Fight Back Against eBay Seller Mailing List Spam

One of my pet hates is mailing list spam, especially from large well known companies trading on eBay who really should know better…

I’m not talking about illicit offers to sell you an eBay item directly (to avoid seller fees) but about spam from eBay sellers who have just sold you an item.

You may recognize the following series of events – you buy an item through eBay from a business, receive it and maybe leave feedback. A few days later you receive an email (direct from the company) advertising their latest sale/offers – they have added you to their mailing list, without your permission.

Although these emails usually have a link/option to unsubscribe from the mailing list, the point is that you never wanted to be on it… Most people will just unsubscribe and forget about it – presumably the company was entitled to add you to their mailing list because you bought an eBay item from them? Right?

Wrong. According to eBay’s member-to-member contact policy “We don’t allow our members to send each other spam. Spam is an email that is both unsolicited and commercial in nature”. Examples include:

  • “Email messages sent to a member on a mailing list without that member’s prior permission”. Strike one.
  • “Unsolicited email offers sent to potential buyers”. Strike two.
  • Guidelines on protecting your privacy also state “Third parties are not permitted … to market directly to you … without your explicit consent”. Strike three…

no-spam

If there was still any doubt at all that the company is indeed breaking eBay’s rules, the full Summary of Privacy Policy makes it crystal clear:

  • “You are not licensed to add other eBay users, even a user who has purchased an item from you, to your mailing list (email or physical mail) without their express consent.

[I haven’t checked every eBay site worldwide but both the US and UK sites have the same policies – I expect they are the same on all the sites.]

Reporting Mailing List Spam

Of course you could just unsubscribe from the list and leave it at that – but then the company is free to continue to spam future buyers. To be a good member of the eBay community you should always report such spam so they can force the company to stop spamming users – the threat of suspending/banning them should do the trick.

Taking action also works from a selfish perspective – if everyone reports spam to eBay you should receive far less in future. To report mailing list spam to eBay, see the advice given in the above links e.g. in US you could forward the email to spam@ebay.com or report it via the Help Center/Contact eBay.

Conclusion

In my own experience the worst offenders are large national companies rather than mom and pop stores (who probably don’t have mailing lists anyway).

Nobody likes spam and here is something we can all do to reduce it – don’t let them get away with it!

6 Responses to: "Fight Back Against eBay Seller Mailing List Spam"

  1. Peg Lew says:

    Thank you so much for such an excellent summary!!! I’ve been the victim of ebay seller spam. When I replied to the spam with an angry message, the response from the CEO was belittling and personally insulting. I never got personal. I was just expressing anger at the abuse of my personal information gleaned through ebay.

    I reported him to ebay and the FTC. The FTC requires that you supply a functioning “opt-out” feature as well as a physical address or PO Box on the spam.

  2. ck says:

    I get what you are saying but there are a lot of people selling on ebay who have started their own website and would like to redirect you to that website.. The eBay fees are hideous

    • Blacky says:

      @ck: So because there are lots of people on ebay who “have started their own website and would like to redirect you to that website” and because “the eBay fees are hideous” makes it OK??? Are you for real??? The reality is that they signed up to these rules when signing up for ebay, and if their business is so weak that they have to violate the T&Cs they agreed to then they shouldn’t really be in business anyways (and if they go under it’s not even a loss).

  3. Hicksy says:

    The following terms are from eBay Australia

    “Limitations on member-to-member contact

    We’ll share your personal information with other eBay members only to facilitate transactions and to allow members to contact you when you’ve completed a transaction together.
    When you register on eBay, you provide your basic contact information, including name, address and phone number. Make sure you update your contact information (including email address) immediately if they ever change.
    Email addresses are disclosed only to members involved in a completed eBay transaction. Although members may contact one another through the Contact member feature, this feature should be used only to facilitate a transaction. We’ll investigate reports of members misusing our member-to-member contact options.”

    I use to just delete the emails thinking it was spam but then after making several purchases from sellers located in and around China, I noticed I was getting more emails for different stores, they clog up my inbox because they’re sending several emails a day! eBay needs to rethink the way they disclose our information or maybe assign user with an eBay email address so sellers AND buyers can contact the other

  4. Tom says:

    Further to Hicksy’s comments about eBay AU

    From http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/privacy-policy.html:

    “The other user receiving your information is not allowed to use this information for purposes unrelated to the transaction, such as to contact you for marketing purposes, unless you have express consented to it.”

    And http://pages.ebay.com.au/help/buy/report-trading.html:

    What we investigate

    > Sending spam: Members can’t send unsolicited or commercial messages to other members.