Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Tue Oct 2 2012 21:20:37

New eBay Email Crackdown Aimed at Small Sellers?

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay is restricting members from exchanging email addresses or URLs to non-eBay sites that don't directly help buyers purchase items on eBay in communications sent through its messaging system. The new policy is part of its member-to-member contact policy that outlines how members can communicate with each other through the messaging system.



eBay has several policies designed to discourage members from taking transactions off-eBay, including the member-to-member contact policy and the eBay Links policy, which prohibits links to non-eBay sites or content where other items are offered for sale.

Despite the latest crackdown, some of eBay's enterprise clients seem to openly disregard the spirit of such rules. For example, a listing for a Cisco Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Router listed on eBay by Cisco includes a phone number where "Sales Phone Order agents are available 24/7," and the listing also includes a link to sign up for the Cisco newsletter on the Cisco.com website, where it asks for the eBay member's email address: "Sign up for email and be the first to learn about new Linksys products, special deals and offers, and networking tips and tricks."

Upon signing up for the newsletter, the eBay shopper receives an email from Cisco that includes the message "SAVE at the Linksys Store - Special deals and offers; FREE shipping; 90 day returns. Shop Now" and contains a link to Linksys own store where its products are for sale.



Large brands are using eBay as part of their customer-acquisition strategies - and eBay is making it easy for them, while smaller sellers must adhere to increasingly strict policies in the other direction.




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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for New eBay Email Crackdown Aimed at Small Sellers?   New eBay Email Crackdown Aimed at Small Sellers?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Tue Oct 2 22:32:12 2012

eBay turned a blind eye toward John Donahoe's preferred class of sellers and it has cost eBay money from day one. Based on lack of policy enforcement with the mega sellers it appears as though Donahoe has been willing to accept the tradeoff in order to garner whatever sales these sellers generate through eBay.

Small sellers migrate away from eBay to escape the high fees, eBay's managed visibility, and constantly changing policies. Small sellers accumulate buyer emails and encourage eBay buyers to follow them to their own web sites.

The mega sellers John Donahoe brought to eBay are essentially doing the same thing...mining eBay buyers and then drawing them away from eBay - the only difference is the mega sellers are pulling more buyers than the small sellers eBay is trying to bring under control.

Restricting communications within the eBay communication system will be ineffective as sellers will simply obtain eMail addresses from PayPal transaction details and send the solicitations to those addresses. eBay may interfere with migration, but they will be unable to stop it.

If eBay were not so greedy with their take, and did not ration search visibility, sellers would be less likely to want to pull buyers away. The high fees charged by eBay and PayPal encourage sellers to find ways to reduce costs by mining eBay buyers for off eBay sales.

eBay has themselves to blame when they do so much to drive sellers away and buyers then follow.



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by: thediamondguy This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 2 23:06:50 2012

Its fairly clear that eBay has forgot about the little guy, that same little guy that made eBay even possible in the first place.

Its a shame that eBay Management is so out of tune with what the company really stood for in the first place. This is what happens when you get a bunch of MBA grads fresh out of University. eBay should be ashamed with themselves for the hardships they have put the people that helped build eBay from day one.

The only interest eBay has is to be Amazon, and clearly Amazon is laughing their way to the bank as eBay stands around with its pants down wondering what to do.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: eBankrupted

Wed Oct 3 00:26:07 2012

I completely agree with both the above posts. Does ebay drug test it's employees? If not, it's overdue.

Attention core ebay sellers under 20k/mo in sales - you know who you are; the backbone of what was this once great venue: copy and paste every email address from PayPal, and develop a Constant Contact email list (legally).

Don't email your customers through ebay's servers. PayPal cannot delete your invoices per Federal law, so record every sale you've ever made, and contact your customers to compete directly with ebay, and get them OFF ebay. Ebay has screwed you over and over again, so it's time to give JD the shaft and get rid of the 'middleman' John Donahoe. He's trying to get rid of you, so why lay down and take the abuse. STAND UP and take your market back from the abusive Don-Ahole!

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This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Wed Oct 3 00:37:53 2012

Speaking of pants down. JD reminds me of the tale ''The Emperor's New Clothes''.  He struts around having everyone saying how great he and his ''ideas'' are and the employees would never disagree for fear of losing their jobs. Meanwhile everyone can see right through him (except wall street & the blind board). Well anyway WE can see right through him. Sorry for the visual. Out, damned spot, out!

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by: mylifeisgood This user has validated their user name.

Wed Oct 3 07:35:58 2012

We have saved every email address from customers for the past 10 years. Yes we have thousands of them.  

Each month we send a small newsletter to each email address offering a 15% off coupon to use on our website.

To say business is brisk is an understatement. The only thing we use Ebay for now is to harvest new addresses. We only use fixed price and have about 8000 items in the store right now.

Ebay lost our loyalty a long time ago. As for being a buyer, well that doesn't happen. Amazon is our supplier of choice.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Wed Oct 3 07:53:14 2012

Ric, you nailed it, but in doing so you have tipped eBay off to the one thing that small sellers could count on, and that is getting the buyers' email addresses from PayPal. Watch for that to disappear real soon.  I do think that the Mega Sellers are a much bigger threat to eBay.  With their "Big Data" capabilities, all they need is one sale from an eBay customer and they own them.

Ebay seem to think that they can survive without the one thing that made them successful---the small seller.  I don't think they can survive without the small seller, and if they are arrogant enough to think that they can, I say have at it eBay.  It will be your demise.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Nolle

Wed Oct 3 07:54:09 2012

Did you report the listing?  

I just did.

Report Listing > Listing violations > Off-Ebay links to mailing lists

Everyone reading this should take  30 seconds and report the violation.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Wed Oct 3 08:05:03 2012

As I was reading through these posts, a thought occurred to me.  Can you imagine what selling on eBay would be like if there was actually a harmonious relationship between the sellers and the CEO of eBay. From day one most sellers have found him to be cold, detached and aloof.  

From what I read on the blogs and posting boards, it is apparent that they don't trust him and they don't feel that he has their back. There is something truly wrong when you have such an contentious relationship between a CEO and his  customer.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Wed Oct 3 08:26:37 2012

--- ''The only thing we use Ebay for now is to harvest new addresses.''

That's my practice and philosophy as well. (Except on a much smaller scale when compared to the numbers you mentioned.)

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This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Wed Oct 3 08:35:19 2012

There is ONE (and only one) good thing that I can come up with with regard to eBay's tight reign on buyer/seller communication:

It seems that dishonest buyers are LESS likely to make blatant extortion threats and unreasonable demands when they know that their communication is being monitored (or can be reviewed by eBay at a later date).

Of course, this assumes that the eBay rep who reviews the communications can fully comprehend English and any nuanced words/phrases that are often used in veiled threats... OR, that the rep would have been trained well enough to know what to do about it.

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by: truehandmade This user has validated their user name.

Wed Oct 3 09:08:10 2012

This same tactic was used by another site I sell on and the huge workload it created for the site to monitor and punish sellers on a daily basis meant they had to hire people just to slam their sellers.  I left that site after it spilled over into other restrictions on sellers that far outweighed any benefit of listing products on their site.

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by: JoJo This user has validated their user name.

Wed Oct 3 10:10:34 2012

Acquiring new customers would be the only reason to list on ebay for me and even then with all the ebay generated hassles it's not worth my time.  I prefer Amazon.

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by: looker This user has validated their user name.

Wed Oct 3 10:22:39 2012

I don't need email addresses so damn bad that I will ''pay'' fleecebay for them. Listing anything on that site only pays them and I refuse to do such ridiculous actions any longer.

I guess with that concept in mind, they become an advertising site...LOL How do you feel about that JD? People only list to ''fleece'' you of email addresses. Now that's funny right there!!!

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by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Wed Oct 3 11:02:17 2012

As I wander around ebay I am constantly shocked at how MANY small sellers STILL have their phone numbers.  email info---not in "code" either!--and even street addy's and business addys.  

Now if  this was MY listing I would be lined up and shot at dawn.

These are NOT always "mega" small sellers--- some of these have a mere few hundred feedback.  

For MONTHS I was unable to figure out WHY I could not use a template to do listings.  I tried changing the category;  my TOS; title; everything.  Nothing worked.

One fine day for some reason I realized that in my listing there was an "@" symbol standing in for a different letter---I think I was saying something about the "ST@R" rating system or something.  

The REASON ebay gave for restricting this template?  Allegedly I had an EMAIL ADDRESS in there.

I---did not.

I DID have a commonly used type symbol used in a completely different and legit context.

I changed the word and was able to use the template once again.

But---just because I dared to use an @ symbol---I got SLAPPED.

Yet---these other sellers have live links to their own email.  No "code".  No "fractured" system.  Phone numbers.  Website address'.  

And I get rejected emails all the TIME where a potential customer sends me their email so I can send pics or info to them---emails in which a CUSTOMER of MINE is trying to BUY something from ME using----ebay.  

Why should we have to LIE about this?  Why should we be forced to have our customers be deceptive?

I am much MORE likely NOW to try and take a sale "Off of ebay" than I ever was just due to the sheer arrogance and disrespect ebay shows me--and my customers.

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This user has validated their user name. by: WOODJUNGLE! ON EBAY

Wed Oct 3 11:34:08 2012

lol. and this ciscolink store  are top rated with  99.2% feedback. what a joke.  i am calling now to see what this is all about.

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This user has validated their user name. by: WOODJUNGLE! ON EBAY

Wed Oct 3 11:39:35 2012

i just called a rep.  she said is going to report it.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Wed Oct 3 11:44:07 2012

It seems that anytime Ebay does just about anything, people flock to jump on them for going after the small seller.  It's like crying wolf.  Many stop listening because the same thing is said over and over and over again without details and without regard to specific subjects.

There are not just two levels of sellers.  The small seller and diamond sellers.  There are many sizes in between and they too are affected by these rules.  All I'm saying is that this is NOT always just about small sellers.

This Email restriction thing is NOT new nor is it aimed only at small sellers.  Ebay has had bots out there for well over a year snagging emails with email addresses in them and scrambling it before it arrives at the intended person's account.  

Now I do not know any diamond sellers, so I don't know about them.  But I do know sellers of every size below that and they have all shared this problem with me over the past year or more.  

So this is NOT New nor is it aimed at only small sellers.  It's just Ebay being so paranoid about us having a possiblity of doing an off Ebay transaction.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Wed Oct 3 11:58:06 2012

Marie, you make a good point, but I think small sellers  have been slapped down so many times in the last few years that it has become second nature just to assume that when eBay implements a new rule or takes something away that it is directed at them.

Ebay's manipulation of search to favor the Diamond sellers, removing negative feedback from Diamonds, giving them special pricing and advantages, allowing them to sell counterfeit merchandise (particularly the Chinese sellers), not holding them to the same DSR standards.....must I go on?   It just leaves a bad taste in the mouths of hard working small sellers who play by the rules and who have continued to jump through eBay's hoops but are ultimately knocked down by the carrots that eBay dangle in front of them.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Wed Oct 3 12:09:12 2012

@Rexford
See I disagree with that too.  They aren't seeing past themselves for whatever reason they have.  Many if not most of the negative changes have affected all sellers with the possible exception of those coveted Diamond sellers.

Ebay's blatent favoratism of the Diamond sellers in the searches doesn't just hurt small sellers.  It hurts all sellers with the exception of the Diamonds.  This is my point.  Many make it out that only small sellers are being hurt and it simply is not true.

I'm not considered a small seller and I assure you I have been just as affected and just as hurt as others of smaller size.  

From searches to DSRs to Feedback etc.  The current management at Ebay is so Arrogant and can't seem to see beyond the immediate future.  If they could, they would see the damage they are doing by alienating so many VERY good sellers when it is totally unnecessary.  But as I've said before, until the Shareholders of Ebay do something about current management, absolutely nothing will change.

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Oct 3 12:10:28 2012

''It seems that anytime Ebay does just about anything, people flock to jump on them for going after the small seller'' .... LMAO

I only feel that way because JD and Noah said so ...MANY times.

Proof in the pudding - besides their own words in black n white is how blatant the platinums and the ''beloved'' get to violate the same rules WE SMALL SELLERS have to abide by.

If it happened like this once or twice ... OK then point taken. But when eBay aides and abets ONLY certain people, breaks the rules for said people, breaks the law for those same people (Im looking at YOU VERO) .. what other conclusion is there?

Micro sellers - people who have just a few items and use it for pocket change or people cleaning out grannies basement are NOT the people eBay targets with these rules - and I wont believe that you actually think they are!

No, email restrictions are not new - its a concerted effort by eBay over the last year to control even more of your business. ''dont talk to your customer and get an automatic 5 star dsr in communication'' - does that spell it out for you?

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