EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2833 - June 25, 2012     1 of 6

eBay Syncs User Email Accounts with Its Own Messaging System

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eBay users are uncertain what a new email policy will mean to them when it rolls out this week. eBay had surveyed sellers about their interest in providing eBay access to their personal/business email inbox "to better synchronize your email and My Messages" back in January, as reported in EcommerceBytes. On Friday, eBay announced that beginning this week, users' email accounts associated with their eBay user IDs will be automatically synched with their eBay My Messages folder.

"This means if you prefer to reply to an email through your email account, there’s no need to navigate to My Messages to mark the item as "Read" - it will be done automatically," according to the announcement. "Those sent messages from your email address will also be routed automatically to your "Sent" folder in My Messages."

In the early days of eBay, buyers and sellers could communicate freely with one another. But due to concern over fraud and phishing campaigns (but what many suspected were also concerns over fee avoidance), eBay introduced "My Messages" and began controlling how users could communicate with each other.

In the January survey, eBay had noted, "eBay would not store the password to your email account, but rather use a secure protocol to allow for authorization, with your permission. eBay would also never alter your email, but rather look only for messages to/from eBay or eBay members so that actions you take in your email regarding those messages are automatically reflected in My Messages."

Upon reading Friday's announcement, one reader expressed grave concern, writing, "I immediately question the legality of this as it seems a bit intrusive. Maybe I'm way off base but how is it that they can synch to our personal email accounts just for eBay messages without having access to everything else? Any info you (or your readers) can provide would be greatly appreciated."

Another reader said they believed eBay would not have any access to emails sent between buyers and sellers using their own email addresses, only those emails sellers send in response to a buyer's My Messages communication.

There were almost 100 responses to January's letter to the editor blog post about the issue, and numerous sellers contacted EcommerceBytes over the weekend. One seller encapsulated their concerns when she wrote, "What does this mean? I thought eBay does not want us to communicate with buyers? Are they really going to control our private email address associated with with our eBay account??"

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

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