eBay robots find false positives in Best Offers that don’t contain contact information

By Chris Dawson September 25, 2017 - 8:00 am

Big Brother is watching everything that you do on eBay!

It would appear that eBay are not just spying on messages in case you add an email address or phone number to help a buyer make a purchasing decision or send you information that they can’t get through eBay messages. We’ve discovered this weekend that eBay are also scanning the text you send through Best Offers.

An example in the main image of an eBay Best Offer looks innocent enough, it details the product that the buyer can expect and sets out the pricing that the offer relates to which includes an additional light (no off-eBay sales here, the Best Offer Price is inclusive of extras included in the deal). You’d think everything was good, just a regular seller doing what they do every day and providing a great service to buyers and keeping the deal on eBay.

Not so however, eBay decided that the string of numbers might be a cunningly disguised telephone number and threw up a warning reading “We’ve noticed that your offer included some contact information. We don’t allow email address, phone numbers or URLs in communications”.

We’ve written to warn eBay sellers on multiple occasions not to include contact information in eBay Messages. The latest eBay Seller Release has also set out the time table to remove contact information from eBay listings and your eBay shop. Now it would appear you need to be ultra careful as to what information you include in Best Offers.

Once again we urge caution and consider carefully if an eBay Message or Best Offer that you’re about to send contains contact information or anything that could be interpreted as such. If so then the only advice has to be don’t send it.

It’s not enough to simply make sure that you don’t include contact information. eBay’s robot scanners have been tuned to be so sensitive they’re trying to double guess how people might try to disguise this information, so much so that they’re misinterpreting genuine messages if they so much as suspect something dodgy is going on.

  • BFT
    10 months ago

    Isn’t it pathetic that eBay are happy to accuse/label their best, honest sellers as cheats, because their bot software is poorly written. Their systems never seem to work properly. I am still getting late delivery defects for parcels shipped same day and tracked! They have had more than enough time to sort that one out.

    • james
      10 months ago

      “poorly written” is extremely generous.
      if numeric digits = 10 or more, then seller is a scumbag.
      first year IT dropouts could code that better.

      there are a lot if indicators of a phone number besides being 10+ numeric digits (actual length, leading 0, area code lookup, etc etc), this displays none of them, yet ebay’s “poorly written” software has flagged it as such.

      if this were a high school year 3 coding exam, they failed.
      for a massive multi-national to fail so hard… i wish they knew enough to be embarrassed by this, but i doubt it.

    • Frank
      10 months ago

      Amazon has done this false robot accusation stuff for years. So sadly, Ebay is trying to be like (F____) UP Amazon. (and no there is no secret number in there, just Bezos’s first name). I still sell on both but Im planning to get out of Ecommerce and leave it to all you weenies who don’t know that sellers have rights and people have rights in a contract situation.
      Everybody nowadays is so weak and squeal like piglets- “its their site, stop questioning them”

  • JD
    10 months ago

    ‘Big brother’ is indeed watching everything that you do on eBay.

    Since when, a few years back now, eBay re-wrote the T&C’s to give itself permission to hide or otherwise not surface your listings in search it has been ‘at it’.
    Recently sellers have noticed this more and more as the eBay ‘bots search out spurious connotations within listings. This is just one of the many things that sellers can be found guilty of in their absence. When they find something all your listings will take a little holiday, sometimes overseas (‘my listings show up as International’). And they do this whilst still taking full listing fees.
    But of course many sellers don’t notice this when searching from a computer that is or has been logged in because the crafty cookies will then make sure that their own listings show up.
    What they do notice is otherwise unexplained sales troughs.
    Paranoid me? never.

  • 10 months ago

    Question? Has anybody seen any hard evidence of the money that eBay have been losing due to sales completed off their platform? Whilst we all know that it goes on I’m sure most would agree with me that it’s the default tactic of the Private Seller and Private Buyer and in no way representative of the genuine, savvy eBay Seller . . maybe it should be considered that the other likely offenders are the dodgy Chinese Sellers but eBay let them list and do little to police their selling tactics.

    We only have eBay’s word that this is costing them hard cash hence why they seem happy to pour resources into policing this issue . . . but looked at over the near future are we rather seeing the thin end of the wedge in some major shift in eBay itself? Rather than emulate Amazon are they thinking instead of being something more inclusive and forcing all Sellers to be nothing other then JIT suppliers?

    . . . I’m getting paranoid but then with all these crazy changes who isn’t?

  • 10 months ago

    Try calling ebay technical support for your queries, on their new FAKE phone number

    zero one hundred thousand, eight hundred and thirteen hyphen negative seven hundred and fifty five thousand, ayy bee cee eff, four hundred and twenty three. For more info.

    Seriously though, this bot is a bloody joke round these parts. I wouldn’t be surprised if their bot does the same rounds with item descriptions also in a few months time.

    Heaven forbid you should have an item which is compatible with anything with 6 digits in it’s title. (Calling it)

    • 10 months ago

      That exact scenario happened to me. I was fairly new, and had listed several “Lego” Mega-Bloks – Mystery Packs. I had included the ‘package’ number (not upc) in my title. This was so that anyone looking for a particular one, would be able to find me. It wasn’t 10 numbers… I believe it was like 2 letters and 6 numbers. — something like that. Anyway, they all listed. Then all of a sudden, it looked like spam from ebay.. but it was all those listings were taken down because they had contact information. I went what? After trial and error… I finally got them relisted.. and all I did was not include the package number. LOL

  • 10 months ago

    What about ebay item numbers? How long before we hear of an item number being read as a false positive?

    I’m worried and over-thinking everything due to the fear of a ban.. this can’t be right surely

    • Whirly
      10 months ago

      Wait until the bot starts reading item descriptions in October.

  • eric
    10 months ago

    Will they will be picking up on ISBN numbers soon which are not in the official ISBN field for book listings?

  • The lone gunman
    10 months ago

    If you’re selling your stuff legit and are still scared of a ban then you need to look at finding other ways to sell your stuff. If you allow yourselves to be in bondage and willing slaves to such a tin-pot organisation as eBay, then you only have yourselves to blame. Find other markets to sell your items, don’t allow eBay to rule your lives. I think every seller should make it a point to put their contact details in their ads. What would eBay do? Ban everybody? They’d have no business overnight and they’d be begging people to come back. The only reason they have such power over you is because you give it to them.

    • Ant
      10 months ago

      Where would those other places be? I would love to give EBay & Amazon the boot but cannot find any other place or platform that has any where near the footfall of those two sites

  • 10 months ago

    If the bot starts automatically removing listings with contact details in October, thousands upon thousands of listings are going to be pulled. Every day I see listings with telephone numbers within the descriptions.

    • JD
      10 months ago

      It (the ‘bot) won’t remove listings it will just hide them from regular search. So eBay still takes the listing fees.

  • 10 months ago

    Perhaps the “bot” would like to be a tool to help sellers before it becomes a stick to beat sellers.

  • Phil
    10 months ago

    This may interest you, I had someone send me a message asking” will you deal outside of ebay” I replied no I wouldn’t , but as it was a large item, MDF sheets, I said you can contact me to arrange collection, but did not add a phone number.

    Ebay took my account down and deleted all my products, which including international listings was circa 11,000, it has taken over a month to get them all back

  • Mr Mullen
    10 months ago

    Its time Ebay cleaned up there act.With dodgy Chinese sellers and many more from other couuntries.My family has been let down on many occasions during the past year.👎