Requiring buyers to provide telephone numbers and physical addresses

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Last night on RRB Radio – The River the Ranch and the Bay, there was an interesting snippet from eBay_Andy, an eBay Enterprise Account Manager and eBay Ink blogger. eBay have tested with a small amount of users the ability to require buyers to supply certain additional information at checkout.

The changes on have currently been rolled back but hopefully will be fully implemented across the site in the near future.

Requiring buyers to supply a telephone number

The first change is the ability for sellers to choose to require buyers to supply a telephone number at checkout. This is required by many couriers and mandatory for many larger items where the courier needs to ensure the buyer will be at home to receive delivery.

The ability to contact a customer and schedule delivery, or of course to telephone them if there is a delay or other problem with their order should be a given, yet too many times eBay buyers don’t have their phone numbers either appended to their delivery address or updated to their current contact number.

Requiring buyers to supply a physical address instead of a PO Box

There’s often not a problem with delivery to PO Boxes if the item is being shipped by a national postal carrier, but if an alternative courier is being used then it’s likely the seller needs a physical address to deliver to.

This is the case around the world with particular issues being couriers to PO Boxes in the US or UK and Pack Station addresses in Germany (which are run by DHL Parcel Germany, a business unit of Deutsche Post’s Mail division). In some cases items can be delivered to a PO Box address, but not with a signature on delivery. This leaves the seller shipping the parcel untracked with no seller protection, using an alternative often more expensive courier, or having to contact the customer to obtain a physical address leading to delays in shipment.

Both these changes are essential for modern Internet retailers and the quicker they are rolled out worldwide the better the service sellers will be able to provide their customers. All sellers won’t want or need to add these requirements to their listings, but for those that do the updates will be very welcome when they roll out.

20 Responses

  1. Its about time, far too often Ebay buyers leave little or no contact details and then make it impossible to track or deliver to them

  2. those buyers that don’t leave a number now will simply input a fake one.

  3. The physical address is ok – but if I HAD to give my phone number I would abandon the sale.

    I do not want to speak to the seller – I do not want them bugging me afterwards either for feedback or trying to sell me something else. If a seller wants to advise me of problems, email me!

    I had some furniture delivered from John Lewis and had to give a phone number, I was plagued with sales calls for 3 months afterwards. Never again.

  4. we add the telephone number if we have it ,along with the email address to the shipping label.
    every now and then some plonker whinges about data protection and showing phone numbers on the label,
    they usually shut up ,when we point out where they live and where to find their family , dog . budgie and rabbit, are also shown, if they are so worried about apostman being a serial murderer, stick to buying at car boot fairs in sunglasses and a wig

  5. Are we back on “One size fits all” type Policies. I am like a very large number of ebay sellers. I sell relatively small(Books) and low value(under £50) items. I am not convinced that any of the sales that I have made to date would have been made easier if I had the buyers phone number. Obviously in the future I might have a Sale that has problems and where a phone number might be an advantage but so far I have never needed one. In regard to addresses I sometimes get delivery addresses that are not the residence instead they are the business address of the customer. I cannot think of a case where I have had a PO Box but if I have it has not given me a problem. But where I have had a problem is with addresses that are wrong and they are shown on Paypal as “verified”. I have got reasonably good at recognising Postcodes and where they refer to. So for example if I had a Mid or West Cornwall address it should have a TR Postcode but if I had a Truro Address with an EX Postcode it must be wrong. Occassionally I get addresses that do not appear to be correct and when I check them they are confirmed as wrong. When I contact the customer by email they usually apologise and correct it. Invariably the excuse was that they were thinking about something else and the address is their home address but the postcode is their work one(or something similar). The suggestions will not sort that problem out.

  6. I sold something once to someone who lived on a small island.

    Their address was:

    Buyers name
    Name of Island

    I wrote to her to check and she eventually wrote back to say only 100 people lived on the island.


  7. Ireland has no postcode system and there are some very short addresses.

    This does appear to be eBay coming up with something for the few that affects the many.

    eBay should allow sellers to opt out of a buyer requirement for telephone numbers.

    The PO Box one I do feel eBay are right here. Why should buyers hide behind PO Box numbers?

    Sellers can’t.

    If you happen to be rich and famous and you want anonimity then you have the money to make arrangementa over and beyond a PO Box number.

    The only issue I can see might be Australia. I have a feeling PO Box numbers in Oz are essential for many due to how far away some of the buyers are from a postal service.

  8. buggering about checking addys and being a postcode psychic is fine if your playing at selling,

  9. Couriers don’t phone even when they have the number. Larger items a contact number is essential but for the overwhelming majority of eBay items there is no need.

    Will eBay reimburse buyers for wasted time from spam phone calls?

    Courier delivery services are all over the place, can arrive any time, depot is an hour or more round trip away, and now they want to impose more on the customer.

  10. Seriously? With all thats going on at ebay this is thier focus right now? They dont seem the least bit concerned about the second massive fleeing of users in as many years, a majority of sellers disgruntled, buyers not confident about making a transaction, extremely high fees, and a transformation of the site, once again, to try to be like amazon. But forget all that, lets make sure the buyers give thier phone number and physical address. Right, lol. No wonder why they’re such a mess over there.

  11. I think the changes being proposed – that is the buyer requirements – sound really positive. eBay suggesting something right, for once.



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