eBay Messages : it's bad to talk

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I’ve been having a conversation with a chum recently via eBay Messages. We’ve sent a couple of emails each over the last fortnight or so, and last night I tried to respond to his most recent message. This is what I got back from eBay:


We have determined you are trying to contact an eBay member with whom you are not currently involved in an open transaction. For the protection of the eBay community, we sometimes block these types of communication. To prevent this occurrence from happening in the future, we recommend the following:

* If you are a seller, respond to all bidder questions before the auction ends.

* If you are trying to contact the seller of an item that has not yet ended go to the item page and click the “Ask seller a question” link.

* If you are the winning buyer of an item go to your My eBay page under the items I’ve Won section. Click the action drop down menu and choose the “contact seller” action.

* If you are a seller trying to contact your winning buyer, go to My eBay and under the Items I’ve Sold section, click the action drop down menu. Choose the “contact buyer” action.

* Reply to seller/bidder through personal email provider (if the sender has not hidden their email address).

Thank you for your understanding.


Thinking that maybe the problem was that I was rather late in responding to the messages thread, I tried to contact him directly using “contact member”: same message.

On eBay, and with ecommerce in general, I’ve always taken the view that you should make communication as easy as possible. It’s scary for buyers, sending off money to people they don’t know for stuff they might not ever get. One of the ways to overcome that – one of the ways that eBay helped to overcome those first ecommerce hurdles, back in the late 90s – is to make communication easy. Check that there’s a human being at the other end, we’d advise nervous newbies; ask a question, any question, just to see what kind of response you get.

It looks like eBay want to stop that now. Transactional communication is, it seems, the new order of the day. Use “contact seller/buyer” from your completed items page: don’t talk until you’ve bought. Or use Ask Seller a Question from an item page: I wonder if extended message threads get curtailed from there too? It’s all just one more way in which eBay are moving to own the transaction, and I don’t like it.

No doubt eBay will have reasons for this message: it’s to protect buyers from fraudsters, it’s to stop fee avoidance. With Reply to seller/bidder through personal email provider (if the sender has not hidden their email address), they practically admit the inconvenience: get your conversation off our Messages as soon as possible!

We know the arguments, and I agree, preventing fraud is important to me, and stopping fee avoidance is important to eBay. But. In the middle of a conversation is not the place to do those things. Buyer education should be done way, WAY before buyers are in a position to talk to people who might be ripping them off (I’d suggest that two powersellers with combined feedback of 150,000 aren’t likely to be ripping each other off either). And when there’s a trade-off between allowing communication and preventing fee avoidance – communication should always win. Restricting your trading platform because you’re so terrified you might lose a quid or two in fees is just ridiculous: those of us who want to avoid eBay fees have already packed up and left 😉


eBay June '23 Seller Release - Inappropriate messages

eBay June ’23 Seller Release – Inappropriate messages


Glitch with eBay My Messages


eBay UK Seller Release: Seller Protection


Reply Manager integrate eBay Resolutions & ChannelAdvisor


Are eBay’s My Messages working for you?

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