Let's say you're looking for a holster on eBay, and you need to know if it will fit your Colt 1911. The seller didn't include the words Colt 1911 in their description because eBay told them that is "brand misuse," so you send the seller an email through the eBay messaging system to see if it will fit.
Instead of an answer from the seller, you get a notice chiding you for trying to take the transaction off eBay, because eBay's Artificial Intelligence bots can't distinguish between a legitimate inquiry and a solicitation. According to users, the bots think model numbers are phone numbers - call it Artificial Paranoia.
You probably either buy the holster hoping it will fit (and return it if it does not), or you move on to another seller or perhaps another ecommerce website.
eBay's new practices will inevitably lead to an increase in buyer dissatisfaction and returns, which are costly to sellers.
Online seller, expert, and author Skip McGrath
has taught many a person how to sell on eBay, Amazon and their own websites over the past 2 decades. He's a person eBay should be paying attention to for two reasons: his expertise, which could help improve the marketplace, and for his reach and influence with sellers and would-be sellers.
But it's clear he's feeling more than a little frustrated these days. The example above was inspired by Skip's experience. "If eBay wonders why Amazon is eating their lunch, this is an excellent example," he told me. The subject line of the email notice he received recently for a listing takedown: "Your eBay listing has been removed: Brand Name Misuse."
Skip said he asked eBay Trust and Safety if it was acceptable to put the words "Fits" or "Compatible with" in such listing, but was told no. He pointed out, "If you are looking for a case for an iPhone 8, you would type that into the search bar - not "iPhone case."" (Nor, for that matter, would a typical shopper type "smartphone case.")
"Just for the heck of it, I typed iPhone 8 case into the search bar and got 1,380,699 results for iphone 8 case. Should eBay cancel all of those listings also?" he asked.
If eBay isn't going to let sellers fully describe their items, and at the same time is cracking down on the communications between buyers and sellers through its messaging system, it's a recipe for disaster.