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Find Some eBay Privacy

Because everyone doesn't always have a need to know

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eBay's openness is a big part of its greatness as a forum for buying and selling. The openness of the auction listing and bidding processes drives sales and competition, while the openness of the feedback system helps to maintain a sufficient level of trust between buyers and sellers to keep trading humming along at a brisk pace.

Under some rare circumstances, however, eBay's openness can be just a bit too much. For such situations, eBay has created a couple of privacy-oriented features that may help to keep buyers and sellers active and safe.

Private Auction Listings

For example, consider cases in which a seller posts auction listings for sensitive items—items that are extremely valuable, for example, or items with which prospective buyers might not (or might not yet) wish to be identified. In such cases, the openness of the eBay bidding process, which lists eBay member IDs for every bidder including the current high bidder, can be a bit too much.

Luckily, sellers can opt to list such auctions as private listings. In a private listing, neither the bid history nor the main listing page will show the eBay member IDs of bidders or high bidders, protecting bidders' identities from becoming public knowledge.

To create a private listing, simply check the "Private listing" box in the "Choose how you'd like to sell your item" section of the item listing form.

Private Feedback

In some rare cases, it can also be important to make your feedback private for a brief amount of time. This might be the case, for example, if another eBay member has posted personal details about you in feedback that might endanger you or your family. eBay will remove such feedback if you contact them to request such an act (since it is against eBay rules to post personal information in feedback), but while eBay is working on such a task you can make your feedback profile private in order to keep such information from becoming public.

To make your feedback profile private, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the "Site map" link at the upper-right of any page on the eBay website.

  2. On the eBay site map page, find the section titled "Feedback."

  3. In the "Feedback" section, click on the "Make Feedback Public or Private" link to access the form that allows you to hide your feedback profile from public view.

To make your feedback visible again once it's been hidden, simply perform the same process once again and opt on the form to re-open your feedback.

Note that the hiding of feedback is not a way for you as a seller to engage in poor business practices without suffering the consequences of negative feedback. First of all, few if any bidders are interested in bidding on auctions whose sellers have private (i.e. unavailable) feedback profiles. More to the point, however, as a seller you are unable to list new auctions while your feedback is hidden, making private feedback an unviable long-term state for any seller.

Privacy Pros and Cons

Neither of these privacy tools are likely things that you want to use all the time as a seller—they can in fact negatively impact your sales and/or business if used when they are not warranted or without careful consideration.

Under narrow circumstances, however, a little privacy on eBay can be just what the doctor ordered, and can make it possible for you to sell items you otherwise might not be able to find buyers for, or to protect yourself from the negative consequences of someone else's bad acts until the situation can be rectified through proper channels.

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