We’ve had a tip-off from a seller today saying that they’ve been actively prevented from sending an email via the eBay My Messages service because it contains “contact details”, specifically a phone number.
We know that eBay has been taking action against sellers including business contact details in listings and some sellers were surprised at the threat of sanction in recent weeks because the tougher rules are not supposed to come in until September. We wrote about that here: Clarification on the new Seller Contact details links policy on eBay UK.
But now it seems that the key arena eBay is cracking down on is the on-marketplace communications service My Messages that buyers and sellers use to send emails. As you can see from the image.
In this particular circumstance the buyer contacted the seller. He sells high end goods on eBay, with a price tag often over a grand, and the buyer wanted a detailed discussion about the items and installation. eBay made such a conversation impossible.
Several issues here present themselves. The first is a question: is the off-eBay trade problem for eBay so very huge? How much trade is going on that means eBay isn’t getting the fees? Our judgment is that it’s not such a big problem.
Secondly, there is scope for a more nuanced approach. eBay is investing in machine learning and artificial intelligence. That technology could be used in an instance like this.
The seller in question has been trading for more than a decade on eBay. He’s paid thousands in fees. He’s got a long heritage of selling expensive items on eBay. People like him can be trusted to swap contact details, stay ‘on-platform’ and play fair by eBay.
Such a message could be a valid approach for rookie, untested sellers new to selling big ticket items. And judging sellers by past performance would be a genuine display of the spirit of partnership eBay execs have said they want to have with eBay’s selling community.
Have you received this message from eBay?
Updated: 20:19, 11th July: This article has been revised at the request of eBay.