My eBay account has been suspended for "abuse", and eBay won't return my e-mails asking why, what next?
January 10, 2007 5:19 AM   Subscribe

My account on eBay has been suspended due to, in their words, "Abusing eBay". How can I escalate my questions to them about it get answers from them?

A short time ago, I received an e-mail from eBay saying that my account had been suspended, reason being that I "Abused eBay". Per the description of their Terms of Service.

"Abusing eBay" of the eBay User Agreement states, in part:

"...we may limit, suspend, or terminate our service and user accounts, prohibit
access to our website, remove hosted content, and take technical and legal steps to
keep users off the Site if we think that they are creating problems, possible legal
liabilities, or acting inconsistently with the letter or spirit of our policies."

There was nothing that I was doing that would lead me to think I was somehow abusing their service, and my feedback has been solid. So, I've sent e-mails in for a few days now asking to get a better explanation so that I can properly respond to what they think I did (or find out if my account was somehow compromised). I have yet to get a response to any message.

So, I want to know if anyone has had a similar problem, and/or if they have been able to escalate their problems when they haven't gotten e-mail responses, how they did it, and who they tried to get a hold of.

I feel like e-mail isn't working (at least through their default web forms), so I need to try and nicely ask other people in other ways.
posted by sav2880 to Computers & Internet (25 answers total)
Are you sure the email was legitimate? I must get about fifty emails a day from "eBay" telling me my account has been suspended when they are really from scammers trying to get me to type my username and password into a box on their own webpage. Did you click on a link in the email and enter your login and password? If so, you were never suspended, but someone has probably just stolen your account info and you will be suspended soon!

Do you still have the email? Can you copy and paste the link in the email here?
posted by neustile at 5:27 AM on January 10, 2007

Sounds like a spam email. have you tried logging into eBay (not via any links in the email) and posting or bidding?

I had an issue with them once, but they responded promptly when I asked questions.
posted by mikepop at 5:30 AM on January 10, 2007

It was either spam, or someone hijacked your account and abused eBay. The latter has happened to my dad (someone hijacked his account and listed some scam auctions including a motorcycle).

Their customer service is reasonable. Google to find their customer service phone number and actually call them. Also, you may want to read this: "How do I know that an e-mail was really from eBay?"

Forward the e-mail to and they *will* get back to you to let you know whether the e-mail was legit or not within a couple of days. I have done this a few times myself.
posted by tastybrains at 5:42 AM on January 10, 2007

It's known as "phishing". I receive emails like that too, and I don't have an eBay account.

If you used a link in that email to try to get your account back, then your account is now thoroughly compromised. Change your password immediately, and check to see if any money is missing from any financial instrument which can be gotten to from your eBay account.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 5:43 AM on January 10, 2007

Did you click on any links in that email? If so, change your ebay password instantly.
posted by poxuppit at 5:45 AM on January 10, 2007

Response by poster: Yes, it was a legitimate e-mail. I have an alert in my eBay inbox to prove it. I will happily post it if there's interest.

When I got the message (it was Sunday morning), I didn't click on the message, I pointed my browser to and clicked on "My eBay". If I remember right, I actually read the message on my cell phone first and then pointed my PC browser to it.

I have kept an eye on my bank accounts, nothing appears to be gone, but I will likely follow that link and go that route as well.

That's really the only thing I am capable of doing. As it stands now, when your account is suspended, you can't change a single bit of your personal information and/or change your password!
posted by sav2880 at 5:52 AM on January 10, 2007

Response by poster: (To answer some questions, I'm forwarding the message out to the world that I got. Note that the body of the message contained no links at all) wrote:
> eBay eBay sent this message to [my name] ({username]).
> Your registered name is included to show this message originated from eBay. Learn more.
> FPA NOTICE: eBay Registration Suspension - User Agreement - Abusing eBay - [my e-mail]
> Dear [username] ([email]),
> We regret to inform you that your eBay account has been suspended due to concerns we have for the safety and integrity of the eBay community.
> "Abusing eBay" of the eBay User Agreement states, in part:
> "...we may limit, suspend, or terminate our service and user accounts, prohibit access to our website, remove hosted content, and take technical and legal steps to keep users off the Site if we think that they are creating problems, possible legal liabilities, or acting inconsistently with the letter or spirit of our policies."
> Due to the suspension of this account, please be advised you are prohibited from using eBay in any way. This includes the registering of a new account.
> Please note that any seller fees due to eBay will immediately become due and payable. eBay will charge any amounts you have not previously disputed to the billing method currently on file.
> Regards,
> Safeharbor Department
> eBay, Inc.
> Learn how you can protect yourself from spoof (fake) emails at:
> This administrative email was sent to [email] from eBay. Your account is registered on As outlined in our User Agreement, eBay will periodically send you information about site changes and enhancements. If you would like to receive this email in text format, change your notification preferences.
> See our Privacy Policy and User Agreement if you have questions about eBay's communication policies.
> Privacy Policy:
> User Agreement:
> Copyright © 2006 eBay, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
> Designated trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners.
> eBay and the eBay logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of eBay, Inc.
> eBay is located at 2145 Hamilton Avenue, San Jose, CA 95125.


Note that I've also deleted out the references to my specific account. eBay got them all right, and no one else would (or could) have gotten the e-mail correct, that's how I identify almost every spoof I get (if Thunderbird doesn't catch it!)

posted by sav2880 at 6:06 AM on January 10, 2007

What have you been selling?
posted by cosmicbandito at 6:13 AM on January 10, 2007

Response by poster: Video games. Both new and used, mostly harder to find stuff, a great range of systems. No set pattern really. Both on and on eBay. More in the last couple of months then for awhile, but very consistently on Half for quite a while.

I've had my account for 8 years. Feedback is 120, a couple of negative's which I have handled over that time, gotten it up from about 95 in the beginning of November through some selling. (I'm getting married in May, could use the funds)

I had to pay fees on Saturday (and I made sure this wasn't the cause of the issue). Then I listed some new games on (old stuff, last-gen, never did play), sent out feedback for orders in December, and reported in a couple of Half listings where they said the game was "Brand New" but also said it was opened, thus it wasn't brand new.

(You don't report listings anymore by writing your own description, you just send a link to the listing policies dept.)

I can see where listing some new games on Half might have set off the red flag, I just want someone to TELL me that there so that I can prove to them that the games are legit (with pictures or what have you), and/or what the scoop may be. Thus, the need to try and escalate the question asking from e-mail up to another method.
posted by sav2880 at 6:31 AM on January 10, 2007

Never used, but I found this: 888-749-3229 Cust. service Option 2. 7:30a-5:30p M-F (Pacific)
posted by sandra_s at 6:51 AM on January 10, 2007

Do any of the games you're selling forbid resale in the EULA? That's the only reason I can think of. That, or somebody complained about something you were selling. It's always seemed to me that Ebay is too quick to punish the seller,even when the person complaining has questionable motives.
posted by cosmicbandito at 6:52 AM on January 10, 2007

eBay suspended my account once. I had opened two accounts, one in order to buy for myself and one in order to sell for a business -- and with the seller's account had unwittingly broken some minor violation about promoting one's external site. A competitor reported me to eBay as trying to cheat the system, apparently.

When I logged in with the buyer account to ask at the eBay user forums about the seller violation, someone there reported me (for having multiple accounts while one had been suspended? I don't know) and then both were shut down.

My experience at the time was that eBay was patently unhelpful and unresponsive. I was told offline by sympathetic users that eBay's basic policy is that, since they have X million users, they don't have to waste any time responding to the "unfair account suspension" complaints of one person.

I was also told that eBay will kneejerk close an account at any complaint, no matter how valid, with no investigation. In other words, if you want to shut down a competitor? File a complaint about copyright, TOS violation, use of Comic Sans... whatever!

I found it all very disappointing. And, while this was five years ago, my guess is that the growth of eBay and new ease of reporting violations has exacerbated the situation, not improved it.

So, if you were reporting other people, maybe there's a case of it going around and the karmic boomerang got you?
posted by pineapple at 6:54 AM on January 10, 2007

(You don't report listings anymore by writing your own description, you just send a link to the listing policies dept.)

Does this mean you don't get to explain why you are reporting a listing? If so, they might not realise your reasoning and think that you're just reporting competitors to try and gain an advantage.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:54 AM on January 10, 2007

My account was hijacked. Long story short, what worked best for me was the live chat. I didn't have much luck sending emails, but the live chat people were helpful.

There's a link on the eBay home page, right near the search bar, that says "Live help."
posted by Atom12 at 7:08 AM on January 10, 2007

Response by poster: EndsOfInvention .... exactly. You just report that it violates the listing guidelines (you can go to different links for that and copyright violations for example), but you can't write in there specifically why anymore. I do miss that functionality, and that's very true, if someone were to figure out it was me reporting them (although it's *supposed* to be anonymous), I can sense retaliation.

Atom12: I had previously used Live Chat, and the moment they said it wasn't billing, they just said "it's out of my hands, contact the Safe Harbor department". I may try again and suggest that the only way I can envision this happening is that my account may have been hijacked and to report it as such and see where that goes.
posted by sav2880 at 8:06 AM on January 10, 2007

Response by poster: pineapple: Did you ever get those accounts back or were they dead and gone forever, and were you ever able to use eBay again?
posted by sav2880 at 8:17 AM on January 10, 2007

It may be worth trying livechat again. When my acct was hijacked I got a cold shoulder and no joy the first time chatting. The second person was friendlier and sorted it out.
posted by Martin E. at 8:25 AM on January 10, 2007

if someone were to figure out it was me reporting them (although it's *supposed* to be anonymous), I can sense retaliation

I was thinking more along the lines of someone in the eBay department that handles the reports thinking "this guy keeps reporting other users but I can't see what he's reporting them for. He must be falsely reporting valid listings to try and get his competitors suspended. Time to break out the banhammer!"
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:30 AM on January 10, 2007

Response by poster: Martin E. - I will go that route this afternoon and let you know if it goes any better.

EndsOfInvention - ... and that's possible too. Back when I helped a store I worked at with eBay stuff (video game store), I would report incorrect listings too, but back then, when I could explain it, you could very eloquently say why it was incorrect, almost like a mini legal brief. Now, that might be an issue, you're right.
posted by sav2880 at 8:37 AM on January 10, 2007

I'd second attempting live chat again. I had to go through the drill three times until I got everything taken care of. It's a pain but seems to be the fastest way.
posted by Atom12 at 9:13 AM on January 10, 2007

Response by poster: Atom12: I may do that. I actually did get a reply to my first message, which truthfully only stated that my account was suspended for "Abusing eBay" ... basically, it told me what I already knew, and said to go through the reinstatement process.

I may take a stab at the live chat first and see what they can uncover.
posted by sav2880 at 10:47 AM on January 10, 2007

Why not give them a call? Gethuman says that if you dial their number, "800‑322‑9266 Press 0 at each prompt, ignoring messages." this will get you to a live person.
posted by Neiltupper at 3:16 PM on January 10, 2007

sav2880, per your question, I was never able to get those accounts back, which was irritating as I had amassed a perfect feedback score and had been registered since 1999.

And I tried everything -- emailing people, beseeching staff, asking how I could set things straight, offering to pay extra fees. (That all might sound strange, but remember that 5 years ago it wasn't quite the behemoth it is today)

Even now, I remain nonplussed that they expect that someone would get kicked off and then never ever use the site again ever, no takebacks.

I did eventually get back on eBay. Someone told me that the eBay system flags potential re-signer-uppers by looking for duplicates: duplicate mailing addresses, duplicate credit cards on file, duplicate email addresses.

So, when the bad taste was out of my mouth and I was ready to use the site again, I signed up with wholly new, discrete information. Never did have a problem. I don't know if the duplicates information was actually true, as it was just one user's hearsay, but I stuck to it and it seemed to work.
posted by pineapple at 3:20 PM on January 10, 2007

I know this is old school, but have you tried writing everything up in a nice letter and mailing it to them?
posted by drstein at 6:50 PM on January 10, 2007

By any chance, could a disgruntled buyer have reported you (falsely) as not sending some merchandise, or as sending pirated/counterfeit games?
posted by IndigoRain at 12:17 AM on January 11, 2007

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