Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun Sept 6 2015 23:32:09

Is eBay Publishing Your Home Address?

By: Ina Steiner

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An ABC News report is calling into question when it is appropriate for eBay to release a seller's identity and contact information to other users. There are several instances where eBay reveals such information, but the news report focused on only one.

Monday's Newsflash describes the ABC investigation into eBay's practice, which the company now says it will change. To recap, eBay currently allows bidders to request a seller's information - including name, city, and state - something ABC News found disturbing. eBay spokesperson Ryan Moore confirmed that it will end that practice.

But one seller who contacted EcommerceBytes said the report that aired on Good Morning America was a typical "the sky is falling" news story trying to alarm viewers about privacy risks and disagreed with eBay's decision to change its practice.

"I feel that a buyer should have the ability to access the sellers contact information to facilitate communication," he said. "I use that feature quite often when I want to conduct additional transactions with sellers that I bought from on eBay without involving eBay. I have only used this feature to request contact information after I've made a purchase, the story implied that bidders can request contact information as well and I'm not sure if they can."

What ABC News failed to report was the fact that eBay publishes sellers' name and complete address on email blasts - and Moore told me eBay will not be changing that practice.

For example, here's a letter we received in June from a seller who discovered eBay was publishing their home address in emails to her dismay:

I just discovered a privacy issue that can tag along with the follow/followers privacy post. I find this issue extremely disturbing. 

I frequently send out announcements when I set a sale or promotion. I decided to look at my complete announcement that went out and I scrolled all the way to the bottom. To my shock, my complete address was listed beneath eBay's address! 

Why in the world does eBay need to print my complete address? The city and state would suffice if need be. So, people who follow me and may have never bought anything from me, now have my personal home address! I'm sure many other sellers work from home too.

All a follower has to do is mail something to my store name at that address and it will be delivered! 

Please everyone, tell eBay to implement privacy. It's one thing if I decide to show my personal address on a packing slip or return address to someone who is actually buying something from me but a completely different issue when eBay volunteers my address to anyone who chooses to follow me by signing up to receive newsletters and promotion/sale notices.

What do you think of this issue, and how do you protect your privacy as a seller on eBay?




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Readers Comments

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Mon Sep 7 00:17:57 2015

Ebafia changes nothing until they'e sued (and don't think they can win) or under media scrutiny.

Maybe we all need to get those drive way signs that read, "We Don't Call 911."

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by: gizmo This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 7 01:51:28 2015

Makes me wonder what else they leave out there. I send people who purchase from me , a thank you , & little star dinger comic, with my email , phone # , & a request for them to contact me personally , if there is a issue. Ebay avoidance , of course. And Yes , Yes , Yes , it has brought in more sales & relationships outside deadbay.

But to give out my name & address like this , BOGUS ! A whole lot stinks at deabay. Master of deception , & theft. Cannot trust much there. I make it a point to clear my browser , before & after using the site, foe research.

Selling there has become scary. I dont really trust PP . I have gotten my own merchant account threw my bank, for the 6 sites I sell on, Ebay excluded. I think I passed $ threw PP 2 times this month , from ebay.

I sell just enough to carry my top rated 100 sales per year. Things could change. So I keep 1 good active account. I have not made a purchase in 6 months.

I have for the most part , lost most interest in deadbay.

Yep , does not surprise me at all , the things this venue does. They are only a venue , right?

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by: Ebay's Slow Death This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 7 02:52:50 2015

Why would Ebay be so willing to give out Seller's personal addresses? What purpose does it serve?

I don't want Buyers to even know my full name. There are some pretty strange people out there. No, I am not paranoid. We have had a retail store for many years, and I have seen some of these people. They can become very aggressive and angry for some imagined slight, or if you tell them, ''No''.

It seems like Ebay has absolutely no respect whatsoever for their Sellers. I guess we really are a bunch of noise to them, not worthy of any privacy.

I just don't get it! Why would they be so eager to give out our personal information?

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This user has validated their user name. by: The German Plague

Mon Sep 7 07:12:32 2015

Hello Ina
Hello Folks

ebay does it because they are an international platform on which You can sell international.

The only way to protect your privacy is to take care that your items cannot be shown in Europe. Under absolutely no circumstances meaning: even if a european consumer visits ebay.com or if he sees it on google. Not even if he uses a proxy.

The reason for this are some directives of the European Union for B2C distance trade first issued in 1998 which has been transformed into national laws of each country in the EU years ago. In Germany we have this regulation in §§312-360 Buergerliches Gesetzbuch (federal civil law) in comparison with Art. 246, 246a Einfuehrungsgesetz zum Buergerlichen Gesetzbuch (federal introductional law to federal civil law - not kidding, this thing really exists). You may have seen the "Widerrufsbelehrung" in german offers. They are almost the same at every business seller because in appendix 1 to Art 246 §1 EGBGB is a template. It's not a joke for german sellers playing around with these things. If You are able to understand german and want to proove that US laws are simply knock-knock-jokes just search the net for the word "Abmahung" and you will see that one wrong word can cost us around 750 Euros for the lawyer of our competitor telling us that there is a mistake. Up to 5100 Euros if "Oops - we did it again..."

Of course everey seller who offers items in the EU offers them to consumers in the EU. And then he has to fulfill these regulations which are quite the same over the EU. I already mentionned that we have a 14 days return by law here. This is one of the issues. Another issue is the so called "Impressum" or "Anbieterkennzeichung". Besides that german Bundesdatenschutzgesetz (let's say: "federal privacy law") says that You do not have any privacy if you are acting in your business. Sorry folks.

But don't mind. There's a very simple way to handle this issue.

DO NOT SELL ON EBAY!

DO NOT SELL ANYWHERE IN THE WEB!

Noboby forces you to do so. And nobody will get your data then.

I do not think that ebay will do anything against this "privacy leak". If they would do so they will act as a "molester" in sense of german law and every german business seller could force them to abstain from this "market molesting" by court decision. That can cost ebay up to 250.000 (twohundredandfiftythousand) Euros for each (!) violation following and it's one of the most expensive things that can happen on a german court.

They may be greedy and they may have money but I don't think that they'll survive this very long. And because they are greedy they will not put their platform under quaratine.


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by: sasikat9 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 7 07:30:17 2015

HA HA  Ebay can publish my address and phone number if they wish.  My address is a post office box long since closed and the phone number is a number associated to our home alarm system which doesn't ring.  HA HA HA Ebay go for it.

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This user has validated their user name. by: FEEbay

Mon Sep 7 07:33:40 2015

I really do not care much about this....ANYONE who is a legitimate business owner has to share their info with the public, it is just that simple. I agree with The German Plague, with regards to Euro law as well.
Moreover, my understanding is that when sending out any type of promotional or marketing Email, the sellers address is required to be posted under US law...
Nothing to see here folks...moving on...

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by: Volvo351 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 7 07:57:30 2015

A mere BID does not entitle anyone to personal info about the lister/seller of the item. feeBay playing fast-and-loose w/ personal info?  Just SOP. Biz as Usual. No Biggie.

Ming says feeBay has to face a lawsuit before [mis-]management cleans up its act. Apparently, adverse publicity will do the trick in some circumstances. Kudos to a Free Press for doing its job. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen nearly often enough. feeBay's antics could keep ABC busy 24/7.

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This user has validated their user name. by: The German Plague

Mon Sep 7 08:03:32 2015

Hehehe...

I forgot to mention that by words of law even german private sellers has to provide full name and address in accordance to §55 Rundfunkstaatsvertrag. Nobody here cares for that at the moment. So please discuss "more privacy" on ebay. Best thing to do. If private german sellers have to publish their address then, they will flee the platform.

BTW I do not sell rubbish making my buyers to reach out for their AK47. *lol*

Quite the opposite. Every buyer who remembers my items is not only allowed but also invited to give me a phone call, letter or email to buy more. Best thing that can happen if he does it without the "assistance" of greedy FeePay with it's gluey fingers patting around in my money vault.

My company was established in 1972. So in my market (collectors) it's not quite wrong to have the address shown. A lot of buyers already know me by my telephone number which hasn't changed since 1984. No matter if they want to buy an item, offer an item for sale or give an item into commission it's my business. Surely I'm not as famous as Stan and Ollie ;) from "American Pickers" or Chum Lee from "Pawn Stars" but I'm working on it.

So it's not only a matter of law, it's a matter of advertizing. No ad - You're dead...

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Mon Sep 7 08:15:07 2015

We asked Moore, "eBay publishes sellers name, address and complete address in marketing newsletters it sends on behalf of sellers. Can you tell me if eBay will be changing that practice as well?"

Moore said, "There are no planned changes."

eBay might as well go ahead and change this too while they are at it.

We all know that if ABC or any other major network news questions the practice, eBay will suddenly declare the information is not being used and as such no longer needs to be provided in an attempt to backpedal and save face.

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by: Go tell the Spartans This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 7 09:07:13 2015

Much ado about nothing. If you're a seller, it doesn't matter whether your working from home or not, your contact information should be readily available. You have a choice when you decide to be a seller - identify yourself as a legitimate operating concern or hide under a rock. If you decide to hide then your whole operation is dubious.

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by: Beth This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 7 10:12:02 2015

It's The LAW.  If you send email, you have to provide your actual place of business address and contact. Part of, I think, the Can Spam act?  

Why in God's name would you NOT give your customer, your address (well I know one answer but you won't like it)

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This user has validated their user name. by: Shop and Ship

Mon Sep 7 10:58:59 2015

To me ''privacy'' is not just a question of what information is given out, but to whom and for what purpose. Simply buying on eBay has added my email address and phone number to spam lists by unscrupulous sellers, so I for one am concerned about eBay sharing my info without sharing the recipient's info with me. The fact that I have a firewall [POB & pre-paid cell phone, etc] to shield me from the nut jobs that think they can save $3 postage by showing up on my doorstep with their buddies at 12:30 at night is not the issue. The fact that more and more police precincts are creating ''Craig's List'' exchanges under surveillance in their lobbies and parking lots speaks volumes about the public safety issue involved here.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Mon Sep 7 11:42:30 2015

Ebay = Duh.

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by: val2525 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 7 12:38:19 2015

The address on the email blasts are required by the FTC. EBay is simply following the law.  

If you don't want your home address published, then get a PO box or use a mail service for your business address.  Same with phone number.  Get a business line, use your cell number or get a Google voice number for  business.  It's a business people.  Treat it like one and quit whining.

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by: CNYC This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 7 16:59:11 2015

Of course they are providing the information. Is has to be provided, just like any website on the "about us".  A buyer is entitled to know the name and address of the company they purchased from.  and, a seller MUST know the name and address of the buyer in order to send the order and follow-up with insurance should something happen to it.

Why is this even news or a surprise to anyone at all?  It isn't as if they are publishing buyers personal information to anyone.  Sellers should know they are public, don't like it.....then don't be in business.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Mon Sep 7 17:41:43 2015

Perhaps ebafia's upper management would like to have their home addresses posted somewhere on the internet accessible by anyone who asks.

It could be arranged.

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by: val2525 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 7 19:12:02 2015

You don't want your home address published, don't use it for business mail.  It's that simple.  

Doesn't anyone have a brain any more?  Geez.

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by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 7 22:01:34 2015

We are talking about monthly newsletters that ebay sends out for sellers- these LOOKERS haven't even BOUGHT ANYTHING but they give this info to EVERYBODY (before the deal).

They make the buyers city and state hidden until a deal is made, WHY not the same for sellers??????

HOW ABOUT we sellers get to see all the buyers info before they bid so we can see if they are folks who have been blocked- nope- just give out the sellers info even without a deal in place.

When the buyer BUYS, I WANT them to have my name and address- any other reason- when there is not yet a deal- I do not want my contact info shared YET.
It can be misused by ANYONE and I cannot know WHO it was sent to or who sent it.

Also, many websites and companies have the secret question of Mothers Maiden Name- this is a CRITICAL PIECE of a persons identifying information, just like a SS#- get these 2 things- moms maiden and SS# and you can steal somebody's identity in a flash.
(Mothers maiden name and place of birth is all that is needed to get a replacement Birth Certificate- then you can open a checking and credit accounts.
Never give out your mothers maiden name- want to stael somebodys identity- look in the obituaries- moms maiden and all the family- even middle initials!

Folks who have children and nervous wives do not like having full addresses shown to everybody as a crazy buyer can knock on their door and scare their family- this happens- it is a valid concern. We operate out of our HOMES folks- somewhat different from Walmart listing their locations.
Protect our info until there is a deal- just city and state until SOLD, like the buyer.

Wait till you have your identities stolen- you won't know where the leak came from and it is all from having personal info out there when it does not need to be.

Mass Howler

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by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 7 22:04:29 2015

Folks should not have to get and pay for a PO box just so folks who have not made a deal cannot see their home address.
MH
If it is a law here I understand, but if it is not I do not want my info shown, I want it "protected".

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by: Will This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 8 04:55:23 2015

Have to keep in mind, when ABC or similar talks about "sellers", they are talking about casual sellers, not business sellers.  

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