Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed Apr 7 2021 14:35:30

eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay began blocking some messages sent through its messaging system, according to buyers and sellers. We began researching the issue when a seller reported the problem on Ecommerce EKG on Tuesday:

"eBay Messages are not being received. Confirmed with eBay Support. They see several messages from customers that never got to me the seller. First time discovered was today. This also was first week I saw the warning about messaging enforcement."

Buyers and sellers began reporting the issue on the eBay boards as early as Monday, April 5, some referring to a new banner on the eBay messaging page about getting tough on messaging violations. (eBay has long been concerned about people taking transactions offsite, not only because it's a technique used by scammers, but because of lost fee revenue.)

In this thread, a seller said they need information from buyers before fulfilling the order.

In this thread, a buyer compared eBay's messaging platform to email from 2002. "To clarify: Seller and I are messaging back and forth about a shipping issue," the customer wrote. "The only way I can message the seller at this point is to either initiate a new message from the purchased product page; or click REPLY on the last message they sent me.  So as a work around I did the latter, and copy/pasted the content of my last message to seller in the message to them."

At least one user even turned to Down Detector to report the problem, writing: "ebay messages are not working. Sellers can't read buyers messages and vice-versa."

What makes the problem so worrisome for sellers in particular: the possibility of negative feedback - and that proved to be the case according to this seller:

"I just received a negative feedback and the buyer stated in the comments "no reply to comms". I checked all my messages and found no messages in my inbox from this buyer.

"So I rang eBay and I've just got off the phone with eBay now and they can see that the buyer messaged me on their end but the message is not coming through to my inbox. It's definitely a site issue, which the call agent refused the accept!

"Is anyone else experiencing this? It's not fair on us sellers to receive negative feedback as a result of eBay's own site errors if you ask me...

"Just so unfair on me as I never received this message and I've now received a negative feedback due eBay's own website not working! 

"Will be interesting to see if anyone else is experiencing this same issue of sending and receiving messages on eBay."

So far, we've been unable to see any response from eBay about the issue and are unsure whether it's technical in nature or a new practice.

Comments (37) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers   eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers

by: lessthanthreerecords This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 7 15:02:22 2021

"a new banner on the eBay messaging page about getting tough on messaging violations."

I haven't seen this yet, but when have they not been tough on it?  Never in the last decade.  I've been unable to send messages to buyers because they contain phone numbers, even though the message does not actually contain any phone numbers (these messages are typically communicating edition numbers of limited/numbered items I'm selling that a potential buyer asked about - apparently eBay's algorithms are "trained" to "think" that ANY number is a phone number).  I've also been unable to send a message because I mentioned another company - generally in the context of telling a buyer who issued a certificate of authenticity.  This has been going on for YEARS.  It's tough to imagine anyone thinking eBay is just getting "tough" recently.

Perminate Link for eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers   eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Wed Apr 7 16:03:59 2021

That's one (of the many) reasons I love selling on eCrater. Not only do I get each customer's email address, but also their phone number. If I have any questions, it is easy to contact the buyer.

Perminate Link for eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers   eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers

by: Vigilant Eye On eBay This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 7 16:27:14 2021

Might explain why I have not received any seller responses to a resolution center claim that was opened on April 5th for the wrong merchandise shipped and any of my buyer offers sent since Monday.

Perminate Link for eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers   eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers

by: BobNJ This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 7 16:52:03 2021

One of the situations I've run into is where a seller has a group of collectible items and I only need 1 or 2 items. I try messaging them to ask if they have any extras that they can list individually of if the group doesn't sell would they consider listing the individual items. eBay blocks the message thinking I'm trying to buy offline so they lose a potential sale since I have no interest in the entire lot but would happily buy the things I need.

Perminate Link for eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers   eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers

by: ebayout This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 7 17:35:07 2021

Poor eBay can't be too careful...if a broken rubber band looks like a snake, treat it like one.

Perminate Link for eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers   eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 7 17:57:18 2021

If eBays reputation wasnt lower then a snakes belly - none of this would be necessary.

"Even TOOL hates eBay" ... and that speaks VOLUMES.

Things on eBay that should work - just dont. Everything is 1/2 assed and works only sometimes (how quiet its gotten on the new shipping method for trading cards that doesnt work!).

Vero doesnt work
MP doesnt work
Seller Protection doesnt work
14,999 out of 15,000 eBay employees DONT work
Lazy Griff doesnt work
The 2 Jabronies from Walmert dont work
Sneaker authentications DONT work

and the list goes on (GSP, double billing, returns etc)

If eBay would just be normal - they wouldnt have to worry about offsite sales. I for one (though I do make them cause eBay deserves that and worse for what they do to me for no reason other then "they can") would gladly pay eBay their VIG - if they would only be the vneue they tell everyone they are (so they said in an email to me)(but they lie - they arent - but its eBay - everything is a lie).

The worst is giving people negatives even when its their fault ... such mafioso tactics ... random beat downs ....

Perminate Link for eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers   eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers

by: at.world This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 7 19:00:31 2021

I have the mail problem also. It is a TOTAL mess up !!!! Both ways. But already since at least 2 weeks !!!
I called ebay the week before Easter to ask if there are any problems with the mailing system, because I did not get answers from buyers I know are very serious. They told me NO - no problems.
Today I called ebay again because a buyer continued to sent me mails after mails and they showed that she had not read my answers. When I than looked closer on those mails I saw they were sent between April 02 and 05 - but FIRST got in my ebay mail box TODAY.
There was even a mail showing the date April 11 WHAT ? a mess.
Of the obviously inexperienced rep. from ebay slipped out that they have huge problems with the mailing system at the moment.
This is a really SERIOS PROBLEM - and not communicating this is unbelieving.

Perminate Link for eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers   eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers

by: ebayout This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 7 19:07:46 2021

I have a programming question...
If a line of code that is working in conjunction with other lines of code to produce a set result...can the result ever change without human interference?

Perminate Link for eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers   eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: Covid-20

Wed Apr 7 19:10:34 2021

Hahaha  How many rubber cement patches can you apply to an old tire before the tire is not a tire anymore - but one big pin cushion of patches?  Ebay's "CODE" in a nutshell.  Losers.

Perminate Link for eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers   eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers

by: Shay This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 7 19:24:26 2021

eBay website is stuck in the 20th century.  

Perminate Link for eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers   eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers

by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 7 20:38:40 2021

“ If a line of code that is working in conjunction with other lines of code to produce a set result...can the result ever change without human interference?”

Excellent question.

Ghosts in the machine. It’s a concept proposed in the late 70’s to explain how random bits and bytes from patched and updated code will be over written on the storage medium, but that doesn’t fully ‘flush’ all the unwanted pieces which can attach themselves (loosely defined) to produce unanticipated results. It’s controversial, though one can see clear evidence of those trash bits any time one does a defrag on their PC hard drive for example. Which usually works much faster with less errors when that’s done.

What IS more likely, is that most enterprises that use code based applications will develop what is essentially a ‘system of subsystems’ where each subsystem may process parts of a transaction, (not a sale, but an element of what is being communicated) within a system process that crosses multiple interfaces within the system to go from the originating subsystem to the executing subsystem. Point A subsystem to Point D subsystem, where B and C in between are just pass through processes in each of those ‘subsystems’.

It’s during those transmissions between subsystems, that updated code in one, can have unanticipated impact upon the processes that occur in ANY of those subsystems in the chain, and on functions completely unrelated to what the ‘message’ (instruction) is intended to convey to the destination subsystem. That happens frequently, and requires robust, comprehensive software testing to reveal those - and even more comprehensive code review and correction, to address.

eBay doesn’t do that. Either they don’t understand the need, don’t know how, or more probably don’t care to spend the money on it. Instead, they unleash it live on their user base, all too often without even an announcement - and frequently not site-wide all at once - adding to the confusion as the poor user base begins to experience ‘glitches’.

Which eBay then has no clue how to fix, much less even fully explain. And for those that do have explanation and workaround, eBay is not exactly competent at communicating that either.

So the answer is - yes, it’s possible, but more likely, no, it’s caused by human ineptitude. GIGO. That is, if one can find any humanity left at eBay these days.

Perminate Link for eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers   eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers

by: justchangecarriers This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 7 21:56:08 2021

my favorite glitch is when I list something like a lego set with item info from their catalog and it says

"It looks like you are trying to list a non lego item in the lego category, add a brand"

The thing is it takes brand off to where I cant put it in when you use their item info. You have to take off their catalog and manually enter everything so you can add a brand.

This isnt a one time deal. This has happened 9-10 times. Their info sucks.

Perminate Link for eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers   eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers

by: mjr55 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 7 22:45:37 2021

I saw the banner about increased enforcement last week...

Perminate Link for eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers   eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: Bill

Thu Apr 8 00:29:18 2021

GIGO and this has been going on for at least 10 to 15 years or so. For sure when Donuthole took over and now he is ruining Nike.

eBay's code has so many wholes in it it is worse then a slice of Baby Swiss cheese. The whole site needs to be rebuilt but you know that will never happen with the pin heads they have running the place.  

Perminate Link for eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers   eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: cfrphoto

Thu Apr 8 00:39:29 2021

@Snapped

Well-written code will do only what it is intended to do and nothing else. Well defined outcomes from software depend on the quality and completeness of technical specifications that define an application. Mostly software designers worry about omissions in the specification. If a specification states that the system will control a rocket ship going to the moon, it should also state that it will control the return. Problems occur when software must respond to unanticipated events or process more transactions than expected. Failure to test or inability to test poorly documented functionality will inevitably expose software errors to users instead of technical staff.

Software on a sprawling online system like eBay must depend on a robust distributed database system that can process asynchronous transactions and coherently update the state of user accounts without error or data loss. Multiple applications accessing the database must be able to stay in sync with the state of the database without impacting system performance.

Are eBay development resources so focused on the database that the web user interface is treated as an afterthought?

Perminate Link for eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers   eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Thu Apr 8 01:10:08 2021

If eBay's code was really stuck in the 20th century, it'd work better.  Modern enterprise development is an absolute nightmare of the worst practices piled up like a child building a ladder to God from sofa cushions and lawn chairs.

Perminate Link for eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers   eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers

by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 8 04:01:44 2021

“ Well-written code will do only what it is intended to do and nothing else”

Yes, as long as the inputs to it are sterile and as specified. And provided under ‘intended’ conditions. But what do they say about the road paved with good intentions?

Meanwhile, Inputs unintended can come from other (sub)system’s incompatible inputs or even stray bits, which is a configuration management issue, or from conditionally incompatible human inputs. Fat fingering, or in the case of Apollo 8, Borman’s input to the DSKY pad that inadvertently told the capsule to orient and navigate as if it was back on the launch pad instead of 200k miles from Earth. In that case, the code did indeed do what was told. But the code shouldn’t have allowed such conditional input. However, it had been tested and discovered possible, but a mod to prevent it was denied because test pilots “don’t make those kind of mistakes”.

So assumptions in both spec and code need to be exhausted too, in testing. And corrected prior to release.

“ Are eBay development resources so focused on the database that the web user interface is treated as an afterthought?”

On point. And a good example of ‘system of systems’, whereby the system is eBay end to end, the database one subsystem, and the GUI another. Moreover, there are other subsystem elements both within and feeding/eating from each one of those too. When you update one ‘routine’ or system, and test ‘it’ without consideration for input from and output to (results at system level) all the others in the ‘specified’ chain, that testing may pass ‘spec’ just fine, and from that function processing perspective the spec may BE just fine. But the end user still gets a blank screen. Or gets a form that gets depopulated or undesirably defaulted, Or may even get rattled around like dice in a can while in deep space.

The problem with eBay though, is that nobody can really tell if the ‘issues’ - such as blocked messages - are happening because of their undeniably inept developments, or if the ‘glitches’ are intentionally allowed to exist so to undeservedly boost profit from user disadvantage.

One thing is clear though, eBay needs to explain how, intentional or not, inconveniencing the buyer by blocking messages aligns with their goal of ‘enhancing’ the buying ‘experience’ like eBay is always blathering about to justify their self serving ‘upgrades’.

Perminate Link for eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers   eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers

by: getalife This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 8 07:31:49 2021

Definitely something going on with their mail system. I've been sending pictures out to customers and they are not getting them. If I copy myself on the message the pictures come to me but the customer doesn't' get them. One customer stated also that they sent me pictures of am item they were looking for which I never received.

Perminate Link for eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers   eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Thu Apr 8 07:49:04 2021

That's going to end well when that customer who refuses to read a listing description orders and item and after having placed the order asks to cancel because he or she didn't read the listing description.

I can hear it now "I asked you to cancel the order and you shipped it anyway". (Followed by negative feedback, a SNAD and a hit to one's metrics.

Perminate Link for eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers   eBay Blocks Buyer Messages to Sellers

by: flybuy This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 8 08:44:36 2021

I love how EBay tries so hard to hide information about the seller as possible while advertising items for other sellers on someone’s post. Try as they may, they cannot stop people like me from finding a seller somewhere else online and crafting a win win negotiation in which I pay less for something I want and the seller avoids a bunch of fees.

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