’s clear that eBay want to remove any seller-personalisation or identification on the site so they can make people think they are buying from ebay. ”

      Obviously, this is not true and some folks are coming to the wrong conclusion. My post is to make people aware of WHY eBay are taking this action. I agree that it could have been better handled but that was not my point. ebay are not the bif bad wolf – they are merely trying to protect their business model.

  • Craig
    1 month ago

    I always ask for a buyer to confirm their address if I get an Item Not Received message.

    I suspect this may trigger a suspension these days so I will likely not bother asking. Though to be honest, in all the years of asking, no one has ever given a different address to the one I’ve already got.

    Perhaps also, instead of mentioning VAT invoices etc we should say VAT receipt and with mentioning emails getting you suspended, perhaps just say:

    “ebays new rules stipulate that all communications must be through Ebay messages only and no other way unfortunately.”

    Hopefully this wont trigger suspensions.

    • Alan Paterson
      1 month ago

      @ Craig, no, you should be ok asking to confirm a delivery address if you get an INR Case open. It only seems to be a problem exchanging this information BEFORE the transaction takes place.

    • Alan Paterson
      1 month ago

      @ Craig, no need for a “Guinea Pig” – I do this as a matter of course on every INR Case that I am dealing with. I have done it at least twice today – and no I have not had my account restricted lol.

      There I a lot of scaremongering on this thread. Can I reiterate that you can exchange information, tel numbers etc if the transaction has already taken place i.e. the “Buy it now” has been clicked.

      In my case that is nearly 95% of the questions that I get asked – the item has ALREADY been purchased and Ebay have their fees.

      Although I see that there is obviously.a problem and Ebay may have been a tad heavy handed with some of their suspensions / restrictions – many on this thread would have you believe the moment you respond to the buyer with some info your account is going to be shut down!

      The only occasions to be vigilant is with questions about the item prior to the commitment to buy. At least in my category the majority of questions are AFTER SALES.

      Although I see that there is a problem it is getting blown out of proportion.

  • Simon
    1 month ago

    I guess issue is more likely to occur, when it is a pre-sale situation. Surely if the message relates to an existing order (after-sale), and there has been a problem such as Not received, we can then ask for them to confirm address details etc

    • Craig
      1 month ago

      Alan & Simon

      So far, but who is willing to be a guinea pig to try it out. 😉

    • 1 month ago

      We are still exchanging addresses, emails and phone numbers post sale without any issues.
      It would be nice if we had Send Buyer offer on all questions, as it doesn’t currently allow this on items with Variations because then any specials i.e. how much for 100 etc we can send an offer for the customer to accept. I have no issue with eBay protecting their income or paying the fees, at th eend of the day the ebay fees are an overhead that we price accordingly.

    • Alan Paterson
      1 month ago

      @ Craig, no need for a “Guinea Pig” – I do this as a matter of course on every INR Case that I am dealing with. I have done it at least twice today – and no I have not had my account restricted lol.

      There I a lot of scaremongering on this thread. Can I reiterate that you can exchange information, tel numbers etc if the transaction has already taken place i.e. the “Buy it now” has been clicked.

      In my case that is nearly 95% of the questions that I get asked – the item has ALREADY been purchased and Ebay have their fees.

      Although I see that there is obviously.a problem and Ebay may have been a tad heavy handed with some of their suspensions / restrictions – many on this thread would have you believe the moment you respond to the buyer with some info your account is going to be shut down!

      The only occasions to be vigilant is with questions about the item prior to the commitment to buy. At least in my category the majority of questions are AFTER SALES.

      Although I see that there is a problem it is getting blown out of proportion.

  • Toby
    1 month ago

    just had a customer asking for help on an item…. has asked me to ring them ( number provided) to discuss….
    Guess i will get a ban for this, after all it’s my fault for….. oh hang on, i can’t control the buyers any more than i can control Royal mail delivery times. Yep, im screwed.

  • sam
    1 month ago

    I think what needs to be clarified, is not so much that we can’t send contact details.
    Thats very simple to understand and very clear. We all know what constitutes an address, a phone number or email.

    What needs URGENT clarification by eBay, is what happens when data is accidentally construed as contact details.

    And also, why eBay is punishing sellers who like in the case of this story, have simply said that they cannot share their e-mail.

    Are we supposed to infer that the word e-mail is banned from messages? Because why else would they ban the member if they didn’t include a physical e-mail?
    So should we avoid using the words address, phone number and e-mail?

    Or is there somthing more complex going on?

    Ultimately, I just want to know how we can answer questions which run close to the mark. I know that all of our staff are certainly understanding eBays policy here, but what they don’t understand is what to do when somone asks for a product number that looks like a phone number? etc etc.

    None of us I imagine want to run foul of eBays rules, but we all risk providing bad customer service unless we know exactly how we are allowed to support and assist our customers.

  • James
    1 month ago

    You can share details providing the buyer has already purchased from the seller.

    What I don’t agree with is banning sellers who have received an email from a buyer requesting there email address before they have purchased anything.

    • 1 month ago

      Not always true

      If you and the buyer are messaging post-sale, but the message was started by the buyer asking about an item other than the one they actually bought, ebay doesn’t realise and treats it the same as a pre-sale question. Any trigger words can set the bots off just as it would with someone who’d not bought from you.

    • 1 month ago

      @Gav but how are the bots suppose to know you are talking about a completely different item, it’s quite reasonable if the communication is against an item that hasn’t been purchased to assume it’s a pre-sale question on that item.
      But there is a way around it, to continue the conversation just go into contact buyer against the item they have bought

  • Craig
    1 month ago

    Hi all
    Is there a way I can block messages from buyers who send their phone numbers? If there is if you could send me a click by click detail of how I get to the right form on .co.uk. I have had a buyer asked me to phone him and feel a bit awkward about what I should do, end even more so that eBay don’t seem to have a system to stop the numbers getting through. It is an aftersales email, he wants to discuss his already received item

  • 1 month ago

    some asking me for post code for a item i am selling so thay can look it up how far
    yet i do that ebay rules says cant give post code or you get a block on ebay
    so what the hell should you do if item is pick up only

  • Nick
    1 month ago

    Interesting eBay ‘quirk’ I just discovered regarding questions I thought I’d share:

    We turned off questions (My eBay > Summary > Account > Manage Communications with Buyers).

    Much to my surprise we got a question through from a buyer (he had never purchased from us or had any contact before).

    I checked the listing using my PC, sure enough when buyer clicks ‘ask a question’ there is no option to submit a question – as you would expect.

    I then checked the same listing on my iPhone eBay App, and to my surprise I found that when a buyer clicks to ask a question, under about seller details section within the listing, they can still submit a question (even with questions turned off).

    I tried the same experiment with a large eBay seller Music Magpie (I know they have questions turned off) and the same was true of their listing – you can’t submit a question if you’re on the classic version of the eBay site (e.g. if you’re on a PC), but I could submit a question to them if I used the app on my iPhone.

    My conclusion – even if you turn off questions from potential buyers to avoid getting ‘caught out’, buyers can still submit pre-sales questions to you if they are using their eBay app – you seem to have no way to fully switch off questions across all eBay sales platforms.

    By the way, if a buyer is using the mobile version of eBay through the web browser on their phone, the same seems to be true, they can still ask questions, even if you have questions switched off.

    Just thought I’d share!

    • Dave
      1 month ago

      Figures Nick. eBay’s standard level of attention to detail right there.

  • Bob S
    1 month ago

    Did you know that ebay is not in North Korea? thats because there is only room for one dictator.
    Another thing they have in common is that they both monitor emails !

  • 1 month ago

    @ Nick

    The bots aren’t smart enough to know you are talking about a completely different item that has been sold. Only a human reading the message thread would be able to judge it properly, cross reference with another sale and realise that is what you are talking about.

    And you’re correct that the way around it is to continue the conversation by making sure post-sales messages are against the item they have bought. Buyers don’t always send the question about the item they actually mean to ask you about, or end up buying. Until now, this hasn’t mattered.

    In a nutshell: Bots aren’t smart. Double check that the message subject is for the item the buyer bought. Switch off your autopilot when replying post-sales. Otherwise you might get flagged.

    • james
      1 month ago

      then they are retarded bots programmed by retarded people.
      they can be, and should be, that smart. otherwise, they shouldnt be operating at all.

      just saying “bots are dumb” does not excuse ebay unleashing dumb bots to destroy peoples livelihoods and incomes.

      how hard is it to reference ANY sale, post-question, from that specific buyer to that specific seller?
      its not hard. not hard at all. in fact not doing so is pure negligence.
      professional, ethical, and legal negligence.

  • T.E
    4 weeks ago
  • Rob
    4 weeks ago

    I sell very little locally and have sold more items to NZ & Aus through global shipping that 15/20 mile radius of where I live and in a pretty populated area.

    When I look at some of my competitors who buy similar sock, may of them “run a business” as have many similar items mostly new. Yet have no business information, most likely list at weekends when ebay run promotions for reduced final value fees.

    They would be better focusing their effort on making sure sellers who are clearly running a business are registered as a business. As they then have to offer minimum of 14 days returns which give buyers more confidence generally.

  • 4 weeks ago

    This is going to really restrict my business on eBay. I sell joinery products, mainly gates and garage doors made to order as the items are too big and expensive to keep in stock.
    More often than not potential buyers contact me either by an eBay message or through the contact details within the listing to request a bespoke size.

    Also a lot of the time, potential customers need to actually speak to me on the phone as they may need me to explain to them in more detail certain aspects of the specifications in the listing, as it can be quite confusing for people sometimes unless they have a background in joinery or have some understanding of woodwork.

    Now it seems that I will be totally reliant on eBay’s messaging system and will be thrown into a state of panic anytime the word “email” is used or if somebody requests a “phone number”.
    It is going to be practically impossible and unworkable for me, given the number of eBay messages that I receive daily to monitor these properly and report these messages to eBay’s customer support team.

    What really frustrates me here is that I have worked very hard with eBay’s customer support team and the feedback that I have received from many customers over the last five years since establishing my eBay shop to make things run as smoothly as possible and make the buying experience more pleasant and easy.
    Now with one rule change they’ve undone all that hard work.

    It is a shame but I don’t think my kind of business is compatible with this selling platform anymore.

    • JD
      4 weeks ago

      Why not simply sell your price lists on eBay?
      99p with free postage.

  • Whirly
    4 weeks ago

    Just a heads up really for fellow Tamebay pals. I had a warning yesterday when trying to send a Best Offer.

    Message to buyer.
    Hi *****, price includes light. £359.99+£89.99. Total £449.98.

    Delivery included.

    Warning from eBay.
    We’ve noticed that your offer included some contact information. We don’t allow email addresses, phone numbers or URLs in offer communications.

    According to the bot, telephone numbers now have £ signs in.

    I stripped out the message to the buyer and sent. He then emailed to ask if the offer included the light! FFS.

  • Jeff
    3 weeks ago

    Ebay has reached the zenith of ludicrous, one boneheaded rule after another issued from the top imbecile down. You deserve to fall eBay. And you will. And online will be a little happier place to trade.

  • Jonah
    3 weeks ago

    Until sellers vote with their feet ebay will continue to treat them with both contempt and disdain. Until a viable rival comes along it’s all about tipping points,,,,, just how far will sellers be pushed before realising that the platform is a creaking old joke of a wreck? If you solely rely on eBay for income, as many do, then my advice would be to diversify immediately, because sadly it’s only going one way.

  • northumbrian
    3 weeks ago

    been 24 /7 full time ebay seller for best part or 20 years
    and its customer service is much much better now than its ever been,
    though the clicks ,ticks and conditions you need to wade thru to list are much more time consuming

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