Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon Mar 26 2012 00:37:09

Is eBay Snatching User IDs to Give to Large Retailers?

By: Ina Steiner

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Can eBay take away the User ID you have been using for 14 years and give it to a branded retailer? One eBay user says that appears to be what happened to his account.

The seller, who opened an account on eBay.com in 1998, was shocked to discover eBay changed his User ID "animal" to "animal_animal123" after 14 years of operating under the name Animal and earning 11,930 feedback ratings. He discovered that eBay had given his User ID to a UK retailer who sells a line of products for surfers with four brick-and-mortar stores in Wales and England.

In February of this year, the UK retailer Animal created an eBay User ID "animalshop," which was changed to "animal" on March 6th and now has a shop on eBay UK where it is running test listings, such as this listing for a "Bulge Animal womens backpack in Peacoat Navy & Pink."

The original seller opened a thread on eBay's Seller Central discussion board to solicit ideas on how he could get his eBay User ID back, and wrote that an eBay UK rep made the change without his consent. "How can that happen?  How can someone just take my ID. It all sounds illegal to me and the fact that an Ebay Rep did it, makes no sense at all. I thought it was Ebay USA policy to protect us."

It's not clear exactly how eBay communicated to the longtime seller about the name change, if at all, nor how "animal" ended up with the unappealing name of "animal_animal123" (another seller owns the ID "Animal_123").



It's also interesting to note that the UK retailer Animal does not own the ID "animal on Facebook or Twitter - its ID on Facebook is AnimalFreesports, its ID on Twitter is Animal_Team, and its ID on Youtube is AnimalFreesportsTV.

It's difficult to imagine shoppers of Animal watches and wetsuits in the UK being confused by a seller of a 13.5-inch microwave replacement plate and some brackets for window blinds in the U.S.

eBay sellers have always felt confident that unless they were on the losing end of an Intellectual Property dispute, their User IDs were secure - but that may no longer be the case. It will be interesting to see how this plays out and if eBay will explain what exactly happened to animal's User ID.

For sellers who have invested a lot of time and money branding their eBay businesses, this discussion thread is certainly unnerving.

Update - see the following EcommerceBytes Newsflash articles for updates to this story.

Seller Stunned When eBay Gives Her Name to UK Retailer(March 27, 2012)

eBay Admits Mistake, Returns User ID to Longtime Seller(March 28, 2012)

Due to a technical difficulty, this blog post was republished on March 28, 2012.




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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Mon Mar 26 01:15:49 2012

This is proof that eBay has no compunction about giving a larger seller what ever they want while taking everything away from a small seller.

The message from eBay appears to be that your ID is yours until someone bigger comes along and decides they want it...then all bets are off. The identity you worked for is taken away in an instant, and the claim is nobody at the company can help you or even explain to you why it has happened.

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This user has validated their user name. by: basset

Mon Mar 26 06:24:04 2012

Really? eBay, Really????

Grrrr... Maybe they will want us to PAY for our ID's now. Compelling folks to give up their TRS 20% discounts just wasn't enough. eBay is looking a wee bit desperate here!  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Nan
Web Site

Mon Mar 26 10:39:06 2012

What I find disturbing about this, is that a door is now opened for a large seller to effectively shut down competition.  Or worse, steal it right out from underneath them.  

Visualize this scenereo:

JoeSeller spends years building up a business for a niche - say, video camera bundle setups for animal monitoring under the name 'creaturevid'.  He reaches TRS and has over 1K sales under his belt.

Now, CorporateSeller, who also sells electronics, sees Joe's success and creates a DBA as CreatureVideoCams.  He sets up a few websites, runs some ads, and gets himself established.  

Now, he goes to eBay and says 'hey I sell electronics'' (which gets immediate attention, as illustrated by the fact that EVERY time ebay needs an example to describe a point, they always use iPod.  anyway . . . )  ''And this creaturevid seller has my name as a seller ID.  I want it.  I WOULD sell on ebay if I could have my matching sellerID.  Let me use that ID and I will bring my massive inventory here.''

eBay hands over the ID, and all the repeat customers who buy replacement parts for their setups, now go to the new ID.  Because they remember the name, and they think it's the same company.  Joe loses.

I can totally see that happening.  It's probably technically legal, but it's not right.    

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by: 10 year seller This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 26 11:08:03 2012

Ebay is only keeping small sellers around temporarily because they still need their listing fees and fvf's, but there will be a tipping point where they will be able to exist without them.

Then eBay will make it so difficult for small sellers , that they will finally give up and leave.

Imagine if they had instituted all of the changes at once. There would have been a mass exodus.
Which might have allowed other start-ups to have a chance.

If it did happen at once it would have been a big hit on them financially and worse it would have been a  public relations disaster.

Imagine if in 2008 eBay had placed adds on our own ad pages?

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 26 11:17:18 2012

Since there is no copyright issue here (taking a seller id like cokecompany or something similar) if this is true, eBay has no legal right to change users IDs by force.

But then again alot of things eBay does are on ''the margins''.

Please dont tell me eBay never knew Paypal was keeping seller funds on hold - which is illegal and then making interest on it and keeping it themselves to pad thier bottom line?

Please dont tell me that eBay doesnt know what VERO does to small sellers who are abused by the large diamonds sellers/manufactorers?

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by: expertbenefits This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 26 11:50:57 2012

Your branding is gone. If you search for a seller under their old id, you cannot find them. I frequently look for sellers under their long standing ids because generally speaking good sellers do not change their id very often because they want people to find them. It is going to mess up sales for sure, logo, branding etc. Let's hope that there was some ebay rep on the take over in the UK and that  eBay will straighten it out. Otherwise, I think there should be legal action. Wonder if eBay owns our ids now too??? Will we have to pay them royalties if we make money on our ID? My ID is the name of my LLC and I have various DBAs for other niches but many people find me under my ebay id to see what I am selling they tell me. Let's hope this is not a trend again an anomalous situation that can be reverse and put right.

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by: Plant This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 26 11:53:03 2012

''It's probably technically legal, but it's not right.''

Since when did Ebay have a problem with ''not right''? They can attribute their recent success to doing what's not right.

This is, without a doubt, identity theft.

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by: JoJo This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 26 11:53:44 2012

From what I've been hearing from sellers I know and reading in the discussion boards, it's pretty clear that basing a business model primarily on eBay would be folly.  There's way too much risk involved.  I certainly wouldn't want to have major amounts of time invested only to find my account closed because I got low DSR reports due to delays at the post office which no seller has control over, have my id snatched without my consent, my funds held by Paypal, etc.  It just doesn't make sense.

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by: lonestar This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 26 12:01:38 2012

eBay should be required to use an ID more accurately reflecting their business.  eBully comes to mind.

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by: Scotty This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 26 12:05:13 2012

Is this person (the victim of the theft....because that's what it is), registered as a ''personal'' seller or as a business user.  If a registered business seller, this is law-suits galore against ebay and the other seller who took the id.  If a personal user ID, still wrong, but not sure of the legalities.  One way to find out, sue them.

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This user has validated their user name. by: thehosst
Web Site

Mon Mar 26 12:10:13 2012

This is a generic word, cannot be easily registered or trademark, the seller must have spent so many painful hours to please demanding eBay customers and the very bad changing eBay policies, plus so much on trying to make customers familiarize with the user name, for what reason? just a waste, for everyone here, it should be an indication that all you do in eBay is a waste of time, I look forward to get more customers in smaller, newer and better marketplaces which this blog kindly mentions and supports, I will stay away from eBay and work in the other marketplaces, no name changing for me, thank you

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ed Gadfly
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Mon Mar 26 12:22:53 2012

So much for almost a decade of loyalty animal_animal123.

Can there be any question about the disdain eBay has for their sellers?

Perhaps eBay will assign you a name they want you to have.

They have taken your voice - you can't leave feedback for buyers.

They've taken your visibility - making your listings appear on the top, at the end or not at all.

They've taken your communication - don't you dare talk through email.

eBay takes your free time. Jump - you have a shipment. JUMP! Free listings today only. JUMP!!!! Change your pictures and terms.

Now eBay takes your name and no body will even have the decency to speak to you.

Wow.

You deserve to be treated better than this.

You work hard for your money. Your money and your efforts should not be disrespected like this.

Is there any other company that treats you this poorly?  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Mon Mar 26 12:40:57 2012

This is very un-nerving indeed.  Could this have been the action of a lone Ebay employee or is this problem bigger?  That is a question that deserves an answer.  I would so be raising a whole lot of noise over this one.  Not only directly with Ebay but to any other agency willing to listen.

While I understand there is not copyright protection here, there is the fact that this seller had that ID for 14+ years without issue with Ebay.  That has got to count for something with other agencies [obviously not Ebay] and I'd be out ther trying to find someone to put a stop to this.

Then to arbitrarily assign an ID such as they did is odd.  I wouldn't stop till I had some answers and I'd continue to demand my ID back.  

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by: Biloxims This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 26 12:49:53 2012

Would a "MASS EXODUS" work now or is it too late?

What a grand final statement that would make!

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by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 26 12:51:48 2012

Ah fickle Ebay busy making rules and requirements they do not use themselves.  I feel for this seller because Ebay has absolutely NO respect for its sellers and will continue to be that way until it dies!

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

Mon Mar 26 13:15:13 2012

Patricia concludes her thoughts with: ''... until it dies!''

So true, Patricia... so very true!

The casual and unthinking disregard that eBay has for small sellers... and the utter CONTEMPT that they have for us is absolutely astounding. It will be the death of that company... sooner or later. Of that I have no doubts.

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by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 26 13:27:24 2012

WOW!!!!

In the REAL world---

Wouldn't this be "Restraint of Trade" and a sue-able offense?????

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This user has validated their user name. by: TrentDep

Mon Mar 26 13:27:29 2012

Considering that the user was not in violation of any Ebay policy, the User ID is so generic that it cannot be registered / copyrighted, and there is a clear history of its ownership, this is a slam dunk...  

Unfortunately, a law suit against Ebay ( other than class action ) is a waste of time - they will just have you tied up in motions and delays until you go away...

Perhaps contacting VERO?...  I know - pretty much useless, but it might be fun to put them on record as ignoring their own records of the User ID ownership - and THEN, get as much press rolling on this as possible.

Contact every interstate commerce regulatory  

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by: Animal This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 26 13:31:18 2012

Thank you Ina for posting this. I am the Seller that had the ID Animal taken away from me.  I just wanted to say thank you to all for the support and advice and opinions. This has not been a fun experience, quite awful actually and is still not resolved. Currently waiting for a call back from Ebay promised within 24hrs.  Will keep you all posted.  

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by: Biloxims This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 26 13:31:24 2012

Just how important are small sellers to Ebay? Do they really need the small seller anymore?

I wonder what the percentage of small sellers are to the larger company sellers. If all the smaller sellers left today would it even make a difference?  


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