EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 142 - May 08, 2005 - ISSN 1528-6703     4 of 7

Update from the Trenches: eBay's About Me and ID Verify

By Mark O'Neill

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One of the pleasures of writing for AuctionBytes is the amount of email I get from readers. I am constantly amazed at questions and comments concerning articles I wrote early last year. It's obvious the AuctionBytes archives are well-scoured!

Several sharp-eyed readers noticed that I have changed my stance on a particular article since I wrote it, and other readers questioned me a lot on my views in another article. So I thought I would write an update for the sake of accuracy and also to give my email box a bit of a rest.

The first article concerned the building of an "About Me" page on eBay, which can be found at http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abu/y204/m04/abu0117/s02. In the article, I advocated putting your address and phone number on your "About Me" page along with a photo of yourself. Well, the readers in question noted that on my Website contact page and About Me page on eBay, there are now no contact details (nor on my own Website).

The reasons for my shift in attitude are simple enough. I was harassed last year by a slightly unstable eBay seller who threatened to pay me a visit (he lived close by), and I was harassed on the telephone by two non-eBay-related idiots who got my phone number from my Website. So I decided to remove my address and telephone number from the Internet.

I still think giving an address and phone number on your About Me page is a good idea. I would now recommend getting a post office box number for eBay-related purchases and also give an email address that you wouldn't mind giving up if someone start harassing you.

I am contemplating placing my cellphone number back on the page again because, cellphones can be switched off at night, and cellphone companies, in my experience, are good at fighting abusive phone calls.

The second article has become the most contentious and controversial article I have ever written, judging by the amount of mail I have received on the subject (at least 100 emails and counting...).

The article was a review of the ID Verify procedure (http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abu/y204/m05/abu0119/s03), and ever since the article came out I have been inundated with stories about how the ID Verify procedure is being routinely abused by fraudulent sellers and how could I possibly say anything good about it?

Well, my feelings about ID Verify have now cooled a little because I too have had some bad experiences with ID-Verified sellers, and I myself can't get ID-Verified, despite trying repeatedly for over a year.

Many people said they believe being ID-Verified means nothing at all and only serves to bring in extra revenue for eBay. I see it slightly differently. To be ID-Verified, eBay verifies your address. So if the ID-Verified seller rips you off for a lot of money, then technically because the seller has had to prove their address, then it wouldn't be hard for the police or FBI to find them. So I see that as extra protection.

Others strongly disagree. Others ask how an ID-Verified seller with 50 positive feedbacks is better than a non ID-Verified seller with 100 positive feedbacks. My answer is that the non-verified person is not necessarily bad. As with all sellers, you have to look at the feedback and get the overall picture.

Being ID-Verified also allows you to place bids over $15,000 and allows you to sell in the Mature Audiences category. But it appears that the whole ID-Verify process arouses strong feelings amongst AuctionBytes readers.

If anyone has anything positive to say about ID-Verify, please let Ina and David know in the letters section. It would be nice to hear a story from the other side!


About the author:

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


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