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The eBay contact details crackdown continues to annoy

By Dan Wilson March 14, 2018 - 6:12 am

Tamebay has previously reported on several occasions about the problems that sellers have experienced when it comes to trading on the platform with specific regard to the eBay contact details crackdown. eBay doesn’t think it’s good to talk.

Big ticket or specialist items should sometimes be examined in person. It is hardly outrageous that buyers and sellers should communicate off-platform to clinch a sale that eBay sees all the fees for. Is it?

Maybe sellers have recently, perhaps, become used to the problem and don’t grumble so much. As a merchant you don’t share addresses, emails and phone numbers because you know a sanction could await.

So this comment on Facebook from a Tamebay friend who buys and sells on eBay UK, but not professionally, may resonate with you. Some minor details have been changed to protect the innocent buyer trying to make an honest purchase. But the gist is obvious.

Dear eBay,
As a user of your service since 2002 I’m becoming concerned by the emails you have recently sent me accusing me of defrauding you. No other website does this to me, and, frankly, it’s starting to piss me off. I’m hardly likely to buy a 150 year antique without seeing it first. And I’m hardly likely to drive 150 miles in search of an unnumbered house in the back streets of a Surrey town without the telephone number of the seller.

I’m fed up of asking fellow eBayers to put messages into code to fool your surveillance. I, and we, have no intention of defrauding eBay, and yet you (or at least your algorithms) label (nay libel) us as fraudsters; so now I feel it’s my turn to accuse you.

I accuse eBay of running scared of its competitors, of no longer adding enough value to the transactions it hosts to justify its fee, and therefore bullying its loyal customers of over a decade as a substitute for providing a service that’s worth paying for. Please desist.
– An eBay buyer (and sometimes seller)

The eBay contact details crackdown is still clearly impacting buyers and, doubtless, that’s bad news for sellers. Have you had recent bad experiences too as a merchant? Report back.

  • northumbrian
    3 months ago

    we sell 150 year old antiques to just about everywhere in the world via ebay
    for the best part of 20 years
    not once have we had a personal caller or supplied our telephone number,
    in fact we actively avoid personal callers and giving out contact details
    to avoid the spivs, pikeys , the dreamers and tyre kickers

    • alan paterson
      3 months ago

      I am with northumbrian with this one. why should it be necessary to exchange contact information.

      I found the buyers letter to ebay puerile and condescending. ebay needed to take this action regarding contact info.

      “running scared of their competitors”? “bullying…” what a nasty and immature response.

      too many people were taking transactions off site so ebay HAD to take action.

  • Jon
    3 months ago

    Last week I had a customer message me to say he was trying to buy several items but was struggling to work out how to combine postage and could I help. (An even more important issue, but setting that aside for now)

    Naturally, I offered to put all the items in a single listing and send him the link, which I did.

    A day later, he and I both receive warnings. As this is my livelihood, I immediately contacted eBay to point out that nothing remotely was untoward, that no details had been shared, nor the slightest thought of avoiding fees was entertained.

    Ebay then clarified, my contravention of eBay policy was sending the link. Yes, that’s correct, sending a link to a customer for one of my own listings, from an eBay inquiry, from an eBay seller to an eBay customer, for an eBay listing which is then purchased and eBay get the fees, this is specifically a contravention of eBay policy, for which I received a warning. I pointed out, that even if I sympathized with a prohibition on the sharing of details, why on Earth would the company prohibit the using of thier own URLs in their own messaging system?

    It goes without saying, after the customer received the warning, a £100 sale was lost.

    Ultimately, this stems from the eternally problematic combining of items, something that no other website on Earth seems to have an issue with.

    £399+VAT a month seems a great deal to fork out going forward.

    • 3 months ago

      Hi Jon

      While I sympathise, having received one of their warnings for a completely innocent and 100% completed on ebay transaction, I regularly share links to our ebay listings through the ebay message system, as well as creating custom listings for buyers to get them a better rate, and have never got a warning for it.

      Perhaps something else in the message thread triggered the warning. They don’t always tell you what they think they know, how they came to their conclusions. So if ebay CS told you it was for sending a link, I’d not take that as gospel. CS might stand for customer support, but it could equally stand for Crock Of S… They don’t know what they’re talking about half the time.

    • yorkshireman
      3 months ago

      I’ve just written on another post on here. I used to sell a lot on eBay – not any more. I used to buy a lot on eBay – again, not anymore. I won’t spend any more than £25 on an eBay purchase simply because of this policy. I prefer to go elsewhere. I’m sure that eBay are driving away customers by this bulling tactic.

  • Toby
    3 months ago

    I have a different experience. When we sell larger items we often incur a surcharge if not in mainland uk. To avoid hassle and the customer paying only to find that we either cant ship or it incurs a surcharge, we suggest that if they are not mainland uk or in the highlands etc that they contact us first so we can check.
    Now sometimes the areas covered by a surcharge vary from courier to courier, and it may also depend on the size etc of the package, so there is no ‘one size fits all ‘ answer.
    We also sell items that fall under the hazardous catagory and so have to use a particular courier for this…. again it depends on where it’s going to. We can send a 30kg item to NI in one instance, but not a 2kg one in another.
    So yes, to make life easier for the buyer and seller we used to ask them to let us know their address so we could check and get them the best price. Ebay thinks this is wrong and is more worried about a tiny amount of people abusing the system than the majority trying to make it a better buying experience for the buyer ( which is all we hear ebay go on about).
    It is obvious that all ebays efforts are simply at protecting their £££ and that all the better buying experience rubbish is justa smoke screen. If only they put as much effort into stopping SELLERS being scammed….but why would they, they still get the fees and it’s only the seller that looses out. In fact the sellers ups prices to cover fraud then ebay makes even more in fvf!
    I have to take my hat off to ebay, they have a perfect business model if all you are interested in is £££

  • 3 months ago

    If ebay are serious about reducing the number of transactions being completed offsite, they should forget about the ebay messages clampdown, which often justs ends up upsetting decent ebayers.

    A great number of sellers have phone number, website, email and company logo on all of their listings. They’re not quietly sneaking contact details through the messaging system. They’re blatantly saying “CONTACT US DIRECTLY, HERE ARE OUR DETAILS” and ebay is letting them do it.

    Such sellers can then take sales offsite without ever using the ebay messaging system, undetected. They can drop the price by the amount of the ebay fees they won’t be paying. Their item is now perhaps 10% cheaper than the next cheapest on ebay and buyers know this.

    If the ebay messages system can autodetect phone numbers and emails, then why don’t they run it through listings? Or have some system in place where other sellers can police it for them. If I saw someone in the same field doing it, I’d be happy to point it out to ebay and get their listings pulled until they started playing straight.

    • james
      3 months ago

      there is a report seller button on the listing.
      unless they’ve updated it recently, you may as well be banging your head off a wall,
      it doesn’t actually do anything.
      i’ve reported sellers with “call us for a better price -0141 555 5555” as their subtitle on dozens of listings, and not a thing happens. still there weeks/months later.
      yet decent sellers trying to work around their lunacy and do the right thing, well they get punished mercilessly.
      completely agree with the open letter to ebay.

  • yorkshireman
    3 months ago

    @ northumbrian and alan paterson. So you don’t believe in the exchange of details for the purchase of expensive items? Well bully for you. I would certainly never buy anything from you without being able to contact you first, and it is unreasonable for eBay to expect people that want to make these purchases, to have this facility taken from them. eBay are bullying people with their tactics and their letters are puerile and condescending. I used to make large purchases from eBay but not any more. I go elsewhere now just because of this policy, and I think its narrow minded of you to assume everyone thinks the way you do. People have their free agency and if its taken away from them they with simply take their custom (and wallets) to places where they can shop without being bullied by a tin pot organisation.

    • alan paterson
      3 months ago

      @ Yorkshireman – we have never needed it. I dont see what the problem is.

      If you NEED to exchange details get the customer to click “buy it now” and then the system allows the exchange of information. Then you can talk off site. If the sale doesnt go through simply cancel – simples.

      People who prat on about this problem dont understand the rules and certainly are ignorant of why it was introduced in the first place.

      I understand in the past that exchange of details might have been necessary (like if you were selling your virginity – obviously you would need to meet up – ( but I think that is no longer allowed ). Now we find it completely obsolete. I dont see what the big fuss is about. I like to keep communication ON the platform anyway incase you need ebay to step in over a problem and protect you.

      @ yorshireman – “you would certainly never buy anything from us before contacting us first” – well to be frank – we would prefer not to deal with you anyway if it meant you were asking us to breech ebay policy. No disrespect. I value my business over your custom.

      and there is a difference between “narrow-minded” and “experienced” .

      Is there a different between “puppet” and “muppet”? I think so – you are the latter.

      Its ebay platform – its their rules and it was their fees that were being circumvented. they are pulling the strings. you can go with it and dance with the puppet master ……. or cut the strings and get off the platform – but dont come on here and call me narrow-minded because of your ignorance .

      Oh dear, my blood pressure is now up…..time for a cuppa.

    • northumbrian
      3 months ago

      its really quite simple
      if you need to physically inspect or deal face to face
      stick to physical retailers
      no good whinging
      get real ebay is online

  • Anthony
    3 months ago

    Ebay as well as Amazon do need putting in their place, they are marketplaces only and in law (English Law) the transaction/contract of sale is between seller and buyer and not Ebay and Amazon. As such we are entitled to communicate with the buyer for anything we like. They don’t like it, and bully and threaten to suspend traders when they do because they have too much power.

    I am representing my point of view for those of us who sell £millions on these platforms and not just a few quid day.

  • Gman
    3 months ago

    No off site selling on eBay? One of the largest tool sellers was advertising their big open day at a venue in the U.K. with 1000’s of bargains for sale. Full page promoting it on their eBay shop front. How is this ok?

  • mark
    3 months ago

    Bullying is the absolute perfect description for eBay. Do they not realise that when i see the name ARGOS or TESCO let alone their actual logo all over a listing i associate it with the very big shops just up the road in my town and virtually every other town in the UK making contacting them directly very easy.

    Further bullying by telling us to get higher visibility we must operate at a 30 day return policy which is totally outside of UK and EU law. When its returned used or damaged we are told we can offer as little as 50% refunds. What use is that when smaller retailers are not operating on profit margins that can allow 50% refunds without leading to bankruptcy.

    Bully Bully Bully.
    Well we have been advised that when a buyer returns something outside the legal 14 days and its clearly used we can take the case to small claims court so are eBay going to advertise to their buyers that they may be sued. I doubt it.

    Getting yourselves selling on other platforms and deserting eBay is the only way to teach them.

    • alan paterson
      3 months ago

      @ MARK ebay are simply trying to improve the standards of the platform. something they have bene working on for years. perhaps you dont remember the “bad ol days” when ebay were plagued by bad publicity.

      “BULLYING” you describe it as………… lol. I have no response to that. I am speechless. No seriously………………

  • Brer Rabbit
    3 months ago

    A few months ago I was selling a horse trailer on ebay cash on collection and accepted an offer. it was then impossible to exchange any details to pay and pick it up as ebay kept blocking the contact details. I phoned customer services and they told me to mark it as paid – even though it hadn’t been paid for. I pointed out this was not a good idea but they weren’t bothered. I was told ebay was losing £10m a year in lost fees. Eventually we directed to buyer to a person on facebook to message from there and they paid and collected and ebay got their fees. But I will never sell anything of that type again on ebay.

  • BFT
    3 months ago

    alan paterson , very interesting post, but I was intrigued to see that you can “get the customer to click “buy it now””. How do you do that? I’ve been trying for years!

    • alan paterson
      3 months ago

      @ lol, thats funny.

      but seriously – if the customer has clicked to buy you are then free to exchange information. its easy to cancel if the transaction does not go ahead. you can ask them to do this on ebay messages.

  • Lee Morgan
    3 months ago

    Yes, we were sanctioned in August last year. For years we had offered a free fabric sample as is common place in the fabric industry. We had a customer contact us and ask for a free sample, we dutifully said yes send us your address and we’ll send you one. The day after we were invisible. Ebay need to stop pretending this is to protect privacy and that it isn’t jusyt to do with loss of fees through outside trading on eBay. We’ve never done that but that didn’t wash with them and boom we were gone for a few weeks. We have never fully recovered and crap ourselves just in case anything we ask is construed as doing this.

    I fear that eBay are starting to sign their own death warrant by treating the people who make them money like school children.

  • Steve
    3 months ago

    Alan Paterson, let the customer buy it, then cancel it. Then, eBay can charge you a FVF and will not relinquish it even when the sale is not completed. There are reports of this on eBay forums. For all your experience selling, you may not have the same customer service attitude as someone else. Buyers and sellers don’t need you to tell them to leave eBay, they are doing it. They are following the buyers.

    You can call potential customers infantile if you like, but for many sellers, it feels eBay’s punitive policies are starting to bite.

    Gav, it’s a legal requirement in the UK that the details of a registered business are displayed in every listing. So eBay’s insistence that we do not share details is a bit pointless really. It just causes bad feeling and definitely costs sales.

    Jon, the eBay ‘basket’ is a apparently a basket-case. This is well known, but eBay technical services just blame customers. In fact, I find eBay customer service staff have as much contempt for buyers as their bosses have for sellers.

    Toby, I agree the clampdown on communication is a pain as with other changes, is not helping customer service/confidence. But I too I sell bigger items and constantly find that Highlands and Islands customers ignore that fact that my listings state that they need to choose Parcelforce or contact me for a courier quote. They just take the cheap shipping option and expect me to pay it. Result, I sometimes have to cancel the sale, lose the sale and run the risk of eBay charging me the FVF anyhow. I don’t think this communication problem is the issue, I think potential buyers could ask for a quote to a postcode or town or city is close enough. I think they just want ‘the advertised price’ I’m sure they know there are courier surcharges, just don’t like paying them!

    • alan paterson
      3 months ago

      @ Steve – no Steve – if the transaction is canceled you get your FVF back.

      I dont think its a loss folk leaving ebay who cant, dont or wont comply with the rules. it was costing ebay a fortune and good sellers like me were subsidising the sellers who were consistently circumventing the fees. many do not see the big picture.

    • 3 months ago

      Hi Steve. I’m aware that the contact details are tucked away on the listings, though many ebay buyers aren’t, so it’s not pointless for ebay to block attempts at direct contact. They could certainly do it more tactfully though.

  • 3 months ago

    I have been ‘suspended’ and ‘educated’ twice by EBay after replying to customers queries
    Once, a customer asked me to call him and have his number, and I responded ‘no problem I will call you tomorrow’ 🙈
    Second time, customer had purchased from me but the number was incorrect and I needed the correct number from Bet to book in her delivery, this method of asking didn’t work and I ended up having to send her a letter and get a negative for late delivery!

    Anyway on both occasions I did get my account back, not before one eBay member giving me a lecture and I mean a lecture over the phone re; avoiding fees and then the second time a lovely eBay man who said the best way is just not to respond!! He at the time, had had enough of all the suspension of accounts and I must have been the 56th person to call him that day about this.

    To sell on eBay you have to go by their rules..
    Do I think it’s right? Not for me no, I sell high priced furniture and people do want to know you are ‘real’ before parting with £1500 but most of the time I have to ignore the questions totally and hope that someone with abit of common sense Google’s our business name and gets our number that way if they want to speak with us

    But rules and rules… and I think if I were eBay I’d be pretty annoyed if I was losing millions a year in lost fees

  • northumbrian
    3 months ago

    it really is as simple as keeping to the rules
    we think 70mph on the motorway is not really suitable for our 150mph car
    could you imagine the carnage if everyone just ignored the 70mph limit
    and drove as fast as they wished

  • Two points:
    1. Amazon do not allow contact details either – you can find them eventually just as you can on eBay, but it’s not easy. Why should eBay be different?
    2. Two of my clients have been targeted in their category by organised criminals who created 20-30 new listings per day, every day, using my clients’ photos and text, and when buyers buy the criminal sellers direct them off eBay to complete the sale.
    Needless to say, this had a major impact on my clients’ brand and business, and required concerted vigilance from eBay and us to get rid of them.
    These organised gangs are a real problem, although hard to spot.
    As Northumbrian and Alan Paterson say, this is eBay’s business, and all sellers have a choice to use the platform or move on.
    I think it’s telling that no people selling on Amazon as well as eBay are complaining about not being able to contact buyers.

  • Simon
    3 months ago

    Alan Patterson
    Do you really have nothing else to do?
    Why are you continuously telling people they are wrong and ebay are right? Do you work for ebay?
    You are in fact wrong sunshine.
    Ebay & paypal already made huge profits and pay very little tax. This action is just about their greed. So i hardly think its about protecting “your” platform.
    I suspect buyers completing outside of ebay only effected a tiny percentage of sales and it is not as prolific as you keep making out.
    It is fact someone buying a £30,000 car or boat etc is going to want to view or maybe have a independent survey done prior to paying.
    If you think this is not required then i seriously question your level of business knowledge and suggest you stop spouting off your blinkered opinion.
    Find a new hobby as your twoddle is getting boring now.

  • Dave
    3 months ago

    Just come across this corker:

    http://stores.ebay.co.uk/Crampton-and-Moore

    ‘We’re here to take your call’ with two phone numbers blazoned across the banner… When you click on the ‘visit us in store’ link on the banner, it takes you here:

    http://stores.ebay.co.uk/cramptonandmoore/pages/store-details

    Directions and phone numbers to each physical store.

    One rule for them, another rule for us. We’d all get a ban.

    • james
      3 months ago

      i was fully expecting this to be a slightly more obscure Argos-like, but following the link, they only have 28,000 feedback, and just over 1,000 in the past year.
      that’s no Argos, that’s barely full-time ebaying.
      how the hell are they getting away with it?
      they must be mates with devin or something.

    • Dave
      3 months ago

      James – exactly. We have had a similar amount of feedback in the last 12 months as them, but without the negatives or neutrals….. About £250k of sales, yet they get the special treatment.

      They are one of my competitors….

      Great eh?