eBay sent a notice to sellers this week warning them that their listings included their contact information, and advising them that the practice would become a violation of its policies beginning in October. The problem? Sellers who received the letters say they do not include their contact information in listings, raising concerns about what would happen to their listings beginning next month.
There are also reports of sellers receiving false-positives - for example, some sellers say eBay's system mistakenly identifies barcodes or other numbers as phone numbers. On this week's eBay chat session, a seller posted, "There have been several threads started about messages from eBay and/or listing issues where the system is mis-identifying text as possible phone numbers or email addresses. Is this being looked into?"
We noticed a Facebook post from a seller who wrote on Tuesday, "Listing in the UK today we had to remove barcodes as we got a warning from eBay that we were trying to display a phone number!"
The notices were not only alarming, but confusing. One reader who received the warning letter wrote to us and said, "Basically if I understand it, buyers are no longer going to be able to contact me (at all? with questions before a purchase?) until AFTER completing a purchase and then only by PHONE. I am NOT providing a phone number on my eBay listings." That doesn't appear to be quite accurate - eBay included this link
to a page containing more information.
Another reader forwarded us the warning with a note: "I was told by eBay that this is a spoof. Thought you might find it interesting. With my ever growing eBay paranoia, it really was unnerving!" But there's no indication that the letter is a spoof (though it's best not to sign in to eBay using any links in emails purporting to be from eBay).
Here's the letter sellers received:
We noticed that your listings include contact information. We want to let you know that starting October 2017, you’ll no longer be allowed to share contact information on item descriptions, images, or eBay stores. To help you communicate with buyers, we’ve launched a new feature that allows them to call you after your sale. It’s available in your account settings under "Manage your Q&A with Buyers," and allows your listings to stay compliant with our policy update.
You can update your settings by going to Manage your Q&A for Buyers.
1 Check “Have your phone number” and enter your number.
2 Click Submit.
Be sure to take advantage of this new feature, which will give you an easy, secure way to communicate with your buyers once their sale is complete.
If you have any non-compliant listings, we'll let you know through email, My eBay Messages, and Seller Hub.
All transactions must start and finish on eBay, which makes our platform even safer for buyers and sellers. Read more about our contact information policy.
As always, thank you for selling on eBay.
Notice there's no specifics about which listings supposedly contain contact information.
On the weekly chat, a seller asked if eBay would be actually requiring sellers to include a phone number in the Q&A for buyers - "that's not going to be mandatory, is it," the seller asked.
An eBay moderator responded: "Messages are being sent out about contact information in listings, as this is only allowed for certain items that require it by law (ex. medical equipment). Sellers will have the option of providing their phone number via the Ask a question flow if they choose to, but this will not be required."