From September, eBay will have a new links policy which prohibits you from including contact information or links to your website, email address, phone number or social media sites anywhere on eBay (including shop pages). This was announced in eBay’s Spring Seller Release, the one exception is classified ads.
From September 2017 you won’t be able to include contact information, i.e. phone numbers, email addresses or social media profiles, in item descriptions, images, eBay Shops or seller profiles. The new rules won’t apply to the Business seller information section.
Buyers and sellers should always use eBay messaging tools, such as My Messages or Best Offer, to communicate with each other.
– eBay Spring 2017 Seller Release
It would appear likely that eBay are doing this because they’re fed up with buyers being ripped off by scammers. Headlines such as ‘eBay fraudster stole £3,000 after we’d remortgaged our home‘ just shouldn’t happen in 2017 but sadly they all to frequently do.
A relatively small number of sellers take sales off eBay (for instance check out the feedback for sellers of granite worktops – relatively few sales because anyone buying a granite worktop needs it cut to the exact size of their kitchen with holes cut for sinks, hobs etc. They rely on buyers to contact them direct through their eBay listings and of course eBay miss out on commission on these sales.
The real problem however, is scammers who open an account (or hijack an existing account) and get buyers to purchase expensive items (often cars sold at ridiculously low prices) to pay off eBay. They’ll send a fake invoice to convince the buyer that ‘PayPal are backing the transaction and your funds will be held in escrow’ and as soon as the buyer has paid that will be the last they ever hear from the scammer.
The only way to eradicate this type of scam is to prevent website addresses, email addresses, phone numbers and the like from being published on eBay in the first place. It’s going to hurt sellers of custom made items that can’t receive images and hinder sellers who provide great telephone support from helping buyers contact them.
On many eBay sites this should have the desired effect, but not on eBay UK where sellers are obliged to publish their business information which includes their email address and phone number on all listings. All eBay are really doing is making it slightly harder for buyers to find the contact details, but they’ll still be there. Of course setting up a business account is slightly more work than setting up a private seller account, but not much. Plus if the scammer has hijacked an account it’s no effort at all to update the business contact information with their own details and they’ll simply ignore the rule that says you can’t tell buyers where to find your contact details.
Whilst it’s admirable (and good business sense) for them to eradicate fraud, I can’t help thinking that eBay are using the proverbial hammer to crack a walnut. It may well make it harder for scammers to rip people off, but it will also impact tens of thousands of great sellers and buyers.