Clarification on the new Seller Contact details links policy on eBay UK

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Earlier in the year Tamebay reported the new links policy for business sellers, regarding including your business contact details in the main body of your eBay listings, would be changing. As a business you can still include contacts details in the appropriate section but not in the description field.

Here are the details of the new policy, which you can find here.

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

That sounds like a fairly obvious policy but last week we heard from a seller who was under pressure to remove contact details from listing description immediately under threat of sanction. Naturally he was confused because there does seem to be a September deadline.

The good news is that eBay has confirmed with Tamebay that the policy and business seller requirements don’t come into action until September, so there is still time to amend listings and remain compliant.

We know why eBay is introducing this new policy. They’re guarding against fraud and protecting their revenues: they don’t want people trading off-platform because they don’t take a cut. But there is an aspect of this policy that seems rather buyer unfriendly and slightly paranoid. That buyer and seller have a discussion before purchase can be a good thing, after all.

If you’re selling custom items or a complex big ticket item, then as a buyer, you may well want to clarify details with the seller. The contact details will still be available but they’re not so very obvious. It’s a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

25 Responses

  1. It’s an admission things are not going all that well on Ebay.

    Smacks of desparation to try and stop buyers and sellers making contact, whatever the impact.

    Trying to resolve genuine issues, such as the sudden failure of many paypal payments a few days ago, has become a total farce.

    Ended up searching for online phone details in some cases, as any attempt to mention paypal in the messages was blocked by Ebay.

    But they can’t stop sellers including a note with their website details enclosed with each sale, offering a 10% to first orders for new customers.

  2. If it’s not coming into action until September, why are the eBay forums full of posts from buyers and sellers who are getting warnings and suspensions for asking for phone numbers in eBay messages?

  3. I’ve also clarified with eBay that workarounds are not allowed – so you can’t tell people that your contact details are at the bottom of a browser page for instance.
    It’s a very tight time frame as well, many people will not realise the implications when there is only a few months’ notice, especially on top of the changed (and confusing) Active Content rules as well.

  4. Does anyone have a solution for sellers trading worldwide that have different phone numbers and emails per country/language? We have our phone lines set up to always answer in the target language, and in the business information (because it is legal information), we are only able to display one universal telephone number, which is both costly for the customer and ineffective for our customer service team.

  5. They’re heavily cracking down on communication that might lead to a sale outside ebay.. I got a 7 day suspension because I gave out my whatsapp, and another because I responded to a message asking for my phone number..

    These restrictive policies.. I don’t think it is good for business overall. In fact isn’t that why ebay failed in China???

    It’s also a kick in the teeth when we’re competing with large corporate third parties that use ebay to promote items that they must surely also have for sale on their own multi million pound business websites. . you can be sure customers that find their items arent all buying through ebay.

  6. One thing I noticed is that although our telephone number is input correctly it displays on ebay without the leading 0, i.e our area code shows as 1924 rather than 01924, no matter how I try to adjust it, ebay seem to get rid of the leading 0 under sellers business details, how many customers are going to be dialling 1924 and wondering why they can’t get through.

  7. eBay? Clarification? The two words don’t go together. When is the “clarification” going to come regarding UK legal requirements and items requiring photos?

    Their new policy does not comply with UK legislation on distance/online selling. Business contact information is hidden away on the App and requires a number of clicks to unearth it. Sellers not allowed to tell buyers where to find the information. How does that comply with regulations? It doesn’t.

    There are over 250,000 listing on ebay for personalised photo items, all requiring photos to be emailed as their message system is so dire it compresses files to such a degree they cannot be used to print.

    What are we supposed to say to buyers after September when they message and say “Hi, I just bought a photo plaque, how do I send the photos to you?” My reply? “Er, I can’t tell you. The information is there but I am not allowed to tell you how to find it, in fact I can’t even use the word starting with e which may help you locate it” Beyond a joke eBay.

    “sarah” from ebay answered posts on Powerseller and Business boards in early May to say she would provide answers to questions “by the end of week, as a priority”. It is now 27th June and we are all still waiting.

    It would be good if Tamebay could actually get “clarification” from ebay instead of just churning out the policy update yet again.

  8. It is also no longer possible to request seller contact information until you have actually paid. eBay seems intent on creating bad feeling and a bad shopping experience for all. How about just being nice to customers instead of playing head pickpocket Fagin? Once you have done the damage it’s a long way back, if there is a way back, which I doubt there is now.

  9. There isn’t any question a buyer can’t ask a seller through ebay messages, so do they really need your direct email address or your phone number for a chinwag?

    No they don’t.

    That said, they could certainly improve the ebay message experience. Stop being so stingy with character limits for example. Stop removing paragraph breaks. Allow emojis. Basically, make it more like the experience you have emailing a friend or a facebook messenger/whatsapp thread.

    The issue of ebay compressing attached photos down to a useless size is a different issue, though one they need to address if they want to keep their share of the personalised item market.

  10. The marketplace needs to make its value to the buyer and seller so clear that neither would want to transact off ebay. There are myriad ways it is starting to do this already (well done!) — around transaction support (GSP, returns flow), guarantees etc etc. Search promotion based on on-site velocity etc. The fee hike for some business sellers and complexity and high prices for everyone else mean that they have to provide even more distinctive value to justify the expense.

    Building a wall around Berlin didn’t work either — if enough people want to get out they will. The trick is making sure that they don’t want to go off-platform.

    And worse — making sellers build the wall. Why can’t they just block out the info instead of killing the listings? Paypal manages it. They did it for active content. It’s adding insult to injury to make the sellers do their dirty work to make the buying experience worse and protect their revenues.

    If this were a marketplace that valued its partnership with sellers above all, it wouldn’t act like this.

  11. The whole approach seems a bit like a shopping centre trying to not let it’s buyers leave the centre for fear they might shop elsewhere. All that would achieve is to encourage the buyer (and eventually the tenants) to go to a more welcoming centre.

    Yes – encouraging open communication can lead to some sales leakage, but it will probably happen anyway. Better to address the issues of why people might want to do business on your platform and make it worth their while. Using coercion is about the dumbest approach I can think of (and maybe a measure of desperation).

    Simple example – if I want to use Social Media to drive people to my business I can send them to eBay, etsy or my website (or increasingly use a buy it now button on the social media site). I am way less inclined to send them to eBay than I used to be as a direct result of this crackdown.

  12. We had a ban (overturned) a couple of weeks ago, customer wanted to talk to us on the phone about a technically complicated part that he wanted to buy ON EBAY and we got a 7 day ban when their ‘bots spotted the words TELEPHONE number in the buyer message.
    In end the, the guy got so fed up with us not responding to his further messages that he replied ‘if you’re not going to reply to me, then I’m not buying the £800 item from you’ and we never heard from him again.
    Hmmmm, who loses out there as well as us ?

  13. Dan, thanks for highlighting this, I’m encouraged that the press team at eBay have attempted to clarify the position, however, as of 22.40 today when I go to revise a listing I still get a warning stating the listing may violate eBay policy.

    eBay concierge haven’t changed there position either, all my listings could be ended at anytime because they contain contact phone numbers.

    Not cool.

  14. Following the whole active content removal debacle, one of our clients applied their new compliant listing template via a third party revision to his international listings and eBay denied the revision as he still has contact information in his descriptions.

    Result… listings had active content stripped because he couldn’t revise with the contact info present.

    So much for the end of September deadline.

    Another of our clients received a warning from eBay last week to say he had 7 days to remove contact information or listings would be removed.

    Developers like ourselves are still dealing with late active content removal requests and scheduling a couple of weeks in advance – fitting new revisions in for clients to remove contact information from listings is almost impossible with less than a week’s notice.

    The additional policy changes that were made between the original announcement last year and final implementation have also created additional costs as Sellers who complied early were hit with additional revision costs because new requirements were announced in the interim.

    eBay has really not thought this through. Adding changes as though this is a shopping basket makes life very unpleasant and costly for Sellers. I realise they postponed the deadline several times and somebody obviously thought it would be a great idea to add a few more bits and pieces, but way to go eBay – penalise Sellers who comply promptly!

  15. sell on average 30 k a month for specialist markets where you clearly have to talk to the buyer to ensure they know exactly what they are buying and to eliminate con artists and bogus buyers, you find most non serious people will not talk on the phone ,we find this a excellent way to ensure good sales ,had x 2 7 day bans in the last month also be aware ebay will not remove your listings still charge you but prevents any customers from contacting you another way for them to simply pull our pants down on a already sore subject, its time someone puts a new platform in place and takes them down a peg or two

  16. I understand why Ebay is doing this but there Message System is so Crap, it’s unreal

  17. I sell used Mobility scooters and insist they try before they buy to make sure it’s suitible for there needs. If they are unable to phone me they will buy elsewhere.


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