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Thu Jan 17 2013 21:23:46

eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

By: Brian Cohen

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What if you could buy something on eBay, but not reveal your address to the seller? And as a seller, how would you feel about sending a package to a hidden address?

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) just published eBay patent application 20130018759, "Third Party Token System for Anonymous Shipping."

The Background of the patent ponders a "scenario (where) a recipient may not wish to share his or her mailing address with the sender," and the Detailed Description further explains the solution:

"In an online marketplace, a buyer or recipient may be reluctant to provide personal information such as his mailing address to a seller...
 
A token associated with the mailing address of the buyer may be provided to the seller. The seller may then use token to ship an item to the buyer with a shipping service provider who has privileged access the actual mailing address information of the buyer...

..(T)he universal addressing server allows for a user to use their email address instead of their physical address."

Those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that many online services require the physical address of a user in order to perform a transaction. This description illustrates how a financial institution (e.g., such as Paypal) can be used as a service to verify the address of any user registered with the financial institution. Thus, a financial institution can act as an online gateway for third party systems to check and verify any user identity...


Although, curiously, if we go back to the Background of the patent, it describes a conundrum that eBay users do not have:

"Every time a sender mails a package to a recipient, the sender must carefully write the physical address of the sender and the recipient. The physical address includes zip code and city. The sender needs to be careful not to make any mistakes so as to avoid any shipping delays."


Address information has been pre-filled by eBay for a while now. See eBay announcement "eBay Shipping Labels For Faster And Smarter Shipping."

eBay's Adult Only (NSFW) and eBay Bullion Center categories will no doubt be beneficiaries of anonymized shipping transactions.

eBay is no stranger to anonymity. Paypal's genius lies in that buyers do not give sellers their credit/banking/debit card details directly. So eBay's "Third Party Token System for Anonymous Shipping" is a natural extension of Paypal's technology.

Last June, USPTO published Amazon patent application 20120143709 "Protection of Privacy in Connection with Shipment of Products" which is described in the patent Abstract:

"Disclosed are various embodiments for enhancing protection of privacy of purchaser contact details in connection with shipment of parcels. A shipping label can be generated that includes at least one contact detail that hides an actual contact detail associated with a purchaser. A carrier tasked to ship and/or deliver the product to an address designated by the purchaser can use the at least one contact detail to contact the purchaser. The attempts to contact the purchaser can be logged, and the contact details expired when no longer needed."

What do you think of anonymized shipping transactions? Let's know below!

About the Author
Brian Cohen has been an active member of the eBay community since May 1998. He currently trades under the member name Bidofthis.com. His first AuctionBytes article was published in May 2002. Brian can be contacted through his website at BidofThis.com where he always has a "little Bid of This and little Bid of That."




Comments (71) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

by: EssexEstateServices This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 17 21:53:38 2013

WTF, opens another door for scammer buyers.

-How many addresses can a buyer have?
-How do we figure shipping cost if we don't know the ship to zip?

I have ABSOLUTELY no trouble getting the correct address on the shipping label. Paypal, ebay, Stamps.com, cut and paste all work just fine for me.

Another step toward the demise of e-commerce and ebay.

eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Thu Jan 17 22:26:42 2013

"How do we figure shipping cost if we don't know the ship to zip"

Great question. Could be the system provides the zip code but not the street address.

eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Fri Jan 18 01:10:10 2013

Lets take this another step further - Introducing the mental telepathy way of shipping

Okay I just sent it to you. Do you like it?

This is all becoming ridiculous. If there is so much mistrust about making a purchase online then just don't buy.  

eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

by: NullApps This user has validated their user name.
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Fri Jan 18 02:48:33 2013

Personally I think it is brilliant.  But how is this different than what shipping forwarders already do?  I get that they are removing the middle man but the end result is the same.  I also don't see eBay actually implementing this since they aren't a shipper but I guess they could license it to one with the requirement that no one else can use it.

eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
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Fri Jan 18 06:19:29 2013

Seriously? This is undoubtedly one more crazy idea the Ho has picked up on one of his regular trips down the rabbit hole. What an utterly absurd and virtually useless idea: someone somewhere along the way has to know the address; then, this is the sort of nonsense we have come to expect from eBay during the time of the Ho dynasty …

You could liken it to another of eBay’s unscrupulous ideas, “private listings”, an utterly anonymous bidding system supposedly introduced for the protection of buyers’ privacy when in fact it is simply a mechanism that eBay knows enables unfettered and undetectable shill bidding wire fraud by unscrupulous merchants (with the gall to use it) on naive buyers.

“This description illustrates how a financial institution (e.g., such as Paypal) can be used as a service to verify the address of any user registered with the financial institution. Thus, a financial institution can act as an online gateway for third party systems to check and verify any user identity.”

Only the UK Government has apparently been imbecilic enough to recently give PreyPal such ability …

That anyone third party organisation of any competence would trust eBafia or PreyPal with such power indicates to me that the world is going stark raving mad … there must be something in the drinking water that is driving these decision makers senseless …

Why would anyone want to enter into a contractual arrangement with someone whose address is unknown to them, and in such circumstances would you trust eBafia or PreyPal to mediate a contractual dispute? … Only in your most terrifying nightmare …

eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking

eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

This user has validated their user name. by: Bidofthis.com

Fri Jan 18 07:07:16 2013

Re: ZIP--- go to parts [36] & [37] of the "Detailed description.

The shipping company (e.g. USPS) would gain access to this information after the sender ships.
 
It does not appear that eBay could roll this out overnight but would have to work with shippers to implement this system.

eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

by: KathleenJohnson This user has validated their user name.
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Fri Jan 18 07:43:09 2013

I, personally, am not interested in dealing with an "anonymous" Seller. I wonder if we are advised of this in advance of purchase?

eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

by: Beth This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jan 18 07:43:32 2013

I will so not participate in this. It's ridiculous.  Maybe ebay would like to come here and pack it for them??? GET OUTTA MY HOUSE!!!!

I can pack and ship quite adequately. I will not be treated like a criminal.  If the buyer doesn't want me to have their address then they don't need whatever it is they just bought.  

eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

by: nothingnew This user has validated their user name.
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Fri Jan 18 08:04:31 2013

Sounds like a great idea,for all the online predators. Not so good for anyone selling though. Yea, I'm so glad ebay gets none of my money anymore.

eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

by: salesrep1 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jan 18 08:34:23 2013

How can you verify their address if you can't see it ! How would you know it was verified the other day ebay gave me a shipping labal that was addressed to a different ship to didn't catch it since i didn't check my paypal acct?

eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

by: Paul W This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jan 18 08:45:24 2013

EBay is so afraid of off-eBay transactions they don't want sellers to know anything about their buyers.  It's not about protecting buyers, it's about protecting eBay's profits.

eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

This user has validated their user name. by: elpereles
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Fri Jan 18 09:00:44 2013

Why the recipient can hide his/her address and not the sender?  

eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

by: Mark This user has validated their user name.
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Fri Jan 18 09:08:18 2013

I remember back to the day a seller could leave negative feedback, in retaliation to a buyers negative feedback. Some people might take that offensively and since they have the address, well....you've seen how crazy some people can be on the news.

I'm surprised I haven't seen a story on that, I'm sure a quick search on google would pull up a few results.  This would obviously prevent angry people from having the address of a seller or a buyer.  

I think its a good idea, but obviously hard to implement and would cause problems.

eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jan 18 09:24:43 2013

STUPID IDEA.
Ebay afraid of off site transaction and thus loose money? Desperate. Read between the lines wall street.
Buyer doesn't want his home address - fine - go to post office or ups store and get a box. Simple-private etc.. Of course you have to use user id or something. Never your real name-can look that up on internet and get your address, phone number, work place etc..
This so called system ebay wants will HAVE to slow down shipping time. And like previous mention - how do you figure shipping cost - Oh that's right shipping is FREE.

eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Fri Jan 18 09:48:55 2013

@ Phil

You give Donahoe too much credit.

******************

Ebay does so many things that raise the hair on the back of our necks that no matter what comes along, we start blaming Ebay, slamming Ebay or both.  It is just habit, whether they are right or wrong, they appear to be blamed for most everything.

The OP clearly stated that it is AMAZON that came up with this and has filed for a patent.  But there has been no complaints voiced about them.  And yet some complain about ebay's motives with this but they have nothing to do with it.

There is a link to the patent application as well in the OP and it to clearly shows it is Amazon that filed the paperwork.  So this became a negative thing that Ebay is trying to do because the author of the article suggests it?!?!?!?

Doesn't Ebay make a mess of thing often enough on their own without adding on things that others do?

eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

by: billslistings This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jan 18 09:58:42 2013

According to Greedbay, a seller is responsible for the package until it's in the buyer’s hot little hands.
Now they want a seller to trust a computer system to make sure everything is correct and the package will arrive where it was intended and on time.
What about and tracking? Is it just going to state delivered and the seller won’t have any idea if the right person received it, or it even went to the right address?
What if I ship it UPS and they have a PO Box address?
What about Delivery Conformation?
What about an insurance claim? Look at all the information needed to fill out a claim form, and the seller won’t have any of that.
What if something is defective? Will the buyer be allowed to communicate with the seller about a problem or after the transaction is completed will all information be eliminated so there won’t even be a record of the transaction ever happening? (Is this where it's going?).
I guess I’ve been living in a sealed box as I haven’t heard on the news of anything going on about a seller flying to his buyers location and doing them harm, (Is this the reason for this change?).
I sure do like Webstore.com. Everything is free and no greed or restrictions.

eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

by: billslistings This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jan 18 10:02:51 2013

Hi Marie
Did you not read the second paragraph?
''The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) just published eBay patent application 20130018759, ''Third Party Token System for Anonymous Shipping.''

eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Fri Jan 18 10:09:27 2013

You are right.  I apologize.  I too didn't pay attention so an important detail.  I should have had more coffee before posting. My fault.

eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

by: Terry in Texas This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jan 18 10:31:52 2013

@Beth: '' If the buyer doesn't want me to have their address then they don't need whatever it is they just bought. ''

perfect. you nailed it.

on the flip side, i would LOVE to be able to HIDE MY SELLER ADDRESS. it's bad enough i had to go get a PO Box but there are enough crazy people out there i don't want someone showing up on my doorstep.....but would that impose on buyer trust?

eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?   eBay to Let Buyers Keep Their Addresses Private?

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Fri Jan 18 10:44:54 2013

A  way to check on blocked buyers opening new accounts under different names (or using family member ID's) and purchasing  the blocking seller's items is:   - check the address of a winning buyer against a list of addresses of buyers a seller has had a bad experience with and blocked.  

At that point (before shipment) you can cancel the transaction and notify eBay. This is the only way I know of avoiding what is probably a fraction of persistent mal-intent buyers that have been blocked.

I agree with those (Beth & others) who say that buyers who don't want to give out their info should be shopping elsewhere. Off top of my head, the only sites I can think of that would have some  incentive for buyers  to be so secretive about their address are adult sites, pedophile sites, criminal scamming activity & the like where complete anonymity rules. So the idea is to lump ALL eBay in with this mix?

Jeez! And I've been worrying about leaving the size of the clothing I sell out of emails because so many go to extremes to hide the size they wear!

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