eBay Australia announce today that they are removing email addresses from eBay messages where the two parties have not recently transacted with each other. Messages sent through Ask Seller a Question, Reply to Question and Contact eBay Member links will instead appear to come from a temporary email address: responses will be routed by eBay back to the recipient’s real address and My Messages. The changes will be implemented from 1st September.
Once an item has been purchased, both parties will be able to see each others’ email addresses.
This change was announced at eBay Live as part of the “road map” for the second half of this year, so we can expect to see other sites following suit very soon. Sellers will need to make some changes in their ways of working to allow for this.
First, the good news: automated responses from your email client or server will now work. No more accidental replies to “use the yellow button” will make both automated and ordinary responses a lot more efficient. Buyers no longer have the option to hide email addresses, so all responses can be made via email if that’s your preference.
But there are a couple of potential pitfalls. The email address used to respond to messages must be one registered with eBay: given that emailing “use the yellow button” never produced an error message, it’s worth checking now to make sure email and eBay match. Subject headers are changing too, so your carefully set up mail rules will need to be changed: in typical eBay style, they’ve said that subjects are changing, but not what they’re changing to, so preparation is not possible.
Email addresses within the body of the message will be stripped out by eBay: for those trying to use ASQs as an off-eBay customer acquisition tool, saying “please email me at… ” isn’t going to work any more. I’m surprised there isn’t also a clause saying that web links will also be removed.
And despite recent flim-flamming on the links policy, Australia’s announcement still says that next year, email addresses are to be blocked from listings. That’s one to bear in mind if you’re redesigning templates in the next few months.
We’ve known this one was coming for a while now, and I’ve seen a lot of sellers complaining that it’s going to damage communications with their buyers and ruin their DSRs, but I don’t think so. If anything, it’s going to make communicating a lot easier when I don’t have to go through the hideously clunky My Messages system. But what it will do is make it a bit more difficult for sellers who use eBay primarily as a shop front for their off-eBay sales: gathering emails for your spamming list just got a bit more difficult. I’m not complaining about that either.
What do you think? Has this just made your life easier, or ruined your carefully thought-out marketing plan? Leave us a comment.