eBay accuses Amazon of poaching sellers [Updated]

By Dan Wilson October 3, 2018 - 2:52 pm

eBay has sent Amazon a legal letter known a cease and desist notice alleging that the latter’s staff have been contacting eBay merchants with the aim of getting them to defect. It is alleged that the Amazon staff have communicated with eBay sellers via the eBay My Messages internal communications system.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, eBay accuses Amazon of poaching sellers in a letter sent earlier this week requiring them to stop the alleged recruitment via eBay’s own systems. Apparently roughly 50 Amazon sales representatives across the world have sent more than 1,000 messages to eBay merchants. The WSJ has seen the letter but the full text isn’t currently available.

We can confirm that we have uncovered an unlawful and troubling scheme on the part of Amazon to solicit eBay sellers to move to Amazon’s platform. We have demanded that Amazon end its unlawful activity and will take the appropriate steps, as needed, to protect eBay.
– eBay spokeperson

If this does indeed turn out to be an accurate accusation, then it does seem like a rather low grade attempt at recruiting sellers. Not least because merchant business details are freely available on eBay item descriptions and it would be relatively easy to compile a prospects list using that public information rather than going through My Messages.

And it is slightly surprising that Amazon needs to actively recruit sellers at all when one would expect merchants to independently beat a path to their Seattle front door. Perhaps, the targets are in specific verticals or niches where Amazon seeks to expand the merchandise on offer to shoppers.

Amazon has yet to make a comment on the letter or the allegations.

Have you been approached in this way? If so, please do contact us (in complete confidence). It seems certain we shall write about this again.

Updated 04/10/18: “We are conducting a thorough investigation of these allegations.” – Amazon spokesperson.

  • 10 months ago

    From the details provided, that seems too clumsy to be true.

    Even the mega sellers, who may well be big targets for Amazon, must have their contact details on display. There is no need to use the ebay message system at all, which to anyone with the slightest bit of technical knowledge, would obviously result in detection.

    It will be interesting to find out what exactly happened.

  • Joe B
    10 months ago

    eBay do far more to drive sellers to Amazon than Amazon poach sellers IMO.

    Every stupid new rule change makes me more determined to commit more to selling on Amazon and leave eBay behind.

    • 10 months ago

      You should be doing both, as long as they turn you a profit

  • DBL
    10 months ago

    Happened on an account I worked on about 5-6 years ago. Amazon called and offered the Red Carpet Scheme to put all of the eBay products on Amazon at once, only condition was they wanted at least 400 products.

    Gave us an account manager and also guided us through the initial upload of products. Company weren’t selling online on any other platform at the time.

    It does happen.

  • Al
    10 months ago

    5-6 years ago, I was email contacted by an Amazon rep. “We want your products over at Amazon” and was offered 1 months free subscription to get me started. I was only selling on Ebay at that time.

  • Rob
    10 months ago

    Maybe if ebay were providing a excellent marketplace that sellers could trust then they would not need to worry about the competition.

  • Rob oakley
    10 months ago

    Maybe if ebay had an excellent marketplace that sellers could trust then they would not have to worry about sellers leaving or being poached.
    The way we are treated currently is poor as it is back to 3/4 years ago where everything we do seems to be wrong or not good enough. Which gives very little motivation to want to grow my business any further on ebay. Since the summer I have already started growing my business on ebay as much easier to list and can count the messages on one hand that I have received. Yet ebay buyers take up loads more time. I know where my growth will be next year and they don’t need to invite me.

    • Hunter
      9 months ago

      If you think you are treated poorly on eBay then you will hate Amazon. Amazon is even worse for sellers. The customer is always right, sometimes even with signed proof of delivery they will still refund a customer. They also suspend you in order to force you to provide invoices (or stop selling) so that they can go around you and do a deal with your supplier. If a customer states an item is fake (even if its not) that item is automatically suspended from your inventory. Customers have gotten wise to the easy way they can abuse the Amazon system.

  • S
    10 months ago

    I do think eBay have improved for sellers recently. Unreasonable buyers are less and people n9w understand to return things they don’t like or want rather than extort money back.
    Help on removing unfair feedback is still slow though and not always forthcoming
    eBay need to showcase the diversity of sme businesses and the as fast as Amazon delivery some offer
    I guess this shows eBay are concerned. I’m not sure sellers are always available to replace each other like presumed and eBay does need to attract enthusiastic and innovative sellers willing to market and introduce new products which will snatch buyers from Amazon when it’s unique enough or marketed well.
    FB marketplace is also taking a lot of custom when eBay is a good place to gain exposure locally- but again eBay wants us all to market as eBay depts rather than sme business on eBay

  • 10 months ago

    Ok hands up it is my fault, in the last 6 months I have consistently told eBay Customer Support how many customers buy from me on Amazon that used to buy from me on eBay, they are losing customers, thankfully I am not.

    As DBL & Al said 5-6 years ago! But now…? I sell on both eBay & Amazon, I was not poached, I went willingly but did not find it that great to begin with but eBay has gone downhill so much in the last 18month this just shows how desperate they are getting.

    We have seen the tricks and gimmicks and eBay did pick up for me for a while but once again I am getting so many of the same old problems, it is just not fit for purpose.

  • Lucy
    10 months ago

    I agree we are all freely going to Amazon due to how sellers are treated on eBay.

    A prime example is the return metric penalty charge, it is so negative, who wants to be on a market place when you are blamed and charged penalties for things that haven’t happened. The return request may not lead to a return because you step in and through excellent customer service resolve the issue but greedy old eBay will use that and any other SNADS regardless of the outcome of the case to squeeze more money from you. Then telling you, that you are a bad seller, your so called peers who ever they are, are perfect and you are underperforming on returns.

    They try to run your business for you automatically accepting returns, giving out return labels, even though the postal labels are not insured. And all the label charges are billed to the seller of course.

    Sellers on eBay are treated as commodities and buyers who scam us are allowed to carry on doing so by eBay.

    Just through chatting generally to friends and family Amazon is held in higher regard for most buyers than eBay.

  • SAM
    10 months ago

    It is getting tougher to replace the sellers that eBay loose. It is an expensive market to sell on, and over the last year margins are at an all time low. If I am going to box shift and penny chase I can do that on Amazon without the logistics issues.
    All eBay managed to do it charge us more for a lesser service, they don’t seem to ever evolve. Plus we are getting swamped with counterfeit goods from China, and UK sellers wrapping up pre-owned and reselling as new on eBay.
    We actually stopped selling on Amazon start of the year, but due to the decline in eBay sales mid-summer we had to go running back, am not set up to go back all guns blazing yet, kinda planned my peak in the UK around eBay it has always been my preferred market but it is in decline.
    However the time we spend with self-fulfilment could be spent better elsewhere. We have 2 very successful EU markets also, that are the only thing that keeps us just putting all UK stock now into Amazon, which we are probably going to do start of 2019, and drop eBay for the 1st time ever (unless we have bumper peak) and trust me I don’t actually want to do this but common sense must prevail, and I can make a lot more money now not being here.

    The traffic is simply going to Amazon now, I do not like it but that is what the Brits seem to have bought into…

    As far as eBay doing above shows they are getting desperate.

  • StigD
    10 months ago

    All I would say is this: if sellers think that Amazon provides the sunlit uplands that Churchill spoke of then they are in for a shock; it is an even more gated, restrictive marketplace than ebay. These american megacorps are total control freaks, not just Amazon and ebay but Google, Facebook, Microsoft, the lot of them. It is a pity that they are allowed to rule our lives with their petty rules and regulations in what is supposed to be a “free” market.

    As for selling on Amazon or ebay; they are utterly unstable, you never know where you are with them or what is coming next. What business needs above all is stability (don’t we hear that motto repeated every day regarding Brexit?) and these monoliths don’t provide anything like it. IMO most sellers live in constant fear that the rug will be pulled out from under them at any time. That is no way to build or sustain a viable company.

  • D
    10 months ago

    Well well well….just received my amazon business invite to open a free account!!

  • gerry007
    9 months ago

    Be assured, any seller that is thinking of defecting to Amazon, the grass is not greener on the other side.

    Their seller support simply cuts and pastes answers, never assists sellers, and has changed (for the worse) in every way from the helpful Co, they were less than a year ago…

    • Hunter
      9 months ago

      Totally agree, eBay is the lesser of the two evils IMO. Amazon is an environment that is so run on bots, it is impossible to speak to a human being or get anything resolved. Seller support will tell you all sorts of lies on the phone and then when it comes down to it that is not what happens . The whole system is open to abuse, A-Z claims (even if a claim is found to not be your fault, they still count it against you on the metrics). they suspend you if a customer claims an item is fake (with no proof) and request invoices, so you have to tell them who your supplier is (then they can go to the supplier and obtain the stock themselves), customers know Amazon will always refund them no matter what and so they use the system, they order something that is not to their liking – i.e they change their mind, and instead of raising a return, they raise a claim which then counts against us and can result in suspension, honestly, eBay is much more reasonable.

  • john
    9 months ago

    I had Amazon contact me several times offering the red carpet treatment to switch over my ebay listings to amazon , I declined several times and then they offered the service where someone in India did all of the work transferring the listings and an account manager etc so eventually I went for it .It was ok for about 18 months sales were getting better then out of the blue and with no reason as I was within their metrics I was suspended with them holding over £10,000 for 3 months ,which nearly crippled my business. There was no way of talking to anyone , an appeal process that was useless and when you have no idea what you are appealing against is meaningless and that took weeks to get a response to . The items were all totally legitimate and now all of them are being sold on Amazon by Amazon from their own warehouses .

  • 9 months ago

    @gerry007 you are wrong the grass is Greener in so far as sales are 3x more, but apart from that customer service is as bad as eBay.

    @Hunter I have had better CS at Amazon (at times) than eBay but like eBay it is hit-&miss depending on who you get.

    @john eBay, Paypal, Aden & Amazon all have the power to control your payouts and once there is a problem it is hard to get it resolved.

    Bottom line is if you really on market places you will get F*****! at some point, they are in it for themselves, not you.

    The sooner people go out and do their own thing the better, not easy but what is your back-up plan?

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