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Should eBay Sellers Worry About Blocked Bidder Lists?

Blocking bidders who do more harm than good to eBay sellers sounds like the right course of action, but what if that process can be manipulated to harm sellers? And should sellers even share their lists of potentially bad buyers?

Bad bidders present an ongoing concern for eBay sellers, where a poor interaction through no fault of the seller could result in having one’s Top Rated Seller status jeopardized. While eBay provides tools for bidder management, including Blocked Bidder Lists (BBL), sellers always feel more could be done.

This has led to the creation of bidder-blocking resources beyond eBay. Some lists of recommended bidders to block have found a home in Facebook groups dedicated to sharing those identities. Other people created websites where sellers share undesirable bidders. Such sharing could risk unintended consequences.

A recent discussion taking place on a social networking site regarding the creation of a new site for screening problematic buyers turned from that topic to other concerns. Some wondered about such a site being used for other than its intended purpose.

“Is there a safeguard against someone being reported maliciously?” one seller asked in response to the announcement. “Someone who is both a buyer and a seller, or who is in competition with another seller, might have an interest in taking the time to do some malicious reporting.”

Another commenter said, “I echo the concern of sellers putting their competition on the list. I can certainly see this happening and would love to know how you prevent this. I would think that any seller that is a TRS or has otherwise very high marks should be exempt from the list.”

One of the site’s co-founders didn’t touch on the potential of such seller versus seller behavior, but addressed concerns about buyers being mistakenly listed after what might be a one-time misunderstanding. “If a buyer has one report, or appears in one seller’s blocked buyers list, this does NOT mean that this is an abusive buyer. This is only an indication that there was a one-time incident with this buyer.”

As to whether or not buyer blocking on eBay should or shouldn’t be something needing third party websites to address, a seller commented, “I am generally in favor of the concept, but really believe that eBay should be doing more of this type of work to protect sellers. Unfortunately, blocking potential commissionable sales (even if they are fraudulent) is not in the best interests of any online company doing business.”

NOTE: eBay appears to be having a technical issue with Blocked Bidder Lists. UK sellers say they have lost many sales as a result of a technical glitch in which shoppers are unable to purchase from them – see the AuctionBytes Blog.

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David A Utter
David A Utter
David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. You can find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.