eBay's secret messages

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Are your buyers trying to tell you something? It’s entirely possible they are and that you know nothing about it. Powerseller Allan from alerted us to a potentially disastrous problem for buyers and sellers alike. Buyers now have the facility to add notes to sellers on checkout. However, unless sellers know that these notes might exist, and do a lot of digging to find them, they may never see them.

Notes could be a useful feature. For changes of address or colour options or the perennial favourite “please wrap well and leave feedback”, there are lots of things buyers like to tell sellers on checkout. But if we don’t know what they’re saying, or even that they could be saying it, this facility is worse than useless. How many times has a buyer said to you “but I asked you…”, and you’ve thought “ah, don’t blame me for your mistake!” Now I know what happened to those notes. I just didn’t see them, because I didn’t know they could be there.

There is nothing in SMP or My Messages or My eBay to say that a note from a buyer exists. Instead, sellers have to open up each individual order details page, and check for a very small link at the bottom. Even getting to the order details is a long-winded process: they can be found via My eBay Sold Items (on the drop down list for each item), or from SMP by clicking the checkout date on the Sales Record, or from the link at the top of a closed listing for a single item, or from the Purchases page for a closed listing for multiple items. Obviously if you’ve sold more than one item in a day, this is going to make processing your orders much, much more onerous.

Notes from buyer on Order Details page
click to embiggen

Just to compound the confusion, the link doesn’t appear if there is no note from a buyer (or at least, we think that’s what’s happening).

A thread on the [PS signin required] suggests that Allan’s not the only one with the same problem. At best, this wastes everyone’s time as sellers chase buyers for information they’ve already supplied; at worst – as in Allan’s case – this can mean that a parcel ends up in the wrong hemisphere.

eBay desperately need to make these messages more visible to sellers: personally I’d like to see them show up in My eBay and in SMP, and be printed out on the SMP packing slip too. That way, there’s no chance I’m going to miss them! In the meantime, I’ll be the one clicking through my orders, one by one, with a very unhappy look on my face.

29 Responses

  1. It’s just not going to happen – sellers with 100’s or 1000’s of orders per day to process most likely have automated processes to spew out labels and packing slips.

    Whoever flipped the switch to turn this pet project on needs to flip it back off until such time as sellers are flagged that there’s a message for a particular order.

  2. …and just to make it even worse I’ve found an order that has the “Note from….” message and when you click to open it there isn’t a note there. So you’ll have to check each and every listing individually 🙁

  3. FFS, it gets worse then. I can’t find any orders with the notes link on, so I don’t even know now whether that means there are no notes, or just that that link doesn’t show up on the version of that page I’m being given. They need to switch this off until it’s working correctly.

  4. sellers with 100’s or 1000’s of orders per day to process most likely have automated processes to spew out labels and packing slips.

    Er, yes. I do. So now I have a choice between clicking through them all one by one, or hoping that no one’s written anything important in there 🙁

  5. I suspect this may have happened with one of my outstanding orders, where I’m waiting for someone to specify colour choice – however, when I’ve checked the order details page (and Paypal payment in my account too), there is no indication of any note.

    I won’t be checking all my orders for potential notes that may or may not be there. I’m already spending long enough correcting problems with combined p&p – maybe if that was ever fixed, I’d have some spare time to devote to this latest glitch 🙄

  6. If buyers want to communicate with sellers, email, ASQ and Skype are already in place. Why add something else?
    I will be spending exactly the same amount of time looking for these secret messages as I do for paypal messages. i.e. none.

  7. I don’t really have aa a problem with PP messages because they’re in the emails and it takes me two seconds to check for them.

  8. Yup, PP comments are OK (“please tell the mailman to put the package under the big stone at the rear of the property…”) – they’re right there next to the address.

  9. paypal messages just dont get read by us, we use smp & awaiting postage

    I am trying to sell not be Dr Syntax

  10. Good grief, I can’t spend time looking for messages that might or might not exist and I don’t know how to find anyway!

    When I sell earrings I do expect people to tell me if they want clips-ons or pierced fittings, so I always check for notes on the Paypal payment, and ASQ them it there is no note or email. I don’t want to have to look for obscure links as well.

  11. These notes appear on all my order details pages and have done for a couple of months now. I wonder if they were introduced around the same time as the feedback prompt notes that are advising buyer not to miss dispute deadlines?

  12. So we have some people with them on some pages.
    We have some people with them on all pages.
    And we have some people with them on no pages.
    Plus we have links to notes where no notes exist.
    If we could definitely find an order with a note where the seller hasn’t got a link at all, then I think we could prove this is a complete pigs ear.

  13. I’m wondering….

    I don’t use checkout at all, just smp, so nobody gets a checkout invoice from me. And I have no problems with people complaining about messages not received.

    Perhaps that is why I don’t seem to have this thingy on any of my View Details pages?

    Mairi, are you using checkout or SMP for your invoices?

  14. The amount of things i would not know about ebay if i didn’t read this blog every few days is astonishing.

    Some are very positive – which I like — but many are vital and simply not available anywhere else … which is pretty scary in the greater scheme of things!

    I thought I should finally (and rather belatedly) say thanks for at least bringing this (and much other) nonsense to our attention so we don’t accuse perfectly nice buyers of lying!

  15. My-Goodies, you’re very welcome 🙂

    Just a reminder also, if anyone has anything they know and want to share, the “contact us” link is over there in the right side bar. Anything from anyone else will of course be credited with a link to their eBay shop and/or website.

  16. The principal tenant of any successful business should be to KISS – “Keep it simple (stupid)”. So why is eBay so intent on making it really difficult to have clear line of communication with our customers?

    Back in the early days of eBay, everything was so much easier. You listed and sold your items, awaited payment, sent item, and got glowing feedback, returned glowing feedback. Now there are just so many hoops to jump through, it’s like a horse and pony show.

  17. some buyer messages you only find in my ebay messages and other ebay messages you only find in your email account , other buyer notes are tagged onto paypal payment emails

    why on earth cant ebay direct all ebay related notes messages etc to one central location such as my messages in my ebay is astonishingly idiotic
    I have seen some buyers state that only notes sent to ebay my messages will be read
    though we all know buyers dont read

  18. Some messages that buyers put in Paypal checkout are not getting through. This is a real pain as its usually where buyers let me know of changes of address or that something needs extra packaging or they think they have a dodgy postie, etc.

  19. Des, I think that could be the root of this problem. eBay have changed checkout, haven’t they, so buyers never leave the eBay site. I’m not sure that you *can* leave a PayPal message any more… I think your missing messages are much more likely to be these eBay ones.

    Hmm, I need to go shopping as an experiment 😆

  20. I’ve a strong suspicion that’s what has happened with my colour choice buyer. Now if only the buyer would deign to read & respond to their ebay messages, it would be sorted!

  21. Just had a buyer on colour choice listing. No colours choosen. So ASQ buyer to get colours. He replies with them and a terse little note saying he told me this in checkout.

    There is no message in checkout for me – so Ebay introduce a new system, full of bugs and not announced – same old Ebay 😥

  22. A Buyer’s Point of View

    I’ve always put a note in PayPal checkout, even if it’s just to say thank you for offering an item I’ve been seeking for a long time. I buy from small sellers, those that ‘have the time’ to read the notes. Sellers have always responded to my notes in their payment confirmation, that is up until eBay changed Checkout.

    I put my note in eBay checkout now….my color choice, delivery request, my compliments on a precise description and clear photos. Yet, I’m getting requests for specifics I’ve already given in the note. I now understand why….nothing I write is being seen by the seller.

    And here I was, thinking that my favorite small sellers had become unfriendly, those that I had purchased from many times before. This was making me consider whether to even purchase from them again. How sad is that?

  23. Gee: thanks for your comment. It’s very sad, though not entirely unexpected. So if you could just let all the other millions of eBay buyers know what the problem is, I’d be very grateful 😆

  24. just announced by ebay as a workround until they think of some other way of buggering things up

    Go to ‘My eBay’
    Click on ‘My Summary’
    Go to ‘Items I’ve Sold’
    On the dropdown menu under the ‘Action’ column of each item, click on the ‘View Order Details’ option
    At the bottom of the page click on the ‘View note’ link to see if the buyer left any notes.

    AS IF

  25. How can that be a work-around? That’s what people have been doing, and some of them aren’t even seeing the messages. And it’s just clicking into the orders one by one again: it doesn’t matter what path you take to get there, it’s still click click click click click, okay, nothing from that customer, click click click click click, okay, nothing from that customer, click click click click click, okay, nothing from that customer, repeat until will to live lost.

  26. You might as well give up any thoughts of complaining to ebay about this. They will at best ignore you, send you a patronising we know best message, or at worst you’ll find yourself banned from the forums for daring to call their working practices into question.

    On a seperate not about messages, I have apparently been warned several times by ebay over bord usage…..er nope, no emails received still I did get nicely patronised on how to check for emails, and then told that my spam filter must have blocked them. Seems these “warning messages do not go through the ebay message centre in my ebay ffs!!!!

    (a bit O/T but apparently ffs and **** will have a certain Pink throwing you off the boards without warning, well apart from telling the message board…….)

  27. Thanks for the invite Sue, I might get a little heated at times but I never outwardly mean to cause offence to anyone.

    The way I see it, If you don’t want to hear an answer other than the one you have in mind, best not ask the question 🙂


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