EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 114 - March 07, 2004 - ISSN 1528-6703     4 of 8

MessageTag Email Monitor Can Aid Online Auction Users

By Mark O'Neill

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The most recent excuse I've been getting from bad eBay customers is this one: "I never got your email," particularly when I impose strict deadlines on receiving payment. To gain an extension, the person falsely claims that they didn't get the mail and they deserve more time to pay. This excuse can be frustrating because there was no way to tell if the person was being truthful or not. Sometimes they are telling the truth, as some spam filters seem to stop everything except the spam! Until now, there was never any way to separate the truthful auction buyers and sellers from the untruthful ones.

I say until now because I have come across an email tool that will blow away that excuse forever. It's called MessageTag and it works like this. When you send an email, MessageTag monitors the time the email arrived in the person's inbox. You receive a MessageTag email giving you the time it arrived and the time it was opened. Save those emails, and you have ironclad proof that the person received your auction emails. (Whether or not eBay would accept the emails as proof in a serious dispute remains to be seen.)

MessageTag comes with a free basic version or, if you are a heavy email user, there are two paid upgrades with extra features. The two paid versions are called Plus and Status. Plus allows you to personalise or hide the footer message. You can personalize it by adding your own automatic signature or greeting. The Plus version currently costs $19.95. The Status version is for when you are really serious about your email tracking. You get a monitor board showing each email you sent along with its status, you can switch off email notifications, personalise the footer message and you can enter your email contacts into groups with different tagging rules. The Status version costs $59.95. Both paid upgrades come with email technical support. Plus you can pay by Paypal.

Not sure if the paid upgrades are right for you? Then download the free version and upgrade later.

How does it differ from the "request receipt" feature from Outlook? Well first of all, the Outlook read receipt can be switched off if the recipient decides not to send a receipt. MessageTag on the other hand doesn't ask the recipient anything. It does the work itself secretly. The only thing the email recipient sees is a small footer message saying "MessageTag has notified the sender this email has been opened."

So what's the catch? For the moment it only works with email programs such as Outlook, Incredimail or Eudora. MessageTag is working on a Web-based version due out soon.

My personal opinion is that this is a very good program, and if you sell online, then it is a must-have. The program may not eliminate bad customers completely, but if you let it be known that you track all your emails from A-Z, then it makes people realise that you are a professional seller and not a bumbling amateur. At the very least, it will make people think twice about trying to lie to you.

Oh and when posting auctions, don't forget to say in the auction page that you send emails using MessageTag. It might make the con-artists and scammers think twice before concocting their "Email? What email?" story.

To download MessageTag free, go to

About the author:

Mark O'Neill is Managing Editor of the popular tech blog, He is a Scotsman, now living the ex-pat life in Wurzburg, Germany. You can also find him on MarkO'

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