Does your eBay email signature contain legally required contact information?

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Yet another chance of being caught out by eBay’s campaign to crack down on contact information in messages has come to light. To understand this one we need to step back in time a decade to 2007.

In 2007 eBay Messages were a fairly limited beast but they had introduced the ability to reply to messages via email. The problem was that it didn’t work all of the time and many sellers would end up replying to a message and get hit with an email address “Use the yellow button”. i.e. don’t hit reply in your email program but click the hyperlinked “Reply” button in the HTML of the message notification email to send the answer through eBay.

This was particularly exasperating if you operated multiple eBay accounts as 9 times out of 10 you’d end up with an error page because you were logged into the wrong account and the message didn’t exist for that User ID. What eBay did do in 2008 was enable you to specify a customer support email address so that message could be kept separate from other communications such as invoices etc.

eBay eventually sorted all this out when the anonymised buyer’s email addresses and hitting reply to any email message would send the answer via eBay to the correct eBay seller account and on to the buyer’s email inbox and eBay My Message account.

Fast forward to 2017 and eBay are now cracking down on contact details in messages, but what some businesses have forgotten is that the Companies Act 1985 requires all business emails to include the following details which are generally popped into email signatures:

  • Your company name
  • Your company registration number
  • Your place of registration (e.g. Scotland or England & Wales)
  • Your registered office address

Of course if you have a legally compliant email signature then in all likelihood you’re sending contact details through eBay messages. You might also have your phone number and website URL innocently hidden in your email signature – it’s a perfectly normal thing to do.

Set up a separate email address for eBay messages

You most likely already have a separate email address set up to handle eBay messages. We would recommend that for this particular email address you make sure that you delete your email signature (or at least delete the address information, phone number and your website URL).

Whilst this could be construed as breaking the Companies Act 1985, in reality the email that the buyer receives comes from eBay so it’s they who need to ensure that they comply with the law. So long as you only send eBay message replies from that email address you can still have your full email signature on all other email addresses you use for other purposes.

Too many sellers have already received 7 day suspensions or outright bans over eBay’s crack down on contact information. Don’t be the next one to be caught out over something that’s easily preventable.

10 Responses

  1. Evening Chris.

    I’m getting a little confused of late so please forgive me. I’ve had warnings for having links in descriptions to related items listed on eBay, I’ve had warnings from eBay when I’ve told customers I can’t tell them our address, a few days ago we had a warning for sending a best offer and Saturday I had a warning for putting the item number of a related item in a message. Now you’re telling me that we’re not allowed to include our address,email,contact number in our email signature? what are you supposed to put in the sig ffs?

    If the bot patrolling messages starts patrolling item descriptions in a few days I predict carnage.

    Great for Tamebay traffic though. 😀

  2. Blimey. I think I’ll just close our account until someone in charge gets a grip. It’s all become far to weird of late.

  3. LOL, my eBay account is run as a Ltd Company (in England & Wales).

    I used to be an accountant in a previous life and, yes, although all of those details are required, I can’t think of any instance when ANYBODY has been fined or prosecuted for leaving them out. NOBODY. So there is no need to put them in eBay messages.

    Technically, I’m supposed to issue a VAT receipt to all purchasers.

    I don’t, unless the buyer wants one, or if I spot that they are obviously a business who will require one.

    I do not lie awake at night worried in case the Feds will kick the door down. I really don’t.

  4. According to Concierge this morning they are removing the signature feature next month from eBay messages so no action required. Although knowing eBay I think it would be wise to remove it anyway.

    I don’think I’ve ever replied to an ebay message from our email client, am I weird?

  5. Hi there,

    I have literally today just had my companies Ebay account banned for this EXACT thing.

    We do £40,000 per month on Ebay, 7000+ Feedback over past 5 years. top rated seller. 0% Defects.

    They have just banned the account indefinitely and the reason is because we replied to an Ebay message on Email and it automatically sent across our signature. We are devestested.

    I have tried phoning but it seems useless? Our whole company is now destroyed because of this, and we had no idea what we were doing?

    Any advice would be much appreciated

  6. You ring them up and grovel. If that doesn’t work you ring them up and grovel some more. And then repeat.
    Each time making sure that you make a point of asking for full details of the person that you are speaking to. Tell them that you are taking notes.

    When you are fed up with grovelling you ask why these rules are being applied to you when there are myriads of other sellers with email addresses, telephone numbers and addresses (and asking for buyers to contact them) in listings on the site right now.

    And then you grovel some more.

    And it is not yet October!

  7. Hi Guys,

    Good news. After speaking with 20+ different transfers/people over maybe an 8 hour period on the phone our Ebay business is back up and running.

    I am writing this to give hope to anyone who is suspended for the above discussed issue. Its completely ridiculous and if you persevere enough they WILL re-instate you for this.

    I was repeatedly told we are completely banned and there is no option. They said they physically do not have any way of changing this. We had been suspended 3 previous times for the same issue, but no-one at ebay had explained how/why this was happening. We only figured it out after reading this article.

    If you do not give up they will eventually cave and re-instate if its for the above.


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