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Fri May 3 2019 22:58:59

Amazon to Provide Anonymized Buyer Phone Numbers

By: Ina Steiner

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Amazon will provide sellers and shipping carriers anonymized phone numbers for contacting buyers in the event of a delivery problem, but it's not carte blanche to contact customers, and some sellers have concerns about the new system.

Here's the announcement from Amazon to sellers:

"You or your delivery carrier may only contact the customer via phone for delivery issues through our phone number anonymization system.

"When calling a customer, use the temporary phone number, including the extension if provided, and follow the prompts. The phone number will expire once the package is delivered. This system is scheduled to be rolled out over the next few weeks.

"As a reminder, in accordance with our Communication guidelines, you should only contact customers to fulfill an order. If you need to contact a customer for any reason other than package delivery, please use the Buyer-Seller Messaging Service.

"Refer to the Prohibited seller activities and actions policy for information about appropriate use of customer phone numbers."

Carriers must enter a five-digit extension and the customer's postal code before they will be connected to the customer.

Amazon had been providing access to customer phone numbers to professional sellers who fulfill their own orders so that they could comply with shipping carrier label requirements, but they were not allowed to use the number to contact the customer. From Amazon's help pages, "Never contact a customer using their phone number. To contact a customer about their order, only use Buyer-Seller Messaging."

As the new policy states, the anonymized phone numbers are temporary and will expire once the package is delivered. That has some sellers concerned that the phone number might in some cases expire before a carrier needs to contact a buyer.

When some sellers described on discussion boards concerns about orders shipped overseas or using freight, a colleague pasted the following from Amazon's help page: "In limited cases, such as Value Added Services orders, orders shipped to customers outside the United States, and orders using the freight shipping template, we still provide actual customer phone numbers."

Marketplaces like Amazon are in a quandary. On the one hand, giving out phone numbers to sellers can help improve deliverability. On the other hand, sellers can abuse the information. Beyond those concerns is the major issue of privacy regulations that are rolling out across the world, with the EU's GDPR mandate a huge issue for sellers and marketplaces. Being able to give shippers a way to contact customers without handing over the customer's phone number will likely help with compliance issues.

Ultimately if sellers could be sure that buyers see messages sent through marketplace messaging system, it would solve a lot of concerns on the part of sellers.

Ironically, as they were absorbing the news about anonymized numbers, one user described an unpleasant experience in which, after leaving a seller negative feedback for an order, the seller harassed him via the messaging system - and by phone - to try and get him to remove the feedback.



Comments (7) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Amazon to Provide Anonymized Buyer Phone Numbers   Amazon to Provide Anonymized Buyer Phone Numbers

This user has validated their user name. by: NoMoreEbay

Sat May 4 09:41:26 2019

Bad policy. With all the SPAM calls, I never answer my phone anyway unless I recognize the number. This is only going to make things worse, that is if the calls even get through the carrier's blocking programs.

Develop a messaging system (like FB Messenger) within the sale. Problem solved.

Perminate Link for Amazon to Provide Anonymized Buyer Phone Numbers   Amazon to Provide Anonymized Buyer Phone Numbers

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Sat May 4 14:13:31 2019

@NoMoreEbay

I ALWAYS answer the phone no matter who it is.

You never know who's on the other end. . . .

Perminate Link for Amazon to Provide Anonymized Buyer Phone Numbers   Amazon to Provide Anonymized Buyer Phone Numbers

by: mjr55 This user has validated their user name.

Sat May 4 18:04:30 2019

Man, every time Ebay makes some stupid policy decision to try the win the crown of least seller-friendly site, Amazon immediately follows up with something TWICE as stupid to regain status as grand champions of the "F U SELLER" crown.

Perminate Link for Amazon to Provide Anonymized Buyer Phone Numbers   Amazon to Provide Anonymized Buyer Phone Numbers

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Sat May 4 22:35:59 2019

My phone number is listed in my eCrater store for any potential buyer to use. In all the years I've sold there, I've received less than half a dozen calls. I prefer people e-mail me with questions or comments so I have a written record, but I am happy to answer any phone call from a buyer.  

Perminate Link for Amazon to Provide Anonymized Buyer Phone Numbers   Amazon to Provide Anonymized Buyer Phone Numbers

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
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Mon May 6 02:38:53 2019

The only phone calls I can remember receiving was some guy had searched out my number using the Whois or whatever it is called as he wanted to make a purchase but didn't want to pay online so he was calling someone he didn't know at all to give me his cc number! and not only that he was in a different time zone and was calling me at the crack of dawn (I was still in bed). I, of course, couldn't take his credit card number anyhow. Another buyer somehow found my number and called me to be sure I had gotten her order and that all was well.

I have never in the least felt like calling a buyer although years ago on eBay after emailing a non-paying buyer 3 times over 10 days, I turned her in for non-paying and almost immediately got an angry email back from her that why didn't I call her?!?!? Let's see I am in PA she was in CA and I had no free long distance. Even if I felt so inclined to call the call would have cost me as much as any profit I would have made. Why I was supposed to send her emails and CALL her beside was beyond me. Obviously, she was getting her mail, so why didn't she just pay instead of dragging things out until she got to the point of getting a strike? Those kind of people are just rude and weird. Maybe she was doing a study on how long sellers will let a buyer go without paying? Who knows.

Perminate Link for Amazon to Provide Anonymized Buyer Phone Numbers   Amazon to Provide Anonymized Buyer Phone Numbers

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 6 05:10:13 2019

Whenever I print out a FEDEX shipping label for Mercari, it always prints the Merc 1-800 phone number next to the names.  In case Fedex has to contact them to get more information.  Maybe this is what AMZ should do with USPS, UPS and Fedex.

Perminate Link for Amazon to Provide Anonymized Buyer Phone Numbers   Amazon to Provide Anonymized Buyer Phone Numbers

by: mjr55 This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 6 16:02:19 2019

No, they should just leave the phone numbers as is and not screw with them.

This isn't due to sellers abusing the policy with buyers. It's due to AMAZON and their repeated privacy issues they've had with Alexa, etc.

Same with email address anonymization.....

Want to know why buyers on Amazon never reply to your emails because Amazon gave those buyers the option to opt-out of email notices? Not because sellers send too many emails....but because friggin Amazon sends you 400 emails per day about BS. It's just once again the 3P sellers who have to feel the effects as a result.



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