Sooner or later every eBay member will find themselves wanting to contact and converse with another eBay member. There can be any number of reasons for the need:
- A transaction may have gone wrong leaving one or the other party unsatisfied
- A buyer may want to ask a seller about a listing before buying
- A buyer may have questions about an item they have received
- A seller may want to ask a buyer about nonpayment
- A seller may want to inform a buyer about shipment status or other transaction details
This list isn't by any means exhaustive, but it covers a lot of the most common causes. Every eBay member knows that eBay collects personal information, including phone number, email address, and mailing address, when you join. It's only natural, therefore, to assume that you can use one or more of these methods to contact trading partners or potential trading partners.
And indeed you can, though there are some limits and caveats that you should carefully study before deciding to make contact with other eBay members.
Limits to ContactThe steps you can take to contact other eBay members will be outlined in a moment, but first, here are the things to be aware of before you try.
- Trading partners are different from other eBay members. Only if you have done business with someone—that is to say, if you have bought from them or sold to them—will eBay provide their real contact information upon request, including phone number and email address. This information is to be used for communication related to the transaction only. Other uses of this information violate eBay rules.
- For general contact, use the forwarding system. For general communication between members eBay employs mail forwarding system. Members ask eBay to forward messages to other members' email boxes on their behalf. Replies to these messages, too, are routed through eBay. This way, members can communicate without eBay having to release their contact information to strangers.
- Buying or selling off eBay is not allowed. Contacting another eBay member with a request to buy or sell an item outside of eBay's auction structure is a violation of eBay rules, and by attempting to buy or sell this way you will likely find your trading privileges reduced or restricted. Keep in mind, too, that mail sent through the forwarding system passes through eBay before it is seen by the other party.
- Inappropriate contact is not allowed. Though this comes as a surprise to many users, inappropriate contact is not limited only to threatening or unwanted contact. Inappropriate contact also includes nearly any contact unrelated to eBay auctions. eBay members expect to be contacted by other eBay members only in regard to a transaction or potential transaction. Other types of contact can run dangerously close to SPAM, unsolicited email, or unwated contact, even if the message seems innocuous to the sender.
Now that the basic rules have been clarified, read on to find out how to use the actual tools on eBay's website to make contact with other eBay members.