Communicating through eBay is becoming more and more difficult. Since the introduction of the new anonymous email message system we have found many messages are just not getting through. While we understand the motives behind this system, that is trying to prevent off ebay trading, to provide protection from spam and other dodgy messages being received and a to provide a level of protection from harrassment by any individual through the ebay channels, the end result is that many messages that should get through are simply lost in cyberspace.
For example, did you know that there is a time limit for a reply to be given? After this time any reply delivered through the anonymous email system is simply not delivered and the sender receives a bounce message that the email to
email@example.com was not delivered. The bounce message gives no indication of the content of the original message or even the user ID of who it was intended for. The time frame for this to happen varies depending on whether the original request relates to a current item, an item which has since ended or an item which was ended before the message was sent. It can be as little as 7 days.
The only workaround for this is if we send a duplicate of the message using the contact member form through ebay messages but this too has it's problems as ridiculous limits are placed on the number of messages that can be sent this way each day.
This affects our ability to communicate because many of the enquiries we receive require information to be obtained from a manufacturer before a reply can be given and in many cases this can take 1-2 weeks or more depending on the manufacturer or their agent. Then when we try to reply, the reply using anonymous email inevitably bounces and we are also often unable to send a reply using the contact member form because eBay has blocked us from doing so for exceeding the daily limits.
On top of all that, many people, especially those using free email accounts such as Hotmail, Yahoo mail, etc or people using their work email, eg firstname.lastname@example.org don't receive either messages sent from ebay through the message system or messages sent by us directly because of either aggressive spam filtering which blocks everything except a specified list of recipients, over quota due to not emptying or cleaning up their account for the past 5 years, or even incorrect email addresses filed with eBay or PayPal.
The end result is that you, the prospective customer, don't get a reply and automatically assume that we have ignored you and we in turn lose business which also means eBay loses too. I am sure this problem is affecting many other large stores too.
A new problem that we have been experiencing since the rest of this guide was first written is the use of spam blockers such as Spam Sherrif and Spam Arrest. These programs block the email the first time a particular address is encountered and send a message back to the sender to click on a confirm button so as to ensure the email was from a valid source and not just an automated spam generator. The problem with this is that the confirmation email sent back to the Spam program no longer is the same email address as ebay generates a new unique anonymous address. The Spam program therefore never receives a confirmation to allow the original message through, and in turn treats the new message as another message that gets blocked pending confirmation. And so on and so on.
Yet another problem we have experienced is when asking the seller a question about a particular item, sometimes no details of the item or item number are passed on by ebay. The result is we get a question such as 'Is this item suitable for my appliance?' and we have no idea what item is being referred to. This seems to happen when a response is made to one of our custom questions, and also when a question is asked about an item that has already ended.
What can you do to help?
You can contact us via direct email by clicking on the contact us link in our store header of our AllfixElectrical ebay store instead of using ebay messages at all.
You can make sure that your email account is not over quota or blocked from receiving emails due to excessive spam filtering.
Make sure you whitelist our email address or any other eBay seller's email address when it is provided by eBay after making a purchase.
Make sure you also whitelist all messages delivered by the eBay message system eg *@members.ebay.com.au & *@members.ebay.com . If you expect to receive valid messages from international ebay members then this may need to include such domains as *@members.ebay.co.uk , *@members.ebay.com.cn , etc.
Make sure that the email address you have registered on eBay or PayPal is actually correct. This is especially true if you have changed your email address since first signing up.
Don't use commercial or government email addresses to communicate. They are usually heavily restricted in what is actually allowed through.
Always check your local spam folder for messages that have accidently been deleted or marked as spam.
Be careful using free email accounts as they too often have aggressive spam filtering at the ISP level which can block many messages without you even being aware.
When asking a question about something that is not directly related to the item you are responding to, please use an item which is currently running and not likely to end in the immediate future, eg a current store item with multiple quantity available. Try not to respond to ended items. This at least ensures that your message will remain able to be replied to for a longer period. Please do in this case, include the item number or description of the item that you are really interested in within the body of the message. For the reasons of item details not being passed on by ebay at times, it is wise to include this information in your question regardless of whether the item is current or not.
If you are willing to provide your real email address, include it in the message in the form (joeblo AT bigpond DOT com DOT au) so that it does not get removed by the eBay message sytem.
Sorry this is such a long winded explanation, but we feel strongly enough about this problem that we would like everyone to be fully aware of the issues. It is causing us quite a lot of lost business and sometimes disgruntled customers and I am sure we are not alone among affected sellers.
Thank you for taking the time to read this fully.
Communicating Using The Ebay Email & Message System
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26 November 2009
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