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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2724 - January 24, 2012 - ISSN 1539-5065    1 of 5

Would You Give eBay Access to Your Email Inbox?

By Ina Steiner
January 24, 2012

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There's an ongoing debate about the tradeoff between privacy and convenience in the age of computers, and with a new survey eBay is conducting, the debate may be coming to its corner of ecommerce.

An EcommerceBytes reader wrote to say she had participated in a survey eBay conducted on the topic of its messaging system (called My Messages). She said it appeared eBay was considering some positive steps, such as giving users more characters and allowing them to send and receive attachments through eBay messaging.

However, one question on the survey scared her, she explained - it asked whether she would be interested in providing eBay access to her personal/business email inbox to better synchronize her email with her eBay My Messages. The survey went on to note:

"eBay would not store the password to your email account, but rather use a secure protocol to allow for authorization, with your permission. eBay would also never alter your email, but rather look only for messages to/from eBay or eBay members so that actions you take in your email regarding those messages are automatically reflected in My Messages."

eBay users are frequent targets of spoof emails - the only way to check whether an email from eBay is legitimate is to check the My Messages section of the eBay website.

Now it appears eBay wants to verify users emails. For instance, when buyers and sellers have disputes, they will often tell eBay of communication made via email, outside of eBay's messaging system. By giving eBay access to their off-eBay email accounts, eBay could verify that communication. And eBay could also conceivably look for patterns of gray market behavior - sellers trying to take a transaction off of eBay in order to avoid paying fees.

But would users be willing to give eBay access to their off-eBay email, even if it meant winning disputes? You tell us.

Comment on the Letters to the Editor blog.

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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