Because eBay is such a friendly, fun community, some eBay members find themselves wanting to contact other eBay members for reasons other than to discuss an ongoing auction listing. Such reasons can include, but are not limited to:
- Wanting to compliment someone on their listing, their member ID, their photo skills, or their feedback.
- Wanting to share a "Me, too!" story about something read in feedback or in an auction listing.
- Wanting to ask an auction winner if they want to sell what they've just bought.
- Wanting to ask a seller if they've "got another one" for sale.
- Wanting to comment on or complain about something offensive in a seller's auction listing or member ID.
- Wanting to tell a buyer or seller something about another member they're about to do business with, often as a warning.
- Wanting to ask a seller about lowering the price or selling immediately rather than by waiting for the auction listing to finish.
- Wanting to offer a bidder who didn't win an auction to sell them the same type of thing they were just bidding on.
- Wanting to vent at a trading partner once they've left negative feedback, to really "let them have it" and know that it wasn't deserved.
Fortunately or unfortunately (I tend to believe the former), none of these are good reasons for making contact with another eBay member. While items 1-4 seem harmless enough, they can all under certain circumstances be seen as violations of eBay rules. Items 5-9 are violations of eBay rules, or are at least extremely likely to be in violation of eBay rules under most circumstances.
So don't contact anyone that you're not actively trading withnot even people you've recently traded with or traded with in the past, if the auction is complete, the dispute period has passed, and/or feedback has been left.
What To Do InsteadIn the case of the more innocuous reasons for wanting to contact someone... just don't! Very few people in today's world like to receive unsolicited phone calls or e-mail, and unsolicited eBay contact is the same thing. Most people are made uncomfortable by it and don't want to have to take the time to deal with it, even when it seems to be friendly.
If you're thinking about contacting someone to ask them to sell you an item immediately, rather than through an auction listing, or to ask them whether they'd like to buy something from you, beware that these types of contact are expressly forbidden by eBay and can negatively affect your trading privileges.
If you have complaints about material on eBay that you've found to be offensive or that you believe shouldn't be there, contact eBay directly and ask to have it removed. If eBay determines the material to be in violation of eBay standards, it will be.
Finally, if you are unsatisfied with a purchase or sale and believe that you have exercisable rights even though the warranty or exchange period has passed and feedback has been left, don't pepper your trading partner with angry emailseither contact eBay to ask about your rights or get a lawyer and law enforcement involved to act on your behalf.
The simplest way to remember all of these rules is this: don't contact another eBay member unless it's in regard to a current transaction with them.