EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 1427 - December 07, 2006     1 of 3

eBay Eliminates Pre-Approved Bidders Feature

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An eBay spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday that the company will be eliminating the Pre-Approved Bidder feature for sellers. Catherine England said the change would take place after the holiday shopping season, but could reveal no details about the change at this time. eBay is currently alerting sellers of the impending change through messaging on the site, such as the notice on this page (http://pages.ebay.com/services/buyandsell/biddermanagement.html), but has not posted it to the main announcement board.

The optional Pre-Approved Bidder feature is used by some sellers to eliminate nuisance bidding and to control who may bid on their items. Users not on a seller's pre-approved list are asked to contact the seller by email before they can place a bid on the item. But apparently scammers may have been using the feature to collect email addresses of potential bidders.

A seller who contacted eBay about the change posted the response she received from customer support that cites Trust & Safety concerns. "Pre-Approved Bidder is being discontinued because it enables sellers to collect, and potentially misuse, the email addresses of prospective bidders. Inappropriate use of bidder information is, of course, a violation of the eBay Privacy Policy. Occasionally, sellers who have been approved by eBay may receive limited access to this feature."

But another seller questioned why eBay wouldn't keep the feature, but prevent sellers from seeing the potential bidder's email address.

eBay's attempts to thwart scammers through policy changes are often met with mixed reviews as well as skepticism - and frustration - from users.

A reader who contacted AuctionBytes about the impending change to the Pre-Approved Bidder feature said, "There goes one of the most powerful tool sellers have to keep Nigerian Scammers away from their higher priced BINS. No mention of it in eBay's announcements. Just this notice on the Pre-Approve page. Guess who won't be listing any more higher priced BINS now? Anybody who's been scammed by Nigerian Scammers using BIN - a group that includes myself."

eBay Motors recently instituted a new bidding policy called Safeguarding Member IDs, also in an effort to thwart scammers. That policy reduces the transparency of bidding activity for shoppers on eBay Motors for items that reach $200 in an effort to fight scammers who employ spoof phishing techniques. eBay also rolled out Safeguarding Member IDs on the UK site (http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y06/m11/i03/s01).

The elimination of Pre-Approved Bidder lists helps protect bidders, but prevents sellers from trying to protect themselves from scam bidders. Similarly, while the Safeguarding Member IDs is designed to cut down on phishing emails targeted at bidders, it also hinders bidders' efforts to detect shill bidding from sellers.

eBay sellers are also frustrated over a new initiative by eBay to counter the sale of counterfeits on the site (http://auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y06/m11/i29/s01). eBay began conducting manual reviews of sellers listing items prone to counterfeiting - leaving some sellers unable to list during critical holiday-shopping days.


About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.


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